on 31 August 2013
Having read the unfavourable reviews of ROUTLEDGE COLLOQUIAL on "Amazon.COM", I was surprised that most reviews of this course on "Amazon.UK" were quite favourable and that some were even enthusiastic. As I was looking for some simple, low-priced material to follow on the PIMSLEUR GERMAN series, I eventually decided to try this course and judge for myself.
The author of Routledge Colloquial German seems to have deliberately limited the scope of this course to meet the immediate needs of a traveller. This is a very BASIC introduction to the German language. Without having actually counted all of the words, not all of which are listed in the glossary, I estimate the vocabulary at roughly 900 words. The course opens with a description of German pronunciation and follows with the usual-for-a-self-study-language-courses short dialogues that a traveller might encounter. The central character in the dialogues meets a fellow traveller in Berlin, they strike up a conversation, agree to see the sights together and discuss their respective professional and family situations. End of story. While direct translations of the dialogues are not provided, by using the accompanying notes, the user can work out the meaning of the dialogues on his/her own. Grammar is sufficiently-well explained. There are numerous written exercises. However, since there are only 2 CDs to accompany this course, the audio tracks are devoted mostly to the dialogues and there are not many recorded exercises. I would have appreciated additional audio (see my suggestions below).
EVALUATION: QUITE GOOD ... FOR A TRAVELLER
Based on a vocabulary of only around 900 words, I found the dialogues very well written. The audio recordings are very clear and the speed is appropriate for a learner. The explanations of grammar are, well, just okay. That is, the focus seems to be more on using the limited vocabulary than on discussing the underlying structure of the language. Given the limited space, I cannot disagree with the approach. Bearing in mind that you will NOT become "bilingual" with this type of introductory course, and that your goal would be best limited to that of making yourself understood as a traveller in restaurants, hotels, etcetera, then this is a very good course. Note carefully that your SUCCESS will depend on your willingness to practice the dialogues several hundred times (see my suggestions below).
ACCOMPANYING CDs OFTEN SOLD SEPARATELY
Prospective buyers of Routledge Colloquial language courses should note carefully that the books and 2 cds are often SOLD SEPARATELY. This fact is often not clear on Amazon! So, either make sure you know what you're ordering via Amazon, or purchase the "package" version directly from Routledge, via their website.
SUGGESTIONS FOR ADDITIONAL PRACTICE
In my attempts to learn German, I have found that finding opportunities to PRACTICE the language to be one of the greatest challenges. There are literally hundreds of very good, introductory, self-study courses available. Prices vary from roughly 60 $US for a basic method to 600+ $US for Pimsleur, Fluenz, Rosetta Stone, etcetera. Then there are the "graded readers" with accompanying CD that sell for approximately 20 $US. Surprisingly, except for the Readers, they all seem to offer more-or-less the same content and aim for more-or-less the same level of language skill. Nonetheless, if you simply want to DRILL--DRILL--DRILL your German (or almost any other language), I suggest that you visit the website FSI-LANGUAGE-COURSES.COM. The FSI BASIC COURSES were developed by the Foreign Service Institute (FSI), U.S. State Department, in the 1960's through the early 1970's. While they were meant to be taught in a classroom by a qualified instructor, the texts and accompanying audio recordings are absolutely fabulous for practicing the basics of the language. And here's the really good part ... they're FREE as pdf/mp3 downloads! Have a look at FSI BASIC GERMAN. If you find yourself struggling a little bit, then try the FSI GERMAN PROGRAMMED INTRODUCTION course first (but go only to about Unit 20, as the last few Units are not well designed) and then return to the Basic course. Good luck!
on 9 February 2013
Like many people I have bought several different language courses and for me the Colloquial series from Routledge is the best. It depends on how you prefer to learn a new language. I much prefer to be able to see words and sentences as well as hear them, and the Colloquial series is a book-based course, backed up with excellent, clear recordings. Grammar and sentence structure is taught and there are numerous, varied exercises with writing, reading, listening and speaking. For me this format is perfect. The alternative is the audio-only system where you only listen and speak, but I find I learn much better with the combined approach of book and recording.