How raising my child in Arabic boosted my own learning
Welcome to Arabic Seeds’ blog!
This is our very first blog-post so I introduce myself a little and explain the objectives of this blog: I am Emilie, founder of Arabic Seeds, a French mom raising a multilingual child with an emphasis on Arabic. Through this blog, I want to share my experience in raising a child in Arabic as a non-native Arabic speaker, to share tips and approaches to teach Arabic to young children and to encourage parents wanting to pass Arabic on their children (native or non native speakers). We will also feature guests with diverse experiences as teachers or parents.
I know how tricky it can be to learn Arabic, the ups and downs periods, the difficulty to enhance your learning while living in a non-Arabic-speaking country, the additional stress when you want to support your own children in learning this language…
With my own modest experience, I want to tell you:
” It is possible, you can learn Arabic and use it in your daily life with your family! “
1) My first steps in learning Arabic :
I learnt how to read Arabic by myself and with the support of my Arabic-speaking husband. I remember, at the beginning, I was reading only one page in around half an hour!
Perseverance, efforts and practice are the keys!
After learning how to read, I started to learn Arabic with the book 1 of Al-Madina method. I think this method is great to get the essential basics of the Arabic grammar and to improve our reading and writing skills.
But I noticed something: since I was not practicing in my daily life what I was learning,
I was forgetting it little by little…
2) Raising my child in Arabic boosted my learning :
Then, I discovered a great method: “al arabiyyatu bayna yadayk” (“Arabic at your hands”). This method, accompanied with audios and focusing on daily life topics as well as Listening and Speaking skills, really improved my learning. It was exactly what I needed after the book 1 of Al-Madina!
Edit June 2016: “Arabic at your hands” is from Arabic for All a non-profit program based in KSA. They sell the method on their website but the shipping price can be high depending where you live. They have resellers around the world (I bought mine from an online store when I was in France). ** NOTE: The links to other websites are provided as resources and do not signify endorsement of the website.
At the same time, my child was becoming a toddler and I started to directly practice with her what I was learning : speaking Arabic as much as possible (starting with very simple descriptive sentences and increasing as I was learning), reading aloud Arabic children books every day, doing activities and games in Arabic, listening to Arabic through audiobooks and cartoons.
I was learning new words and expressions from my textbook. Then, I was finding them in my child’s books. Then, I was listening to them in a cartoon. And finally, I was using them when talking to my child in our daily life.
In my brain, it was like a “puzzle” that was being completed. It made me really understand the importance of practicing the 4 skills of the language to effectively acquire it : reading, writing, listening and speaking.
Don’t forget to use Arabic in your every day life!
Don’t let it just in your notebook after your Arabic lesson/class!
3) It is just the beginning of a journey :
Now, my child is 4 years old and she is a French-Arabic bilingual, experiencing a third language acquisition since we moved to an English-speaking country. We speak two languages (French and Arabic) at home and it became natural.
She only speaks Arabic to my husband (who only speaks Arabic to her) and her Arabic-speaking relatives and she only speaks French to her French relatives. She is able to differentiate both languages. Since I mix French and Arabic when I talk to her, she also talks with me in both languages, sometimes in the same sentence! But this is not a problem: here are answers to some concerns that are commonly expressed by parents and child care professionals about bilingual acquisition in early childhood.
I can speak Arabic in my daily life with my daughter. I am able to understand simple texts and children books without the vowels (“harakats”) if I already know the vocabulary.
It’s bigger than I expected when I started my Arabic learning several years ago!
But, that’s just the beginning of a journey. I still have some periods in which I don’t really learn new Arabic but, at least, I have my daughter that always makes me use Arabic daily and improve what I previously learnt.
I have to pursue my efforts since my daughter is growing up, wanting to discover more and more and since she is developing her language skills.
UPDATE 2019: My child is now 7 and we are homeschooling and trying to balance our 3 languages (Arabic, French, English). Our main instruction language is English (major language of our current residential area) and we integrate Arabic in our homeschool’s daily routine. One of our main reasons for homeschooling is the preservation of Arabic in shaa Allah.
Now it’s your turn!
Don’t wait until you reach the Arabic Fluency, you will get it by practicing from now!
Don’t wait until your kids reach the school age to make them live and learn Arabic!
Don’t know where to start ? Read our PARENTS GUIDE and discover our amazing Membership that help you and your family live and love Arabic and give you access to an expanding library of resources including themed units, videos, audios and online games.
Feel free to comment below, to ask me questions, or to share your own testimony in order to encourage others!