You can build a strong foundation in the Arabic language through online courses and personal study, but if you really want to take your learning to a higher level, there really isn’t anything as effective as really immersing yourself in the language and the culture.
The simple fact is that language is learned through the speaking of it.
And that means you’re going to have to create opportunities to user your new language with native speakers.
Language immersion programs are one of the best opportunities for students to take their foundation and put it to the test in real-life situations. This is why Arab Academy offers our own Arabic Immersion Program – we wanted to give anyone an opportunity to dive into a local Middle Easter culture in Egypt really stretch your language skills.
Of course, adventures like this can’t last forever, so here are a few tips to make sure you get the most out of this language immersion program.
1. Find Reasons to Interact with Locals
It can be really easy to stay in your comfort zone and hang around other English speakers during your time in the country.
This is, unfortunately, the most common way for language-learners to miss a lot of opportunities.
Your time in country is going to be limited, so make the most of every day and leave that comfort zone at home.
Find reasons to interact with local people, whether that’s your neighbor, the person behind the register at a store, someone at the table next to you who seems to be relaxing at lunch time, and so on.
There are a lot of great opportunities just to say hello and ask how they’re doing.
Things can build naturally from there.
2. Put Yourself in Situations/Locations Where Foreigners are Rare
There are a lot of famous areas in Egypt that we absolutely recommend you make time to visit.
However, these places are usually quite accustomed to seeing foreign visitors, and many of the people at the places you go will do their best to speak English with you.
Take some time to explore places where out-of-towners are a bit rare. In these areas, you’re unlikely to find a special English menu at a restaurant, or store owners who have enough experience in English to helpful.
In these places you can – and must – rely more on your own language skills.
And this reliance is what will help you get more out of the program.
3. Don’t Rely on Your Smartphone
It can be really easy to let your smartphone take care of translations for you. It’s never been easier to look up a new word or phrase, so you can get through a conversation.
However, we tend to forget the things we scan on a mobile screen almost immediately.
Even if you save the words to review later, it still may not be enough.
Keep a pad of paper and pencil with you at all times. Write down new words and phrases that you hear in conversation or see on signs and buildings.
The simple act of writing it by hand (instead of typing it by thumbs) engages physical movements, which uses different parts of the brain, which helps many people learn and retain these new words.
4. Give Yourself Time to Acclimatize
A language immersion program can be a fun, life-changing event, and you may want to jump into it head first to get the most out of it.
But not everyone is ready to completely leave behind everything they’ve known and completely lose themselves just to appear more integrated with the local culture.
And that’s okay.
Throughout this program you’re going to have plenty of opportunities to lose yourself in the culture and the language, but that doesn’t mean you can’t take some time out to be you.
Completely surrounding yourself with a new language in a different country can be exciting and thrilling – but it can also wear you out if you’re not careful.
Take as many opportunities as you can to experience something new, but don’t feel bad when you have to take some time to be you.
5. Listen Actively
Most of us don’t actually focus on proper grammar when we speak – and local dialects in particular can rely on some very obscure or unique turns of phrases. So, if you want to start sounding like a local, you have to listen very closely to how they say things.
When you’re at a restaurant, what kinds of phrases do they use to order their food? When you check into a hotel, how does the person in front of you speak to the person behind the counter? How do the two guys or girls in front of you on the bus speak to each other?
Listen actively. Try to pick out the words you understand, write down the words you don’t, and try to imitate the accents and vocal patterns you hear.
6. Give Yourself a Break
We all want to be perfect right from the start. No one likes to make mistakes.
But let’s be direct about this. No one is perfect when they first enter a new country. After all, you’re here to discover and learn more, not to show off how much you already know.
The point is that it is really easy to let a little embarrassment over not knowing the right words or mixing up the sentence structure stop you from really trying to use your Arabic with new people.
Don’t let these minor mistakes hold you back from speaking as much as you can throughout your immersion program.
Yes, you’ll make some mistakes, and yes, it can be hard to communicate what you want to say.
But the fact is that most people will see your efforts for what they are: an honest attempt to understand and use their language.
It will be appreciated and respected.
So even if you make some mistakes – even if you don’t know all the right words – just keep speaking. Speak every chance you have.
Because it’s through these attempts and mistakes that you will eventually get better.
At Arab Academy, we offer a Language Immersion Program that takes students on a 4 to 32-week adventure in Cairo, Egypt. This is a unique opportunity to fully immerse yourself in the Arabic language.
If you’re ready to take your language learning to the next level, then check out the details and sign up today. This is a truly unique opportunity and experience for you to dive into the culture and the language.