As I face only 24 more weeks of language study before my test (and presumably/hopefully before I have functional use of Arabic إن شاء اللة ), I have sought out guidance from every corner of the language study world to aid me.
Thankfully, the language consultation service at FSI is excellent and they host seminars on proven effective study techniques regularly. It's been quite a learning experience just hearing about all the work that is being done around how adults learn, retain, and employ new languages.
Last week, the session was called "On the Tip of your Tongue: Speaking Strategies for Fluency". Being far from fluency myself, my interest was more on tips and tricks to get my tongue to sync up with my brain - to start actually using the knowledge that I have about grammar and verb conjugations and have it come out of my mouth correctly!
We talked about how learning a language is more like learning to play an instrument than learning a subject like science, mathematics, or history.
Right now, I need to focus on the basics – learning to read, identifying differences between the notes, and beginning to connect them like chords.
I have nothing complex, my best sentences are:
My name is Rose, but in Arabic my name is Werda. I work at the foreign ministry and study at the foreign service institute. (editor’s note – my Arabic keyboard isn’t working well right now, I will try to insert later.)
And anything more complicated tends to be memorized rather than impromptu.
I am developing an ear for the sounds and the rhythm. But most importantly, I am beginning to love it.
My instrument is piano and I love how the piano sounds, even if, perhaps even more, if I am not currently capable of producing that sound.
I began learning to play piano when I was 7 or 8 – I never became a professional pianist (or even close to that!) but I know enough to enjoy playing, accompany myself when I sing, and play Christmas carols for my family.
If I can get that far with Arabic in the next 24 weeks, I will be delighted.