I was lucky enough to have a FLAS Fellowship in graduate school to learn Georgian, and I love the language. That is not to say, however, that learning Georgian is always an easy path. I’ve studied the language for two years and lived in Tbilisi for three months, and I still cannot correctly pronounce the letters “ღ” or “ყ”. Despite my phonetic difficulties, I found Georgian to be an easier language for me than Russian–the grammatical structure worked much better for the way I think about language. (My classmates did not always agree with me on this). However, a little bit of Georgian can get you a long way. In my experience living in Tbilisi last summer (after just one year of Georgian), very few Georgians expect a non-Georgian to even try to speak Georgian, and they were surprised and flattered when I tried, and we could almost always cobble together a mutual understanding.
There are two primary Georgian textbooks for English speakers that I’ve heard about: Beginners’ Georgian by Dodona Kiziria and Basic Georgian by Nana Danelia. (UPDATE–I’ve heard that Basic Georgian is now out of print, but some friends of mine would like a copy, if you happen to have one you’re planning on parting with please let me know!) I’ve also heard of a language text similar in approach to Basic Georgian called “Biliki” (ბილიკი –path) that contains very similar exercises but has a snazzier layout. (I also heard quite the soap opera about why the two books are so similar…) I haven’t been able to find it on the internet, though. I’ve used both the Kiziria and the Danelia books, and for a true beginner, I recommend the Danelia book. That being said, it is the Kiziria that I intend to take with me to Georgia–it seems more designed for a student with some exposure to Georgian trying to make grammatical sense of what they’ve picked up through in-person interaction.
One of my Georgian classmates got me the Book2 Georgian-English book for my birthday. I don’t recommend it as a stand-alone book as it doesn’t really teach grammar, but as a companion to one of the other books it is a great help for learning vocabulary and practicing structure.
As for Georgian-English dictionaries, I’ve heard (and haven’t disproven) that there isn’t really a good small-size Georgian-English dictionary. I like the website Targmne (Translate) for looking up words, but verbs are hard. Google Translate is getting much better, and is certainly useful, but it isn’t up to its own standard yet.
Any other resources I should check out?