When you want to learn a new language, where do you start? In my experience – and this is my fourth – it doesn’t really matter.

Learning a new language is like building a house. Not that I’ve actually built a house. But I’ve seen it done. You start with a structure and some kind of foundation. Then you add walls, eventually you have something that stands on its own. Then you make it something you can live in. Later, you maybe make it elegant.

It’s the same with languages. Except for one difference. Don’t start with a plan. Just plunge in.

That’s not a problem today. A quick trip to Google and you’ll be hit with a tidal wave of learning books, dictionaries, KID’S learning books (surprisingly effective when you are starting out), plus places to listen to the language spoken on the news or on TV and more. The problem might be choosing where to start.

But again, seriously, it doesn’t much matter.

I’m in the particularly tedious stage of building a structure for Arabic. The problem is: for the first time, the tools are really unfamiliar.

It’s not even my first exposure to the language. I spent a month in Tunisia studying Arabic a decade ago. It turns out, all I have to show for it are notebooks with lovely looking script that had obviously been copied out with great care and even more effort.

This is going to be one long construction project. And I’m not sure I’m
going to end up with anything useful at the end.