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First German Reader: A Beginner's Dual-Language Book (Dover Dual Language German) Bilingual Edition

3.4 out of 5 stars 42 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-0486461793
ISBN-10: 9780486461793
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Frequently Bought Together

  • First German Reader: A Beginner's Dual-Language Book (Dover Dual Language German)
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  • Learn German With Stories: Café in Berlin - 10 Short Stories For Beginners (German Edition)
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Total price: $21.23
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Editorial Reviews

About the Author

A native of Cracow, Poland, Harry Steinhauer was Professor Emeritus and Founding Chair of the Germanic, Slavic, and Semitic Studies Department at the University of Santa Barbara.
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Product Details

  • Series: Dover Dual Language German
  • Paperback: 224 pages
  • Publisher: Dover Publications; Bilingual edition (December 10, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 9780486461793
  • ISBN-13: 978-0486461793
  • ASIN: 0486461793
  • Product Dimensions: 0.4 x 5.4 x 8.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8.5 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (42 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #55,322 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
The introduction claims that "First German Reader is truly a beginners' book. It may be started after two or three weeks of experience with an introductory book to German." I couldn't possibly disagree more. You really should have a few years of classroom experience under your belt before attempting it. The reading passages are highly academic in nature, with a very strong focus on philosophy and poetry. They are often very dense and difficult to understand, even reading the English translation. Furthermore, to fully appreciate many of the passages, a great deal of context is often required. While the notes at the end of the book do help somewhat, they are woefully inadequate in many cases. Last but not least, I personally found most of the content to be pretty dull. These factors can easily combine to make for a very frustrating, and not necessarily productive, reading experience for a beginner. A few short sample passages:

"Large industries have already introduced a system of profit-sharing with their employees. But what is much more significant: in all industrial concerns the workers enjoy the legal right of having a voice in matters that concern them. They get a third of the seats on the boards of directors of joint stock companies (one half of the seats in the mining and steel industries)."

"Act in such a way that the maxim of your will may at all times also have validity as the principle of a universal law."

The texts are also outdated. Besides the lack of any material from the past forty years and the use of the old spelling throughout, I suppose this fact mostly only matters for the "Über Deutschland" passages, which are intended to paint a broad picture of modern Germany.
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I was hesitant to buy this after reading the other reviews. Now I have it, and I honestly don't know what the other reviewers are talking about. I ordered four dual-language books at once, and this was by far the best and most accessible for beginners. After only a week of German study, I can easily make it through (with some reference to the parallel text) the first 8-10 stories and poems, and they gradually increase in difficulty so that I'll be able to comfortably read more as my German improves. The selections are cute and interesting, and most are by famous German authors and poets, so you get exposure to real German literature as you develop your language skills.
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Format: Paperback
This book is not a first German reader, do not buy it if you are new to German! (Try Asterix comic books in German). To me it's a waste of money, a year ago it was far to too hard to read in German, and now after a year learning German and living in Germany it's still too hard and irrelevant to modern German. The root problem is that it was written in 1964, probably for school German lessons. The material it draws from are very deep and would tax most native English English speakers in English! (e.g. 'Now I am many an hour's distance from that place....', '....descends into the fearful arena....','...man must meet nothing with resolution....' and so on). The corresponding German is equally academic and complex.

If you could learn even some of this German, imagine the laugh when you said in conversation 'Vor dem Handeln, im Handelm hat er alle Ursache, den Versatand beweglich zu erhalten', which in English is 'Before acting, in acting, he has every reason for keeping his intelligence mobile....'.
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Format: Paperback
Many of the texts and poems in this books are from the 19th and 18th centuries. They are original German texts meant for Germans, not for a beginner learning German. It's like asking someone who's been learning English for a month to read a play by Shakespeare. It may be fine as a parallel text book for advanced learners with an interest in historical texts but definitely not for a beginner.
Something more suitable would be German Easy Reader: Super 500 (German Edition)
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I don't really consider myself a German speaker but I grew up singing the occasional German carol and am often surrounded by Germans with whom I exchange basic pleasantries. With the exception of knowing some vocabulary words are similar to those in English, German language intimidated me.
This book is fantastic. In two days I've made my way through the first ten pieces, Sometimes by just reading the English translation but more often by working my way through the German vocabularies and piecing meanings together by the side by side translations. Tonight I started recognizing more words and understanding sentences more than I did two days ago. If you're willing to be diligent and patient with yourself, this book may be a wonderful tool for you to strengthen your German skills.

About me: I'm a highly visual learner and read a lot as a child. The way this book is laid out is very helpful for me. Very quickly I've started recognizing the literary conventions of German writers such as Goethe, Lessing and the Brothers Grimm. Tonight I even read a sentence that I didn't have to translate (when I would have two days ago).
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As a first German reader this is a VERY tough read. This is literature and poetry, making it on the one hand somewhat old fashioned wording and on the other hand very difficult to figure out context since it's "flowery." Not recommended as a "first reader."
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