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Customer reviews

4.1 out of 5 stars
18
4.1 out of 5 stars
Colloquial Catalan: A Complete Course for Beginners
Format: Paperback|Change
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on 4 May 2009
If you want to learn a language don't think you can learn it from one book or one course alone. You just need to go through as many as you can get your hands on. Therefore, I look at the 'Teach Yourself versus Colloquial' discussion in a different light.
I did Teach Yourself Catalan first and am now doing Colloquial Catalan. I would recommend others to do it the other way round. Colloquial teaches the basics more steadily and more clearly. Teach Yourself goes into more depth. If you do Colloquial first you'll have a better basis to actually take in the Teach Yourself material and remember it better. When I've finished Colloquial I'm going back to Teach Yourself and am more confident about mastering it better.
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on 11 March 2016
Easy to use, thanks! Molts gracies.
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on 11 February 2006
I have just finished a short beginners' course in Catalan for which this was the text book. We covered the first ten chapters during the course. I am now studying the remaining chapters by myself, using the CDs which are very clear and accessible for help with understanding, pronunciation and imitation. I found this book works well in both situations - as a course textbook and as a self-study aid. I particularly enjoy the culture notes - a sort of 'rough guide' to Catalan culture throughout the book. They make for an interesting read, apart from anything else. They - and the photos - really breathe life into the subject. I have found the book useful as a phrase book as well on a recent trip to Barcelona - handy enough to whip out when ordering in a bar or asking directions.
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Why learn Catalan?

I remember being in a Madrid café ordering breakfast in broken Spanish. We were served quickly and with a smile, while a table full of English-speaking tourists trying to summon the waiter loudly in English were ignored for some time. So I decided to learn some Catalan before a long weekend in Barcelona.

It is worth learning at least a few phrases of the local language wherever you are going. In Paris I overheard a hotel receptionist pretending not to understand a friend of mine who had addressed him in English, yet I knew his English to be fluent. In the Greek islands everyone is so amazed that you would even bother to try to speak any words of their language that you get a very friendly reception indeed. In general, addressing people in their own language gets you a warmer reception and you feel more part of the country you are visiting.

Was it worth the admittedly small efforts I made? Yes, but with reservations. Most public signs are written up in three languages: Catalan, Spanish and English. The front of house hotel staff we met were Spanish speakers, and although they understood 'bon día' they didn't all speak Catalan. Even one taxi driver didn't know the numbers in Catalan when I tried to direct him to our hotel ('Via Laietana disset') and I couldn't remember what '17' was in Spanish.

On the other hand, it was nice to be able to exchange a few words of Catalan with some of the other hotel staff and with the man selling wonderful chocolate bars in the gothic quarter, and some but not all restaurant staff.

Catalan is sufficiently similar to Spanish that for the most part in typical tourist situations you will be understood by Spanish speakers.

Comments on the course:

Catalan is an easy language for an English speaker to learn, especially if you have some familiarity with either French or Spanish. The course is well laid out and for the most part the phrases you learn early on are useful.

It is important to understand that you need both the course book and the CD. The one without the other is of very limited use, and really they should be bundled together as one product.

Possibly the reason they are not is that the book is also available in Kindle format (which is the format I ordered). While this meant that I was spared having to pack the additional weight of the book, I found it impractical to do the exercises. Also with a Kindle it is more difficult to flip back and forth to different sections when you have forgotten something.

What I would have much preferred would have been a CD-only course structured in the way that Michel Thomas does for Spanish. We have busy lives, and I can do a lot more learning while travelling than I can at home, besides which the hear and repeat method is simply easier and more effective, at least in my opinion.

Having said that, this course has what a beginner like me needs to get started.
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on 16 November 2013
I love this book! I've been working through it slowly for a number of months. I think it has just the right pace and it explains some of the difficult grammar points very succinctly without trying to dumb down. The exercises are well thought out and do a good job of making the information stick without being too boring. The audio examples are excellent and as far as I can tell they sound very natural which really helps to get the accent right. Not only does it teach the language but it is also full of interesting tidbits of information about Catalan culture. The topics in the dialog seem very modern and relevant so it is great training to try and join in a conversation with a group of modern Catalans.

Another review mentions that the vocabulary it teaches is a bit limited. I don't think this is a major problem because you will want to use the course alongside other types of resources anyway and these are often better ways to learn words. If you have a dictionary handy you can find the meanings easily. I am learning new vocabulary by speaking with friends, reading articles and watching TV3 online. It is easy to make the words stick in the mind with something like AnkiDroid and spaced repetition.

One minor complaint is that I find that in real conversations Catalans tend to mix in a few Castilian words and expressions as well. The book so far hasn't mentioned this, perhaps because it wants to teach pure Catalan, but I think it is quite important if you really want to speak the 'colloquial' language. My advice is that if you come across a strange word in the wild that you can't find in the dictionary, don't be shy to also check for it in a Spanish dictionary!
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on 8 August 2017
I'm writing this as someone who can already speak Spanish and French to a pretty decent level, so my experience is different from those who start Catalan not knowing Spanish or another romance language.

Really, really liked this book. The dialogues are challenging but not too hard, engaging, the explanations and vocabulary are good, along with cultural tidbits of information which were very interesting. It gradually moves you from dialogues to short then longer written texts.

I just wish it were more extensive - it covers all the basic grammar points, but doesn't go into the finer points of language. Still, a thoroughly decent read.
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on 25 August 2015
Download the audio for this course from the publisher website:
http://www.routledgetextbooks.com/textbooks/colloquial/catalan.php

I have been waiting for this CD for months as it never return to stock and £999.11 for a CD is a joke.

Go and download it for free with a clean conscience.
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on 5 November 2007
In recent years, Routledge has gone from consistently producing excellent language courses to producing some excellent courses and some bad courses. Unfortunately, Colloquial Catalan is a prime example of the very worst Colloquial courses.

The main error in this course is the fact that it's exceptionally limited. After completing some of the other, more extensive Colloquial courses, you will master the grammar of the language and have a solid basic vocabulary. Colloquial courses like Colloquial Italian, Colloquial Czech, Colloquial Albanian or Colloquial Icelandic list over 2000 words. The average Colloquial courses list 1000-1500 words. In sharp contrast, Colloquial Catalan doesn't even reach 600 words! Hpoing to be able to communicate with such a limited vocabulary is fruitless.

Fortunately for the reader interested in learning Catalan, there are better courses available. In my opinion, the Colloquial courses are often a better option than Teach Yourself courses, but that's certainly not the case with Catalan. The old version of Teach Yourself Catalan is the best one, about three times as extensive as Colloquial Catalan both in vocabulary and in its explanations of grammar. The new Teach Yourself Catalan isn't as extensive, but it will still teach you more than twice as much as Colloquial Catalan.
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TOP 1000 REVIEWERon 8 June 2010
The back cover of the audio CD has the following information:

ISBN 9780415302562 (CD)
ISBN 9780415234122 (Book)
ISBN 9780415442039 (Book and CDs course)
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on 20 August 2009
The book is fine but it refers to a CD that was not mentioned in the Amazon Details or received/

Is it now possible to get the CD.
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