Arabic As A Second Language – I first heard the Arabic word for “vibrator” at the ice cream machine in a cafeteria at Middlebury College. The rainbow-colored nuggets I loved to place on my placemats were sold out and I longed for a companion to bring more. Class was due to start again in five minutes, and with the prospect of another three hours of grueling grammar, I obsessed over the missing nuggets. A line began to form behind me. Claire walked away. Clare was an anthropologist friend from Berkeley who learned Arabic so she could “study” Beirut’s nightlife. Claire was always late for lunch. I suspected she had gone back to the dorm after our morning sessions to get high, but I never asked.
“Sadiiqi al-electron,” she repeated. His eyebrows rose and fell as his head tilted from side to side. I tumbled. The line for ice cream grew with the kids from the Russian school, and I was worried about being late to class.
Arabic As A Second Language
She pulled her electronic friend out of her bag, the pink silicone tip visible to me. One of the professors brushed the way, a tightly veiled Egyptian. “The root of ‘shake’ is
Teaching Arabic As A Foreign Language
, whispered the Egyptian, with one eye on Mr. Silikon. Am I imagining things? Did she wink at us? This question occupied us for several days.
, as it was called, was a milli-moment of fun in the middle of nine otherwise very serious weeks. When Hans Wehr (his text was our bible, a green Arabic-English dictionary) couldn’t provide the answers, we invented words. Tofurkey, a cafeteria staple – Wikipedia calls it a “suitcase of tofu and turkey” – we called it kharra, or shit. We found opportunities to talk about pornography (
). Electronic friends. We estimated, improvised, recreated and above all slaughtered the Arabic language out of sheer exhaustion. We also developed crushes – for students from other language schools, for our teachers, very rarely for each other. And sometimes we were mean. Very bad. It was like college all over again.
Middlebury, Vermont is 135 miles north of Boston and several hundred miles south of the North Pole. In the winter it is known for its outstanding bobsled runs, and in the summer for competitive kayaking and canoe polo. The town, whose population was just over 8,000 at the time of the last census, has a handful of notable residents, including John Deere, the creator of the eponymous tractor, and Bobo Sheehan, the downhill coach 1956 Olympics. ski team The great American poet Robert Frost also spent more than two decades moping in the woods while depressed here.
Pdf) Teaching Arabic As A Second Language In Qatar_2017_hamad.pdf
And yet, outside of the greater New England region, Middlebury is best known for its incomparable linguistic studies. Chinese, French, Hebrew, Portuguese, Spanish. During the Cold War, legions of patriotic polo shirts came here to learn Russian. Later, when the economies of the Far East flourished, many came to learn Japanese and Chinese. Today is the Arab tour. Year after year, hundreds of Bushtail Orientalists (and many Bush supporters), some more experienced than others, travel to this remote location. Here, among the cool, talkative masses that give this part of the world its understated charm, students learn the intricacies of grammar, eloquence and performance. For those in the know, the pilgrimage to Middlebury is a rite of passage, a…bar mitzvah?…into the delicate world of the Arabic language.
It is difficult, after giving up the single life a few years ago, to accept that to master Arabic you have to live in a dormitory. We sleep in narrow beds, for which you have to buy special sheets. Those of us who refuse to buy specialty sheets on principle have to settle for cold, irritating, and inhospitable vinyl. Most students also have roommates. For fear of being assigned one, I gave each doctor in my family a note confirming that I am insomniac, that I have a reputation for sleepwalking, that I can be violent at night. But the sweet success of being awarded a single is quickly tempered by the size of the room; I call it “Little Gaza”. I stick photos of Dalida on my walls.
We are taking our placement exam today. In the gymnasium-sized cafeteria, minutes before the exam, dozens of students have their heads buried in Arabic books. They stuff. Others stuff bananas and energy bars into their backpacks as provisions for upcoming classes. I force myself to look away, but I have to admit I feel anxious as we walk towards the exam room. Where’s my Xanax when I need it?
After the exam, H and I decide to go swimming in the university’s vast indoor athletics complex. Although the sky looks gray and ominous as we set off on our school bikes, we decide to take a chance and forgo the umbrellas. H does tricks while I take the side kick like my grandma does. We take a shower, and as we prepare to return, we discover that the hall of the sports complex has been flooded by torrential rains. We turn and run, only to find ourselves trapped by water on either side. Finally, a nice man drives us to his van and takes us back to the dorm. H has an Arabic dictionary with him, and we are looking for the following words: Noah, ark, deluge, hero. (FYI, it rained all summer and I never went back to the gym.)
Is It Important To Learn Arabic?
Today, we are signing the Linguistic Engagement. The Pledge is one of the defining elements of the Middlebury experience. Its basic philosophy is that one should be so intensely engaged in learning a language that one can and will forgo, for a period of six to nine weeks, all contact with the world in a language other than the one studied. As we prepare to sign, I hear the boy behind me telling the story of a particularly serious student who broke his leg last summer. Even in the emergency room, he said, she only spoke Arabic.
Appalled by her story, I try to figure out how to request bikini waxing in Arabic.
To celebrate our last night of freedom, we enter Middlebury, an irregularly shaped village crossed by a central street, with an abundance of shops devoted to both gift cards and sporting goods. It’s a unique bar, a sort of pub where hip-hop pounding emerges from the depths of the basement. We bend down. At the end of the evening, we doubled it
, “clandestinely.” Any existential connotation is lost when we discover that the DJ is a skinny sixteen-year-old from the local high school playing the shuffle on his friend’s iPod. A boy among us, who spent a summer studying Arabic at the American University in Cairo, asks Amr Diab. “WHO?” asks the skinny DJ. “Aaaah-mer Deeee-ahb! You know, prince of Arabic pop! Some of the others are smiling and nodding in approval. Our DJ doesn’t know him and doesn’t seem to care either, and we can bounce on Jay Z. Some of us are trying to belly dance to Beyoncé, others are struggling just as hard to towns We don’t speak anything but Arabic, we smile a lot and use
Arabic For Beginners: Kg 2 Level
Today is the first day of class. I’m assigned to an overly lit lecture hall in the university’s library complex. My teachers come from Iraq and Sri Lanka. Pushed into the conversation, I ask the Iraqi if it is true that Saddam Hussein loved
; I tell the Sri Lankan that I really like MIA’s music. I am very stupid and they are both very nice to please me.
We will introduce ourselves, go around the room one by one. We are particularly encouraged to explain why we are studying Arabic. The motivations are legion. A girl, originally from Vermont, wants to read the Koran “in the original”. She has a peach complexion. There is a graduate student with severe, asymmetrical black hair who plans to write the definitive vision for garbage collection policy in Palestine. He’s an aspiring foreign correspondent who’s inclined to wear one.
Around his neck. He writes everything down in black Moleskin and often gives me sympathetic looks, the only brunette in the class.
Pdf) Second Language Acquisition In Arab Learners: A Paradigm Shift
There’s another young woman with an incredibly tight ponytail who tells us she’s studying counterterrorism (from her I learn the word
, “human hunting”). She spent a first summer term writing for Al-Hurra, the US-funded television station in Baghdad. It makes me nostalgic for the cultural diplomacy of the Cold War, when black people were sent to play jazz in distant places. Everyone loves jazz.
It’s M, an icy blonde in her forties with an excellent attitude who finds it difficult to smile and tells us that she is “between jobs”. We later learn that she served at Abu Ghraib in some military capacity. I don’t know how we