After a bit of time to settle in and brush up on my speaking, I was eager and ready to start my intensive course. In the days leading up to the course while practicing in my daily interactions, I wished that I knew more verbs and conjugations to speak with more variety and to move my conversations forward. It seemed like this was the next step that I needed to push my language learning to the next level. When I arrived at the Polis Institute for Languages and Humanities, where I would be taking my course, I was excited to find that on the first day of class my teacher presented us with a list of verbs that was pages long. I didn’t realize it, but my course would be focusing on just what I was hoping for–verbs! Not only did this advance my ability vary my sentences by using more specific words and phrases, it also helped me understand patterns of grammar and verb conjugations. This allows me to teach myself much more easily, because I can fit new verbs into a schema of grammar that I learned at Polis.
I arrived in Jerusalem to begin my Arabic language program in early June and was quickly reminded of the electricity of a city like Jerusalem– everyday tasks seem to be infused with a vibrancy that is only possible in such a diverse and multicultural city. I began to settle into a daily routine that involved vegetable shopping and practicing Arabic with my neighborhood bayah– the shop keepers and vegetable sellers throughout the Old City and outside of the Damascus Gate.
These first few days where I was able to practice with local speakers were helpful for getting my feet wet and up to speed after months without language partners. This reminded me of the value of immersion– in days I regained a vocabulary that I thought I had forgotten after months without use. After brushing up I was eager and ready to start my intensive course so that I could add to my knowledge of Palestinian Spoken Arabic.