First day at school.

I woke up, bright and early and immediately wished it wasn’t quite so early. First day being a foreigner getting taught Arabic at the Ma’had institute.

I was a bit worried I didn’t know what class room I was supposed to be in. What I had somehow not realized was that absolutely no one had any idea what class they were supposed to be in. the director read some names of a list, then walked away. All the names followed, wanting to find out why he’d read of their names. The rest of us also followed him, wanting to know why we weren’t on the list. eventually someone entered the swirling confusion.
‘beginners Arabic. room 12.’
Beginners Arabic all headed to room 12, where we gave the director our names and took a seat. that makes it sound orderly, but take my word for it it wasn’t. Maybe the intention was to give us a tour of the building, but apparently the director can’t write names on a list unless hes striding around, with a tail of students running after his waddling figure like they’re his ducklings.

I got the second last seat. Later students had to bring their own.
at just gone 10 the lesson started, with 30 odd in the room.
At 10.20 the director came back and called people out by nationality and sent them to room 11.

The class cut down to size, we began. It was pretty confusing. No language other than Arabic was being used, and it took me a bout three qauters of an hour to figure out I’d lernt ‘my, your (feminine), your (masculine) hers and his’ name and I You, You, His and Hers’ not ‘My, his, hers no idea and no idea.’

My teacher may not be one of those rare students to get an A* in the Arabic equivalent of TEAFL, unlike a certain Ms Parker who I’m proud to call a friend, but equally I know this way of learning doesn’t suit me. Time, methinks, to track down an old fashioned book of Arabic grammar and a private teacher for the afternoons.

After class some of the other girls and I went to pick up the results of our mandatory aids test. Lots of the other students are either from the non Arabic speaking Islamic world, or Japan & South Korea. The overwhelming majority of the European kids are German, though Italy, France and Holland can also boast a pupil each. They all seem quite nice.The is one woman who had her son, aged about 6, with her. He was well behaved, but if the teacher is going to continue teaching him as well as us we are going to be their for quite a while.

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About adventuresinarabic

I'm studying Arabic in Damascus, living through the Arab Spring and blogging about my experiences hear.
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8 Responses to First day at school.

  1. brondavid says:

    Hi Olivia – what a crazy way to run a school, but you report it all brilliantly! It’s good you’re learning all those possessive pronouns: perfectly designed for understanding Middle Eastern border disputes (it’s mine – no it’s theirs – no it’s ours!). Anyway congratulations on getting through the obstacle course of the enrolment procedure. Understanding the language has got to be easier than understanding the academic bureaucracy.

    It’s great to have worked out where your block of flats is – I’m going to download some muezzin calls so I can sit looking at Google Earth and imagining your life opposite the mosque. Here it’s rained non-stop for days. Hermione phoned me today but only wanted me to explain some technical stuff about her ipod. I take this as A Good Sign: obviously everything else in her life must be fine…

  2. chrisbelton says:

    But small children learn languages quicker. Their brains are wired differently.

  3. Nathan says:

    In which case Chris, explain why you are only fluent (and that’s being generous) in one language.

    It all sounds rather hectic; would you like me to come and help organise them?

  4. Henry says:

    Glad you’ve managed to navigate your way through all the admin and into the classroom…all sounds a bit crazy there!
    BEC dinner was excellent – Megan took pictures which we’ll try and share, maybe through my site. Also the ACC didn’t kill any freshers this weekend, so things are looking good.
    I’ll try and write an email soon! Would be good to see some pictures up if you’ve got the chance?

    • oliinarabic says:

      doubly fantastic. Chris phoned, it sounds like the dinner was pretty good, though he didn’t know anything about the freshers. can’ts hare any photos, hellies bringing out my camra. looking forwads to seeing yours.

      turns out i havn’t done all the necessary admin, but they have enrolled me anyway as they didn’t realise.

  5. Rich Smith says:

    Sounds… challenging. I expect it’ll be tricky to bootstrap yourself up to learn enough Arabic to actually learn Arabic! Best of luck, but sounds like you’re doing well.

    Here’s an interesting blog post about mistakes made in Arabic translation.

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