Just Listen N' Learn - Arabic
(Windsor, California, U.S.A. )
I find the Just Listen N' Learn courses very pleasant and easy to use in general. They consist of a book and 3 cassettes or CDs. They are presented in a simple, logical, and easy to follow format which is always a good thing since any foreign language will have enough difficulties without adding to them.
The cassettes use very realistic dialogues complete with the sounds of horns honking and doors slamming. While it concentrates on Levantine (eastern) Arabic, it has speakers who are Palestinian, Lebanese, Syrian, and Jordanian. This is to accustom the listener to slight differences in accent. One of the speakers is Clive Holes who is actually a professor at Oxford University. He sounds like a native speaker so that should be encouraging to any westerner.
I used what I learned when I went to Israel in 2006. I conversed with the locals in Arabic in the Arab section of Haifa. I learned that the appreciation factor depended on the age of the person to whom I was speaking. Children were amazed that I spoke their language and showed their enthusiasm with "Oh! Wow!" The adults, however, acted like, "Oh, of course. Doesn't everyone on earth speak one of the hardest languages on the whole planet?!" While my friend, Kevin, and I were making our way through a crowd of Arab children in front of the Baha'i gardens, one of the children non-chalantly said, "Sabah al kheir (good-morning) to which he obviously expected no reply. I equally non-chalantly said, "Sabah an-nur," the polite response. The children were electrified with their enthusiasm.
Overall, I found this course very pleasant and easy to use and I strongly recommend it to anyone learning Levantine Arabic. There isn't much available on colloguial Arabic to take you very far, but this course will give you a good start. It presents real-world Arabic as opposed to language-learning as an academic exercise.