After talking about Germany with a couple friends the other day, we walked away with another language-learning resource: Teach Yourself Instant German. The cover promises that with 35 minutes a day, in 6 weeks we will speak German. It focuses on basic grammar and a foundation of 356 useful words.
Having started the first lesson, I have a few thoughts about the pros and cons of this approach.
Useful vocabulary lists: I can easily make flashcards with these lists (I use the Flashcard+ iPhone app) and practice the vocabulary. This is something Mango Languages doesn’t have!
A “crash course” approach: It zeroes in on the elements that are vital for communication, so I won’t get discouraged by the nitty-gritty details. This is especially useful given my quickly-approaching deadline.
Multiple approaches: The chapter begins with a conversation, moves on to vocabulary, provides a barebones grammar lesson, and then provides a mixture of prompts, translation exercises, and question-and-answer. It makes me think about the material from different angles, which should help me use it spontaneously.
Reliance on vocabulary lists: Okay, so I just said that I like having a vocabulary list as a resource. However, I don’t like having to use these lists as my main resource for learning. It is easier for me to learn words in context than memorizing them one by one.
Use of “German-speak”: Each conversation is provided in English and German, but the English version is written in what the book calls “German-speak” (English that is fairly literally translated from the German). The idea is to get the reader used to hearing English as it is often spoken by Germans, but the result is a jarring experience while trying to understand the German conversation.
The cons aren’t that bad, especially when I can use both Mango Languages and Teach Yourself to balance out each program’s pros and cons. I plan to keep using Mango while starting the Teach Yourself program … we’ll see if I get through both of them before my moving date!