Two months ago, I started taking Arabic classes. I meant to start when I first moved here but, for a variety of reasons, didn’t pull the trigger. But when I realized that a Berlitz school was right across the street from where I worked, well, I figured I had no more excuses.

I’m in a small class of four people, including me. Funnily enough, what our group has in common is Spanish. On guy, from Ireland, spent 12  years living and working in Spain. The other two girls are from Colombia. When we can’t remember our Arabic vocabulary during class, we prompt each other in Spanish. (Our teacher is from Morocco and speaks French, not Spanish.)

I wish I could say that I was going to be fluent in Arabic. I’m really in awe of people who can seamlessly switch from one fluent language to another. But I am learning a lot, and enjoying learning it with my classmates and teachers, and a little bit of knowledge is better than none, right?

Today, I took my final exam for the first segment. I have to admit that I was nervous! (I had to remind the over-achieving Asian in me that I was taking these classes for fun.) I had prepared flashcards, pictured above, to help me remember, but I was having some trouble.

For whatever reason, the 20 or so verbs (only present tense so far) that we learned all begin with the sound of ‘b,’ which I found makes memorizing more difficult. If they all start with the same sound – and some are so close phonetically that the difference is nearly imperceptible – memory aids are harder to find. Another thing that throws you off is that Arabic doesn’t have a “to be” verb; you just launch right in to the action.

I really hope to move on to the second level, but I’m not sure if my travel schedule will permit me to miss so many classes, so we’ll see. Maybe I’ll try to go the private tutor route which would be more flexible. A new world is being opened up to me and I’d like to go a bit further in.

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