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145 of 147 people found the following review helpful
on December 27, 2012
NEW EDITION:
This latest edition of the Living Language self-study language programmes is a modified and enhanced version of their "Complete: Basics" series. It seems to be part of a program by Random House to consolidate their language courses. Unfortunately, the vastly superior "Ultimate" series has been abandoned in the process. The new "Complete" edition is divided into three levels. The first level, "Essential", is drawn from the Living Language "Starting Out In German". The second and third levels, "Intermediate" and "Advanced", respectively, are, for the most part, slightly modified versions of the previous "Complete: Basic German". The Intermediate and Advanced books contain "Units", each of which covers a theme (Family, Work, Hotel, Restaurant, Medical Appointment, etcetera). The Units are divided into four "Lessons", the first three of which present the Words, Phrases, and Sentences that are used in the fourth lesson Conversations. Although the approach seems quite logical, it does take a little getting used to at first as, occasionally, some individual Phrases or Sentences seem a little odd because they are missing the context of the end-of-unit Conversation. Each Lesson also contains explanations of grammar. Despite the publisher's decision to label the second and third books as Intermediate and Advanced, be advised that this is STILL an BASIC self-study language course. Nonetheless, enhancements include: a vastly improved visual presentation, some much-appreciated additional exercise material, and access to some fairly simple on-line learning activities. Also, a glossary and a summary of grammar are included as appendices in all three levels. Although I have detected a few, very minor errors, in my opinion, the "Complete" series merits five stars.

AUDIO RECORDINGS - ONE IRRITATING FEATURE
The audio recordings are, as always with the Living Language programmes, of a very high quality. The voices are clear, well-modulated, and at an appropriate speed. The latest set of recordings includes EXTENSIVE instructions in ENGLISH that are drawn directly from the printed material. This accounts for most of the expansion of the recordings from the original 4 CDs to the 9 CDs in this latest edition. Some users might find the English audio reassuring, as it will permit them to read through the text only once and then rely more-or-less completely on the recordings. The DISADVANTAGE of all of this English audio is that, as the learner becomes more comfortable with the material, reviewing the key phrases and dialogues will require some deft skipping forward to avoid - what will have become - superfluous English instructions.

SUGGESTION FOR ADDITIONAL PRACTICE
In my attempts to learn German, I have found that finding opportunities to PRACTICE the language to be one of the greatest challenges. If you simply want to DRILL--DRILL--DRILL your German (or almost any other language), I suggest that you visit the website FSI-LANGUAGES.YOJIK.EU. The FSI BASIC COURSES were developed by the Foreign Service Institute (FSI), U.S. State Department, in the 1960's through the early 1970's. While they were meant to be taught in a classroom by a qualified instructor, the texts and accompanying audio recordings are absolutely fabulous for practicing the basics of the language. And here's the really good part ... they're FREE as pdf/mp3 downloads! Have a look at FSI BASIC GERMAN. If you find yourself struggling a little bit, then try the FSI GERMAN PROGRAMMED INTRODUCTION course first (but go only to about Unit 20, as the last few Units are not well designed) and then return to the Basic course.

Another fine source of practice material would be ASSIMIL GERMAN. The course is composed of, essentially, 100 short dialogues (with no apparent overall theme) accompanied by translations and notes. The material is quite good for practicing. However, while the NOTES often contain interesting comments on colloquial usage, their presentation of GRAMMAR is NOT AT ALL CLEAR.
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102 of 108 people found the following review helpful
on September 15, 2011
This product is amazing, far beyond my expectations of it. The best part is the audio CD's follow almost exactly along with the book. In some ways it's better than rosetta stone and others it isn't. But I would definitely recommend this over Rosetta stone just because it has course books and exercises to do. Hope this helps!! :)
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72 of 76 people found the following review helpful
on March 21, 2012
I bear a great love for languages, and my first language I ever developed quite fully was German, through the Living Language complete German program course. Though the course does not necessarily make you an advanced or fluent speaker despite the title of the final book, I was surprised with what knowledge I had attained after I finished it. It is probably one of the best courses out there for beginning students; it starts off nice and easy and doesn't overwhelm you with too much at first (unlike a Russian course of a different edition from the same company I got that failed to be structured in as easy a manner). The first few chapters equip you with what you could call basic survial words and phrases which is helpful, and the grammar is spread out evenly through each chapter so that you learn a little of it as you keep progessing instead of taking it in in large segments. There are also unit tests after every three or four chapters to test what you've learned.

Overall it is structured to take you long in an amazingly easy-flowing way. You will remember most of what you learn and most likely have little difficulty with the course. After you complete the course, you will probably have to be creative and find some verb, vocabular, and grammar building books separately to maintain and increase your knowledge, but this, I found, worked for me as it gave me freedom to explore different books. My grammar comprehension grew a little hazy near the end but I picked it up in a jiffy through other books.

5 stars, awesome company and course. Good luck if you learn it! ...Oder, vielen gluck!
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35 of 37 people found the following review helpful
on September 16, 2012
Living Language courses are great for introducing grammar and vocab. The exercises in the books are helpful for reinforcing what you read and listen to.
I own the Complete German and the Complete French courses and recommend them both. If you buy them though, make sure you purchase another workbook and some vocab building books also. The exercises in the books are good, but you'll need more to keep practicing. And, can you really ever have a big enough vocabulary?
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28 of 30 people found the following review helpful
on March 28, 2013
My original expecations were low, but I really like the latest version of the Living Language Complete programs. I am about half way through the German course, trying to brush up on my somewhat dormant German. This package covers grammar from very simple to fairly advanced language patterns. The progression of information presented is logical, and overlaps just enough to maintain contact with themes covered in previous lessons.

Seeing vocabulary and language patterns in context is great, but I also like seeing tables and charts that summarize a commplete grammatical structure at a glance. Those are found in the back of the books.

I am a language teacher, but was a graphic designer. The books in the program really use design well to communicate progress and to make the information accessible.

I don't like hearing so much English on the CDs, especially in the early parts of the program, but the recordings are still quite useful overall.

I don't think I've seen so much learning material at this price. I'll buy others in this growing series. Hindi is coming out later this year. Cool!
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12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
on June 5, 2013
Yeah, I know evryone in Germany speaks English but I thought it would be a good idea to know some basics before we left on our trip. I listen to the CD's in (DC) rush hour to and from work. I have even surprised myself at how much my vocabulary has increased. This was WAY cheaper than the Stone process.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
on May 25, 2013
It is not meant to replace conventional language classes, but will suffice as a refresher or as a warm up for more traditional lessons. Just returned to school and will be starting German next semester (for the next eight semesters, UGH!), heard that these classes are pretty intense(Columbia U. in NYC), and since I have never spoken a word of German I decided to purchase this as an intro course, just to get a little bit under my belt. I am so glad I did. The lessens are at a great pace, very clear and concise pronunciation and intonation, decent explanation of grammar, pronoun, gender, and verb usage. I would recommend purchasing a couple of books on vocabulary and grammar, if only to build up on the lessons, if you plan on becoming entirely fluent as I am. Great little package for the price, and you can log onto the website for flashcards and games to switch it up a bit. Not sure how it compares to Rosetta Stone, but for the price difference, I'm very satisfied. In the end they're all the same, you get what yo put into it...Practice, practice practice!!!
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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
on September 27, 2013
My impressions after a few hours with this course:

This is an incredible value. I'm traveling to Germany in three months and have little free time so I had initially bought this with the intent of using the 9 audio CD's with my 45 minute commute every morning and evening but I can already see that the audio works best in tandem with book.

The pacing of the three text materials so far seems excellent. Though small, these things are loaded with activities, making this feel more like a self taught "class." They even throw in a Living Language notebook (sort of like a blank journal) to assist you in your studies, complete with that "new book" smell.
The audio is very clear and I enjoy the use of repetition, though I would like to note that the pacing of the audio is a little faster than that of the book and I find myself pausing frequently to complete activities.

All in all when compared to the outrageously expensive Rosetta Stone, or even the 300 dollar German college courses at my local university, this really appears to be a lot of bank for your buck!
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
on December 30, 2012
So far, so good. I had a semester of college German many years ago, this set is a nice refresher, and I'm learning a lot of new stuff. Lots of repetition and quizzing.
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
on August 19, 2014
This is a poorly designed program that will teach you very little German without a lot of effort on your part and even then you will not learn all that much. It is mostly a vocabulary and phrase builder. The lessons employ no higher level learning techniques. It is mostly hearing vocabulary and phrases said in both English and German and then repeating them. The lessons also have very little overlap, which means it is much harder to retain what you learn from lesson to lesson. It is better than merely buying a text of German phrases because the CDs have native speakers on them and for the money it is a pretty decent primer. I guess one cannot expect too much for $30. However, if you really want to learn and retain German with a higher level of interactive learning and thinking in the language, then I would recommend something that follows the Pimsleur method such as goGerman. Many think Pimsleur is boring, but once the Pimsleur CDs get going you are thinking and retaining far more German in less time because the method moves the new language from short to long term memory and actually challenges you to construct your own sentences. The Living Language method is basically nothing more than rote memorization.
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