A Free Egyptian Arabic Course From The Government (No Joke!)

A Free Egyptian Arabic Course From The Government (No Joke!)

FSI course pic


Did you know that the government teaches people languages? Of course you did, I’m just behind the times as usual and only found that out recently. When a diplomat gets sent off to a foreign country, the government isn’t going to trust just any run of the mill language course designed for us mere mortals. Pish posh! Nay, they must design their own unique course to ensure the diplomat’s success in his or her or its or their language learning journey.

Why do I bring this up? Because these government institutions- Foreign Service Institute & Defense Language Institue – have new courses now and have released the old courses to the general public for free.

They have quite a decent amount of languages, including Arabic, but somewhat surprisingly they don’t only have Modern Standard Arabic, they actually have some spoken dialect courses as well, including Egyptian.

The courses are quite old, I think roughly from the 70s, so some of the language is a bit more formal than what is used today and especially more than what you would likely be using with friends. Honestly if your interest is MSA I would be venture to say there are likely way better options out there. However, for someone learning a spoken dialect the options are few and this can be a worthwhile addition to your resources.

The material is pretty boring and repetitive, but the focus seems to be more on speaking and common phrases than any overwhelming grammar studies, at least as far as I’ve gotten, and this is quite useful given that Egyptian is 39% idiomatic. You’re going to want to learn a lot of phrases. There’s lots of drills to get you speaking and exercises to help your listening. (For people who want grammar studies, there’s always All The Arabic You Never Learned The First Time Around, which is actually quite approachable and useful.)

You can find the courses available for download on the Yozhik Website.  They have both PDFs of the books & mp3s of the audio.

You can find the Egyptian Dialect course specifically here.

You can also watch this video review by LangFocus to get a better idea of what you’re in for and how useful they are.

If you’re looking for more good Egyptian Arabic resources, Glossika offers Egyptian Arabic now and TalkinArabic.com is very useful.

On Comfort Zones & Time Management

On Comfort Zones & Time Management

Over the past few days I’ve taken huge leaps out of my comfort zone.  I’ve started talking with a language exchange partner as well as a tutor from iTalki over Skype, and I had an interview for a job that I never would have considered applying for just a year ago.

It may not sound like much to some people, but being incredibly awkward and introverted with zero self esteem, talking with people is an excruciating experience for me, even more so when I’m trying to bring myself to utter words in a new language.

My language exchange partner, Magdy, is the first person I’ve ever tried to say a single word of any other language to.  Though, I’m somewhat disappointed in myself, as here I had been following Fluent in 3 Months so diligently and prepared a bunch of phrases and relevant words to try to piece together my first conversation, and I could barely bring myself to say a single one.  Every day I work up the courage to say a little more though, and Magdy is always very encouraging.  My tutor, too, is lovely in that she is incredibly encouraging and helpful, and does a very good job of explaining things, I just wish I could afford more frequent lessons with her.  Even though I haven’t been speaking much the conversations are exhausting, both from being so far out of my comfort zone and from being so intensely focused.  That said, I look forward to them, and it’s really interesting and fun trying to explain things about my own language and culture that I take for granted.

The downside of all of this is that I am finding it extremely difficult to balance my art and Arabic studies.  I really need to learn time management, but even so, if I am able to focus I tend to delve into one subject all day long to the exclusion of everything else, which makes it very difficult to divide my time, particularly on work days when I have so little of it.

When I was in college it was easier because my assignments were weekly, and I didn’t care whether I worked on them every day.  But now, I have daily goals and want to work on both my Arabic and art every day.

I’ve been considering moving my Arabic to an every-other-day basis so I can focus more on drawing again, because often even if I make an effort to stop for now so I can work on something else I tell myself “I’ll stop when I finish this thing” but then that one thing will take another three hours.

Like everything else, I suppose it will just take practice to learn to balance my studies.

A Good Example of How Not Every Picture An Artist Draws is a Home Run

A Good Example of How Not Every Picture An Artist Draws is a Home Run

I don’t even know where to begin with this.  Anthony does amazing voices, and my favorite is the “creepy German scientist”, so a good month or so ago now he challenged me to draw how I pictured the creepy German scientist.  I had a ton of fun sketching it out & was super happy with the line art.  I couldn’t stop laughing while I was drawing it.  My interest is in full color illustrations so I need as much practice as I can get with painting, so I decided to fully render.  Somewhere along the way, that’s when it went to hell.  I think it’s because I wanted to keep a sort of “cartoonish” look, but that’s not really how I work so I had no idea what I was doing.  I don’t know, I can’t quite put my finger on it, but something is very very off.  Anthony says I’m suffering from “Artist’s Curse” and there’s nothing wrong with it, but I’m just so not happy with how it came out yet I can’t even say why.  I’ve taken several breaks from it hoping when I came back to it I could identify & fix what I didn’t like but it didn’t help.  So…I’m calling it here.  It’s time to just move on.  Maybe in time I can identify what it is I don’t like about it, and at least it will be a learning experience.


creepy german scientist

Speak in a Week Video

Speak in a Week Video

Today was an exercise in frustration, mostly due to client behavior at work.  On top of that I forgot my phone charger, my sketchbook (my important one anyway), and my Surface Pro charger broke earlier in the week (paid for 2 day shipping three days ago and they haven’t even shipped it yet), so even though I have been trying very hard to throw myself into my studies lately to help with my mental health I wasn’t able to do much today.  On the bright side though I was able to get a fair amount of anatomy study done.  It wasn’t really what I wanted to work on today but it needed to get done at some point, so yay.



I’m still only about 1/4 of the way through the Loomis book, I’ve got to step up my game if I’m going to finish it + my other goals (namely at least 2 character sheets for my personal project + the digital painting lessons I want to start next week) by October.  Obviously, my next goal needs to be improving my time management.  When I was in college since I just had weekly instead of daily assignments I did stuff “whenever”, but I’m holding myself to both drawing as well as practicing Arabic every day now and it’s getting overwhelming


Now yesterday, I completed the “Speak in a Week” course from Fluent in 3 Months.  The last assignment was, of course, to actually speak- we recorded ourselves saying a few things and then posted the video.  Bear in mind the purpose is more to push yourself out of your comfort zone  than anything else, and it certainly did that.  I know my Arabic is atrocious right now and seeing as I have ZERO self esteem I’m convinced a bunch of assholes are going to find my sad little video on youtube and take the time out of their life to reinforce just how terrible I am at speaking it right now and how much of a failure I must be because of that.

And since I’m apparently a masochist I’m going to go ahead and post it here, so even more people can see how terrible I am.

But you know what?  Despite my discomfort and paranoia and current lack of ability I can’t even fully express how much I’ve been enjoying learning Arabic.  When I was learning Russian I studied for a good few years and even so, listening to Russian just felt like listening to white noise. (I felt I immersed myself quite a bit at the time, though looking back compared to what I do now, it wasn’t that much.)  I really couldn’t pick out much of any words most of the time (as in, even define words within a sentence, much less pick out ones I knew).  It felt so out of reach.  I’ve only been listening to Arabic for about…two weeks? Actively learning for one?  Yet Arabic seems so…familiar.  It’s hard to describe.  It’s not just white noise.  I can actually pick out words.  The rhythm makes sense.

To try to push my immersion I’ve changed my phone’s language to Arabic. That’s been a challenge, but I’m trying to force myself to actually read it and not just guess what I’m doing based on my familiarity with my phone, and each time I recognize a word I feel so excited.  So I’m trying to use those moments of excitement to build my momentum and keep going despite my awkwardness and discomfort.  🙂

هذا كل شىء في الوقت الحالي

Getting Started

Getting Started

I had been thinking of starting a blog for my art for quite some time now.  I have a tendency to ramble extensively when I post my work on instagram which seems a bit odd for the platform, and I haven’t really enjoyed posting on DeviantArt much.  (Though, I really should try to post there more often since it has the potential to reach a wider art community and get more relevant feedback.  I wish there was a service that would allow me to just post to both at the same time).  So, I figure a blog gives me a more comfortable space to share my work & would even allow me to share some separate, random thoughts and updates that aren’t necessarily accompanied by a picture.

A second reason I’m finally biting the bullet is that I recently purchased Fluent in 3 Months premium, and one of the “missions” is to start a blog to help to keep you on track and accountable on your language learning journey.  I am an immensely self-conscious person and just the thought of that makes me uncomfortable, but I have found that sharing my art on instagram helps to keep me on track and accountable for keeping up with my art studies, so I can see the benefit.  So, since I had already thought about starting a blog for my art, why not combine the two.

In fact, this may be a common theme for me- one of the things stressed in Fluent in 3 Months is relating the language you’re learning to you and your interests, so I actually have a goal of taking art classes in Arabic (the trick being to find them, but the internet is a marvelous thing).  I suppose a subject for a future post will be “Why Arabic?” (I expect to be asked this frequently) but for now I’ll just briefly mention my goals, for both my language and art, since keeping on track with my goals is one of the main reasons for this blog.

As I said I would like to take art classes in Arabic, and I have a goal of starting that in two months (October).  I also have a goal of speaking with a native tutor by this time next week, and am focusing on building my vocabulary, learning 10 new words every day (and seeing how that goes- if I can go for more I will).  I made the undoubtedly unpopular decision to learn Egyptian dialect first in order to build my confidence in speaking, and after 3 months I will turn my focus more to learning MSA.  I have learned the alphabet already though, since I love Arabic script so much.  I know the “right” way is considered to learn MSA first, but I decided since I’ve tried learning languages the “right” way before and always failed I should try something completely different and put myself outside of my comfort zone by focusing on speaking right away (“action over perfection”), like fluent in 3 months pushes.  I feel as though my biggest hurdle is going to be building vocabulary.  I have a terrible memory, and that’s why it’s going to be my primary focus.

In terms of my art, my goal is to finish “Figure Drawing For All It’s Worth” (“The Loomis Book” as I call it) by October, along with completing two of my character sheets for my personal project in the same time frame, so I can move on to studying Perspective Made Easy between October-December.  I’m also going to be subscribing to Paintable.cc for improving my digital painting skills.  I’ll have to see how their lessons are setup to get a feel of what a good time frame is for goals & assignments with their course.

That sums it all up for now.

I will return with more ramblings to no one.