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German Language Programs. Help!

 Language Learning Forum : Language Programs, Books & Tapes Post Reply
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timothyyoung.ty
Newbie
United States
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3 posts - 2 votes

 
 Message 1 of 30
05 March 2010 at 3:21am | IP Logged 

So here's the deal. I'm fifteen years old and next year I'm studying abroad in Germany. I know absolutely nothing about the German language but I have experience in self studying (I taught myself Spanish to a pretty good level last year). I need to learn the language as well as I can before I leave.

Here's a list of language programs that I have access to:

Michel Thomas German
Pimsleur German (all three volumes)
Complete German: The Basics (from Living Language)
The Language Courses from http://www.dw-world.de/
FSI German http://fsi-language-courses.org/Content.php?page=German%20Ba sic

Then there's these courses that I'm considering buying:

Assimil German (I've heard a lot of good things about Assimil German but I really don't know which one to get... There are so many different editions!)
Ultimate German Beginner-Intermediate

Please tell me which ones you would recommend me using and the order in which I should tackle them! I'm in desperate help!



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tractor
Tetraglot
Senior Member
Norway
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1349 posts - 2292 votes 
Speaks: Norwegian*, English, Spanish, Catalan
Studies: French, German, Latin

 
 Message 2 of 30
05 March 2010 at 6:51am | IP Logged 
There are only two Assimil German: Without Toil (old) and With Ease (not so old).
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Pyx
Diglot
Senior Member
China
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670 posts - 892 votes 
Speaks: German*, English
Studies: Mandarin

 
 Message 3 of 30
05 March 2010 at 8:13am | IP Logged 
It doesn't look like you're desperate enough to look through the forums and read all the old discussions about the programs, hm?
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Sprachprofi
Nonaglot
Senior Member
Germany
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2608 posts - 4866 votes 
Speaks: German*, English, French, Esperanto, Greek, Mandarin, Latin, Dutch, Italian
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 Message 4 of 30
05 March 2010 at 9:16am | IP Logged 
There are many different opinions out here about which programs work best.

I would choose the following path:
1. 5-10 lessons of Pimsleur just to get you used to the pronunciation
2. Michel Thomas for a quick and painless introduction to the most important grammar;
this should help you read materials that are above your level with the help of a
dictionary
3. For the main course of your study, there are several options. If you always need to
know why things are this way, study the Dw-world courses or the
Exeter University's online
German course
. Grammar lovers may even want to try
this traditional translation-
based course
. If you are okay with waiting until future lessons to find out
what's going on, Assimil is the better choice. I'm not sure which Assimil is better,
but either should get you to B2 level.

You don't have to stick with one program. If you can't motivate yourself to do another
lesson of your chosen program, feel free to do a lesson from a different program
instead; this will consolidate your knowledge of grammar and vocabulary.
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Pyx
Diglot
Senior Member
China
Joined 4131 days ago

670 posts - 892 votes 
Speaks: German*, English
Studies: Mandarin

 
 Message 5 of 30
05 March 2010 at 10:08am | IP Logged 
Sprachprofi wrote:
I'm not sure which Assimil is better,
but either should get you to B2 level.

Okay, so here is something I've always wondered about. People always seem to say that Pimsleur, Assimil, etc. will take you to the "intermediate level", or "B2", as you call it, which (for listening) is defined as "can understand extended speech and lectures and follow even complex lines of argument provided the topic is reasonably familiar. I can understand most TV news and current affairs programmes. I can understand the majority of films in standard dialect.". This is the B2 you're talking about, right?

Now, a year ago or so I went through Assimil Chinese, and was terribly disappointed by how basic this all was. AT MOST I'd qualify the end result of Assimil as A2, "I can understand phrases and the highest frequency vocabulary related to areas of most immediate personal relevance (e.g. very basic personal and family information, shopping, local area, employment). I can catch the main point in short, clear, simple messages and announcements." I also listened into pimsleur, which I'd say had the same level.

Now where does that difference in perception come from? Any ideas?

Edited by Pyx on 05 March 2010 at 10:09am

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Sprachprofi
Nonaglot
Senior Member
Germany
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 Message 6 of 30
05 March 2010 at 10:19am | IP Logged 
Pimsleur won't take you to B2 level, they define "intermediate" differently. ;-) That's
why I like the CEFR.

It takes a lot more hours to reach a similar level in Chinese as in European languages.
The two Assimil Chinese books should not be enough to reach B2 there, but for German (or
also Greek, which I'm studying now) it's definitely good. Does the Assimil Chinese book
specifically state it will get you to B2 level? With the latest Assimil books, some books
state it, some books imply it, and some books don't state it as they know they won't.
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Pyx
Diglot
Senior Member
China
Joined 4131 days ago

670 posts - 892 votes 
Speaks: German*, English
Studies: Mandarin

 
 Message 7 of 30
05 March 2010 at 10:25am | IP Logged 
Sprachprofi wrote:
Pimsleur won't take you to B2 level, they define "intermediate" differently. ;-) That's
why I like the CEFR.

It takes a lot more hours to reach a similar level in Chinese as in European languages.
The two Assimil Chinese books should not be enough to reach B2 there, but for German (or
also Greek, which I'm studying now) it's definitely good. Does the Assimil Chinese book
specifically state it will get you to B2 level? With the latest Assimil books, some books
state it, some books imply it, and some books don't state it as they know they won't.

Oh, I don't have a direct quote, but that's what I took from what forum members wrote. I also figured that all Assimil books would have the same content and therefore take you to the same level?!
Also, *IF* they were having more or less the same content, and Assimil Chinese takes you to A1-A2, how could that equal B1 or even B2 in a European language? It's not like European languages have a lot less words than Chinese...
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Sprachprofi
Nonaglot
Senior Member
Germany
learnlangs.comRegistered users can see my Skype Name
Joined 4866 days ago

2608 posts - 4866 votes 
Speaks: German*, English, French, Esperanto, Greek, Mandarin, Latin, Dutch, Italian
Studies: Spanish, Arabic (Written), Swahili, Indonesian, Japanese, Modern Hebrew, Portuguese

 
 Message 8 of 30
05 March 2010 at 10:37am | IP Logged 
No, they don't have the same content at all, and some explicitly say they only take you
to B1, or don't make any claims at all. It's just Assimil's company policy to try to
create courses that will have you reach B2 level, as opposed to stopping earlier like
most other language courses, but not every course does. Each book is designed
specifically with the target language in mind, they are not "one size fits all" like
Pimsleur. That's why there are some bad apples among Assimil books too, for example the
Arabic ones.

The reason Assimil can be much better for some languages than for others is because
they don't have to explain so much and they can expose people to more vocabulary per
lesson, or just throw in a word like "radio" and expect people to understand it. Some
languages also allow vocabulary to be re-used in other situations a lot more than other
languages do. Finally, if you compare different Assimil books, you will notice that
amount of lessons, the space taken up by the dialog and the space taken up by phonetic
transcription and explanations varies greatly. For example my Greek Assimil book has 92
lessons and the dialogs are at least two pages each, with no phonetic transcription for
most of the lessons. For Chinese, already the necessity of always providing Pinyin
means that they can't fit in as much content.

Edited by Sprachprofi on 05 March 2010 at 10:39am



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