Meera's Arabic

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kalemiye
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Re: Meera's Arabic

Postby kalemiye » 2010-02-24, 21:30

Meera wrote:lol yeah i pretend i dont kno english if ppl annoy m. but i would feel bad for lying cuz they want to practice their english lol


Our professor of Arabic told us not to go to an Arab country until we felt very confident with our Arabic. My friend stayed in Spain until she felt confident with her Arabic (after 4 years studying it), and now she is studying in Damascus speaking in Arabic all the time and it's helping her a lot to become fluent not only in classical Arabic, which she studies at university, but also in the local dialect.

I would advise you to do same thing, because when you are confident with the language nobody will try to switch to English to have a conversation with you. I wish I had known more Turkish before going to Turkey, because I could have learnt a good deal of the language, but although I had to start virtually from zero, I think I achieved a lot, but I had trouble finding people that actually was willing to talk to me ONLY in Turkish and be patient enough to repeat each sentence several times.

But now that I reached an upper-intermediate level in Turkish I can handle conversations in Turkish without Turks wanting to switch to English.
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Re: Meera's Arabic

Postby kman1 » 2010-02-24, 21:40

kalemiye wrote:Our professor of Arabic told us not to go to an Arab country until we felt very confident with our Arabic.

I would advise you to do same thing, because when you are confident with the language nobody will try to switch to English to have a conversation with you.

I can definitely agree with your professor on this one. That's the other side of it. If you go the only speaking in their language route then yes your language ability better be pretty darn good or you're really just wasting your time and theirs.

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Re: Meera's Arabic

Postby kalemiye » 2010-02-24, 22:04

kman1 wrote:
kalemiye wrote:Our professor of Arabic told us not to go to an Arab country until we felt very confident with our Arabic.

I would advise you to do same thing, because when you are confident with the language nobody will try to switch to English to have a conversation with you.

I can definitely agree with your professor on this one. That's the other side of it. If you go the only speaking in their language route then yes your language ability better be pretty darn good or you're really just wasting your time and theirs.


I didnt say one must be ultra-fluent to go to an Arab country, I'm simply saying overall confident with it. Being able to handle daily situations and know grammar. Once you know that, you can boost your level in no time, since you are using the language and working constantly on your output. Immersion is great to reach fluency.
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Re: Meera's Arabic

Postby Meera » 2010-02-25, 6:31

thanks for ure advice renata
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Re: Meera's Arabic

Postby Ser » 2010-02-25, 7:05

Eskandar, are you sure that there is a lot of people proficient in English in Egypt/Lebanon/Jordan/the Gulf States/Morocco? :shock: Proficient enough to want to practise it with every English native speaker they see? No way.

Meera, just put your Pashto accent to work.

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Re: Meera's Arabic

Postby eskandar » 2010-02-25, 7:49

Renaçido wrote:Eskandar, are you sure that there is a lot of people proficient in English in Egypt/Lebanon/Jordan/the Gulf States/Morocco? :shock: Proficient enough to want to practise it with every English native speaker they see? No way.

Yes, I am quite certain. Ask students who have studied in those countries if you don't believe me; I'm sure they'll agree. To qualify, it's not the entire countries that are full of English-speakers, but certain cities. In Egypt it's Cairo (and perhaps Alexandria); in Lebanon, Beirut; in Jordan, Amman. The problem is that the schools that cater to foreign learners of Arabic are inevitably in those big cities (Cairo, Amman, etc.) where so many people speak English.

I was in Morocco just recently and had people literally coming up to me just to speak English (and of course, often to sell something) in Tangiers, Fes, and even the small town of Assilah. I've heard the same is true of its other large cities like Marrakesh or Rabat. As for Lebanon, look at any tour guide for Beirut and it will tell you that nearly everyone there speaks English, in addition to Arabic and French. Some Arab bloggers also complain about how Beirut has become overrun with English, even in advertisements, street signs, etc. In fact, look at tour guides for Morocco or Egypt and they'll likely say the same thing: so many people speak English that it's easy to visit the countries without knowing more than "shukran".

A close friend of mine was studying Arabic in Cairo last summer and complained that everyone always wanted to speak English with her-- and she is Egyptian(-American) herself! I have several friends who studied in Amman and complained of the same issues. Out of all the Arab countries, the Gulf countries are perhaps the 'worst' in this regard, because there are so many foreigners living and working there that they use English amongst themselves. In some Gulf countries, native Arabic-speakers are the minority! For instance, foreign workers (primarily non-Arabs) make up 81% of the United Arab Emirates' population, 80% of Qatar's population, 50% of Kuwait's, and 50% of Bahrain's. In these countries, English is the lingua franca, and only a minority is fluent in Arabic.
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Re: Meera's Arabic

Postby Meera » 2010-02-27, 4:41

Thanks for this info eskander
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Re: Meera's Arabic

Postby Meera » 2011-04-21, 21:57

Hey guys Im excited to say that despite my other two arabic classes were cancelled due to lack of teachers, that this fall hopefully I will have an Arabic class. I have signed up and hopefully they dont cancel :D It starts in september!
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Re: Meera's Arabic

Postby Gaile Irene » 2011-04-22, 0:18

Hi, Meera!

You say they canceled the courses because they can't find teachers? What were the courses and what are you signing up for in September?

I think most students traveling abroad to learn Arabic wind up in a group of foreigners. They live together, study together and tour the sites together. This set up is usually safe and you will learn some Arabic as well. You can search the internet for actual experiences of students who have gone to Arab countries to get their ideas and opinions. In addition, you might consider studying Palestinian Arabic or Modern Standard Arabic at Hebrew University in Jerusalem. However, please keep in mind that the region (Syria included) is experiencing tumultuous times.

I am somewhat astonished at the opinions expressed that there are a lot of English speakers in Arab countries. (Even many of the Arab immigrants living here in Philadelphia, women especially, know very little English.) People might know a few phrases such as "good morning" (often inappropriately used at night!), but that is usually it. If you are on your own, unless you already know some spoken Arabic already, you will likely find yourself lost and frustrated, and perhaps be the target of types whose attention you would rather not attract. I generally addressed people in Arabic and they answered in Arabic. Some mentioned they had studied English in school, but they usually find it more comfortable to communicate in Arabic. If you have learned enough Arabic before going, like the professor said, you will speak Arabic.

If you want to learn Arabic here is another way. Take a colloquial course (either a class or on your own). Then try to meet students or people of your age from those countries. Arabs are very social. They will introduce you to their friends and pretty soon you will hear Arabic nonstop. You might make some very good friends this way and even be invited to visit their families in their countries. And you will find out if Arabic is for you.

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Re: Meera's Arabic

Postby eskandar » 2011-04-22, 5:11

Gaile Irene wrote:In addition, you might consider studying Palestinian Arabic or Modern Standard Arabic at Hebrew University in Jerusalem.
Why would anyone want to study Arabic in a country (Israel) where people in the street and on public transportation are routinely harassed for speaking Arabic by police and security forces? That's not an ideal 'immersion' scenario. If you want an immersion experience but can't study in an Arab country, there are many good Arabic immersion programs in the US, such as Middlebury.

I am somewhat astonished at the opinions expressed that there are a lot of English speakers in Arab countries.
It really depends on the country and the area. As I said in my previous comments, in some Arab countries like the UAE and Qatar, Arabic speakers form a minority of 20% of the population or less, and more English is used there than Arabic. The situation is obviously different in other countries that have fewer foreign workers. I don't know when and where you traveled, and it may have been different in the past, but these days many Arabs living in large cities like Amman, Cairo, Damascus, Beirut, or Fes speak English and like to practice it with foreigners. I am speaking from firsthand experience as well as from what I've heard from friends (Americans and Arabs alike). The English speakers may well be a tiny minority in their countries, but the average student studying Arabic in Egypt, Jordan, etc. is going to spend the majority of their time in the capital city, likely near a major university, and thus surrounded by young Arabs anxious to practice their English. From what I've heard, this is less of a problem in Damascus and parts of Morocco than in Cairo and Amman, for example. Just something any student thinking about what country to study Arabic in should consider.
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Re: Meera's Arabic

Postby Gaile Irene » 2011-04-22, 14:23

Iskandar raises a good point about where one travels - I'd also like to add "who". In certain countries the younger generation is more likely to know English. Even people who can't speak English might pepper their native language with English words - often having a different meaning (I was confused by Egyptians' usage of "sweater" for a heavy winter jacket!). But in the Maghreb, French still predominates. In addition, there are social distinctions: level of education, type of education, social background, and how conservative the family is. Finally, people who have traveled extensively or lived or worked outside the Middle East are more likely to know English.

Here is what looks like a pretty comprehensive summary of Arabic study opportunities. You can do your own research to find out about this year's programs.
http://www.umich.edu/~neareast/arabicstudy.html

One little tidbit: you can learn chat Arabic through Facebook friends! (LOL!)

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Re: Meera's Arabic

Postby Meera » 2011-04-22, 16:28

Im not really sure if any Arab country is safe to sudy in right now. Except maybe UAE which is way to expenisve (im guessing here im really not sure) although I would love UAE because I'd probably be practicing my Hindi/Urdu there too lol. I would never set foot in Isreal to study Arabic lol. I also had noticed on sites like sharedtalk that it is true, Arabs will usueally only practice English with you. They very rarely talk in Arabic, even If I inatiate a conversation oin Arabic. :(
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Re: Meera's Arabic

Postby Gaile Irene » 2011-05-01, 17:56

Meera wrote:Im not really sure if any Arab country is safe to sudy in right now.

This young fellow was studying at Middlebury then, for his junior year abroad, went to Egypt to continue his studies. Because of the revolution he had to leave - to continue he was given the choice of Morocco or Syria. He picked Syria. After 10 days in Damascus, he was thrown into jail, beatings all around, intimidation, lies ..... wonderful place! See today's Washington Post.
http://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/ ... ml?hpid=z8

There goes that foreign studies program!

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Re: Meera's Arabic

Postby Meera » 2011-05-02, 17:40

Gaile Irene wrote:
Meera wrote:Im not really sure if any Arab country is safe to sudy in right now.

This young fellow was studying at Middlebury then, for his junior year abroad, went to Egypt to continue his studies. Because of the revolution he had to leave - to continue he was given the choice of Morocco or Syria. He picked Syria. After 10 days in Damascus, he was thrown into jail, beatings all around, intimidation, lies ..... wonderful place! See today's Washington Post.
http://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/ ... ml?hpid=z8

There goes that foreign studies program!


Exactly I think thats why I will not be going any place in the Middle East right now to study Arabic. I was thinking of Turkey to study Turkish but Im unsure these wave of protests are very unpredicable :(
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Re: Meera's Arabic

Postby Hannahanneke » 2011-05-03, 11:36

I'm lucky to be able to study now at the Dutch Institute in Rabat, Morocco. It is for free for me (although i'm belgian) and the lessons are not really excellent... but better then in my university back in Belgium.

Basically i learn fous7aa and the Moroccan dialect. I have one course who deals -very basically and superficially- with the history and culture of Morocco.

Morocco is still safe to study Arabic, but a lot of students don't like it, because a lot of Moroccans speak fluently French and because the inluence of Europe (especially France and Spain) is everywhere in the streetview. By lots of students the Moroccan dialect is also frowned upon.

There are a lot of American and British institutes in Rabat active and if anyone is interested in studying in Morocco, i'd be glad to help!

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Re: Meera's Arabic

Postby Gaile Irene » 2011-05-03, 16:44

Hi, Hannahanneke!

Thanks for your insight about learning Arabic in Morocco. I am glad that the program there provides better instruction for you than what you could receive in Belgium. How does what you are learning compare with what you expected - or what you really want to learn?

Are you speaking French most of the time when you aren't in school? I have met North Africans who would not speak Arabic, but only French or Berber. Do you think the Berber angle influences why the Moroccan dialect is frowned upon, as you state? Or is it because the dialect is not the classical or standard form of Arabic?

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Re: Meera's Arabic

Postby eskandar » 2011-05-04, 8:52

I think some students don't like the Moroccan dialect because it's not as "cosmopolitan" and internationally understood as more popular dialectics like Egyptian or Levantine. The kind of people who frown upon Moroccan Arabic tend to have a dim view of other Maghrebi dialects, since they're generally not understood throughout the Arab world, compared to Egyptian/Levantine which are more widely understood thanks to the popularity of Egyptian and Lebanese media.
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Re: Meera's Arabic

Postby Meera » 2011-05-06, 4:11

eskandar wrote:I think some students don't like the Moroccan dialect because it's not as "cosmopolitan" and internationally understood as more popular dialectics like Egyptian or Levantine. The kind of people who frown upon Moroccan Arabic tend to have a dim view of other Maghrebi dialects, since they're generally not understood throughout the Arab world, compared to Egyptian/Levantine which are more widely understood thanks to the popularity of Egyptian and Lebanese media.


Yeah, even Algerian. Tunisian and Libyan is really different from Morrocan. I think Algerian is a really nice dialect. I like Morrocan too but its like the hardest to understand. Like Tunisian, Libyan and Algerian are too but I think Morrocan is the most different?

And Egyptian and Lebanese are really popular. I was watching a Kuwati tv channel the other day and I noticed they were playing a show in the Egyptian dialect! lol
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Re: Meera's Arabic

Postby Abu Rashid » 2011-05-08, 12:47

The problem with the Maghrebi dialects is that they are generally very far removed from the bulk of the Arabic dialects. Egyptian & Levantine for instance are very close and form the 'core' of the Arabic dialect spectrum, Iraqi & gulf Arabic are also not all that much different from them.

Therefore learning a Maghrebi dialect would pretty much iimit you to that region, whilst learning one of the other dialect groups mentioned above would let you easily move between them.

As far as the best dialect to learn is concerned, I'd have to recommend urban Hijazi, as it brings together a lot of features found in Levantine, Gulf & Egyptian Arabic. I have been exposed mainly to Egyptian & Levantine dialects (as well as studying fus7a), and when I came across urban Hijazi (from the FSI course online) I found it very easy to understand.

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Re: Meera's Arabic

Postby Meera » 2011-06-05, 15:48

Im doing Arabic for SAC :D

And Abu Rashid, yes you are right. Hijazi is actually a really nice dialect!
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