Posts Tagged ‘language’

Maira kwahish seekhna … maira safar samajna [My wish to learn … my journey to understand].

February 25, 2011

As a wife of a Muslim man,
I feel that I should be quite versed in the Quran.
(confession) I tried reading it once and did not get very far. I just could not understand most of it and was looking for the “practical application part.”
But, in order for me to help and encourage him to be an upstanding Muslim, I can’t take this faith journey lightly.
But, i am digressing… … (more on that later)

The same goes for his Pakistani heritage.
Most of the time, when we are at home, he speaks Urdu. He talks to family in Pindi, his sister in Illinois and his friend at Purdue — all in Urdu.
I will mention in passing that I am more than slightly annoyed that while he speaks Urdu at least three hours a day, regularly, his teaching moments are far less frequent, far less time intensive and are done with far less enthusiasm.
“Main sach say boolt rahi hoon.” “i am speaking the truth.”
It is essential that I learn – with or without his help.
I have already felt excluded from conversations on skype Yet, I feel too much like a millstone around the neck when I have to constantly request him to translate.
So, if “I” want things to be better, then, I need to continue to strive for such things: even if he is “bohat masroof, “Bohat Nidhal,” or ( just too lazy ) and enjoys speaking it much more than actually “teaching it.”

In order for me to tackle this task, I need to understand the challenges and where I have failed in the past.
One of the problems with learning urdu is that I have not found a good course. So, I take the best from all of them…. … or at least try.
But, no one writes Roman urdu the same. My screenreader can not read Urdu script and any literature must be read via computer. .
For example:
“Nila,” “Neela,” and “niila,” are all the same word.
“Phool,” “Phhoul,” or any combination of “ph” or “phh” preceeding “ul,” “ool” “oul” “uul” are used for the same word. And, to complicate things, because everyone uses their own spellings, my screen reader (which is speaking the urdu) reads the word differently.
I can get use to the mispronunciation, if it is a constant; such as “ahmed.” My screenreader always pronounces “Ahmed,” with the “a” found in “ALL,” not the “a” found in “AM.” But, since it always pronounces it this way, I can get used to it.Yet, if Flower in urdu is spelled tons of ways and thus, is pronounced a myriad of ways, then, I have a double problem on my hands.
I choose not to deal with it at this point. While I “do” write urdu for my own learning, I try to speak more than I write. So, this is why I must stick to conversation. Besides, it is highly unlikely that I will be reading much Urdu Braille.
Yet, lessons that focus on conversation seem to focus on memorizing phrases. And, that does not help me transfer many skills to expand my conversation.

SO: I am finding anyone that I can to help me learn. Ultimately, it would be nice to find an aging English teacher who can speak both urdu and English. Maybe I could find a circle of women who would take turns helping me speak the language. I need to find a variety of speaking partners. I don’t think that one partner can give me theconstant help that I need. I have tried finding “urdu teachers,” on various language learning sites. This, too has always failed. This was due to such factors as: time, skill, knowledge, my inflexibility with the written word, their patience and probably both of our people skills. I thought about taking an Urdu course, but the closest university that offers a course is 2hours away and I get off of work and get home by … (between 5:30—7:00). Remember, I don’t drive. I’m going to have to find unconventional ways to learn. Any suggestions?? Being desperate: I am making a flyer and going to try to post it in such places as “the Indian Center,” and a few Indian Grocery stores in the area.
But, I can only write Roman Urdu and can’t (don’t know how to) use my computer to make urdu script, nor do i know how to spell the words in Urdu script. I have thought about one of those translation software programs so that i can write in the Roman letters and they be translated to Urdu, or i could write in each English word and have it translated into Urdu script.
But, i’ll probably just hope someone can read roman Urdu.
***Corrections are seen as constructive criticism and are appreciated in advance!!


denied access

May 3, 2010

No, this post is not how my guide dog and I were denied access at a restaurant and made some type of scene before threatening to get the Civil Rights commission involved.
It is about the web!
Ok, have I said — “I’m unemployed?”
Anyway, I have always been a supporter of volunteering. In fact, until I made my big move on the first of March, I tried to volunteer wherever I could.
I feel that it is my responsibility:
both commanded by God to serve the community and
it does appeal to my social sensibilities.
Oh, wait, I have blogged about that before.
Now, I am in a larger city and it is taking me a while to become acclimated with public transportation.
So, volunteering is not readily accessible.
But, it seems that “nothing is.”
I continue to use my computer to make a positive contribution, however, it is getting more challenging.
I have been constantly looking for a language learning website.
I have blogged about this before, also and if I knew how, I would post the link
But, I am not technically savvy, yet.
Needless to say, the “learning language,” department is rarely accessible, either and the sites (for the most part) are filled with people who might have
honorable intentions, but little else.
So, I decided to try and learn Urdu, as well as critique the English exercises of others on livemocha. The site came highly recommended. .
Now, the
website is not very accessible. I can’t drag and drop, identify or click on the picture or “connect” anything.
I can, however, view or make flashcards. I can quiz myself on these flashcards. I can also make an attempt (all be it pathetic) to submit a writing exercise.
My computer is not new or fast enough for me to listen to and/or record speaking exercises. So, I content myself with reviewing written work and writing
my own.
that is until now!
Now Livemocha has decided that no reviewer can post a review to someone’s work unless they rate the work. I can’t find the rating buttons.
I have given many people constructive criticism on their work. But, now I can’t even do that because I can’t find the “rating button.” Sighted people can
push the “rating button,” and write a trite “Good job,” or “needs work.” But, my three lined critique (and you know how much I write, so three lines is
an under statement) is not accepted.
You get “Mocha points,” and a “teacher score,” for reviewing the work of others. Of course, none of these “points,” result in real “money — (what a shame) .” But, it was something that I could do. It was a way for me to use my native language to assist others. And, I would often give examples as well as my livemocha email
if they had further questions concerning the exercise.
No more!
That volunteering opportunity has gone down the tubes until either:
1. they make the website more accessible
2. I get a new computer.
And, did I mention that my Urdu learning has stopped as well?
Well, a big “thumbs down,” for Livemocha.
Businesses should employ disabled people to review their websites and give them a summary of their accessibility status. And, if ever a business or **anyone
wants to “update,” their site, they should employ a disabled person to advise them on the propper way to do this so that the disabled population (and,
when I say disabled, I mean someone who is using alternative software such as a screenreader and who can’t read the print on the screen) is not left out
in the dark — literally and not so literally.
Note: I don’t just say “Blind,” because there are those with dyslexia who also need the assistance of a screenreader, however, those who are dyslexic and actually need&use
a screenreader are far less in number than the blind population.