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Learning Arabic Tips: The Learning Curve

by Omar Matadar


Posted on January 25, 2013 at 12:00 AM.


If you are just starting out as a student of Arabic or even if you have been studying Arabic for a couple of years you need to understand something about the way we learn languages.


Learning Curve
If you are just starting out as a student of Arabic or even if you have been studying Arabic for a couple of years you need to understand something about the way we learn languages. Language learning is not linear, at least perceptually it is not. That is, you will not always feel like you are improving steadily in your proficiency. The “learning curve” represents a description of a more realistic trajectory in language learning. It is not a gradually increasing line but rather a steep incline at the beginning that levels off in the middle and then steeply inclines again at the end. Students at the beginning of their learning will often perceive themselves learning a great deal in a short amount of time. Students at this point are often highly motivated. This perception of one’s learning then levels off to a plateau of sorts as a student reaches the Intermediate level. This is the hardest stage for students and is often the place where some students give up. The reason is that students in this stage are putting a lot of effort into their language learning but are not seeing a lot of results. Students in this stage often say “When am I ever going to become fluent?” They feel that no matter how much effort they make they are still spinning their wheels. In fact, they are not spinning their wheels because the mind is actually preparing itself for the next stage which is the “grand synthesis,” when a student seems to quickly move all of a sudden from the Intermediate level to Advanced. It seems to happen all at once and again the student perceives him or herself rapidly progressing. So, the learning curve is not a straight line but more like a step curve which is flat in the middle. The lesson in all of this is that if you can keep your hand in long enough and maintain enough consistency through the Intermediate stage, then at some point when you are ready you will very quickly move to the next level. Just be patient and keep up the hard work!
 


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The Arab Street interviews get you out of the virtual class and into the vibrant context of using Arabic insitu amongst Arabs themselves. Discover how nuances of the language relate to historic customs and contemporary perspectives across an array of social venues, diverse locales, and charismatic personalities. The show hosts comment on practical tips for conversing with native speakers, while unpacking linguistic learnings embedded in everyday expressions. We hope you’ll enjoy the shows, and let us know what topics you might like to have us cover.

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