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Alif Baa with DVDs: Introduction to Arabic Letters and Sounds [With 2 DVDs] [Paperback]

Kristen Brustad , Mahmoud Al-Batal , Abbas Al-Tonsi
4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (47 customer reviews)

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Book Description

August 2004 1589011023 978-1589011021 2 Pap/DVD
Newly revised and packaged with two DVDs containing both audio and video exercises, Alif Baa with DVD: Introduction to Arabic Letters and Sounds, is the first part of the Al-Kitaab program. It teaches learners to recognize and produce both letters and sounds accurately through a variety of exercises designed to develop listening, reading, and writing skills. In addition, it introduces about 150 basic vocabulary words in authentic contexts, and it includes video footage of an Arabic calligrapher, a large collection of street signs, social greetings, capsules on Arab culture, and an English-Arabic glossary.

Editorial Reviews


Highly recommend this second edition...The DVDs add considerably to students' mastering of the material -- Modern Language Journal, 2006

Product Details

  • Paperback: 168 pages
  • Publisher: Georgetown University Press; 2 Pap/DVD edition (August 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1589011023
  • ISBN-13: 978-1589011021
  • Product Dimensions: 10.8 x 8.3 x 0.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 13.6 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (47 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #110,467 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
22 of 23 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great beginner book October 6, 2006
By Colin
I used Alif Baa (with DVDs) in Arabic 101 at the University of Maryland (Baltimore County) and it's probably the best beginner book I have encountered. The DVDs are great and add a lot to the text and exercises. It even shows a chart with the letters, and you can click on the appropriate character to hear and show someone pronouncing it in several different voices. Great idea. Lots of exercises to listen to and write down. And, for $5, there's an answer key to Alif Baa which will help an awful lot if you want to teach yourself.
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18 of 19 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars room for improvement November 9, 2007
According to the comments this workbook is the best one currently published for learning to read and write Arabic. Even so, it could be improved.

Whether you're in a class or not you need the answer key, period. It should be part of the book but since it's not, get it. Especially to check the result of the dictation exercises. It's best to do the dictation and be able to immediately check your efforts, especially with words containing letters that sound similar. If you have to wait until next class to check your work, you've lost focus on the task and have to pick it up again probably days later when you may not even be able to read your own feeble chicken scratching. Also there isn't necessarily time in class to (tediously) review every exercise in the workbook. I didn't have the answer key for the first few weeks because I didn't even know it existed. You can do without it in the early going but starting with about Chapter 4 many of the drills are simply pointless without it.

Although the book's purpose is not to teach you vocabulary, you are of course encountering vocabulary as you go and it seems to me you might as well learn it, or at least have a consistent place to find it, while you're there. This book is practically coy about the vocabulary--presenting it indirectly (Guess their meaning from the pictues. They include near, far...) rather than simply listing their meanings. The pedagogical principle at play here I guess is that of avoiding the crutch of your own language and instead going directly from an image to the target language, but the effect is undermined by the comically ambiguous nature of many of the illustrations. They saved some money perhaps, using free 80's-style clip art. (Remember clip art?) Examples p 65--sunrise, sun, palm trees? Hand signals--okay?
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A fabulous series August 28, 2006
This book is such an improvement over what was the previous standard: the Orange Book from Michigan. It is not too technical and comes with nicely done DVDs. This and the companion 'Al-Kitab' are elementary and intermediate courses together. There is also an answer key (separate purchase) which I would recommend.

Some reviewers expressed outrage that this book is not designed to teach yourself Arabic, and that's true. It's not. Arabic is a difficult language and I don't recommend that anyone try to seriously learn it on their own. This series is, however, the current gold standard of Arabic textbooks. If you are taking an Arabic class and are using any other book than this, trash everything else and buy this one. If you're planning a trip to an Arabic-speaking country, you should get a phrasebook or something from the 'teach yourself' series instead. This book does have you speaking fairly early, which is a new, more modern approach to language learning.

The general problem with Arabic texts is that there are not many good options out there. Supplemental books, such as the '201 Verbs', is ok, but it quickly loses the average student who is unfamiliar with what the meaning of the 'jussive' verb form is in English. Avoid all books that were published in the 1980s or earlier. They are needlessly complicated.

The authors of the Alif Baa & Al Kitab series are long-time Arabic instructors. Al Batal and Brustad developed this book based on many years experience teaching at Emory University in Atlanta and Middlebury College in Vermont over the summer. They currently teach at UT Austin.

Having sung the praises of this series, there are some improvements to be made. I wish the 'root system' would be introduced earlier.
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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Great for self-study September 1, 2005
I met with a partner daily for an hour each day for 6-8 weeks, and we learned a great deal from this book. It is definitely good enough for self-study. The one problem is that for the vocabulary and cultural activities, it assumes you have a teacher to fill in the details, so we didn't get much out of those. We did learn to read, write, and pronounce all the sounds, and it's terrifically neat that I can now read basic Arabic signs which are in pictures in the newspaper.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Good starter book for Arabic September 7, 2006
I've taken Spanish and Russian, so I'm no stranger to learning a new language. I have had some rudimentary Arabic that was based on phonetics, so I never really learned the letters. This book drills in each letter with repetition, so you write each letter multiple times, and utilize it in words so you know the initial, medial, and final positions. The book isn't perfect, and without a solution manual you are in the dark as to whether you are getting the dictation down right. I would recommend either taking an Arabic class (as I am doing) that uses this book or buying the solutions manual to go it alone. As my instructor states, this book and Al Kitaab #1 are the foundation, if you can make it through these books you are on your way, but it isn't easy. If I had to do this on my own, I would be taking longer, but the intense schedule of the class is keeping the words and letters fresh in my brain. Bottom line, if you are buying this for school, it's good to go. If you are buying it to go it alone, get the solution manual.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
1.0 out of 5 stars Alef Baa
Workbook was old, dirty, a and already written in. And because I did not get the notebooks, we have been trying to learn by writing everything down in a legal pad. Read more
Published 3 months ago by Carylon J. Liles
4.0 out of 5 stars Book in good condition
There was some writing on the book but it was in pencil so I erased it but it still left a mark so I had to do those exercises on separate paper
Published 4 months ago by caerfalias
5.0 out of 5 stars Arabic Learning
This is an excellent book for those who want to be introduced to the Arabic Alphabet and culture. It's definitely not enough by itself to learn the entire language but it's a good... Read more
Published 5 months ago by Mo
2.0 out of 5 stars Used condition worse than described
My used copy was described as being in very good condition, but it was unfortunately missing pages 1 thru 35.
Published 10 months ago by M. Wells
5.0 out of 5 stars Great way to teach arabic
This is a very good book to learn arabic, they teach wih the DVD to listen to the excercises, buy it.
Published 11 months ago by C. Bakhos
3.0 out of 5 stars The book is in good conditions
I noticed that there is a CD missing on page 84. I borrowed a book from a friend of mine, and CD's are highly important for someone who is trying to learn the pronunciations of... Read more
Published 13 months ago by Giras0l3s
1.0 out of 5 stars No DVDs
Hey guys ,,,, you are very lucky you got this book with the DVDs , I just get mine and there is no DVDs . I am returning the book right a way tomorrow .
Published on June 21, 2012 by aminatou
5.0 out of 5 stars An interesting standard for Arabic language
There are several areas where this textbook really shines. If you are learning Arabic on your own and have several books already, then this book will shed much light on the details... Read more
Published on January 5, 2012 by Future_cpa1
3.0 out of 5 stars Good Condition
Book in good condition, however lots of writing that will be a hassle to erase
Published on August 7, 2010 by aport
5.0 out of 5 stars Private Study
I am quite pleased with this introduction to the Arabic alphabet. I am not using this in a classroom setting, and so wonder at some of the negative reviews posted. Read more
Published on June 11, 2009 by john
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