• Allemni

Allemni Asks Series- with Salam Homeschooling!

As salam aleykom,

Learning a new language is never a simple journey, and this seems to be the case especially when you are older and have much more responsibilities (in whatever form they come, be it work, children, you name it!)

When I first embarked on my journey to learn Classical Arabic I had one clear aim in mind - to understand the Speech of my Creator, and that was the beginning of a ride filled with tears (you know that moment when you thought you have finally mastered the pronunciation of ع only to be told by a new teacher "sorry habibty", you're actually nowhere close), with love, awe and excitement at finally being able to understand some Ayaat (Quranic Verses).

I enjoyed every moment of learning Arabic and still do as I have never truly stopped, just had plenty of breaks.

In this new series I will be interviewing other sisters who have all learnt Arabic as a foreign language and will be sharing their unique journey with us. Today I will be chatting with Umm Yusef from Salam Homeschooling!

Please give a brief introduction about yourself and your family.

I am Italian. 38. Mom of 3 aged 12, 8 and 4. Arab husband (that helps a lot Alhamdulillah). Living in UK (this does not help. Alhamdulillah ala kulli haal).

What is your purpose and goal/s for learning Arabic and your method?

I started learning Arabic by myself (with the Mastering Arabic books) about 14 years ago, before my Islam. I taught English as a second language in a school full of Arabs immigrants and I became curious about their language and its beautiful writing. Being a linguist, I was into linguistic typology and I habitually bought language books just to see how they were. While I never learned Finnish or Swahili, I actually learned to read and write Arabic and some basic vocabulary. I suppose it was part of the guidance of Allah towards Islam and also I got to practice my new words with my students, who were my cheerleaders. I think seeing me learning their language from nothing made me very relatable as a teacher.

My interest in Arabic was paired with my interest in Islam. I took an Arabic course for the public at my university. That was very beneficial. I did my homework religiously. To memorize vocabulary I would listen to the word lists on the  DVD that accompanied the book. They were pronounced alone and in a sentence and I tried to write both things down from listening. Then check in the book. 

Fast forward a few years. I was now a Muslim and mom of 2 young children Alhamdulillah. I enrolled in an intensive online course or Quranic Arabic. It was very grammar heavy and I loved it. 

Again, I worked very hard. I would do all homework and even the non compulsory assignments. 

We used the website Memrise to learn the vocabulary. It was great. I could created pictures to associate to the words. I have mild synaesthesia so that for me was ideal because I could associate the preposition "Ka" to a picture of orange peel. It worked great for me. It was great because my friends were on it too and we competed.

Allah then opened a door to study with a salafi student of knowledge and that was very beneficial too for me as a Muslim Alhamdulillah. After a while though, the nature of the course could no longer accommodate my needs.

Aged 36, I was recommended markaz al-Ibaanah in Egypt and I have been studying with them since. I am very happy. Alhamdulillah. 

It is full immersion, all Arabic video lesson course. Intensive. Hard work. 

My aim in learning Arabic is to understand the Qur'an better and access the speech of the scholars insha'Allah. 

Do you have any tips and advice for fellow mamas learning Arabic?

Alhamdulillah I can see that I have definitely moved in that direction although the road is still long. And all success is from Allah.

What works best for me:

- Understanding how I like to learn

- Learn Arabic in Arabic (plenty of online options for native teachers if you can't travel. If you can travel to an Arab country to study, of course do!)

- Grammar is your friend 

- Read Qur'an a lot. Read short hadeeth and simple religious texts in Arabic. (The University of madinah side books are great for this)

- Find ways to make it relevant in your life (=use it. Still a work in progress) 

- Flashcards, games, competition with others 

- Be patient with yourself.

- Accept the journey will be very long 

Umm Yusef is a Muslim wife and mother to Mr11, Mr8 and Miss3. Born in 1981 in a small village in Northern Italy, I wanted to go away since I can remember. Don’t get me wrong, I had a brilliant childhood and my family was – and still is – lovely. But I was hungry for “the world”. I always had a huge fascination for different cultures, different faces, faraway lands and lives we can’t even imagine. To my frustration, there wasn’t a great deal of diversity in my life in the 80s, but I always picked the non caucasian Barbie doll (when there was one!). I couldn’t understand how so many people could be perfectly content without ever trying out life in a different culture, or even being remotely interested in people with a vastly different story. I would still have a curry or sushi any day of the week rather than pasta, if you see what I mean..... Continue here

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