March 10, 2013
Publisher Penton Overseas
Price Varies, because out of print
Skill Level Beginner, Intermediate
VocabuLearn Arabic comes in two different levels, for a total of six hours of vocabulary instruction. Each level of this product, originally published by Penton Overseas, used to consist of four CDs organized by parts of speech: nouns, adjectives and adverbs, expressions, and verbs. At a slow, steady pace, a native speaker would pronounce a word in English, you would give the word in Arabic, then you would be told the answer, then you would be given a new word, and so on.
At some point it would flip so that you were going from Arabic to English.
Unfortunately, Penton fell victim to the global financial debacle, and the CDs ceased to be made. Although I sometimes see copies of them for sale online, the pricing can soar well into three figures.
Fortunately, VocabuLearn Arabic is now getting new life in electronic format. As of this writing (early 2013), I see an MP3 version of the first level available for $14.95 through the SpeakALanguage website. Confusingly, it is also available on iTunes for either $9.95 or $35.99. I’m not sure what accounts for the two-tiered iTunes pricing, but it may be about audio quality (the cheaper one doesn’t sound as good to me), so listen to a sample before you buy. Level Two is also available on iTunes, in the $9.95 version only.
If you dislike classical music, VocabuLearn Arabic is not the product for you, because Mozart lurks in the background. I do not find the music distracting in the slightest, but some people do.
Regarding dialect: I’m not sure which Arabic this is. I see various notes from other users online indicating that it is Modern Standard, or Gulf, or Saudi. Whatever the case, since the dialect on my Pimsleur Arabic audio lessons was Eastern (also called Levantine), my Pimsleur and VocabuLearn did not line up too well. That was an issue, but I still found it helpful to hear words pronounced very clearly and carefully on VocabuLearn—more clearly and carefully than you are going to have the opportunity to hear them elsewhere.
You can use this product while jogging, folding laundry, washing dishes, running errands, driving, etc. I sometimes even listened to it in the shower.
Since VocabuLearn is linear in format, with this product in any language I always find myself learning the beginning of each segment much better than the end. But that’s kind of how it goes with a lot of things.
If you can stand the format, your pronunciation and vocabulary will benefit.