Starting at intermediate level?

Recently I’ve been wondering whether the appropriate level of material to begin working with for any given target language may actually vary (perhaps a great deal) according to a learner’s existing linguistic background?

In other words, I’ve been wondering whether there is such a thing as one single “beginner level”?

I’ve been checking out some Swedish content here at LingQ recently, and the beginner level stuff just doesn’t feel at all right for me - somehow it seems slow, simple and boring. That isn’t, however, to say it would be too slow and simple for everyone. As a native speaker of English who has pretty sound grasp of German, I feel like I already have a big up-front advantage when it comes to other Germanic languages.

Therefore if I were going to learn Swedish, I’m sure I would want to start with (at least) low intermediate level, because that would just seem more stimulating and interesting.

When it comes to something like Assimil too, I wonder whether people would be well advised to skip the first 30 (or even the first 50) lessons if they already know a related language well? For example, if you already know Spanish very well, maybe you should skip the first half of Assimil Italian, or Assimil French?

On the other hand, because of how this stuff is structured, there is a real fear that one would be missing out on vital things which wouldn’t be repeated later on. Therefore it does require a certain boldness to skip right over the first 30% or 50% of lessons in an expensive course like Assimil or Linguaphone!

And yet, I really do wonder whether this could be one reason why I have so often become demotivated whenever I’ve tried to start another Germanic language in the past - simply because I am making life way too easy (and thus boring) at the initial stage?

What do other folks think about this?

Regardless of how much you think you understand from other languages, there are always many things which will surprise. I think it’s best to still go through this material, but you’ll go through it much quicker. Mix it in with intermediate material, is my suggestion. (This worked best for my Yiddish after having an intermediate level Dutch).

An important thing is that going through the lower level stuff, you’ll get a good appreciation of how the languages differ. Might be helpful in not getting confused between them.

I would say that if you feel that starting at beginner’s level doesn’t feel right, don’t start there. You can always return to the beginner’s level later on if you wish. I agree that as both are Germanic languages there’s a pay off! Actually come to that, English is also a Germanic language. I can certainly say that knowing Swedish has helped me immensely in my quest to learn German. While my German grammar is still appalling and I wonder if I will ever manage to master it, my listening and reading skills have really shot ahead. Swedish and English are much more similar grammatically than German and English.

You will probably find that Swedish will always feel more simple than German as it happens. The grammar is far less complex and a translation from German to Swedish contains only about half the number of words. A Swedish translation of German seems to literally take up about 50% of the space. It would be interesting to know whether your pronunciation of Swedish would sound more German, American or hard to place. It could sound Swedish for all I know. How long have you been speaking German? 20 years or so, all in all?

I unfortunately know nothing about Assimil. I have been sorely tempted to try the German B2 level from French, that’s the “Assimil Perfectionnement Allemand”, Deutschkurs in französischer Sprache. I find learning German through French is the only real way I can learn, it simply doesn’t work for me to learn German through English. I would like to really see a page or two or a chapter, or listen to an audio or two in order to establish whether I would like it, but it seems impossible to find, so I guess it will have to be a shot in the dark!

Any language learning requires dedication whether or not it is similar to languages one already knows. I am surprised you get bored, if you do, you can simply go faster or skip exercises until you get to where you want to be :slight_smile:

“And yet, I really do wonder whether this could be one reason why I have so often become demotivated whenever I’ve tried to start another Germanic language in the past - simply because I am making life way too easy (and thus boring) at the initial stage?”

I felt the same with Spanish. At school we only did stupid drills and it seemed to me (and to many French pupils who study Spanish) that one simply needed to add “a” or “o” at the end of a French word to make a Spanish word. Therefore why bother to learn it?

When I start Italian, I won’t do it at a beginner level. Anyway, whether the language is close to French or not, I hate the beginner stage. So if I can skip it, I won’t hesitate…

I agree that we should move to interesting authentic content as soon as we can and want to.