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How to use Assimil courses: Instructions

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 Message 1 of 5
28 September 2013 at 6:01am | IP Logged 
The Dutch with Ease course, unlike the other courses, actually has very detailed

1. Listen to the text with the book closed. It does not matter if you do not understand
what is said. You will gain a general impression of the sounds, hearing the
pronunciation without being influenced by the spelling.

2. Listen to the recording a second time while looking at the English translation.

3. Read the Dutch text aloud (with the aid of the phonetic transcription if necessary).
Be sure you understand the meaning of each sentence, comparing it with the translation
as required.

4. Now read the Dutch text again, but this time without looking at the translation.

5. Listen to the recording twice, once while looking at the English translation, and
once while looking at the Dutch text.

6. Listen to the recording again with the book closed. At this point you should
understand what is being said.

7. Listen to the recording once more. Stop the machine after each sentence, and try to
repeat it aloud.

8. Carefully read the comments several times. Examine the Dutch sentences being
explained. These notes are very important.

9. Read the exercises. Repeat each sentence several times. The exercises review
material from the current lesson and from preceding lessons. If you have forgotten
certain words, consult the English translation.

10. Examine the examples of sentence structure. They show how words and phrases are
combined in Dutch, which is not always the same as in English.

From rse/

Edited by Gemuse on 28 September 2013 at 6:02am

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 Message 2 of 5
28 September 2013 at 6:01pm | IP Logged 
Thanks for reposting this for the new people here. It's a very useful guide, and answers a lot of questions. I used to keep a printout of it in my Assimil book and followed it closely for the first 50 lessons or so.

One thing I added to these steps, is to review the audio and listen ahead every day. I would stick one of the CDs on while going for a walk. The need for reviewing is obvious (to me anyway), and listening ahead is very useful, because you understand a bit more with each listening, and by the time you get to the lesson, you understand most of it and can spend more time working on the more difficult aspects.
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 Message 3 of 5
26 December 2013 at 4:55am | IP Logged 
Instructions for the Active wave: ve/

After seeing an excellent response to a question about the active wave, I took a look
in my Dutch book to see what it had to say:


Use the following procedure in the second wave of your study:

1. Read the lesson, repeating each sentence once. If you have the recordings, listen to
them carefully.
2. Cover the Dutch text and try to reconstruct it, looking only at the English
sentences. Make an effort to do this both out loud and in writing. This is the most
important part of the second wave!
3. After you are finished, uncover the Dutch text and carefully correct any errors you
have made.

After each new lesson, you will be told which earlier lesson you are to review in this
precise way. This second wave of your study will lead to an active and, in a very short
time, spontaneous knowledge of Dutch.

This is a bit clearer than some Assimil courses, but it still has nothing on this
wonderful response provided by lingoleng at the HTLAL forums (reposted with his
consent): ID=25552

lingoleng wrote:

I can only give some hints, but what you do should really depend on your own needs, not
on anything else.

Second wave wants two things, both are very easy to understand:

- repetition
After two or three months, however long it took you to get to lesson 50, you have
forgotten many words and phrases of the previous lessons. So you have to refresh them
by going through the old lessons again. Very simple, no problem here.

- activation
After the reading and listening of the first wave you start producing sentences,
speaking and probably writing. Again, very simple concept. How to do it? Everything is
allowed and possible, it depends entirely on you and your needs.

Look at the English text of the first lesson. Try to translate it without looking at
the German text. A piece of cake? Not as easy as you expected? Oh man, I don’t remember
anything at all? Well, whatever, no problem at all. Of course you use the written text
in the book as a tool for correcting your translation, what else? You can use the audio
just as well, but this is not as easy, and not necessary. (Just listen to the audio on
another day, never a bad idea.) But you have to check if your sentences are right.
That’s the most important thing, of course. What if you’ve made a mistake, or two, or
it is all nonsense? No problem again, that’s why you do the repetition, look at what is
wrong, say the correct version several times, and go on.

Next sentence a complete failure? Well, who cares, you are learning the language,
that’s why you do it. If you write your first try and make a mistake, or several, no
problem, but in this case you write the correct version twice, or three times, now
you’ll know it. For a while
Assimil says you can listen to the audio before starting your active work, so you can
do this. Or you try to get it right without a previous short time reactivation, but as
repetition is one of your primary goals it is not so important whether you get it right
without listening before, these are all minor details.
. . .
You see, what I propose is a little bit different than only remembering the phrase by
heart. Learning by heart is not a bad thing, really not, but only if you understand
what you remember. So if you have the automatic reaction: Oh, I remember very well what
was written on this page, it was the strange and very queer expression “Haben Sie
Hunger”, no idea why and how, but this is it,- you get a point in a multiple choice
test but not as many language points, I guess.

To make a long post short: You want repetition, and you get it. You want active skills,
and you have to work for them. And the exact procedure is not a law, do what you want
to do, or have to do. A third wave, or even a forth one, may be what makes the
difference between a successful language learner and a less successful one, but I would
never confess that I ever needed a fifth wave, not me.

I really liked his answer, as it shines a bright light on an issue I think some people
might run into with Assimil courses: they see the active phase as a “test” rather than
a process. They go to their active lesson, read the English, and if they don’t come up
with the perfect foreign language equivalent right away – panic! There’s no need to be
so harsh on yourself. With the active wave, unless you have a photographic memory,
you’re going to make mistakes, and that’s fine; the whole point is to see the material
again, and to start playing with it in your mind. If you’re moving bits of the language
around in your mind, trying to produce something, it’s worthwhile, even if many of your
attempts have errors.


Edited by Gemuse on 27 December 2013 at 5:01am

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 Message 4 of 5
28 December 2013 at 1:44am | IP Logged 
Brilliant point about the active wave being a process rather than a test. I think that's what often bothers me about the active wave lessons I've done, and why they are such a chore. I expect that I should have known it by then, and I didn't.

The one thing the official instructions have that wasn't mentioned in Lingoleng's post was the first thing: before tackling it yourself read it through and then listen to it. In other words, even the official instructions don't expect you to be able to produce the text without some prompting first.
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 Message 5 of 5
28 December 2013 at 5:36pm | IP Logged 
Thanks. That's going to make the active wave a lot more pleasant for me.

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