Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

New Lessons Page

Thursday, December 13th, 2012

Hope you like our new ‘lessons’ page! There are important features introduced

  • The website will now keep track of the lesson pages you have visited. The word ‘visited’ will be displayed in the Lessons page next to each lesson you have visited the page of.

Visited

  • New ‘popular topics’ section giving you the option to view lessons in certain popular categories.

Popular Topics

By the way, if you don’t know how to get to the Lessons page, simply clicking on Lessons will take you there!

Desmond, one of ArabicPod’s prominent users, talks about his experience with learning Arabic

Sunday, April 24th, 2011

Mohamed has asked me to contribute to the ﻤﺪﻮﻨﺔ. He has suggested that I should say something about learning Arabic.

My interest in Arabic is primarily aesthetic. Even as a small child I loved Arabic music, and I was impressed by the beauty of the Arabic language. The music and the language have a magical quality which sends a tingle down my spine.

I would have liked to learn a foreign language at primary school, but English, alas, was the only language on the curriculum although all the teachers knew Latin or Greek. When I was sent to grammar school at the age of eleven I immediately began to learn French and Latin. By the age of twelve I had attained such a level of proficiency in both languages that the headmaster described me as “a promising pupil”. My uncle, who was the senior history master at the same school, told me this was high praise, for the headmaster was hard to please and rarely praised anyone except Homer, Vergil, Dante or Racine. He was a brilliant orator and a scholar of no mean attainments. He spoke twelve languages (including Chinese, Japanese and Russian), but he was a ruthless despot who ruled with an iron fist, and he was feared by staff and pupils alike on account of his terrifying outbursts of rage which left everyone speechless with shock and horror.

At the age of fifteen I began to learn German, and when I left school three years later I had attained a level of proficiency which even the headmaster found impressive. The French consulate and the German embassy in London sent me book prizes, and the headmaster suggested I might enter the diplomatic service.

I decided to specialise in modern languages and got on very well with the senior lecturer in the French department, an extraordinarily charming and gifted Frenchman who impressed everyone by his eloquence and erudition. His English was as good as his French, and he was envied by all his colleagues.

My relations with the German lecturers were somewhat less cordial, but they were, on the whole, quite good. The head of the German department, a very clever, witty and eloquent gentleman from Hamburg, told me I knew too much. Another lecturer, a talented and ambitious Viennese lady who is now world-famous, once summoned me to her office for a private interview. She never praised anyone, and she exuded a kind of chill which made her unapproachable. Peering pensively at me through her rimless spectacles, and speaking in a precise, metallic voice which made her sound rather like a robot, she said my German was “almost too perfect”. She accused me of parodying Hermann August Korff and Thomas Mann and added that she found me positively “intimidating”. I suppose that was a kind of reluctant praise, for it was hard to imagine anyone intimidating such an intelligent, self-possessed and formidably dynamic lady.

Many years later, when I had settled definitively in Germany, I acquired an Arabic grammar written by a very competent Austrian scholar (Ambros, Einführung in die moderne arabische Schriftsprache). A bookseller offered me the volume for next to nothing because none of his other customers were willing to purchase it. I perused several chapters of the book and found it extremely interesting, but I had no idea how the Arabic words in the book were pronounced, and I found the bizarre and complex transliteration system very off-putting. Having reached the conclusion that Arabic was unlearnable, I consigned the book to one of the darkest and least accessible corners of my library and forgot about it.

Towards the end of November 2009, I listened to some interesting BBC reports about the situation in the Middle East. I happened to click on a link which led me to the BBC’s Arabic website. Unable to master my curiosity, I clicked on a button and listened attentively. I could only understand a few words, but I was immediately captivated by the magical cadences of the Arabic language and decided that I ought to take the plunge.

The next day I started to look for Arabic videos on YouTube and discovered the fifty-fifth sura. I clicked on the video and listened. I was deeply impressed by the musical qualities of the recitation and by the dream-like beauty of the refrain which means “Then which of the favours of your Lord will you deny?” The back door was open, and two cats who had been wandering around in the garden came slinking in. They sat down in front of the table where I had placed my computer, and I had the impression that they enjoyed the recitation as much as I did. They never moved until the recitation ended.

Shortly afterwards, my peregrinations through the labyrinthine ramifications of the Internet led me to an Arabicpod video (“Down the beach”). Ehab and Mohamed looked very friendly and likeable, and the dialogue presented in the video seemed more accessible than Ambros’ somewhat arid explanations. I decided to visit the Arabicpod.net website, and I was not disappointed.

Ehab and Mohamed have succeeded in bringing Arabic to life. They present the language in such a way that it seems more accessible to westerners. Used in conjunction with material from other Arabic websites and the innumerable Arabic videos on YouTube and DailyMotion, the podcasts enable learners to gain valuable insights into the workings of an ancient and venerable language which few westerners have the courage to tackle.

During the past two years I have listened regularly to Arabicpod.net and collected material from numerous other sources. I have now compiled my own Arabic dictionary and greatly improved my listening comprehension.

Last week I spoke Arabic for the very first time in my life. A very talented Lebanese student turned up in a French course I teach at a German university. At first we spoke in French, but when he told me he was Lebanese I switched to Modern Standard Arabic. For a moment he stared at me in amazement, then he replied in Arabic. The German students gaped at me in bewilderment when they heard me speaking fluent Arabic, and I must admit that I was just as surprised as they were. Since I had nobody to talk to in Arabic I’d never practised speaking, but the Arabic words just came gushing out of my mouth in a steady stream. It was as if a supernatural entity had slipped into my body and taken control of my mind.

I shall continue to listen regularly to the Arabicpod podcasts. I hope that I shall continue to make steady progress, and I would like to avail myself of this opportunity to thank Ehab and Mohamed for their kindness and generosity.

How Do I Love Thee (in Arabic) – Let Me Count the Ways

Friday, October 9th, 2009

The most basic words for love in Arabic (حُبّ), English and French (aimer) don’t look anything alike, but they do share the same set of meanings. If I say alternately ‘I love you’ or ‘je t’aime’ or ‘أُحِبّك,’ I could be speaking to a lover, a parent, a sibling, a friend, a pet or even an inanimate object. I might even just mean, “I like you.” It’s all about the context – and this is also a handy word to know in Arabic, السِياق.

If I’m speaking to a male, I’m going to say أُحِبُكَ (u7ebbuka), whereas if I’m speaking to a female, I’ll say أُحِبُكِ (u7ebbuki).

Of course, if I’m in الشام area of the Arab world, I might add a ‘بَ’ to the beginning of the word to signify that it’s in the present tense (and, in this case, tweak the internal vowels). In the Levant (Lebanon, Syria, Palestine, Jordan) and in Egypt, for instance, I’d say بَحَبك (ba7ebbak/ik). If I’m just talking about love in general, I’ll use the مصدر or verbal noun and be sure to make it definite: الحُبّ.

This particular verb, however, is hardly the only one you’ll hear used to describe love. In London-based Egyptian writer Ahdaf Soueif’s 1999 novel,The Map of Love, one of her characters – an avid Arabic student – goes looking for love in the Arabic language. In a lyrical journal entry, she writes about what she has discovered:

” ‘Hubb’ is love, ’3ishq’ [عِشْقَ] is love that entwines two people together, ‘sha3′af’ [شَغَفَ] is love that nests in the chambers of the heart, ‘hayam’ [هامَ/هَيم] is love that wanders the earth, ‘taym’ [تامَ/تَيْم] is love in which you lose yourself, ‘walah’ [وَلَهَ] is love that carries sorrow within it, ’9abaabah’ [صَبَّ/صَبابة] is love that exudes from your pores, ‘hawa’ [هَوَى] is love that shares its name with ‘air’ and with ‘falling,’ ’3′arem’ [غَرِمَ - pass.] is love that is willing to pay the price.”

If you’re yearning to know more about these specific words – well, yallah, look them up in our dictionary!

Arabic is not difficult

Thursday, July 16th, 2009

A common misconception about Arabic today is that it is an extremely difficult language to learn. I am writing this article to eliminate this misconception. Yes, Arabic can be hard, but no, it does not take years to learn if some effort is put into learning the language on a weekly basis. Everyone can learn Arabic, both young and old!

I generally try to back my claims with evidence. If Arabic is that difficult, then how is it that Hamza Yusuf, an American raised in California who started learning Arabic in his 20s, now speaks Arabic so fluently that many assume him to be a born Arab. Moreover, how has Tim Winter, also known as Abdal Hakim Murad and a lecturer at Cambridge University, mastered the language? Both of these men travelled to Arab countries to seek knowledge and, although they started learning Arabic as adults, they can now speak the language skillfully. This proves that Arabic is not such a difficult language to learn. My own mother, born and raised in Britain, managed to learn Arabic in her early 30s and can now have competent conversations with people.

The biggest challenge for Arabic learners is the lack of available resources and native-Arab people to practice with. Recently, with the emergence of sites such as ArabicPod.net, people are starting to realise that learning Arabic can be a great and pleasurable experience, far from the complex and stressful experience many claim it to be. Of course it’s inevitable that the learning of a new language means also understanding new grammatical rules different from those of your mother tongue. However, this shouldn’t mean that learning the language is exceptionally difficult. Every foreign tongue is different and unique in its own way. Thus, acquisition of a new language always requires determination and motivation.

We often see questions over the internet concerning the difficulty of learning Arabic. When People worldwide think about learning Arabic one of the first questions they ask is: “Is Arabic difficult?”. To summarize, it certainly is a challenge, but a challenge that can be easily surmounted . Do not listen to those who don’t speak a word of Arabic but claim it to be the most difficult language to learn. Give the language a chance, you will find it is well worth it!

Universally Arabic

Friday, April 18th, 2008

As I was walking down the Grand Bazaar Market in Istanbul, Turkey, while on holiday, I stopped to buy a cheap watch when the salesman asked if I spoke Arabic. I was surprised to hear near perfect Arabic being spoken by this salesman. He was a local Kurd and not from an Arab descent and said that Arabic was a must for him to learn. It was then when it struck me that Arabic really is a universal language with a World Wide user base.  

Arabic is one of the most spoken languages in the World. It is the official language in 22 countries and is also learnt as a second language by millions of people due to the influences of Islam, culture and others. I found a good article on http://www.vistawide.com/arabic/why_arabic.htm called “10 excellent reasons to study Arabic” which is worth a read if you’re wondering why you should study Arabic.

From a personal point of view, I find Arabic very rich. The vast number of words that are available and the way they are formed can deliver a very powerful and touching speech, for example, more so than if it was done in another language. If I was to compare the language to a Swiss Army Knife then it would be a fully loaded one with all the tools needed to easily provide vivid explanatory speech.  Those romantic gestures that you might give to your loved one can sound even more romantic using this tool.

If you have started learning with us at ArabicPod then we urge you to continue and promise you will find the outcome rewarding, and if you are thinking of learning Arabic then all we can ask is what are you waiting for? Start downloading those podcasts and embark on a journey that will lead you to the treasure at the end of the rainbow.