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Mostly Arabic with Maiwenn

Posted: Wed Dec 06, 2017 7:09 pm
by Maiwenn

I was a brief contributor and longtime lurker at the old HTLAL forum. (People from the TAC Celtic team many a year ago might recognize my username? Sorry I abandoned you all….) I love reading this new forum and often want to comment, but only thought it would be fair if I shared some things about myself. I’ve titled this « as-sinjaba katnsaa » the squirrel forgets, because sinjaba is my Moroccan Arabic nickname and I often feel like a squirrel who keeps planting words and forgetting about them. I am an American who has been living in Francophone Europe the past six years. I apologize in advance for my excessive use of parentheses.

Current Language Studies

Moroccan Arabic/Darija, my main focus.
Why? My partner is from Morocco and I’d like to be able to communicate better with my mother-in-law. Even though we manage to understand each other surprisingly well with my limited vocabulary, I’d like to be able to understand her better and express myself more. She is one of my favorite people, full of humor and wit. Through translations, I’ve heard some of her analysis and commentary on the world, but I’d love to be able to talk to her about things without an intermediary. Beyond my personal connections, frankly, it’s fun being able to understand Moroccan Arabic. People don’t often expect someone who looks like me to understand Darija.
Where am I now? I can get through 60+ minute lessons almost entirely in Darija (this actually shocks me — to be fair, I’m not understanding every word and my teacher is incredibly gifted). I have had 40 minute conversations with my partner in Darija (on simple topics and my partner is extreeeemely patient with me). I canNOT understand random videos without subtitles. I can sometimes eavesdrop if the context is clear (which it often is as people tend to pepper in French keywords).
How? A surprisingly large number of Moroccan Arabic books (you honestly would not think there were that many…), some trips, and skype lessons with an excellent teacher (message me if you’d like her contact info) the past month. I’ve felt the most progress since beginning skype lessons. On my own, I had a tendency to go over and over and over the same material presented in different formats without ever advancing. My teacher has forced me to actually expand and use the pockets of knowledge I’d been building.

Modern Standard Arabic/MSA/Fusha.
Why? Prior to studying Darija, I began with MSA. I like the idea of enlarging the number of people with whom I might be able to communicate. Also, I’d like to be able to read and understand the news.
Where am I now? Hmmmm…. Since beginning Darija in earnest, my MSA has taken quite the hit. Whereas before I used MSA to guess at Darija, now it’s the opposite. I have veryyy short conversations with my partner in MSA. I can read MSA far better (mostly thanks to a knowledge of some MSA grammar + guessing from Darija vocabulary), which is not to say very well.
How? I began with Assimil Arabic. I should actually finish it. I also did a CNED (French distance learning) course in Arabic which succeeded in teaching me how to conjugate and seemingly not much else. Currently, I’m using Clozemaster (which is actually quite thrilling — I had tried it with Arabic last year and failed miserably, but now I have enough base knowledge that it’s actual worthwhile) and watching the news.

Why? I like German and I’ve let it get away from me. When I try to speak it now, it gets bizarrely mixed with Darija. Ich suche Wörter auf Deutsch لكن كنلقي غير الدارجة (but I only find Darija). So now, I’d like to make a concerted effort at reinstating German in my head as its own entity. Additionally, it’s a good idea job-wise to speak German.
Where am I now? As I wrote, my German has taken a bit of a hit. I was in Berlin in July (July!) for a week and was able to speak in German without people switching to English. Then, I went to Morocco for two weeks and didn’t touch German at all until a week ago…. I live near the German border and have to actively remind myself that the language for cursory greetings, etc, is GERMAN not Arabic. On a positive note, after a week of adding in more German exposure, I am starting to feel more at home again in German. While swimming laps today, I spoke to myself in German and words/expressions started to come back a little easier. Perhaps not all hope is lost.
How? Well, I just finished watching Netflix’s Dark (SO. GOOD. Watch it!) and I think I’ll pick another German series. I plan on working my way through Teach Yourself’s Improve Your German and then Assimil’s Perfectionnement. I’ve got my German Harry Potter audiobooks cued up and ready for commutes. I should probably find a German speaker with whom to do a language exchange. Oh! And Clozemaster!

French is my everyday language now. It influences my English more than my English influences my French now…. It’s an odd sensation. Though it is my primary language, I am aiming to read and write more in French.

Past Language Studies

One year in high school, one year in uni. It might make a comeback at some point should I progress enough in Arabic (so… maybe not).

Breton still calls to me. I lived in Brittany for a year and took Breton classes. I absolutely love the language, but I don’t see myself returning to it unless I moved back to Brittany.

Adolescent flirtations who hold special places in my heart.

Anyway, that's me. I look forward to talking with you all on the forum and writing about my language learning experiences here!

Re: Maiwenn's log سنجابة كتنسا (Moroccan Arabic, MSA, German)

Posted: Wed Dec 06, 2017 11:19 pm
by jeff_lindqvist
Welcome to the forum! I remember you from the Celtic team.

Re: Maiwenn's log سنجابة كتنسا (Moroccan Arabic, MSA, German)

Posted: Wed Dec 06, 2017 11:56 pm
by mirab3lla
Good luck!

I spent a semester in Morocco as part of my year abroad (I did Arabic at uni - 99% MSA) and it was so difficult to try to convinve Moroccans to use darija with me day in day out - they'd always switch to French! I used mostly a phrasebook and trying to learn from daily interactions but my school (ALIF in Fez) offered some good Darija courses/textbooks in case you do not have enough! My uni only paid for my MSA course though...

Re: Maiwenn's log سنجابة كتنسا (Moroccan Arabic, MSA, German)

Posted: Thu Dec 07, 2017 7:43 am
by Maiwenn
Thank you so much for the welcome, Jeff! I remember you, too! :) I'm sorry I disappeared from the Celtic team. :oops: I should have stuck around even though I was embarrassed about neglecting Breton. Perhaps you all could have set me back on the path to redemption.

That's so interesting! I wonder if it was because you were in Fez? In Casablanca/Marrakech/Agadir, when I've been on my own and tried asking something in Darija, people tended to be quite encouraging (though admittedly that includes occasionally explaining the meaning of something in French before switching back to Darija). That's such a shame your uni only paid for the MSA course! Did you enjoy your semester in Fez? Did you get to travel much? Any recommendations?

Log update:
Inspired by your logs, I read seven pages of a book in Darija (with parallel French), Sarah entre France et Maroc/صارة بين فرنسا و المغرب and was pleasantly surprised by how little I needed to consult the French. It took me a veryyyy long time, however. I have a skype lesson tonight, so throughout today I'll be listening to recordings she sent me and reviewing vocabulary.

I'd also like to share my favorite Darija music with you. The band Bab el West expertly combines two of my favorite cultures: Berber and Breton! The group was formed by a French Moroccan singer and two Bretons (later a Kabyle and others joined). Their current album, Douar, is named after a combination of douar (village in Arabic) and doiar (land in old Breton). I learned about them one day while listening to France24 Arabic in the background. I noticed that all of a sudden I was picking out some of the words (of course! because they were in Darija) and so I began to pay attention. They then played part of a clip and I was smitten.

Re: Maiwenn's log السنجابة كتنسا (Moroccan Arabic, MSA, German)

Posted: Fri Dec 08, 2017 12:25 pm
by Maiwenn
Darija (الدارجة)
  • Skype lesson last night. My teacher typed up my (spoken, spontaneous) summary of a recording she sent me:
    امراة كتدخل للحانوت حيت كتبغي تقدّى الماكلة عند الخضّار ، وكيسولها شنو خصها ومن بعد هي كتقول ليه كتبغي جوج كيلو د خيزو ومطيشة ودنجال وبطاطا. والخضّار كيسولها شنو خصها آخر، هي كتسوّله بشحال الليمون. هي كتفكر بلي الليمون ماشي غالي ، إذا كتشري كيلو ونص 

    English: A woman enters the store because she wants to buy food from the grocer; and he asks her what she needs then she says she wants 2 kilos of carrots, tomatoes, eggplant and potatoes. And the grocer asks her what else she needs, she asks him how much the oranges are. She thinks the oranges are not expensive, so she buys 1.5 kilos.
    Very exciting, ياك? I’ve included it so that… hopefully… I can look back on it and see progress. :)
  • Continued reading Sarah entre France et Maroc (صارة بين فرنسا و مغرب). It’s filled with highly relevant vocabulary to my situation and is allowing me to analyze new Darija constructions, many of which I have already heard used, but now I can actually see them on paper. It's a good exercise for internalizing and understanding.
  • Various youtube videos: A young Moroccan woman describes studying in South Korea, a 10-second ad from an online store where you pay at delivery, a youtuber describes earning a living via the web.

MSA (العربية الفصحى)
  • Started on an Al Jazeera article. It’s slow going.
  • Watched some Al Jazeera/France24 Arabic.
  • Reviewed the first ten lessons of Assimil Arabic. They are probably permanently imprinted in my brain. I can hear the exact intonations of the recording.
  • Clozemaster.

  • Finished chapter 1 of TY Improve Your German. I understood the recordings on the first try. The text reintroduced me to various constructions/grammar points I’d forgotten.
  • Listened to 1 hour of Der Report der Magd. For some reason I decided to start there instead of with Harry Potter. I think I’ll go back to Harry Potter.
  • Read/listened to an article from DW’s Top Thema: Zu wenig Wohnraum, zu viele Ferienwohnungen. Lots of new words.
  • Clozemaster.

Goals for the weekend:
  • Read parts of Sarah entre France et Maroc (صارة بين فرنسا و مغرب) out loud to my partner. Ask some questions about sentences I did not understand (I think they French is not exactly a faithful translation).
  • Be an active participant in any phonecalls to Morocco. Speak with my partner in Darija.
  • Transcribe a couple videos. Went over videos with my partner but did not actually write anything down.
  • Prepare for Monday’s skype lesson.

  • Continue working on the Al Jazeera article.
  • Review lessons 10-15 of Assimil Arabic. Reviewed through 18.
  • Clozemaster.

  • Review chapter 1 of TY Improve Your German.
  • Clozemaster.

EDIT 11/12 to update on completion of weekend goals

Re: Maiwenn's log السنجابة كتنسا (Moroccan Arabic, MSA, German)

Posted: Mon Dec 11, 2017 8:11 am
by Maiwenn
Story time before getting into weekly goals, etc:
The first time I went to Morocco, I had gotten through lesson 40 of Assimil Arabic and practiced a tiny bit with my partner. Our flight landed in the evening and the wait time for passport control was longer than expected so by the time we exited the airport to find my sister in law, it was quite late. She yawned and so, excited, I decided I would try out my Arabic: "?أنتِ متعبةُُ" (You are tired?) She looked at me, confused, so I tried again (far more timidly): "هل أنتِ متعبةُُ؟" (Are you tired?) She was still confused so I asked, defeatedly, in French if she was tired. Laughing (kindly), she corrected my pronunciation (I think I probably had not been pronouncing the ع). That trip was filled with me attempting to use Fusha/MSA on unsuspecting Moroccans which was then "translated" by actual Moroccans into Darija. I had a little notebook which I filled with the new words and expressions I heard. I came back, found some actual Moroccan Arabic materials and began learning afresh. I still have a ways to go, but I'm a lot closer now than that first night.

I largely accomplished my goals for the weekend (did not get to the Al Jazeera article). Additionally, I watched the Arte Journal in German (20 minutes) and about an hour of the Arte documentary (Einer von uns: der Homo sapiens) as I had previously watched parts of the French version (Quand Homo Sapiens peupla la planète). I was pleased to find the Arte Journal easy to follow. I listened through chapter 4 of HP4 in German.

Goals for the Week:
  • 2 skype lessons.
  • Finish Sarah entre France et Maroc. Going to finish this over the weekend.
  • Do some exercises from the Chekayri book.
  • At least ten minutes of conversation outside the lessons.

  • Continue reviewing Assimil Arabic through 25.
  • Finish the Al Jazeera article.

  • Complete Unit 2 of TY Improve your German.
  • Watch the Arte Journal.
  • Begin daily journal, alternating speaking and writing.

*EDIT for goals update (14/12)

Re: Maiwenn's log السنجابة كتنسا (Moroccan Arabic, MSA, German)

Posted: Thu Dec 14, 2017 8:21 pm
by Maiwenn
The Week So Far
M-Th were filled with Darija, Darija, Darija, and a dash of MSA and Deutsch. Looking toward the new year, I'll be thinking about how to better balance these languages. For the moment, however, I am thrilled to be progressing so much in Darija and part of me doesn't want to lose the momentum I've got going. The other part of me is reminded that I have an unfortunate history of burnout. Luckily, the holidays are coming up and will force a calmed-down pace.

I love chatting with my teacher in Darija, but I'm realizing that perhaps I should begin conversing with other people as well. In this vein of thought, I optimistically contacted a few Moroccans on iTalki and enabled the option for other people to contact me. Two hours in, I remembered why that is... not the best idea... and disabled the option. Hopefully, some of the people I contacted will get back to me! The obvious option here is that I should just call my in-laws. Like, duh. I'm learning this to speak to them, what better way to learn than to actually do it? I feel so bad about imposing my limited language on them, though. There's also something to be said about speaking to a teacher/fellow student who understands one's limits. I'm inching my way there. There's also a tiiiiny part of me that dreams of surprising them with amaaaazing (HAH) Darija.

I've got ~10 hours of train travel ahead of me this weekend. I plan on finishing my bilingual Darija book and listening to a lot of Harry Potter auf Deutsch. Who knows? Maybe during part of it I will be seated next to a native speaker of one of my languages! I was once seated 30 minutes with three young Moroccan students speaking in Darija. I spent those thirty minutes trying to decide if there was a non-awkward way of telling them I speak a little Darija (including offering them brownies that I had made for the friend I was visiting... :roll: ). Finally, at minute 29.9, I threw out a bslama! (Goodbye!) They were very confused, then one asked if I had actually just said bslama and I said tab3an (of course) and ran away. This episode made me cringe for days after... still does, which is silly. Next time, I'll offer the brownies. ;) I can always bake more.

Goals for the weekend
  • Finish Sarah entre France et Maroc.
  • At least 10 minutes of conversation.
  • Review vocabulary.

  • Listen to some audio.

  • Listen to HP5.
  • Review TY Improve your German chapter 2.

Re: Maiwenn's log السنجابة كتنسا (Moroccan Arabic, MSA, German)

Posted: Mon Dec 18, 2017 10:42 am
by Maiwenn
The Weekend

Das Wochenende hat ziemlich gut passiert. Ich reiste nach St Malo. Ich war sehr frohe in die Bretagne zu reisen, aber ich war traurig, dass ich kein Wort als Breton hörte. Als ich in der Bretagne wohnte, habe ich ein bisschen Breton gelernt. Leider habe ich fast alles vergessen. Die Reise in der Bretagne dauert fünf Stunden im Zug. Im Zug habe ich mein Buch aus Darija gelesen. Am Anfang war es schwierig, aber am Ende war es einfacher. Ich habe mit meinem Mann auf Darija gesprochen. Ich hoffe, mein Darija nächstes Jahr zu verbessern. Ich muss mein Deutsch verbessern. Ich wohne nicht weit von Deutschland, also ist es interessant, gut Deutsch zu sprechen.

Translation of what I intended to say: The weekend went pretty well. I traveled to St Malo. I was very happy to travel to Brittany, but I was sad that I didn't hear a single word in Breton. When I lived in Brittany, I learned a bit of Breton. Sadly, I've forgotten almost everything. The trip to Brittany took 5 hours in the train. In the train, I read my book in Darija. In the beginning, it was difficult, but in the end it was easier. I spoke with my partner in Darija. I hope to improve my Darija next year. I must improve my German. I live not very far from Germany so it's good to speak German well.

الجمع سفرت لبريتانيا في شمل الغربي. في التران قريت الكتاب ديالي "صارة بين فرنسا و مغرب" هد الكتاب ميعجبنيش بزاف... لكن انا فرحانة بزااااف حيت قريت كتاب بالدارجة! بدات نهدر مع مغربون لي كيقراو الانجليزية. كنعاونهم باش يقولو بالجليزية و هما كيعاونني باش بقول بالدارجة. نتمنى نحسن الدارجة ديالي في العام الجاي

Translation of what I intended to say (later on, I'll get this corrected and edit in the corrections): Friday, I traveled to Brittany in the Northwest. In the train, I read my Book "Sarah between France and Morocco". I don't like this book very much... but I am so happy because I read a book in Darija! I began to speak with Moroccans who are learning English. I help them to speak English and they help me to speak Darija. I hope to improve my Darija in the coming year.

I've been reading through leosmith's From Scratch to B2 log and am feeling very inspired for how to approach learning MSA. I'm aiming to reach B1 in 2018. I plan on doing another correspondance course in MSA which supposedly gets to the B1 level starting in April. In all honesty, I would be doing this for the certificate I'd get at the end. I recently learned about the diplôme de compétence en langue, which I might prepare for in 2019 (or 2018 if there ends up being a December date scheduled for Arabic) for Arabic, if it seems like it might be helpful professionally.

Goals for the Week

  • 2 skype lessons.
  • Chat with new language exchange friends.
  • Chekayri exercises.
  • Start a Le Petit Nicolas in Darija story.

  • Continue reviewing Assimil Arabic.
  • Shadow pimsleur/assimil audio. Abandoned these two quickly. Both have wayyy too slow of recordings and irritate me too much.

  • Review chapter 2 of TY Improve Your German.
  • HP5 listening/reading.
  • Daily writing/speaking.

EDIT for goals update.

Re: Maiwenn's log السنجابة كتنسا (Moroccan Arabic, MSA, German)

Posted: Wed Dec 20, 2017 9:34 am
by nooj
Maiwenn, I form part of a FB group of learners of Darija, maybe you would be interested in that. It's mostly filled with partners of Moroccans who are learning Arabic, but also Moroccan natives. I was part of it when I used to live in Morocco, now I'm focusing on other languages.

Second, there's a nice Algerian webseries I am watching called Wesh Derna, which has Algerian Arabic subtitles (I'm sure you know how freaking hard THAT is to find!). Algerian is of course different from Moroccan, so you have to be reasonably careful not to learn stuff that does not exist in Morocco, but it's good listening and reading practice. I have to warn you that most of the speakers speak in French and even their Arabic is often mixed with French, so it's not going to be a pure Arabic experience, but their French is subtitled IN Algerian Arabic for the benefit of Algerians.

Re: Maiwenn's log السنجابة كتنسا (Moroccan Arabic, MSA, German)

Posted: Wed Dec 20, 2017 11:09 am
by Maiwenn
Thanks for the suggestion of wesh derna! It looks really interesting. I've been learning bits of Tunisian/Algerian Arabic as well.

Re: the group, thanks, but I'm trying to limit my time on fb as much as possible. ;) I've got a few language exchange partners now and a great teacher, so I get in a lot of speaking/listening practice.