Friday, March 15, 2013

I Can Talk Arabic! Well, I'm learning ...



I first made an effort to start learning Arabic back when I was attending university, shortly after I met my future husband.   He and one of his friends taught me the very basics, like numbers, colors, and how to say very simple things like thank you, hello and goodbye.  When I moved to Saudi Arabia five years ago, I thought it would be imperative for me to learn more Arabic, but instead I found that people wanted to practice their English with me!  So learning the Arabic language hasn’t really been an urgent top priority for me.  At my age, learning a language is much more difficult than when I was younger.  Heck, after moving to KSA in my mid-50s, it took me three weeks just to master what to say in Arabic when I sneeze! 

Finally after five years in KSA, I took the plunge and enrolled in a conversational Arabic class.  I wanted to take a course that was fun, friendly, and informal - and I wanted to enroll in a class that would not put any pressure on me with testing or performance.  With the “I Can TalkArabic” course, I got just that!  I am about to complete my first session of 8 classes and am eagerly looking forward to more.   Not only have I thoroughly enjoyed each and every class and met some fantastic women in the process, but this “Women Only” class is the best deal in town!  


Founded by Hadeel Al-Abassi (hadeel.alabassi@gmail.com), a Saudi  writer, family counselor, and a life coach, she wanted to start an Arabic language institute in Jeddah that would focus on conversational skills instead of classical Arabic and grammar.   “I Can Talk Arabic” is perfect for the woman who wants to be able to carry on simple conversations in a variety of common everyday situations, such as shopping, traveling, banking, or at school.   “ICTA” has been in operation for one year now and conveniently offers morning or evening classes, from beginners to advanced.  Students can pay a discounted rate for the entire 8 class session up front or have the option of paying for each class separately. 

   
One of the things I like best about the "ICTA" classes is the relaxed atmosphere.  Classes are held in the pool house within the walls of Hadeel’s family villa.  Instead of a structured classroom environment, it feels more like a group of friends getting together each week and having a good time.   Women from many countries all over the world are enrolled in the class I am currently taking.  Students include business women, teachers, nurses, and housewives.  To top it all off, drinks and refreshments are also provided at each class too. 


What I also like about these classes is the opportunity to forge friendships with some real Saudi women.  Since I don't work, it's not always easy to meet other Saudi women outside my husband's family.  In my eyes, Hadeel and her crew represent the best of the typical Saudi woman - motivated, busy working mothers, well-educated and well-traveled, volunteering their time to share themselves, their culture and their beautiful language with other non-Saudi women who often feel intimidated by the different customs and culture.  I feel honored to have met them.

As this fledgling institute continues to attract more students, eventually they will outgrow their current facility, move to bigger digs, and have to raise their fees.  But for now, I'm happy with this learning experience just the way it is.
A new session of  "I Can Talk Arabic" classes will be starting soon.  

If you are interested in these WOMEN ONLY CLASSES, you can find out more information on the ICTA website.    

You can also join ICTA on Facebook.  

16 comments:

  1. Congratulations Susie, what a great idea! Keep up the good work and good luck!

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  2. Susie, did you get a chance to see the movie Wadjda? I saw it in France last week, it's beautiful. I understand it won't be shown in KSA, is that true?

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    1. Thanks, Nathalie - I'm really glad to be taking these classes. I already feel that I am understanding more in conversations, although sometimes it takes a little time for the words to register. No, I haven't see the movie. There are no movie theaters here in Saudi Arabia, so unless there is a special private venue to have it shown, it won't be.

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  3. Lynne LevandowskiMar 16, 2013, 2:51:00 AM

    That's great! Congratulations! I wish you the best of luck with your learning. I would certainly enjoy taking those classes.

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    1. Thanks, Lynne - It's been such a pleasant experience for me. Ana mubsoota! - which means "I am happy!"

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  4. I really applaud your efforts and courage. Learning a new language is not easy especially learning one with different letters and pronunciation. Now this is what is called cultural interaction (because it takes time and is not easy,) not just taking a few pictures and go shopping in the bazaar. All the luck to you

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    1. Hi Sahar - Thanks so much. It's especially challenging for me because my retention for language is n't so great at my age, but I'm happy that I am trying - and I do see progress!

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  5. You are so lucky to have this class, Susie.
    I'm trying out the Rosetta Stone lessons.

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    1. I've never used Rosetta Stone myself but I hear it's good!

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    2. I have been trying to use the Arabic Rosetta Stone software, but it is impossible for me. I am a quick learner, yet I cannot pick anything up from the lessons. Plus it is a different Arabic than that used here in KSA.

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    3. Most of the Arabic books that I've seen use the Egyptian dialect because they say it's most commonly understood. And many of the words are totally different than what is used here in KSA.

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  6. This sounds like a great opportunity in many ways. Nice to get out of the house, meet other women and learn. You are Never too old to learn.

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    1. Hi Gaelyn - I agree that you're never too old to learn - it just takes longer at my age!!!

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  7. Yes, it's different from what they speak in KSA and Sudan but mostly because there is an extra 'syllable' added at the end of most words. If you have a little understanding of Arabic you can work around that. People will understand you if you learn the Rosetta Stone Arabic.

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  8. Hi Susie,

    I have a general language learning blog, and I have just finished making an Arabic Alphabet chart with arrows (to learn how to write).

    Now I'm giving it away to other people with blogs about the Arabic language. If you'd like to have it, you can grab it here. If you need a different size, just email me at the address I provided.

    http://www.speakoutlanguages.com/arabic-alphabet-chart-code/

    Have a good day!

    Ryan

    SpeakOut! Languages

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  9. HI Susie. Sounds nice. I think I will be signing up for this coming session evening classes :-)

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