Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Arabic update

As part of my summer plans I had wanted to review/study a little Arabic with the kids. I was hoping they had retained at least something, since I had been too busy or too sick to work with them on it for most of the year since we arrived in Idaho.

We ended up with not much time for Arabic at all, but at least I was able to figure out where things currently stand. They've forgotten a lot, sadly. Before we moved overseas I assumed they would be able to learn a lot of Arabic. But in reality, the amount of Arabic we were exposed to was minimal, especially spoken/conversational Arabic. Even for the kids, who had native-Arabic-speaking teachers at school. (This article by Peter Hellyer expresses some of the frustrations with the realities of Arabic education for children in the UAE.) The only reason I learned some Arabic was because I went out of my way to learn it, and I was helped by a wonderful multilingual neighbor from Lebanon, who taught a group of us at her villa occasionally my first year.

It was nice to be able to use English there since that's my language--it made my life so easy, and I'm grateful English is widely used--but I would have liked to have had more opportunities to use and learn Arabic.

So, now I need to decide what to do... K has been learning a little Spanish this year at school. C enjoys doing Latin, although we've not been doing it consistently. I don't want to completely give up on Arabic, though. I want to remember what I've learned, and learn more if I can. Maybe it will be just another side hobby for me, and I'll involve the kids when/if I can? I love learning languages, but at this point, with kids at different schools and with different interests and schedules, learning any single language as a family may not work for us. And Arabic is not especially relevant for us anymore (although I'd be happy to move back to Al Ain someday, or maybe Muscat, Oman, for something a little different). I also have Russian to keep up (maybe), and other languages I've been wanting to learn (hoping to take some classes as soon as the baby is a little bigger). But regardless, I'm going to try to keep a few Arabic words and phrases in our family vocabulary. Wish me luck!


Amira said...

About all we consistently do is keep a few phrases of Russian and Arabic around. It's not much, but there's really very little we can do here.

The one thing I think Rosetta Stone is good for is to have an easy way to practice a language every day. Too bad it's such an expensive and incomplete way.

mj said...

Rosetta Stone does sound good for that. I'm worried I'll just get busy and forget to put an effort into this. I need to come up with a good way to remember, or some kind of plan for working foreign language practice into our hectic daily life.

Angela said...

Maybe you could work on reading the scriptures in Arabic. That way you're studying something familiar and learning the language all at once. I'm rereading my Book of Mormon in Spanish to refresh my memory. I've thought about using Rosetta Stone to learn Italian -- one of my goals for the future. I'm glad you want to maintain your language skills. I'm sad I can't speak castellano like I could years ago. I have reconnected with some Argentine friends on Facebook, though, and chatting live with them has helped me to use it.

mj said...

Ack, I don't think I could do that in Arabic. I can read simple children's books, probably, with effort. :) That's a great idea for my Russian, though.

Lucy said...

Languages are very interesting. I am glad you are encouraging your children to learn languages and appreciate other cultures.