As you might of read on the about me page I was fluent in Arabic as it was my first language. I was fluent until the age of 8 after moving to the UK from Jordan.
Me, brother and sister did not speak any Arabic at all until the age of 12 when we went back to Amman for a month long vacation. At this age we started relearning basic phrases like Hello, how are you? and thank you.
A few more years passed, I was about 15 and we went back to Amman again for about 6 weeks. We all learnt a little more Arabic but we weren’t looking to learn. We just liked trying to speak our language.
About five more years passed and we all hadn’t been to Jordan for quite some time. I was about 20 and really wanted to go back as I missed my family and wanted to connect with my culture. So I went over for a month on my own. During this time I learnt alot of Arabic by just listening to people talking and doing general daily routines like having breakfast. It was a start!
When I got back from Jordan I felt great I wanted to start learning Arabic properly. At this point I couldn’t read or write. However I had a very basic understanding of Arabic including all the sounds and could ask for a couple of things in a shop etc.
At this point I wanted to properly learn Arabic so I enrolled at the University of Newcastle on an introduction to Arabic. The course focussed on the alphabet, modern standard Arabic, reading and writing. The course lasted for around 3 months. The main material for the course was Mastering Arabic. It was so long ago that it came with tapes and not cds!
The course was great I practiced my reading and writing alot and started to gain a proficiency in reading and writing. My Dad also helped me alot to learn. I even made this piece of software that had every letter of the alphabet with a sound clip of my Dad when clicking on the letter.
At this point I could actually write my name and read pretty much anything.
After the course finished I enrolled on another course but found it was not for me as it was taught by a Pakistani teacher. My interest was to learn Arabic from someone from the Middle East.
I was a bit stuck at this point as I was a little disappointed by the follow up course. I then met someone who was learning Mandarin and mentioned that he found someone to practice his Mandarin whilst teaching English. So I put a sign up in the university and got a phone call from a man from Syria.
After a phone call we both met up went to his house and started language exchanging. We used to meet up once a week and he would teach me Arabic words and phrases, I would help him with his English and we would both smoke Argheeleh. Mowaffak was from Safad, Palestine and living in Damascus. These sessions helped net alot as I could just practice with a native speaker and he would teach me a lot of nice customs and phrases.
I finished my final year at university and moved to Manchester to start my career in IT. I didn’t have mowaffak at this point so I needed a new language exchange partner. I initially looked for one but gave up pretty easily as I got used to practicing with mowaffak as he was such a nice guy.
At this point I stopped learning Arabic as I had a lot of changes with going to work instead of being at University.
I kind of gave up on Arabic and started to believe that I just couldn’t learn Arabic unless I moved over to the Middle East.
About two years passed and I decided I wanted to start learning again. I did some digging around and found great reviews on Michel Thomas and his cds.
I went to Manchester library and found Michel Thomas Arabic foundation course. I started listening to the cds everyday in my car to and from work. I wasn’t practicing with anyone. I was very pleased with the course and kept practicing in my car for about a year.
My brother got engaged to a Tunisian girl so I started practicing alot so I could practice Arab whilst over there.
We got to Tunisia and met with my Aunties who flew from Jordan. I started trying out what I learnt and my aunts were very impressed with how much Arabic I could speak. I was very pleased with my progress! I could communicate with people pretty well on a basic level.
I got back home and carried on with the cds but didn’t seem to be going anywhere as I wasn’t practicing with anyone. I seemed to know alot but wasn’t using it.
I went to Jordan to see my family and came back more determined to learn Arabic as my wife was pregnant. I did alot of researching online and found lots of courses but had no money for £800 courses. I stumbled upon Benny Lewis’s site whilst on a bus and randomly clicking a link.
When I found Benny’s site it felt like I found a gold mine! This was something like I had never seen. I was hooked on reading his articles and methods. I bought his language hacks and started practicing online using iTalki along with Anki. I started with very cheap lessons on iTalki and started practicing with native speakers. I felt like I was progressing alot. I started this blog and started making goals.
My daughter was born and started to struggle with my studies so I decided to start on a course as I couldn’t study at home with a screaming baby.
You can read my review on the course. Basically, it was crap but it gave me drive to self study. Once the course was over my daughter was older and things were a bit easier.
When the course finished I knew what I wanted to do, I wanted to get back to studying and practice with native speakers and using Benny’s methods. Benny also wrote a book which came out just in time when the awful course finished. I started making goals again and progressing in my Arabic studies. I am driven to study and progressing every day.