This text stands almost alone among those available purporting to teach Modern Standard Arabic, because the authors (two longtime Arabic teachers)actually went to considerable pains to craft a course that addresses the aspects of Arabic that beginning learners find most difficult. The section on pronunciation is very thorough and gives learners an actual idea of how to make the many sounds of the language that are new (and often difficult). As someone who has labored with materials on many languages where you don't get much more advice than to 'imitate the pronunciation on the CD', this is a feature I particularly appreciate. The treatment of the grammar is not particularly rigorous (Elementary Modern Standard Arabic, the 'big orange' book of Abboud, Erwin, McCarus et al goes into the grammar in much more detail) but regular practice with this book will give a very intuitive sense for making one's own Arabic sentences. The vocabulary is well-chosen, too: early lessons give all the essentials for getting around and asking directions, and from there the book moves on to a number of interesting and useful everyday topics. Two small complaints: a section on how to hand-write Arabic would be helpful, and perhaps some introductory coverage of the case endings that come up in much more formal usage. This book concentrates on a very basic, everyday form of the language, which is fine, but students who want to move on to more advanced materials will be in for an unnecessarily unpleasant surprise if they don't at least know that there are grammatical endings that aren't treated here.