Monday, June 13, 2011

Oohh, been away too long!

Sorry folks! Life carried me away and I have been gone a long time but I am trying to come back. Hopefully, I can make this blog interesting and log in at least once a week. Anyway, I had really been slacking in my Arabic study and it became a drudgery for me; to the point, I didn't want to study it anymore but I loved Arabic and I refused to give it up. I tried going to Spanish for a break, and my love for Arabic kept overriding my wandering heart! So I read articles, blogs and realized that I was not the only one who gets frustrated, bored or overwhelmed by the language they are studying. So I sat down and looked at how, what and the way I was studying to see what the problem was.

I realized that my main problem was my sporadic, unorganized way that I was learning, or should I say NOT learning. I would study one or two times a week, very intensively for hours and then the next day, didn't even want to look at another Arabic letter. I would be so burned out, that i would sometimes skip a week or two and then when my interest came back, I would have forgotten what I learned and have to do review all over again. Misery. I got frustrated because it seemed like I wasn't learning anything at all and to some extent, nothing was making sense. I actually started looking at the other languages I wanted to learn and thought about skipping Arabic for a while. I tried concentrating on learning Hindi but my heart kept wandering back to Arabic. I got mad because I told myself, I know I can do this!! What is my problem? Arabic was fun and special; but now, it was more like a chore and that made me madder because I loved it so much and didn't want to give it up.

So I decided to find a way to fall back "in love" with Arabic. I had to fix my main problems: study habits, disorganization, and materials I was using. My rationale has always been I don't have time, so study here, there, everywhere. I sat down with a piece of paper and made a list of my day and everything I did all day long. I was shocked; I had LOADS of time. I had at least 3-4 hrs of wasted time, every single day; some days MORE. I couldn't believe it. Ok, so after that, I tackled my disorganization. I never studied at a particular time or the same courses each time. I was splitting it up between two courses and other supplements in between. It was a mess. I had to make a better plan. I cut out all the supplemental books, i.e. phrase books, grammar booklets, etc. and decided that for now, to follow the K.I.S.S. rule--Keep It Simple Stupid. Use the one course that I liked the most and felt I could benefit from and make my plans around that. I could use my second course after I finished the first one or use it in between when I needed a day of switch up. As for time, I use my huge blocks of time I have going to work and dropping my son off at daycare, to do some serious study time.

I changed another one of my study habits as well: amount of time. As much as I LOVE studying languages and Arabic in particular, there is a such thing as doing too much. I am breaking up my study time, so as to not devote so much time, I get burned out or bored. I try not to study more than I want to and I do it in small increments with things in between. I will give you an example in the next bit, when I show you my daily ritual that I now do.  I make sure I study every single day but not like a crazy person like before. On days I feel like studying less, I cut it down without feeling like I am abandoning my studies completely. On days I may not feel like studying at all or am busier than usual, I make sure that I get at the very minimum 15 minutes in; thats a promise I made to myself. I need to get at least that 15 in.

My current study schedule is: My son and I get up to start our day and wait for the bus, early a.m. While we are waiting for bus #1 (first of a few), I lock and load my Mp3 player and listen to a few Arabic tunes on the way to daycare. After I drop my son off, I go for bus #2 and either I keep listening to some tunes or I start my Pimsleur Egyptian Arabic lesson or my Teach Yourself lesson. While waiting for bus #3, I listen to some more Arabic music or I read my Arabic phrases and decide which ones i am going to memorize for the week. On my bus ride into work, I either continue on with my Pimsleur or TY or I spend my time going back over the lesson or the next lesson I am going to learn. After work, on my way home, I give myself a break--no study. I may listen to some music, however or Quran. On my days off, if I feel I want a bit of a change up, I will study a lesson from the University of Medinah course. I listen to the dialog, read the lesson, read the lesson again, out loud and then I re-write the whole lesson, word for word in my notebook. Then I make flash cards for the lesson I am on and go over them at the end of my lesson. Later in the day, I will go over the flash cards again a few times. I don't study too much on my days' off; I try to keep it lighter. I am also going to do what Laoshu5500 suggests and that is to make a Youtube video so I can get constructive criticism but for now, my ego and feelings are a little too fragile for that right now! lol! I'm also going to use chat and language groups to practice with native speakers. I can always practice on my soon-to-be ex as well but he is not very cooperative sometimes.

And that's my current routine. Its not written in stone and it is very much open to change but for now, it works. Oh, I forgot to mention, that I am also teaching my son, too and have started a separate blog about teaching him on He seems to love Arabic as much as his mummy and that makes me happy. I hope by the time he is 5 yrs old, we will not speak any English at home, at all, insha'Allah. That is another reason I am trying to kick my learning into overdrive but I have learned that if that means too much stress and pressure on myself, then its not worth it. Insha'allah, I will come along and I am doing so well already, in my view and have had some cool breakthroughs to keep me going. For example, last week on the bus, I realized that finally the words of the music I have been listening to forever, made since and I could hear every distinct letter instead of it just having a good tune and catching a word I may know here and there. I was so shocked! It means that my brain has now wired itself to distinguish the Arabic as part of me, so to speak. Its the small triumphs that will keep you going in your language.

Well. I'm off. I am sorry I have been away so long. I will try to post at least once every 1 or 2 weeks and I hope this is helping someone else who feels they can't do what I am doing. Thanks ever so much for the positive comments! I really appreciate them! Next post, I will list some of the resources I am using and how I use them. Cheers!