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Embody Your Identity standard

Who do you want to be? James Clear, author of Atomic Habits, says this question is the key to developing habits that lead to successful outcomes. Rather than focusing on goals or the achievements we want to see in our lives, we should focus on our identity; who we wish to become. Most people don’t consider identity change when they set out to learn something. They fix their eye on the final outcome in order to decide their actions, rather than setting an identity that will shape their habits. However, if you neglect to change your underlying beliefs about yourself, it is difficult to change your habits as your behaviors are usually a reflection of your identity; an indication of ...

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Language is Ubiquitous standard

When is the last time you have used the word ubiquitous in your speech? Chances are, you never have. Before I picked up the book, Sapiens by Yuval Noah Harari, I had never noticed anyone use the word ubiquitous; yet it’s meaning is so simple; “present, appearing or found everywhere.” It’s not overly complex, but only after hearing my audiobook narrator say this word multiple times, did I begin to grasp its meaning; a word in my own language, surrounded by other words I fully understood. As the director of a language program designed to help people learn spoken Arabic, I often notice when vocabulary in my own first language remains unfamiliar to me. I asked myself if I could ...

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Learning Arabic – People over Paper standard

People study languages for a lot of reasons. Some want to be able to read ancient texts in the original language. Others aim for proficiency in order to increase their pay grade in a multi-lingual world. Many people study Arabic in Jordan so that, while living and working in the Arab World, they can have real relationships with their friends, neighbors, and colleagues.  All of these motives for language study have ties to the linguistic field of Second Language Acquisition. From high school Spanish classrooms in the US to immersive study abroad programs, linguists are researching strategies to help us learn better. For years, this research was dominated by a mainstream view of learning – “cognitivism.” Researchers looked at language ...

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5 Questions to ask when choosing an Arabic Language Center image

Last year I bought an oven.  Cooking healthy meals for my family is a high priority for me, a huge part of the way I love my family.  I knew it would be the oven I would have for a good many years and would affect every meal we would eat.  Making an informed choice required that I visit many stores to compare brands, warranties, and the reputation of the manufacturer.  In the end, it was not the least expensive oven that I chose.  I purchased the oven most likely to yield the best possible muffins and chicken pot pie one could bake. The same careful process should be followed in order to select an Arabic language center.  True, some ...

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How to develop proficiency in Arabic literacy? Talk more! image

Learning to read is an important part of learning language within a literate society. Regardless of what type of communication skills are desired, Arabic literacy is an essential part of achieving fluency. Just like children learn to understand and speak before they learn to read, as language learners we want our communication ability to lead our reading and writing ability. The Challenges Arabic literacy presents unique challenges. The script is very different from Roman script in shape and direction, letters that look similar have completely different sounds, letters change shape based on location in the word, and dots fall above and below the text line. Apart from that, vowel markings that impact pronunciation, meaning, and grammatical function are rarely written. The ...

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Undershirts and Tuna: 6 Behaviors Students of Arabic Should Avoid in Jordan image

While on your Arabic learning journey, you’re bound to commit a few cultural faux pas. Do you ever wish someone would just tell you directly if you’ve embarrassed or offended them? In Jordan, you will rarely find that someone. Chances are, they will discuss our behaviors with others, but most would rather not share with you directly if something you have done is considered disrespectful or socially unacceptable. As a foreigner who has lived in ِAmman, Jordan nearly a decade, I now know that there have been dozens of times my knowledge of local Arabic culture was inadequate. Consequently, I did not behave in culturally appropriate ways.  It wasn’t out of malice, but rather lack of awareness on my part. ...

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Why You Should Learn Spoken Arabic Before Modern Standard Arabic image

Why learn Spoken Arabic before learning MSA? Students who choose to learn Arabic – whether studying in their home country or in the Arab World – are faced with the challenge of diglossia- a linguistic situation where two different varieties of a language co-exist within a community. Usually, one of these varieties is considered prestigious (or in sociolinguistic terms, High) and the other considered “everyday” (or Low). In Arabic, the High variety is referred to as fusHa and the Low variety as ammiyah. The term fusHa includes both Modern Standard Arabic (MSA, the language of the media) and Classical Arabic (the language of the Qur’an). Ammiyah is referred to in English as Colloquial Arabic, dialects of Arabic, or simply “everyday ...

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The Marathon of Language Learning image

When running the marathon of learning Arabic, try not to look at runners that are ahead of you or gaining traction beside you and grow discouraged. Those who win the race are those who simply keep running. By this I mean, continue to spend lots of time with people in Arabic. There is no medal for finishing first… because you’re never finished, just further on the path of being known more authentically and understanding more deeply.

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A Window into your Brain image

Let’s start with a common question: What’s the best way to learn a new word? Great question!  But to give you an answer, I’ll need a little more information, because there are actually many questions in that one simple sentence. What exactly do you mean by ‘learn’ it?  Do you mean you want to understand it?  Or speak it?  Read it?  Write it?  All four would be nice!  You process hearing, seeing, writing and speaking in different areas of the brain!! “Understanding it,” “speaking it” and “reading it” are completely different brain functions.  In fact, if someone has a stroke, one of these abilities can be completely wiped out while the other remains fully intact, leaving someone able to comprehend ...

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Arabs: A Fresh Perspective standard

By: Jonathan Henderson Ever been so embarrassingly ignorant about something or someone? If you have then you’re in good company. Before interacting and then befriending my first Arab friend in the States, I didn’t have much of a concept of Arabs. To me, they were all dark skinned, Muslim, ate weird food, and if they weren’t Saudi or a prince of some kind then they were poor and lived in tents. As you can imagine I was in for a few surprises. The first came in Michigan when I met a Syrian college student who was paler than any Scotsman I know. In my head, I thought, “Where’s my tutor?” Thankfully, I caught myself before I insulted my future language ...

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