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I bought this book yesterday and love the idea of a graded Arabic reader for adults. The story is simple and offers very useful vocabulary and gradually builds in complexity.
I was excited to see that I can start buying Arabic books for the Kindle. Unfortunately, Arabic font is smaller than English fonts by nature and you can't change the Arabic font size using the font button on the Kindle. So, it is nearly illegible to me. Also, the larger Arabic words in the title get pixelated.
So, I would go with the print on this one for now....
Entry level adult arabic readers are very hard to come by. I've purchased all three that I have found, and found this to be the best.
The book is entertaining and has three basic sections:
Jamal's Journey follows an Arab American on his first trip to the middle east. It does an excellent job of covering both vocabulary, usage and the rarest element CULTURE.
Arab Characters gives short entertaining biographies of Arabs throughout history.
Finally the story of "Ali Baba and the Forty Thieves" is modernized and presented in manageable chunks using simplified language.
All of the sections are littered with pictures, illustrations, word definitions, idiom explanations, and most importantly questions about the material to ensure you are reading critically. The material is easy enough to follow for a self-learner and the key in the back ensures you are not too far from the correct answer if stumped.
I was studying Arabic, both written and oral, for about two years using a private tutor. I am studying on my own now and purchased this item a couple of months ago. It is not exactly "easy" as the title would want one to think. Before one tackles this book one has to have a fairly good grounding in basic Arabic grammar. My main problem with this title is that it does not come with a CD so one can listen to the different stories. One has to go online to launch an "Audio Study Player" found in the McGraw Hill website to listen to the stories in the book. Unfortunately there is a glitch in their Player and half the stories are not accessible. I contacted the M-H Technical Support people and received an immediate response. After they figured out what was wrong, they still, after 2 months, have not installed a fix to the problem. It would have been much simpler if they had just included a CD with the book.
The idea of this book is good, and for the first 13 or 14 chapters it was fine, some of the grammar I'd studied before became more clear and it was nice to see vocab in context. I've studied Egyptian Arabic for two years and in Modern Standard I'm almost done with the third-year-level Arabic courses so I'm well past "easy" or "beginner" vocabulary. But after chapters 13 or 14, I've started running into a lot of vocab words I don't know and it's getting obnoxious to the point where I don't look forward to using the book anymore.
The glossary in the back only contains definitions of the words the authors feel should be new to the reader and I've found that about half I know and half I don't. So now if I want to use this book I'll have to carry a dictionary around with me or wait until I'm at home and I can go online to look up new words.
Books like this in any language are annoying because I don't care how experienced a person is, they can't predict which words in a foreign language are easy or already known to another person. The glossary in ANY language-learning book geared towards beginners should contain ALL the words found inside of it.
This is a great book once you get access to the mp3 recordings and listen to them once and again in your ipod.
I bought this book one year ago, and hardly used it. Getting online to listen to the stories was generally inconvenient.
I discovered a few weeks ago that it is actually quite simple to download the recordings. You just need to follow the steps described in:
Alternatively, you can just install the relevant add-in for Firefox that allows you to download at the same time these recordings or streaming content from sites such as youtube.
Now that I have the recordings in mp3 I can say this is a great book. The stories are good and the vocabulary quite vast. The best thing is listening to the recordings once and again after you have reviewed the story ans the vocabulary. It gets you familiar with the sound of Arabic at a much faster pace that any other way I can think of.
I made the mistake of getting the Kindle version. The Arabic font size is so small it's practically unusable, at least on a laptop. I made jpg's of the first few pages and blew theme up to a size I could read, but this is a nuisance for an entire book. (The English text, which appears larger for a given font size anyway, enlarges with no problem.) The audio files available at the publisher's site are fine - hence the two stars: the reader has a pleasant voice and speaks at a comfortable rate, but the audio is not integrated with the Kindle version. If you decide to get the book, it would probably be better to wait a couple of days for a physical copy to be delivered. Not everything that can be made into an e-book should be made into an e-book.
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