My work colleagues and I have taken weeks to remember eachother's names and to speak clearly enough to each other. All those misunderstandings and apologies have paid off, because I can now chat to her in Arabic.
She doesn't mind being asked her name and how she is again and again.
A bit later she told me that she had heard the language students on the pavement below copying us, but with their own names. So they will be ready for chatting up any Arabic speakers who come their way! We have made a lot of people very happy just by larking around at work.
My other triumph was wandering off for fresh air....to our sister shop round the corner. I asked for their arabic section and was shown something very unusual from behind the counter, an album of photographs of a manuscript in Arabic script, labelled in French as a work on astrology. Since he didn't have a contact I suggested a couple of names at the Oriental Institute. I hope they don't get annoyed by random queries from bookshops. I was going to suggest the Weston Library or the London Library as other starting points.
So there is now a conversation class at work, pitched at exactly our level of forgetting and repetition:)