Complete Arabic

by Jack Smart & Frances Altorfercropped
McGraw Hill, 2001
460 pages, 2 CDs, $17.95, paperback
ISBN 978-0071627757
Rating: ✭ ✭ ✭ 

Teach Yourself is a force of nature in the language self-study world, having been around since 1938. The book covers used to be yellow and blue. There are a bewildering number of different editions, for Arabic, some with different covers (the cover with the blue ibreekold ty relates to Gulf Arabic). A structured approach which starts with greetings, where folks are from, etc., yet does seem to jump around later. Attention given to the feminine versions of verbs and pronouns and adjectives. The book has no vowel markings, which is a short coming. Learners starting from zero need the vowels marked so as to take a stab at pronunciation. There’s transliteration all the way through, which should have be omitted in at least the second half of the book where the learner better be reading what they are learning. The typeface used for the Arabic is nice and clear. On the CDs, British accents. Musical interludes separate units and I don’t like that. Time wasting. The oral vocabulary lists seem backwards to me: the English comes second but is emphasized by its speaker as if it’s first, with the result that the Arabic word which sounds as if it’s paired with the English is actually not. For me, the book is more valuable than the CDs.

Frances Altorfer was born in England and raised in Kenya. Swahili is her second language. She lived for a while in Oman.

Jack Smart was born in Scotland in 1939. He has lectured in several places, including with the Faculty of Oriental Studies, University of Cambridge.

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