Customer Reviews: Golosa: A Basic Course in Russian, Book One (5th Edition)
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on February 20, 2012
I bought this book for self-study at home, despite reading a review that said it did not come with the answers.

After perusing the Pearson web site for a bit, I came across the PDF/Word files that contained all the textbook answers. Only problem is you cannot download them without an instructor's access code. No biggie, I thought, I'll just explain my situation and perhaps they will accommodate...

I had 3 customer service chats that were fruitless. Two of the three didn't even understand me and one of them had me apply for access (which I was denied). I called my local sale reps and they were flat-out rude to me. They said if you're not a teacher, you don't get the answers. Well what about people studying at home? NOT fair.

I finally called customer service and spoke to a person. They understood my problem, but the matter needs to be "investigated."

Even if I do end up getting the answers, it was such a pain to ask for them. I almost want to return the book. The only reason I'm not is because I might get the answers.

If you are self-studying Russian, beware. This book is great for concepts, but without the answer key, there is no assessment component.

UPDATE: Someone from Pearson (not long after I reviewed this book - just got too busy to update) contacted me and provided me with the answer key. I increased my rating to 4 stars because the added assessment component makes Golosa a much more valuable resource when doing a self-study course. I also recommend getting the SAM (Student Activities Manual), which is more of a workbook. This is the book that has the answer key available for purchase. The textbook, however, does not have the answer key available for purchase (at least not on Amazon) and you will need to do what I did (contact Pearson) to get it.
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on September 10, 2011
Background: I studied Russian for three years in college but hadn't used it in too long, so I decided to start over at the beginning. Having used a different book and already reading Russian is a pretty good basis for comparison and error spotting. The course is intended to be used as part of a class, but I'm using it on my own, so parts of the review may be unfair for the intended purpose. (Note for anyone else studying on your own: I'm also using Rosetta Stone and a set of flash cards to build vocabulary, and I'd recommend them both. The only pieces missing from this course are drills and conversation, which the authors have to assume you're getting in class and which Rosetta Stone is great at if you use the online services too. But Rosetta Stone isn't as great at the reading, writing, and grammar needed to gain confidence and real fluency.)

Why This Program is Great: I'm calling it the 'program' instead of the 'book' because there are several pieces to the system, and they are really intended to be used together. It wouldn't really be fair to rate just the book out of context. I have the book and workbook, and have used the audio and video files on the book's web site. Together, they form a relatively complete course, thoroughly covering all four language skills: reading, writing, listening, and speaking. And it's REALLY well done. What I like about it:

1. Lots of color and pictures. Somehow this is essential to remembering anything for me. They've done an especially great job illustrating grammar rules with diagrams rather than just explaining them.
2. TONS of exercises (in both the textbook and workbook) for each of the four skills, so I really feel that I've mastered something before moving on.
3. Very clear explanations. There are a couple of tricky spelling and pronunciation rules that I never mastered in my three years of study, and I remember reading the textbook explanations over and over again. I read the Golosa explanations once, and the light came on. I guess my old textbook was tricky, not the rules.
4. I can download the audio to my ipod and use it away from my computer. It's much nicer to study Russian sitting in the park!

What Could be Improved:

1. For home study, I can't find a way to get the answers to the exercises without being an instructor. Kind of a major flaw, and the only piece you can't make up for with another program.
2. I wish the audio files could be downloaded all at once or at least by chapter. Downloading them from the website is a laborious process of right clicking each file and saving it to your computer. Chapter 1 alone has 31 files.
3. I've only listened to the first two chapters of audio files so far, but I've found one error that appears to be a holdover from a prior edition: for the audio file matching the photos of famous people on page 8 of the text, the final name read aloud is definitely not the person shown in the book. All the others match.
4. The printed workbook oddly instructs me to click on words (so far just in exercise A-14).

Since college students don't have much choice in the matter, I'm guessing anyone reading this is studying at home or with a tutor, so my advice is: buy this book. It's really thoughtfully put together and very complete, with the one glaring hole of not being able to check answers, but I don't know of a program out there where you can except those grammar outline books that are really for review and not learning. Though I guess they would make a good supplement, if you wanted to spend the time matching the exercises to what you're working on in Golosa. Anyway, the authors have done a terrific job, and the system is PERFECT for college students, and AS PERFECT AS IT GETS for home studiers.

I just hope the authors put together something for intermediate students by them time I get there!

Edit: Running into a few more errors in the system. The first audio dialogue that's supposed to match the first one on page 50 of the book is something else entirely, but the remaining dialogues are exactly what's in the book. I've double checked that I'm using the 5th edition audio files, so it looks like this is just one of those kinks to be worked out. Perhaps the online audio isn't quite ready yet, but this is easily fixed and not a huge deal.

UPDATE: After finishing the first half of Book 1, I've discovered a few more things:
1. The workbook is a HUGE addition to the program. In addition to more practice with the grammar taught in the book, it presents consistent practice in recognizing numbers in context from audio recordings, including prices, phone number, and addresses. It's also where you find the questions to be answered after watching the online video for each chapter.
2. After looking at the publication dates for Books 1 and 2 of the 4th edition, I've realized it's pretty certain that after completing Book 1, 5th edition, I'll have to proceed to Book 2, 4th edition - after being spoiled by all the upgrades. If you don't expect to finish Book 1 before summer 2012 or so, you probably won't have this problem.
3. Good news: There are apparently tests included with the MyRussianLab component of the course (I'm not 100% sure I can access them as a home studier, since there is little information about it, but I think this is what the preface to the book is saying). And I can buy this access separately on Amazon. Bad news: I can't access it until the first week of December 2011 and am ready to take a test now. Also, when I move on to Book 2 (4th Edition), there won't be a matching MyRussianLab = no tests at all. Lack of news: I can find almost no information about what's included in MyRussianLab.
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on December 1, 2012
I find the textbook to be dreadfully dull and uninspiring, There isn't anything you can learn in the textbook that you can't find in other books that cost a fraction of the price. The Student Activities Manual is well worth purchasing however. The combination of oral and written exercises is really helpful for drumming the grammar rules into your head.
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on December 27, 2014
This is my third language and by far the weakest book I've used. It focuses on functional skills to the detriment of actually mastering the language. The first two chapters are almost entirely phrases, which are difficult to learn and become unnecessary later when you learn the proper grammar. Grammatical cases are broken up irregularly (the prepositional case is spread over three chapters), which coupled with the insufficient index, makes it nearly impossible to look up grammar. Nothing in it is actually false, but there are several misleading omissions (for instance, it lists the у + pronoun forms of the genitive, but doesn't mention that the forms are different when used without a preposition).

It focuses on language college students need while they're in college (eg, staying with a host family with an exchange student), even though not everyone learning a language is a college student and even those that are won't be forever. You spend one early chapter doing nothing but learning how to say what languages you speak and read (even the book struggles to come up with plausible dialogues using that material), and another early chapter memorizing the names of every college major in existence (международные отношения figures prominently on exams), but don't learn to order at a restaurant until chapter 9.

Besides, it's an ugly book, sparsely illustrated with art so bad as to be sometimes confusing, the dialogues, videos, and reading materials are boring and meaningless, the exercises are dull, there's not much cultural material, and there isn't a single word of reading by actual Russian authors.

I came out of this course speaking passable Russian, but I think that's mostly despite this book, not because of it.
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on January 13, 2016
This is a terrible book for learning intro Russian! Our college professor is moving to a new text because of how bad it is. It has a ridiculous amount of errors and the index/glossary sections are too minimal to be helpful in most cases. The subject matter is not laid out in a manner conducive to learning. STAY AWAY IF YOU CAN!
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on October 20, 2013
I got this book for a russian class that I'm taking at my college. It's incredibly expensive for being so pathetic. The author touts some sort of "better" learning method that I've never seen in any of the other language classes I've taken. (This is my 5th language class with my 11th teacher.) Since my teacher is a lazy bum I have to most of the learning on my own, which is incredibly difficult thanks to this book. It describes many things using terms it explains once, so if you forget the meaning you have to find it again. It teaches parts of grammar in chunks. Want to learn the prepositional case? We'll cover some of it now and the rest of it in three weeks. The art looks like the author drew it to save money. Did he use paint? There is a large discrepancy between the vocab at the end of each chapter (which we are tested on) and what the book actually teaches us. It took ages for the book to actually get to useful grammar, such as verb conjugation, and when it did, it BLASTED present and past tense at the same time, while teaching the prepositional case for all three genders for adjectives and verbs. It feels like a rollercoaster as the first two chapters were husks with almost no difficult to learn grammar. This is clearly a book written by a professor at Berkeley who wasn't satisfied with his incredibly high salary but also did not want to actually put any effort into making a good text book. If you are a teacher looking for a new text book please avoid this one for your student's sakes.
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on May 20, 2016
If you're looking to learn Russian then this is the book to get. I found it very helpful and I'm much better off since I started using it. I admit, Russian is a freaking hard language to learn but this book makes it not only easier but also fun at the same time. That's win-win for me.
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on September 5, 2014
Although I think the book & the companion website do a good job of explaining the Russian language, as a self-study program it kinda sucks because you cannot access the "instructor" materials. Other reviews have mentioned that they were able to contact Pearson for textbook answer keys, but I have not been so lucky.
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on September 10, 2015
I never thought I would like having a text book in a binder, rather than in its traditional form, however, it is the best decision I have ever made! I love being able to scan or copy pages from the book easily as well as the enhanced portability it offers. I can now only take the chapters or sections that I desire from place to place rather than a big heavy book. Also, I really enjoy the book itself and is written in a manner that even I with no prior experience in Russian can pick it up quickly. I only had a problem with it being delivered after it was supposed to be but the product was worth the wait.
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on October 9, 2014
My rented copy is very much battered and used, not a huge surprise. For a serious student who intends to take 2 terms of the course I strongly recommend getting the loose leaf for two reasons: only carry one unit at a time, also being able to write on the page and then just hand it in if the professor wants the work from the book. For less serious student who might only take one term or someone who isn't worried about the weight of books being carried. Renting instead of buying is very much the way to go.
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