Assimil & LingQ: A Review

Finally, after 3 months of intense study, I have finished my Assimil German manual. I thought the community would be interested in a review of it. This concludes phase 1 of my study. Now onto graded readers. All questions are welcome. Here is the link to the review:

Thank you for this review! Good luck with your German. Ooops, I meant to write: Danke für diesen Bericht. Ich wünsche Dir weiterhin viel Spaß und Erfolg beim Deutschlernen!

I agree. I currently use “French with ease” (“Französisch ohne Mühe” is the German title) to repeat and reinforce French that I learned long ago at school.

The quality of the book and the recordings is excellent, and everything is created in a very professional way. I am studying the lessons within LingQ and repeat them sentence by sentence (with audio) in Anki, see http://bit.ly/fyffpc (in German).

@ Sanne

Thank you Sanne! My German is still basic, I cannot write without getting stuck, but now I can at least make sense of it. Before it was like deciphering the Enigma codes.

PS: I’ve imported your compliment and lingq’d a couple of new words, thank you!

@ Hape

With German, I’m adopting a new strategy: only use content made by professionals [ graded readers, paid audiobooks, beginner manuals, conventional books and magazines (in time) ] I’m of the opinion you must invest some money to get the best form of the language you can.

@adalbertolito: Sorry, this sounds quite arrogant to me. I cannot speak for other languages but in the German library you’ll find a lot of material on a very high level produced very carefully. I and other members put a lot of effort into creating high quality content. It’s your decision to use content made by professionals, but you cannot rate the value of the German library when you haven’t used it.

What Assimil and similiar courses are good for is that they usually explain the basic grammar rules in a nice way. This is missing on LingQ. In the future I’ll add more notes to my German courses but I haven’t found the time yet to use this new possiblity.

@ Vera

Believe me, I didn’t want to sound arrogant. I’m sorry if you took my post that way. I do not devalue content made by other members for free.

My argument is a purely statistical one: on average, content made by professionals is better, whereas with free content, you often have to sift through it to get the best parts (and time is money.) Now I have a pile of graded readers to study, so I’ll continue with them. Then I’ll have a look at the library. I have rated no lessons on the German library, therefore, strictly speaking, I’ve not yet expressed my opinion on its quality.

I’m going out now. I may reply late this evening.

@VeraI

Why do you consider adalbertolito’s post as arrogant? Only because he prefers content made by professionals? He did not say anything about the quality of the LingQ library!

The Assimil course has beside its high quality of the recordings and the excellent speakers other advantages: it contains a lot of humour and is progressive in a very efficient way. New words are repeated in the following lessons within new contexts. The grammar explanations are very little, the focus is always to learn the grammar from reading and listening the dialogues and stories (in context).

The structured approach, the nicely created progressiveness and the high quality of the audios makes Assimil a good companion and a good investment for a beginner, even at LingQ. After this course a learner will be well prepared to study any content in LingQ’s library.

IMHO, the LingQ library has not enough guidance, progressiveness and explanations for beginners. The beginner has to find out a lot of things alone, and many people are not able or not willing to do this, so they give up.

@Adalbertolito: Interesting. You rate by statistic. Where can I find this statistic?

@Hape. I’m sure Assimil and other courses are of high quality. I use resources besides LingQ as well. And I agree that for Beginners they provide better guidance. Adalbertolito wrote “I’m of the opinion you must invest some money to get the best form of the language you can.” In my opinion is the conclusion that free content is generally of low quality. That is my point of criticism to his post, because especially after the first steps you can get a lot out of LingQ and its excellent content. There is no need to spend money for graded readers in my opinion.

Adalbertolito (did I get that right?) didn’t sound arrogant to me either.

Learning a new language I would probably neither use the lingq library nor “professional” material for that matter, because I think authentic content on the web is the most relevant, interesting and challenging one. So-called professional material is mostly of better audio quality, has a professional feel to it but may have other issues. I used Chinesepod mp3s (a Shanghai based company) for a while for learning Chinese, but eventually they didn’t suit my learning needs either. Ultimately it is a personal choice, but I always prefer authentic media content in the target language.

Vera, my plans have changed, I can’t go out, so I can reply to you. Still, I must study for my high school exams, and I can’t sustain a prolonged debate. So let me deploy all my arguments:

  1. I started German in mid-February 2011. I bought the Assimil manual on March 9th 2011. In the month in between, I used LingQ’s traditional beginner lessons. They were good, I’ll admit that. But the audio quality, not to mention their graduality, was by no means comparable to Assimil’s lessons. In those 25-30 days, I learned almost nothing. After my first month with Assimil, I was tackling compound verb tenses with ease. The main reason why I pay for using LingQ is the vocabulary saving system. If it had no library whatsoever, I would still pay for it. With this I’m not devaluing the library. I know it is a blessing to other people and I respect them.

  2. When I learned Spanish, I used free resources, and among mediocre podcasts, I found delightful documentaries by Felix Rodriguez de la Fuente, radio programs by Juan Antonio Cebrian (true gems) and RNE, and some more. I definitely do not dislike free resources a priori.

  3. I think your judgement might be biased. The majority of lessons in the German Library have been imported by you, therefore you are obviously, and quite logically, interested in students using them. With this I do not mean to attack you, or discredit your reputation, or question your moral integrity. I’d like people who are not German content importers to bring to the table their views. So far, people have said my post didn’t sound arrogant to them.

Reply to all these arguments, if you can and want.

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@ Friedemann

My first name is Adalberto. “adalbertolito” is just a nickname, sum of my first name and surname minus a “s” and a “o”

I have just read the review. Thanks.

My comments follow under your comments Adalberto: I used Assimil for Russian, (good) and Korean ( poor). I think everything depends on one’s learning style.

I find that I need lot of content, from different sources. Focusing on one source, just wont do it. Thus Assimil is just a source of content for me, and the amount of words covered by these texts is of necessity limited. Thus I prefer the LingQ approach, especially in a language where we have so much content as in German. I prefer to focus on words and phrases. I prefer the ability to choose the words and phrases that I need to know. And there is so much different content, and eventually the ability to import so that the possible content is unlimited.

I have not learned German from scratch at LingQ so cannot compare. I am looking forward to getting new languages at LingQ and I will do them from scratch at LingQ. Yes the lack of grammar explanations at LingQ can be a problem, although the kind of grammar related content that we have in our German library should help. There is also more opportunity to add grammar notes at LingQ and hopefully that will come over time. Meanwhile, I think we still need to buy a small grammar book for regular reference.

Excellent audio quality.

yes, and this can be a big factor for beginners
Excellent typography.
yes…but less important in my view, if anything the text is quite small
Carefully studied graduality.
Only for the first half of the book or so
Digital texts available (mp3 version)
That is great to hear since they can now be used with LingQ. That was not the case when I did them for Russian and Korean.
Good quality paper.
Not important to me
Concise grammar appendix.
I prefer to get a small grammar book for $10 and review regularly. This kind of material abounds.
Concise bilingual glossary.
My main complaint is that there is no glossary per lesson, just a translation. I rarely refer to glossaries at the end of books, I need them with each lesson.
Pleasant cultural notes.
I read a couple and then stopped reading them I found them a distraction.
Not so arduous exercises.
I do not do exercises when I learn
Amusing vignettes.
Some of the content in Russian was amusing. The Korean was pretty bad all the way through,
Literal and free translations available.
I do not use these.

In the end it depends on what you like. It is great to hear the Assimil can be integrated with LingQ. We may approach them again about selling their lessons across our platform.

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Saying professionally produced material is likely to be better is an uncontroversial and bland truth. Not at all arrogant.

That said, personally I prefer any material transcribed post hoc, rather than read out loud, and I do not like unnaturally slow speaking speeds. Any sort of graduation of material I make myself by altering the length according to my level. Shorter for beginners etc Word repetition is irrelevant to me. In the long term, it takes care of itself. I honestly see no need for grammar explanations. Maybe this will change as I progress in Arabic.

At any rate, I’m going to publish, in time, reviews of my graded readers. Unlike Assimil courses though, they are not sold worldwide, therefore it might be better to describe how they will have helped me. Stay tuned.

Moi personellement je me suis inscrit à E learning d’Italien sur la page d’Assimil il y a plusieurs ans mais je ne l’ai utilisé qu’une ou deux fois. Au lieu de ce site web, j’ai écouté des Podcasts.

I personally signed up for E learning of Italian on Assimil. I was able to use this systme for 1 year but I only used it a few times. Maybe it was difficult for me to learn this new language.

And I also tried Euro talk CD rom to learn French many years ago. It was enjoyable.

And I used Lingaphone to learn French when I was very young (at the age of 22). It was great. The sound quality was excellent.

@ Shigeharu OIWA

How would I like to reply to you in French! You shouldn’t have any problems passing from French to Italian. French, although quite different from Italian in terms of sound, seems (to me) more grammatically related to it than Spanish. Should you pick it up again, I’m here to help.

No I wanted to say something in French at first, that’s why I wrote it.

To tell the truth, I used to learn Assimil “le français sans peine” (Japanese version) when I was staying in Paris at the age of 24 or 25. This method was very laughable. I listened to it again and again as well as watched TV programs in French

@Adalbertolito

Vera’s content from the lingQ library is generally very good, and I would advise you to consider using it. Methods like Assimil and Linguaphone can be very effective - but there is a limit as to how far they can take you.

I myself have used Linguaphone Italian in the past - e come tu sai, non parlo Italiano molto molto bene; parlo e scrivo la lingua di Dante come un bunga-bunga-boffone!! :smiley:

@ JayB

from my previous long post “…I definitely do not dislike free resources a priori.”

I’ll use Vera’s content, that is certain. At least to see for myself how it is. And I’ll also give her feedback on her lessons, as Steve encourages us to do. Now I have some graded readers, and I’ll continue with them.

Thank you, JayB, for your coment.
Sorry, Adalberto, for not being able to answer you. I’m in preparation for my holiday. There are still so many things to do …