I hate to say it, but three classes in, the Arabic lessons are not going well. Our teacher has been late twice, and spends as much time expounding about why her methods of teaching are the best as she does actually teaching us anything. She has also steadfastly refused to teach us any vocabulary at all — so I learned more words in nine days in Jordan than I have in these classes.
On its face, her rationale for not teaching us words makes some sense, because we do need to learn the alphabet and connections. However, last night she told us the best way to practice the connections (that is, how the individual letters come together to make words) is to choose random letters and try to connect and then pronounce them. When Farin asked if instead we could practice using real words so we could learn some vocabulary, this instructor spent the next 30 minutes arguing with her in a way that made it clear she had no real idea what Farin was asking. She was unbelievably defensive (see note above that she had already established that she was the best Arabic teacher ever, so how dare we question her) and made no sense at all, contradicting herself all over the place: “The book is wrong!” followed by “I did not say the book is wrong!” and so on…
An aside here: we picked private lessons specifically because we were told we could focus on spoken Arabic rather than reading/writing. While none of us dispute the importance of learning the basics, we want to be able to talk to people — so her refusal to let us learn any words at all is making us crazy.
The only thing that has a chance of salvaging this situation is that we’ll have a new teacher starting with the next class. The argumentative vocab-hater is off on a two-month trip that was scheduled before she was asked to teach our class. I think this is the only reason we haven’t quit and asked for our money back, because really, there is no way we could deal with this woman for 10 weeks. We’re each paying $40 per two-hour class, and to lose 30-45 minutes per session due to tardiness and pontificating — not to mention a half-hour last night to unnecessary fighting — is just not appropriate. We’re all optimistic that the new teacher will be better… but if s/he isn’t, we’re planning to ask for a refund.
It’s such a shame, really. We were all so excited to be giving this a try.