Author Topic: Arabic Issue  (Read 593 times)

Offline Tanuki

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Arabic Issue
« on: March 25, 2017, 07:36:57 PM »

Hope I'm putting this in the right place - need some advice.

I am an Arab that grew up in Europe, but now live in the Middle East. I have done so now for a few years, but my Arabic is still awful. I have no issues with writing - only with speaking and listening. I seem to have a real issue and I don't know what's holding me back. If someone talks to me directly or I watch TV it's like gibberish, even though five minutes later it may click and I'll go "Ahhh, that's what they said". I have been on courses, and I have been taking one on one lessons for over eight months, but still feel that I'm not making the improvements I should.

My goal is to do an LLM in two years (in Arabic) - so I really need to get this sorted. Any placement tests I have done have always shown me to be at Intermediate-High. So, why the issue?

Any advice or tips for improving would be greatly appreciated.

Offline Daniel

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Re: Arabic Issue
« Reply #1 on: March 25, 2017, 09:10:23 PM »
It's hard to say in general terms. Two thoughts:

1. The only way to improve in language learning is practice. This means you need more practice speaking and listening (but not with writing). Practice writing isn't a substitute for speaking and listening. It's a skill and it needs to be practiced, so the feedback you're getting (not understanding, etc.) just means you need more of it. Sorry for stating such an obvious answer, but another way to phrase it is that language learning and language practice takes a lot of time, and it is also counterintuitive because you feel like you are doing badly when you're learning-- but that's why you're learning, not because you're learning! (Listening to music might be helpful!)

2. With Arabic in particular, as you probably know, the written form (fosHa, Modern Standard Arabic = MSA) and spoken, colloquial "dialects" (actually distinct languages!) vary quite a lot, not unlike speaking Shakespearean English on the streets of England today (except that the time difference for Arabic is about 3x that much!). So it sounds like you know MSA well but not the spoken variety where you are living. Have you been moving around? Is your heritage from the same country? If you are mixing your experience, or your previous experience with Arabic was a different dialect, that could be very difficult-- like trying to speak Portuguese, Spanish, French and Romanian, while writing Latin. Since you're posting on a linguistics forum (are you a linguist?, have you taken any classes?) you might actually be interested in looking at the sound changes (and some grammar changes) that took place in the development of the local variety where you live. Knowing some of the correspondences, even just in general terms, might help you to connect the two. But thinking of them as completely different languages isn't actually wrong either: it's a complex situation of: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Diglossia
« Last Edit: March 25, 2017, 09:12:40 PM by Daniel »
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