January 06, 2013

One of the most difficult languages to learn

Today was the first day back to work after three blissful weeks of break. It was odd. The teaching bit is like riding a bike, but the language barrier was like a slap in the face. I forgot how little English my students can actually speak. I forgot the constant chattering of Arabic in the staff room. I forgot that my students will constantly have side conversations in Arabic to explain anything I say in English. I forgot how impossible it is to know which Arabic conversations to allow and which are just for fun. I forgot that knowing a few Arabic words doesn't help me at all.

I wish I could say that it encourages me to learn more Arabic, but I'll never learn enough to be useful. I took a class in it when I first came here, but I didn't learn much and it was formal Arabic. (I.e. mostly useless on the streets.) I have multiple books that I could study from to at least review some formal Arabic, but I never manage to find the time. And I know countless people who speak Arabic, but I feel awkward whenever we have "teach me Arabic" conversations. It wasn't awkward when I demanded it of my ex-boyfriend, but he mostly taught me swears...

I'll never be fluent in the language, I've accepted it. If this was a Spanish speaking country, I might be able to reach fluency, (I took Spanish for roughly 8 years in school,) but a brand new language just isn't going to happen.


  1. Get your students to teach you (^_~)

  2. Arabic is one of those languages where "osmosis" (just being around it) doesn't work for native English speakers. I'm sending you vibes of support because I don't know what else one can do.

  3. Arabic script is beautiful to look at, but I can't imagine how difficult it must be to learn how to write and speak the language. It looks impossibly hard.

  4. My boyfriend went to school in Qatar when he was about 10 and he slowly picked up on Arabic, but his older siblings didn't. Since you're an adult, it's probably harder to simply pick up on any language. You don't even have any formal training with Arabic, so it's understandable. My parents know a bit of Arabic, but I'm assuming they probably know some simple phrases or words.

  5. *hugs* I hope that you find a job in the US soon! Definitely not worth trying to learn too much Arabic unless you plan on staying over there indefinitely.

    You're a brave and courageous person. At the very least, I hope that they'll pay you soon!