Today is World Arabic Language Day, commemorating the date in 1973 that the United Nations approved Arabic as one of its official languages. As such, it seems like an appropriate time to post my big news here at The Arabic Diaries™: I’m moving to Jordan in a couple of weeks to do a four-month intensive language course. 20 hours of instruction per week for 16 weeks, plus homework. And, most crucially, 24/7 immersion in the Arabic language. I can’t wait.

I’ve reached a point in my studies where the limits of doing just a few hours of lessons a week in a non-Arabic-speaking country have become painfully obvious, and I’ve had to confront the hard truth that if I keep learning at my current pace I’ll never approach fluency. Which, in turn, raises the question: why bother? So, it’s off to Amman I go in early January, to be followed shortly afterwards by my wife and daughter who will live with me for the final three of the four months.

I’m looking forward to being able to devote most of my time and brainspace to study and learning, rather than the day-to-day reality of my life where Arabic is just one of the many things that demand my attention. I’m also really excited about the experience of living overseas with my little family: learning Arabic from Sunday to Thursday (my wife is taking lessons, too!), and going on adventures on the weekend.

Upon returning to Australia in May, the biggest challenge will be maintaining my proficiency when suddenly removed from daily, intense and immersive contact with the language. This whole project represents a significant investment of our family’s time and money, and I am all too conscious of the need to ensure that none of it is wasted. I’ll certainly be knocking on Mohanned’s door as soon as we’re back to show off my words before humbly requesting his ongoing help.