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How to use Assimil

One question I get asked frequently and that I see people asking online is that of how do I use Assimil ? Well If you open the book up on the insert of the cover there is a section explaining how to use your Assimil course, however I find a lot of people tend  to find these instructions not detailed enough, and the explanation given for the passive and active phases confusing. An older Assimil Dutch course actually has more in-depth instructions on how to use the Assimil Method, lets go over them.

Firstly we’ll cover the passive phase.

Passive Phase (First Wave)


1. Listen to the dialogue with the book closed. It doesn’t matter if you don’t understand what is being said in the dialogue. This is for you simply to absorb the language, hear the foreign sounds without being influenced by how the words are spelt. 

2. Listen to the recording a second time while looking at the translation (L1), or whatever base language you’re using to learn the target language.

3. Read the target language text aloud.

4. Read the target language text again, this time without looking at the translation.

5. Listen to the recording twice, once while looking at the English translation (L1)  and once while looking at the target language text.

6. Listen to the recording again with the book closed. At this point you should understand what is being said.

7. Listen to the recording once more. Pause the audio after each sentence, and try to repeat it aloud.

8. Carefully read the comments several times. Examine the notes and examine the sentences being explained.

9. Read / Repeat the exercises, complete them and check your answer with the answer key.

Active Phase (Second Wave)

You begin the active phase or second wave at lesson 50 for the with ease series (collection sans peine) and 35 for the advanced series (collection perfectionnement). The only difference between the passive and active phase, is that after learning a new lesson you go back and review a previous lesson. So for example, say I’ve just finished lesson 50, I then flip back to lesson 1 and translate the dialogue from my L1 into the target language, (you can do this orally, written or both), then compare your translation with the target language text.

finish lesson 51 – review lesson 2
finish lesson 
52  – review lesson 3
finish lesson 53 – review lesson 4
and so on and so forth…

Thankfully, Assimil makes it easy to keep track of which lesson you need to go back to, by including a small note at the end of each lesson.

Now when you reach the end of the book (which is usually the 100th lesson in the with ease series and 70th in the advanced series), you’ll just be over half-way on the second wave. You’re encouraged from then on to carry on with the second wave until you finish it, so even though you won’t have a lesson to learn anymore, you just need to review a lesson daily.

Another question I see ask a lot is what does the (N. ) symbol mean? If you look in the review lessons which occur every seventh lesson, each main point starts with a number. The (N. ) simply refers to the corresponding note in the next review lesson. For example the image below has (N.1), if I wanted to check this note, I would flip forward to the next review lesson and look at note 1.

Example of (N.) occurring in a lesson.



At the end of the day, this way of going through the Assimil series is rather methodical. Assimil is a flexible course, a lot of people use it differently, including myself, so change it to suit your needs and learning preferences. 



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