©2006 Jane Wightwick and Mahmoud Gaafar; (P)2006 Hodder Headline Ltd.
This audiobook is not for beginners starting to learn Arabic from scratch--for that purpose Pimsleur is second to none.
"Arabic Conversation: Teach Yourself" is geared toward someone who has learned classical Arabic and needs to add some colloquial conversational phrases to their vocabulary.
The material is organized into a series of short conversations. Before each conversation you cover essential vocabulary, then listen to the conversation, and finally participate in it by playing the different parts yourself.
On the positive side, the coversations typically include at least one person speaking the Iraqi dialect and another speaking in the Egyptian dialect, as well as a mix of men and women. The conversational topics are typically useful covering things like introductions, directions, taking a taxi, etc.
On the negative side, the program requires you to rewind the material on your own for repetition (unlike Pimsleur which uses scientifically calculated intervals) in order to really ingrain the vocabulary. Also, the ratio of English to Arabic was slightly high. I was hoping for less anecdote and more content. Incidentally, I also found the British narrator to be a little annoying, although to be fair, some may find him charming.
There is an accompanying booklet with both transliterations and translations of the conversations. These helped to follow along with the material although they were only marginally helpful as a pronunciation guide.
Overall, this is a useful tool provided the listener is already familiar with the Arabic language and is merely looking to improve their conversation or to gain exposure to differect dialects and pronunciations. It is not a complete language program on its own, nor is it for absolute beginners.
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