!اَلسَّلامُ عَلَيْكُمْ/ مَرْحَباً
I know how it can feel challenging to learn Arabic, the ups and downs periods (especially as a mom dealing with daily life busyness), the difficulty to enhance your learning while living in a non-Arabic-speaking country, the additional pressure 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 daily 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 own learning and fluency :
Then, I discovered a great method: “al arabiyyatu bayna yadayk” (“Arabic between your hands”). This method that includes audios and focuses on daily life topics, really boosted my learning. It was exactly what I needed after the Al-Madina book!
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, playing in Arabic, listening to Arabic through audiobooks and cartoons.
Quick tip: to remind me of some vocabulary or sentences structures, I was placing notes in every room of our home and even taking a note in my pocket for vocabulary at the park, in the street or at the grocery stores.
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.
Use Arabic in your every day life as much as you can! 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 speaks Arabic to my husband (who speaks Arabic to her) and her Arabic-speaking relatives and she 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 – alhamdulillAh!
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.
4) UPDATE 2020:
Our child is almost 9 years old (grade 3) and we have been homeschooling since grade 1. One of our main reasons for homeschooling is the preservation of her Arabic in shaa Allah. We try to balance our 3 languages (Arabic, French, English) but I have accepted that there is no perfect balance and that’s ok. Our main instruction language is English (major language of our current residential province) and we integrate Arabic in our homeschool’s daily routine through reading stories, copywriting, audio stories, composition and dictations. She also helps us creating content and record videos and audios for Arabic Seeds, which maintains a good level of practice alhamdulillah.
Alhamdulillah we were blessed with a second child this year – maa shaa Allah, Allahi baarik – and I am happily doing it all over again (and now he has a big sister who speaks Arabic with him as well): talking as much as possible in Arabic to him, reading Arabic children books, playing in Arabic, repeating rhymes to him.
Now it’s your turn!
Don’t wait until your kids reach the school age to make them live and learn Arabic!
Feel free to comment below, to ask me questions, or to share your own testimony in order to encourage others!