Well, I have spent in Jordan more than 4 years, and yet I don't speak Arabic. It wasn't annoying as we lived in Jabal Al Weibdeh, known as an expats area in Amman. I rarely went out by myself in general. Moreover, almost every local graduate in Jordan is able to speak English here. The only obstacle was related to the taxi drivers, yet Careem and other services solved this issue easily.
I would admit I felt (and still feel) myself awkward, each time I have to reply in Arabic, even with primitive daily words. I came here to work for a short period, and one of my conditions was about not-to-study-arabic-whatsoever. I remember how during my first week in Jordan one of my colleagues gave me a lift home, I asked him how to say "a car" in Arabic. And then I was just staring through the car window, and telling to myself "no, I'm not going to study this crazy language".
Locals were way too excited and always tried to make a compliment about my Arabic pronunciation, or my fluency, yet I was just at the lowest point.
After 1,5 years I've made an attempt to study Jordanian Arabic and went to Arabic courses at the French Cultural center. I still think it was the most convenient and affordable way to study colloquial Arabic in Jordan, yet I felt I'm not doing well enough and still had a rejection of it.
Another thing that made me nervous - my surrounding. Locals were way too excited and always tried to make a compliment about my Arabic pronunciation, or my fluency, yet I was just at the lowest point. I thought that I don't need this flattering and was nervous about their exaggerated comments.
Everyone who decides to study Arabic, has to make a clear decision which dialect of Arabic he needs. That's really intimidating, and it took me a while to realise that I can't buy ANY Arabic grammar book and begin studying. I will not describe each of the dialects, yet I sincerely think it sucks.
It took me a while to realise that I can't buy ANY Arabic grammar book and begin studying.
Realizing you would not be able to read, write or watch TV, if you are choosing to learn colloquial Arabic (Ammiya). The incapability of communicating with locals if you have chosen Modern Standard Arabic as the variant to study. Well, Arab speakers can argue with me and say they can understand a person speaking literary Arabic, yet it's only a one-way communication, as the spoken language in Jordan is way too far from the MSA.
You can see the difference of Arabic dialects and Modern Standart Arabic below.
Studying Arabic Again
This month I have made a decision to start studying Arabic again. I have chosen colloquial Jordanian Arabic, even it was hard for me to accept I would not be able to read anything in Arabic. I also understand that I will never be fluent in Arabic, and by "fluent" I mean "being capable to express myself clearly in daily work".
I do realize you can come up with your perfect examples of relatives/friends and tell me that they studied Jordanian dialect and mastered it in 1/3/5 years. I respect and even envy such people, yet I understand my capacity, having 10 hours of work daily and other duties I have to perform. Moreover, our life is not as cloudless as glossy Instagram, and it would be crazy to say it's not true. :)
I'd also like to say that I deliberately emphasise and and say "Jordanian dialect" instead of "Levantine dialect", as Levantine Arabic embraces four subgroups: Syrian, Palestinian, Lebanese and Jordanian Arabic. And as it seems to me, even with my zero level, they have differences in phonunciation and grammar.
So, to study colloquial Jordanian Arabic, I have subscribed to a summer language online marathon, where one has to set the realistic goals and study daily. It lasts for 12 weeks, so my summer is going to be busy!
I'm really intimidated by this language, yet I know that even I learn 10 more phrases and 50 Arabic words, it would be more beneficial for me. Even a small goal is better than my total arrogance and denial of this language.