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Al-Kitaab Fii Tacallum Al-Carabiyya: A Textbook for Beginning Arabic: Part One [With DVD] (Arabic) Paperback – Sep 1 2004
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"The student hears, sees and reads Arabic, and learning is kept close to an authentic linguistic and cultural experience." -- ADFL Bulletin "This is an extremely impressive volume, clearly demonstrating the practical and academic value of an outstanding textbook and the enormous amount of effort required in creating such a tool." -- Forum for Modern Language Studies "More drills and activities have been worked into the text, giving students more practice in the skills being presented." -- MESA Bulletin "One of the most complete modern Arabic pedagogy programs available." -- eLanguage.net
About the Author
Kristen Brustad is an associate professor of Arabic at the University of Texas at Austin. Mahmoud Al-Batal is an associate professor of Arabic and the director of the Arabic Flagship Program at the University of Texas at Austin. Abbas Al-Tonsi is a professor of Arabic at the Georgetown University School of Foreign Service in Qatar.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
I studied Modern Standard Arabic at the Defense Language Institute in Monterey, California back in 1989 and now that I want to study Arabic again, Al-kitaab fii Ta'allum Al-'Arabiyya is the best resource I have found. Trust me, I've reviewed so many books out there - This is honestly the best one that I've seen. The DVD is a great plus.
If you are trying to learn Arabic on your own, from scratch, I think you will be in for a rude shock. Perhaps you'll learn some tourist Arabic, but that's about it. If you have access to a teacher/tutor of Arabic, then get the book, Alif Baa, go through that and then tackle Al-kitaab fii Ta'allum Al-'Arabiyya.
PS. A great way to supplement your vocabulary is to use the "Before You Know It" software program from [...] (I think that's the URL) - it's the best software program I've seen for building vocabulary as you get to see/hear the word in a flashcard format. I would definitely use this program in conjunction with Alif Baa and Al-kitaab fii Ta'allum Al-'Arabiyya.
-The majority of vocabulary words are not interrelated, which makes memorizing a list of thirty or forty words rather difficult.
-The grammar concepts are not explained well. In addition to the poor explanation, the book often revises what one has learned in previous lessons later in the book. The order in which grammatical structures are explained is absurd: why would one wait until the 8th lesson to explain word roots? The concept of roots makes memorzing and learning words so much easier -- not to mention the fact that knowing a root allows one to guess new words based on the root.
-The DVDs are a nice feature, but the actors often talk too quickly and there is no script provided so that the student may follow along with the video.
Overall, if you are using Al-Kitaab with a talented instructor, this textbook is tolerable. From sources that I know, the University of Michigan is going to be publishing a much more organized, easy-to-follow introductory level Arabic textbook soon. It might not be a bad idea to wait until that textbook series comes out.
If you are looking to 'teach yourself' Arabic, start with 'Alif-Baa' or some other alphabet book of choice. Even then, I wouldn't recommend 'Al-Kitaab' for self-study. There are simply far too many nuances of the Arabic language that this book fails to address. The poor organization and terrible grammar sections would make self-study with this series torture.
The Arabic language, while difficult for non-native speakers to master, is such a beautiful one: do yourself a favour and find a talented instructor from whom to learn this language (or if you're a self-learner, find a different textbook series).
Secondly, the type is rather 'fuzzy' and important short vowel and pronunciation symbols (written above and below the main script) are often either left off or completely illegible. While it is true that in advance Arabic these symbols are often not shown, for a beginner they are very important.
Another poor design charastic of the book is that the table of contents is listed almost exclusively in Arabic so if a beginner needs to make a quick reference to something they can spend hours trying to find where it is located in the book.
The accompanying DVDs are a great idea but not very well done. The language is given too quickly - more at the rate of an intermediate or advanced level - and there is no accompanying written dialogue to help the student figure out what is being said.
The Vocabulary on the DVD often times has a huge, long sentence to show how to use a single, small word. BEginners learn more easily and much more quickly when they are given small, bite size bits that they can easily digest and use in everyday conversations. (I created my own work around to this by having native Arabic speakers record the vocabulary words for me on an MP3 player)
While the grammar concepts tend to be well explained, there are not enough exercises to practice the concepts after the explanation. A really great idea would have been to have lots of exercises WITH answers so that the student could immediately check their work and see if they are on the right track or not. Instead the student has to buy the answer key... and the answer key is very difficult to read!
Also, the end of each chapter should have a brief synopsis of all grammar points gone over in the chapter so if the student wants a quick glance to refresh their memory, they aren't leafing through countless pages of fuzzy, black and white print.
This book seems to be the standard at the moment for a lot of colleges and universities offering Arabic language courses and I'm not sure why it is. In a day of Adobe Illustrator and other text languages it would be fairly easy to create a nice text with color type to highlight important points and other key grammar issues.
Lacks practical conversation practice.
Has very poor type quality
Offers no way for students to check their work
Poor table of contents
DVD soundfiles too much for beginner students.
On the plus side, it does explain grammar points well.
The DVD is the main highlight:
-They have DVDs, which I noticed the other "competitors" of the series does not have. This way I get to listen to the language. The book and DVDs focuses on the Egyptian dialect, so if this is the dialect that you want to focus on then that is a big plus.
-The DVD uses everything that you have learned in the chapter: vocabulary and grammar
Another good thing:
-The book presents culture (hidden within the DVDs) but on the other hand my professor is the one that pointed out the culture for us to see and took us on field trips.
-For the book to be really "effective," a good teacher is needed. This is far from a self-help book.
-I completely agree with an earlier review which said that the vocab is not interrelated
-I would think that vocab should be equivalent to the student's level in the language. For example, I learned how to say "United Nations" before I ever learned something more useful to a beginner, such as "house." (To be fair, there is a book that comes before this book. "Alif Baa" teaches you the alphabet and some basic vocabulary, but still not enough to be by any stretch a prequel to Part 1. But I did not use this book in my first semester of Arabic and I don't think many other Arabic programs do either.)
-It was two weeks of the alphabet and then straight into this book. This was extremely overwhelming for me and others in my class. Parts of the table of contents were in Arabic and already within the first several chapters are full texts in Arabic... Too much of the book is in Arabic--it's like they think I will "catch on" or something
-The grammar is unorganized and often times made no sense.
-The organization of the book is horrible. For example, if I wanted to look up grammar I learned a while back it is difficult to do so both because of the condition of the table of contents and because the text just blends in with everything else (put the grammar in a box, bold it, or something!)
-The glossary absolutely stinks. Some of the words in the book are not listed in the glossary.
Unfortunately, this book has become the standard at the university level and as a result, no matter how bad I think it is and how bad my professors think it is, I'm going to see this series for a long time...I'm starting part 2 out of 3 in a few weeks.
It's a decent book but previous comments about the grammar instruction are spot-on. While all the guys in my class find Maha 'hot,' both genders agree that she is annoying and pathetic. Khaled is a bit better. The DVDs are great learning tools and the best way to figure out how to accurately pronounce the vocabulary-- if they didn't try to sneak in extra vocabularly throughout the chapter. You do develop a rather strange set of vocabulary without much rhyme or reason to it. Watch the DVDs *before* class to get the most out of them.
Remember two things before you drop your Al Kitaab out the window to fall on the head of some poor unsuspecting German language student:
1) It's called 'the book' for a reason. Right now, this is the best we've got.
2) Arabic is a tough language and it's not at all intuitive to non-natives. In French, you can often guess half the words. Not so with Arabic. Thus, as the preface tells you, you need to be studying 2-3hrs for every hour of class you have. Few people actually put this time in; those that don't suffer the consequences. No textbook can teach you Arabic if you're not willing to do the work yourself.
My recommendation for learning Arabic would be to start with an intensive, find a great teacher, forget you have a real life, make friends with your classmates, and get a tutor. Learning Arabic isn't a summer project-- it's a multiyear commitment. Don't bother with it unless you're really passionate about learning it because the payoffs can be a long time coming. This book, however, can work. I've seen several students go through the sequence and come out with an impressive knowledge of the language. A lot depends on the instructor.
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