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Language learning

Tips on Learning a Foreign Language

“I wish I spoke a foreign language..”  It would be really interesting if everyone spoke a foreign language in fewer than 10 days, like you would see in those pop up ads on your screen.

Nothing comes easy, but the fact that foreign languages are an important element in our global village, is something we should consider. The more we connect with each other the stronger our curiosity grows in exploring each other’s culture and understanding what is said.

No matter what your major is, a foreign language will absolutely add more chances to your career.

I’ve heard many individuals complain “It’s too late for me to learn a foreign language”  or  “It’s hard , I just can’t do it”, “My major doesn’t require a foreign language, I don’t need to do it.” We all become less interested in learning any new language especially if people we are interested in speak ours, so why to bother?! We basically lie to ourselves by coming up with such excuses. We don’t need to be pushed to learn a language.  No matter what your major is, a foreign language will absolutely add more chances to your career.

  • Mass Communication
  • Political Science
  • Anthropology
  • History
  • Criminology
  • Education
  • Global and International Business
  •  Marketing
  • Management

Strategies_to_learn_a_foreign_language

 

You don’t have to do much, Search “The Importance of Foreign Languages in…( Major) ” and you will get hundreds of results. You will be astonished by your discoveries, like that most of the US presidents were multilingual,  Thomas Jefferson claimed to read and write six languages.

In learning a foreign language you will go through many stages to reach a decent level of acquisition. Throughout your learning experience, there will be times when you would feel frustrated because you don’t understand what your language instructor is saying, and other times when you would feel you are progressing, all you have to do is accept the challenge and work your way through it, by planning things right.

learning-styles2

Learning Styles

  • Choose the language you feel more motivated to learn, if you have no interest in the language you are learning, it will slower the pace of your learning, and you might end up giving up.
  • Know what kind of a learning style you have. Are you more visual, auditory, linguistic…
  • Be open to the culture of the language, meaning the more you get closer to the culture of the language the more you learn about its usage. Language and culture always go together.
  • Enroll in a language class. This will help you connect with other individuals who share the same interest in a more organized learning environment.

After your organize your choices, decide what language you want to learn, then you can start building a Study Plan, which will help you organize what to learn first and what to avoid in order to not overwhelm yourself. Remember that if you build a strong foundation, everything will start flowing smoothly.

An Arabic student practicing new vocabulary through using them in sentences.

An Arabic student practicing new vocabulary through using them in sentences.

  • Start by learning how to say your name and write it, especially if the language you are learning doesn’t have Latin letters, then you will definitely want to see how your name looks like in a different language.
  • Start learning the Alphabet, just be comfortable in writing the letters, we all doodle on our notebooks sometimes, well writing foreign letters at first will look like doodling lines. Watch YouTube videos and Google some texts to look at the letters, it’s like training your visual skills to be able to recognize what you write.
  • Before you master writing the entire alphabet, it will be helpful to learn new words as you go. You don’t have to learn how they are written, but at least get familiar with the foreign sounds of the language and sharpen your auditory skills.
  • Learn new words every day, two, three or five. They say that an apple a day keeps the doctor away, well with languages “A Word a Day keeps the Teacher Away”
  • Technology is fascinating, especially with foreign languages, there are many free applications that you can download to your device. Pick one that you like and use it. We spend more time on checking our Facebook, or read others’ statuses; it will be more beneficial if we nourish our brains with new vocabulary and expressions.
world_language_map_transparent

Most Spoken Languages in the World

The list of tips could go on, because the fun of learning a foreign language makes you linguistically creative, at a certain stage of your learning, you will look back at all those challenges and say to yourself that it was worth it, you will build your own learning style, you will be more motivated and proud of yourself when you are put in situations where speaking a foreign language would save your life.

Give yourself the change to speak a foreign language and the joy you will feel is priceless.  Don’t deprive yourself from being linguistically competent in a foreign language, it will pay off.

Raja, FLTA

Teaching Arabic at USF St. Petersburg

Foreign Language Teaching Assistant known as FLTA, is a Fulbright grant sponsored by the State Department to bring exchange educators from all around the globe to teach their native languages at American universities. Among the languages taught is the Arabic Language.

The University of South Florida St. Petersburg was one of the universities to apply to host a Fulbright Arabic instructor for the year 2011-2012.

A Mutual Cultural Exchange in an Educational Environment

Fulbright logoAs a Fulbright candidate from Morocco and one of almost 140 Arabic instructors from the Middle East and North Africa, I had been selected to teach Arabic at the University of South Florida Saint Petersburg.  Prior to arriving to my host institution, we attended orientations and workshops in Turkey, and Michigan State University organized by the IIE (International Institute of Education) and then a midyear conference in Washington DC, in order to reinforce the objectives of exchange programs, and the role of each one of us to teach our native language, develop our foreign language teaching skills, be cultural ambassadors of our countries and bring our students closer to new customs.

USFSP Arabic Instructor

USFSP Arabic Instructor

I arrived to USF St. Petersburg to teach the first Arabic class at the College of Arts and Sciences, Department of World Languages  for the year 2011/2012.  With warm welcomes and support from faculty and staff, I enthusiastically started my first class with students from different majors. As a speaker of a foreign language, I felt a sheer responsibility towards my students to bring the joy of speaking a new language and exploring the spells of a new culture. The Arabic Class students shared the same passion and curiosity. We wanted to bring a new feeling to class, we sat in a shape of half a circle, facing each other and remembering every one’s name. We started calling it our Arabic Class Family. Students did not individually respond to assignments, they have performed a number of collective works that made them bond together and stay friends even after classes have ended.

Picture taken By : Raja Benchekroun

Final class group picture of the first Arabic students in USFSP, Fall 2011.

The class was a channel of mutual cultural understanding of similar values between the United States and the rest of the Arab world. We built a strong will to boost our understanding of a new culture and accepting differences without losing who we truly are. The language taught in class is MSA, Modern Standard Arabic that is spoken by 422 million people, which unites 23 states from North Africa to the Middle East. Now has been given a national day to celebrate as World Arabic Language Day on December 18 by the UNESCO.

To teach a new language to students with no previous knowledge of the language is tremendously delightful. But bringing your students closer to new customs and people is a precious feeling of satisfaction for a foreign language educator. Students are not only able to receive knowledge that will make them linguistically literate but also what’s needed to be culturally educated.  I have spent a great school year full of a number of cultural, social and linguistic experiences, and built some valuable relationships on a personal and professional level.

My Fulbright exchange program has ended, but my role as a cultural ambassador and a language educator hasn’t. Now I am back to maintain the Arabic Program as a graduate in USFSP MLA program. The College of Arts and Sciences, Department of Society, Culture & Languages (formerly World Languages) faculty and  staff  have welcomed me back with great support and advocacy for the Arabic program. USF St. Petersburg now offers Arabic I, II ,III. The Arabic Students have formed an Arabic Club to unite their passions and explore the culture more closely in a number of events and activities. To connect with the Arabic program students, you can join our open Facebook group USFSP Arabic Club. There is also a page that I have created to share material with whoever is interested in learning Arabic Arabic For Speakers of Other Languages.