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  1. #1
    Member Phoebedances's Avatar
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    Default Suggestions for Arabic courses?

    This year, I have several 'goals' for my life and dance, one of which is to learn Arabic to have a deeper appreciation of what I dance to. I'd like to focus on the Egyptian dialect, since I've heard that is more common in music than other dialects.

    I can't afford Rosetta Stone's course, which is over $500, and was wondering if anyone had any recommendations for good courses that are more reasonably priced. I plan to buy a course in the next week or so.

    I don't know if the travel-type courses would be so good, since mostly they are about taking cabs and finding bathrooms and places to eat.

    Any suggestions?

  2. #2
    V.I.P. shiradotnet's Avatar
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    I don't know how realistic it is for home study in Arabic to lead you to a point where you can understand song lyrics. However, I think it's a commendable goal, and I believe that even if you can only pick out isolated words, that will be a vast improvement over knowing nothing at all. I have been learning Arabic by audio CD since March. I just do 15 minutes here and 15 minutes there while tooling around in my car, which fits my lifestyle.

    I chose to get the audio CD set sold by Pimsleur. They sell two different packages - there's the 10-lesson package, which has a low, affordable price ranging from $10 to $50 depending on whether you buy it new or used, and then there's the 30-lesson package which costs much more. I think Amazon lists the 30-lesson package for $345, but they have some vendors selling it used for as little as $135.

    So far, I've completed lesson 18 out of 30. I was able to make good use of the knowledge when I was in Egypt. For example, when I fell and sprained my foot, and the non-English-speaking bus driver was asking me, "Kwyissa? Kwyissa?" I knew from my studies he was asking me, "Are you okay? Are you okay?"

    I'm happy with the Pimsleur series. There's a lot more detail about how I use it, what I've learned, etc. in a 3-part series of articles I wrote for Jareeda magazine. I think part 1 appeared in the most recent issue, and parts 2 and 3 are coming up soon. You might ask your dance friends whether anybody subscribes so you can borrow their copies and read it.

    By the way, Rosetta Stone offers only Modern Standard Arabic, which is a different dialect from Egyptian Arabic. I ruled out Rosetta Stone for several reasons, and that is one of them. Another is that I prefer audio CD's (Pimsleur) over computer software (Rosetta Stone) because it works best with my schedule to study when I'm driving my car. A third is the price.

  3. #3
    V.I.P. Maria_Aya's Avatar
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    I'm voting also for CD's Pimsleur
    I got them 2 years now, and also like Shira said driving and listening them, they helped me alot.

    good luck and a happy new year

    maria aya

  4. #4
    Member Phoebedances's Avatar
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    Thank you both, Shira and Maria Aya!

    I do a whole lot of driving. Each way to work is 45 minutes for me, so audio CD's would be the way to go. I'll look into the Pimsleur ones, since both of you recommend them. I found a site online that gives alot of translations of songs, but the Arabic lyrics are written in Arabic script, which I need to learn before I know what the Arabic word is. Also, I have no clue about the feminine/masculine tenses of words or how things are conjugated, so I need some place to start before I can puzzle that out.

    Even if I can understand a little, it will be so much fun to know what they are saying. Maybe I can even sing along.

  5. #5
    V.I.P. shiradotnet's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Phoebedances View Post
    I found a site online that gives alot of translations of songs, but the Arabic lyrics are written in Arabic script, which I need to learn before I know what the Arabic word is.
    Have you tried my lyrics translations on my web site? I have translations for almost 100 Arabic-language songs, as well as a few Turkish, Greek, Hebrew, and Armenian ones. See Translations to Song Lyrics from the Middle East and North Africa . I have transliterations in the Roman alphabet for a lot of the songs.

    Quote Originally Posted by Phoebedances View Post
    Also, I have no clue about the feminine/masculine tenses of words or how things are conjugated, so I need some place to start before I can puzzle that out.
    Pimsleur's definitely covers this. Their approach is different from a typical college language class, because they don't go into all that in the very first lesson, but they inject bits and pieces of it along the way.

  6. #6
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    I bought the basic Pimsleur course back in July and got through about four discs before being distracted (probably by something jingly or shiney!). Made a fresh start with it this week and was amazed to discover that I still remember everything I learned in the summer, so it must work on some deep, mysterious level. My only problem with these CDs is that the man seems to mumble a bit sometimes and I have trouble working out exactly how he's pronouncing things. The woman is crystal clear.

  7. #7
    V.I.P. shiradotnet's Avatar
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    FYI, I personally tend to linger about 2-3 hours on each 30-minute lesson. If I make too many mistakes in the review at the beginning of the lesson, I'll repeat the review until I've completely got it right. Once the lesson finishes the review and starts teaching new material, I'll work with about 10 minutes of the new material, then rewind the CD and repeat that section, and do that 4-5 times, to make sure I've really got it before I move on. And so on.

    I tend to be slow at stuff like vocabulary memorization, so all the repetition helps me out a lot.

  8. #8
    Member Phoebedances's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Tezirah View Post
    I bought the basic Pimsleur course back in July and got through about four discs before being distracted (probably by something jingly or shiney!). Made a fresh start with it this week and was amazed to discover that I still remember everything I learned in the summer, so it must work on some deep, mysterious level. My only problem with these CDs is that the man seems to mumble a bit sometimes and I have trouble working out exactly how he's pronouncing things. The woman is crystal clear.
    Well, my brother mumbles, so perhaps I'll be able to understand Arabic mumblers too.

    I can so relate to the being distracted by shiny/jingly stuff. Perhaps Belly Dancers are part Magpie?


    Quote Originally Posted by Shira
    Have you tried my lyrics translations on my web site? I have translations for almost 100 Arabic-language songs, as well as a few Turkish, Greek, Hebrew, and Armenian ones. See Translations to Song Lyrics from the Middle East and North Africa . I have transliterations in the Roman alphabet for a lot of the songs.
    I haven't looked at those yet, but I'll make a point of checking it out! Thanks so much, Shira! You're the best!

  9. #9
    Senior Member Marya's Avatar
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    For those of you who have used Pimsleur, are there any materials to help with learning the written alphabet? I have a sampler of Rosetta stone with a few lessons of Arabic on it and although I also don't like using the computer for so long a period of time it does include the written word as well as spoken.

    Marya

  10. #10
    V.I.P. shiradotnet's Avatar
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    The low-priced 10-lesson version does not come with resources to learn Arabic alphabet. The high-priced 30-lesson version does come with a booklet, but I confess I have not spent any time working with it, so I can't comment on its merits.

    This article on my web site written by Arabella recommends two books for learning the Arabic alphabet:

    Untitled

    I've purchased one of the books she recommends, but I have to confess I haven't taken it off the shelf to work with its contents, so again I can't personally comment on its merits.

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