The Arabic language challenge

Alhamdulillah, I have completed my first installment of Arabic language course, following Madinah Arabic book, half of level 1. After completing my Tajweed course, I decided to follow the Arabic course as a natural progression from Tajweed.  Just as with Quran learning, I have also been learning Arabic as a language for a while, in fact since my younger days.  My first Arabic Teacher was my first Quran Teacher, a Teacher employed by my father to teach the whole family when we were children. Though he was only employed to teach Quran, because I was keen, he agreed to teach me Arabic but later recommended I learn from a centre for systematic learning.

I remember going with him to an Arabic school but for some reasons, I did not go there but later on went to another centre with a brother who teaches group of students at a specially adapted shelter attached to his home. Ma sha Allah, the brother was blessed with knowledge of both the Quran and Arabic and his method of teaching was so easy that I learned quickly with him. The most lasting thing I learned from him is the Arabic handwriting, I remember him saying I took after his handwriting, and he went on to say that Arabic students usually take after their teacher’s handwriting.

How far that is true, I don’t know but I sure did copy his handwriting to learn writing and that stayed with me for a long time. I guess I now have my own style of writing, which is natural to me. When I started my present Arabic course, some of the students went on to praise my handwriting that it’s like a native Arab’s handwriting. But I did not complete the Arabic study with that Teacher; I left and moved on to the usual form of education that makes it difficult for me to go back to him. But still I continue to learn whenever the opportunity present itself but not to the point of gaining mastery of the language.

Years later, I bought me a linguaphone Arabic course; I followed it for a while and got distracted yet again. Years later again, I enrolled for a postgraduate Islamic course and Arabic was naturally part of the course which I studied for a year but at the end of it, despite passing the course I still felt I had not learned anything of Arabic. The Teacher during this study was a native Arabic Teacher, a Doctor of Philosophy. But I just could not learn from him, the more he taught me the more confused I got. I could not relate what he was teaching me with what I have learned in the past.

Asking questions made me look stupid in the class, because Ma sha Allah, I was in a class of students who were already themselves scholars of Arabic, some studied from Medinah and some from Malaysia.  So, whenever I ask questions, it’s either I am asking too much questions or should I be asking this question at all, the look I get from others in the class. As for the teacher, if he managed to explain to me, I don’t get it and if I get it, may be just for that moment. But, I tried my best to do extra study as much as I could, review my lessons and notes and thanks to my linguaphone text, they came very handy in seeing me through. My memory never seemed to fail me too, when I needed it most. So, I passed the course at the end but passing does not really mean I know Arabic as I should neither did I understand the grammar properly.

At some point afterwards, I enrolled yet again to study with a sister who teaches at a specially adapted classroom attached to her home. The sister, Ma’sha Allah had studied both Quran and Arabic since young and has gained mastery of both and able to teach others. I remember she was 19 when I joined her class. Her teaching method was superb, she taught from the perspective of someone who learned Arabic as a second language. She used Multi-media in the classroom and had a systematic way of explaining the structure of the Arabic grammar that even the dullest of all people will understand first time. I enjoyed learning from her and I told myself, at last I found a way of conquering the insurmountable wall of the Arabic language, she used Medinah Arabic books, which happens to be the most popular Arabic text for non-Arabs learning Arabic.

But for reasons beyond my control, I had to stop the Arabic lessons with the sister and I yet again did not accomplish much of learning the Arabic language. When the opportunity presented itself again the beginning of this year 2011, I jumped at it. Once again I am on the same route, learning Arabic with a lot of difficulties I must say. But just as I started Tajweed not know if I would be able to finish it or not, but by the will of Allah (swt) I completed the Tajweed successfully. Likewise, I decided to start Arabic not knowing if I would finish it successfully or not, but putting my trust in Allah (swt). The doubt is not in the ability but in the circumstance, sometimes things are up and sometimes down, these situations affect whatever you are able to accomplish at any particular time. All praise belongs to Allah in all situations.

Ma sha Allah, the institute I am attending is perfect and well known for their excellent teaching; likewise the teachers are masters in their subjects. But as usual, I always find things that I believe will hinder my learning of this Arabic, The teacher as a native Arabic Teacher has not ticked all the boxes for me as far as delivering the lessons are concerned. I struggle to understand, and when I ask questions it looks like I am asking too much like I have experienced before. But it’s not too bad now, as there are a lot of resources on Medinah Arabic to help out, a good friend of mine sent me the link to Medinah Arabic online, which I have been following and also there are online videos delivering basic Arabic lessons from the Medinah book in a systematic way, which I found much easier to understand than in my classroom. So far from my experience, a Teacher teaching from the perspective of someone learning Arabic as a second language would be much better for me, I will have to try harder with a native Arabic Teacher, which I am already doing. Perhaps, it will pay off on the long run, I will have to see by the end of level 1, insha Allah.

The day I had my first Arabic exam, I went to the nearby mosque to pray and I called a friend to ask if she knows of some resources I can use to help in my Arabic learning, especially now that I am following the Medinah Arabic online, I had to complete a lot of exercises, I want to learn touch typing in Arabic to make it easy for me to type as I had lot of pains on my wrist afterwards, clicking on the online keyboard to complete the exercises. One of the Teachers from the institute overheard me and called to speak to me. She told me, “Dear, you already know Arabic; all you need to do is be confident in your knowledge, and don’t let Shaytan deceive you that you do not know, it’s good to be humble but don’t let that stop you from being confident of yourself.  You don’t need to go to any Arabic country to learn Arabic, what you learn here is enough, you just have to open the Quran and you will find that you understand what you are reading in Arabic.”

On that one point I agreed with her, as I found that I do understand some if not all of the words I read in Arabic from the Quran and when I listen to recitations, I can just about understand the point even without translation. She then gave me two online resources to check out and Kallamullah was one. There I found Video of Arabic lessons by Abu Taubah that I hope to follow insha Allah. Now I have some resources at my fingertips to follow up on my Arabic in addition to my classroom lessons.

Of course I need to plan my schedule to follow them. Madinah Arabic online tops my priority which I am already following. I hope with these and no distractions, I may just be able to conquer that insurmountable wall called Arabic language.

One Reply to “The Arabic language challenge”

  1. Assalam alikum wa rahmatullahi wa barakatuhu,sister wonderful article.Alhamdulillah I am on currently book 3 of madinah arabic series ,doing it online thru,MashaAllah I highly recommend the teacher Brother Asif meherali,he is an excellent teacher with an amazing style of teaching.

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