Language Lessons





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Published on Nov 17, 2010

A National Security Language Initiative for Youth (NSLI-Y) student describes her time studying Arabic in Morocco.


Aslam Aleikum. Ismi Catherine Haslam. Kaifa haluki?

This summer I studied through NSLI-Y in Morocco for six weeks to study Arabic, so I did the intensive program this summer at intermediate level.

I was in class for five hours a day, Monday through Saturday, and then we would have three to four hours of homework each night. It was really, really difficult.

At the intermediate level, it's kind of you're not just learning the letters,but you're not at the point where you are easily speaking sentences. And by the end, that's what we were doing. I was asking grammatical questions in Arabic. It was a fantastic feeling.

I can't imagine doing what I did without a host family. We would of course have a world of questions every single day from our day-to-day experiences in the city, so having them to go to always as a reference and a guide and just kind of mentors in the whole process was extremely helpful.

By the end of the program, I would have full conversations with taxi drivers. The amount I just learned in taxi rides, let alone with my host family. It's things that you can't learn from a textbook in America.

We can not only have this experience for ourselves, have a broader understanding of different cultures and an appreciation for them, but we can share that with the people around us. We touch other people with the experience that we've had, and I think that is irreplaceable with other programs.

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