- Paperback: 384 pages
- Publisher: Georgetown University Press; 3 edition (July 26, 2011)
- Language: Arabic
- ISBN-10: 1589017366
- ISBN-13: 978-1589017368
- Product Dimensions: 10.8 x 8.4 x 0.6 inches
- Shipping Weight: 1.9 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 115 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #31,172 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Al-Kitaab fii Ta'allum al-'Arabiyya - A Textbook for Beginning Arabic: Part One (Paperback, Third Edition, With DVD) (Arabic Edition) (Arabic) 3rd Edition
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"Neverworld Wake" by Marisha Pessl
Read the absorbing new psychological suspense thriller from acclaimed New York Times bestselling author Marisha Pessl. Learn more
About the Author
Kristen Brustad is an associate professor of Arabic at the University of Texas at Austin and chair of the Department of Middle Eastern Studies.
Mahmoud Al-Batal is an associate professor of Arabic and the director of the Arabic Flagship Program at the University of Texas at Austin.
Abbas Al-Tonsi is senior lecturer at Georgetown University School of Foreign Service in Qatar.
Top customer reviews
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To start with, as other reviewers mentioned, the jump between Alif Baa (the first book in the series) and this one is just way too big. We covered Alif Baa in the first semester and it basically taught us how to read, write, and pronounce Arabic, which was fine. We got a few phrases and learned the names of some of the grammatical marks. We learned the voweling. That was fine. But, when you open Al-Kitaab, everything in the table of contents is in Arabic, even though it's almost all words you won't have been introduced to yet. One of the first exercises asks you to question your classmate about certain aspects of their life, when that requires vocabulary you won't have and a knowledge of Arabic sentence structure that you won't have.
I'm also really agitated about how unorganized this book is. There is no unified area to look at pronoun charts, conjugation charts, or plural charts. It's introduced sporadically throughout the text. It would be better to have it in an index. In other cases, you're given the conjugation of a verb like "I memorize", "he reads" as vocabulary words, but you're not given the full conjugation chart so you know how to use it for more than just that one conjugation. Of course, you could go back through the whole text to see if it was explained somewhere, but that's a crap way of doing things.
Really, without a teacher to explain things clearly, this book would be completely useless. COMPLETELY USELESS. And a complete waste of money. If you don't need this for a class, DO NOT BUY IT.
Between the end of Spring Semester and Fall Semester (3rd level of Arabic), I'm going to have to review so I don't forget all the Arabic I've learned, but I'm going to have to do that with other materials, because this book wouldn't do anything but frustrate me.
Edit: I'm now in my 3rd semester of Arabic, still using this book. Every time I open this book I get angry. Very angry. It's extremely confusing and the way grammatical concepts are introduced is ridiculous. They either say too little or too much and then jump right into something else. It's absurd. I had to re-read the two pages on fronted predicates 4 times and then go ask a native speaker before I understood what it means and how it's supposed to be used. I had to get help from outside the book to figure out what musaadar are and how they work, and now I'm sitting here looking at an exercise (on pg 155) asking me to ask "...who should be able to join the army". We haven't learned the vocabulary for "should be able to", so how the hell am I supposed to ask this question? Why am I being asked to do something that hasn't been introduced yet? Another complaint I have is that there just aren't enough reading exercises in the book. The easiest way to learn usage and grammar is through exposure, for me at least, and there's just really not a lot to read in this book. I'm not a bad student. My GPA hovers around a 3.9. This book is just terrible, and it's affected my academic performance.
Some of the methods used by this textbook--especially its focus on listening comprehension--are excellent. Despite certain advantages, however, I believe the third edition would work only for a course taught by a very experienced teacher who has already developed a large number of exercises and assignments that can be provided separately to students. Without all of these additional materials already in place, however, the current book/website package is simply not enough for teaching the language in a way that will allow students to feel that they are making progress and mastering the material.
More specific comments:
1) Many textbook sets come with a separate workbook or extensive exercises to practice the vocabulary and patterns taught in each lesson. They may be simple, repetitive, and kind of boring, but this method allows students to form sentences and learn through repetition. In this edition al-Kitaab, however, very few exercises are available in the textbook, and nearly all of them are "fill in the blank"; students are rarely, if ever, required to write a full sentence in Arabic - a decision by the authors that I find impossible to understand. Moreover, rather than ask students to perform one type of isolated task repeatedly, e.g. conjugate a set of verbs, practice the iDaafa form, or insert subject and object pronouns, etc., many of the exercises are extremely dense, using vocabulary and grammatical forms taught in other lessons, often in forms (like the plural) that cannot be looked up in the glossary. In many cases, it feels as if a game of "gotcha" is being played - the student simply cannot proceed if he or she has not learned all of the previous material perfectly. In other cases, the exercises introduce word order and vocabulary that students have not learned, with the expectation that they will simply "catch on" or go with the flow until the material is explained. The result, however, is the opposite: some of the exercises are so difficult to use that I saw several very motivated learners in my class become completely frustrated with the book.
2) The textbook focuses far too much on teaching grammatical terminology *in Arabic*, at the expense of actually conveying information on how Arabic grammar and word order work. For example, in Lesson 4 the text goes into a very detailed discussion of noun sentences and verb sentences, all without providing explicit discussion and examples of how word order really works in these sentences; that very basic aspect of teaching, apparently, is left to the instructor. (A far clearer and more accessible explanation was found on half a page in Schulz's "Standard Arabic: An Elementary-Intermediate Course.") If the authors want to take a communicative approach, it makes very little sense to force feed this terminology (and always print it in Arabic script after it is taught for the first time, without romanization) without providing the necessary amount of examples and review.
3) Too often, the vocabulary used in the lessons is not matched well with the glossary or the overall pacing of the book. For example, you will encounter words like "television," "Russia," and "Riyadh," many times in the exercises, but if you want to write them yourself and check your spelling, you will not find them in the English-Arabic glossary at the back of the book. By the time you reach Lesson 9 or 10, you will also encounter terms in the exercises that have not yet been introduced in any of the lessons, and thus end up spending time flipping through the glossary to figure out the meaning of a word from Lesson 11 or 12 -- instead of focusing on what is being taught in the current lesson. I don't know if this is the result of poor editing or hard-line "communicative" strategies, but it is certainly a waste of time for the student.
4) The textbook (and publisher) should just come out and say that students need to purchase three different products: the textbook, the website subscription, and the answer key. The free CD that comes with the book was very confusing to me (in many places is it not clear what the headphones icon printed in the text is supposed to mean). Moreover, given the difficulty of the exercises, especially the sentences on the audio files that are supposed to provide context for vocabulary, there is no way to approach some of the exercises without the answer key.
From my point of view, many of these problems could be solved by providing an easy, straightforward workbook to go along with the main text. Barring that, however, I can only recommend this edition with a huge, up-front warning that the instructor is going to have to reinvent the wheel with each lesson by designing reasonable homework assignments that do not confuse or overload students.
First--and probably my main complaint--the vocabulary is strange. That is to say, it's not particularly useful for many students. The first chapter is called "I live in New York". The vocabulary includes words like "The United Nations" and "Translator". It's not to say that they are not useful just that for beginning-level classes it's a bit dense and impractical.
Second, the step-up from "Alif Baa'" is steep. Generally there are no haraket and the reading passages are often given without context. Depending on the professor, this can be alleviated but not all professors give ample explanation of the passages.
Third, the accompanying audios are often difficult to understand. This was an issue with "Alif Baa'" and it continues with "Al Kitaab".
What is useful about the book however is that while it presents the fus7a versions of all vocabulary, it also provides levantine and egyptian dialect words as well--so if you're planning on continuing beyond Al Kitab you will have a little experience with dialect.
Unfortunately, this is one of the only textbooks for Arabic which is accepted in US universities so regardless of how good or bad the book is there's nothing that can be done.