milo inspires me to learn arabic

January 16, 2011

family life

it is said that Milo of Croton built his strength to lift a fully grown cow, by lifting it every day from birth. as the calf grew, so did milo’s strength.

is it the same with learning a new language? if i learn a new word or phrase every day, then at the end of the year i should have 365 words and phrases in my vocabulary, right?

my bookshelf is adorned with previous valiant attempts to learn another language. books, tapes, cd’s, and software on Mandarin, French, Vietnamese, Italian, Spanish, Arabic, German, and Auslan.

i envy European people who can speak many languages. what is worse is that they are usually literate in them as well! in Australia, there is a culture of monolingualism. there is more tolerance these days of people retaining their heritage languages as we call them, but English remains supreme. it’s very limiting.

most of our Aboriginal languages are dead or dying, which is a very great shame, because these languages are linked to the earth and a culture that has existed for 60,000 years.

i learnt German for 4 years in high school, which was crazy, because there were no natural German speakers around within cooee to practice with. after i left school, schools went mad for Japanese because it was thought that Japan would be calling all of the shots economically. these days we trade with China, and our neighbours are Kiwi and Indonesian.

anyway, i have a friend who speaks Arabic, and about three other languages, and she is patient and kind. so i am going to try again. just spoken Arabic at the moment, because i think my brain will implode if i try to learn the writing as well.

16 days have passed since the new year, and i have missed out on 16 days of words and phrases, but i am waiting on some new resources, more books and cd’s to adorn my bookshelf.

my boys are keen to learn other languages, but they are finding it frustrating to keep it going. the eldest wants to learn Spanish and the middle one wants to learn Greek (i’ve ordered a kit for him too). the little one wants to learn Chinese. i have tried Chinese, four tones are tricky for Aussie accents that flatten all of their sounds.

i feel i need to be a role model of persistence for them.


About hakea

groupworker, parent educator, therapist, mother of three boys.

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4 Comments on “milo inspires me to learn arabic”

  1. kloppenmum Says:

    I know what you mean about monolingualism. It’s embarrassing to travel and have people who are multi-lingual have to speak English, because that’s all you can understand. The frustrating thing for me is that my husband’s father is Dutch and never taught the children to speak Dutch, whereas his sisters’ (who also immigrated) have children who are all fluent…probably a typical 60s/70s split of gender, but all the same… good luck with the languages – I think it’s a great idea.


    • hakea Says:

      Kiwi kids learn Maori at school don’t they? Such a beautiful language.

      Gotta love the haka! It’s the best part of the rugby union. Not keen on the bit where the All Blacks always whoop the Wallabies though.


  2. kaet Says:

    I haven’t done so much with it yet in 2011, but I’m finding a useful resource in language practice. It might not work for you so well with Arabic, if you aren’t doing the written language, but I like getting the native language feedback on my writing and pronunciation. It might be good for your son who wants to learn Spanish, at least, and if he’s up to it, he might learn something about how language works by helping to correct the English of learners (I’m assuming English is his native language).

    No affiliation, apart from being a user of some of their free content.


    • hakea Says:

      thank you so much for the link, it looks great.

      i’m not opposed to learning the written language but 29 letters in the alphabet, with four different forms for each letter depending where it is placed in a word (on its own, beginning, middle, end), and each looking like a little squiggle the same as the last little squiggle. and reading from right to left. phew!

      i’m waiting on a cd set by Michel Thomas, who is said to be very good.

      thank you for your advice!


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