thank you to Sabina at Sabina reads really enjoyed the interview. The video should be uploaded soon.
below is the manuscript
my guest today is a teacher and author of Get Fluent In Arabic. He spent the best part a year or so learning Arabic abroad in Egypt.
below is an interview between myself and Shajahan Author of Get Fluent In Arabic. Check it out below.
Salam alaikum Shajahan
Welcome to Sabina reads
Walaikum salam Sabina thank you
1.What made you wana learn Arabic?
Well, I’ve gotta say Once I thought to myself wow I read the Quran daily and yet do not understand a word of it. Yet I understand every other book that I’ve read in my life. But the one book I read on a daily basis- I have no understanding of. That’s when I made the decision to learn Arabic.
2.Now you learned Arabic in Egypt what challenges did you face living there and learning Arabic?
I’d say just adjusting to a totally different environment. I remember how much homesick I felt during my first month away from the UK. The weather was a huge challenge for me as a British person I’m used to cold British weather, I got severe case of food poisoning the first month. But I feel like any challenge that you face whilst learning Arabic or anything else in life leads to either two results. One the challenges expose your lack of desire for what you want and you quit. Or two they strengthen your desire to succeed more. For me they only made me more determined for success.
3.Was there any point during your stay in Egypt where you wanted to quit?
I’d say after seven months I really thought of quitting. I had failed my level seven mid term exam at Fajr center.The thought of re-taking the level was unthinkable to me.
Thankfully I scored 77 out of 80 in my final exams which was just about enough to pass to the next level.
4.What would you have done had you failed?
I was so determined to succeed failure was not an option for me.
5.What motivated you to write your excellent book Get Fluent In Arabic?
I used to wonder why so many students took so many years to learn Arabic. Is there a faster way to learn? I mean who has got the time nowadays to spend years and years learning one language?
During my studies and through my mentor Mohammed Amin I had learned some really important techniques to learn Arabic faster and thought hey why not make a book so that people can benefit through my knowledge and experience in years to come. I want people to know that learning Arabic is not hard if you know how to learn it.
6.So explain what is the language quadrant you talk about in your book?
The language quadrant explains how we naturally learn any language and I mean any language. Before we can speak any language we must have listened to the language first.
Can you give an example?
Sure if I said to you ما اسمك first time round you would not understand what I’m saying right? But If i repeated the sentence in a question tone and then pointed to myself stating my name Shajahan you’d know instantly that it means what’s your name?
Now you’ve heard the language you’ve understood it and can now speak that same sentence when you meet an Arab and ask them for their name. But all that would not be possible without you listening to the language first.
That’s why we say you pick up a language by living in a country which speaks it. That’s because you are constantly hearing and listening to the language being spoken. That’s how we pick up a language by listening to it spoken. Kids learn rude language by listening to it too.
7.What did you mean when you wrote a language is a skill and grammar is knowledge?
Well the language quadrant explains that all languages consist of four skills listening, speaking, reading and writing. A lot of people including myself make the mistake that fluency is based upon how much grammar you know. I can assure you it’s not.
Fluency is how comfortably I can listen understand a language when it’s spoken, speak it read it and write it without having to ask the person to repeat what they said, or in the case of speaking stuttering and using um a lot when I speak. In the case of reading having to re-read the sentence I read.
I mean I’m a fluent speaker of English. I’m a native. But I bet you there are tons of non-natives out there who can correct my grammar coz they know way more grammar than me. But their fluency in English very likely may be lacking.
Right interesting. What you’re basically saying is you can’t learn a language through reading books?
Exactly. I mean I don’t care how many grammar books you read you’ll never learn to listen, speak and write the language through books. Grammar you can learn very quickly through books coz it’s a knowledge. The four language skills take hours on end of practice to reach a high fluency level because like any other skill in life they take time to develop.
8.What advice would you give to students who want to learn Arabic like yourself?
Be prepared to make mistakes. The more mistakes you make the faster you’ll learn. Have a learning plan and set a deadline.
9.What’s the importance of setting a deadline?
Well Parkinson’s law states the more time you give yourself to do something the more time you’ll take to do it. I guess this answers the question as to why people take so many years to learn Arabic.
The less time you give yourself the faster you’ll move. With me I gave myself one year to learn Arabic abroad. It took me one year and four months. Imagine how long it would have taken if I had given myself a few years.
10.In 2014 you moved to China to stay there for a year what was that about?
Well China is an exciting place where Arabic teachers are needed. Alot of people were baffled why I chose to move to China. For me I’d learn a lot more being in a country that does not speak the langauge I speak, different religion, different culture, habits. I’m actually gonna write a blog on my lessons and travels in China soon inshallah.
Well thank you Shajahan so much for joining me and I hope we can do this again sometime.
Thank you Sabina it’s been fun. and thank you for telling me about the book The Secret