What is Assimil ?
Assimil is a France based publishing company that specialises in publishing foreign language courses. Created by Alphonse Chérel in 1929, the company has grown into a household name in France, however outside it isn’t nearly as well-known. Traditionally a Assimil is known for its variety of ‘sans peine’ (with ease) courses and ‘perfectionnement’ (using) courses. Nowadays they seem to be publishing a variety of things from exercise books and phrasebooks to flash card type games.
The Method ?
The Assimil method is based on Intuitive Assimilation which was created by Alphonse Chéral. The method consists of working your way through the first half of the course known as the passive phase, during which you immerse yourself in the language simply by reading and repeating each lesson. Once you’ve completed the passive phase you move onto the active phase where you go back over the previous lessons while continuing learning the new lessons. The whole process of Assimil is meant to mimic the natural process of how we learn our mother tongue. Generally the courses comprise of 100 lessons, but this number fluctuates depending on which course you’re using.
Table of Contents
The Assimil German book contains 100 lessons with 708 pages in total.
- How to use this German course
- The German alphabet and pronunciation
- Lessons 1 to 100
- Grammatical appendix
- Grammatical index
- German – English Glossary
- English – German Glossary
The layout of the book is similar to a parallel text, you have the target language on the left and the L1 on the right. The lessons follow a uniform approach comprising of :
- Dialogue – In German and English
- Notes – usually explaining grammar points
- Translation exercises – translate L2 into L1
- Fill in the blank exercise.
- There is a revision lesson every seventh lesson which goes over various grammar points and expressions that were introduced in the previous lessons.
I found the dialogues to interesting to varying degrees, however I must say that after working through this edition and the previous, I think the dialogues in this course are a huge improvement over the previous edition by Hilde Schneider. This recent edition by Maria Roemer and Kerstin Pfeiffer is essentially the same as the French version L’allemand but just translated into English. The dialogues tend to be short towards the start of the book and start to increase in length towards the end.
Exercises / Grammar Explanations
In every lesson, you have two types of exercises. The first in a simple translation exercise, where you translate sentences from German into English. The second exercise is a simple fill in the blank exercise. I don’t think the exercises in this book are overly challenging so I wouldn’t rely on this book if you want to challenge yourself. Grammar explanations appear as notes after the dialogue and point back to certain parts of the dialogue where an explanation is necessary, after that every seventh lesson there is a review lesson, which reinforces certain grammatical points and vocabulary from the previous six lessons and sometimes include a dialogue to translate.
This course isn’t packed full of cultural notes like some other courses, but every now and then interesting cultural information appears throughout the book. I found the various topics interesting, some examples of them are Frühstück, Bradenburger Tor, A Republic of States, Summer in Germany and Apfelschorle and Beer, Germany’s national drinks. The notes vary in length with some of them being of a rather substantial length.
The Assimil series are known for the quality recordings and the audio for this course is no exception. Like the dialogues I found the audio slightly better in this edition, perhaps it’s the difference in voice actors. The speakers at first speak slowly and as the course progresses they speed up to a more natural pace. You have several options with regards to audio, you can buy the Super Pack which comes with the book, audio cd and a mp3 cd. The Mp3 cd is great because it allows you to break up the audio even more and listen to the dialogue line by line. Check out the audio below.
The Assimil courses aren’t exactly what I’d call cheap, however I believe for what you get it’s worth the price. I must also take into account that Assimil is a French company and for those of us that live outside of Europe the books can be rather difficult to find, especially in bookshops. Unfortunately their website isn’t the easiest for non-french speakers to navigate either, being entirely in French. It’s possible to buy the book without the audio, which is obviously the cheapest option, or the Super pack with the audio cds and Mp3 cd, or alternatively you could just buy the book and get the audio later down the track but this is more expensive and you’re better of just getting the Super Pack. An E-Method also exists, however I’ve never tried it so can’t recommend it.
Book – 24,90 € (Shipping not included)
Super Pack – Book + Mp3 CD + 4 CDs. – 69,90 € (Shipping not included)
Website – Assimil (in French)
Alternatively here you can find them on Amazon.
I think that this edition of the Assimil German with Ease by Maria Roemer and Kerstin Pfeiffer is a great choice if you’re learning German. I found it to be an improvement over it’s predecessor by Hilde Schneider, not too bash it too much.. But I felt the dialogues to be an improvement over some of the random dialogues in the previous edition. I also felt the audio sounded slightly refreshing and modern but that’s just my opinion ! Like most of the Assimil with Ease courses, it states you’ll achieved B2 level at the end, I don’t think this is realistic either, but that’s marketing nowadays eh. So, if you’re a fan of the Assimil method and thinking about learning German then I can wholeheartedly recommend this course.
A good improvement over the previous edition. Good dialogues and explanations and light on grammar. High quality audio recordings with no English.