Basic Arabic, Hebrew and Yiddish on
A picture is worth a thousand words, and the Mastervision Language Library says them all with video, audio, and graphics to help you learn (or brush up on) a second (or third) language. Speak, read, and write 1,000 words and phrases common in everyday situations by listening and emulating native speakers while seeing their words on screen in the original language and English. Transliterations are also provided for Japanese, Chinese, Russian, Arabic, Hebrew, and Yiddish. These popular videos, a staple of travelers, schools, and libraries for more then twenty years, are now finally available on DVD in special multi-language editions. They are perfect for the business traveler, and an ideal gift for students and those who travel for pleasure. They let you review at your own pace with instant video and audio replay at the touch of your remote. With a portable DVD player or laptop computer you can even bring them with you when you travel, and learn while you tour.
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It is surprising that there are not many foreign-language materials on video. I think that learning a language by video is a great idea. I wish there were more, however there seems to be several computer-based learning systems out there now and they are filling the void.
This video has numerous problems with it, however I give 4 stars since this is the only video learning system for learning Arabic that I know is commercially available. Otherwise, I'd give it 3. Here is a list of some of the problems:
1. The English transliterations are not always correct. For example "summersault" should be transliterated "shaqlaba" and not "shaglaba." [These transliterations are given, along with the arabic script and the English translation, while (usually) some action is taking place or a picture is on screen and the narrator is speaking in Arabic.] Also in certain instances, a long "a" is not given in the transliteration when it should, or "aa" is given when it is not a long "a" (alif). This video originally came out on VHS (1987) and I hoped that the DVD version would allow the operator to remove the transliterations or script from the screen but you cannot. I want to remove, not only because the transliterations are bad, but because you want to look at the Arabic script and train yourself to read it while the narrator speaks. Now sometimes you can cover the part of the TV screen where the transliteration is, but the transliterations move around from screenshot to screenshot. Sometimes they are above the script, sometimes below, so give up on that.
2. Some of the words are not really necessary to learn for a beginner; e.g. "shaqlaba." At another instance, the phrase "we will receive many beautiful wedding gifts" is given. Very difficult to learn for a beginner, and again, not necessary, unless your objective is to go to an Arabic country and get married immediately.
3. Some of the material is quite well-presented such as the part where the video teaches you times of the day. In other instances, the material is presented in rote-memorization format. I don't think that the producers thought it out enough, what to present and how.
4. On several occasions, the writing on screen disappears while the narrator is still speaking. There should be more time given to view and hear, and be able to repeat. You need to have your finger on the pause button.
5. On some portions of the video, nouns and verbs and phrases are given, but the screen is otherwise blank. I suspect this is because the video was never finished before it was put in production.
6. When the numbers are given, the numbers themselves should be put on the screen, since real Arabic numerals are somewhat different from our "Arabic" numerals.
In spite of the problems, with repetition you will learn some Arabic with this DVD. And some of what you will learn will be very useful. And the narrator does a fine job. Plus you won't need to get off your couch.
Just be wary of some of the problems I listed above.
I looked at some of the Hebrew part, and not even a minute of the Yiddish part. In both thoese sections, I saw a girl in a bathing suit I wouldn't let a daughter wear, and a boy with a tight bathing suit showing his crack. What does this have to do with learning Hebrew or Yiddish? Is this DVD trying to show us what kids on the beach of Tel Aviv might look like? Or is it trying to keep us glued to a lesson that for the most part, is boring, with no explanations or time for repetition or feedback? This DVD races through Hebrew. Ulpan teachers in Israel do a much better job, as do methods that allow for the learner to repeat the words.
A quick view of the beginning of the Arabic section did not show me these teenagers showing off their contours. With so many Arabs being Muslims, I guess you can only go so far.
Even the trailer for "The Chosen" tries to get spicy, showing a teenage girl dancing at a wedding. The problem is that this was not the message of "The Chosen". Sex might sell, but I'll never buy this DVD, despite the use of what seem to be good, native speakers.