As a non-native English speaker, it's quite daunting coming to London to learn the language, yet having to communicate in it...every single day.
Abdulrahman, 25, from Saudi Arabia, has been studying with us for over 8 month already and he explains to us some of the most commonly made mistakes by Arabic speakers and why English is so difficult to grasp for Arabic speakers the world over.
(Abdulrahman is on the far left)
Everyone knows that feeling you get when you try to talk to a person in a new language and they just look at you without understanding what you're talking about. That's what happened to me on my first day in London.
I started in Beginners level at Wimbledon School of English and at that time, I wasn't able to speak English at all; so sometimes I needed to use body lanauge to explain myself. Thankfully, because of my new learning environment, my English has improved a lot. Here are some examples of the most common ones to avoid as an Arabic speaker.
1 - Left or right? Right or left? In Arabic, we have a completely different alphabet and a different writing system as we write from right to left; while in English, it's from left to right. This might cause some difficulty when trying to write in English. As a solution for this, we found it really useful to change everything into English, even your thinking. This way, you have a new and invented system in your mind. I found it really tough in the beginning, but it has helped me more than I thought, especially in writing. When I used to think in Arabic and write in English, i would make mistakes all the tiime because of the system in my mind.
2 - Can I bark my car here, blease? Another common mistake is pronunciation, particularly of letters P and B. In Arabic, we don't have the letter P so we usually pronounce B instead. My friend asked a London policeman 'can I bark here?'The policeman was surprised and replied 'you can bark anywhere!!'How embarrassing!
3 - I going the bank now! Regarding grammar, we often make mistakes with the verb To Be. The problem here is that we don't use this verb in Arabic as much as you do in English. WE use it when we spak about the past, but not the present which leads to errors like this one, and 'he happy today'.
4 - tomorrow I visiting carla in london and next week we fly new york :) A mistake that we make a lot, even though it's simple, is grasping the capital letter. We don't have capital letters in Arabic, so I always forget about them!
5 - the chocolate is more delicious than the brussel sprouts. Articles, articles articles! They used to be my enemy for such a long time because in Arabic, we only have one article that is the same as THE, so we use 'the' even when it isn't needed. Just like the example (generally you say Chocolate is more delicious than brussel sprouts...unless you're being specifc of course! That chocolate, or those brussel sprouts). But as the saying goes...Practice makes Perfect!
My advice for anyone wanting to learn English is, try to enjoy learning and make sure that it is not just used in school. English is on the street, at the cinmea, in restaurants, you can turn everything in your life into English. I really learned more than English during my time here - I can communicate with people from all over the world and find out about their culture. I feel like I broke a wall between me and people with different languages.
Can you relate to any of these? Do you have any examples of your own that you'd like to share? If yes, please do, it all helps and shows support for one another!
Thank you Abdulrahman :)