I am a huge Pimsluer fan and have successfully used the program to jump start learning other languages before. Lately I have been doing the Eastern Arabic program. I have fallen in love with the language and really want to study it now. But I have read reviews that say Pimsleur is a bad way to learn Arabic. Anyone have any experience or advice regarding that? I would hate to spend so much time studying and practicing just to have nobody understand me when I speak it! Thanks in advance. :)
Pimsleur for learning Eastern Arabic?
Are you a heritage learner like me, with someone in your life who is fluent? I'm guessing so, since you're posting in this forum.
I starting using Pimsleur Eastern Arabic soon after I met the guy who became my Lebanese husband.
Pimsleur is not the most effective way to learn Arabic, and you will still be a beginner even if you do all three levels. But it is a nice, non-threatening and convenient way to get a start. If I had to do it again, I think I might just do the first level to boost my confidence that I could make those "strange" sounds and get a feel for what conversation might be like (someday). But, rather than invest time and money into levels 2 and 3, I would use the Syrian Colloquial Arabic text and mp3s. (The first 3 chapters can be downloaded for free.) I felt like Eastern Arabic II with Pimsleur was maybe a little useful, because it does get you used to past tense (I think?), but only if you are not in a hurry. You don't learn that much vocab from Pimsleur compared to what you could learn with the same time investment using other methods. If you like the Pimsleur CDs because you listen to them in the car, after you finish level one, you can instead listen to something else (like children's songs) that will give you more exposure, especially if you have someone to help you translate them, or if the songs come with translations and transcripts.
If you are relatively serious about learning, I can tell you more about the techniques and materials I've been using. Is spoken Arabic your only goal, or are you also wanting to read and write?
Thank you so much for such a detailed reply. Sorry I couldn't respond sooner, but I have a cranky baby here. I actually don't have anyone Arabic speaking in my life to help me. I posted here because I did a search and this is where many similar questions were posted. I have since found someone who wants to do an Arabic/English swap though, so that will be cool if it works out.
I have all the Eastern Pimsleur Arabic levels already, so cost isn't an issue. I also have Rosetta Stone Arabic, but I have stayed away from it based on it's reviews. I also have some podcasts that I have downloaded. Thank you so much for the additional resources. My main goal is to get conversational speaking down. Not sure if I will attempt reading and writing (at least not for a while maybe).
Thanks again for the response and the help!
I found this post while searching for reviews on Pimsluer Eastern Arabic. I already can speak some colloquial Arabic and some fusha as im a practising muslim so grew up with the Qur'an and have lived in Egypt and now live in Jordan. I really just wanted something to be able to brush up on my spoken Arabic because I don't really get out much and can get a bit confused sometimes and it takes me ages to form sentences taht i'm not farmiliar with. Can you give me some advice as to how you over came this and what resources you used?
Thanks in Advance.
In your case, I would recommend tons of listening to/watching native media. Musalsalat would probably be helpful, if you can handle watching them. I don't know of any Jordanian ones, but one I find relatively easy and without violence is Sabaya. (It's Syrian.) You can find episodes on YouTube. It's hard to believe, but just by constantly listening to/watching native media, you can improve a lot, especially if you have a basic knowledge to begin with. I made much progress by doing this. You'll feel you don't understand anything at first, maybe, but it will just get easier.
If you are in Jordan but too shy to speak or people refuse to talk to you in Arabic or you are surrounded by English natives, you can do some interesting things to get yourself up to speed:
1.) hire someone or find someone who will, for free, talk to you for a few hours a week. Ask them questions (in English or Arabic) and record their answers. Listen to the answers many times, trying to understand and let the information penetrate. Ask questions about what you don't understand. If you can write in Arabic transcribe parts that are interesting. Next time you meet with them, clarify anything you didn't understand, then ask a new batch of questions. This process is expanded upon and described in detail in this website: http://growingparticipatorapproach.wordpress.com/
2.) If you really can't get out of the house or have someone talk with you at home, Skype is your friend! There is an overwhelming number of Arabs who want to do language exchanges with English speakers. You can use a site like italki.com to find people to talk to. Doesn't have to be the same person every day. There are so many people, if you get embarrassed in a conversation, you can just move on in the future. Or you can plan sessions with the same language learner every day. You can also chat on Skype or on an exchange site. I found chatting a nice way to overcome some of my nerves. I discovered that when I didn't have to actually speak, I knew colloquial Arabic well. I would also be happy to practice with you. Just message me to set up a time. You might be more advanced than me, which might increase your confidence!
3.) The methods described in the Fluent in 3 Months site are most appropriate for people in-country. Benny is very inspiring to read when you're feeling hopeless.
4.) If you struggle with speaking without lots of "uhs" and "ffaaa," you can practice recording yourself speaking extemporaneously, listen to what you are saying and diagnose your problems (nerves? missing vocab? just need to vocalize more often?). You'll get better.
These links include some great resources: http://arabic.desert-sky.net/links.html
Hope some of these will help. I'm getting ready for my next trip to the ME and am trying to find the courage to make a huge push to improve before I go! Wish me luck!
Oh, just wanted to mention, I came across this teacher: http://www.omarnassra.com/
He offers a book of the most critical vocab words for Levantine dialect speakers, and also a book with transcriptions/translations for learning based on the popular soap opera (Turkish, but dubbed in Syrian), Nur. (Scroll to the bottom of his page to see links to these.) Could be useful!
edited to add: I decided to order the transcription of Nur so I could save my husband from me asking him a million questions. It turned out to be just a transcription of the first episode of Nur, so very misleading and basically a rip-off. I emailed the teacher, and he didn't have any explanation except that it is too much work to transcribe things, but he did give me a copy the transcription of the second episode. I probably wouldn't trust offerings from this teacher after all. Too bad!
Edited by sky_and_lavender - 2/4/12 at 7:12am