June 22, 2009 Page 1
Arabic with Class...
Two weeks ago, I started classes for the first time. I am in a class of ten and we meet everyday, except weekends (which are Friday and Saturday) from one to five. The four hours are brutal at times, particularly at that part of day. Fortunately, we get a ten-minute break every hour. I am enjoying the classes, but if it were not for the ten-minute respites, it would be torture sitting in a room that long.
I have two teachers who divide the class equally. Prof. Rania is a very young Muslim woman, who teaches fully covered, except for her face. I have noticed that the typical working woman’s wardrobe consists of a full body trench coat that nearly reaches the floor. Likewise, these women also wear what I call "wrist sleeves" underneath their jacket so that when their sleeves droop down, their wrists remain covered. Of course, they don a scarf that covers the entire head and neck, except the face. The majority of women in this country dress like this, and they are referred to as “Hijabees.”
Prof. Amer, a native Jordanian who tackles the second half of class, is a real treat. He is loud, energetic, and funny--everything a good Jordanian should be. For a small country, the people make up for it by their boisterous laugh, which he uses daily. Sometimes, he is the only person laughing. He's tall and lanky, and his arms can almost reach the ground.
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As he walks--more like limbers--his arms vacillate like a pendulum. He also has huge hands. I'm not kidding, he can hold two markers while he writes on the board. He can even remove and put the cap back on the markers with one hand--while writing. It is amazing...he can write half a word in black, and then seamlessly switch to red for the second half.
He currently has been enjoying hearing me attempt to pronounce the letter gh'ayn, a guttural reverberation of the tongue's rear, similar to a "KHaa," but with more voice to it. I have practiced it and practiced it.