Following the 30-day program for Pimsleur’s Egyptian Arabic level 1 and Duolingo’s MSA course, here are some concluding thoughts. This is a third entry to a series of prior posts beginning here.
Pimsleur’s level 1 program is a well-presented introduction to the language that would be valuable for anyone who planned on travelling to Egypt or who wanted to begin speaking the language with a close friend or relative. It is ideal for someone who will have an opportunity to practice with another person who is either fluent or also learning at the same time. With that said, it is just a 30-day program and at this time does not have a level 2 or level 3 course available. (Eastern Arabic and Farsi have levels 1-3). The words and phrases are a good start for basic introductions, getting simple directions, dining out, discussing travel, shopping and talking about your spouse or children. I found however that when I tried to apply what I learned by listening to beginner videos on YouTube, my comprehension was still insufficient to follow. You’d be on your own for independent study. A good next step would be a private tutor or a proper classroom environment if available.
I do feel that for the cost the Pimsleur course was a good investment. I feel that the vocabulary I have retained is useful and I have a good foundation to continue learning with. I don’t feel ready to speak the language beyond simple phrases covered in the course, yet.
Duolingo is a completely different experience. I would not try to compare them directly, and not just because Duolingo does not offer Arabic in any dialect other than MSA. Duolingo is fantastic for teaching a complete beginner the alphabet and helping to learn to recognize how the letters are written in context and placement within a word. It’s game-like structure is ideal for a visual learner. The software pronunciation of the words isn’t great for learning how to speak the language but it isn’t terrible either. I enjoy Duolingo even though I feel like the number of words I’ve learned so far is very, very slight and not helpful for having a conversation, at least yet.
I plan on sticking with Duolingo and continuing to review the Pimsleur course materials throughout the year to reinforce what I have learned and maybe with some additional private coaching I will feel more confident for a trip or volunteer opportunity down the line.
Thank you for reading and Ma’assalamah