Top positive review
12 people found this helpful
Generally good, don't get the eBook.
on June 5, 2014
This is a reasonably good book, with a decent selection of exercises. For a beginner self-learning text, this is a nice choice.
-Grammar and pronunciation are very good (more on this later).
-Book is easy to read, logically laid out, etc.
-Comes with a good-quality listening CD, and learners should always get a listening CD.
-Plenty of exercises.
-Accent may need some work (more later).
-Some exercises are just cheesy, like long sections of learning how to say your name, then being asked to write the exact same phrase for ten people (Ich heisse John, Ich heisse Mary, etc etc). This repetition can be a good thing for a beginner, but I won't complain if you skip some of the repeats as you go along.
-Apparently the eBook version isn't very good, but why is anyone buying the e-version of a book that you're supposed to read alongside its listening CD anyway? Then again I'm not an eBook reader.
Now the accent. A standard treatise that people learning German should prepare themselves to hear every time they see a new material is that the vast majority of classes / books / etc don't do a good job of disclosing what accent they're teaching you. Imagine if you were learning English and when you actually came to America people told you that you had been taught to speak like you were from Boston or Chicago and you had no idea! Classes are ideally supposed to teach "high" German (Hoch Deutsch), which like Standard American English isn't really spoken by anyone outside of formal business settings but it's designed to be a generic treatment of the language. As I've seen so far, this book has a bit of an accent, as many materials do.
An example: The word ich (translating to the English "I"). In High German, it should be pronounced like "ick" as if an English speaker sees something disgusting. This book teaches you to say "eek" (like if you're frightened of a bug). Most German speakers in a casual setting will pronounce it more like "ish" (as in you speak Engl-ish). The accent is not particularly strong, and it's pretty close to the formal High German, so for a beginner it's not a lot to complain about. But someone who masters this book might get some corrections from their peers for some odd pronunciations. As I understand it this accent would be more from the southern/Bavarian side of Germany, although again it's not very bad.
Again the way you're "supposed" to learn German is to learn Hoch Deutsch first, and from there to learn to relax your speech a little for informal settings. So no matter how you learn German, at some point you have to learn accents. For anyone unfamiliar, the same things happens with English- most people in the world have to learn the difference between British and American English, and even from there to learn regional dialects, before they can be effective English speakers. This is similar to the way any German learner needs to learn the difference between Hoch Deutsch and Swiss or Bavarian German or what have you.
So one star off mostly for not disclosing what accent was being taught to the beginner, but otherwise this is a very good book.