Non-LingQ Language Courses

I was wondering what your favorite language courses are (besides softwares, chatrooms, actual conversation, etc.) I am talking about Teach Yourself, Assimil, Colloquial, things like this. If you have experience with these could you compare them?

Thanks : )

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I enjoy the Assimil courses a lot. They have no English in them and give you pure target language material. Currently I am using Assimil for Italian. I have also just picked up the Original Michel Thomas (not the rip offs that they do now with his name). I’m going to give these a go, they do contain quiet a lot of English in them but it’s comprehensible input so I don’t see why not.

I also have the Colloquial courses for Italian (Colloquial Language Series Website - Colloquial Italian), they are pretty boring and are full of grammar and barely any conversation. The audio quality is amazing but has some English in it. If you’re into the grammar approach then maybe it’s a good course for you. It’s pretty dry in my opinion. Might come back to it later in my Italian studies. Quick note: the audio is actually available for free download, so if you’re interested in slicing it up into your target language, it could make for some good listening material.

I have just ordered the Berlitz Italian Self Teacher ( - 1950s hardcover edition, I’m pretty excited for it to get here, I’ve heard some great things about it. They do have it in some other languages and they follow a very similar format, so if you try comparing them you’ll get some extra understanding that way.

I’ve looked into the FSI courses ( also, they are free and have some great content. I’m thinking of just cutting up the audio into one long playlist with no English at some point. Same idea with these, pretty traditional approach with exercises and grammar explanations.

Final note, the more courses I look at the more they are the same to me. It really doesn’t matter what you follow as long as you have a consistent approach. Most people just bounce back and forth and don’t invest time with one course/method.

Hope that helps, Ciao!

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I tried teach yourself and found it incredibly boring.

I have Assimil “perfectionnement Russe” and sadly haven’t opened it yet. It’s been sitting on my desk for 3 months now. People say that Assimil is a good series for European languages and awful for everything else.

I love audio based courses like Pimsleur and Glossika and I found both really helpful even though they’re expensive.

If I had to do a list of my top 3, it would go like this:
1.) Assimil - Great tool for getting on your feet in the language. Overall basic view of grammar/how the language works. Has plenty of audio in the target language only.
2.) Pimsleur - Great for pronunciation and basic vocabulary which you generally can use pretty quickly.
3.) Glossika - Hours/1000s of sentences in the target language with audio
Honorable mention: Phone apps, especially for learning the writing system of a language that doesn’t use Roman letters.

For me, Colloquial/Teach Yourself/Living Language are all the same for me, which is boring. I feel they progress too rapidly, too much listing, too much English on the recordings, and overall little information compared to Assimil or Glossika.

However, if it’s a language I’m passionate about, I usually end up going through a Colloquial/Teach Yourself/Living Language fully at some point in time, just not in the beginning.

I’ve tried Living Language and Teach Yourself. My Russian course was a Living Language “Complete Russian: The Basics”, which didn’t really teach me a lot but it did have some grammar which I memorized very thoroughly. The approach of this Living Language series (2008) is to teach you, in each chapter, two lists of words, then two lists of phrases, then two lists of sentences and finally you get two conversations. In between there are grammar lessons. This approach is slow, but it was what I had. All in all I’d say there are better courses out there if you’re taking the grammar approach.

My Serbian course was Teach Yourself Complete Serbian, which has a slightly different approach. The language itself is introduced with short conversations, with grammar explanations in between which can be quite detailed and I imagine overwhelming for many. Like here’s the declination table for the possessive pronoun Мој. Learn it! And then your face goes pale. But in the end it taught me much more grammar than the Russian course taught me. Even archaic grammar such as the Aorist tense which I encounter now that I’m trying to read Genesis in Serbian, but which is almost never used in the spoken language. All in all I was very pleased with this course (because I want the grammar) and if I found another course with the same structure I would consider buying it.

However, the Teach Yourself German course was a major letdown for me. Too many exercises and too little grammatical detail, so just because one course has this or that approach that clearly doesn’t mean they all do. I have Teach Yourself Biblical Hebrew, but I haven’t gotten far enough to judge the structure. When all is considered I prefer Teach Yourself.

The Berlitz courses aren’t the best. Just a bunch of grammar drills


Yeah this grammar approach isn’t for everyone. When I’m going through such a grammar oriented course I’m not really enjoying it in itself as much as just doing the work knowing that some day it will pay off. I don’t work for too long each day with it though because it’s boring. I go for anywhere between 15 minutes and an hour, depending on the workload. If grammar lessons are too long I divide them into segments to reduce the daily work load. This approach requires patience but it works for me.

i think assimil is good generally and if you speak french you have access to even much more languages ,i only use colloquial /teach yourself when i’m tryin to learn a uncommon language for popular languages they are better options the same thing for fsi and living languages

You’re more patient than I am.

Luckily I’m majoring in Russian so I have to do some grammar from time to time.

Actually I should mention that I like the grammar part. It was the conversations I found boring. I suppose I would have found any other course boring as well then.

Before I did LingQ, I used Pimsleur. It was a bit slow, but if you’re on the shy side like I am, it helps you get out of your comfort zone and just talk. Basically, you’re having a fake conversation with the program. “Mrs. Smith is hungry, what do you ask her?” The vocabulary is limited, but as a beginner, it still makes you do SOMETHING. I think it does a great job helping beginners, but it’s severely limited and is only good for the bare minimum traveler/businessperson. Hell, you could probably make your own Pimsleur style lessons using LingQ’s ‘Who is She?’ course.

By the way, does anyone know if Assimil would be of any use for an intermediate person like myself?

“…I was wondering what your favorite language courses are (besides softwares, chatrooms, actual conversation, etc.) I am talking about Teach Yourself, Assimil, Colloquial, things like this. If you have experience with these could you compare them?..”

It’s kind of hard to generalise about some of these, because the quality often varies from one language to the next. For example, the main Teach Yourself book for Hindi is pretty good. But the Persian book from the same series is pretty darned poor, in my opinion. The same most likely applies to the Colloquial series.

In general, though, I would say that Assimil is pretty good for almost all of their languages. The downside is that they don’t offer that many languages with English as the teaching language. If your French is good enough, you can access the entire range. They have quite a lot of German-taught versions too.

There is a British publisher called “Linguaphone” that also has/had some pretty good stuff. The older generation of courses from the 60s and 70s (which you can still hunt down on Ebay) were especially good. As with all older materials, one has to be prepared to digitise content from cassettes or records - which also requires the right equipment in order to be done well.

Some of their courses were worse than others: for example the Russian one has weird-ass audio, where they have inserted artificially long gaps between every single sentence - even in the later lessons. If you have the software and the technical know-how you can strip out all of these silences, then go back through and re-insert slight pauses where appropriate - but it just sucks that one has to do that.

Their Arabic, Mandarin and Japanese courses are pretty good - but not for the faint-hearted learner!

Their courses for some other languages (like Afrikaans, Indonesian, Welsh, Danish, Finnish, Hindi, etc) were also good, but have now been discontinued through lack of demand.

You might want to check out the in-depth series reviews for Assimil, Linguaphone, Teach Yourself and Colloquial (plus several others) done by Professor Arguelles on Youtube.

I have been trying to do Russian with all but no Grammar review: Just pure lingq input but It’s getting to the point where I have to bite the bullet and get into it :frowning:

It’s so freaking boring doing grammar drills.

Having said that, I actually really enjoy studying Korean grammar for some reason. It’s all based on context or meaning: not on arbitrary gender, pronoun, or cases… well except for the politeness levels of verb conjugation which I still don’t really get.

The cases systems in Japanese and Korean are kind of confusing but dictated by separate particles after words that differentiate between subject, topic, direct object, possession, direction, and so on. With Korean it is like solving a puzzle because the letters stack on top of each other to form blocks and are visual clues to the grammar. It’s really just fun, particularly because Talk to me in Korean has such a marvelous stepladder of grammar progression.

Here is a structure, here’s what it does, here are examples. And they cover everything really well.

I wish to god that there was something as good as TTMIK for Japanese or Russian… but with Russian I don’t think there is any getting around the fact that you just have to be aware of and exposed to the endings A LOT!

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Not living language. I tried that for arabic and basically threw book 1 in the trash it was so boring.

I think that Assimil is the best after doing some research

BTW What target language are you aiming for here?

Whether Assimil is useful for intermediate, will depend on where you are on the scale. Their " With ease" series is meant to go from 0 to B1 in most cases. The “Using” series covers B1 to C1, give or take depending on language. The “Using” courses are great, especially if you’re continuing from “with ease,” or if you need a bridge to get you into native level material.

“but with Russian I don’t think there is any getting around the fact that you just have to be aware of and exposed to the endings A LOT!”

Yes your conclusion is correct. In short, if you don’t know the endings you can’t understand anything. Especially not when they shuffle the words.