Cn yu rd ths?
If you can, that's the first step to learning Arabic or Persian, where vowels often are not found in the language's written form.
Add that to a totally new alphabet, new sounds and — by the way — learn to write from right to left.
Now, you might have a glimpse into the lives of 33 students from University of Wisconsin-Madison's Arabic and Persian program being held this summer at the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse campus.
The group is in week four of an eight-week course designed to fully immerse students around the clock in one of the two languages.
The reason the UW-Madison classes are at UW-L is simple — total immersion.
UW-L's campus is relatively quiet during the summer months, so students are not distracted by a big campus with a lot of commotion in non-Arabic and Persian languages, said Mary Youssef, UW-Madison Arabic instructor.
Students study one of the languages four hours a day in class in addition to conversation time and possibly tutoring. They eat meals with native speakers and stay in residence halls with instructors and other students learning the language.
"Students can focus on the language, live the language and hopefully dream it, if they get to that point," said Dustin Cowell, UW-Madison professor of Arabic.
The summer course is the equivalent of taking two semesters of the regular Arabic or Persian language program at UW-Madison, Youssef said.
Casey Poe, who is adding Arabic to the many languages he already has under his belt as an International Commerce student at University of Kentucky, said Arabic is one of the most difficult languages to learn.
"It is trying," he said. "I regularly don't study this hard."
But, Poe is.
"To compete in the international marketplace you need to be multilingual," he said.
A second-year student, Poe said he has gotten to the point that sometimes he'll think in Arabic. But, then that comes with a lot of practice. He even carries around a pile of flashcards in his wallet. At spare moments while walking to class or before going to bed, he'll pull them out and start memorizing. But even that's not enough, he said.
"It is like drinking from a fire hose," he said. "You are probably exposed to about 200 new words per day, but I can only memorize about 20 ... so there is this huge flow of information, but you really only get a sip."
Michael Danielson said he started the program as a beginner. During the first evening meal, he could point to a few food items on his plate and ask his instructor, "What is this?"
Now, halfway through, he can converse with his classmates, form complete sentences and comment on his food.
"Now I can say ‘This is good, lousy — or rice again?'" he said.