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Communications Education

Foreign Language Learning Software for Arabic? 80

Doc Squidly asks: "In the near future I will be spending a year in the Middle East and feel it would be in my best interest to learn Arabic. Unfortunately I do not have the time to enroll in a college class and have decided that a computer base earning method would suit my situation best. I've looked at products such as ArabicNow! V9 Deluxe and Rosetta Stone Arabic but have not been able to find reviews on these or any other products. English is my first language and was fluent in German and Latin but, haven't used them in many years. I believe that having the right tools can make a difference in learning Arabic. Any advise from multi-lingual Slashdot readers would be helpful. Has anyone ever used software to learn a foreign language?"
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Foreign Language Learning Software for Arabic?

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  • Porno! (Score:1, Offtopic)

    I used porno software to learn to speak dirty...

    That's a good language to be fluent in.
    • I use to work in a kitchen with a guy, who knew a little german that he had tought himself. He had learnt it all from looking pr0n! NO KIDDING!!! We called him 'Pommy-John'.
      • Re:Porno! (Score:3, Funny)

        by jrockway ( 229604 ) *
        It seems that most of my friends "know" Japanese from watching anime. They all talk like small girls, but oh well. It's funny to those who actually studied it (and Japanese people).
  • by mmcdouga ( 459816 ) <mmcdouga@saMOSCO ... minus city> on Wednesday July 07, 2004 @09:27PM (#9638022) Homepage
    I learned a little Danish and Japanese with Rosetta Stone. I just learned simple "the cat is jumping over the ball" stuff, so I don't know how good it is for advanced learning. But the system is a lot of fun -- essentially a game where you do pattern matching, linking sounds with pictures on the screen. It covers basic nouns at first and then builds more complex phrases and sentences. It's all very natural -- no explicit grammar or rules to memorize, you pick that up unconciously.

    Of course, chatting with someone patient is the best way to do it, but Rosetta Stone will get your foot in the door.

  • by heldlikesound ( 132717 ) on Wednesday July 07, 2004 @09:31PM (#9638046) Homepage
    While picking up some software to learn the basic vocabulary and grammatical structure of Arabic is probably a good idea, I would suggest another approach.

    Poke around on the web and find some online chat groups for Arab-Americans or (Arab-AnyEnglishSpeakingNation) and explain your interest to converse in Arabic with someone. As long as they don't suspect you of working for the CIA (which I suppose they have every reason to) they would probably be glad to see people taking an interest in their culture and would serve as a "language buddy", engaging you in simple conversations to build up your skills. In return, you could help them with their English (or, in your case, German).

    Now, there is one problem, writing and reading a language is nothing like speaking it. For this, I can think of one good solution, buy a Mac, an iSight, and use the audio/video features of iChat!

    • I'm not CIA but, a Navy Reservist.

      Thanks for the input.
      • And a pecker checker, by chance, going by the "Doc?"
      • Ahoy, moyt, just don't "sqawk diddley" (a spoonerism....)

        Check with the DLI, or Defense Language Institute, in Monterey.

        If worse comes to worse, you can do what the IMCO (International Morse Code Operator) students did before and after my RM "A" time at NTC/SSC/NTCC (Naval Training Center/Service School Command/Naval Telecommunications Center, (I forget now) did:

        -Get a tape recorder/player
        -Insert checked-out tape
        -Play, all night long in ears, "di-dah-dah, di-di-di) (or, if using tones at the proper Hz, d
  • by polveroj ( 786638 ) on Wednesday July 07, 2004 @09:32PM (#9638055)
    I'm teaching myself Hebrew with Rosetta Stone's software, and it's a lot better than any of the books I've tried before. I haven't tried any other software to compare it to, but on a scale from 1 to awesome it's definitely somewhere past "good enough". (YMMV with Arabic, of course.)
  • For the rossetta stone software 0 05APYM/qid=1089252261/sr=8-1/ref=pd_ka_1/103-80593 58-4919026?v=glance&s=software&n=507846
    IMO, Amazon is always a great first place to look, if only for the reviews(even if you don't end up buying anything off them)
    Search for arabic software/books and see what other people have said.
    You always have to take the reviews with a grain of salt, some people provide very insightful reviews, some one sentence, some have
  • Pimsleur (Score:3, Interesting)

    by max born ( 739948 ) on Wednesday July 07, 2004 @10:18PM (#9638290)
    If you're going to be living in the Middle East and are more interested in conversation than writing, try Pimsleur.

    I've used the "Living Language", "Berlitz", and a few others but always found the Pimsluer method to be more effective. Evan for a guy like me who considers himself hopeless at learning languages. I used Pimsleur for German, French, Russian, Spanish, Herbrew, and "Eypptian Arabic" and was quite surprised at how much I'd learned when conversing with native speakers.

    The Pimsleur method is based on immediate feedback. Within a about a minute of the first lesson you're asked questions to which you have a few seconds in which to respond. The other methods I found boring, almost like leaning by rote.

    You can find plenty of Pimsleur MP3s on the gnutella network. Get the gnutella software here [].
    • could PAY for the program like you are supposed to. Just because you can copy something doesn't mean you should. I like the Pimsleur program and am proud to have paid for it. If it's worth listening to it is worth supporting.
      P.S. Please don't include any of that "Pirating isn't stealing" bs.
      • You may be right. If the copyright laws were abolished, would there still be Pimsleur?

        I like to think yes, there would. But if there would not, then I would agree with you
        and say that people should encourage talent and creativity (as Pimsleur obviously is)
        and do the right thing and go out and buy Pimsluer and support the source that provides it.

        But if the copyright laws were recinded, do you think there would be no Pimsleur? Is that your argument?

        Would somebody fill the void? What would Pimsleur have don
        • Re:Pimsleur (Score:3, Interesting)

          by Gaijin42 ( 317411 )
          Um. Shakespeare and Mozart in fact did do it for the money, but in general they created works for hire.

          The Beatles definately did it for money, as I didnt notice them giving away all of their profits and living in poverty. (Not that they didn't enjoy it, but if you go ask paul, I bet he would say Piracy is wrong...)

          Michael Moore lives in a huge Manhattan apartment, worth several million dollars. He did it for the money (and because he hates his targets)

          Einstein did it because he was a geek, and patriotic
          • Um. Shakespeare and Mozart in fact did do it for the money, but in general they created works for hire. [...] The Beatles definately did it for money, as I didnt notice them giving away all of their profits and living in poverty.

            This is pretty sloppy logic. I know a number of musicians; some of them get paid for it and some don't. But pretty much all of them make music because they want to make music; getting paid is a nice bonus, and much of that money goes right back into the costs of making music.

            • My logic is not sloppy at all, you named musicians, and I noted that two of them got directly paid for their work, as work for hire, and the others got quite rich off of their music. There are other musicians that do their work for free (most likely because they cannot get paid for it) and are doing it for the joy.

              The fact that those people exist has no impact on the rights of people that want to make music for pay. You have the choice to support (or leech) from whichever musicians you want. Because B do
              • You're not paying attention. I'm not saying piracy is good. I'm not saying that content creators shouldn't be rewarded for their work.

                All I'm saying is that Mozart didn't "do it for the money". He made music, and he did get paid, but the causal connection is pretty weak.

                BTW, for the techies, you are mixing types of people. (As you did before with Newton and Einstein)

                Now you're really not paying attention. This may amaze you, but a number of entirely different people post on slashdot. If you have argume
                • I think the causal connection is pretty strong. Let's roleplay this.

                  Patron: Hey, Mozart, I'll give you these fat sacks of cash money if you write me some music. Mozart: Ok!
            • But if the bottom dropped out of the market tomorrow, I'd just have to go out and get a day job to support my coding habit.

              If you're willing to relocate, I might be able to hook you up with a gig importing and supporting grey market computers for a client named Nigel.

    • OR you could check it out from your local public library...

    • Re:Pimsleur (Score:2, Interesting)

      by Spamsonite ( 154239 )
      I'm entering the Navy in a few months as a linguist, and if I get the option of which language to learn, I plan on choosing Arabic. To get a start on things early, I've been using Pimsleur's Arabic, and have been impressed.

      Pimsleur's conversational approach recognizes that language is fundamentally an excercise in speech, and that orthography is merely an extension of the communication and mental processes that already exist in the spoken word. There are huge numbers of languages that never developed a w
      • Am i missing something? I thought to be employed by the armed forces as a linguist, you have to be fluent in a foreign language already. Are you saying that you are going to be employed as a linguist and then they will teach you the language from scratch???????
    • I too have been trying hard to learn various languages over the years to varying degrees of success. I took Spanish through all levels of education (elem->uni), French at the uni, Japanese, Mandarin, etc. However, I decided to focus on Cantonese and realized I had to change from the book method as I was going tremendously slow. Pimsleur has worked very well for me. I am on Lesson 8 in the Cantonese CD's and my friends (from Hong Kong) are completely blown away. Sure, its just beginning for now, but
  • Some sites I found (Score:4, Informative)

    by casuist99 ( 263701 ) on Wednesday July 07, 2004 @11:01PM (#9638602) Homepage Journal
    I don't know about software, but I was dabbling in learning the Arabic alphabet and language this Summer. In the course of my searching, I found one site called Fun With Arabic [] that does a pretty good job teaching some things. You can learn the alphabet, some common words, and eventually learn to write Arabic script. A second site which I haven't even checked out yet is Babel Arabic [].

    I hope these prove useful. I learned a bit just playing around with the sites last week. Good luck - Arabic is a step harder to learn than German or French because you have to learn the alphabet first.

    If you're just looking for conversational Arabic, I don't think the sites address that as much. I found a few that do, but if you're planning on being in the Middle East for any period of time, I'd assume you'd like to learn to read and write, as well.
  • by Anonynus Covvard ( 792499 ) on Wednesday July 07, 2004 @11:17PM (#9638722)
    "I will be spending a year in the Middle East."

    We have a great package deal:
    -- Arabic-language-learning software
    -- one-way airfare
    -- software for writing your own Last Will & Testament
    -- titanium and carbon-fibre high-collar turtle-neck vest
    -- discount coupon for a burial-plot & coffin, sized for your current height from your heels to your collar-bone

  • Your Uncle will teach you []
  • by stevejsmith ( 614145 ) on Wednesday July 07, 2004 @11:52PM (#9638944) Homepage
    You are not going to learn Arabic from software. In the U.S. foreign service's ranking system, they rank lanugages from easiest to learn by a native English speaker -- 1 -- to hardest -- 5. Arabic is one of the few languages that is a five. Not only does it use an entirely different character set (duh...Arabic), but it is a very highly inflicted language. Your subtle body motions and intonations can completely change what you mean. If you want to learn Arabic, take a class. A computer program will not help you in any way other than maybe memorizing a few phrases and possibly learning the letters.
    • Some time ago, I tried to learn a bit of Arabic from some "Saudi Arabic" tapes. One thing I learned is that the written language is the same all over the Middle East, but the pronunciation varies tremendously through the region.
      • Actually, the spoken language is different in every country, and they're all different from the written language. The written language _is_ used orally in formal contexts; these include the media.

        As an example, in the written language, "I learn" translates to something like "Ana a'limu" (where the ' stands for the "ayin" consonant which does not exist in any Western language I'm aware of); in Egyptian and Palestinian spoken Arabic, this becomes "Ana Bat'alam", a totally different inflection. This is not
    • I sgree to that: I'm learning Japanese. I have used computer software, and it had absolutely no help at all. The best way to learn is to actually talk to an Arabic person. Actually getting feedback on what you're saying is different to comparing strings. Especially in a language where a lot of stuff can mean the same things. The answer to the question "o namae wa nan desu ka" can be "rokuran desu", "boku no namae wa rokuran desu", or "watashi no namae wa rokuran desu". Translation: What's your name, L
  • I took two semesters of Arabic in college and I found I didn't actually get much out of the class itself. I learned the most when I sat down with my friend and just tried to have a conversation with her in Arabic. By practicing how to speak and listen to it the writing and reading bit came much more easily (since, after all, writing is supposed to be a graphical representation of a spoken language).

    If you don't know anyone who speaks Arabic then I'm sure you could find a college student or something that
  • Not entirely certain on software, but as far as books go The Arabic Alphabet [] by Awde and Samano got me reading and writing in a jiff! An excellent resource is Audio Forum [] who sell the kits that the Foreign Service Institute (FSI) uses to train its diplomats. I believe Saudi Arabic is one of the few courses that the FSI has released the material on CD-Rom. Other dialects, such as Iraqi and Palestinian (to name a couple) are also available. But Saudi, far as I know is almost the lingua franca of the middle-ea
  • by Anonymous Coward

    you can blow yourself up for extra emphises .
  • Only you... (Score:2, Insightful)

    by bw5353 ( 775333 )
    One of the most common traps when it comes to learning languages is that there is a "better" method and a "worse" method. In the end, what matters is how much work you invest yourself. No software and no other method will learn the language for you. You have to spend a lot of time and energy regardless of method.

    In my experience you have to try methods out yourself. Do you like learning things from a computer screen? Do so. Do you like reading grammar books? Do so. Do you like learning long lists of words

    • "Do you have a beautiful girl/boyfriend, who is a native speaker? Use him/her a lot"

      No, this means one is likely to learn the "International Language" instead of the stated language, heheh".

      The tones are likely flat, the body inflictions pleasing to the touch, and guttural sounds understood, but maybe overstated...

      David Syes
  • by Chagatai ( 524580 ) on Thursday July 08, 2004 @12:46PM (#9643814) Homepage
    "Good morning, kind sir."
    "Could you please direct me to Ramallah?"
    "Into the van? If you insist."
    "I triple guarantee you, I am not a member of the CIA."
    "No, thanks. I've grown rather attached to my head."

  • I don't know much about, but I know the Arabic group I've been to uses it to organize, as do many other arabic groups. They're evangelists for Arabic (not Islam, usually) and you can find them at
  • maybe you could find a copy of this click here []
    June 14 issue - Army Special Operations soldiers may soon get a high-tech computer game to teach them Arabic. Now being designed at the University of Southern California, the Tactical Language Training System helps students learn "situational Arabic" by
  • ...does anyone have any links to Tagalog-language material?
  • Use an iPod (Score:2, Interesting)

    by bw5353 ( 775333 )
    A handy way to carry around a language course is an iPod. What you need is:

    1) The dialog CDs as mp3-files.

    2) The dialog texts as text files.

    Upload the mp3-files to the iPod and upload the texts as Notes. Then you can sit and read the texts at the same time as you listen to the voices. In an airplane, in a waiting room, at the dentist's, in the underground. In the car, you should not read the screen obviously, but you can still listen to the mp3-files, and then read the texts once you arrive at your hote

    • This may actually not work with Arabic. I'm not sure how good the iPod is at displaying Arabic characters. But I know you can make it work with most European languages, Japanese and Chinese.

      The iPod does not display Arabic or Hebrew. Latin-script based languages, Chinese (Simplified and Traditional), Japanese, and Korean all work fine.

      • "The iPod does not display Arabic or Hebrew."

        Pity. Still, not all is lost, if you anyhow happen to have an iPod, and if you can get the written text transliterated to latin characters. It's much less useful than seeing the "real" Arab letters, at least when you're past the stage of being a complete novice, but it might be better than nothing.

        Good luck, anyhow!

  • Do-it-yourself (Score:3, Informative)

    by 3rdShift ( 596889 ) on Friday July 09, 2004 @12:54PM (#9653556)

    My native is Russian and when I had decided to learn English well, I looked around for Linux apps and couldn't find what I wanted. So I wrote a coupe of applications myself.

    granule [] is my indexcard program. It's UTF-8, so you can use and keyboard bindings you want.

    gwavmerger [] is a memory-training program targeted for learing foreign languages. All you need is a microphone and a sound card to make your own lessons for your own level. I tried to explain the process in its manual.

    I have been using both programs on a daily basis for several years now and they helped me to make a giant leap towards my goals.

    For an on-line dictionary I highly recommend StarDict.

    The skeleton of studying any foreign language is, of course, its grammar. Don't overlook it.

    Don't believe all the BS teachers say about submerging into the environment and making friends with native-speakers. It is all baloney. Grammar, and daily practice of memorizing words and text senteces will do the trick.

    Hope this helps,


  • I'm in the middle learning Spanish and it's been working out quite well for the wife and I. I guess that airport kiosk at Regan International has paid off :>
  • Another issue you will find is Arabic isn't the same in all countries ... or even in the same country. From what I've seen Arabic is just a reference to a character set, not the language. It would be like calling all languages that use the Roman / Latin alphabet (German, French, Spanish, Italian, English, &c.) Latin.

If you think nobody cares if you're alive, try missing a couple of car payments. -- Earl Wilson