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The Complete Idiot's Guide to Learning German, Third Edition Paperback – April 6, 2004

3.5 out of 5 stars 12 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

About the Author

Alicia Müller studied German at New York University's prestigious Deutsches Schule and at the Berlitz School of Languages. She is a professional writer, researcher, translator, and copy editor who speaks five languages fluently. She has also traveled extensively in Germany. Contributing author Stephan Müller is a native born German speaker and has been a tutor of the German language for over 10 years.
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Product Details

  • Series: Complete Idiot's Guides (Lifestyle Paperback)
  • Paperback: 432 pages
  • Publisher: ALPHA; 3 edition (April 6, 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1592571867
  • ISBN-13: 978-1592571864
  • Product Dimensions: 7.4 x 1 x 9.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (12 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,743,545 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Michigoon VINE VOICE on August 1, 2005
Format: Paperback
Other reviewers nailed this one- If you need to become fluent in "conversational German" overnight (read: Business trip), this is the perfect book for you. For people who really want to learn the language and/or culture... at least it's cheap.

Yes, the book has errors. Yes, it has some awkward presentation (it has exercises asking you to try to speak phrases before it introduces proper pronunciation!). Yes, it's more about giving you phrases like "Where's the Taxi" and "How's my hair" over anything truly fundamental... but that's not really what this book is about.

Get this book if:

-You're vacationing in Berlin 3 months from now and you want to be able to ask when your train is leaving without looking like a typically clueless tourist.

-A great-aunt you didn't even know you were related to recently passed away and the only stipulation on her inheritance is that you must know enough German to find your way to her estate.

-Your boss just told you that Hans from the Berlin office wants to talk to you- now.

Don't get this book if:

-You just found out your future mother-in-law is a German immigrant and you need to speak picture-perfect German to impress her.

-You plan on moving to or living in Germany for an extended period.

-...or if you have the time to "do things right".

If you need to learn German, and you need to learn it NOW, this is probably the best book I've ever seen for that purpose. If you're looking at a longer time frame or a situation where precision matters more than simply how fast you can assimilate the language, then you should at least pick up some supplements to help weed out where the errors are.

...and hey, it's a reasonably cheap book with a pretty reliable "cheat card" of phrases just behind the front cover. It's hard to argue with that.
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Format: Paperback
I was shopping for German instruction books the other day at the book store and this was the first one I found. I had looked at German for Dummies as well, but wasn't as impressed. All of the other products were on CD, which I didn't bother with (unless it's one of those audio-only listening disks) since I'm more comfortable with books here. So I bought it. So far it's proving to be a great book, for the price. It's the same case with the Idiot's Guide to Spanish I bought a year back, so it looks like these people may have just earned themselves a new customer. And I say "for the price" because I tend to compare these products to Pimsleur's, which are, in my view, the best of the best in DIY language training. However, 690 dollars for their complete two box set (I wish I were kidding) seemed a little steep for me at the time, to say the least.
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Format: Paperback
I bought this book during my second year of studying German, and it was pretty useful as far as beginner's grammar goes, but as far as vocabulary, don't expect much. It is more a book for people who plan to go to Germany than anything else. I'm not sure about the 3rd edition, I have the 2nd edition, but there were often times when I even found mistakes and the pronounciation key, even though I didn't need it, tends to throw you off from the actual pronounciation. Some more helpful guides would be Themen Neu workbooks for English/French/... speakers. I found those while I was an exchange student in Berlin and they helped me a lot to build useful vocabulary and help out with my weak areas.
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Format: Paperback
This book did help me learn some things and it helped me understand some other things that I didn't get before which is wht this book gets 1 star. However this book is full of mistakes like translations that I know to be wrong because I have studied some German before getting this book. When I find a bunch of mistakes it makes me wonder how many other mistakes are there that I'm not aware of so I lost my trust in this book and found a better one.

All the teach yourself books have a few mistakes here and there but this one has way too many so I would highly suggest that you find a better book than this one if you're looking to learn German, especialy for a begginer.
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Format: Paperback
I had 6 years of German study and am trying to brush up after many years of not speaking or reading German, so unlike a true beginner, I notice errors and know WHY they are wrong. Unfortunately, this book, while laid out well, has enough errors is the first hundred pages that make me afraid to recommend it to an actual beginner.

Here are some that stick out:
Page 14- In trying to introduce the es-tset (aka the funny S that looks like a Capital cursive "B"), they mention it, tell you what it's called, and then OMIT it from the example sentence, using the "dass" spelling instead! The es-tset is not used anywhere in the rest of the chapter, either!

page 39 "Chef" is listed as a perfect cognate, ie, a word that means the same in English and German. Then on page 47, "Chef" shows up on the list of "false friends", where you find out it means "boss" in German and not someone cooking in a restaurant kitchen.

Page 92. This one's merely a culture/geography error, but it is egregious. They set up a dialog scenario where you and 10 people are going on a package tour to Germany (not "German speaking countries"), and one of your travel mates wants to spend 3 days shopping in Zurich. Zurich is mentioned again in the exercise, but the sentence is not something like "this woman must be crazy if she thinks Zurich is in Germany".

I was not taking notes, but there are other errors I saw while skimming this book. I decided to quit using it after getting to the Zurich error, so I did not read past that.

This book has three authors (one a native speaker) and is in a 3rd edition. mistakes like this ought to be gone by the time you revise a book twice. I'm afraid to see what edition one looked like if edition three thinks Switzerland is part of Germany. Use with caution!
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