Eleven weeks till Pre-Departure Orientations! I am so excited to say that I have officially started my Mandatory Pre-Program Language Course (MPPLC) for the NSLI-Y program! As you may know, prior to the actual study abroad experience, NSLI-Y students have to complete a 10 week online course in the target language, so that they can have a basic foundation for the actual program. This means that before leaving for Jordan, I need to know how to read, write, and introduce myself in Arabic! Luckily, since I have already taught myself how to read the Arabic script, I am just working on writing, as well as mastering greetings and basic phrases in Shaami, the dialect spoken in Jordan.
Interestingly, Arabic has many different dialects, some of the main ones being MaSri (Egypt), Shaami/Levantine (Iraq/Syria/Jordan/Palestine), and Darija (Moroccan). In addition to this, there is Classical Arabic, that of the Quran, and Modern Standard Arabic (MSA), the more official Arabic used in literature, news, and other formal settings. Some of the Arabic dialects are so unintelligible to one another, that a Moroccan and a Syrian might have to resort to MSA for communication! In my program, we will be studying Shaami and MSA.
I received my textbook, Alif Baa, last week, and I’m almost done with Unit Two. I am proud to say that I can actually form some simple sentences in Shaami now!
مرحبا. أنا اسمي شردها خوشي. (Hello! My name is Shraddha Joshi.)
أنا من مدينة اوستن. (I am from the city of Austin.)
و انت؟ شو اسمك؟ من وين انت؟ (And you? What is your name? Where are you from?)
(Sorry for the strange formatting; I realized that it is incredibly difficult to switch between an Arabic and English keyboard in the same line!)
To supplement my learning with Alif Baa, I have been doing a free online course on Memrise, as well as creating Quizlet sets to drill vocabulary. When I don’t have my textbook or computer with me, I have been spending my spare time introducing myself (to myself) in Arabic, and trying to produce the deep guttural sounds of ع (ayn), without sounding like I’m about to throw up! 🙂