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on 4 October 2006
I've tried a few times to crack Icelandic and it's hard work. Sometimes you feel every verb is irregular. However, doing this book I had a lot of 'oh, I get it now' moments! Don't think you can learn this language without having a good go at the grammar, you can't. But this author is really good at explaining how things work and at giving you little tips. It's a really good way to start off learning Icelandic.
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on 9 December 2014
Twenty years ago I decided I wanted to learn Icelandic but there was only one book available – the original Teach Yourself, which dated from 1961. As the very first exercise it asked you to decline all the different types of nouns, without even explaining what the cases meant. The book didn’t have any audio support and the internet didn’t exist so I had no way of even hearing what the language sounded like. Unsurprisingly I got absolutely nowhere and I soon gave it up. Even twenty years later there are now still only two main Icelandic books on the market, Daisy Neijmann’s Colloquial Icelandic and this one, the new revised Teach Yourself. I am pleased to see that this new version is now readable and easy to work though, completely different to the impenetrable first version I tried so long ago.

This book took me two months to work through, working for about an hour a day. It is easy to use and explains the basic concepts behind the complex Icelandic grammar very well. Not having studied an inflected language before it explained what the different cases meant in a fairly understandable way. It got me started on learning the language, something I’ve wanted to do for years. Each chapter starts with a dialogue to follow on the CD, the book then explains some concepts and then gives you some exercises to work through. Each chapter has a theme, like describing someone’s appearance or having dinner with family. There is a mini dictionary at the back. I did have some issues with this book as I went through it – the dictionary doesn’t list the gender of the nouns (so you often can’t work out which endings to use) and there are a few (but not many) mistakes in the answers for the exercises. There are no extended texts at the end so there is no way to practice what you have learned when you’ve finished the book.

On finishing the book I didn’t feel like I had a grasp on the language by a long way so I bought the other book Colloquial Icelandic and was shocked at how much this book left out, how many fairly basic concepts it omitted and how unrealistically slow the dialogue on the CD was. The last chapter of this book is about the same level as chapter four of Colloquial Icelandic. Daisy Neijmann’s book throws you right in at the deep end in a far more challenging way, it is more in depth but it is a great deal harder to work through. I don’t know for sure, but I suspect that I might have just given up again had I started right with Colloquial Icelandic. Colloquial Icelandic also has some mistakes in it so neither book is ideal.

Overall this is a very user friendly introduction to Icelandic, an interesting but often difficult language. Without a “Teach Yourself Volume 2” this is a long way “Complete Icelandic” as the title suggests. I would recommend this book as an accessible starting point to a challenging subject. I don’t think that you can learn any language from just one textbook, you really need to work at it and immerse yourself in a number of different sources, expose yourself to as much of the language as you can. I’m still a long way from understanding this language, I don’t know if I will ever get there given its complexity and the lack of available resources. However I would recommend this book as an assessable starting point. I think that Colloquial Icelandic is a better book overall though. I just bought both.
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on 21 June 2004
After the original Teach Yourself Icelandic, its nice to see that what was once highly impenitrable is now highly accesible. This book is excellent for the grounding of basic language and is truly worthy of "teach yourself" status. NO previous knowledge is required at all.
However, this book is not really suitable for advanced students, for example, the subjunctive is not addressed and there are no extended texts (although there are suggestions for further study). However, for beginners, it is excellent. Dialogues are of an everyday nature and are realistic. A lot of vocabulary is also provided, with a mini-dictionary at the back. Excersises are provided throughout with full answers at the back. The excersises are traditional "fill in the gaps", and are usually aimed at getting the reader to speak aloud and gain confidence.
A very enjoyable read providing a good starting point and a chance to brush up on the basics.
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on 30 September 2007
Whether to buy this book or not depends entirely upon what you want to achieve and how you want to achieve it. If you want to achieve an extremely high standard akin to that of taking a proper course at a university or equivalent, then this book is not your first port of call. If, however, you are planning a trip for holiday, business or something that requires a thorough knowledge of the basics and a comfortable feel with the language, then this is exactly what you want.

Icelandic is extremely hard to learn and possesses an ancient and hugely complex grammar which for the casual language learner is almost a joke. Words can often have over a dozen forms and these forms are integral to the sentence, which means a lot of memorising by repetition. This book introduces this large amount of grammar gradually and very clearly. It is well paced and it doesn't seem daunting which is useful when trying to handle inflections, and after a while you find that everything falls into place. The dialogues are good and as useful as language books ever are, and everything is done with a sense of fun which takes the pressure off a bit.

There is one major drawback to this book, and this is the CD. I understand that this is a very different language and it does require a bit more patience, but these dialogues are spoken so slowly that they are actually unhelpful. Soon after studying Icelandic and Iceland you will come to realise that, sadly, Icelanders speak very very fast and they don't slow down to help you out a lot of the time, and if they do this is still fast. These dialogues are so unrealistic in their pace of speaking that while you learn good pronunciation, you lack a realistic ability to keep up. I was saddened to see that this pace did not pick up much even in later chapters.

That said, if as I say you are a casual learner, this will not be a huge disadvantage, but if you intend to learn quicker I highly advise buying "Colloquial Icelandic" by Daisy L. Neijmann - an exceptionally good book that is a very different approach but much harder for real beginners. For beginners though, this will meet your needs and will introduce you to a really fascinating language with a sound basic knowledge enabling you to pursue it further should you wish to. Worth the money for sure.
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on 31 July 2009
This book is absolutely excellent for anyone trying to learn a good amount of Icelandic, and gain a very good grounding of Icelandic grammar. The book starts of with the basics, then moves on briskly into the more complex structures, with useful vocabulary given on the way. The CD then gives the learner lots of practice of listening to and understanding Icelandic. If followed, the course will give any learner confidence to communicate effectively when vistiting Iceland.
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on 26 May 2014
I bought this because I eventually want to do a university course in Icelandic, and I'd love to learn a little beforehand. I'm only about halfway through the book, but I can already say it's fantastic! As well as giving you vocabulary for a variety of common situations (if you were on a short trip to Iceland) there are also lots of grammar "lessons" which are in-depth enough to give you the materials to learn to construct your own sentences, but simply written enough so that anybody can understand and make use of them.
The audio CD is also very useful for pronunciation, and although it's helpful the speakers talk slowly and clearly this particular aspect isn't very "realistic".
Overall, a fantastic product that serves as a great introduction to Icelandic. I haven't even finished it and yet I feel relatively confident with what I've learned and it's only reinforced my want to pursue the language further.. 5/5
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on 13 July 2010
ive been trying to learn icelandic for a while and this is the book for it! teaches you the vocabulary and useful expresions for comon events.
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on 5 February 2011
It`s the only product on the market that i could find - i ideally wanted an audio only course, but this comes close - the book is helpful for grammar points and would be useful if you wanted to take your studies further; you do need to refer to it at times as not all the vocabulary in the dialogues is translated on the cd`s. The quality is good and the pronounciation becomes clear eventually, even if it appears that it will be impossible initially. I like the part on the cd when the character is descibing someone as "rather fat, and very hospitable"(in icelandic) and appears to be stifling back laughter.
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on 26 September 2011
Icelandic can be a very difficult language to learn for me, with its enourmous amount of grammer etc. In English we have pretty much one word for everything but in Icelandic the word changes all the time so it can feel like trying to learn 2 or 3 languages. This course is about the best I have found, mainly I have struggled to find a course to study at home so this course is certainly where you can start to learn Icelandic. I do not think I would be so bold as to say "Complete Icelandic"
Everybody speaks Engish in Iceland anyway so just go and visit and enjoy it (-:
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on 9 October 2011
The content of this course is methodical and set out logically. I'm enjoying it, I must say, and it is a pleasurable learning experience, which I undertook to help me be authentic in a novel set in Iceland, which I am in process of writing. I am using the course in conjunction with David Leffman's 'Top 10 Iceland' travel books (another good buy) which puts pictures to the learning process and makes me long to visit Iceland. I have one small caveat: the book could be of stronger construction. I would happily pay a little more for that.
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