However, there are some who can and do learn very quickly Alhamdulillah....so what is different between them and us?
Is it that some people just naturally take to learning a new language more easily than others? Perhaps.
Or is there more to it?
After doing a little online research in an attempt to improve my own learning ability along with my children inshaAllah, I found there is a wealth of advice to learning new languages.
As I ploughed through website after website, many of the hints and tips were repeated, so here is a brief summary of what I found....
All the advises I mention below are general to learning any language, other than the first which is specific to Arabic.
Specific to learning the Arabic language, a beneficial advise on this matter from Dawud Adib, of which you can either listen to the audio or read the transcription.
He brings many advises which the new Arabic learner would find helpful, so please do go to the link(s) high-lighted inshaAllah.
One particular analogy he brought from Shiekh Uthaimeen rahimuhullah regarding this issue; Studying the Arabic language is like a house, the door is made of iron, but the interior of the house is made of sugar cane.’ He says, its difficult to get into the house in the beginning but once you get into the house, the house is made of sugar cane, it becomes real easy.
2. Know your intent
Really knowing why we want to learn a new language can help put us in the right mind-set to working towards that goal inshaAllah.
Ask ourselves, why do we want to learn Arabic. What is our purpose? What do we want to get out of learning a whole new language?
Understanding this, can help us find direction and the means to propel our learning forward bi'ithnillah.
3. Practice every day
Speak as much as we can, write as much as we can, think in Arabic as much as we can, listen as much as we can.
4. Delve into our inner-child
Small children possess 2 things which are instrumental to learning language: complete lack of self-consciousness and a desire to participate.
Children learning to speak make the most funny sounds and structure sentences the wrong way round - but that doesn't stop them trying....and learning.....and correcting.....until reaching fluency.
Accept that we will probably mess up and say some silly things but through that, we will learn and correct.
Push past our inhibitions to practice so that our children will push past theirs inshaAllah.
5. Use new words right away
When we learn a new word, start using it right away in conversation. Practice new words by writing them in sentences using different contexts.
So this along with your kids.
Have a notebook each, and together sit at the table to practice writing out sentences using new words you've learnt.
Speak as much as we can - with a native speaker if possible.
When we go to the masjid and meet an Arabic speaking sister and her kids, converse using Arabic, no matter how basic and even if after the first couple of introductory questions the dialogue reverts back to English, no problem. With practice those Arabic conversations will start to get longer inshaAllah.
Doing this in front of our children demonstrates to them the use and value for acquiring it. Through your efforts they can see that it is to be used and applied in every day life, not only as theoretical language notes stored in our notebooks.
7. Watch people talk
Watch native speakers speak! Look at them whilst talking to see how they use their tongue, lips and throat and try to imitate.
8. Talk to our self
Talking to our self can help keep new words and phrases fresh as well as help develop our confidence ready for the next time we are able to converse with someone. So next time you're doing the dishes or clearing the kids toys, go over dialogue. Not only are you practicing, but the kids are listening and watching your efforts.
They will no doubt push themselves in the same way following your example.
9. Label everything!
Label every thing around the home and say the word out loud every time we walk past it...door, window, rooms, food, belongings....everything!
Stick post-it notes in the car or workplace....everywhere and anywhere to help us learn every day objects!
Read Arabic text often, because it will help strengthen sentence construction and understanding. Children's books are great for this because the sentence structure will be so simple.
11. Listen and write
Listen to audios and write as much of it as possible - doing this helps both listening and writing skills. We may only start catching one or two words in every sentence spoken, but done regularly, our word volume should increase to full sentences and paragraphs inshaAllah.
You can find simple conversational dialogues on youtube as well as short audio clips from the Scholars.
12. Record self speaking
Recording our self saying new words or speaking can help us to improve pronunciation. Listen to yourself back and notice how you are pronouncing each sound.
13. Link new words to images
Instead of writing direct translated meanings of new vocabulary, link them with images instead. Doing this will help train our brain to think in Arabic instead of searching for translations in our head.
14. Encourage family to learn
We will achieve a greater success rate if our whole family is in on the learning too, because it means that we can practice with one another daily, switching our mother tongue to speaking Arabic as much as we are able.
So with the family, speak together, read together, learn together, grow together.
15. Use it or loose it
If we don't implement what we learn right away and keep using it, then Arabic will remain just a theoretical language rather than something we actually know how to use.
If we are not learning the Arabic language to really use it....what are we learning it for?
The trap so many of us fall into is we seem to think that if we learn just enough vocab or a little bit more grammar, one day we will wake up and begin speaking Arabic ......but that day doesn't come because we learn the vocab and the grammar but fail to apply and practice it; so never really understand how to use it.
We need to use everything we know as soon as we learn it.
And I think it is this last point which largely separates those who learn and know how to use Arabic, and those who learn but don't.
What about you...do you have any language learning tips you can share? Please leave them in the comments below!