Review of "Teach Yourself Arabic" From the Famed "Teach Yourself" Series



hi guys today I'm going to talk about this book teach yourself Arabic and I'm going to tell you whether it is a genius work of art or a piece of crap from hell good afternoon guys I'm going to talk today about a book and CD program that I used in the past to study Arabic it's called teach yourself Arabic from the infamous teacher self series in it's this book right here by Jack smart and Francis altorfer or something like that I don't know how to say his last name first of all let's I should say up front I want to be careful that we're talking about the same book there are actually two books called teach yourself Arabic this one right here is the old one from 1991 this one is basically focused on on receptive skills on reading and listening to Arabic it's not really focused on conversational or communicative Arabic that one is kind of universally lambasted by people who buy it because when they buy a teacher self book they're hoping to learn to communicate most people I think and that book is basically based on reading and listening to the news in Arabic that's really the purpose of that book so we're going to focus on this one which is the new one published in 2001 and it has a much more community communicative conversational focus and it's much more suitable for the average learner who buys teach yourself so we'll talk about this it's a pretty good book but it has some weaknesses so I want to talk about those just to give you an idea and that will help you maybe use the book better so first of all the book is based on well it's teaching you modern Standard Arabic that is the formal kind of Arabic the standard Arabic that is used in newspapers it's used in the media and it's used kind of as a tool to to communicate across dialects because Arabic has a lot of different dialects so when people want to communicate with a speaker of another dialect they kind of they incorporate some of the standard language into their speech to make it understandable for the other person so this is this is all about modern Standard Arabic but it teaches it in a way that's communicative conversational and helps you to interact in daily situations so that's kind of rare there are some other books now but that do the same thing but a few years ago this was kind of the only the only popular book like that the only common book like that it was kind of rare to find a modern Standard Arabic book that did that so it's good for that and it's good in the language that it teaches like if you look at unit 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 those they teach good language that's useful in daily situations in the vocabulary presents I think is useful and presented in a logical order it gives you a lot of experience with different language skills so it's not only just the reading and the listening but it gives you a chance to to do some writing exercises and it gives you a chance to do some grammar exercises it's got a good balance of skills I find of course you're not speaking with someone you're not no one's listening to you and giving you feedback unless you have a private teacher but it covers all of the bases to whatever extent a book like this can so it is a regular teacher self book even though it's based on modern Standard Arabic so it's good good in that sense the strange thing about this book is that it switches gears suddenly like the first 7 units are based on good conversational situations daily life situations then in unit 8 it switches gears and throws you in headfirst into this traditional story about Sinbad the sailor and I think it's actually an authentic text from a book from some old book and it's written in very kind of archaic Arabic and they throw you in headfirst and you're reading this going wait I haven't learned this stuff yet why am i reading about Sinbad the sailor using these archaic sentence structures so I found that unit quite frustrating and it made me want to stop using the book to be honest because there were things in that story that I couldn't find in this book that I couldn't find them in in on the internet and Google as trying to search and find what these grammatical structures mean but I couldn't so I think the idea that they had was to force you to to understand the main meaning without understanding everything but if they do that without explaining that and they do that suddenly even though the first seven units were kind of different then it's a shock to your system and you're going to get frustrated so I found unit eight was annoying unit nine was similar because they threw you in to a bunch of advertisements like they're advertisements from a newspaper or magazine and there were some apartment ads like looking for an apartment and the exercises ask you questions and you have to answer based on these advertisements but the advertisements are full of words that you haven't seen before and it's just really hard to decipher them and there's not a lot of guidance or explanation about the goal of that exercise so if they had said like you're the goal here is just to scan for important information don't worry about everything then maybe it would be easier for learners to to get through and not worry about the stuff they're missing but it doesn't really do that it just throws you in you're confused because you're expected to deal with all this language you haven't learned yet so that's a weakness of this book is that that element it's written by two people and I have the feeling that units one to seven were written by one person unit eight and nine and some of the others were written by someone else that could be true I'm not sure later on in the book some of the chapters get back to that communicative focus and that's good but some of them are still unclear and there there are some sections where you're thrown in headfirst without adequate guidance I feel another weakness of the book is that that some vocabulary appears in the exercises or in the texts that is not taught it's not given to you in the book and it's not in the glossary at the back of the book so for a for a new learner who's just bought one of these books and doesn't have an arsenal of dictionaries and grammar reference books and stuff yet that's really frustrating it's one of the most frustrating things to to look in the glossary and not find the word you're looking for especially when it appears in this book there were also very simple words I tried to look up like I remember when I was using this book I remember thinking to myself like almost every time I went to look up a word in the glossary it wasn't there even when it was a really simple English word I would look it up and it wouldn't be there and I would always be thinking why isn't that word in this book why isn't it in the glossary that's such a simple basic word it should be in here so the glossary is not up to snuff I think and they should really make sure that everything we're expected to expect it to deal with all the words were expected to understand should be taught in this book so they don't do that to get around that you need to have a good dictionary and to know how to look up words in that dictionary using the root or whatever the system is so get a dictionary and that will help you out a lot with this so with that said it's good it's it does teach good language and it teaches good situations and I think it teaches modern Standard Arabic in a way that is useful for you to use as a communication tool so just be prepared for those weaknesses if you get this book just there are some parts that throw you in headfirst without a lot of support if you're an inductive learner if you're someone who likes to figure things out without a lot of help then you might enjoy that and just slug through it and find that fun but if you're a more traditional deductive learner and you like to get the instruction upfront and then know everything that comes after that then this book might frustrate you a bit but it's good I'll give it 3.5 stars out of 5 not the best but not the worst alright thank you for listening and have a nice day

47 thoughts on “Review of "Teach Yourself Arabic" From the Famed "Teach Yourself" Series”

  1. Arabic is a trileteral language, each word is composed by 3 consons, each 3 consons give 5 or 6 forms (verb, noun, epithet, advervb… ).

  2. I am algerian, I speak arabic, for people who want to learn arabic you must learn the academic arabic otherwise the Egyptian arabic, the Egyptian pronouciation is much easier for people who can't pronounce the glutural letters.

  3. I was the complete opposite, I loved it for the passages, especially the Arabian Nights or Sinbad, and I managed to work out the story oddly enough. Not sure how though.

    I hated 'Mastering Arabic' as well, which was the main choice in Britain when I first had a bash at learning the Arabic language, in the mid 2000s, and I can assure you it was only a bash.

    Yeah I didn't like the Ads chapter either.
    I'm crap to this very day but I've just began learning Levantine Arabic again, with a young Syrian refugee as my teacher, hopefully this time I'll succeed

  4. Someone below wrote that Irish is an isolate like Basque. It's not. Its spelling system, however, makes it very hard to learn. You can't look at a word and know how to pronounce it unlike Welsh that has somewhat solved the problem. They're both Celtic.

  5. . הערוץ הזה מרשים מאוד
    אני ערבי ממצרים
    אני לא יכול לדבר עברית, אבל זה תרגום מתוכנית תרגום.

    זו אמורה להיות שפת העולם הראשונה ולא הרשע הנבזי

  6. Hello Paul, and thanks for your amazing work. Did you ever have a look on Martin Worthington's "Teach Yoursel Akkadian" ? Well it's a dead language and maybe not in your field of interests, but since you are a Hebraist…

  7. Well…i found it a bit unfriendly.. i prefer ..my opinion… Standard Arabic (Cambrigde University) or Complete Arabic (living language).. teach yourself Arabic Script ..Build your Arabic Vocabulary .. and L'Arabe (Asssimil)

  8. For me as an Arab grammar is by far the hardest it's actually similar to a math equation it's so annoying

  9. My Arabic book (in Turkish) is like that;after letters peonunciation and marks/harakhas, it teaches the word for this, hêzê, with examples,

    Like this
    Hêzê is arabic for " this"
    Examples
    What is this?
    (Mâ hêzê written in arabic)

    This is a child
    (Hêzê veledun)

    Mâ is the question particle. Etc.

    Starting with this, after lots of simple examples, a table showing plurals like these etc. Then next lesson has another grammar subject like on under etc. X is under y etc. It is really simple and great for learning Arabic. It teaches numbers till a million, in 5 seperate lessons. First lesson is from 1 to 10. Second lesson is much later so you do not try to memorize all numbers in one go.

    I wish I could translate it to English! That would be great.

  10. There are good Arabic learning books in Turkish. My favorute one goes by lessons. Letters, pronunciation, harakahs, the definite article etc. Then the word for "this" and some nouns. Then the question words. Then words for on under over etc. Then pronouns. Slow by slow you learn it. One lesson per day is what book suggest. A total of 72 lessons or so.

  11. I have a long relationship with the teach yourself books. The one I used the most was teach yourself Polish that helped me learn a lot. Paul, you're awesome. Thank you so much for your videos. When are you coming to Greece so we can grab some Greek coffee together?

  12. There is no way you can learn Arabic without a native because books or apps can't give you everything
    Even translation sucks

  13. Books and tapes are know where in this modern age youtube is where it is at . But too many videos by females the audio ducks, distributing reverberation . Which in Arabic and it's peculiar pronunciation becomes unintelligible. Native speakers is bad, not good for learning pronunciation. That French guy Vincent a native French speaker is a good example . He speaks too fast using a on camera microphone and reverberation interferes with understanding his pronunciation. Any language book or tape or video that teaches travel conservation makes the lesson so boring like in an Arab lesson " I would like a poked dotted bikini in red and white" and all the girl , boy friend conversation makes me want to vomit. In Arabic we need to know expression like " Get the "f" down or have your head blown og" or "cap off this pipe before turning that value "

  14. Now I start to learn Arabic Language, I opine that Modern Standard Arabic is the skeleton of the Arabic Language. Once you are familiar with Modern Standard Arabic, it is easy to learn the Arabic Dialect. Is it correct ? Please comment. Thank Paul and other guys. !

  15. I have two TY books for Swedish. The more recent one is credited to Vera Coghan and is very talky. The older one was authored by R.J. McLean and is very stodgy. Hmmm… 2 books, same title, same publisher, different authors. The older version shows how very provincial the TY series originally was. Discussing pronunciation, McLean compares the different ways Scots and Londoners would pronounce the word, "oatcake". Why sure, everybody knows that… even the chaps out on Muckle Flugga.

  16. Hi! I have a question… Is there anybody out there who could suggest me a really good book for learning Levantine (Lebanese) Arabic? I'm looking for one but it's quite hard to find one… I would very, very much appreciate that… 🙂 thank you!

  17. Why "infamous"?? I kick-started my fluency in ITalian with this method, worked pretty well for me and many other learners I know. Didn't know it was considered infamous…

  18. Have you used Al-Kitaab? or done a video on it? It is the standard used in colleges and it is awful. It comes with videos and an online component but the book is nearly impossible to learn from unless you have a professor with you. I actually started using this book and the ultimate arabic book and it was so much better.

  19. All the new TY books have this horrible flaw. "ALL !" They do not have all the words of the dialogues covered by the Glossary at the end of the book or by the word list beside the dialogues; but you can be sure that they will never miss to put into the glossary loan words translations like "coffee", "telephone" or "bye bye".

  20. I am an urdu speaker who's looking to learn MSA but more specifically, the syrian/levant dialect. What would you recommend for me?

  21. I have the old, old version (1943) and it is a very traditional grammar-translation book similar to Haywood & Nahmed. Nice little book.

  22. I found the book to be really really really bad, haha. There are many better books out there that will help you learn way faster. Especially conversational Modern Standard Arabic. The al-Madinah series is by far the best book in my opinion. I plan to make a video about it. I was so excited to get the teach yourself arabic and then so disappointed, haha.

  23. Hello Paul!
    Could you do a video about the Irish Language. It is a language isolate, like basque, but much more interesting (in my opinion).

  24. Why would you learn conversational MSA? No Arab converses in MSA. As far as I'm concerned, an MSA course that focuses on reading and listening has actually gotten it right, because realistically that's the only way you'll use it.

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