I had been immersing myself pretty hard into German last Summer and had planned to keep going. But then I made a fairly spontaneous (and pretty fortuitous)  decision to jump into Arabic for my language requirement at UW. I’ll need two years of it to fulfill my departmental honors requirement. I wanted something new, obviously, instead of just testing out with Spanish. I thought I would continue with German on my own but Arabic is really requiring some focus this first year. It’s only now that I’ve started the third quarter that it’s finally started to feel more natural to me and readily available to me in every day use. German was too easy to slip into daily use and it was interfering with the Arabic. So I set German on hold for the past 6 months or so.

BUT!  Now that Berlin is coming up pretty quickly for the start of Summer, I’ve added 15 min of German review to my day and I’m actually surprised at how much I remember and how quickly it’s coming back. Of all things, regenschirm is the one word that will not leave my head. Perhaps it’s because I tripped over it so badly when I first learned the word and then it wound up being one of my favorite words… or maybe it’s because of all this rain in Seattle (which is making me crazy at this point) and because, in fact, ich habe einen gelben Regenschirm! I DO have a yellow umbrella. (*laugh out loud* yes?)

I can also tell you, in Arabic, that there is a lot of rain in Seattle and I am crazy now because of it. (I don’t quite have the grammar to say “It’s raining a lot in Seattle and it’s making me crazy” but I can say “I am crazy because of the rain.”)

!أنا مجنونة بسبب المطر

But the most important things to know, in my opinion, are how to say “coffee” and “tired.”  (When I lived in Prague, I had a fabulous French teacher for a short while who demanded I say something other than “Je suis fatigué” every time we met and he asked how I was. True story.) The importance of the word “coffee” – well, that should be self explanatory.

Ich bin müde. Ich brauch Kaffee! Ich mag Kaffee… nein, ich liebe Kaffee!

! أنا متعبة. أريد قهوة. أحب قهوة

PS For learning resources I love DuoLingo and Memrise. Separately, each one is nice. Together, they’re amazing. When I’m learning German, I like to watch German movies and listen to the news in German. I also use the UW German coursebook “Kontakt”, which I’ll be using formally next year when I attempt 2nd year Arabic and 1st year German at once. *gulp* Ya allah!

For Arabic, I’ve realized something: I first attempted to find native speakers to practice speaking with but realized it’s better to stick to my classmates and course materials. We are learning the grammar in manageable chunks – Arabic grammar is complicated. It gets confusing when native speakers try to explain grammar I haven’t gotten to or use their dialect and words I don’t know yet. I DO love to listen to BBC Arabic and practice reading the BBC Arabic website. The grammar is more advanced but I can manage it on my own. I’m always surprised at how many words I understand and can recognize the roots of, even if I don’t understand the function of the way it’s used yet. Same with listening – I listen for words I recognize, the prefixes and suffixes, as well as simply getting used to hearing it spoken quickly.

DuoLingo does NOT have Arabic (boo to them for that) but Memrise does. Memrise not only has several Arabic courses, but they have many that are pulled from the Al-Kitaab book (the most common book used for Arabic language learning in schools). I only realized they have vocab courses that exactly line up with each unit a few weeks ago. It’s been a HUGE help in mastering the vocabulary for each lesson, which is the most challenging aspect.


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