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Ahlan wa Sahlan on Lady Grey's Language Log (Now Levantine Arabic, MSA and French)

Posted: Sun Aug 07, 2016 1:29 pm
by LadyGrey1986
Dear all. I have decided to start this language log to keep myself motivated and to keep track of my progress (which I hopefully will be making).
Out of interest for the current affairs and cultures of the Middle East, I have decided to follow Arabic at university. I passed the language modules which full-time students also have to take. I also studied Arabic in Damascus for a month before the war (2010). I have very fond memories of Damascus and its people and the current situation in Syria is beyond tragic. For five years, i did nothing with my Arabic, but now I am back with a vengeance. My goals are to eventually become fluent in the Damascene dialect, as well as to be able to read the news and magazine articles in mondern standard Arabic. My native language is Dutch. English is my strongest L2. Due to the fact my family lives close to the German border and having studied it for six years at secondary school, my passive German is quite good. I can get by speaking German, but my reading/listening skills are no doubt better.

What I will be doing with Arabic:
-Continue my weekly sessions with my tutor and do my homework
-I have just bought a 5000 word frequency dictionary. My aim is to nail the first 1500 in 2016, so I will be reviewing 20 words day.
-I have dusted off my old college textbook: Al Kitaab fi Ta'llum al Arabiyya. This book has received a lot of criticsm, but I am a bit nostalgic about it. I will start at chapter 1 and resurrect my active knowledge from that point. My aim is toi finish a chapter every 14 days.

Native english speakers: corrections of my post are welcome. I guarantee you no offence will be taken whatsoever.
Dutch learners: you know how to find me! If your native language is German or French: great! I am very interested in a language exchange.

Wish me luck!

Re: Ahlan wa Sahlan on Lady Grey's Language Log

Posted: Sun Aug 07, 2016 5:23 pm
by tomgosse
Bon courage ! Good luck!

I looked at studying Arabic a few years ago. The one thing that stopped me was the fact that I could not find an Arabic/English dictionary that had Arabic fonts that were large enough to read.

Re: Ahlan wa Sahlan on Lady Grey's Language Log

Posted: Sun Aug 07, 2016 5:35 pm
by Expugnator
Will follow this log closely! I took one year of Arabic at the local mosque and learned basically the alphabet, but forgot. Now I'm barely wanderlusting for it, but who knows about the future...

Re: Ahlan wa Sahlan on Lady Grey's Language Log

Posted: Tue Aug 09, 2016 10:38 pm
by LadyGrey1986
Today was pretty productive, so I am pleased with myself :D In the morning, I met my language exchange partner. He is a refugee from Syria and he lives in my town. I help him with Dutch and he helps me with Syrian Arabic. Today who focussed on reading telephones number out loud, which was also my homework for my weekly session with my tutor. I also practiced writing numbers in Arabic this way.

In evening, I had a 1-hour skype session with my professional tutor who teaches me Syrian colloquial. We talked about my week and we discussed the imperative, which is completely new to me. In earlier classes, we have covered conjugating the verbs in present, past and future tense in Syrian colloquial. I am now done with the "meeting someone for the first time" section of my textbook. I can ask people where they are from, what do for a living and whether they are married or not :)

For MSA, I yet have to find a rythm. To be continued!

Re: Ahlan wa Sahlan on Lady Grey's Language Log

Posted: Thu Aug 11, 2016 9:15 am
by Ogrim
Nice to see another Arabic learner here. I myself am a total beginner and I am focusing on MSA as my main purpose of learning is to be able to read Arabic and understand news programmes on Al Jazeera etc.

Is your college textbook an introduction to MSA or to Syrian? I am using the course "Arabsich mit System" by Langenscheidt, and I really like it. One of the nice things about this course is that, although the focus is on MSA, the recordings include the Egyptian and Syrian colloquial versions of the dialogues in addition to the MSA version, and the book explains the main differences in vocabulary etc. between MSA and the two colloquial versions.

Welcome to the forum and good luck with your studies!

Re: Ahlan wa Sahlan on Lady Grey's Language Log

Posted: Thu Aug 11, 2016 5:43 pm
by LadyGrey1986
Shukran ktir Ogrim! My collegebook focusses on MSA, but like yours, it includes an Egyptian version of all the dialogues. For the moment, i am ignoring those as I focus on Syrian (with silent apologies to the Egyptians).
It is basically about an Egyptian-Palestinian girl Maha living in New York and she whines and complains a lot about her life. She tells us in the second chapter she is very lonely. We also get to meet her cousin Khalid in Cairo, who is equally depressed as his father didn't him let study literature. And by the way, his girlfriend broke up with him to marry a richer Saudi man.
Sounds like fun right.... There is even a whole tumbler dedicated to the textbook and it is hilarious if you have worked with the textbook.

Re: Ahlan wa Sahlan on Lady Grey's Language Log

Posted: Fri Aug 12, 2016 1:51 pm
by Ogrim
Sounds like a very interesting book :o , and quite different from the usual language course. Maybe I should try to get hold of a copy.

Langenscheidt is more traditional, we follow Thomas from Germany who is learning Arabic in order to work as a doctor in a hospital in Amman. He does all the usual things they do in language courses: check into a hotel, asks for directions in the street, visit friends, goes to a café, writes a letter to tell about his experiences etc. Not very exciting, but beginner courses seldom are.

Re: Ahlan wa Sahlan on Lady Grey's Language Log

Posted: Sun Aug 14, 2016 8:30 pm
by LadyGrey1986
For grammar, you are probably better off with Langenscheidt. The way Al Kitaab presents grammar is very confusing! I supplement it with a Dutch systematic overview of Arabic grammar. What is great about Al Kitaab is that they introduce you to native materials early on. The authors don't expect you to understand everything. They just want you to make educated guesses based on what you do know.
I use Al Kitaab to work on reading and writing skills, since MSA is only spoken in super formal situations.

Secondly, I find that my studies are hampered by the fact that I am not yet able to type in Arabic on my computer. I have watched this tutorial.

Re: Ahlan wa Sahlan on Lady Grey's Language Log

Posted: Mon Aug 15, 2016 9:08 pm
by LadyGrey1986
Today I had a small crisis of faith. I am a little jealous of the people in this forum who read books, binge-watch series in their target languages like nobody's bussiness after one or two years of studying. I have the sinking feeling that I can understand more of an average Spanish newsarticle than of an Arabic text, despite never having studied Spanish in my life. Not that I am belittleling the efforts of those who study Spanish!

By the way: the book I use for Syrian colloquial is Syrian Arabic a Functional Course.

Re: Ahlan wa Sahlan on Lady Grey's Language Log

Posted: Thu Aug 18, 2016 3:21 pm
by LadyGrey1986
There will be good days and bad days with languages I suppose. On Tuesday evening, i had my weekly skype lesson. For a little while, we had a short discussion on a current topic ☺ According to my tutor, I am now ready to talk more.