So this afternoon was the 3rd discussion with these native Arabic speakers that I found, and I really feel like it is helping - YAY!
I met one of them in his ESL class when I went there to help with some technical problems the teacher was having. The teacher told me she had native Arabic speakers in her class, so I gave 2 of them my email and offered to get together to let them practice English and me practice Arabic, and one of them emailed me!
So last Friday was the first time we got together - me and Martin, a guy in my class, and him and one of his friends. We decided that we'd do 30 min in English for them, and 30 min in Arabic for us. And I was thinking once a week, but Martin suggested twice a week, and they said ok! So we did last Friday, and then Monday and then today! Today is the day that went the most smoothly. All three times we started with English and then did Arabic, but the last 2 times much of the Arabic time was spent giving us new vocab and the conversation didn't really flow from the English part to the Arabic part, but today it totally flowed! It was time to switch to Arabic, and Martin was about to say something, and he said, "Just this one thing," and I said, "you can say it in Arabic!" and he did! :) And then they asked us questions - about our goals for learning Arabic - and so I did my awkward speech about how I want to teach language teachers, and - I think they understood! They prompted me and corrected me from time to time, and asked clarifying questions, but at the end one of them said, "That was a long speech, and you did it!" :) And I felt very successful!
We talked about food in our town, the ethnic diversity here, the acceptance of other cultures that (Martin feels) is prevalent in the US, and about religion, in the US and in Saudi Arabia, where these guys are from. We talked about good ways to study new words :) and about how Muslims aren't supposed to date.
I think we talked about all that stuff in English, and I can't remember exactly what we talked about in Arabic :) but I do remember that I followed most of it and that it was AWESOME to understand and be part of a conversation!
These guys are really cool about me stammering out my Arabic - YAY! It's giving me lots more confidence that I can do an OPI and not die! :)
And, I'm pretty proud of myself for FINALLY taking the initiative to set this up - it took me a while to have the guts, and I'm glad I finally did! :)