Thursday, June 24, 2010

Day 2 of Classes

Classes started Wednesday, so I've now experienced two days worth of instruction. I remain wary of making any premature judgments, but so far I am very happy with what I've encountered.

Each weekday has 4 hours of instruction, from 8AM-noon. We switch teachers at 10, getting exposure to different teaching styles. My class currently has eight people, but enrollment is still fluctuating so that might change too.

As I mentioned, I placed in the lower of the two possible classes. As a result, I'm reviewing material that was already taught during my Arabic class at Harvard last year. This is proving immensely beneficial, since all of the vocab that has slowly slipped away is being quickly reintroduced and reinforced. I get to work on the drills again with the vocab already memorized. Last time around, I was juggling too many balls with memorization and grammar and drills (and three other classes!), and so didn't get the most out of each unit. As an added bonus, I'm using the same textbook, and so some of the homework is already done. We'll eventually move forward into brand-new material, but this review is good.

But regardless of placement, the instruction and academic atmosphere is fantastic. Class is almost entirely in Arabic, with only a few English sentences emerging each day. Our first teacher confided to us that he doesnt speak much English at all, which is another added incentive to stick to Arabic. He speaks in Arabic for two unbroken hours, and both days, I've understood almost everything, both spoken and written. He's of course using easier words and a slower pace than he might use with native speakers, but the fact that I'm holding my own in Arabic for two solid hours is a surprising, and encouraging, development.

I'm doing less well in the second session of class. I've decided that class consists of a good cop/bad cop routine: the first teacher comes, encourages you, and makes you feel great about your progress, while the second kicks your ass and shows you how much work you still have to do. I'm understanding less in the second half and am often in need of more explanation, but again, it's all in Arabic and I'm still holding on. Our teacher is also wonderfully sweet - just because she's the bad cop doesn't mean she's mean about it. The attitude is very encouraging inside and outside of class. Even the Qasid staff and administration - fully bilingual - will patiently humor us while we try to discuss any housing, billing, or other issues in Arabic in the spirit of immersion.

The Jordanian workweek is Sun-Thurs, so I'm ready to enjoy my weekend! Found a decent running path around the American Embassy (which works until I'm arrested for suspiciously stalking out the compound, haha), and maybe even a gym. I'm heading downtown in search of the fabled Friday Markets, so we'll see if I have any luck!

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