What inspired you to study Arabic? A family connection? A fascination with the language's complexity and beauty? A work requirement? Or an interest in the conflict in the Middle East and possible a desire to contribute to peace?
Whatever your motivation, studying Arabic probably brought you closer to the ongoing conflict than most other people living outside the region.
I am guessing this because that's what happened to me. In 1995, a quirk of fate took me to Egypt and Syria to study Arabic for four years. I had spent the previous decade studying and working in Japan and knew almost nothing about the Middle East. The only thing I did know was that the region seemed to always be at war, but I didn't know why.
So I thought I'd pick the brains of an Egyptian diplomat in Canberra over lunch. I began our lunch with "When and how did the fighting start?" He smiled and began "About 2000 years ago...." then went on to detail who did what, when, where, and why, and then who retaliated. And so on for the full lunch hour. The complete chronicles of war in the Middle East.
It seemed strange that there had been no change in the situation for so long, particularly when I got to know a wide range of kind, educated and caring people from various countries, cultures and religions in the region. What was preventing change?
After another quirk of fate took me to Korea for 12 years, I saw the phenomenon again. Korea, like the Middle East, is another world 'hot spot' with similar deeply entrained conflict, first with its neighbours Japan and China and since 1953 with each other. Today, Korea remains the world's most famous divided country, most recently again in a 'state of war'.
What I began to see was that people were simply stuck in a point of view, so much so that they were willing to die for the rightness of this point of view. They would rather be right (and at war) than free.
As I looked around I saw this was how most people functioned: trapped in the polarity of right and wrong. And yet at the same time, as I travelled the world, I also saw how different cultures sometimes held polar opposite points of view to be either right/wrong, good/bad.
What I came to understand was that right and wrong were simply "interesting points of view." As Shakespeare puts it elegantly in Hamlet "there is nothing either good or bad, but thinking makes it so."
How likely is conflict resolution if somewhere, someone does not change something? According to Einstein the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result.
Einstein also considered the only constant to be change. So what if conflict resolution -- be it be between families, nations or with ourselves about studying a language -- were as simple as changing our thinking?
Can you ever change anyone else? No. You can only be the invitation to change.
The one thing you can change is you.
So my invitation is this. Ask yourself, whatever your motivation for studying Arabic, what would you like to change about it?
What if everything were possible? What would you choose? The same? Or something different?
And of course when someone chooses not to change, they are not wrong. It is simply a matter of choice.
Are you looking to improve your Arabic or your grades in general? Perhaps you're looking to get a new or better job? Or are you simply seeking more in life?
What if a question could help? My new book 91 Days of Q - questions to help you create the life you desire
provides simple, practical questions to help unstick you from places you get stuck and to help you see greater possibilities.
All these questions are available for free, online at www.thedailyq.co
. Or gift yourself a copy of the paperback, eBook pdf or audio version to keep you in the zone no matter where you are?
Wishing you a joyous festive season! Mary-Jane
***What if study were fun & easy?
What are your points of view about study, including about going to school, college, or university and about learning anything in general?
That's it's hard, will take a long time and lots of money? That you're not smart or diligent enough? That you shouldn't rest, sleep, or enjoy yourself because you should be studying?
How many vested interests are making study hard for you? Do teachers want you to outshine them? No. Do after school tutoring businesses want you to hire them? Yes. And other students? Do they want you to see your talent? No.
Are you willing to consider a different possibility? If so, ask “What if study were easy and fun?”
What if you approached study with the energy of an insatiable curiosity about things that inspire you?
What if you were excited about learning new ways to expand your natural talents?
Would study be more fun, easier, and more rewarding then?
Like to know more? Visit www.thedailyq.co
Have you ever bought our textbook/audio package? First, thank you :) Second, you are welcome to buy the NEWLY re-edited audio files. Just ask.
A few weeks ago we sent out this invitation to our existing list. We now realise that some people didn't receive this email and some may not have been on the list at all. Sorry. Sorry. Sorry.
So, if this is you, please let me know
(including details of your original purchase order in whatever form you have available - even memory of year/month and your name so we can cross check my records) and we will send you a link to purchase the upgraded files for only $4.
We have just invested and edited all 180+ minutes of our audio files so that each exercise is now its own MP3 file. This will let you more easily pick and choose what audio you'd like to listen to and put it on loop for practice. Phew. This took a while! To cover our costs, and for CPI adjustment, we have increased the price of our book/audio package to $49.
If you have already bought the package and would like the new audio, we will contact you directly over the next few weeks to offer you the new audio files for $4.00.
We are now planning stage two of our audio update, which is to add English to the vocabulary lists so you can practice them without referring to the text book. Stage two will probably take until mid-2013.
Over the next few months, we are re-mixing our audio material and recording some new bits, so that no matter where you are - car, bus, train or on foot - you can listen to the conversations and vocab lists again, and again, without needing the text book. We have just completed Chapter One.
Now, rather than the audio being one large MP3 file
- each conversation, vocab list and exercise (marked with an audio tape sign in the book) will have its own easily identifiable MP3 file and
- conversations, vocab lists and exercises are repeated three times How do you download this new material?
The new MP3s will be available for download via the links sent to you in your registration confirmation email (register here
) or via a link in the monthly newsletter (5th of each month).
You also receive the files when you buy the book online via this site.
After we complete this basic re-mix of the complete book, we will then create NEW audio material, incorporating more English, to help you practice the material on the move, even if you don't have the textbook in front of you. Thank you for your patience.
Other students find your feedback very useful. What did you think?
- Was it worth your investment (time, money, other)?
- Did it help you with anything in particular?
- How did you use it as well as your existing course material?
- What else?
Are you wiling to share? If so, thank you very much and send your interesting points of view to me here.
Don't want to read? Click and listen to a short 'About this book' here.
Or listen to the entire Overview, including about the relationship between Syrian Colloquial Arabic, Modern Standard Arabic, and others here.
Learning a language can be challenging. Below is our list of study tips. We also recommend visiting the Language Learning Advisor, who has a much more comprehensive list and some really great ideas to help.
1. Be aware of your point of view. If your point of view is that learning Arabic, a language or anything is hard, then that is what will show up. So take the point of view that learning Arabic is fun and easy. Want to know more? Check out this article What if study were fun and success easy?
2. Relax and enjoy yourself
. You will be much more successful if you are. If you really can't relax and you find that you are overly stressed or depressed at your lack of progress, then find something else to learn and enjoy yourself
3. Find the method that suits you
. Everyone has their own style. Some have a visual memory and need to see words written down before they can remember them. Others need to hear words, or use them in conversation before they are lodged in their brain (that's me). Simply, there's no point in sitting in a course or using material that does not suit your style.
4. Get the right tools.
Downloading our course book and audio materials is a good start. You could also use a dictionary, a grammar book, and a phrase book or two, a small notebook to carry with you to jot down new words, and access to authentic material, including newspapers, magazines, books, and DVDs (my favourite was TV soap operas).
5. Meet the right people
. If you are not studying in the Middle East, make a native Arabic speaking friend. If you are studying in an Arabic speaking country, make sure you associate with people who don't want to practice their English on you. Join a club or work part time (or volunteer) somewhere where you will need to use the language and can make friends. You will have a common, understood interest which will make conversations much easier.
6. Make it a habit
. Do a little (or a lot!) every day. Take your notebook and dictionary with you everywhere and jot down, or look up words you don't understand. If you can get a small electronic dictionary, hang it around your neck and use it all the time. It worked a treat for me.
7. Be totally immersed.
Don't speak English or spend time on the internet reading English websites or watching English TV. Find enjoyable Arabic alternatives.
8. Do not be afraid of mistakes.
Making mistakes when you speaking, reading or writing means that you are actually speaking, reading or writing
. Practice is the best way to learn and improve.
9. Be aware it’s a different way of thinking
. Sometimes you may not comprehend something not because you don’t know the Arabic words, but because the point of view is different to the one you know. Be as open as you can to new or different ways of thinking about everything.
We are delighted to announce that after several years of special request from a particular US university, we have managed to publish our book in paperback WITHOUT the script/answer key. So if you're a teacher who prefers your students don't have easy access to the answers, this is for you. The paperback is published via Lulu.com with direct links from our site here.