Hey, I’m Uchechi, creator of Marhabtain Arabic. And I know what it’s like to want so badly to become fluent in Levantine Arabic, but have no idea where to start.
I know what it feels like to try again and fail again, and wonder if I can really ever do this.
Or what it feels like to turn on a tv show or a song, and be completely confused, having no idea what anyone is saying.
My Arabic journey started my sophomore year of college with Fusha. And let me tell you — I was terrible at Arabic. On paper though, it didn’t look that way.
On paper, I was a straight A-/B+ Arabic student. I attended class 3 times a week for 3 years, and studied abroad in Morocco and Jordan.
And yet by the time I graduated college, I had only mastered ordering a coffee, and could only recall a smattering of random and unrelated words.
Whenever I heard Arabic spoken, it didn’t sound like a language at all.. Instead the sounds of Arabic reminded me that I was never going to be good enough, I could never do this, I was a failure.
Luckily, I was raised in a Nigerian immigrant household where our parents trained us to believe that we could do anything.
At the end of my years in college learning Arabic, I asked myself the same question.
Did the millions of people who spoke Arabic and the many thousands (at least) who had learned Arabic as a second language, have 2 heads? No.
Then what was wrong with me?
In the end, I realized that I was asking the wrong question. If I had followed all the “rules” of traditional language classes (going to class, completing homework, studying, and studying abroad), and still had only made little progress after 3 years, then the question I needed to ask was: What’s wrong with my method?
Finally, I realized that I wasn’t the problem. My method of learning Arabic was the problem. And luckily, I stumbled upon a new method that would change my Arabic experience forever.
During my last year in college, an American friend of mine who spoke fluent Mandarin, told me about a better method. She said something about “creating an immersion environment” to “learn the way children learn”. As she described the method more, I thought — This makes perfect sense. Why don’t we learn this method in school? I also thought to myself, Can I really do this?
In a way, I think that seeing the truth so up close and personal was scary. A deep part of me had given up on myself when it came to Arabic. I wanted to believe that I would one day speak Arabic fluently, and at the same time, I was more comfortable being disillusioned by my experiences over my 3 years in college. Yet, my friend was obviously a living and breathing example of the success of this language acquisition approach. If she could do it, couldn’t I? She didn’t have two heads. Maybe I had a shot.
The desire to become fluent in Arabic kept gnawing at me.
I didn’t take my friend’s advice immediately. I waited a few years, and by few, I mean 6 years. Over the next 6 years, my life took an entirely different direction than I expected. I moved to Beijing and lived there for 4 years. I studied Mandarin and gained conversational fluency in Mandarin using a mix of traditional learning methods and the “immersion” my friend told me about. Then I moved back to America, and worked as a teacher for 2 years. None of my life or work out of college had anything to do with Arabic, but I couldn’t stop thinking about this dream.
Finally, in March 2020, I made a decision. It was now or never. I told myself, “I’m going to finally follow the immersion method my friend was talking about. And if it doesn’t work this time, I’ll put this whole Arabic thing to rest.” Also, at this time, I decided to only focus on Levantine Arabic, instead Fusha, as I had before. Either way, after 6 years out of college, I didn’t remember any Arabic at all anyway. I was starting from scratch. The amazing thing is that the method worked!
In one year from March 2020 – March 2021, I went from having zero Levantine Arabic skills, to gaining conversational speaking and listening fluency in Levantine Arabic.
I created Marhabtain as a way to help more people — people like you — become fluent in Levantine Arabic too.
So welcome! I’m so happy to have you here.
If you’re looking for a great overall guide to this method, start here and get your free copy of 10 Things You Need to Know If You Want to Learn Arabic Fluently.
If you’re looking for great products to learn Levantine Arabic, then shop here.
If you’re looking for blog articles on this method, then check out the blog here.
All the love to you on your journey,
P.S. Oh yeah, and why is this site called Marhabtain? Well, that’s because I love that in Levantine Arabic, one response to Marhaba (or hello), can be “Marhabtain” (or two hellos). How fun is that?! So I hope you feel extra welcome as you continue to follow this site over the years.