Post-Ramadan Teensie-Weensie Tip #5: Start learning Arabic (if you haven’t already) – Part 2
[I'm still waiting for more comments on this post before deciding on which option to go for for.]
In Part 1, I mentioned 2 things that we needed to do to learn Arabic, insha-Allah. Here are some more:
[Look, I'm not an expert (and Arabic is not my native language either). These are just my personal views. I could be wrong. ]
3) You need to figure out why you are learning Arabic.
This one might have confused you. Let me explain.
There are 3 different types of Arabic:
a) Classical Arabic (used in the Quran and the ahadeeth).
b) Modern Standard Arabic (used in newspapers, books, and err…even in cartoons).
c) The Dialects – Yes, there are loads of them. There’s the Khaleeji (Gulf) dialect (“Agullich!”), the Sham (Levantine) dialect (“Shoo biddik?”), the Egyptian dialect (“Aiyi haaga!”), the Northern African dialects (nobody understands what they’re saying so don’t worry about these) and some others. Of course, you have sub-dialects amongst these dialects so…
The first two use the same grammar but have a different vocabulary set.
The third one……..that’s a long story. They’re a hotch-potch. However, they’ve all branched out from the fus-ha (the proper Arabic).
[No, it's not confusing. Remember what I said about English in Part 1?]
So, what do you want to do?
- Go to Egypt and order some Kushari?
Well then, learning Classical Arabic will not really help. The waiter will say “Haaga thaanee?” and you’ll say: “Aaid, min fadhlik”. And then you might get a glare from the waiter because he’ll think you used the feminine form to talk to him whereas you were actually using fus-ha but the poor boy doesn’t know that.
- Understand the Quran?
Well then, using Pimsleur Egyptian Arabic tapes (“La Muakhza”) won’t really help.
Many sisters tell me that they want to speak in Arabic. Is this really a priority? Or is understanding the Quran more important?
Please understand that there are four elements in language learning:
If you want to understand the Quran and focus on your salah, then you should first focus on listening and reading.
Speaking and writing can come later, insha-Allah.
4) The technique is not the key. It’s you.
Yes, that’s the dirty little secret that nobody wants to point out.
I used to feverishly search for the right technique and I found so many articles that gave lots of tips.
Some said that grammar should come first. Other said that it should be the way that languages are naturally learnt (i.e. through speech).
And on and on it went.
Yes, some techniques are better than others.
Yes, some Arabic learning sets are better than others, and some of them are more suited to your needs than others (e.g. the Madinah books are for those who wish to learn Quranic Arabic but the Pimsleur Egyptian Arabic tapes are for those who wish to speak in the Egyptian dialect.)
However, I realised that there was a problem. I heard different people claiming that different techniques worked yet none of them worked for me. From this, I derived two things:
a) All the techniques work to some degree.
Different things work for different people. And you know what? THAT’S FINE.
Why start a war over this? Why write long articles talking about how some methods really suck when those other methods DO work for some people?
If a group of people want to get to a place, then some may choose to go by car. Others may choose to walk. Yet others may choose to take the metro.
And guess what? It’s all fine because 1) the means that they are taking are halal (lawful) and 2) they all end up getting to the destination.
So, the first thing you should do is choose the method that suits you the most and stick to it. Don’t get confused by all the technique wars. If the technique is halal, it’s fine.
b) The reason that I didn’t learn as much as the others was because I was lazy.
You know, I was born and raised in an Arab country (the UAE). Half my friends are Arabs. I’ve been to so many Arabic classes.
My Arabic should be MUCH better than it currently is.
The reason for this is simply because I didn’t put that much effort in learning Arabic. I did lots of dua to learn Arabic. I expected to wake up the next morning with a PhD’s amount of Arabic (remember duaing?).
I was looking for the technique. You know, the one that would FINALLY work.
It took me a long time to realise that the techniques were fine but my brain was the main thing that needed to be fixed.
Suppose you have two people: A and B.
Person A buys a really awful Arabic set (very difficult technique). However, he uses it to its full extent and works really hard to learn Arabic.
Person B buys the best Arabic set available (the best technique to learn Arabic). However, he skims through it and doesn’t do much hard work to learn Arabic.
Who do you think will learn more Arabic? It’s Person A.
Unfortunately, I was Person B.
And you know what? There are many others who are also like Person B. They don’t want to work hard. They think that just doing dua and getting the “best set” or getting a “great teacher” will help.
They’ll only help if you let them help you. And the way to let them help you is to work hard. Trust me on that one.
You need to be dedicated. It’s as simple as that.
Insha-Allah, in the next part, I’ll discuss more things that you need to do in order to learn Arabic. I’m not sure how much the first two parts helped but I hope they did (even if it is a teensie-weensie bit), insha-Allah.
To be continued…