LTL REFLECTION: blame the teacher
My Arabic tutor is not getting paid for his labours; which might be why he isn’t labouring very much.
I can’t complain really, but his extreme hands-off teaching style, and very-low tolerance of an Arabic beginner’s bewilderment means that he’s really ‘not all that’ as a language teacher. But I have to work with what I’ve got. My original plan was to supply lists of words and phrases for him to write up into a Romanised Arabic translation. It seems like a good plan, and as a language teacher and learner, I think I have a good grasp of important first words to learn in another language.
Rather than learning the Arabic numerals in a 0-9 sequence, I think it is better to learn random numbers, so I’d add a numeral to some noun set I was learning (e.g. boy, 2 boys; car, 2 cars etc.) When I really know ‘2’, then I’ll go to another number. Randomly, I chose ‘11’. “Eleven?” said the tutor when I showed him my new weekly word list. “Eleven is too advanced for you”. I had to DEMAND he tell me the word for eleven. After grumbling about how it wasn’t worth it, as I’d never remember it anyway, he conceded that it was “ihda ashar”. Actually, I think it is ‘ihda ashar’, because true to all the negative input about my ability to learn it, it’s one of the ones I’m shaky on.
My cunning plan to make my own word lists and get The Beard* to put them into a Romanised Arabic for me to study while I’m up country during the week has fallen flat on its face for a few reasons:
I try to run through the pronunciations with my tutor during the weekend, but he’s not interested in spending too much time running through the list once he has written it and printed it out. So my pronunciation SUCKS. The tutor also laughs hilariously at my mistakes.
When I ask The Beard to run through my week’s new words, so I can listen to them he gets really bored, really quickly.
The audio feature on Google translate has the same indistinguishable muddy throat sound whatever word I seem to listen to.
I’m basically learning my version of the words on my vocabulary cards, rather than the Arabic version of the words; Syrian, Egyptian, or whatever kind of Arabic, is far (far!) away from the sounds that I am producing in my isolation from any Arabic speakers.
(*Lechiya, The Beard, is my tutor’s nickname for the purpose of this blog)
So now I’ve done blaming the teacher (it is ok, he doesn’t read this blog), I need to examine my own part in the failure to learn any meaningful amount of Arabic in the last three months.
My first problem was not to adjust my method, even when I could see it was failing. Autonomous learning is good, but languages need more than one user to make them work. I didn’t have anyone to speak or listen to as I acquired new vocabulary, so the language was never really anything more than words on cards. I have also been too shy to follow up on the Skype language partner scheme that I’ve been reading about on other blogs. I am also wondering if it is not a mistake to continue putting off learning Arabic script. If I want to keep my focus on speaking and listening, I need to find a speaking and listening medium to continue my learning, rather than a reading and writing based one like word cards.
In the meantime, I have found this online teacher – I think I will keep up with these lessons for a while and see how that works.
These lessons are fun!
Speaking and listening: HERE
Reading and writing: HERE