Learning Arabic

Written by a Cafe 1040 Student

Learning Arabic has been an enjoyable challenge. Emphasis on challenge! There are so many sounds in Arabic we do not use in the English language! Also, the languages do not look the same unless Arabic letters have been transcribed.

It was amazing to have classes in several different cities here. Our program gave us two different types of classes so we could explore language learning in a new culture. I learned that I definitely prefer a classroom setting, no matter what kind of style, to only street learning.

But what was more amazing to see was that after only a few classes, I could begin to understand our local dialect. It was amazing to see that the sounds I have been hearing for weeks gain significant meaning, and that I was beginning to gain a personal understanding and love for this language.

After all, you can tell a lot about a culture by the way they speak. For instance Arabic doesn't have a word for “love”, the closest translation is to "want" someone or something.

So often I have seen that displayed in this culture, though the people love really well here, it is usually only expressed in same gendered friendships. Further, it has been amazing to see their faces light up when you ask them questions in Arabic and you say you can speak a little. They immediately light up and insist on teaching you more.

My most recent Arabic victory was that I was able to understand and converse with our local bread bakers, and have a fun conversation about making cookies! We do not have our own oven here so we must go use the local one, this often leads to meeting new neighbors and starting conversations with the bread guys.

I can really see the value of learning the local language. Learning language has opened new doors to relationships here in this city and I am so grateful for that.