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"After Amman: Five Tips for Learning Arabic in Jordan" By  Kristen Redding

"After Amman: Five Tips for Learning Arabic in Jordan" By Kristen Redding

After recovering from jet-lag and the post-Amman sadness of leaving, here are five helpful tips for language study in Amman that really resonate with me. I hope someone finds these useful!

1. Talk to everyone… in Arabic   Though it sounds obvious, this is the one thing most of my classmates (including myself) wish they did more of in Amman. With fast-paced AMIDEAST classes, it’s easy to get caught up in book work, and it can be a hassle to go into the city, as Amman is not a very walkable place (you’ll need to taxi basically everywhere). This being said, I can’t stress the importance of going out and speaking to actual people enough. Believe it or not, professors love when you do this, and will be happy to make an exception for late homework with this excuse.  It’s also very easy to find English speakers in Amman, and many host families with AMIDEAST speak English very well. It’s natural to revert to comfort and speak English with those people; however, it’s so important to try to stick to Arabic when you can. This applies to friends and roommates from AMIDEAST as well -- a good way to get around this is to try to designate specific times or days when you’re only allowed to speak Arabic with each other. Better yet, go into town together and talk to people, and try to avoid touristy areas where people are more likely to speak English.  Photo credit: Redding, 2019

1. Talk to everyone… in Arabic

Though it sounds obvious, this is the one thing most of my classmates (including myself) wish they did more of in Amman. With fast-paced AMIDEAST classes, it’s easy to get caught up in book work, and it can be a hassle to go into the city, as Amman is not a very walkable place (you’ll need to taxi basically everywhere). This being said, I can’t stress the importance of going out and speaking to actual people enough. Believe it or not, professors love when you do this, and will be happy to make an exception for late homework with this excuse.

It’s also very easy to find English speakers in Amman, and many host families with AMIDEAST speak English very well. It’s natural to revert to comfort and speak English with those people; however, it’s so important to try to stick to Arabic when you can. This applies to friends and roommates from AMIDEAST as well -- a good way to get around this is to try to designate specific times or days when you’re only allowed to speak Arabic with each other. Better yet, go into town together and talk to people, and try to avoid touristy areas where people are more likely to speak English.

Photo credit: Redding, 2019

2. Read the signs   Many signs in Amman are written in both Arabic and English, and while this is helpful when figuring out where you're trying to go, try to challenge yourself and familiarize yourself with the written Arabic. If you can learn the signs and their meanings in Arabic, this can prove really useful when the English isn't available, and help with your taxi-directing skills. Photo credit: Redding, 2019

2. Read the signs

Many signs in Amman are written in both Arabic and English, and while this is helpful when figuring out where you're trying to go, try to challenge yourself and familiarize yourself with the written Arabic. If you can learn the signs and their meanings in Arabic, this can prove really useful when the English isn't available, and help with your taxi-directing skills. Photo credit: Redding, 2019

3. Lie   As all language teachers probably tell their students, especially before an OPI (Oral Proficiency Interview), it can be really useful to lie about things in order to practice your speaking skills! Did my father ever join the United Nations in New York City as a translator? No. But those are some great vocabulary words you learn from Maha in unit one, and repetition is a key to solidifying those words and phrases. Photo credit: Redding, 2019

3. Lie

As all language teachers probably tell their students, especially before an OPI (Oral Proficiency Interview), it can be really useful to lie about things in order to practice your speaking skills! Did my father ever join the United Nations in New York City as a translator? No. But those are some great vocabulary words you learn from Maha in unit one, and repetition is a key to solidifying those words and phrases. Photo credit: Redding, 2019

4. Go off the books   On the other hand, it’s important to learn words that are useful to you in everyday conversation, and sometimes this includes words which are not part of Al-Kitaab’s مفردات. If there are words you notice come up time and time again while introducing yourself to people, it’s probably a good idea to learn those words, even if you won’t see them on an exam. A couple friends of mine kept a small notebook of useful words they learned from people in the city or at home -- this is something I really wish I did and would highly recommend! Photo credit: Redding, 2019

4. Go off the books

On the other hand, it’s important to learn words that are useful to you in everyday conversation, and sometimes this includes words which are not part of Al-Kitaab’s مفردات. If there are words you notice come up time and time again while introducing yourself to people, it’s probably a good idea to learn those words, even if you won’t see them on an exam. A couple friends of mine kept a small notebook of useful words they learned from people in the city or at home -- this is something I really wish I did and would highly recommend! Photo credit: Redding, 2019

5. Make connections   Sad as it is, it’s good to think about how your language study will resume after leaving Amman. After creating friendships with your language partner, professors, or people you meet in the city, you’ll want to find a way to stay in touch so you can continue to practice with them and continue your friendships, even if it’s from thousands of miles away. Social media like Facebook or Whatsapp (which all my classmates at AMIDEAST also used to communicate) are great for this.  In all the experiences I’ve had in Amman, whether it be failing at directing a taxi, fighting through difficult classes, or struggling to find words to communicate, leaving was the hardest thing I had to do. Studying with AMIDEAST in Amman was the experience of a lifetime, and I hope to go back someday! Photo credit: Redding, 2019

5. Make connections

Sad as it is, it’s good to think about how your language study will resume after leaving Amman. After creating friendships with your language partner, professors, or people you meet in the city, you’ll want to find a way to stay in touch so you can continue to practice with them and continue your friendships, even if it’s from thousands of miles away. Social media like Facebook or Whatsapp (which all my classmates at AMIDEAST also used to communicate) are great for this.

In all the experiences I’ve had in Amman, whether it be failing at directing a taxi, fighting through difficult classes, or struggling to find words to communicate, leaving was the hardest thing I had to do. Studying with AMIDEAST in Amman was the experience of a lifetime, and I hope to go back someday! Photo credit: Redding, 2019

"Gluten Free in Amman" by Laurie Jones

"Gluten Free in Amman" by Laurie Jones

"Adventures in the Old City" by Tyler Cremins

"Adventures in the Old City" by Tyler Cremins