Pimsleur Eastern Arabic
March 10, 2013
Publisher Simon & Schuster
Publication Date 2003
Price $335.00 for all 90 lessons; $119.95 for 30 lessons
Skill Level Beginner, Intermediate
I love Pimsleur and have used it for 15 different languages to date. Pimsleur Eastern Arabic consists of a series of exquisitely designed audio lessons, roughly half an hour each, in which you are constantly challenged to speak Arabic in response to well-timed prompts.
Pimsleur is one of the very best products—perhaps the best product—I have encountered so far for self-study. However, there are two things to keep in mind with respect to the Pimsleur Arabic offerings.
First, would-be Arabic students will have to make a choice if they turn to Pimsleur’s audio lessons: should they do Egyptian Arabic, Eastern Arabic (also known as Levantine Arabic, spoken in Syria, Jordan, Lebanon, Palestine, Cyprus, and Turkey), or Modern Standard Arabic (the language of the press, spoken in no countries but widely understood)?
The choice was made for me by the fact that (a) back in 2009 when I was studying Arabic, Pimsleur’s Modern Standard lessons had not yet been released, and (b) there were only 30 lessons for Egyptian Arabic, versus the 90 available for Levantine. Even now, there are just 30 lessons apiece for Egyptian Arabic and Modern Standard, respectively. (In case you are curious, Rosetta Stone, which I did not use for Arabic and which I am not a huge fan of, offers Modern Standard.)
The second thing to keep in mind: I strongly recommend a good written source (or two, or three) to accompany your Pimsleur Arabic lessons. Unless I have a good grammar book so that I get explanations of the writing system and the structure of a language, I get frustrated.
With Arabic, unfortunately, although the alphabet book I used was excellent, I did not ever find a grammar that I liked. More have been published since my Arabic adventures, so perhaps I will be able to add some suggestions here in the future.
If I were starting over again with Arabic right now, and if Pimsleur had 90 lessons’ worth of Modern Standard, I would choose that instead of Eastern, simply because it would be more practical and more compatible with the majority of Arabic-learning materials in print.
A note: if you read my blog entries on Pimsleur Eastern Arabic, you may notice that I have a tendency to bitch about Pimsleur details. It’s kind of like when you have a mean teacher that you complain about, but then you realize you learned much more from her than you did from the supposedly nice one.