As the Omani government pushes for more tourism, the number of visitors to the country continues to grow. The country that people barely knew about even only a few years ago is becoming more and more famous with each passing year. Even the late Anthony Bourdain covered the Sultanate of Oman on his Parts Unknown show. Oman’s history is rich and replete with cultural gems. If you’re planning to visit Oman for the first time, your best bet is to begin with the National Museum of Oman.
Contents of the national museum
The National Museum of Oman opened on July 30, 2016 and is the main museum in the Sultanate of Oman. It covers all things Oman from prehistory to contemporary times. The first floor focuses on the land of Oman and its people. Here you can find cultural items such as traditional clothing, jewelry, and weaponry. One thing about Oman is that there are many forts scattered throughout the Sultanate. As you make your way through the museum, you’ll see replicas of these forts (scaled down to size of course) and these can make for a better appreciation of the architecture from the past. There’s also a giant, interactive touch screen map that covers the entire area of Oman. When you click on a specific city or region, an infographic pops up to give you information about the place.
Learning about the restoration process
Another interesting exhibit at the National Museum of Oman is the restoration exhibit. Here, you can learn how archeologists, scientists, and experts at the museum restore discovered items. A video shows the process necessary and many of the artifacts that have been restored are on display in this exhibit.
A seafaring people
One very interesting part of the National Museum of Oman is in the maritime section. Oman has a strong history of ship building and of being seafaring people. The Sultanate once stretched from east Africa to India. In this section, there are ships of different styles and sizes including a huge, life-sized one. However, the interesting part, tucked away in a corner, is an exhibit that contains massive clay jugs from Mahut, Oman. These are from 3-4ft. high and almost just as wide at its broadest. Although there are theories about what these were used for, it is not definitively known.
Upon exiting the maritime section, you’ll find a small movie theater. The theater shows a cultural movie that celebrates Oman and covers some important aspects of the country such as its heritage, wildlife, nature, and the like.
The al-Busaid dynasty
One area of the museum that I really enjoy relates to the history of the al-Busaid dynasty. There’s a timeline of the dynasty along with pictures of former rulers of Oman. It really puts the country into perspective and shows how power changed and how the country transitioned over time to become what it currently is.
Be sure to visit!
The National Museum of Oman is the ideal first stop for any visitor to the country. It serves as a way to introduce you to the country, its people, their culture and more. The museum becomes a foundation on which you can build your trip in the days (or even weeks) after you first arrive. Once you learn about the country through the museum, you’ll be able to have a richer experience when exploring Oman. If you decide to visit the Sultanate, be sure to make the National Museum of Oman your first stop.
The second decade of the 21st century is right around the corner. We’re only a week away from the year 2020. As the cliche goes, hindsight is 20/20. There’s also perfect vision for the eyes that we say is 20/20 vision. Whatever the case, 2019 is quickly coming to an end. Since this is the start of a new year, it’s a good time to think about your 2020 New Year’s resolution.
Why is a New Year’s Resolution Important to Me?
Once upon a time, I was one of those people who used to criticize the idea of New Year’s resolutions. “Why do I have to wait until the start of a new year to do something”? “How is a resolution at the start of the year supposed to help me be successful”? Now, I see the value of having a New Year’s resolution. It’s true that we could start a change in our lives on a Wednesday in the middle of April or May. However, when we choose to start a new chapter of our lives at the beginning of the year, it’s like we have a clean slate in front of us. Our minds are already adjusted to the new day, the new month, the new year. It’s easier for us to know how much time we are spending on our goals too.
For me, having a resolution helps me to stay focused during the upcoming year. I’m not just going into it blindly. Instead, I have direction and know that there’s a destination to be reached. January 1st is the starting point like the beginning of a map for a journey. As with most good journeys, it’s important to have an idea of where you’re headed at the very least.
Plan first, act next
A lot of people start their resolutions on the first day of the new year. Instead of starting then, it’s better to start before. The earlier you begin the better. The planning stages for a New Year’s resolution should be before the start of the new year. Anywhere from a few days to a few weeks ahead. By planning first, you’ll be able to jump right in once the new year begins.
Define your goals with clarity. Make it so clear, that if someone asked you what they were, you’d be able to explain instantly and they’d be able to understand without any difficulty. When your goals are clear, you’ll be able to see them in your mind. The more you can visualize your clear goals, the more real it becomes to you. Aside from having clear goals, be sure that these goals mean something to you. Whether they’re related to career success, your relationships, your knowledge, body, or something else, your goals should be important to you.
Plan, then Act on your Resolution
You’ve written down your New Year’s resolutions, now you have to follow them. Anyone can write a list of things they want, but what good is it if you’re not acting on your desire? Make a plan on how to bring your resolution, your goals, into reality. Consider the steps that you need to take and also what obstacles you might face. Have an action plan for how to overcome any challenges that get in your way. Very importantly, stay committed to your resolution for whatever period of time you allocate for yourself. Your resolution might last for the whole year, or maybe you just need three months to accomplish your goal. Whatever the case, stick to it and remind yourself regularly that you’re in this for the long haul.
If you fail while trying?
You might try your best to fulfill your resolution, but still come up short in the end. If you fail while trying, don’t beat yourself up. Try again. Remember, if you never work toward your goals for the new year, you won’t make much progress. If you try and fail, you’ll still end up making more progress than if you had never tried at all. Take whatever failure you come across as a learning experience.
Let’s make the most of this coming year. Make 2020 the year in which your New Year’s resolution come true and your dreams come to fruition. Set your goals, visualize them, make a plan, and get to work. This year can be a success, if you want it to be!
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Today, December 18th, is designated as World Arabic Language Day by UNESCO. On December 18, 2010, UNESCO began to honor the role of the Arabic language around the world. It also coincides with the date that Arabic became one of the six official languages of the United Nations (December 18, 1973). This year, the theme is Arabic Language and Artificial Intelligence.
Currently, nearly 300 million people speak and use the Arabic language. These include those who use the formal variety as well as the various dialects. The language is a rich one known for its depth and its use in areas such as literature, poetry, songs, science, and philosophy. Arabic speakers in the past also translated many works from ancient Greece and Rome. Eventually, they spread these works throughout Europe via Spain. In addition, Arabic words have crossed over into other languages such as English and Spanish. Some loan words from Arabic include sugar (which comes from al-sukkar), alcohol (which comes from al-kuhl), and algebra (which comes from al-jabr).
To learn more, check out UNESCO’s page dedicated to this day. Are you a speaker of Arabic? Are you a learner of the Arabic language? If so, happy World Arabic Language Day to you.
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A few days ago I was able to visit Nizwa Fort, which is located in the center of the older area of the city. Around the fort is the Nizwa souq, which is known for its Friday morning goat and cattle market. You can also buy things such as luban (frankincense), clothes, traditional pottery and crafts, and a variety of dates and honey that are locally produced at the souq.
There’s also al-Qala’a Mosque (the mosque next to the fort that was probably the largest mosque in Nizwa until the Sultan Qaboos mosque opened its doors in 2015).
Nizwa fort was built in the 1600s by Imam Sultan bin Saif al-Ya’rubi of the Ya’rubi dynasty. This was the same dynasty that built Jibreen castle. The fort was the main area of administration in Nizwa during that era. One of the first things you might notice when walking around the outside of the fort is the large circular tower. This tower is about 30 meters high and has a diameter of approximately 36 meters.
When you go inside the fort and enter the tower, it almost looks like a large courtyard. There are stairs that lead you to the top of tower, however these stairs are narrow. If you have a fear of heights, you might not want to go up. Or at least, if you go up, you probably shouldn’t look down. From the top of the tower, you can see all of the surrounding area. Local shops and homes, fields and fields of green palm trees, the city beyond; all of these stretch out before your eyes.
A Heavily Fortified Fort
Nizwa Fort was made to withstand attacks from the outside and was built in a heavily fortified and well-protected way. Upon entering Nizwa fort, you’ll find two canons guarding the front door. Likewise, there were canons in the tower that overlooked the area around. Essentially, they had a 360-degree view and guards and soldiers were capable of blowing away any attacking forces outside. The doors of the fort are inches thick to protect against being battered or torn down. There were also secret rooms in the fort.
Any invading foe that managed to get past canon fire, the massive doors, and soldiers who might have hid in the secret rooms would have to deal with narrow winding stairs.
Not because of it being difficult to climb, but because some of these had removable steps. An enemy could easily find himself falling into a deep hole that he thought was a step and would meet certain death. For the attacker who got past this, there was still the issue of the murder holes.
If you visit Nizwa fort, you’ll find that there are some holes in the ground where the walls and floors meet. These holes have a very special purpose, and it’s not to circulate air. As a way to defend themselves, those guarding Nizwa fort would pour boiling oil or water onto the attackers below. If these weren’t available, they would use boiling date syrup, making their unlucky victim suffer greatly and most likely even die.
A Stash of Food and Supplies
The builders prepared themselves for possible long lasting sieges. They maintained a large store of food (particularly dates) within the fort. In fact, as you make your way through the fort, you’ll see some bags of dates in special storerooms. On top of that, they also built Nizwa Fort over an underground water reservoir system. Anybody who found himself trapped in the fort would at least be able to hold out for a while.
Visiting Nizwa Fort Today
Today, Nizwa Fort is one of the most visited places in all of Oman. Although there’s a regular, steady stream of visitors, Fridays tend to be the busiest day since so many people come to see the goat and cattle market in the souq.
The fort is great for a visit because of its historical importance and it’s also wonderful for photography. On some days, you’ll find a group of men who are performing the traditional Omani swordfight. If the opportunity arises, take some time to watch it. The Nizwa Fort is open Saturdays-Thursday 8:00am-8:00pm and Fridays 8:00am-11:30am & 1:30pm-8:00pm. The current price of admission is 5 Omani rials.
In a previous post, I wrote about why it’s a good idea to take a staycation. If you haven’t read that post, go ahead and check it out here. Staying true to that idea, I decided to visit Jabrin Castle (also spelled Jabreen or Jibreen). Jabrin Castle is located in the Jabrin area of Oman about 25 minutes outside of Nizwa, Oman.
Currently, Oman (along with other Gulf countries) is trying to expand its economy and rely less on oil. One way they’re planning to do this is by pushing for more tourism. In the not-so-distant past, Oman was more or less eclipsed by its neighbors in terms of tourism. Saudi Arabia had its share of tourism in the form of religious pilgrims. The UAE had the reputation of Dubai (and also Abu Dhabi) that brought people there. It was also an international hub in terms of flights. The same was true for Qatar as well.
However, in recent years, due to its stability and being a country that wasn’t oversaturated with tourists, Oman is now beginning to see a rise in visitors. People are curious and want to explore the Sultanate. Since I’m in the heart of all of this, I thought it would be a great idea to explore new places and to revisit the ones I haven’t been to in a while.
Some Information about Jabrin Castle
Jabrin Castle dates back to the 1670’s. It was built during the Ya’ruba dynasty under Imam Bil’Arab bin Sultan al-Ya’ruba who ruled from 1679-1692. In my opinion, this is one of the most beautiful (if not the most beautiful) forts/castles in Oman. Not only in terms of architecture, but because of the interior design as well.
The castle consists of three levels throughout. It contains sun and moon rooms along with meeting rooms for the ruler and his advisors, guests, etc. Rooms were made for visitors as well as study rooms. When you enter Jabrin Castle, you’ll immediately come across an interior courtyard with no roof at the top. This allows air to circulate throughout keeping things fresh and pleasant. It may not be air conditioning, but you can imagine the relief it would have brought centuries ago. Especially in the summers when temperatures may have been above 100 degrees (in Fahrenheit). As you go continue, you’ll also come across two small prisons, one for men, and one for women. Unfortunately for the prisoners, there was no courtyard breeze.
What makes Jabrin Castle stand out from the other forts and castles in Oman is the decor inside. In guest rooms and majlis (meeting) areas, you’ll find carpets and colorful pillows to lean on. In the kitchen and supply areas, there are containers, cooking supplies and more. As you walk around the castle, you’ll get an idea of what life was like back then. The only thing that’s probably missing are actors to reenact a “day in the life” at Jabrin Castle scene.
As far as the interior of Oman goes, Nizwa and Bahla forts are usually the places people go to for tours. However, anyone who visits should add Jabrin to their itinerary. You can cover the whole place in under an hour and it’s worth visiting in my opinion. Currently, the price of admission is 500 baisas. With that, you’ll also receive a map/information guide as well as tour guide headphones that speak in different languages. As of this writing, Jabrin castle is open Saturdays-Thursdays from 9:00am-4:00pm and on Fridays from 8:00am-11:00am.
Hey everyone! It’s been over a month since the 3-month language challenge began so I thought it would be a good time to share some updates. This is language challenge update #1. If you’re new to the blog and you don’t know about the challenge, you can read about it here.
Things have Become Easier with Time
One thing about having a language challenge is that it limits you. There’s a time restriction that you have to work within. Because of that, you can’t procrastinate or leave things until another day. Everyday that passes is a day closer to the end of the challenge. Every day of practice that is missed, is a day lost. At the start of this language challenge, it was a little difficult to be consistent. I practiced and worked toward my goal, but it wasn’t always the easiest thing to do. With things being busy and fluctuating at work, I found my energy levels completely depleted once I went home for the day. This was an almost daily fact for each weekday. Although language learning was important for me, I often had to drag myself to get going.
Things are different now after more than a month. Whether it’s reading, speaking, or listening, I find myself automatically gravitating toward Arabic. Plans of what I want or need to do are already in my head. If there are no plans, the desire is still there to do something with Arabic each day. It’s easier now to pick up a book, watch a show, or talk to someone than it was at the start.
Increasing my Practice
At the outset, working with a teacher once a week was going to be a component of my learning strategy. After a month of doing that, I decided to do it twice a week. One class is a 30 minute conversation session while the other is an hour long and focused on reading. The reading course is to help me with pronunciation, building vocabulary, and reading comprehension. In addition to these two, I’ve started to attend weekly Arabic sessions that are sponsored by a local social group. These social sessions enable me to use Arabic outside of a classroom context. All in all, I’m doing three sessions of Arabic each week. These sessions are in addition to reading each day and watching programs here and there throughout the week.
Already, in the period of about a little more than a month, I’m seeing progress. In fact, yesterday while reading, I realized how much my desire had increased to know this language. I can honestly say that I was truly immersed while reading. On top of that, it was easier to understand the text that I was reading and make sense of it. However, the progress that was made wasn’t only in terms of language abilities. It’s also related to how I’m approaching learning. I’m learning to slow down and enjoy the process. This second month of the 3-month language challenge has me extremely excited for the possibilities ahead. I’m optimistic that by the end of this language challenge, I will reach my goal. December 31, 2020 is only a stone’s throw away, but I’m walking toward it with determination.
When you think about taking a vacation, what comes to mind? Flying on a plane to an exotic location? Visiting Paris, New York, Tokyo, or another famous international city? Traveling abroad is great and can open you up to so many new experiences. However, have you ever tried to take a staycation? For those who don’t know, a staycation is basically a vacation, but in your local area. Instead of going to some faraway location, you take your vacation (or staycation) in a place not too far from the place you call home. Maybe the idea of a staycation is a boring one to you. Maybe images of going to the mall, eating at a fast food joint, and catching a movie before returning home for the night are what come to mind when you hear the word “staycation”.
If you take a staycation, it could be those things, but it could be much more. Ultimately, it’s in your hands.
Things you can do on a Staycation
Think like a Tourist
So you’ve decided to take a staycation. Great decision. What can you do? First, change your mindset. For the days that you take a staycation, forget that you’re a resident of the area. To really get the experience of “traveling” while being local, you have to become a tourist. If you were traveling to a different country, what things would you do? First, you’d probably look for different activities and recommendations. Hiking, concerts, shows, museums, social events, etc. You’d probably also want to figure out how to get around town and see different sites and landmarks the place is famous for. Of course, you’d have to eat during a vacation, so you might check out recommended restaurants that serve different cuisines. When you take a staycation, do the same thing. Sure you’re from the area and you know places that are popular with locals. However, we usually tend to stick to things we already know. Instead of doing that, why not try to go somewhere different and try something new? Think like a tourist. Make use of travel guides and travel forums online. You can also check out local newspapers to see what’s happening around town.
Visiting New Places
Part of a vacation is going to areas that are brand new for you. Places that you’ve heard about and that you’ve seen pictures of. As it is with a vacation, so is it when you take a staycation. What places are there in your city or state that people talk a lot about? What’s a place that you’ve wanted to visit for the longest time, but never had the chance to? Add a few of these to your trip. Remember, you’re in tourist mode, it’s time to do touristy things. If the city that you’re in has a hop-on, hop-off bus, and you’re willing to spend the money, then take advantage of it and spend a day checking out the sites that the city has to offer. You can also revisit places that you haven’t visited in a while.
Venture Outside of your Neighborhood
If you take a staycation, don’t think that you’ll have to only stay on your street or in your neighborhood. Escape from what is routine for you. The idea is to feel like you’re on vacation and to enjoy yourself. Do you have a car? Do you have gasoline? Take a roadtrip. A drive that’s an hour or two outside of town is usually enough to put you in a new environment. Road trips are great. While you’re on the journey to your destination, you have the chance to stop and check out small towns. You might even find some interesting souvenirs to take back home when you return. Venturing outside of your neighborhood is when you truly begin to feel like a tourist. You become a stranger, you’re getting to meet new people, you have to ask for help, directions, and advice. All a part of the experience of tourism. This is when you begin to realize that you really can become a tourist in your country, state, and even city if it’s large enough.
If you’re willing to splurge on some money, go ahead and make your trip one that lasts for at least a couple of days instead of simply a day trip. Check into a hotel or a bed and breakfast and take advantage of the amenities that they have.
Why should you take a staycation?
There are a lot of reasons why you should take a staycation. First, it’ll usually be cheaper than foreign travel. You don’t have to pay for flights, visas, and other things like that. It’s also convenient. Since you’re going to be vacationing somewhere not so far from home, a lot of planning won’t be required. In fact, after reading this blog post, you could take a staycation either tonight or tomorrow. It’s much more convenient than the alternative. Finally, and maybe the most important is when you take a staycation, it can give you a greater appreciation of what you have in your own neck of the woods. Many of us have treasures in our very own backyard, but we’re oblivious to it. We often spend time exploring other areas, but when it comes to our own homes, we put it on hold. Either we say something along the lines of “there’s nothing here” or “I’ll do it another time”. However, having a local vacation can be just as exciting, exhilarating, and enjoyable as traveling abroad.
Whether you take a vacation internationally, domestically, or locally, you’re sure to find something worthwhile. I’m not saying that one is better than the other. Each has its own benefits and you’re probably better off doing a mix of these. An international vacation, another vacation domestically, and another locally. You don’t have to limit yourself and the experiences that you have. You also don’t have to neglect your own hometown. Take advantage of what’s right in front of you.
I’ve completed the first week of the 3-Month language challenge and I want to reflect on the experience. First, for myself so I can clarify the experience in my mind and secondly for you readers out there. Some of you might be doing the challenge and others may be thinking of trying it one day. It doesn’t hurt to share these personal experiences of the journey.
How was the first week overall?
I’d say it wasn’t a success, but it also wasn’t a failure. I could have done a lot better and I’ll explain what happened.
My plan for the challenge was to work with Arabic on a daily basis each week. Unfortunately, last week, I only did this for four days. The main reason was because I was under the weather and had no energy to do anything. Now I’m starting to feel better and hopefully I’ll feel completely back to normal for the remainder of this challenge. If anything, I’d say that this first week has helped me to reconfirm my commitment to this challenge and I know that it’s something that I’d absolutely like to continue.
Something new that I’ve learned
Toward the end of the week, I had an online lesson with one of my favorite Arabic teachers. I asked her to help me with my pronunciation and the definition of new words in the novel that I’m currently reading. That was very helpful since we were able to cover these much more quickly than I normally do when I use a dictionary or translator. However, this session opened my eyes up to something. Something new that I learned is that my spoken Arabic has become absolute trash. Words that I once knew, escaped me. Conjugating words took some time and overall, I was shocked by how much of the language I lost. I don’t think that I’ve spoken the language in a sustained way in probably 5 months. It’s understandable why the level dropped so dramatically. As they say, use it, or lose it.
The original plans were good and those will stay the same for the most part. The only thing to change would be to add more speaking practice. I want to focus on becoming a better speaker again and that comes from practice. Practice will happen during lessons with my teacher, but the effort will also be made toward talking with native speakers of the language. Luckily, there are some security guards that I chat with here and there whenever I go to the local mall. It would be a good idea to move beyond the superficial and to have conversations that are a bit deeper or that force me out of my comfort zone.
Here’s hoping week number two turns out to be much better than the first!
The three month language challenge is just around the corner. On September 29, 2019 I’ll be starting my three month language challenge and I hope you’ll be joining me too. I’m excited for this chance to really push myself and become better. Three months is really a short amount of time and it’ll fly by quickly. Although it’s short, I’m certain that I’ll see a lot of improvements in my language skills.
Challenges Faced Together
Growing and improving on a journey is great in itself. However, going on that journey with other people is an even better experience. We often hear that learning another language is difficult, or we’ve even faced that problem. Although people often talk about the difficulty of language learning, it doesn’t need to be like that. When we face obstacles alone, they can be harder to overcome. When we face them knowing that others are in the same situation, the problem starts to look just a little bit smaller. By knowing that we’re a part of a three month language learning community, we’ll be more likely to reach our goals. If you’ve wanted to start learning a new language, but haven’t had the motivation to do so, now is a great time to start.
In a previous post, I mentioned why a language challenge is a great idea. I also wrote about what I plan to do in the three months. With less than a week left before the start of the three month language challenge, how can you get started? You don’t have to do anything too complex or difficult. It’s better to do something simple, but to do it regularly. Here are some ideas to get you started.
Choose 2 or 3 materials that you want to learn from regularly. These can be anything. Netflix shows, books, etc.
Make a list of people or places you can get help from when you need it. Friends, teachers, tutors, online, etc.
Have a goal in mind of what you want to achieve by the end of the three month period. You can also make a goal for only the first month. Once you finish the first month, you can make a goal for the second, and later the third.
These three points are a great way to start the three month language journey.
Join the Challenge!
Interested in learning another language? Now is the time to start. Join me for the three month language journey. You can also sign up to receive regular newsletters filled with tips and advice during the three month challenge. Sign up here and you’ll receive a 3-month calendar and log that I’ve created for this challenge. These can help you to keep track of your activities during the three month period.
I hope that many of you reading this will join the three month language challenge and use it as a boost to reach your goals. If you enjoyed this post, be sure to like it, share it, and follow us here and on Facebook. It would be much appreciated!
Can you learn a language in 3 months? Yes, of course you can. Can you become fluent in a language in 3 months starting from scratch? Most likely not. Three months might not get you to fluency, but it can bring a drastic change in your foreign language abilities if you’re committed. Because of this, I’ve decided to push myself to continue to learn a language in 3 months. Basically, I’m planning to do a 3 month language challenge. What’s a language challenge and why am I doing one?
Some background information
In the last few posts on this blog, I’ve discussed goals, why they’re important and why they should be clear. I’ve also talked about why we should use the last few months of the year to recommit to the resolutions we made at the beginning of the year. These weren’t simply random posts. The ideas in them had true meaning to me and in my life. At the start of 2019, I decided that I wanted to be at the C1 level of Arabic. (C1 is a low advanced level on the language proficiency scale). For the longest time, I’ve been stuck at an intermediate plateau. I can learn vocabulary fairly easily, but grammar is another beast. Speaking with the correct sentence structure has also been a big problem for me.
I decided this year would be the one for me to focus and get past the plateau stage. The focus for the earlier part of the year was on input. Reading graded readers (these are books that are simplified for learners) and novels. TV shows translated into Arabic were another constant part of my efforts to escape the plateau zone. This year I was more consistent than I’ve probably ever been before. Now, with the last 3 months of the year quickly approaching, it’s crunch time. It’s time to focus and to be dedicated to the task of acquiring the beautiful language of Arabic. This is where the 3-month language challenge comes in.
The 3-month language challenge explained
Imagine you’re learning Dutch. You take two 1-hour classes twice a week. In between classes, you study three days a week for half an hour at the most. It’s a decent amount of time especially for a working adult or a student. However, it totals 3.5 hours per week at the most. You might experience some development.
Now, imagine that you commit to learning Dutch for 3 months. You say that you’re going to work with the language for at least one hour per day. If you stick to that, your total will be at least seven hours of time spent with the language per week. Already, you’ve at least doubled your hours with Dutch. With the 3-month language challenge you’re not haphazardly dealing with the language that you want to acquire. Purposefully, you’re going toward it, and you have a goal in mind. The goal can be anything that you want. In my case, I want to speak coherently, develop my grammar, and build a stronger lexical (vocabulary) base. Put succinctly, I hope to be at the C1 level of Arabic once the 3-month period is up.
My plan (to continue to) learn a language in 3 months
Everyone has their own ideas when it comes to doing a 3-month language challenge. As they become more advanced in their target language (the language they’re learning), they become more aware of what they’re lacking. Once that’s known, they’ll know how to approach learning the language in 3 months. In my case:
I’ll continue to read novels each day to build my vocabulary. Reading will also allow me to be exposed to a variety of examples of sentence structure. I plan to spend at least an hour per day reading. I know that I have problems with pronunciation of new words. In the majority of books, there are no vowel markings. As a result, I’ll be adding an audio component to the books that I’ll be reading. Thankfully, I came across an app called Kitab Sawti. It’s an audiobook app much like Audible, but for Arabic books. I have the Hunger Games books in Arabic and Kitab Sawti has that available as well, so I’ll be reading while listening.
To help with listening, I’ll be making use of YouTube or any other source to watch TV shows. I’ll be watching a TV show in Arabic daily. On average, it should be about 30 minutes per day, give or take. I prefer to watch cartoons translated from English and especially from the 80’s or 90’s. Since I’ll probably already know the topic, I’ll have an aid in understanding what’s happening. If I have an idea of the story, I’ll more readily catch new words. There are a lot of shows such as Smurfs, X-Men, Recess, and even Courage the Cowardly Dog that are now available in Arabic. Entertaining shows in their own right, a healthy dose of nostalgia, and full of comedy. Enjoying yourself while learning enhances the learning process and, thankfully, shows like these are very enjoyable.
I prefer to watch TV shows over movies because of two main reasons. First, TV shows are more easily digestible. A show’s runtime can range anywhere from 25 minutes to one hour. Compared to a movie that’s two hours or longer, I’ll have less of a chance of suffering from fatigue. The second reason is that TV shows have many episodes. Once you understand the characters, locations, and general plot of the first four or five episodes, it becomes easier to understand the future episodes. Movies are one offs and even with sequels, the topics may be so different that it would leave a language learner lost.
Writing is something that will happen twice a week. Just a short essay of about 3 paragraphs or so. For writing, I’ll be working with a tutor so I can get feedback on what I’ve put together. The main reason I’ll be writing is to work on my sentence structure and to ensure that there’s coherence. I’ve read that writing is a great help when it comes to speaking, so I hope to see the effect of it over time. In English, writing is a piece of cake (I’ve been doing it long enough after all). In Arabic however, it’s a different story. For just 3 paragraphs, I’ll probably need at least 45 minutes. Over time, I’ll hopefully be able to reduce the amount of time it takes for me to compose something.
Speaking will also happen with a tutor. I’ll be working with a tutor once a week for one hour to increase my speaking abilities. Speaking abilities includes fluency, accuracy, and expanded spoken vocabulary. My hope is to make use of the vocabulary and structures that I’ve learned through the other three skills (reading, listening, writing).
If there are grammatical areas where I’m weak and repeatedly making mistakes, I’ll ask my tutor to point these out and I’ll try to work on them. Improvement is the name of the game.
The big picture
I’ll be averaging about 13 hours per week of working with the language. Working a full time job at the same time, it won’t be easy, but I’ll have to continually remind myself that it’s only for 3-months. Also, it’s not a class or a chore, this is a hobby for me, so I should approach it in that way. I’m sure that if I stay committed to this, I’ll be able to successfully exit the plateau that I’m in by the end of the three months.
There are some days that are extremely busy. Some days are bad. Some days are exhausting. I think on days like these, there should be some kind of minimal action. If you’re doing a 3-month language challenge and there’s a day or even a week where you’re just out of it, there should be something that you can do at the very minimum. For me, I’ve decided that watching a program will be that (or listening to an audiobook). These can be done while eating, laying down, etc. So, if I find that I don’t want to do anything after a long day at work, I’ll at least listen for 20 or 30 minutes to something in Arabic and leave it at that.
There you have it, my plan to (continue to) learn a language in 3 months. I’ll be starting on Sunday, September 29th and continuing until the end of December. It’s the perfect way to end 2019 and to begin 2020 on a high note. I’ll be leaving updates on here about my progress and experience with this project of mine. If you’ve read this far, I applaud you.
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