Part 15: I’m now saying sentences in Arabic and…..Russian

Learning a language without context is like walking around with lead shoes on.

I know…didn’t I say I was learning Arabic? Yes, Arabic is my number one priority but occasionally you off road a bit and learn something you never anticipated. For those that don’t know, I have a small home bakery. One of the cafes I deliver to have a great barista crew who speak Russian and Ukrainian. They taught me a couple things, but in a week or two I was able to say, “I bring cookies”. Check it out.

Shortly thereafter, remembering how to say common words like thank you (Spa-cee-bo) and your welcome (paja-oo-sta) came easily. This might seem quite minor but I’ll explain a bit more later in the post why this very simple milestone encapsulates why purpose, context, and goal setting in language learning is critical.

Now let’s get into the Arabic. The first full sentence I learned last week is “After 15 minutes, take the cookies out of the oven, please”. Here it is:

Although not perfect in cadence, and maybe in word pronunciation, but this is the first time that I’m actually using Arabic sentences with my language coach. I also want to be clear, this is the first time that I felt confident enough to publicly share me saying a sentence in Arabic. Although not clear on the originator of the following quote, by far:

Don’t Let Perfect Be the Enemy of Good

This is probably the single most important quote you should remember when learning a new language. Mistakes are not a referendum on whether you can learn something, they are opportunities to learn better. In addition, content without context is like walking around with lead shoes on.

The Arabic Lab program I created (still in its prototype phase) is underscored by having contextual content at the center of the curriculum. That means your language learning efforts are purposeful and relatable. If there is no end goal for you learning a language, it’s going to be extremely difficult to get through the program. My motivation to learn Arabic is a host of reasons. First and foremost, I’m Muslim. In addition, my wife is Arab, not to mention I live in the Middle East. It’s also extremely important to stay culturally connected in the country I live, albeit not my home country. Learning Russian is no different. Using language to stay connected with different individuals helps to reinforce that bond you have in the community.

Getting to sentence structure is a big milestone for me. In my next post, I will break down my approach in understanding how to put Arabic sentences together.

Happy learning,

Ma Salaam, مع السلامة



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Dwayne Oxford

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