Arabic Alphabet
May 19, 2010 6:15 AM   Subscribe

What are some good online and offline resources for learning Arabic as a beginner? At this point I'm really just trying to focus on learning the characters and script and it would be great to find some online exercises or a good workbook to start with (I'm trying to learn Levantine Arabic).

I'm going to be able to have some access to Rosetta Stone (I'm not sure if they focus that much on the alphabet however) through a friend's school and I'm taking a weekly class offered by another friend, but I'd like to go beyond these a bit until I can learn to read and write the language. Any suggestions?
posted by minicloud to Education (8 answers total) 10 users marked this as a favorite
Try the Foreign Service Institutes Language Courses.

I'm not sure how different the written forms would be for the various dialects, especially at the beginner level...
posted by bardophile at 6:29 AM on May 19, 2010

Best answer: For just the alphabet, the standard is Alif Baa which comes with a workbook and a DVD demonstrating how to write the letters. It's comprehensive and the written forms don't really differ between dialects. Following that, 90% of the Arabic programs in the US use Al-Kitaab, which has its pros and cons. In your case, the cons are that it focuses almost exclusively on Modern Standard Arabic with the only dialect being a very short unit on Egyptian in each chapter.
posted by proj at 6:42 AM on May 19, 2010

Omniglot has an excellent one-page introduction to the Arabic script, though that may be less detail than you're looking for.
posted by blucevalo at 6:58 AM on May 19, 2010

Response by poster: thanks everyone, these are great suggestions. I put a hold on Alif Baa at my library today!
posted by minicloud at 9:03 AM on May 19, 2010

Make sure you get the answer book to Alif Baa, too: they're not in the back of the book, and you'll want them for checking your answers. When I was just starting with the alphabet, I was really frustrated by Alif Baa. I have the kind of brain that wants to have a framework first, and then I can figure out the details after that. There's an Arabic teacher named Maha with a lot of YouTube videos about the alphabet that I thought were really useful. Here's a long version of her alphabet videos.
posted by lauranesson at 9:46 AM on May 19, 2010 [1 favorite]

Once you're happy with Alif Baa', you might want to take a look at this website. It's not terribly user-friendly* but there's a lot of useful stuff there if you spend a bit of time sorting through it.

*As I pointed out when I worked at the British academic institution that runs it.
posted by lapsangsouchong at 6:10 PM on May 19, 2010

I just saw a link for Anki today at Kevin Kelly's website. It's an open-source flashcard program. There are apparently many sets of cards that have been made already by other users.
posted by JV at 6:50 PM on May 19, 2010

I'm a non-native Arabic speaker. If you would like help getting your head around ideas of grammar etc later on in your studies, I can assist as someone who had to learn it themselves and often found that the way that a lot of books teach them over-complicate the matter. For example, regarding the case endings (nominative, accusative, genitive)... I remember sitting through lecture after lecture and reading pages and pages of notes... I thought I'd never get it but when I did, the first thing I did was exclaim something to the effect of "Why the hell did they make this so bloody complex?! It's easy!" before then condensing the whole thing down to a single page of A4 in bullet point format.
posted by Biru at 11:04 AM on June 16, 2010

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