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German For Beginners is a textbook based course accompanied by an audio CD and free additional internet resources. In this way, the traditional textbook format is complemented and built upon excellently by a wide variety of material online and an audio CD for native speaker pronunciations and listening exercises. Although marketed as suitable for all ages, the fun, informal style and cartoon illustrations will be most appreciated by children. In the same way, the grammatical explanations are made as simple as possible in order not to unnecessarily confuse a child who will need little more than some gentle encouragement to begin picking up German fluidly and naturally. This said, even for adults, we found the grammatical explanations refreshingly clear and succinct; this may be of real use to those of us who have, in the past, found language study difficult. Vocab and grammar can be practiced with the puzzles which, although may not be the fastest, most effective way to learn, are certainly light hearted and will keep the attention of adults and kids alike. Throughout the book, lessons are complemented by an audio CD which will help you improve your listening, get accustomed to a native German accent and keep learning on the go. Either take the CD with you in the car or the kitchen while cooking or easily load it to your Mp3 player to keep learning German while jogging or walking the dog.
We especially liked the integration of online resources into this book as it really expanded the amount and variety of learning material on offer. The links range from practical phrases for use in different social scenarios to cartoon animals who get you to copy words and actions in order to make essential associations between words and meanings; perfect for those with too much energy to stay seated for more than 10 minutes! Despite all these resources being free online, the inclusion of links to them in this book will save you a lot of time and can help you uncover some real gems.
For the first 15 minutes we were amused by the easy going style and content of this textbook. However, after some time it became clear that adults serious about learning German will only really get the bare essentials. Although this product is marketed at all ages, we would not recommend it for anyone over the age of 15. The illustrations, puzzles and online resources are all designed for children and even teenagers will find them somewhat infantile. Furthermore, being only a beginner’s course, 11 + learners will probably find the content itself quite limited. Although this book will complement private tuition well as learners can be encouraged to expand on the activities, it is a shame that there is not an elementary or intermediate version. As a beginner’s resource specifically for children, this book is excellent but the more we begin to deviate from this specialty, the less useful German for beginners becomes. However, at an excellent price this book does not represent a large financial commitment and its limitations can be forgiven.
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