September 29, 2009 | Arabic

Pimsleur Content: Some Suggestions

I don't care about understanding directions in Arabic; I can't follow them in English.

As was also the case with the Russian series, I feel Pimsleur spends too much time on giving and getting directions for travel (take this route, go left, go straight, etc.). If your Arabic is shaky, you are not generally going to ask for directions in Arabic, because you will know you won’t be able to follow the answers. Requesting and receiving directions are two entirely different sets of skills, and I for one know my limitations.

I can’t even follow instructions in English. I have a two-turn limit. Once the instructions include more than two turns in any direction, you the direction-giver might as well stop talking, because my brain will be incapable of recording further information.

So anyway, I wish Pimsleur would focus more on fun conversational things like: “My stomach is so full I can hardly move.” That would be very relevant to my life. I simply don’t need to be able to talk about how many liters of gas it takes to get to Aleppo. 

This afternoon I got a haircut, and Liz, my hairstylist, who was very enthusiastic about this project at its inception, asked how it was going. I told her great, that I was partway through my second language, Arabic, and that I had already spent two months on Russian. We talked a bit further, and then she said, “Is do svidaniya something in Russian?”

And I totally froze. Complete paralysis. I was pretty sure it was “good-bye” (which it is), but I was paralyzed with fear that I was wrong. I muttered something about how priviet was a casual greeting and totally avoided the question. I said that Arabic was knocking everything out of my brain. And I just didn’t answer the question. So embarrassing.

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