So, how did we get here? Where did this crazy, amazing journey begin? How did I go from being an American Muslim mom of 4 English speaking kids to a blogger living in Riyadh trying my best to learn and speak more Arabic?
First, a question for you.
How long have you been trying to learn Arabic? If you’re like me, you might be a bit embarrassed to say it out loud. Sometimes it blows my mind that I’ve been studying Arabic for so long and I’m still not fluent.
So, how long for you? When was the first time you looked up at a chalkboard and repeated “ALIF! AAAAAAAHHHH!” If you remember chalkboards, you probably have been studying Arabic for as long as I have.
I’ll go first.
Ouch. I know. Seems like a lifetime. Actually, it is a lifetime. My first Arabic classes were in our local masjid when I was about 6. We had learned the Arabic letters. Then it was on to reading.
When my teacher tried to get me to read from the mushaf, I literally ran out of the room. I knew all the letters, but I had been reading English since I was 3. By the age of 7, I was reading chapter books. You’d think this would make studying Arabic easier for me.
Completely the opposite.
Why was it so hard?
My Arabic learning journey has been a long, slow process punctuated by periods of simply not studying at all. It was only after having kids and noticing the difference between my son and daughter that I realized why it was so hard for me to speak Arabic.
My son is like me. He’s naturally ok at math and science, but when it comes to speaking and socializing, it’s hard enough for him in English, much less in Arabic. He’s studied Arabic with me and with tutors. Still, when he has to speak, you can see his gears turning and almost see the smoke coming out of his ears. So of course, he avoids it at all costs.
My daughter is on the other side of the spectrum. She’s not really great in traditional studies, but she picks up languages very quickly. She absolutely loves speaking in Arabic even though she’s got a limited vocabulary. From the way she speaks, you’d assume that she was fluent. She wields the words she does know with all the confidence of the Arab children around her. I’ve noticed that her vocabulary has greatly outpaced my son’s even though he has been studying longer.
Watching them, I realized the obvious reason why it was so hard for me to speak Arabic. I’ll bet it’s the same reason why it’s hard for you to speak and understand Arabic too.
You need to speak Arabic.
Yep. It’s that simple. And once I realized that fact, I started to enjoy my Arabic learning journey and begin to flourish at speaking and understanding Arabic. I stopped blaming myself for not studying hard enough and just started speaking more. The more I spoke, the more I learned, and, Alhamdulillah, I’m finally starting to feel some traction in my speaking and understanding. Maashaa Allaah.
You can’t speak Arabic because you don’t speak Arabic.
I know what you’re thinking. So, I can’t speak Arabic until I can speak Arabic, but I CAN’T SPEAK ARABIC!
Sounds like a problem with no solution right? I’m blessed to have a stubborn daughter who is constantly reminding me that we need to speak more Arabic. We live in Saudi Arabia, so when we’re out and I forget a word, I can just point and ask for the answer. I know the majority of people don’t have this same support for their Arabic learning journey.
What’s the solution?
Enter Fusha House.
Fusha House is Arabic language learning reimagined. It’s a place for you and your family to create your own world of immersive Arabic learning. It’s a place for you to meet and hang out with other families who are struggling to speak and understand Arabic right alongside you.
It’s a long road from alif ba to fluency and there are a lot of hills and mountains to traverse in the interim. Fusha house is a way for people to find joy in scaling those initial obstacles.
Like the Arab mom you never had, we’ll give you the words, we’ll hold your hand step by step through the grammar. All you and your family have to do is commit.
Just speak more Arabic. Hope you’ll join us.