Easy Arabic Grammar

2-5 Arabic, Books

March 10, 2013

Authors  Jane Wightwick, Mahmoud Gaafar
Publisher  McGraw-Hill
Publication Date  2005
Price  $15.00
Skill Level  Beginner, Intermediate

I did not find Easy Arabic Grammar, by Jane Wightwick and Mahmoud Gaafar, easy.

I admit I had a brief spell of euphoric pleasure when I was reading the early pages, where I enjoyed an excellent and reassuring explanation of why vowels (short ones, at least, which are the ones that are not indicated) don’t matter in writing. They often differ from dialect to dialect, for one thing, and in Arabic, meaning is carried primarily by consonants.

But my euphoria quickly dissipated, and I had to stop by page 25, when I got hopelessly and permanently lost. Easy Arabic Grammar abandoned the poor helpless language learner (me) at a vulnerable stage, by skipping pedagogical steps and presuming knowledge without which I could not continue.

One source of trouble for me (I think) was that the majority of the little Arabic knowledge I had acquired was coming from Pimsleur Arabic, through which I had been studying the Levantine dialect, whereas this book focuses—appropriately—on Modern Standard Arabic.

That is not the book’s fault, but therein lies a challenge with Arabic studies—the wide variety in versions of Arabic used across countries and regions. Study materials often do not line up, so check which Arabic is represented in each or you will struggle with possibly significant inconsistencies.

Apart from that issue—which is not the writers’ responsibility—I still do not feel that Easy Arabic Grammar did enough to keep me unconfused and engaged.

It Says Easy, But It Didn't Work Out That Way For Me
It Says Easy, But It Didn't Work Out That Way For Me

Comments (2)

Sebastian Nokes • Posted on Sat, January 04, 2014 - 11:30 pm EST

I agree with your review, but I did find that this is a great book to go back to after having learnt more Arabic. My primary textbook is Schulz et al _Standard Arabic_, which is intensive on grammar. I had mor looked at Wightwick & G’s book for about a year and went back to it a couple of weeks ago and found it very efficient and effective and consolidating what I had learnt in Schulz, at clarifying a few things, and giving me a different perspective. I also completely agree with you that finding the right learning materials is a great challenge with Arabic. It’s taken way too much of my time.

Ellen Jovin • Posted on Sat, January 04, 2014 - 11:43 pm EST

Sebastian, it was interesting to get this comment from you right now, as I have over the past week specifically been wondering about this book. Now that I know more Arabic (after some additional recent studying), I have been thinking that maybe I should give it another shot. Wightwick and Gaafar do a lot of writing in the Arabic learning market; I will follow your lead and take a second look. Thanks also for the other reference!

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