Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Arabic Word of the Day

I've moved my Arabic Word of the Day section over to a new blog (http://awotd.blogspot.com/).

Within a week or so I hope to begin posting reviews of Arabic learning materials!

Monday, November 28, 2005

Arabic Word of the Day

Lazy - كَسول

Saturday, November 26, 2005

Arabic Word of the Day

Understood (m/f/pl) مَفْهُومُون / مَفْهُومَة / مَفْهُوم

I’ve heard this word used by itself with a questioning tone as in: Understood? (مَفْهوم؟ )

Arabic Word of the Day

رَجَا / يَرْجُو to hope/wish

يَرْجُو ان يَذْهَب He wishes to go.

Thursday, November 24, 2005

What's the Best Place to Study Arabic?

I previously studied at the Defense Language Institute (DLI) in Monterey, California. Although I felt that the program was solid and probably better than most college based programs, it was my belief then, as it is now, that foreign language study in the United States, however intense or realistic, is ultimately flawed.

Foreign language study in the United States is both slow and insufficient to meet the needs of an aspiring Arabic linguist. When a student of the Arabic language leaves class in the United States, they are immediately bombarded by English, not Arabic. Their primary source of information, entertainment, and expression takes place not in their target language but in English. There is no program of study in the United States that can prepare a foreign language student the way studying abroad does. A graduate of a stateside program will not have the ability to understand the nuances of the Arabic language or have a proper understanding of the Arabic culture/mindset.

For the past several months, I researched Arabic language programs abroad and have narrowed my search to two places for differing reasons. The first of the two (in no specific order) is in Egypt (basically Cairo). Egypt is the Hollywood of the Middle East and the Egyptian dialect is most likely to be understood by the widest majority of Arabs one might encounter, and just as our speech is peppered with colloquialisms from movies and television, one would expect that any Arabic they might hear, in the course of their job as a linguist, would contain such references.

My second choice is in Sana’a, Yemen. Sana’a is an interesting choice. There has been little Western influence in Yemen and the people speak Arabic almost exclusively. This should provide one with the rare opportunity to be immersed in the Arabic language completely and provide an effective and stimulating setting. There are three language academies recommended by the American Institute for Yemeni Studies (http://www.aiys.org/index.html), in Sana’a: The Center for Arabic Studies and Eastern Languages (CALES - http://www.y.net.ye/cales/welcome.htm), The Yemen Language Center (YLC - http://www.ylcint.com/), and Sana’a Institute for the Arabic Language (SIAL - http://www.sialyemen.com/english/index.htm).

I like Egypt as it is more modern that Yemen, but the language schools there require you to find your own lodging, which may end up being a good walk from the school. The cost of studying in Egypt seems to be one-third to one-half more expense than in Yemen. All three schools that I mentioned in Yemen provide housing within a five minute walk from school and the Yemen Language Center offers a meal plan. The Yemen school’s costs seem to be all inclusive, including books and even airport pickup. So, if money is no object, I’d probably go to Egypt, but Yemen definitely has the advantage for the budget minded.

This is not to say that one cannot locate a good school in another Arab country; however, I believe that one would have to have an unyielding desire to ignore the facts to come to the conclusion that another country provides a better learning environment.