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University of Haifa International School Student Blog

The Road Not Taken – Arabic Edition

I am going to be honest. I was thinking about holding up on a blog post today because I have been very busy with papers, exams, midterms, etc., and I thought – Maybe I won’t post anything today because nobody wants to read about tests. I mean – I wouldn’t want to read them to say the least. Then, I had a revelation as I was looking at my Arabic Notes (For my midterm on Thursday, of course): I will write about my journey with the Arabic language.

 Hold on tight…

Just a bit of information – I have taken Arabic for two years now. When I entered Providence College in Fall 2012, I enrolled in a “Modern Standard Arabic Elementary I” class, and boy, it was not easy. For those of you who don’t know, Arabic has many different sounds that people from the United States would not be used to hearing or making. Coming from an Italian family, who speaks various Romance Languages, I never heard anything that sounded like an “ayn” before. As I said, it was a difficult class that required hard work, dedication, and persistence. In the end, I was happy with the class, proud of myself, and I continued on with my Arabic journey. Along the way, I took a liking to Arab culture, which I learned about in my classes. As I mentioned, it is very similar to Mediterranean, Italian [I am Italian] culture. Unfortunately, I was not as happy with the teaching-styles of my other Arabic classes, but I got through them and continued to study the wonderful language.

If you have taken MSA before, especially in the States, you know that you most likely will not speak the language fluently after two years (unless you come from an Arabic-speaking family). The extensive information (vocabulary, the Arabic alphabet, grammar, etc.) in MSA deters you from being conversational. It is unfortunate, but it is true.

Before I came to Israel, I decided to enroll in the Spoken-Arabic because I found out that there would be less focus on grammar and the alphabet and more focus on vocabulary and conversation. Hallelujah! I would finally be able to take a class, which allows me to speak the language.

Flash-Forward to December 10, 2014

Aka Today

I am in the midst of my Spoken Arabic class, and I absolutely love it. I have learned an extensive amount of vocabulary, and my professor makes us constantly converse. So, we are sure to use the vocabulary. Also, my professor has post-class conversations with me about daily topics, which helps me to increase my fluency in the language. In Israel, there have been many opportunities for me to use my Arabic in daily life. Lastly, my roommates have been helped me with my Arabic, and they are willing to converse whenever I want. All in all, I can say my conversational Arabic has improved throughout the duration of this trip.

My Recommendations


  1. Take MSA – You probably won’t be conversational, but you will have knowledge of the grammar, the alphabet, and know certain grammatical ideas that do not exist in English. You do not need to necessarily take two years of Arabic, but just some time to learn the basics – if you can.
  2. Then Again, Take Some Spoken Arabic – Spoken Arabic improves your ability to converse in the language. You will learn more vocabulary in less time, and you will focus less on the alphabet and grammar.
  3. Speak to Someone in Arabic – Make sure you don’t lose your ability to converse, and if you can’t converse in Arabic, try to speak with someone. The only way you can get better is if you practice.
  4. Don’t Give Up – It is a very difficult language to learn, know, speak, and master, but make sure you do not give up. Do not get discouraged from mixing up letters, sounds, words, etc. Be sure to try and try hard.
  5. Since I am a Travel Aficionado – Go to the Middle East, or go to an Arab country! Learn more about the culture, and immerse yourself in it! I have studied the language, the culture, the history, etc., and now, I have been able to actually to engage in Arab culture.



About haifainternationalschool

Marketing Director for the University of Haifa International School. Offering students from over 40 countries around the world an academic summer,semester or yearlong opportunity in Haifa!

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This entry was posted on December 10, 2014 by in Reflections and tagged , , , , .

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