Written by Mathu Jennings (Kalamazoo College), Student Correspondent for CET Jordan: Internship, Fall 2019
Simply put, CET’s language partner and roommate system is an integral part of the whole experience. Besides all other factors, these two people CET requires will help you with your Arabic and your cultural fluency.
Though you have to spend three hours a week with your language partner, it does not even feel like a requirement because he, and my roommate, are so much fun. I cannot speak for everyone’s experiences with their partners, but mine have been amazing so far.
Khalid, Local Roommate
Khalid has been an amazing friend, and guide to Arab culture. For example, we were walking to Wasat Al-Balad and I yawned so widely that you could see every intricacy of my mouth. He politely told me that I was supposed to cover my mouth when yawning. After a few days of consciously doing this it became a habit for me. This is only one of many small cultural tidbits he has given me.
As for my Arabic, he honestly speaks too quickly. I usually only understand a quarter of what he says, but nonetheless I have learned so many words and expressions that are special to the Jordanian dialect and culture.
One small example of this is يا زلمة (Ya Zalema) which is the same thing as يا رجل (Ya Ragl) in Egyptian dialect. He also never forgets to include playful insults that are part of our bonding experience. Needless to say, I have learned what is acceptable and what is not.
Mohammad, Language Partner
On the other hand, Mohammad has been more helpful for learning and practicing Arabic. He is really good at sensing my language level and knowing what words I know. This is particularly helpful because it connects what I have learned in class and allows me to practice in real life.
He uses this method so I can understand while tossing in some new words so I can learn them in conversation. I am constantly practicing and improving step-by-step. He always gives me feedback so I can access my level, know where I am and where my next step is.
As well as Arabic acquisition, language partners will take you to tons of new places around Amman. Mohammad has taken me to Gabal-Amman, Gabal Al-L’weibdeh, As-Salt and other hangouts in Jubeiha.
I cannot promise that future CET students’ language partners or roommates will be like mine, but I can say that besides being fun, they are really helpful and kind. I can also guarantee that having a language partner and student-roommate will be extremely helpful in your quest to learn more about the Arabic culture and language.