Colloquial German
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  • Colloquial German
  • Dietlinde Hatherall and Glyn Hatherall
  • Published by: Routledge
  • Level: Beginner
  • First Published in: 2007

Colloquial German offers you a step-by-step approach to written and spoken German; no prior knowledge of the language is required. The book also comes with two audio CD's recorded by native speakers, which makes up an important component of the course.

Review posted: 31/10/2013
Have you used this book?

If you have ever heard someone say “Danke” or “Guten Morgan”, then you might have realized that German and English are not-so distant cousins. The two languages are related, making a lot of words sound similar. But that doesn’t mean that learning German is going to be a breeze. You’ll still need a good book and/or teacher to guide you through the process of learning German. Colloquial German: A Complete Course for Beginners may just be the place to start.

"The two languages (English and German) are related, making a lot of words sound similar. But that doesn’t mean that learning German is going to be a breeze."

Though German sounds an awful lot like English, the pronunciation of letters and words is not exactly the same. That’s why Colloquial German starts you off with a “Pronunciation Reference”. This explains things like how to pronounce those two little dots above vowels known as an “umlaut” and much more. As a student, a few hours studying over these pronunciations will be time well spent.

The book then progresses into topical lessons. Unit one, “Tee oder Kaffee?” Is about exactly what you think it is; tea or coffee? On the first page, the book outlines what you will do and learn. It lists “language activities”, “Language focus” and “Learning strategies” for the unit. Next, the book outlines how you should study the unit if you have the listening guide. It’s highly recommended to purchase the listening guide as well as this will help you improve your overall German comprehension.

The unit then presents a paragraph to explain “the setting” and “the dialogue” in English prior to reading the German dialogue. This is a good idea since the book is aimed at beginners, but it seems like quite a long-winded explanation for such a short dialogue. Following the dialogue are some notes to help the student really understand what is said. For example, in this unit the note explains literal meanings and the proper usage of the word “Bitte”.

Now that you’re comfortable with the text, you will be required to do a few exercises to test what you’ve learned, the first of which is an English to German translation exercise. The following exercises are about translating from German to English and converting numbers to the word form. Each unit then includes a second dialogue on the same topic. Following this dialogue are some more exercises as well as some grammatical explanations.

The book is in a pretty standard format for beginner language books. The best part about the book is that you can download audio clips or use a CD (bought separately) to go along with the exercises. This helps you have a more well-rounded understanding of the language. If you are a German teacher, this book is a decent book for you to use with your new students. As the topics of each unit are quite broad, there is a lot of room for added creativity. For example, during the “Tee oder Kaffe” unit, you may want to show your student a scene from a movie where the characters are in a coffee shop or you may want to set up a coffee shop in your classroom and act out the dialogues. You will want to spend a bit more time on grammar and provide additional exercises for your students as answering 5-6 questions on a grammatical topic is hardly enough to solidify the information in one’s head.

All in all, Colloquial German: A Complete Course for Beginners is a solid choice for a new student. It lives up to its promises and by the end of the book you should be able to find your way around Germany, get to know new people, and talk about family and work life. The Colloquial series offers books in a number of languages including Finnish, Dutch, Italian, Korean, Thai, and many others.



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