Allemni Asks Series with Arabic Seeds
Today we will chat with Emilie from Arabic Seeds! Keep tuned because there's a surprise waiting for you at the end!
Please give a brief introduction about yourself and your family. I am Emilie, a French mom currently living and homeschooling in Canada (British Columbia). I am also the founder of Arabic Seeds, a project I started in 2015 after my experience as an adult Arabic learner and as a non-native Arabic speaking parent raising my child in Arabic (along with my mother tongue) with my Arabic speaking husband. What is your purpose and goal/s for Learning Arabic and your method? I started to learn Arabic when I became Muslim a dozen of years ago because Arabic is the language of Islam. With the years, I realized that learning Arabic has also brought other benefits that were not especially in my main goals at first: stimulating the brain (learning a new language is beneficial for the brain, and it has even been shown that it helps bilingual children in logic/math and in their first language so I imagine that for adults, it also brings great benefits!) as well as being able to communicate with people from a lot of different countries without needing a regional dialect (I have personally been able to converse with people from Morocco, Algeria, Egypt, Kuwait, Iraq, and Syria, thanks to Arabic). I started to learn Arabic by myself at home, classically learning to read and write it first and then learning basic grammar with the 1st Madina Book. I found the grammar method challenging (even though I had studied Latin for years during my Education in France and since Latin is a dead language, I was used to a lot of meticulous grammar to learn) and memorizing lists of vocabulary by heart was not efficient since I was not using it enough in my life and was forgetting a lot. I then discovered the 1st book of "Al arabiyyatu bayna yadayk" ("Arabic between your hands") by the publisher Arabic For All. It is based on daily life/islamic topics with dialogues and audios. (note: they now have a series for children called "Arabic between our children's hands"). Combined with the grammar I already knew from the Madina book, I was able to improve my Arabic fluency thanks to this new book's method that was making me practicing my listening and speaking skills. At the same time, my 1st child was born and I started to use the language in my daily life with her: reading aloud to her everyday, talking in Arabic as much as I could (improving as I go), playing in Arabic. Alhamdulillah it proved very effective: I was finally truly acquiring vocabulary and grammar rules and boosting my fluency.
My husband had also decided to only speak Arabic to our daughter from baby age (Arabic is the official language of his country and he chose it over its two other regional dialects) and with my Arabic emphasis at home when he was at work during the day, Arabic became our child's first language. When she was developmentally ready to learn to read and write Arabic, it was a more "natural" process for her since Arabic was a meaningful language that she was already using in her daily life.
Inspired by these two different experiences as an adult Arabic learner and as a parent raising a child with Arabic in her daily life, I founded Arabic Seeds in order to promote learning Arabic as a LIVING language from the early years and to support families by creating engaging and adapted resources (printables, videos, audios) that help them integrate Arabic into their life. I would like to add that our child also speaks French (we were living in France when she was little so French was all around her, I also mainly communicate in French with my husband and my family only speaks French with her) and since we moved to Canada, she also acquired English. With my husband's family, she mainly communicates in Arabic and quickly picks up their local dialect. Our child is now 8 year old and, among other reasons, we homeschool in order to protect her Arabic and better balance her 3 languages. I share these details because I know there is a lot of myths, social pressure and parenting concerns surrounding raising children bilingually or multilingually and I want to show that this is not impossible or prejudicial for a child. Regarding that, I always recommend the website multilingualparenting.com to other parents. Do you have any tips or advice you would like to share?
To conclude, I would like to say that intention, commitment, and patience are the keys to make Arabic (or any language) part of your family's life bi'idhnillAh. I was a monolingual person (like the wide majority of French people) and I embarked in this bi/multilingual journey without knowing where it would bring me and because I simply thought it was the right thing to do. Alhamdulillah even though it has its own challenges, I don't regret it and I am so grateful for this life-long journey.