Monday, January 17, 2011

Learning Arabic (ensha'llah)

As part of my Peace Corps preparation, I’m studying Arabic. I just finished going through a workbook on the Arabic script. It’s challenging but satisfying. Right now, I’m still at the novice level, sort of like a second grader just beginning to learn cursive. It’s slow and paintstaking. It’s almost as if I have to draw each character, rather than write it.  I have two more months before I leave, so I hope to improve my facility considerably by then.

My next (and more important) challenge is the language itself, which I’ve barely begun. I listened to the tutorials the Peace Corps provided us, and I said, “Whoa, I’m not gettin’ this.” That’s when I turned back to the script. I’m a visual person. And hands on. The script is important for me to make the mental connections.
Some people just like to just leap right into the spoken language, but I don’t do well (or as well) with just that. I like grammar, too! Go figure.

The Arabic in the title is a common expression - God willing - used whenever talking about plans for the future. Given the number of changes in my Peace Corps program so far, perhaps I should include that in the heading of my blog as well!


  1. Yikes! I am probably close to your age and I am feeling intimidated at the prospects of learning a new language using my present alphabet. I cannot imagine accomplishing what you are doing. You have just inspired at least me, if not others.
    Thanks for sharing your experience.
    Best wishes in everything you do.

  2. I learned German in my late teens. It was definitely much easier at that age than now, but it's still doable. I try to plan actions, but not outcomes. That attitude helps me avoid frustration or the fear that would even prevent me from trying. Keep following your dreams, Lew.