I was woken early this morning, as the Q of My H had to leave early. In consequence, I’ve been rather more productive than normal this morning. I’ve already completed the next lesson in Assimil German, walked my hound (SWP), had breakfast (muesli and yoghurt if you must know) and listened to several French podcasts.
As you can tell from todays weather picture, Jack Frost came out to play during the night. According to my father, Jack Frost is the man responsible for leaving frosty, fern-like patterns on windows on cold winter mornings.
Luckily we now have double glazing. Progress has its merits.
As it happens , I love frosty mornings (especially with double glazing) and so does SWP, so we both bounded out (him literally and me metaphorically) and started our day with a satisfying woof, bark and snuffle though the ice and cold.
But I digress, I am now on lesson 25 of Assimil German (after a brief hiatus over Christmas and New Year), and thought it was time for an update as to my progress, and some thoughts on how to use Assimil effectively.
If you’ve read my blog before, you will already know that several years ago, I battled with Polish without much success and I also used Assimil Polish in that particular skirmish.
Although on balance, I like Assimil Polish, I wasn’t totally wowed by the product, and had a bit of a love/hate relationship with it.
In contrast, I’m having much more success, and I am loving Assimil German. I think is to do with how I am using it, rather than with the course itself.
These are my thoughts on how to obtain the best results from German with Ease.
Four rules for using Assimil German effectively
1. Spend thirty minutes a day using Assimil and no more.
This is slightly counterintuitive, but one of several areas where I went astray when using Assimil Polish. I spent longer on each lesson than I should have, resulting in burn-out and discouragement.
The course lasts one hundred and fifty days, and you need to maintain your motivation during this time period. An easy way to do this is too keep your aims manageable, and thirty minutes a day of learning isn’t much. There are very few people who can’t find thirty minutes a day to do something that they want to do.
If you commit do studying for half an hour and no more, regardless to whether you have fully learnt the days lesson or not, you will make progress.
2. Focus absolutely when using Assimil German
An advantage of only spending thirty minutes studying is that you can concentrate absolutely during this period.
There is no excuse for letting your mind wander, for looking at your emails, for checking the news, sending texts, and all those other, oh so crucial things that we do all through the day.
3. Do the exercises and take them seriously.
The exercises reinforce not only what you have learnt during the lesson, but also in previous lessons.
4. Read the notes with care and attention.
The notes explain the grammatical structures used in the lesson. The idea is that bit by bit you will absorb (assimilate) the various grammatical structures needed to speak the language.
5. A possible fifth rule
I know the title was four rules to using Assimil German effectively, but my ideas, change, evolve and possible improve (like a fine wine) with time.
I’m going use the Assimil Romanian with ease course later this year, and have a fifth rule which I’m going to try when I do so, but with German I’m sticking with these four.
What have I learnt so far?
I know now that Montag (Monday) in German literally means the day of the moon, from Mond (Moon) and Tag (day).
I look at German words with more care and curiosity. Often learning one word gives you two. Die Wochentage (days of the week) is composed of Woche (week) and Tag (day) or Das Geburtstagfest (birthday celebration) is made up of Geburt (birth), Tag (day) and Fest (celebration).
I’m starting to understand some basic German grammar, in particular how German articles change in the accusative.
An example would be: Der Student sieht den Professor (The student sees the professor), where the masculine definite article der changes to den in the accusative.
Grammar is explained bit by bit and chunk by chunk in the notes to each lesson, which is why Rule 4 is so important.
I’m starting to become familiar with some basic German constructions.
Of course, and this should always be emphasised, for passive knowledge to become active, you have to use it!
I’m not doing this with my German for now, as my spare speaking time (as it were) is taken up with French.
Who is Assimil German suitable for?
I am really enjoying German with Ease, but it is not for everyone.
If you don’t like self-study then it is not for you.
If Grammar isn’t your thing, then the Assimil German with ease is not for you. The notes and explanations are grammar heavy.
If you can’t commit to thirty minutes study a day, it is not for you.
Assimil German is, as are so many things in life, what you choose to make of it.
Completely at a tangent, I thought that the ending to the New Years Day special of Sherlock Holmes (the Six Thatchers) was a bit brutal. No spoilers in case you haven’t seen it, but I wonder if the plot arc is now heading in the wrong direction.
I’ve always been a big Sherlock Holmes fan, and the way that the new BBC series has updated the original and made it relevant to today is pretty splooshy. However, you can’t beat the originals, which you can read at the Gutenberg archive for free.
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