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German Quickly: A Grammar for Reading German [Paperback]

April Wilson
5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
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Product details

  • Paperback: 432 pages
  • Publisher: Peter Lang Publishing Inc; 6th New edition edition (Mar 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0820467596
  • ISBN-13: 978-0820467597
  • Product Dimensions: 2.5 x 15.2 x 22.2 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 194,455 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Synopsis

Wilson (German, U. of Chicago) has honed the grammar from 30 years of teaching students how to read German. It consists primarily of grammar explanations with sample exercises and an accompanying vocabulary. One of her appendices explains the English grammar needed to understand that of German. Annotation 2004 Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknew

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
22 of 23 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Sehr gut! 23 Jan 2004
By Kurt Messick HALL OF FAME
Format:Paperback
I first studied German over twenty years ago, and found it isn't like riding a bicycle -- if you let it go, it goes. I've studied several languages, so perhaps I can be forgiven, but when I started seminary I found that there were various pieces that were important to read that could only be found in German, or while they were available in English translation, the original language was important to capture the nuances of the arguments. When I looked to my old textbooks for German, they didn't seem designed to be re-learned quickly.
I was very pleased to find this book, German Quickly. As a seminarian, I appreciated the fact that the author April Wilson had also been through a divinity programme. She specialised in teaching German to graduate students who needed to quickly capture the language so that fairly high-level academic articles and texts for their studies. This particular book is very good at helping students in the humanities -- German is also important for those in the sciences, but this book does not cover the particular scientific terminology; that being said, this would be a good primer for German generally, and students could then go on to master the nuances of scientific language.
One of the best features of this text are the stories and text samples at the ends of the sections. Wilson takes these from all manner of sources -- the story of Abraham's sacrifice of Isaac from the Bible, pieces from works by Martin Buber and Friedrich Nietzsche, and other writings make for interesting, realistic learning. These are not artificial constructs, but rather perfect examples of the kinds of actual reading that needs to be done.
There is also humour and style in the 'ordinary' exercises. How does one translate 'Ich bin ein Berliner'?
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars German Made Easy (Quickly) 2 Jun 2004
By A Customer
Format:Paperback
An indispensable work for any serious student of German from intermediate onwards covering all major grammatical points and including many useful tips on nuance and usage all explained in a readily comprehensible manner. Highly recomended.
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Amazon.com: 4.4 out of 5 stars  42 reviews
146 of 147 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A truly wonderful book 5 May 2003
By Arnab Chakraborty - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
To start with I didn't have any particularly keen interest in German. While browsing through books in the library I chanced across Ms Wilson's book and started leafing through it. I was really impressed by the flowing, homely style of presentation and I decided to learn the language seriously.
Here are some of the salient features that make the book so helpful for beginners (this is the first foreign language that I have started learning, other than English which I learned as a kid):
1. Well chosen exercises after each chapter. To get the full benefit from the book, one must do all the exercises. I personally found that I could easily manage a chapter a day for the firsr few chapters, and then a chapter per two or three days for the later ones.
2. Sense of humor. Yes, in this regard it is doubtlessly one of the best textbooks that I have ever read in my life. And this is in sharp contrast with some of the other texts that are available in the market (for instance the texts that are used for the beginning German courses at Stanford. Oh, why are those books SO devoid of humor?)
3. Using proverbs to teach German. This is a great idea that should be used in teaching any language. Proverbs are those little simple sentences that somehow stick in our minds more than other things do. That's why they survive so long. Now Ms Wilson smuggles the German vocabulary into the reader's mind in packets of these proverbs.After reading the German for "When there is fire in the heart, there's smoke in the head", it is hard to forget that Rauch means smoke.
4. No language book for beginners can be expected to be full of real examples of great literary value, since those will be above the level of the average reader. But still the author creates the wonderful feeling of "real German" by quoting sentences and passages of famous German authors. This is in sharp contrast with the (popular?) German textbooks ... with examples churned out by machines to show the use of some grammar rule.
5. The book is well worth the money. I don't know why, but some German teachers at US univs prescribe textbooks that are written only to extract money out of student's pockets. The books ... force you to use manuals and workbooks that are sold separately, and are often full of silly pictures that do not help you to learn anything, but only serve to increase the price of the book. Ms Wilson's book, on the contrary, is full of serious information, and acts as a good reference book even after you through with it.
6. Finally, the book does NOT teach you how to speak German or how to comprehend spoken German. For that a good resource would be the book+CDs set from the "Living Language" series.
89 of 91 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Sehr gut! 22 Jan 2004
By FrKurt Messick - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
I first studied German over twenty years ago, and found it isn't like riding a bicycle -- if you let it go, it goes. I've studied several languages, so perhaps I can be forgiven, but when I started seminary I found that there were various pieces that were important to read that could only be found in German, or while they were available in English translation, the original language was important to capture the nuances of the arguments. When I looked to my old textbooks for German, they didn't seem designed to be re-learned quickly.

I was very pleased to find this book, German Quickly. As a seminarian, I appreciated the fact that the author April Wilson had also been through a divinity programme. She specialised in teaching German to graduate students who needed to quickly capture the language so that they could read fairly high-level academic articles and texts for their studies. This particular book is very good at helping students in the humanities -- German is also important for those in the sciences, but this book does not cover the particular scientific terminology; that being said, this would be a good primer for German generally, and students could then go on to master the nuances of scientific language.

One of the best features of this text are the stories and text samples at the ends of the sections. Wilson takes these from all manner of sources -- the story of Abraham's sacrifice of Isaac from the Bible, pieces from works by Martin Buber and Friedrich Nietzsche, and other writings make for interesting, realistic learning. These are not artificial constructs, but rather perfect examples of the kinds of actual reading that needs to be done.

There is also humour and style in the 'ordinary' exercises. How does one translate 'Ich bin ein Berliner'? Who can forget the language when one translates phrases such as 'Kinder und Narren sagen die Wahrheit'? (Children and fools speak the truth.) These are actual exercises. The one drawback for personal study is that not all the exercise solutions are given in the back of the book.

There is a very good section on German dictionaries, giving the strengths and weaknesses of many of the major German dictionaries available. She actually has the brilliant suggestion of having two dictionaries -- a smaller paperback version that gives quick-and-dirty definitions, and then a larger hard-back dictionary that fills in the nuances of the words. Using only the larger one will slow down the beginning reader. This suggestion is one of but many that makes this text a real gem.

This book is for reading comprehension; writing can be learned from it, but it really doesn't focus upon that. Nor does it concentrate on German as a spoken language -- there is a pronunciation key at the beginning, and German is much more standard than English in pronunciation according to spelling, but this book is not intended to train speakers or listeners in German. It is as its title suggests -- a grammar for reading German, quickly. In that, it succeeds admirably.
51 of 52 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars If you need to read German- buy this book! 30 Dec 2005
By Lorelei - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
I have both this book and German for Reading Knowledge. German Quickly is by far more helpful and worth every penny. It was developed by the author after years of teaching students how to read/translate German (without worrying about speaking). Because the focus is on translation and not "learning" German language in the manner of a formal school course, the book is much more intuitive than any other I have encountered on this topic. After working with this book for 5 weeks, I was able to translate an amazing amount of German!
27 of 27 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Proverbs and paradigms 19 Dec 2000
By Yonder Gillihan - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
April Wilson's German Quickly is the best German grammar for reading available. Ms. Wilson brings nearly thirty years of experience preparing graduate students for the German exam at the University of Chicago to this marvellously concise and lively grammar, and her experience shows. German Quickly is designed, as its title indicates, to produce rapid progress in German through several weeks of intense study. Rapid comprehension of complex paradigms and irregularities is facilitated with very clear charts and lists of essential rules at the beginnings of each chapter. Since it is assumed that the owner of this book will use it primarily to improve reading skills, Ms. Wilson does not clutter the text with rarely-encountered exceptions and colloquialisms, or verb forms that tend to be absent in literature and academic prose. Instead she identifies those verbs, nouns, prepositions, and syntactical constructions that are most frequent and most troublesome, and returns to them often.
One of the most effective aspects of German Quickly is its repetition of "essential" vocabulary items throughout the chapters. The reader is spared the trouble of constantly flipping back through previous chapters to recall an important word, since the most important words are repeated in several lessons, marked with an asterix. Additionally the exercises provide constant review of the most important grammatical constructions, which the reader must learn both to recognize in readings and to produce in English-to-German composition.
German Quickly can be used as a handy reference grammar after the student has mastered the basics. The final chapters and extensive appendices present with characteristic clarity overviews of German grammar, useful phrases, and an eminently useful review of several German-English dictionaries. A partial answer key at the end of the book provides answers to the more difficult exercises, and a glossary provides quick definitions and surveys of usage for troublesome words, along with asterixes indicating which vocabulary items are most important to memorize.
German Quickly is a challenging book, but the exercises in each chapter are surprisingly enjoyable, drawn as they are from traditional (and some very strange) German proverbs, e.g., "Wenn der Teufel krank ist, will er Monch werden; wenn er gesund ist, bleibt er, wie er ist," "When the Devil is ill, he wishes to become a monk; when he is well, he believes he is"; or "Es hofft der Mensch, solong er lebt," "A man hopes, so long as he lives," (cp. the Latin proverb, "dum spiro, spero"). Selections from philosophical writings and literature, especially Nietzsche and Kafka, are also included. The student finishes German Quickly not only with the foundations of grammar and vocabulary, but also with a lively knowledge of German culture and popular values.
34 of 36 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars More about German Quickly 25 Jun 2005
By April Wilson - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
This is not a review, but rather additional information about German Quickly. The 2004 edition includes some printing errors, of which I am extremely aware, and which I deeply regret. A new edition was just printed, and it at least has a correction sheet at the beginning. If you have a book without the sheet, please contact me, and I will send the list of corrections. My e-mail
is: april25@uchicago.edu. If you are studying on your own, I can also
send you an answer key.
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