23 09, 2015

Spring Quiz: Arabic

This is the final part of our spring quiz series and the concluding language on our agenda is Arabic. Julie discovered a great song for our purpose and has come up with a challenging task. Master it in order to win a little chocolate treat which must be claimed by Friday, 2nd October 2015, by coming to class and presenting the requested task to your teacher. Julie has chosen an Arabic children's song called ربيع الأردن. The challenge is 1) to translate the first verse into English and 2) to write down how to say "I love you" in the Jordanese dialect (the words are written in the video).

11 12, 2013

Speaking French in the Arab world

Colonisation, occupation, trade and globalisation have left their mark on every language in the world. All languages have adopted a large range of vocabulary from their neighbours, occupiers, and "occupees". Although English may have deja vu, laissez faire and RSVP, this is next-to-nothing compared to the extent that French has became part of the language of many Arabic speaking countries, particularly in North Africa and the "West" of the Middle-East. If you want to learn the dialects of Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia or Lebanon, an ability to speak French is almost a prerequisite. The below commentaries are written by individuals remarking on the unique situation in these countries. They help to better understand the extent of French influence on these languages. You can click on these commentaries to read the full documents. Turn on the radio and you will hear Tunisians speak sentences in which Arabic nouns follow French adjectives followed by Arabic verbs and French adverbs. Officially in Morocco, the French language is considered a foreign language, but once you go to a Moroccan government agency you will notice that, in fact, you are the one who is the foreigner. Everything is written in French, from documents to the door mount nameplates on the gates of offices and pavements. Diplomats coming to Algeria after serving elsewhere in the region are amazed that Algerians rarely finish a sentence in the same language they started it in. When Randa Makhoul, an art teacher at a school in Beirut, asks her students a question in Arabic, she often gets a reply in English or French. So, if you've been studying Arabic with plans of travelling to or living in one of these countries, don't forget to pack a [...]

11 11, 2013

Learning the Arabic Alphabet

The Arabic Alphabet is so attractive it looks like art - and is often used as art to decorate buildings, castles and mosques. A trip to the south of Spain or any Arab city in the world will let you see this alphabet used to decorate a large number of historic and modern buildings. Knowing the Arabic Alphabet is a crucial step in learning how to communicate in Arabic. Although Arabic only has 29 letters, things a a bit complicated because some of these letters change shape depending on where they are placed in the word (if they are at the start, middle or end of the word, or if they are sitting on their own with no letters either side of them). In addition, Arabic vowels are indicated by writing small signs above and below the main letters. A great first step in learning to read and write Arabic is learning the names of letters. A song such as the one above is a great memory aid. In addition to learning the names of the letters, you need to get down and dirty and learn how to write and read the letters based in all their forms. Some information on the Arabic Alphabet: The Arabic Alphabet: Has 29 letters: ا ب ت ث ج ح خ د ذ ر ز س ش ص ض ط ظ ع غ ف ق ك ل م ن و هـ ي ء Is written from right to left: كتبت ثلاثة كتب اليوم قبل الفطور Has short vowels written above and below the letters: أّدْرُس الْلُغَة الْعَرَبِيَة مُنْذُ سَنَة Has letters that look different depending on where they are placed in the word: تتكلم البنت كثيراً Has some letters [...]

21 09, 2013

Learning Arabic at the Language Hub

What is it like to learn Arabic via immersion? Learning Arabic is a lot of fun. With the current political situation, being able to speak Arabic right now can be particularly rewarding. We hear a lot of news about what is going on in Egypt, Syria and other Arab-spring countries. But this news is told to us by the West using western journalists. What do Syrians and Egyptians think? What is the news they are told? Do they know what we know or is their information different to ours? What is their perspective? If you can read and speak Arabic, the answers to these questions are at your fingertips. So how to learn Arabic? The best way to learn Arabic is to immerse yourself in it. If you are travelling to an Arabic-speaking country, try to spend some time with the locals and away from other English speakers. Learning a language is all about practice. Practice is the best way to learn vocabulary, recognise and use grammar and structures, and to convert your textbook knowledge into actually being able to speak the language. If you aren't in an Arabic-speaking country, the practice principle still applies. Join an immersion class so you have time every week where you are completely immersed in and are only speaking in- and listening to Arabic. Outside of class listen to music, watch movies and get a language exchange partner. Once your Arabic is more advanced you can read books (starting with children's books). These activities should be fun and enjoyable - and more effective than learning vocabulary and reading textbooks. Learning vocabulary and using your textbook are of course excellent things to do, but if you are struggling for motivation, [...]