Al-Kitaab fii Ta’allum al-‘Arabiyya (Part Two): Book Review

Al-Kitaab fii Taʿallum al-ʿArabiyyaAl-Kitaab fii Taʿallum al-ʿArabiyya (Part Two): a Textbook for Intermediate Arabic, Teacher’s Edition. By Kristen Brustad, Mahmoud al-Batal, and Abbas al-Tonsi. 3rd edition. Washington, DC: Georgetown University Press, 2013. Pp. 579. ISBN: 9781589019669.

Launched in the mid-1990s, the Al-Kitaab fii Taʿallum al-ʿArabiyya textbook series has over the years managed to remain relevant to Arabic teaching and learning methods, and to become one of the leading Arabic language teaching manuals in North America. The third edition of Part Two, released in 2013, is authored by the same team who first created the series, including Kristen Brustad and Mahmoud al-Batal, associate professors of Arabic at the University of Austin, Texas, and Abbas al-Tonsi, senior lecturer at Georgetown University School of Foreign Service in Qatar.

The most significant addition to the new edition is the online course management module available via the Companion website (http://alkitaabtextbook.com). Registration allows instructors to create courses and classes (inviting students to join a course), and manage activities, assignments, and grading for each course or class. Similarly, registered students get easy access to interactive and self-correcting versions of the exercises featured in the textbook, as well as to the video and audio materials. It should be noted that while the Teacher’s Edition textbook includes complimentary access to the Companion website, student access is sold separately. The other important innovation of the third edition is the possibility of reading all audio (Mp3 files) and video (Mp4 files) materials featured on the accompanying DVD on iTunes or any iTunes-compatible device.

The structure of this latest edition of Al-Kitaab fii Taʿallum al-ʿArabiyya Part Two is very similar to that of earlier ones. It consists of ten lessons spanning a wide range of topics related to daily life, such as religious celebrations in the Middle East and North Africa, and topics of general interest, such as Arabs in America, Immigration, etc. Each lesson includes recurrent categories: New vocabulary (المفردات الجديدة); Grammatical rules (القواعد); Cultural material (الثقاقة); and Listening, reading and writing exercises (الاستماع، القراءة، الكتابة). Lessons rely heavily on a great variety of video and audio materials. The manual continues the stories of Maha and Khalid in formal and Egyptian Arabic, and Nasreen and Tariq in Levantine Arabic, and introduces four new characters: young engaged couples Ibrahim and Muna (Egyptians), and Ghassan and Muna (Syrians). In addition, the third edition uses authentic video programming materials from Arabic television stations and websites like Al-Jazeera (Qatar), LBC (Lebanon), and UTR (Egypt). At the end of the volume (p. 293), the user will find grammar and reference charts, a grammar index, two glossaries—English/Arabic and Arabic/English—as well as an answer key. The book is printed on acid-free paper.

The third edition of Al-Kitaab fii Taʿallum al-ʿArabiyya Part Two is a practical textbook well suited for Arabic teaching and learning in a classroom setting. Teachers will undoubtedly appreciate the strong capabilities of the online course management module, while students will enjoy the opportunity to access audio and video contents on their personal devices. And thanks to the audio and video materials borrowed from Arabic television and websites, the learning experience offered by this last edition is much more authentic and insightful than it would have been otherwise.

Anaïs Salamon
McGill University

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