1.3. Books

1. About Yawna > 1.3. Books to Learn Aramaic

1.3.1. Yawna series:

In 2015, I had my first experience teaching the Aramaic language, when I created a YouTube channel, Facebook page, and exercises on Memrise that lasted for about a year and a half and reached 85 lessons before quitting because of my preoccupation with the Master’s theses.

Books to learn Aramaic. Videos I posted on YouTube between 2015 and 2017

Figure Videos I posted on YouTube between 2015 and 2017

After returning to Syria, I gradually began to translate these earlier experiences and new information gained from my studies into an academic curriculum for teaching Aramaic.

In the winter of 2018, I tested the beta version of the first level (A1) with eight friends, who generously provided ample patience and feedback, after that, I made a lot of improvements to the curriculum.

And in the summer of 2019, I was finally able to fulfill a dream that had always struck me: to do the first free course for the Aramaic language in Maaloula, which I announced here on Facebook. I worked to follow modern teaching methods by dividing the class into groups and giving them worksheets and exercises in the form of games that I had prepared and printed out.

Books to learn Aramaic. Middle and high school students in the 2019 course

Figure Middle and high school students in the 2019 course {© Rimon Wehbi}

Books to learn Aramaic. One of the certificates I handed out to students after completing the course

Figure One of the certificates I handed out to students after completing the course {© Rimon Wehbi}

After this course, I’ve introduced new modifications to the curriculum to make it more accurate, useful and enjoyable. Work is now currently underway to design the books in a modern style.

Figure Draft pages of the first level book in the Yawna series

1.3.2. Coloring Book For Kids:

After realizing in 2020 that early-stage children would not be able to benefit from the series I am preparing, I decided to dedicate coloring books to them through which they would learn some Aramaic words in a fun way. In choosing the words, I relied on several criteria, the most important of which are: being of Aramaic origin, being age-appropriate and connecting with their environment without carrying complex meanings or difficult words, and so on. I have included a second goal in this book, which is to bring the drawings as close as possible to the Maaloulian environment. This will help document and spread the culture and heritage of Maaloula and educate younger generations about them, whether they live in Maaloula or elsewhere. The third goal is to teach them how to draw and color.

I have communicated with all of the Maaloulian artists I know, as they are more aware of the environment and details of Maaloula. Some of them had to apologetically decline due to being busy or lacking specialization in children’s drawings, and the rest presented their art with love and generosity. The coloring book will soon be available for children.

Books to learn Aramaic. Draft pages from the coloring book for kids

Figure 1.3.2: Draft pages from the coloring book for kids

1.3.3. How Many Languages Can a Child Learn?

I have heard from some that they fear that teaching Aramaic to their children could lead to a decline in the development of their Arabic or other languages, but this stance is refuted by scientific research as well as many real life examples that confirm that a child can learn more than 4 languages at the same time, with the exception of course for children who suffer from certain problems delay their growth, as well as and their educational and cognitive performance.

Here are some examples confirm that two or three languages are not that many for a child:

A four-year-old girl speaks 7 languages

A seven-year-old boy speaks 5 languages

A twelve-year-old girl speaks 20 languages

A fourteen-year-old boy speaks 12 languages

As a personal experience, I learned Aramaic as my mother-tongue, then I learned the Damascus dialect (a mixture of Aramaic and Arabic) from the community. After that, I studied Modern Standard Arabic and English at school and was one of the first in these two subjects, and later I continued study English and reached an advanced level. Eventually I learned German, in addition to my knowledge of a few words and phrases in yet other languages. My language learning has not prevented me from learning others and, on the contrary, my language learning experience has accumulated and the process has become easier and easier over time.

Rimon Wehbi   11/04/2021

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