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Standing in stark contrast to the action packed, feature heavy, multimedia, cutting edge technological solutions to your German language learning needs, German, how to speak and write it, is nothing more than a simple and concise textbook. Originally published in 1952 and much of its material coming from the 30s and 40s, some may look at this and wonder how something so dated can stand up to the sophisticated products of today. The fact is however, this book has stood the test of time. Consistent demand since its first publishing stands testament to the solid teaching methods, high quality content and effectiveness. To be perfectly honest, when first opening this book we felt as though we had stepped back in time, but very soon our scepticism turned into a full hearted “they don’t make ‘em how they used to” attitude!
Once you get used to the rather small text you will soon warm to the precise layout of this book as well as its general style. Most other products in this category try to be cool, comic, stylish and modern but don’t quite hit the right note. The content and graphics of German, how to speak and write it, however, are honest and lighthearted if not genuinely funny. Despite some words and phrases being quite out of date, and a distinct absence of words such as mobile phone, solar energy and internet, we actually found this product to be quaint rather than dated.
Consisting of 30 lessons, this book will take you through different grammatical concepts and sets of vocab, each one building on its predecessor at a gentle pace. Each lesson uses a variety of activities such as grammar exercises, stories, translations, poems, a pronunciation guide and interesting facts in order to deliver a well rounded German learning experience. All the features were interesting and challenging and the focus is on understanding rather than memorization. We found this approach far more stimulating as well as useful for developing a well rounded knowledge of German, rather than just a superficial quick fix.
It is not possible for a book to boast all the fancy features of software, but German, how to speak it and write it, makes up for this with material that doesn’t age and a technique to match. However, we do think that it wouldn’t be too difficult to include a complementary audio CD which would add to this product immensely. It is all very well knowing your grammar and vocab, but if you have a bad accent, no one will be able to understand you. The danger is that when learning a foreign language, it is all too easy to develop bad habits that will be hard to shake; setting your German learning back in the long term. The fact is that a pronunciation guide is simply not enough to meet these ends and users of this product will have to complement it with other sources of learning if they are to be able to communicate effectively in German.
Overall, this is one of the only products in this category of which its high quality content and teaching methods are left to speak for themselves. We would recommend it specifically to complete beginners looking for some solid foundations to their German learning, or students of all levels looking for a revision and reference tool. Reviewing this product was like watching Casablanca after sitting through hours of Hollywood blockbusters.
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