Professor Nasser Isleem with the book titled Ramsah Image Credit: Anjana Sankar/XPRESS

Abu Dhabi Two Arabic language instructors at the New York University Abu Dhabi (NYUAD) have co-authored a textbook designed to help students master the Emirati dialect in just three weeks.

Titled Ramsah (meaning ‘talk’ in Arabic), the 325-page book and a three-week intense course designed around it have already got many tongues wagging in fluent Arabic on the campus.

“Students are asked to sign a contract to the effect that they will not utter a word other than Arabic during the three-week course period. They have to talk, breathe and walk Arabic so that at the end of the course they start speaking the dialect like a local,” Professor Nasser Isleem said.

Rich culture

One reason for writing such a book, said Isleem, is that it is difficult to find a book on Emirati dialect in the market.

“By providing learners with a rich cultural and linguistic approach through real life situations, along with the audio materials that accompany the textbook, we hope it will make the acquisition of Emirati Arabic easier to learn as a living language for everyday use,” said Isleem, a Language Immersion Specialist of Arabic Studies at NYU, who has written five books about Arabic language and linguistics.

Ramsah is designed mainly for non-Arabic students who have an interest in learning the language. While learners do not necessarily need prior knowledge of modern standard Arabic, the majority of the materials in the book are presented in Arabic script, with some transliteration in the beginning chapters. A good understanding of written Arabic is therefore beneficial.

The instruction and exercises in Ramsah, which is published by Kuttab Publishing House, concentrates on the structure, vocabulary, pronunciation, culture, grammar, and the real-life daily use of the language. Following the main dialogues, the book provides learners with strong cultural and linguistic dimensions that are relevant to their own lives to introduce them to new experiences and perspectives. The book is designed to help guide learners through an active use of language, real life situations, and interactive audio materials.

Ayesha Al Hashemi, who co-authored the book with Isleem, said she hopes the language students as well as interested visitors and residents will now have a new resource to use in their language and culture learning experiences.

“With this project becoming a reality, I also hope that it will shed light on the importance of this field and the possibility of having further contributions from young Emiratis in the future,” she added.