I’ve never been good at learning words in the native language of the countries I visit while I’m there. I might learn ‘good morning’ or ‘thank you’ but that’s the extent. Others I’ve traveled with go through great pains to learn words to communicate but for some reason I don’t do that – until I go home.
When I last visited Vietnam about 5 years ago, I had already purchased the Rosetta Stone system for learning Vietnamese and did quite well at it, but had a hard time detecting the words I knew in casual everyday conversation because Vietnamese is just so different from any language I’ve been exposed to. I liked Rosetta Stone’s format but just didn’t take the extensive time required to complete the entire system and consequently didn’t learn Vietnamese except for a few phrases that I like to say to impress people who have no clue what I’m saying. Because of how the words sound together I often show off to others by saying in Vietnamese, “the black cat is near the car,” a phrase that will not help me anytime in Vietnam or anywhere else. My drive to learn the language was mostly due to my wanting to move to Vietnam so badly. I hoped that if I learned the language it would make it easier to gain employment there. But all those plans changed for a variety of reasons. And my Vietnamese-learning ended.
And then along came Morocco.
French and Arabic are spoken in Morocco and to me it all sounds so familiar. I can rely upon my weak French learned in middle and high school to at least understand the gist of things. And I think some Moroccan Arabic words even sound French, like ‘mezian’ (good) and ‘nichen’ (straight) to just name two. I can actually detect Arabic words I know in conversation and in writing and know quite a few words that already come in handy in conversation with Moroccan friends. Plus I’ve bought some language and culture books that also help. There is a great resource online that helps one learn Moroccan Arabic: MoroccanLanguage.com. So I downloaded the program to my iPad and listen to it and practice a little each day. It’s rewarding and fun to impress my Moroccan friends with what I’m learning.
I have a long way to go with this but when I return in September I hope to have the phrase in Arabic for ‘the black cat is near the car’ down pat to impress my friends there!