Monday, July 19, 2010

Newspaper Arabic

Today was my second session of Newspaper Arabic, the 2hr/week supplementary class that Qasid is providing for free.

It's a nice change of pace from my normal classes, which focus on grammar and vocab for 4 hours a day. The class is bigger and so I get to meet more students than I would otherwise. Also, we're using real Arabic sources in the class, which is a bit of a morale booster. In regular class, we use texts and materials designed for Arabic students, so they have been massaged quite a bit and purged of anything too challenging. In newspaper Arabic, we're attacking actual articles designed for actual Arabic speakers, so making progress in that class is a bit more exciting.

Of course, that progress is quite slow in my case. Two examples hopefully show my current predicament; I'm getting the details just fine, but the overall picture breezes by. Last Wednesday, we read an article reporting that, according to a recent study, Egypt is the #1 country in the world for wife-on-husband domestic violence. I understood that we were reading the results of a sociological study dealing with domestic violence between couples. I understood that Egypt placed first, followed by the U.S. and India. What I couldn't tell was whether the article was describing wife-on-husband violence, or husband-on-wife. This, obviously, is a pretty central aspect of the story, but I couldn't be sure without confirmation from a classmate.

Today, the article was from the BBC Arabic, describing divorce in Japanese society. Something - I didn't know the word - was causing divorce rates to rise. This force was making people stay at home, where they got into fights with spouses, instead of going to the office and spending hours hard at work like they were used to. I assumed we were talking about unemployment, but the article was actually discussing retirement. So again, I was close, but still oh so far. It'll be a long time before I'm reporting for Al-Jazeera or CNN Arabic.

I'm also hoping our next class discusses an article unrelated to marital problems. Not sure why we have such a focus on failing marriages, but something more upbeat might be nice. Maybe our teacher is just having trouble finding good news out of the Middle East?

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