28 March, 2006

Weeping in the Face of Grammar

This is just a bit of warning for you few regular readers... Don't expect much from me this month. Remember how I kept saying I was doing well with Arabic, but that I was certain my personal brick wall was looming out there? Well, I ran smack into it on Sunday.

The first day of class was interesting. Ask anybody who has studied it and they will tell you, Arabic grammar is challenging. Learning it in Arabic is even more fun! Over half my class has studied Arabic previously at their respective Universities for at least a year, usually more. So, while my idea of a grand victory these days is correctly directing a cab back to the hovel in Arabic, these folks can discuss the Palestinian-Israeli conflict and the upcoming Israeli elections in Arabic. At great length. Last thing I studied was how to invite people to a party and how to shop in the souq. So, to say we're not on the same level is a bit of an understatement.

And it's aaaaalllllll in Arabic. I am simply not adept enough to ask my many questions about the grammar in Arabic. And my teacher simply won't slow down. So, I figured I would sit back, try to grab what I can in class and study like a fiend in the few hours I am not at work or school. Unfortunately, she's really into participation, especially mine. After each point she makes, she turns to me and asks, in Arabic, "Do you understand, Dana?" And, usually, no, I don't.

Now, that's very considerate of her, but since nobody else is willing to back me up and say, "Hey, we don't either!" I am left dangling and feeling quite like the village idiot. After a few minutes alone with her during our breaks, I get it, but I don't feel like that's really a solution.
This is the same problem my friend experienced in fourth level and she ended up leaving the University for a private tutor. The gulf between those of us who began our studies here and those with previous experience is quite substantial.

So, as always, I will persevere. April will be my last month of teaching, also, and I look forward to actually having free time again. However, after this class, I think I will leave the University and be tutored privately. The goal is communication and right now I am worried about backsliding.

Still at the hovel and have grown a bit attached to it. I bought some clotheswire to hang my unmentionables, since the Laundromat here will not wash your undies for you. Currently, my tiny excuse for a kitchen is festively decorated with a neat row of undies, bras, and socks drying on the line. If this place had three things, I'd stay: windows, an outside space, and a washing machine. The neighborhood is actually kind of cool, much more like Morocco to me It's like a village in the city and that's a nice change from the modern sterility of Mezza. The "house/room" is very Peace Corps. For example, I have a Western toilet, but you have to fill the tank yourself to flush it.

I just wanted to warn folks that if I update at all in the coming weeks, it will be brief. Just know I am still alive and kicking (and screaming and tearing my hair out about grammar).



Anonymous said...

Yes, but really, wouldn't you rather discuss shopping and parties instead of piddly things like Israeli/Palestinian relations?


Anonymous said...

Teachers be dammed! You can do it and you KNOW you can.


Anonymous said...

I just can't stop laughing at the thought of your undies hanging over your fruit loops. Do you have an oven or toaster? Maybe that will help with the wash/dry process. XO, Mel