Review: Get Fluent in Arabic

book1Being multilingual in today’s world is not only an asset but a necessity. The world has shrunk, bilingualism is commonplace, and as people scramble to gain an edge over others, adding a third or fourth language to one’s credentials is desirable.

Moniur Rohman’s book, “Get Fluent in Arabic” is basically a self-help motivational genre. He takes the reader along for his personal struggle in learning Arabic, with anecdotes and experiences that at times detract from the message. ‘Get Fluent…” is divided into four parts titled:-

  1. The Four Basic Skills
  2. How to Approach Learning Arabic
  3. Tools
  4. Going Abroad

In Part One, Rohman explains to the reader that there are two types of skills required when embarking on the language journey – Receptive and Productive Skills. The language student must train all four of these skills (reading, writing, listening & speaking) to attain fluency. He talks about the benefits of each skill. This is common knowledge to any person who has learned any language, even his mother tongue.

The book, in Part Two introduces the reader to popular language accusation methods used by teachers all over the world. He denounces the Grammar-Translation method and advocates the Direct Method, using language immersion – the author moves to Egypt to study Arabic. I like his tip about not knowing ‘difficult’ words in Arabic, so he uses simpler words to describe what he wants, still using Arabic. For example, if you want to say, “The car has four wheels.” However, do not know the word for wheels, say, “The car has four circles,” but do not under any circumstances switch to your first language.

The book gives valuable advice to a novice seeking to learn Arabic, and for seasoned veterans I like his list of resources and self-check milestones scattered throughout the book.

Part Three, talks about the various ways he tried, failed at and succeeded in. Mostly it is about his experience living and studying at an Institute in Egypt. Rohman mentions the difference between Fusha (classical) and Ammiyah (vernacular), but does not dwell on it. To understand Quran you need Fusha, but to carry on a conversation with a native speaker you use Ammiyah. This part is by far the most useful; I found his analysis of the various opportunities including pros and cons very practical and informative.

In my opinion, Part Four is really common sense and didn’t need to be in the book. It talks about the pitfalls of staying in a less developed country that anyone can just Google in this day and age.

The book gives valuable advice to a novice seeking to learn Arabic, and for seasoned veterans I like his list of resources and self-check milestones scattered throughout the book. I feel his personal incidents in the Introduction detract from the value of the book as resource for Arabic Learning. My favorite parts in the book were Rohman’s summaries at the end of each chapter in Part One, his website resource list and advice on Arabic books and dictionaries.