A childhood in Canada, 10 years in the UAE and moving back to Canada again has certainly 3awag lisani (made me develop a twang) quite a bit, but nevertheless I finally managed to speak Egyptian Arabic just as well as my family back home to the point where they question whether or not I actually am in Canada.
But like anything, learning how to speak your dialect fluently is easy. Avoiding the 3awgt lisan was tough but manageable. Here are a few things I did to keep my accent up to speed and just as fluent as it was back home in Canada:
Voice note your friends back home
I cannot stress the importance of this, as it was the one thing that kept me on my toes and on top of my Masri game the whole time. Voice notes are quick, frequent and let’s admit it: You can replay them whenever you want to brush up on a few swear words or even just basic sentence structure — your friends back home know best.
Teach your dialect to someone else
Unlike the diversity of accents almost any other Arab living in the Middle East can pick up, in Canada most people below the age of 30 are only familiar with their dialect since that’s all their parents spoke at home. Arabs speak English with one another 24/7, so when you attempt to speak your accent with them, the chances of having a full-on conversation are slim. Thanks to Egyptian cinema, most Arabs are familiar with a few Egyptian terms and are dying to learn how to speak Masri because of the movies they’ve watched.
Speak Arabic and ONLY Arabic with your Arab friends
If you have Egyptian friends, speak Arabic with them. You know they understand it, and you’ll feel like a little piece of back home is with you fi balad el 3’orba. Brushing up on your Arabic in an engaging and live conservation won’t ever hurt!
Read something in Arabic every freakin’ day
Whether it ’s an article, a broadcast your aunt sent on the family WhatsApp group or even a few mushy quotes on Instagram, the process of reading will broaden your vocal abilities in the long run.
Listen to Arabic music (preferably sha3bi)
This is almost self explanatory, but sha3bi music always helped me reconnect with the partying and cruising I missed back home and updated me and kept me on track with the latest slang expressions being used nowadays. Don’t be discouraged if you’re a little rusty when you get back home. The chances of you hearing comments like, “Are you actually Egyptian?” or “Ente 3aysha fein bar ba2a?” will always be there regardless of how well you speak, but at least you’ll know how to answer back zayohom!
WE SAID THIS: Make sure to read A Beginner’s Guide to Arabic Hand Gestures.