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Speaking Arabic by J. Elihay - if Assimil had done a colloquial Arabic course....

Posted: Sat Oct 31, 2020 9:50 pm
by willcouchman
Hi all,

Having spent a long time intermittently learning Iraqi Arabic, primarily through Wallace Erwin's fabulous but old 'basic course' (with the accompanying glorious 24 hours of audio-lingual drills!), but finding myself unable to stick with them for long enough to see steady results, I had to admit to myself that I needed to change tactic.

So I took the plunge and purchased J Elihay's (rather expensive) four book set 'Speaking Arabic', teaching Palestinian Arabic, especially as one review I saw likened it to Assimil in terms of humour and largely based on bilingual dialogues.

I have to say, that review is spot on. This course appears astoundingly comprehensive (the four books together comprise a weighty set), the Assimil-esque Gallic humour makes learning a delight, the dialogues are fun and natural - and long enough to be challenging - and the explanations are superb.

I'm only on lesson seven, but watching Palestinian Arabic in a show on Netflix, I'm very pleased how much I'm able to follow and recognise, which is a testament to the naturalness of the dialogues.

This is, so far, essentially if Assimil had made an excellent and comprehensive colloquial Arabic course - I'm studying it almost the same way, but perhaps less 'passive' in my first run through. It's fun, but the lessons and exercises so far do take work - I have only been able to do one lesson every two days given the amount there is in each lesson.

So far, highly recommended!

Re: Speaking Arabic by J. Elihay - if Assimil had done a colloquial Arabic course....

Posted: Sun Nov 01, 2020 1:51 am
by ilmari
Yohanan Elihay, who wrote these wonderful books, died last July at the age of 94. He was a French monk living in Israel since 1956, who felt in love with Hebrew and Palestinian Arabic. Here are three articles about Elihay, two in English and one in Hebrew. As you can see, alongside much praise, some criticise the ‘chauvinistic content’ of his books. Personally, I don’t think this makes them less valuable for language learners.
https://www.tabletmag.com/sections/israel-middle-east/articles/monk-teaches-israelis-arabic
https://www.haaretz.com/opinion/.premium-the-french-monk-who-took-on-himself-to-be-a-bridge-in-a-divided-land-1.8989801
https://www.ynet.co.il/article/HJxTaMkkD

f you understand some Hebrew, here is the Israeli singer Ehud Banai praising the books. "It is like listening to music: conversations in the street, in the village, in the field, at the grocery store, at the bus stop, with plenty of humour and life wisdom and proverbs. You get the magic atmosphere of a Galilean village, you can smell the coffee, the za'atar spices, the tobacco."
https://youtu.be/sx1uXtWEcnk

Re: Speaking Arabic by J. Elihay - if Assimil had done a colloquial Arabic course....

Posted: Sun Nov 01, 2020 4:51 pm
by guyome
Looks interesting, thanks for posting!

Audio and pdf samples can be accessed from the publisher's page:
- French edition
- English edition
- Hebrew edition

At 300 Israeli shekels (75€/88$), it seems to be in the same price range as Assimil (and probably has more content).

Re: Speaking Arabic by J. Elihay - if Assimil had done a colloquial Arabic course....

Posted: Mon Nov 02, 2020 10:04 am
by ilmari
I saw likened it to Assimil in terms of humour and largely based on bilingual dialogues.

Seeing that Yohanan Elihay was French, it is more than possible that the likening to Assimil is no coincidence!

Re: Speaking Arabic by J. Elihay - if Assimil had done a colloquial Arabic course....

Posted: Mon Nov 02, 2020 5:42 pm
by willcouchman
Yes, the amount of content in the four volumes definitely seems to exceed Assimi's best '...with ease' courses, so into 'using...' territory.

It also has those delightful elision marks - ︶ - to show how letters sound/combine together, just as Assimil did in 'new french with ease'.

I'm now onto lesson 8, and already covering material Wallace Erwin's 'a basic course in iraqi arabic', which I adore, didn't cover until many units in. I really am loving Elihay's course.

Re: Speaking Arabic by J. Elihay - if Assimil had done a colloquial Arabic course....

Posted: Thu Nov 05, 2020 1:27 pm
by księżycowy
Just stopping by to say I've had this course sitting on my bookshelf for a little while, and I'm quite interested to see your impressions of it. It makes me want to dive in, but I fear it will have to wait a while yet.

Re: Speaking Arabic by J. Elihay - if Assimil had done a colloquial Arabic course....

Posted: Sat Nov 21, 2020 1:56 am
by MichaelM204351
Thanks for sharing this! I am learning Modern Standard Arabic right now and plan to switch to a dialect when I finish the MSA Pimsleur and Assimil courses. The Palestinian dialect is the one I was hoping to learn...

I saw in the excerpt that it uses romanization. Do you find that to be a draw back to the course? I’m curious because I’ve seen many people who say to only use courses that use the Arabic alphabet...

Re: Speaking Arabic by J. Elihay - if Assimil had done a colloquial Arabic course....

Posted: Sat Nov 21, 2020 7:59 pm
by willcouchman
MichaelM204351 wrote:Thanks for sharing this! I am learning Modern Standard Arabic right now and plan to switch to a dialect when I finish the MSA Pimsleur and Assimil courses. The Palestinian dialect is the one I was hoping to learn...

I saw in the excerpt that it uses romanization. Do you find that to be a draw back to the course? I’m curious because I’ve seen many people who say to only use courses that use the Arabic alphabet...


No, on the contrary it has been really helpful (I'm just finishing off book one, so I feel I'm in a decent position to comment). Their rationale was that written Arabic, even with the vowels written, doesn't always show the nuances of pronunciation - which varies between dialects - which they can do with the romanisation they use in the books.

I'm not an Arabic script expert, but the romanisation has helped my pronunciation tremendously as there are subtleties I can register with the script.

I'm loving this course more and more. The dialogues are practical and natural sounding - which means that a lot of dialogues feature repeated words or structures, and I've encountered very few words I don't use the equivalent of in English....plenty of language courses out there will teach you obscure words related to food or household appliances etc before you learn how to say crucial verbs, and this course seems very intelligent in how it lays out the practical language.

Will

Re: Speaking Arabic by J. Elihay - if Assimil had done a colloquial Arabic course....

Posted: Sun Nov 22, 2020 2:35 am
by MichaelM204351
That does make sense. I am really excited about this. I think I will get it and start it at the beginning of the year. Thanks again.