Now that the summer has wrapped up, it’s time to dive back into language learning, and let’s start with some thoughts on non-European languages! For that, my hyperpolyglot friend Judith Meyer is back and has written up this excellent post for us. I met in Esperanto gatherings and always see her busy answering Quora questions, […]MORE
This has been a very interesting project!
I started back in September, with three months to intensively learn the language while in Brazil, and then spent January and February travelling through Egypt (ultimately not doing more than a couple of hours intentional work on my Arabic level, although getting lots of practice), and if you check out the above completely unedited, and unscripted conversation, you can hear what my Arabic sounds like!
Unlike in my other videos, where I was focusing much more on an interesting message that the native speaker could share with the world, this time I did most of the talking, but had a very special guest interview me – the first person I ever spoke Arabic with! It’s got an almost poetic conclusion to the mission that I should finally meet her just before I leave! I found Amera on italki in September, and she is one of the teachers I stuck consistently with all the way through to December.MORE
After I got back from Siwa, I got on the train to Cairo for my flight to Sharm el Sheikh. Unlike the previous occasion that I had gotten the train, I arrived with plenty of time!
But I had a completely different problem this time! After I got on the train, I was a little weary of anything happening to my window after rocks had been thrown at it on the Luxor-Cairo leg, and the sun was shining in on my face, so I thought I should pull down the blind of course.MORE
(Today’s video is in English, but has a brief segment in Arabic when I chat to my jeep driver).
Don’t worry, next week I’ll get back to language updates, including a video where I do most of the talking, all spontaneous, so you can hear what my level truly is. For now, I wanted to share my favourite place on my travels in Egypt: the Siwa Oasis!
It’s a 10 hour or so bus ride from Alexandria (where I ended the first leg of my travels), through a road that has only been paved in recent decades, and as you can see it’s a huge area of fertile land covered by palm trees, rather than our stereotypical image of an oasis being a single watering hole.MORE
When you leave the chaos of Cairo, you are instantly hit by how peaceful Aswan is. No constant horns and no polluted skyline. As you can see in the start of the video, you also get the more typical view of the Nile we expect with huge sand dunes right by the bank of the river.
While in Aswan, I got to learn about Nubian culture, as most of those I would speak to were Nubians. This included the Felucca boat and sailor that I hired for the day through a local company. The captain picked me up and brought me as far downstream as we could go for the first half of the day before we turned back.MORE
After leaving Cairo, the first stop on my Egyptian travels was Aswan, the furthest south in the country where you can find a major settled area, and where the Egyptian part of the Nile begins after Lake “Nasser” and the High Dam.
By far, the most interesting part of my time there was discovering things about the ethnic group known as the Nubians, which at one point in history were able to overpower the Pharaohs of Egypt, but have had an unfortunate history of displacement and migration, especially in the last century.
To share that story, I let Gasser M. Anwar, a Nubian working in the tourist industry, take the microphone to share his perspective on it all with us. With subtitles in English and Arabic as always!MORE
In the last five months, I have definitely received the most double takes of my life whenever I said that I had been learning all my Egyptian Arabic in Brazil.
It’s just such an unlikely combination! Brazil has never had a huge or even tiny wave of Egyptian immigration. While there, I only managed to meet one single Egyptian in person in my entire 3 months. This was partially the reason I did it – to prove that even if there are no natives nearby, you can learn to speak the language entirely online.MORE
Probably one of the most frequent comments I’ve received on my videos over the last months, usually from people in Arabic speaking countries that are not Egypt, or from elitist academics, all of whom ignored my travel-in-Egypt focus, has been “You should be learning Modern Standard Arabic (MSA)! It’s much better than dialect!”
Now that I’m actually using what I spent months preparing for, in the country itself, I can confirm that learning a dialect is far superior to learning MSA if you plan to speak the language.MORE
Don’t worry, video updates in Arabic are coming soon 😉 Today I’ve just recorded the first of many videos to document my time in this country, and it should be on my Youtube channel by Monday (need time to upload HD videos on slow connections, as well as subtitling). But first, it’s time for another […]MORE
I woke up groggy, still trying to snooze off a sleepless night of New Year’s parties, looked out my window and could see that we had just flown over a small bay of some sort that showed the Mediterranean sea part of my journey was done. Our flight had just entered Egypt, and it was […]MORE
My three months are officially up! In a few hours I’ll be getting a flight back to Ireland to spend Christmas with my family, then heading to Germany for a few days to celebrate the New Year in Esperanto with some good friends as always. Then, a few days into January, I fly into Egypt, […]MORE
Here it is; my official two month point in Arabic! Subtitles in English, Arabic and Portuguese via Youtube.
I had initially planned to go to the Egyptian consulate in Rio, to finally speak the language for the first time in my life in person, but there were issues in setting up a meeting there. Luckily, I randomly ran into an Egyptian-American, Ahmed, at a Couchsurfing meeting!
I decided to only speak English with him then and ask him if he’d be up for recording a video with me. We still spoke English before recording the video, so he had no idea what my level would have been at. The reason I did this, was so you could literally see the very first time I genuinely spoke the language face-to-face with someone in my life, the moment after I pressed record.
Sharing this key moment is good for tracking my progress, since I know people are curious about such important milestones of the mission, (unlike some friends of mine, I don’t tend to have a camera on my head to catch such moments in cognito!) but obviously breaking into Arabic suddenly, after not speaking it for over a day since my previous Skype session, meant I didn’t have quite the ideal kind of flow I’d like. In future, I’ll speak in the relevant language for several minutes before recording, so I have this flow.MORE
Today’s video marks the half-way point of my mission to learn Egyptian Arabic to fluency in 3 months, while in Brazil. I’m talking to Henry, an Egyptian who lives in Australia, and it was the first time we ever talked. He’s a reader of this blog, and offered to let me record our Skype conversation.MORE
When I met my first polyglot at age 21, I was floored. It was like looking at a wizard. He jumped into various languages, and could express himself with ease in each language! Unfortunately, this is how most monolinguals look at it. It’s as good as magic.MORE
Subtitles in English, Arabic and Portuguese as always. Don’t forget to click to activate! When learning Arabic, I decided to record my entire day of learning the language on camera. I was going to make it one video, but by the time I reached 9AM, I already have enough to make an important point! (Part […]MORE