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Books, Audio, Visual & Interactive Language Learning Resources
Listen to the Arabic Alphabet
recited by a native Arabic speaker
Although modern Arabic is spoken differently in each country (it may be as different as Spanish and Italian) Egyptian Arabic is understood by most Arabs — Egyptian TV series and films are ubiquitous.
Modern Standard Arabic is less widely understood. Classical Arabic is the accepted literary language throughout the Arab world and, being a prestigous language, is also used for speech-making and other formal occasions. It has varied little over the centuries. It's standard form is gramatically more complex than spoken Arabic.
The Arabic alphabet has 28 basic letters, but their shape can change depending on where in the word the letter is being used, to make a simpler or more elegant ligature when joining the cursive letter forms. Capital and lower case letters are not clearly differentiated. Some vowels have a choice of symbols - and 'short vowels' may be left out altogether in informal writing (although never in the Qur'an). Vowels are indicated by 'diacritic' marks (or 'harakat') which might be above or below the letter. Sometimes a dot is all that differentiates one letter from another!
The Qur'an is written in Arabic, traditionally using 'full vocalization' (complete with all the vowels and marks) and, in places, 'Quranic spelling'. The Arabic alphabet is the second-most widely used alphabet around the world, and has been used with many other language families (including Persian, Ottoman, Urdu, Malay or Pashto) resulting in the addition of new letters and symbols and even the development of a new 'Ajami' system of transcription. A few extra modified letters have also evolved to help with transliterating foreign words.
All of which makes it seem amazing (to me at least) that there are so many effective language learning materials available to us! It is perfectly possible for a westerner to learn to speak Arabic - even, in some cases, to a high level.
Arabic calligraphy is very beautiful. There are several recognised styles including 'Naskh, 'Nasta'liq', 'Ruq'ah', 'Thuluth', 'Kufic', 'Sini' and 'Hijazi'.
A re-issue of the 1904 book by Adolf Dirr, originally published by Henry Frowde. This translation comes with a vocabulary.
EGYPTIAN ARABIC LANGUAGE COURSES:
You might well ask "Why bother to learn to speak Egyptian Arabic? the Egyptians love to speak English!" And it's true.
But some travellers enjoy the experience of learning a little of the language in every country they visit - without this they feel their travel experience is incomplete! If you're not one of this group
— DON'T WORRY! English is the language of choice for most Egyptians who deal with foreigners.
One of our guests observed:
"We found that you don't really need to speak anything other than English in Egypt. But the Egyptians are delighted when anyone takes the trouble to learn a little of their language. We got a totally different quality of interaction just by trying the language - even though we were terrible!"
Although modern Arabic is spoken differently in each country (it may be as different as Spanish and Italian) Egyptian Arabic is understood by most Arabs — Egyptian TV series and films are ubiquitous. Modern Standard Arabic is less widely understood. Classical Arabic is the accepted literary language throughout the Arab world and, being a prestigous language, is also used for speech-making and other formal occasions. It has varied little over the centuries. It's standard form is gramatically more complex than spoken Arabic.
Most of the language learning resources suggested here are books or computer language learning programs. Many of the books come with audio, on CD or audio tape - or books may provide links to audio downloads available online. In the children's Arabic Language section you will also find language-learning games - which can be useful for all of us!
by Ernest T. Abdel-Massih, Zaki N. Abdel-Malek and El-Said M. Badawi (2009)
Also see: KALLIMNI 'ARABI AKTAR AN UPPER INTERMEDIATE COURSE IN SPOKEN EGYPTIAN ARABIC by Samia Louis (2008)
Pocket-sized for travellers!
A wealth of everyday vocabulary in Arabic with this intuitive easy-to-use 360-page visual language dictionary for all ages - suitable for adults or children, business or pleasure.
As you browse you will find yourself absorbing many of the 6,000 key Arabic words and phrases relating to shopping, eating out, sport and many other topics. Find every word you need to know fast using the clearly labelled colour illustrated scenes from everyday life.
Includes grammar features about key Arabic nouns, verbs and phrases, to improve your understanding of the language.
Whether you are newly arrived in Egypt and need to know the words for 'bread' and 'apartment,' or a long-term resident who suddenly needs to know how to ask for a picture frame or complain of a sore throat, this dictionary is for you. Fully revised and expanded, the third edition of this unique and invaluable dictionary presents 6,500 words commonly needed by foreigners speaking Arabic in Egypt. Arabic words are written in a clear and consistent transcription system, plurals are given for all nouns, plurals and feminine forms are provided for all adjectives, and past tenses are given for all verbs. The dictionary also provides stress rules and basic charts of verb endings, negation of verbs, form and use of numbers, pronominal suffixes, and comparatives and superlatives.
The Lonely Planet Phrasebook is probably the best Egyptian Arabic phrasebook available - with 284 pages packed into the tiniest package, perfect for travelling! It has all the key words and phrases you would expect - there's plenty to make your sightseeing and shopping easy.
This course focuses on Egyptian Arabic (chosen because it transfers so well to other Arabic speaking countries). In the 5 hours it takes you to reach Egypt from the UK you will have covered all the basics! To boost your confidence, take the convenient twenty-page 'Boarding Pass' leaflet (11x16cm) with you on your holiday.
Learn key words and phrases with this 60-minute audio CD or cassette. Both packs include the excellent 250 page Lonely Planet Phrasebook / Dictionary and a written pronunciation guide which are easy to use 'on location'. All this help with pronunciation will ensure that the locals understand what you are saying! There's also useful travel information and cultural background.
This revised Rough Guide phrasebook is pocket-sized - and actually useful 'on the ground'. It will help you book a hotel room, hire a car or check the local bus times.
by Hilary Wise (Barron's Educational Series, 3rd Revised edition, 2008)
A phrasebook for holiday-makers and international business travellers who want to get to grips with Arabic fast. More than 1500 phrases and a 2,000-word bilingual dictionary plus travel tips, driving tips and simplified maps of major cities.
Publisher: The American University in Cairo Press
There are basically two types of Arabic: the local vernaculars - which are used in everyday life - and Modern Standard Arabic, which is restricted to writing and to speaking in formal settings. Anyone wanting to have a good command of the Arabic language must learn both varieties.
"Kullu Tamam!" uses Egyptian Colloquial Arabic to introduce the language and pave the way for learning Modern Standard Arabic. This is achieved by using the grammatical terminology common to both varieties of Arabic, by offering many vocabulary items current in both the vernacular and the standard variety, and - in the later lessons - by introducing the Arabic script.
Some sections use short conversational dialogues, and others use a more abstract vocabulary typical of Arabic newspapers. There's a grammar section and vocabulary lists for both Arabic-English and English-Arabic, and a wide range of pattern drills and translation exercises (with answers). The audio is provided by Egyptian native speakers.AUDIOBOOK, AUDIO CD SET
The innovative and deservedly popular "Michel Thomas" method allows you to learn basic Arabic entirely by ear! A native Egyptian Arabic speaker presents this"8-hour Arabic Foundation Course" - and as there are no books you cannot invent your own incorrect pronunciation. This successful solution to the pronunciation problems often experienced by lone-learners is just one reason why "Michel Thomas" method is so famous.
The audio CD involves you with the two students on the CD who are being taught in real time in a classroom situation - you become the third student and participate actively in the class. You soon get the hang of manipulating Arabic structures to express what you want to say. Speaking the language constantly from the very beginning builds your confidence and means that you shouldn't be scared to try it out 'for real' on your holiday.
A printed index of Arabic words in Roman script, with translations, is provided for easy reference - handy for taking with you on holiday.
(the first 2 hours of the"Foundation Course")
Other MICHEL THOMAS ARABIC LEARNING MATERIALS - as well as the more advanced courses listed below.
Other Languages to learn using the MICHEL THOMAS method
Also see more about the terrific Eurotalk multi-media language learning materials below.
A five hour Arabic Advanced Course using the"Michel Thomas Method" - follows on from the"8-hour Foundation Course" (see above).
Other Languages by the Michel Thomas Method
CD-ROMS enabling you to learn Arabic are available for a variety of learning-styles, and for PCs and MACs.
We recommend some of the most reliable, creative and effective computer programs for language-learning. The renowned language specialist "Rosetta Stone" use a spectacularly effective total immersion system. It is used by universities and embassies the world over, and instruction is available for almost any language from Welsh to French, Tagalog, Chinese or Vietnamese. The price tag reflects the quality of their results!
Vocabulary Builder (flashcard-style learning for young beginners), "Talk Now!" (for beginners), "World Talk" (the next stage on), and "Tell Me more" for more advance language learners, is a series from Euro Talk Interactive which includes high quality interactive games, and even"TV Talk Show" style games. "Talk More DVD-Video Classical Arabic" enriches your learning experience.
The Linguaphone Arabic learning system has a range of Audio Courses for more than 15 languages, not just Arabic. Their 'all-audio' approach is very effective for all levels, from the "PDQ" (Pretty Darn Quick) Beginner Series to the more comprehensive, "allTalk" Intermediate-Proficient Series. Linguaphone were the pioneers of language learning corses which allow learners to listen to native speakers of a foreign language and then speak the new language, copying the correct pronunciation, along with unique features such as story-lines for added interest and accompanying written materials for visual learners.
If you have a GPS system you can buy language learning software to use with it. GPS Language Guides can contain multiple bilingual dictionaries. If there is a voice text interface they also allow you to improve your pronunciation. Phrasebooks for iPods are also now appearing. However, there doesn't appear to be an Arabic version available for either GPS or iPod yet.
If you have a really speciailist interest in the Arabic Language, you could check out our rather random selection for specialists too - you can discover offbeat topics from 'A New Dictionary of Petroleum and the Oil Industry: English-Arabic With Illustrations' to an 'English-French-German-Arabic 'Dictionary of Car Engineering'
Essential Words and Phrases for Absolute Beginners
Learn enough language to add enjoyment when travelling to Egypt and other Arabic speaking countries. The audio recordings use native speakers to ensure good pronunciation and better understanding 'on location'. The active vocabulary is more than 500 words, covering a variety of everyday situation.
You can complete this PDQ course just by listening to the recordings, but using the interesting (and well illustrated) course book will help you reinforce the language learnt in the audio recordings, and will also teach you the basics of reading and writing Egyptian Arabic.
Interactive CD-ROM with over 4,000 vocabulary items, expressions and phrases, spoken by a native speaker, which is essential for quality language learning. Listen, then record and compare your own pronunciation (both by listening and by looking at the graphical wave-pattern feedback). The learning system helps you to understand the cultural and grammatical context of the phrases you are learning. The CD-ROM is supported by a 24 page book and customizable vocabulary practice sheets to print out - plus regularly updated online resources.
You will also find other resources to help improve your pronounciation of Arabic in the following sections:
Of course - nothing beats coming on holiday to Luxor with Traditional Egypt and using the language for real!
The innovative teachers at Easily Pronounced Language Systems (EPLS) developed a sound-based pronunciation system in response to the practical communication needs of travelers. Members of the press who had been issued with EPLS mini-phasebooks for the 2004 Athens Olympics gave them rave reviews.
This pronunciation system avoids common Arabic pronunciation mistakes. A set of easy-to-read vowel symbols are combined with consonants enable you to read quickly and in a more straightforward way than other systems of transliteration. The authors expect that, "almost instantly, you will be able to confidently pronounce and use 500 essential words and phrases in Arabic".
You may also find the more advanced section Vocabulary for the Media and Newspapers useful
A learner-friendly picture dictionary with simple, accessible lesson pages designed for clarity and ease-of-use with learners at all levels (especially good for beginners). The new lesson formats integrate the use of nouns and high-frequency verbs. Objects and actions that go together are learned together! A careful, research-based sequence of lessons develops grammar and vocabulary through topics in everyday life, in the community, in school, and at work.
Features of the new edition:
Also see the PICTURE DICTIONARIES reviewed elsewhere on this page.
Phrases are written in both Arabic and English transliteration , which may not be the best way for a serious student to approach the language, but is great for someone who wants to learn just a little, but fast.
Newly revised and packaged with two DVDs with both audio and video exercises to accompany the introductory volume for the Al-Kitaab program course in Standard Arabic from Georgetown University.
Learn to recognize and produce both letters and sounds accurately through a variety of exercises designed to develop listening, reading, and writing skills.
These two DVDs includes 150 basic vocabulary words in authentic contexts, and video footage of an Arabic calligrapher, a large collection of street signs, social greetings, capsules on Arab culture, and an English-Arabic glossary.
This scholarly and hefty dictionary (well over a thousand pages) is the prime dictionary resource for serious students of Arabic.
Be aware that it is not a dialect dictionary, although it contains many Egyptian and other dialect words. Colloquial Arabic is not formally written, so 'dialect dictionaries' are specialized (and often written in transliteration).
Neither is it a Classical Arabic dictionary - although, again, it does contain a lot of classical vocbulary.
Words are in root order, not alphabetic order, so you do need a grasp of the grammar to be able to use this dictionary effectively.
A great dictionary for travellers, with the 3,000 most commonly used words in each language. Covering all the words needed for the everyday situations encountered by travellers, it also contains a brief guide to pronunciation and shows both the romanised forms and the authentic script.
Intended as a first reader in Egyptian-Arabic drama for European students, these five short one act plays are bi-lingual - transcribed in Roman characters. Each play has passages which are awkward to interpret, so explanatory footnotes are provided to help with passages which cannot be readily looked up in existing dictionaries.
The preface introduces the genre and includes bibliographical hints for further study.
This new edition features an attractive, lively page layout with hundreds of cartoons and exercises. The Arabic alphabet is presented little by little so that it is not overwhelming. To get learners speaking straight away, there are new conversational sections.
The extra explanations and transliterations will be especially helpful to people studying alone.
'Mastering Arabic 2' is a new second level / intermediate Arabic course to follow up the popular 'Mastering Arabic', and has the same engaging style with lively dialogues, varied exercises and cultural insights. It suits a diverse learner base - self-study, through community college and school, to university primer/first year course.
Two audio CDs accompany the book which is available separately.
The three sections cover
Advanced Media Arabic by Mustapha Lahlali
"Media Arabic" is an activity book helping students to learn core vocabulary and structures typical of front-page news, various modes of coverage, distinguish fact from opinion, detect bias, and read critically in Arabic.
Students gain experience in reading extended texts faster and more accurately by focusing on the relationships among meaning, language form, and markers of cohesive discourse, and three self-assessment units keep them moving forward effectively. Understanding the language of the newspapers, magazines, and internet news sites gives intermediate and advanced-level students of Modern Standard Arabic direct access to their sources.
Written by leading teacher of Arabic, this a combination of book, flashcards and audio CD helps learners of Arabic to expand their active vocabulary and move to the next level. The material is also an invaluable tool for exam preparation.
The Syntax of Spoken Arabic: A Comparative Study of Moroccan, Egyptian, Syrian and Kuwaiti Dialects
by Kristen E. Brustad (Paperback - 30 Sep 2000)
by Mustafa Ja'far (Paperback - 1 Jun 2002)
Comprehensive Study of Egyptian Arabic: Proverbs and Metaphoric Phrases: 2
by Ernest T. Abdel-Massih