x Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 24 July 2017

Learning to speak Arabic in a week

We test the language program Speak In A Week: Arabic by Penton Overseas.

WHAT I TRIED The language program Speak In A Week: Arabic, Week 1, by Penton Overseas, available at Kinokuniya bookshop in Dubai for Dh73. It comes with a handy flip chart with daily lessons and tips, an appendix explaining grammar and a glossary of vocabulary, plus a CD to follow along for pronunciation. WHAT I EXPECTED A fast fix: what else would one expect with a programme called Speak In A Week? I've only come a little way with my own plan - speak in a year - which basically consists of learning numbers from the shopkeepers in my corner shop (I can almost count to 100 now because they charge me in Arabic) and by learning a few relevant words or sayings a week from my Arabic-speaking colleagues. I want to take a more advanced course, but until I do, I'm trying to learn something new every day.

WHAT I EXPERIENCED Lesson 1 was pretty basic: greetings and farewells, which most native English speakers here should know by now. Lesson 2, about introductions, was more difficult, mainly because it brings in the concept of different endings depending on gender. Lesson 3 started off easy enough - please and thank you, you're welcome, pardon me - but then ended up with more complicated questions such as "do you speak Arabic?" and "what is your phone number?" That's where it lost me, mainly because I didn't have the time in my day to follow along, so I dropped it for a few days then tried to run through the other lessons on my last day. This was a mistake, because that's where things picked up to a whole new level: the concept of sun and moon letters, subject pronouns and speaking in full sentences.

THE FINAL VERDICT I did learn a few things that impressed some of my informal tutors: "tasharrafna" ("nice to meet you") and "anaa sahafiia" ("I am a journalist"). It helps to review your previous lessons every day and to practise with people who speak Arabic: it's a good icebreaker, at the very least. Speak In A Week is a good lesson in the basics, but it made me realise that to advance to a higher level, it's time for some serious study in the classroom.

Mo Gannon