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Recommended Resources

Websites
  • Arabic Language Blog - Fun and interesting posts about learning Arabic
  • Desert Sky - Excellent recommendations on learning Arabic as well as grammar and vocabulary lists
  • MBC TV - Watch Arabic TV online
Arabic Script

The Arabic Alphabet: How to Read & Write It- This is a very approachable introduction to Arabic. The first couple chapters cover characteristics of the Arabic language (just an overview, no details). The rest of the book systematically covers the Arabic script (like Alif Baa). However the lack of an audio component means you will still need to look elsewhere to make sure your pronunciation is correct.

Recommended for self-study.


Alif Baa: Introduction to Arabic Letters and Sounds (w/ DVD)- This is the standard textbook for learning the Arabic script. It is very thorough and combined with the accompanying DVDs has everything you need to read and pronounce the Arabic script and numbers.

This book is the prequel to the Al-Kitaab series of text books.


Beginner

Mastering Arabic 1- This series is more approachable than the Alif Baa/Al Kitaab series. The first book covers the Arabic script as well as basic grammar. Comes with 2 audio CDs that are great for listening comprehension.

Recommended for self-study.


Arabic Verbs & Essentials of Grammar - Arabic verbs are complicated so they deserve their own book. This book has in-depth chapters covering basic conjugation, irregular verbs and the Arabic verb form system.

Also has well organized coverage of basic Arabic grammar and a nice Arabic/English verb glossary in the back.


Arabic Practical Dictionary: Arabic-English English-Arabic - Good basic two way Arabic-English dictionary. This one works the same way as a normal dictionary which is good for English to Arabic and good if you know the dictionary form of the Arabic word.


The Hans Wehr Arabic-English Root Dictionary- Must have for anyone serious about learning Arabic. Lets you look up Arabic words using their Root Letters. This is the system used by native Arabic dictionaries and is good if you need to look up a word but don't know the dictionary form. Also good for getting a sense of how different words with the same root are related.


Pimsleur Eastern Arabic- Learn some basic colloquial Arabic with sixteen 30-minute lessons on CD (just rip them to your MP3 player). You can do these while driving or walking around. The method involves repetition of phrases that grow more complicated as the lessons advance.

The lessons are in the Leventine dialect (Jordan, Syria, Palestine & Lebanon). This means it will be a little funky if you're only familiar with MSA but it's a good intro to how Arabic is actually spoken in a dialect.


Al Kitaab
The Al Kitaab series is the standard Arabic textbook at many American Universities. It is good if you are taking a class with a teacher but not the best choice for self study. The series is in the middle of being re-released with significant changes. Which one you should pick largely depends on what edition your instructor is using.

Note: Do not attempt to start this book unless you have mastered all the material in Alif Baa. It assumes you are totally comfortable with the Arabic script.

Al-Kitaab Part One (Old School)- The old edition of Al Kitaab has 20 chapters while the new one only has the first 14. The formatting for this book kind of makes you want to close the book as soon as you open it. Each chapter is based on the adventures of Mahaa and her family. Vocab, grammar and exercises are given in the book and pronunciation and video for the main story line are included in the CDs.

Pros:
  • All 20 chapters
Cons:
  • Poor formatting
  • CD is annoying to use


Al-Kitaab Part One (New Edition)- This new edition is about half as thick as the old one. This is because it only has 14 chapters instead of the old 20 and because a lot of exercises have been moved to the website.

The other major change is full coverage of colloquial Egyptian and Levantine Arabic which is nice. The grammar is also introduced in a more rational way.
Pros:
  • Better formatting
  • Full coverage of Egyptian and Levantine colloquial
Cons:
  • Only 14 chapters
  • Have to pay extra for website access (unless your school purchased access)


Intermediate

Mastering Arabic 2- The second book in the Mastering Arabic series. Each of the 14 chapter introduces a theme (House & Home, Food & Cooking, etc..) and ends with a section covering a specific Arab country along with a dialogue in the local dialect.


Al-Kitaab: A Textbook for Arabic, Part Two (w DVD)- Second book in the Al Kitaab series. This one has 10 chapters. The focus is on vocabulary acquisition with a focus on the Root system.

There is still no new edition/website for this level.


Easy Arabic Reader- This is an easy reader but it definitely starts out at the intermediate level and gets progressively more advanced. Each text has a glossary for some of the more advanced words and reading comprehension questions. Start out with a series of texts about of a family living in California, then a series of mini-bibliographies and finally a modern retelling of Ali Baba and the Forty Thieves.

Audio for all the readings is available online.


The Connectors in Modern Standard Arabic- This Intermediate/Advanced book focuses on proper use of the connectors (particles) used to form more complex sentences in Arabic