Arabic is my Boyfriend


I was thinking about the Boy and how that probably went on longer than it should have… ha, ha… what’s a girl to do? That’s what happens when you’re stuck in a foreign country for months and for the foreseeable future as well…

Things that might not have caught your eye start to look pretty darn good… written it before, don’t regret it… Happy it ended before I got too entangled emotionally… and I have an even clearer idea of what I want out of the next (prospective) relationship…  I can handle whatever might go down in a relationship that some other people may think are not things they need to deal with, and could do it gladly for the right person…  but do I need to do this? I don’t need complicated situations I’ve decided… ha, ha.

Anyway, one of the things about the boy was my time, the time I spent writing and speaking in English… I think it was  too much…  There’s just two months left to this Egyptian experience and my language skills need a lot of work.

With every level that you reach in Arabic or any foreign language, it get’s harder and harder to get to the next one… I am on the cusp of being “fluent” but I haven’t quite and am more and more afraid that that is not going to happen, which would be a disaster…

Part of me wants to blame my program, the logic behind their teaching isn’t logical… ha, ha… I mean that the goals of the program as developed by the administrators and funders in the U.S. has nothing to do with the goals of the faculty and staff here…  For example, my Egyptian Arabic teachers like to give us written assignments… Never in my future work will I be called upon or expected to write anything in a dialect… dialects of Arabic for the most part are not written languages (well except maybe on personal blogs and Facebook ha, ha)  Egyptian dialect is somewhat of an exception to this as they have their own Wikipedia pages, and novels under the languages section, but still,  knowing how to write in Egyptian Arabic is not a skill that should be focused upon!

Especially not to the detriment of learning actual grammar associated with the dialect.  It’s been my biggest fear that all I do when speaking Egyptian is take modern standard Arabic and throw in a few Egyptian specific words here and there… I think I’m slightly better than that now, but I don’t speak Egyptian….

Why is this a problem?  because life is a series of tests standardized or otherwise, I have to take a vat of them soon and if I’m not up to sniff, I fear I would have wasted two years of my life!…

Sigh..  On the one hand it’s not the programs fault that Syria is a cesspool literally and figuratively right now… they’ve done a great with our program and materials considering that the fact that they put it all together in 2 months (i.e. when it became official that no one was going to Syria) On the other hand, I have tried through every official means possible to have certain things changed because they don’t work, and no one has wanted to listen.  Instead I have been assured that they know what’s best and their way of doing things was going to bring out the best result…. well, now that it’ down to two months I was it’s plain as day that I was right! I have tried to study on my own, but without the reinforcement that comes from corrections from someone who actually teaches it’s just not enough.

My roommate has been a disappointment as was my former language partner.  the Latter was just there to sit and collect her pay… she didn’t get the message that actually working to correct my speech is part of her job description, now that I am with a new language partner that is now abundantly clear… sigh.  My new one is correcting things that she shouldn’t have to, things that my no one, not my teachers nor the Egyptians that are essentially paid to interact with me and correct me on has done… sigh.  I should have requested a change earlier…

but you know what? كلمة يا ريت عمر ما بتعمر بيت (wishes don’t wash dishes)

some grudgingly acknowledge this fact, that I could very well be screwed and it’s their at least partially fault, or out out of their hands but, also say that their hands are tied…. well  همة حطوني في ضاحية حاعمل أي بقى؟ (they put me in a bad position)

thinking about this is so frustrating that it literally makes me want to cry…

I feel let down by myself and those around me…. I can’t believe it’s been 7 months and I still sound and feel like crap!

But yeah, that’s how I feel right now, depressing, but this post is probably the watered down version (sad, but true)…. I sort of blew up at my language partner the other day as I tried to explain the situation to her, and she gave me advice and tactics that I already know about and have already employed (that don’t fully work if people don’t correct you!)….

Come to think of it, there has been more improvement this semester, and that is largely because I’ve just decided that this program and their homework classwork assignments can bugger off ! ha, ha… I no longer trudge through garbage assignments naively believing that doing them will yield anything fruitful…

I’ve finally found some people who can be frank with me about my Arabic, I really got tired of teachers and regular people telling me Arabic skills are great or even fantastic… people are polite to a fault here and that annoys me as its not useful… I mean even teachers will not give it to you straight without lots of arm twisting, I’m just like, wth? How can I improve if you can’t give me a frank evaluation?

Then again, part of the problem is that they are not used to having students that speak as well as myself and my classmates, so compared to the students who have just studied Arabic for a year or two before coming here, or those who don’t have Arabic at all, I am freaking fantastic!

but that is not the bar that I have set for myself or that my program has set for me…  I need to know how I am in comparison to native/near native speakers!… ha, ha…

I’ve just decided to design my own program for myself…. All hope is not lost… and everything is not my program’s fault, there have been great improvements in my modern standard, this has certainly for me been the bright side of the program… my writing is so much better!  My vocab has expanded!

but I need to work on pronunciation, especially when I get angry/excited, the focus tends to shift and the quality of my pronunciation and in some cases grammar goes down quickly! ha, ha…

That became really clear to me when I had to listen to my practice oral exam…. it started out great, but then as time went on, I started to get frustrated with the tester (she told me that racism doesn’t exist in the Arab world! …. it was all downhill from there ha, ha…) and that affected my performance….  And that’s not ok, life is not easy, and frustrating situations are just part and parcel of it…. I need to focus on staying focused, and paying attention to all three things, my ideas, my pronunciation and my grammar… ربنا يسهلي يا ربّ يا ربّ

Plenty of blame to go around, but if I want something done, I have to do it myself…

So yeah, for the next two months or so, Arabic is my main squeeze, I just hope it’s enough to salvage this relationship…. sigh.  My future depends on it.

2 thoughts on “Arabic is my Boyfriend

  1. Salaam, sis,

    You will be in my prayers, for sure. Sounds like a long, frustrating road…I’m still back with you on that tester that said that racism does not exist in the Arab world! Seriously, where does racism not exist, and why would you ever tell such a bold-faced lie? Cara de pau!

    I hope these next two months are very fruitful for you!

    ws, ~Chinyere

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