Scott Bridges

Vanity Online Brand Facilitation Node

Week 2 learning diary: all about the cards


I spent the weekend doing bits and pieces of other work but I made sure to open my books and check in with last week’s vocab from time to time, and then this morning I got up a bit earlier than usual so I could do a long session of revision over coffee. I thought that would be enough. But the vocab quiz at the start of today’s lesson was a bit of a train wreck, although I think the disaster was somewhat amplified by the absence of my classmate who was late. This left me sitting like a roo in the sights of a gun held by my teacher who shot word after word after word at me. By 9:15am I had resolved to start using flashcards and build them into my study routine. This morning’s quiz scared me with the sudden realisation that if I was already starting to fall behind on day 6, I’d be ruined by the end of four months.

The first half of today’s lesson continued on with the topic of the bank from last week. We did some more exercises and then, when my classmate arrived, some role play. To get us out to the much needed coffee break we did a bit of casual past tense regular verb conjugation. After the break we started a new topic: the post office. Again, we began by listing some relevant vocab and then reading through some dialogues before doing a combination of exercises and role plays. I found the post office vocab a little easier than the bank for some reason, although moving on from the bank in class meant that it was completely up to me to keep using and embedding that bank vocab along with the beach vocab.

Homework was to write a post office-themed story using our new words and to complete a few conjugation exercises from the text book. Once I’d finished the homework this afternoon, I downloaded a flashcard app for my phone and computer and started building decks. Inputting the cards is pretty time and labour intensive but hopefully worth it.


The last thing I did last night in bed last night before I turned out my reading lamp was flashcards on my phone. And the first thing I did after I got out of bed this morning was flashcards at my computer while drinking coffee. But … I think it’s working. I noticed a definite improvement in this morning’s vocab quiz — I’m still drawing a blank on some words, and mixing up the order of letters in others, but I performed respectably compared to yesterday’s sad effort. If that’s after barely 12 hours of flashcard use hopefully the system will really pay off in the long term.

Today’s lesson started with irregular past tense verb conjugation which, like many grammar rules, is easy enough to understand but difficult to translate into practice. Ultimately, this stuff is only going to stick as I use it in conversation and learn the way words sound through repetition. We rounded out the four hours with more post office activities which work really nicely to reinforce the vocab at the same time as developing speaking skills and mucking around with grammar. Homework was a bunch of conjugation activities.

I spent a couple of hours this evening creating flashcards in my app trying to work my way through the backlog from last week. I gave up when I hit 100 cards and am already looking forward to the weekend so I can get up to date.


The flashcards are really working. My anxieties about learning vocab are slowly being overwhelmed by the sense of progress. It’s going to be a shitload of hard work but the task doesn’t feel hopeless anymore.

Today was another day with a heavy grammar focus. We started by revising the three forms of plural, including the first and most common form which is “broken” or “no form” as our teacher called it. Basically, there’s no point trying to learn rules for these, you’ve just got to remember or guess. We then revised the rules for the two forms of sentence, nominal and verbal. I have to admit that over the years I’ve gotten in the habit of using predominantly verbal sentences because of the much simpler verb conjugations you can use in them, but no more. I have to suck it up and start using nominal and practising my conjugations. We finished off the day with some fun speaking exercises about electronic communication, drawing on associated vocab. I really love the words for app (tatbeeq) and chat (dardasha).


My classmate is often late for class and today was no exception, which means the vocab quiz is much more intense for me than when she’s there. These quizzes often run for 15 minutes or more so by the end my head is spinning and I am really worked up which in a strange way is very similar to a good warm up session before physical activity. Thanks largely to the flashcards, I did well at the quiz.

Today we slammed grammar. More irregular verb conjugation and then a bunch of work on the forms of the hamza. I was really pleased with the hamza session especially because I *got it* even though I’ve obviously been reading, writing and saying the hamza for years. We rounded out the final hour with a bunch of spoken exercises based on last week’s topic of the beach and I was shocked to walk out of the classroom with *no new vocab* from the day. This was a great help for my campaign to work through my backlog and input everything into my flashcard tattbeeq.

After class I worked on my weekly five minute presentation for tomorrow’s class, and then met my new language partner who is studying English at the centre. He and I will meet weekly to have conversation in both languages and help each other with our homework.


I arrived set for my presentation but didn’t feel as confident as last week because of all the new vocab it contained, even though it was exactly the vocab I’ve been learning intensely for the past week. I think I was also anxious because I felt a personal expectation to perform a lot better than last week even though it has been — exactly that — just one week.

After the morning vocab quiz we launched into a new topic based on hospital, the doctor and illness. I felt two conflicting emotions: excitement at a new topic, and anxiety about another dump of words to learn. We approached this topic in the same way as the others, starting with a vocab brainstorm and then straight into a dialogue in the text book which introduced even more vocabulary. We worked on the dialogue and did some role play to round out the first half of the lesson. After the break we started work on regular present tense verb conjugation which, I have to admit, I’ve always struggled with. I, we, he, she, they (plural masculine) and you (singular masculine) are fine, but I often draw a blank when trying to conjugate they (plural feminine; dual feminine and masculine) and you (singular feminine; dual feminine and masculine). So I know I have to really pull my finger out and internalise these tables once and for all. Finally, I gave my presentation and it went about the same as last week, although I attracted more corrections from the teacher because I was trying to be too tricky with grammar and failing.

After class my brain was ruined from the week. Four of the other students and I met when everyone’s lessons had finished to go downtown and do a bit of touristing, and I could see it in everyone’s faces that the week had taken its toll. We spent a lovely few hours wandering around the citadel and the old city before sitting down in a restaurant to a table full of delicious food. But by 6:30pm we were all ready to go home! This intensive learning business is exhausting.

We have our mid-month test on Sunday so this weekend is going to be all about study. But my first task: catching up on flashcards.


  1. Sounds so hard! But in a good way. Recommendation of a flash card app please!

    • Scott

      January 21, 2017 at 7:41 pm

      I’m using Studies. It’s fine although I have no real point of reference with other apps. I think you just have to pick and stick. The only feature I was stuck on was being able to go between iPhone and Mac as it’s much quicker to enter cards on a real keyboard (especially in a non-Latin script — relevant to you). There’s a free trial you can download on Mac for two weeks to test it out.

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