on 16 September 2006
This book will not teach you Malayalam in a month. Indeed, if you rely on it alone without the aid of any other resources, it will not teach you Malayalam at all.
To start with, the information given about pronunciation is often unhelpful, misleading or simply absent. It is not very useful to someone who knows no Tamil or Sanskrit to be glibly informed that certain letters are pronounced exactly like their counterparts in these two languages. In one place, the retroflex n is called "alveolar n", and the pronunciation is said to be the same as that in the English word "no", although standard English does not contain any retroflex consonants. In fact there is nothing at all to explain how to pronounce the retroflex consonants in Malayalam, nor even some of those which are less exotic from a European perspective.
A sizeable chunk of the book is devoted to vocabulary lists, with inflections treated in separate chapters. The way these inflections are dealt with is sketchy, to say the very least. The chapter on plurals, for instance, merely provides an apparently random list of nouns and their plurals, followed by the brief observation: "From these examples it is plain that plurals are formed in Malayalam by adding -ir, -kal or -mar to the singular." However, since in the general vocabulary lists the nouns are given only in the singular, the reader is left to guess which of these three forms applies in any particular case, and the fact that the first noun in the list of examples has an apparently irregular plural is simply ignored. Other inflections are dealt with in a similarly cavalier and incomplete manner.
Another thing that is extremely bad about this book is the absence of exercises along the way to test the reader's understanding so far. There are exercises, but they are left till the very end and they consist of several long paragraphs to translate. Not all the required vocabulary to translate these passages is actually given in the book.
In short, if you want to learn Malayalam, buy something else; this book is an almost complete waste of money. The only thing that is good about it is that it will fit neatly into a jacket pocket or handbag, which is convenient if you want to learn some vocabulary on the move. Even then, it would be a great deal cheaper and more reliable to go to a website for students of Malayalam, print off some of the vocabulary, and make yourself a set of flash cards.
I have, at various times, studied French, Latin, Italian, Koine Greek, Hebrew, Russian, Polish, Welsh, Irish and German. This is the worst language teaching resource I have seen in my life. Enough said.
on 20 November 2015
I ordered this expecting to be able to learn some basic words and phrases. No such luck. The vocabulary section, lesson 22 is just 2 pages long and includes things such as young beans, an offencer and slave; nothing really useful.