This week I’m reviewing the Teach Yourself Complete German course by Paul Coggle and Heiner Schenke. I’ve had this course for quite some time, and made a horrendous video four years ago. Note that this book was published in 2010 and isn’t the latest edition, which from what I’ve seen looks like a minor facelift.
The Teach Yourself series has been around quite some time initially being published in 1938 and are one of the most popular brands when it comes to language learning (especially in English speaking countries). The company publish a large range of courses covering over 65 languages. The books come in 4 different levels, Get Talking… & Get Started series which are aimed at beginners, the Complete series (from beginner to intermediate) and finally the Enjoy.. Series which are aimed at Intermediate learners. Recently the company released the Language Hacker series made with Benny Lewis which focus on conversation.
Table of Contents
Meet the authors
Only got a minute, 5 minutes, 10 minutes..
Lessons 1 – 23
Key to exercises
Listening comprehension transcripts
Glossary of grammatical terms
List of common irregular verbs
German – English vocabulary
English – German vocabulary
Taking it further
Index to Grammar
470 pages in total
- Each lesson starts off with an objective stating what you will learn in that particular lesson, and some language points that are being introduced.
- Presentation of new language – text with illustrations or of a dialogue.
- Practice of the new language – huge variety of exercises from crosswords, unscrambling, listening, translating etc.
- Description of language forms and grammar – Grammar points are presented in two ways: (1) By way of a section called Sprachinfo which explain grammar points in bite size chunks. (2) At the end of the lesson there is a grammar section which explains points in further detail.
- Insight boxes – tips on how to learn a language and various cultural notes on life in Germany.
- Test Yourself – In this section you can test yourself to see that you understand the main points of the lesson and there is even a small checklist to complete to make sure that you understand the lesson’s objectives.
Exercises & Grammar Explanations
In my opinion one of the best things about this course is the large amount of exercises includes. There are crosswords, true and false questions, fill in the blanks, listening, matching and role-playing exercises. If you’re someone that prefers to have a course book with lots of exercises then perhaps this is the book for you. I really liked the use of pictures of authentic things such as menus, postcards, timetables, letters and CVs. As very much a visual learner I found it useful to have lots of images to aid in the learning process.
Insight boxes appear at numerous points throughout a lesson, sometimes they include tips on how to learn a language aimed clearly for those people who have never learned a foreign language before. At times these insights included some interesting cultural information pertaining to life in Germany, some of the insights included are; Rent or Buy, Tourist Information, Celebrating, Studying in Germany and more.
Two 70 minutes CDs are included in the complete German package. I found the audio to be of good quality. Throughout the course I found myself being constantly annoyed by the amount of English spoken on the cds, it really transported back to the times I was sitting in a classroom at school listening to some old tape blare out ‘exercise 2, answer the two questions on the recording, first giving your name and then spelling your surname’. One of my pet-peeves is having too much English and I feel this course has too much, you can always edit it out but just keep in mind that you’re not getting 140 minutes of pure German audio.
The good thing with this course and some of the other Teach Yourself books, is that while they tend to bring out new editions quite regularly, these upgrades are reasonably minor and usually equate to nothing more than minor facelifts. I checked out the previous edition first published in 1998, and it’s pretty much exactly similar to the 2010 and 2012 edition minus the colour and a lot of the pictures. Therefore I don’t think it’s strictly necessary to buy the latest edition of this course, unless you like colour and more pictures you can probably save yourself a dollar or two.
Another thing I found is that many libraries (here in New Zealand anyway) have many of the Teach Yourself courses available for loan, so that’s another excuse to check out your local library.
In conclusion, the Teach Yourself German: Complete German course isn’t a bad course. For those of you who like a book filled with numerous types of different exercises then I think you might take a fancy to this course. I found the course to be quite fast moving in terms of difficulty, a lot of information is being thrown at you, one could benefit from going through the book multiple times to soak up everything. Compared to some other courses I’ve tried, I felt this course has a heavier emphasis on grammar, which depending on what you prefer might be a positive or negative thing. I also appreciated that more pictures and colour were added to this edition of the course, which made the course much more pleasing to the eye. However it’s not without fault, there’s just too much English on the cd’s. I thought the lessons felt a bit disjointed in parts and to be frank the dialogues were just boring. At times while going through this book it felt as if I was going through a school textbook it was that dull.
Complete German is an all-round course. Filled with many types of different exercises, decent grammar explanations and images. Unnecessary amount of English on audio cds, the course is a bit dry in places e.g. dialogues.