Written by Momal Rizvi, (American University), Student Correspondent for CET Jordan, Spring 2022
Learning Arabic has been one of the most vulnerable educational experiences of my life. Language learning differs from other forms of learning in the sense that you can’t simply sit alone and study for hours on end. Rather, you need to utilize your community as a source of growth.
When I was taking Arabic courses in the US, I would sit at my desk and write vocab words over and over again until I had them memorized. Yet, on my first day at CET Jordan, our Academic Director Manal told us that flashcards were forbidden. At first, I was slightly taken aback by her statement—flashcards were my best friend when it came to Arabic. But I soon realized she was right.
The most useful tool during my Arabic learning experience in Jordan has been the people around me. Whether it is speaking to students and staff in the program, friends I’ve made in Jordan, or strangers on the street, daily conversations have been my best study technique.
Me and my friends from CET in Cyprus during spring break
One night during a taxi ride home, my driver began to ask me questions about America brought up the subject of race. He was shocked to hear my confirmation that racism in the US is extremely prevalent, and it was interesting to hear a Jordanian perspective on the US as a whole. Most of all, I was surprised with myself that I even had accumulated the vocabulary to have that conversation!
Me and Will, my friend from CET, with our Jordanian friend, Mohammad
In particular, the program structure of CET Jordan has been incredibly beneficial for my learning. With just twenty students in the program and no more than a handful of students in each class, it’s easy to feel comfortable in the classroom with both my peers and teachers. My friends and I will often schedule office hours with Manal and just converse with her as a way to strengthen our speaking skills. We even have a group chat with her and our Residential Director Mazen where we all play Al-Wird—the Arabic version of the popular game “Wordle.”
CET Jordan feels more like a family than it does a school, where everyone can be themselves with one another, regardless of language level, age, or position within the program.
Cooking maqlooba as a class at the CET office
With just forty days left of my study abroad, I keep thinking about how I’ll continue to practice my Arabic at home. I can’t imagine going back to endless stacks of flashcards. Yet, as I continue to deepen the relationships I’ve built during my study abroad, I’m realizing that my Arabic learning will not cease when I board my flight back to the US. As long as I have the community I’ve found here, I’m confident that I will continue to grow as an Arabic learner regardless of location.