Due to the boss leaving early, I write this in bed along with a sleeping dog. Disgusting I know, and no doubt horribly unhygienic, but almost certainly good for a healthy immune system. And he isn’t actually under the dovet …
I wanted to have some neat link with ‘let sleeping dogs lie’ and Assimil but can’t think of one. Probably because it is too early. I am (by inclination) a games programmer after all. Cliches and all that.
Anyway, back to Assimil.
Firstly, an admission, I *cough* never reached lesson 100 and it could be sometime before I do, but I wanted Lesson 100 in the title. It gives me more credibility. Lists always include ‘ten ways to be highly effective’ *yawn* or ‘100 great ideas to …’ (fingers down throat).
So Assimil. Well, Assimil are a series (of highly regarded) language products comprising of 100 short dialogs, along with some grammatical explanations. The idea is that you spend no more than half an hour a day (or thereabouts) with each lesson, doing a lesson a day until you reach lesson 50. This is called the first or passive wave.
After lesson 50, each day you do the next lesson and revise previous lessons starting from the first. So on day 50, you do lesson 50 and revise the first lesson, and on day 51, you do lesson 52 and revise lesson 2 and so on …This is called the second wave, or active phase.
The key is that you are supposed to learn and reproduce the lesson being revised more or less by heart. So you should have memorised lesson one, two … This works because you internalize key language structres.
The idea is a good one … in theory kids.
Because there is, or certainly was for me a problem with this. I admit it could be that my memory is shot, or my brain is already full but …
… I found that the lessons rapidly increase in difficulty too quickly. I suspect that if you have some knowledge of a similar language this isn’t a problem, but I found it next to impossible to do more than skim the lessons in the half hour allocated in the passive phase.
The amount of new vocabulary added per lesson also increases exponentially, and many of the words only occur a few times within the dialogs. I discovered that it would literally take me hours to complete each active lesson. For me, the course would be much more useful if it covered less of the language but in more detail.
But, forewarned is forearmed, and knowing this I would still recommend Assimil because :-
1. The dialogs are good and clearly spoken.
2. I like the grammatical explanations and notes.
3. I found the shorter dialogs possible and useful to memorise.
4. The course provides a structure to learning.
but with the following caveats.
1. Use Assimil in conjunction with another course.
2. Don’t try and do a lesson a day – unless you are a genius or maybe your memory if better than mine.
3. Don’t use Assmiil as your first course, but spend some time with the language first.
4. Don’t bother with the low frequency vocabulary. An illustration is a lesson in a post office where the word ‘registered post’ is used. This is pretty far down my list of useful vocabulary.
For those who are interested, I’m now on Lesson 38 regarding the active wave, and have stopped the passive wave entirely. In the end, I found it unhelpful, and somewhat demotivating.
To sum up I would say, that using Assimil is like taking a dog for a walk (y ahoro tengo que sacar a pasear al perro incluso si va a llover).