Language Learning In the Body
The first two phases of learning a language are listening and speaking. These are physical activities and need to be practiced that way. Much as you do not become a good soccer player by reading or taking notes about it, you will not become a proficient speaker until you bring the language learning process into your body.
When adults learn a second language, they have a tendency to apply the same methods as they did with other academic subjects from high-school or college: diligent note-taking while the teacher is speaking.
The reason this works in your first language is because your whole system already runs on that language. If you are a native English speaker in a college history course taught in English, taking notes in English keeps you in the flow of the discussion and does not distract from the subject matter.
But if you are a native English speaker taking a beginner or intermediate level Arabic class, and you try to keep up by taking notes in English, you will find this almost always pulls you out of the flow of the subject matter, and pushes you back into your English-body.
When learning a second language we usually only have a limited about of time per week in which we can speak with native speakers or teachers. 2-4 hours of exposure to native/advanced speakers per week is typical. Make those hours count by using them for speaking and listening as much as possible! Do not distract yourself from the sport of speaking by trying to take notes until you are at a much more advanced level.
Of course, there is a time for learning to read and write- and it is usually after we reach an intermediate stage in speaking and comprehension. However, note that focusing on reading and writing in a foreign alphabet can be a distraction if you do not yet know sufficient grammar or vocabulary.
Think again of how you learned in your native language: you learned to read and write several years after you were a fluent speaker, and you started taking notes in class several years after you learned to write.
1. Language is a physical activity. Treat learning to speak a language as you would treat learning a sport.
2. Note-taking during class is an extremely advanced linguistic activity, and should probably be avoided unless the teacher requests you write down specific things.
3. The steps to learning a language are: listening, speaking, reading, and finally writing.
4. The key to learning is to get as much immersion as possible. So when you are in class, try to think and write only in the language you are learning.