While checking out the books that my children had picked at the the library (anime, lots of anime), a woman who was wearing the hijab and her daughter approached me and greeted me with the Arabic greeting Al Salamu aleikom.
Without giving it a second thought, I responded Wa Aleikom El Salam, and then I thought to myself how did she know I spoke Arabic? Was my olive skin enough to give away my origin? After all, everyone here thought I was Latina. Could she really detect my origins even when I was masked?
“How did you know I spoke Arabic?” I asked her.
She pointed at my shirt. I looked down at what I was wearing and then I looked up and smiled. “Oh yeah, of course,” I said.
I was wearing a T-shirt that had the name of my home city, Amman, written in Arabic calligraphy.
The woman asked me where I was from, and told me that she Iranian and that her teenage daughter who was standing right next to her spoke Arabic.
Her daughter immediately started speaking with me in Modern Standard Arabic (classical Arabic), and I responded back. Her Arabic was pretty good.
When I asked how she learned Arabic (since very few Iranians I knew spoke Arabic), she gave me an answer that blew my mind.
“I learned Arabic through Siri.”
“You mean Siri from the iPhone?” I asked.
“Yes,” she responded.
What a genius idea! This teenager, just kept asking Siri how do you say this or that in Arabic until she learned the language.
This teenager is one with a growth mindset. One that made her mind to learn a language and learned in the most efficient, affordable and nuanced way.
She made it happen and she proved it to me.
That made me think about learning opportunities nowadays, and indeed what a good time to be alive
To quote Marie Forleo “Everything Is Figureoutable“. You can learn anything you set your mind on by going online , reading articles, watching YouTube videos, downloading ebooks, or even using the power of AI by messing around with Siri.
I’m sure that teenager will grow up to do wonderful things, and the reason boils down to her mindset. She wanted to learn Arabic so she just figured it out. Everything is indeed figueroutable.
If you really want to learn a language, you cam learn it. No excuses will rescue you. You don’t need money, or time or resources.
You have the internet, Google Translate, Siri, Alexa, audio books, DuoLingo. You can learn anytime, anywhere, and without spending a dime.
What time to be alive!
*Photo credit: Omid Armin, Unsplash