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Assimil frustrations

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arkady
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United States
rightconditi
Joined 3796 days ago

54 posts - 61 votes 
Speaks: English*, Russian*
Studies: German

 
 Message 1 of 25
02 March 2010 at 5:06pm | IP Logged 
Hey guys,

I know everyone learns in their own unique way, but since I have just begun learning a new language I decided to experiment with three different methods. I am learning German and have employed Rosetta, Pimsleur and Assimil. I do a bit of each every day, although I did RS for two weeks until I added Pimsleur and two weeks after that added Assimil.

I have found that with Assimil virtually nothing is retained. I can certainly go back to previous lessons and be able to read and understand 95% of each lesson, but I dont actually memorize or learn the words. Whereas in Pimsleur I am guaranteed that whatever it is they introduce is permanently etched into my brain. I may not understand the grammar fully (or in my case at all), but the repetition is thorough enough that I remember. Same with Rosetta.

Yet, I am discouraged because so many people here have had positive experiences with Assimil and the amount of vocabulary greatly exceeds that of Pimsleur. Even their grammar explanations every 7 lessons are difficult and not intuititve. All this talk about irregular verbs, special endings, bla bla - none of it actually sticks.

I am definitely following the instructions, moving slowly, but I find it practially useless. I am on Lesson 22 of German with Ease. Any advice would be appreciated.
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tractor
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Norway
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1349 posts - 2292 votes 
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Studies: French, German, Latin

 
 Message 2 of 25
02 March 2010 at 5:40pm | IP Logged 
The reason why everything you learn from Pimsleur and Rosetta Stone is permanently etched into your brain is
probably because you spend a lot of time drilling only a few words and constructions. In Assimil, you are
introduced to more words, and you probably don't remember them all. But if you understand 95 % of each earlier
lesson, then you must at least remember something. If you read the text alound several times, you'll probably
remember more. The grammar explanations in the review lessons in Assimil are not there for you to learn them all
by heart. They are simply explanations. The important stuff is in the dialogues and excersises in the 6 other
lessons.

Edited by tractor on 02 March 2010 at 8:10pm

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Splog
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Czech Republic
anthonylauder.c
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1062 posts - 3262 votes 
Speaks: English*, Czech
Studies: Mandarin

 
 Message 3 of 25
02 March 2010 at 6:13pm | IP Logged 
arkady wrote:
I can certainly go back to previous lessons and be able to read and understand 95% of each lesson, but I dont actually memorize or learn the words.


You mentioned that you go back and read lessons. Do you also repeatedly listen to the audio?

I usually read each lesson once or twice (a day or two apart) to understand the concepts, but then listen to the audio of each lesson 10 or more times over a week or so to really get everything deeply embedded into my memory. Typically, each day I read a new lesson, and re-read the previous day's lesson, then listen to today's audio and the audio from the nine previous days lessons. This really helps things to stick.
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reltuk
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Studies: Spanish, French

 
 Message 4 of 25
02 March 2010 at 6:23pm | IP Logged 
arkady wrote:
I am definitely following the instructions, moving slowly, but I find it practially useless. I am on Lesson 22 of German with Ease. Any advice would be appreciated.


From your description, it doesn't sound like things are as bad as you think they are. The passive phase is supposed to increase your passive familiarity with the language, and it sounds like it is working. This is in stark contrast to something like Pimsleur or RS, which attempt to add newly presented material to your active command of the language the first time you see it. Assimil simply doesn't work that way; you're not supposed to be able to produce the dialog that you just learned from scratch...you're supposed to be able to produce it from the English language prompt about 50 days after you first encounter it.

If you can go back to previous lessons, read or listen to the German and know what is being said, know the grammatical and semantic role that each word plays, etc., then this is a good start. Assimil is going to do the work of presenting the most important words and grammatical features in multiple contexts, and make the sentences longer and more complex, so that you don't get away with just memorizing the phrasing in one particular dialog. I would suggest the following:


  • Listen to the day's dialog multiple times throughout the day, and make sure to shadow it or read it out of the book in the way that you remember hearing it. It's important to say the dialog out loud multiple times, and it helps if you can do it at 2 or 3 different sessions throughout the day, even if each one lasts as little as 10 minutes.

  • Toward the end of your studying of the lesson, try to produce every numbered phrase from the day's lesson out loud from short-term memory without looking at the phrase. Keep trying until you actually get it. Do this twice for the whole lesson if you have time.

  • If you have time, try writing out the lesson, numbered phrase at a time, from short-term memory. Meaning, you look at the phrase, say it to yourself a few time, pay attention to the things you think you're likely to forget as soon as you look away, then turn to your own sheet of paper and try to write the phrase.

  • On the 7th days, when you review the grammatical notes, go back over all the lessons. Listen to them all at least 2 or 3 times. Say them all out loud again. If there is anything that you are still unsure about, try to at least produce the sentence from short term memory, as described above. It's not necessary to understand everything, but having produced from short term memory will make sure you're paying attention to grammatical features which might have escaped notice previously.

  • When you go back over the previous week's lessons, keep an eye out for the grammatical features that the 7th lesson described. So in lesson 21, I think, GwE introduces the accusative case, and then in lesson 15 it's right there in the title, and all over the 6 lessons from that week. Try to be aware of it as you review those lessons.



But really, the most important thing here is to realize that Assimil isn't trying to add each lessons to your active vocabulary and your productive command of the grammar as you go through it. So it is operating in a completely different way from Pimsleur, and you shouldn't worry if you come away from a lesson without actually being able to produce that lesson.
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Johntm
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United StatesRegistered users can see my Skype Name
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 Message 5 of 25
02 March 2010 at 7:46pm | IP Logged 
Like reltuk said, the passive phase isn't meant for learning. And one course alone won't bring you to fluency, so it's good you are using three.

After lesson 50 the active phase begins. At least this is what I gather from posts, I haven't been able to get my hands on Assimil yet.
1 person has voted this message useful



Elexi
Senior Member
United Kingdom
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938 posts - 1837 votes 
Speaks: English*
Studies: French, German, Latin

 
 Message 6 of 25
02 March 2010 at 8:17pm | IP Logged 
I am currently doing German Without Toil and With Ease together (I am only at lesson 18) and I feel like I am in the same situation as you as to word recall. However, I work with two German women who speak to each other in German all day and whilst I don't understand everything they say (understandably so as I only started last month) I am beginning to pick out words, structures and sentences clearly and get a gist of what is being said. In that sense the passive phase of Assimil is working. I could probably also complain that my tea is cold and my cup is too small if I needed to :)

I have the Michel Thomas and Pimsleur German courses - as an experiment with the Assimil method I am not going to start those courses until I have finished the passive stage. When I studied French I used MT and Pimsleur first and then studied the old and new Assimil books (i.e. 'Without Toil', 'New With Ease' and 'Using'). From that experience, I think that despite the lack of instant use, the Assimil is giving you a massive amount of comprehension training that you'll never get from Pimsleur or Michel Thomas. However, Pimsleur gives you a degree of drill response type training that Assimil lacks, so the two can work together.      
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reltuk
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United States
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Speaks: English*
Studies: Spanish, French

 
 Message 7 of 25
02 March 2010 at 8:53pm | IP Logged 
Johntm wrote:
Like reltuk said, the passive phase isn't meant for learning.


Careful with that one...the passive phrase is definitely meant for learning :-).
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Johntm
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United StatesRegistered users can see my Skype Name
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Speaks: English*
Studies: Spanish

 
 Message 8 of 25
02 March 2010 at 9:18pm | IP Logged 
reltuk wrote:
Johntm wrote:
Like reltuk said, the passive phase isn't meant for learning.


Careful with that one...the passive phrase is definitely meant for learning :-).
Ack! Lately I've been making posts that are worded completely different from what I mean.

Of course it's for learning, but I meant it isn't for learning to converse too well quite yet, it's more about getting a basic feel for the language. At least that's what I understand from other user's descriptions of Assimil. It's about getting a passive understanding of the language (hence the name 'passive' phase.


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