Units 6, 7, & 8: Expanded Introductions
This Arabic Without Walls lesson corresponds to the sixth, seventh and eighth units of Alif Baa. It expands upon what you have already learned about introducing yourself. After completing this lesson, you will be able to share your occupation and contact information, as well as some interests. To do so, you will learn about the definite article ("the") and more about the al-'iDaafa الإضافة. In addition to speaking tasks, this lesson focuses heavily on listening. We will give you ample opportunity to hone this important skill.
Units 6, 7, & 8 Learning Tip
Fluency in a language is based on many things, but for the sake of language learning, most programs focus on four basic skill areas: listening, speaking, reading and writing. In this lesson, we will concentrate heavily on listening.
Listening is not an easy skill for every learner to develop. Although it comes more easily to most than speaking does, developing a good skill for listening takes lots and lots of practice.
Among other things, success in listening is based on:
- a healthy breadth of common vocabulary and phrases (especially recognizing native pronunciation of such words and phrases)
- a decent tolerance for ambiguity
- well-honed guessing skills
- a willingness to ask for help
Let's explore each of these items in depth.
A healthy breadth of common vocabulary and phrases. Strive to know common vocabulary and phrases well enough so that you can automatically recognize them in context—not translate them in your mind, but immediately understand them. At the beginning level of language learning, building a solid repetoire of common (not obscure) vocabulary and phrases is one of the most important things you can do. So, make sure you know Alif Baa vocabulary from the text as well as that from the online materials. It will make a world of difference in your ability to understand.
A decent tolerance for ambiguity. A decent tolerance for ambiguity. It is guaranteed that you will not know every word that you hear, but you mustn’t let that trip you up. Many listeners get "stuck" on things they don't automatically recognize, missing the rest of the message. If you don't know something, that is okay, just let it go, and move on to the rest of what is being said.
Well-honed guessing skills. Guess, guess, guess! Since you won't understand everything that is said, fill in the gaps between what you do understand and what you don't with reasonable guesses. Consider contextual clues (such as tone of voice, body language, social ettiquette, etc.) to make reasonable guesses about what is being said. And don't forget to be on the lookout for cognatesWhat are cognates?
Cognates are words that are similar in English and Arabic. تلفون ("telephone"), for instance, is a cognate.!
A willingness to ask for help. When major breakdowns in understanding occur, you need to know how to ask someone to repeat something for you, or to explain a particular word or phrases, or speak more slowly. Good listeners will triumph over the fear of asking for help when help is truly needed.
In addition to the aforementioned skills and capabilities, the following techniques may help as you practice listening in an educational context.
- First, focus on general contexts and themes, and then concentrate on details. Familiarize yourself with the background of a passage, and then listen to an entire segment at least once all the way. Then stop and review particular segments. What you want to do is figure out the big picture before you concern yourself with specific details, including the answers to homework questions.
- If new vocabulary is introduced for a particular listening exercise, take time to learn it. It might be tempting to just read through the new vocabulary and then proceed to the exercise, but you will learn less this way, plus it will probably take you longer to complete the exercise. So how can you learn the new vocabulary effectively but quickly? Listen to it a few times, and then repeat it outloud. Next, make up a sentence that uses the vocabulary. Say this sentence to yourself a few times. Finally, think about ways the new vocabulary is likely to be used in the listening passage.
- Write down words and phrases you don't know from a passage and ask a teacher to help you understand them. This way, you will be prepared to deal with such words and phrases in future listening experiences.
- Don't give up, but do take breaks. Keep in mind that everyone encounters a difficult passage from time to time. When a particular passage gives you trouble, take a break from it (perhaps review pertinent vocabulary in the meantime) and return to the passage later with a fresh start.
We are going to give you ample opportunity to put these listening skills and techniques to practice!