September 10, 2009 | Arabic
A Day with Alif Baa
I study my alphabet book. And like it.
I woke up at 6:40 this morning with Brandt’s alarm; he is teaching in New Jersey today. I never went back to sleep, just lay there thinking about Arabic and various Arabic phrases, until I finally got up at 8:00.
I spent much of the day doing the Alif Baa book/DVD, and this time I like it. Last time I hated it. I mean, really hated it. I hate being on the computer more than I have to. However, it’s been cute and helpful this time. There are video clips of a cheerful calligrapher who draws letters for you while talking entirely in Arabic. He is awesome. I can barely understand a word he’s saying, but he’s awesome. I love this project so much I can hardly stand it.
During my family’s Maine vacation this summer, my sister Rebecca and I were exclaiming over the activity books our five-year-old niece had brought with her; we were saying how much we used to love doing those kinds of things ourselves. You know, like solving a riddle, or connecting dots, or coloring, or finding images hidden in a picture. Alif Baa reminds me of that: directed self-study with lots of varied, short, discreet activities. You get such a sense of accomplishment as you go through each self-contained exercise. I love it. I’m also doing pretty well right now, which makes me happy.
One thing I worked on today was pronouncing long versus short vowels. It took me a while to figure out that in the context of Arabic, long and short vowels mean something different than they do in English. In English, the short a sound is what you hear in the word “hat.” The long vowel sound is the a you hear in “hate.” In Arabic, however, long vowel means long, as in you actually give it more time. A short vowel gets less time. This must be difficult for English speakers. I actually feel stupid saying long vowels.
As I go through this book, I find myself challenged by the fact that the right-to-left writing is not the only thing backwards from an English speaker’s point of view. So is the page arrangement! Meaning I keep flipping pages to the left when I need to go the opposite direction. It’s confusing.
Pimsleur prices seem to have just dropped dramatically. Why?