arabian sinbadI would like to share with you my experience with a product called Arabian Sinbad, which is touted to make learning Arabic Easy. I bought it from its main site:

Arabic is not my native language, but I have learned Arabic for more than ten years, most recently pursuing an MA in the language. I had also started talking to my daughter in Arabic, and reading her some Arabic books, but she was not getting as much immersed in the language primarily because it is the third language in the house. An Egyptian friend referred me to Arabian Sinbad as I was discussing how to immerse her into the language. On his recommendation I bought this set.

I was quite surprised both at the quality of the cartoon and the content, it exceeded my expectations. The clip that is provided on Amazon perhaps does not do justice to the movie which is full of songs, conversations, funny clips revolving around a story where Sinbad, and his sister go through a number of adventures. The series employs the language immersion skills well in that there is reasonable repetition of the concepts and vocabulary with different angles, and a lot of repetition of common vocabulary words, such as colors, numbers. This helps achieve the goal of those vocabulary items getting ingrained in one’s mind. The setting is the modern Arabic setting, where the characters behave and act as people do in Arab world, which is quite helpful from a language learning point of view.

There is a CD with the games, which turned out to be very good for my daughter too. She just loves them because she gets to select some scenes, color them, put some artifacts (such as animals, humans, etc.) During this process, she gets to hear and identify the vocabulary items which gives her enhanced exposure. These days, she is emphatic about learning numbers in Arabic because without knowing those numbers, in one game, Sinbad falls from rocks into water and she doesn’t want him to fall.

I give Arabian Sinbad it five stars because it is definitely worth the money. I have had it for about a year and we still have a lot of material to cover. The way the series builds up and introduces concepts, and the way the everyday conversations are presented expedite language learning. I think the curve is pretty fast for small kids, so we have to go to the next episode a bit slowly. For instance, we watched episodes 5-6 some 20 times before we moved to 7 as she was still grasping new stuff and enjoying it every time we watched it. For older kids (> 5 or 6 yrs) and adults, the progress should be quicker. Most importantly, there is an option to enable/disable subtitles in Arabic which is helpful if a word’s pronunciation is not clear.

In short, I am so satisfied with this purchase that I am also going to recommend this as a great learning tool for students to the director at the University. There are definitely some concepts about everyday Arabic that I learnt from this, and didn’t grasp elsewhere. As they say, the more time you spend in a language and a culture, the more you learn.

The biggest caveat for anyone buying this is that it will teach you Modern Standard Arabic and not the regional Arabic of various countries. After using this, do not expect to converse fluently in the streets of an Arab country, for that, you will have to invest into Rosetta Stone or Pimsleur or, better yet, take some classes with an instructor. I have myself bought Pimsleur Arabic CDs in the past, but I gave those up quickly (my experience with Turkish was quite better). Our goal is to learn Modern Standard Arabic because it is language of the print media as well as scholarship in the Arab world, and sets the basis for learning Classical and Medieval Arabic.