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Alif Baa: Introduction to Arabic Letters and Sounds (Al-Kitaab fii ta allum al -Arabiyya - a textbook for Arabic)
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Top Customer Reviews
Alif Baa will tell you all the different regional pronunciations of each letter, different handwriting variations, etc. IMHO, that is too distracting for the beginner who just wants to unscramble the script and distinguish k from m, and so forth. The problem is that this book doesn't identify what is essential and what is nice to know, so people come out confused about three different regional pronunciations of one letter, rather than learning jiim = j, etc. These differences don't become important until you have progressed well into Arabic.
Also, the Al-Batal series seems to guard the answer keys to their textbooks like state secrets, one of the biggest student complaints.
And of course, $40 is a lot to plunk down if you can get what you want out of an $8 book (like Awde's).
"Alif Baa" is also bound on the right-hand side, so the reader instantly gets used to the feel of a book which starts on what seems like the back page. Also, the size of the letters when they are introduced is fairly large so that the reader can see the shape of each letter and their sometimes confusing details, since Arabic letters are often variations on a particular theme. The page layouts are neat and uncluttered, the typeography on even the smaller-printed text is crisp, and write-on lines for student answers are ample.
Also, it is not necessary to purchase the videotapes to make full use of this text, as one reviewer complained. In each chapter there is a page dedicated to a cultural note which is illustrated through video scenes, but this is only an introduction to basic conversation in the Cairene dialect and not an instrinsic part of the book's main task, which is to teach the shapes and sounds of the Arabic alphabet. Contact information for the publisher is given in the back, and the answer key might be obtained from the press, I haven't tried yet. Once a reader has diligently worked through Alif Baa, she or he will be able to jump right in to any basic Arabic course and indeed have a major advantage, since none offer as thorough an introduction to reading and writing Arabic is this title.
I'm already pretty comfortable with the alphabet, having used Mace's book as well as some other sources, but I've already learned several new things working through the first chapter of this book. They also have video footage of someone writing the letters, so you can see how they are formed.
While I will eventually have to go to school somewhere or do a study abroad to get more experience speaking Arabic in real-life settings, I find Alif Baa a great start for self-directed study. I strongly urge people to buy the DVD edition of this book and the answer key as well--from Georgetown press if not available here.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
This book is a wonderful introduction to how Arabic is pronounced and written. I myself studied the full content of this books over a month of diligent daily study, at the end of... Read morePublished 6 months ago by Edwin Solano
This is a pretty good book, although I think that they could have had a clearer, more extensive vocabulary list. Read morePublished on September 24, 2009 by Katherine Jones
This book is the first text I used to begin my journey in to Arabic. It's set up well, and it does it's job. Read morePublished on May 26, 2005 by LanceFR
As a nonspeaker learning Arabic for the first time, I found this book VERY easy to follow. This includes 3 CDs to listen to sounds and vocab words. Read morePublished on January 2, 2005 by Somebody1978
We use this book at the University of Central Florida for Arabic courses. This is by far one of the easiests methods to learn how to read, write, and pronounce arabic letters. Read morePublished on October 21, 2004 by Chuck
This is probally the best book to start learning the arabic alphabet. For one it comes with 3 CD's that will let you hear how the letters sound. Read morePublished on April 28, 2004 by Paul Boehnke
Alif Baa is a great book for using in a directed study course in learning to read and write the Arabic language. Read morePublished on October 19, 2003
I just want to let anyone interested in this book to know that the exercises really are not useful unless you have an answer key so this book as nice as it is with the CD audio... Read morePublished on September 30, 2003
Though like many language books it has deficiencies, notably it doesn't come with an answer key, it is still the best book I've found for learning the Arabic alphabet.Published on July 2, 2003 by B. Eastwood