We met with Bruno Schmidt-Feuerheerd, a PG Arabic student from Germany, who is a Master’s student in International Relations of the Middle East with Advanced Arabic at the Islamic and Middle Eastern Studies department, University of Edinburgh.  In an interview with Bruno, we asked him the following questions:.

Tell us about yourself

I’m Bruno Schmidt-Feuerheerd and currently I am student of International Relations of the Middle East with Advanced Arabic at the University of Edinburgh (2019). Academically, I have a broad social sciences background (BA Sociology, Politics & Economics from Zeppelin University, Germany) and

How long have you been studying Arabic? What is your current level?

I have studied Arabic in Germany, Morocco, Oman, Jordan, and Edinburgh. I am interested to research society and politics of the Gulf states and I will start my PhD in this field in September 2019. I have started to learn Arabic back in 2012 but it was not before 2015 that I studied Arabic continuously. My current level of Arabic is approx. C1

What made you decide to study the Arabic language and culture?  What & who inspired you?  What were your motivations?

My interest to study Arabic came from a background in international politics subsequent to the Arab uprisings. I quickly realised that I would not be able to dive deeper into Arab politics unless I know the language. The most rewarding experiences that I have had in studying Arabic were certainly the courses that I took abroad as it offered me cultural insights complementing my political interests.

Have you had any ups and downs while learning Arabic?

Yes! As there was no proper Arabic course during my undergraduate studies, I had to learn the language in the beginning mostly on top of my regular coursework which proved to be a difficult endeavour. The most important learning in this regard was, to study continuously, following the rule: Use it or loose it!

What careers are you planning to pursue (or have embarked on) using your Arabic language skills? 

I am interested in pursuing an Academic career researching Arab politics. Thus, Arabic will be my main research language.

What does it take to become an excellent student of Arabic? What recommendations would you give to anyone interested in learning Arabic?

First of all, perseverance. Studying Arabic can be frustrating as it is a difficult language and requires the investment of significant resources. I think that studying a language is rather a craft than an art, thus, all you need to do is to work continuously in order to succeed. I’d certainly recommend to go abroad for as long as you possibly can, e.g. during a semester abroad during your studies or spent the summer in a language institute. Drilling vocab certainly helps. However, the earlier one tries to study them in context by being exposed to the language (local friends, TV, newspapers, social media, more advanced: books), the better.

What is your favourite place in the Arab World? Why?

I think my favourite country to have studied Arabic was Oman, it’s a beautiful country and a great place to study the language.


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