Saturday, October 2, 2010

My very first post! Ahlan wa sahlan!

Hello! I know that just about everyone has a blog, so I thought, why not me, too? lol! I wanted to do this blog for a variety of reasons; as we go along, I will share them with you. One of them being, that I have always wanted to learn another language, even in high school. I took 2 yrs of Spanish and like most Americans kids, realized at the end of it, I couldn't even order a burrito at a Mexican restaurant. I loved Spanish, it was the only reason I went to school sometimes. I dropped out of school my sophomore year and just chalked up my failed Spanish attempt as me being an idiot and let it go but deep down, I still had a yearning that never quite went away. In 1995, my whole life changed; I converted to Islam, much to the surprise of my family and friends. A short time later, I found out about the Arabic that I needed to learn. At first, I felt a trickle of fear and daunted. I thought, Ok, God, I am gonna seriously have to fake it because I know I won't be able to learn that in a million years. I actually expressed that out loud to several people and they just smiled and said, of course, you can do it. A wonderful woman and her daughters started teaching me how to say prayers and parts of Quran and I was amazed that I didn't screw it up! Even the family that was teaching me were surprised. She said, "Masha'Allah! You sound like a natural and you speak this way your whole life!" Poof! My simmering language embers burst into flames and ignited me. It was then that I knew I wanted to learn Arabic for real and not just for learning prayers and Quran.

After that, it was not easy. Arabic resources were next to nil and the only way I could learn was to enroll in college at the University of Utah, which I didn't have time for because of work. I enrolled anyway and went to class on my lunch breaks. Long story short, I failed that class. Mainly, because I could not get there on time, the additional course load that I stupidly bogged myself down with and the fact that the class was great in the beginning and then became grammar intensive. I could never understand grammar even in my own language and so thus, it became a drag. Plus they wanted us to commit to 2 hours of study every single night and language lab every week. With my job and being on call every night; it wasn't gonna happen. I squeaked by with a D and he was being nice giving me that. I have no qualms; I deserved that D grade but it also discouraged me from feeling like I would ever be able to learn Arabic ever again. That special feeling I had when I learned a new word or could understand what had been said to me, had been taken away. I just felt stupid and ordinary again. I dropped the idea of learning it to speak to people and just learned it as part of my religion and that was that. I did try a few half hearted attempts on my own but always gave up in the end or let something else get in the way. That yearning feeling, however, just went into remission and simmered again as embers, waiting for the right time to ignite again.

Move ahead to this year....I kinda said, ok, I really want to learn again, maybe I can do it now. I am older, I can devote some time to it (ha ha, not really) and plus, I have a young son, who is of Arab decent and I want him to learn Arabic; so that he can learn of his other heritage and speak to his father and grandparents. I slowly started getting more and more excited about learning Arabic again. I started daily looking online for resources and things I could buy or use for free. I found a website that I thought was just a little message board for people who were trying to learn a new language; boy, was I ever wrong! I had stumbled upon and once there, was really shocked! I couldn't believe this site! So many people learning another language! And also, they were not just learning ONE language or did they only know just one language! It was several! It was the first time in my life, that I heard the term "Polyglot". The first time I was there, I read post after post, topic after topic, for 13 hrs! I loved it! Fast forward to about 2 months ago....I was just kicking around in  the "how-to-" forum and came on a post that said, "You gotta check this guy out!" The post was about a young man who had a real love of learning languages and he learned a lot of them and on his own! I was intrigued. I said, I gotta see this! Maybe he can teach me something about how to go about this Arabic learning bit. So I go there and see this young, tall skinny Black guy talking on Youtube about languages and in some of the languages he leaned and I was utterly blown away. Not only because he was black but because of his situation; and by situation, I mean, he lives in an area where there is absolutely no one he can practice languages on other than his wife and his buddies, who are also studying languages. That's it! He is learning totally at home, on his own, with language courses from books, mainly the Teach Yourself series, among others and internet chat! How many people can say that? He truly inspires me like no other. He may not realize it, but he is a role model for other black people, like me, who never think they can learn a language, given where we are and our circumstances. Poof! Ah, yes, there came back my old friend. By the way, his name is Moses and goes under his Youtube name, Laoshu505000. You have got to check him out; he is really nice and his advice in his videos has really super helped me. Whatever language you are learning, chances are, he is either studying it now or has studied it so you can get great advice from his videos and if you email him, from Moses himself. That brother can break off some serious Chinese and Japanese, so if you need help with those, he is definitely your man!

I couldn't get enough at Youtube; for hours and hours, I looked around and found polyglot after polyglot after polyglot and I was truly amazed. I never knew there were, now, so many people interested in something outside themselves and had the same burning desire to learn, communicate and make friends with people all over the world; to learn a language, just for the sake of learning, even if they never set foot in the country of origin of the language they were learning. It has truly inspired me to know that if they can do it, so can I! And with that, I am embarking on my own journey of discovery and learning, starting with Arabic. God willing, if I can get fluent enough by next Summer, Hindi is my next stop! I am gathering things and looking at resources now, because when I am ready, I just want to start; not wait for materials to come in the mail. So if you want to see my failures and triumphs; learn some things of what and what not to do then sit tight! I hope you enjoy the ride!