Complete German
Leave Us a Review
  • Complete German
  • Paul Coggle and Heiner Schenke
  • Published by: McGraw-Hill
  • Level: Beginner
  • First Published in: 1998

Complete German is a course book specially designed for the independent learner. This book offers a number of exercises that encourage students to put all four language skills to use and track their progress as they advance through each chapter.

REVIEW BY Tyler Follis Book EXPERT
Review posted: 28/10/2013
Have you used this book?

Complete German is the one of the latest entries to the Teach Yourself series, and perhaps the most talked about, due to its glossy pages and colorful images throughout the book. Aside from these few aesthetic improvements, however, Complete German is still essentially the same book that it was in 1998 when it was first published – decent, but nothing special. Saying that, there are certainly many worse choices for German textbooks than this, and it has the potential to be a beneficial resource if it is put into the right hands.

The book is made up of 23 lessons, which don't seem to follow any kind of consistent, steadfast structure as you move through the book. All the typical kinds of language exercises are present, including dialogues, listening exercises, drills, grammar, and phrases – just not in any particular order. In general, the book seems to present little bits of language at a time, breaking things up with a large variety of activities. Some students may find that this is a little frustrating, as it might feel like there is a lot of “jumping around”, but I think that for those that don't mind, it can provide a good way to divide up the work so the students never feel too overwhelmed or intimidated at any particular juncture.

One great strength of this book is that it does offer a lot of input, both in terms of reading passages and listening comprehension. It is apparent that there is a lot of focus on the same kind of touristy situations that make up the bulk of content for beginners' language books, but the sheer amount of input that students will have using this book is certainly beneficial. Because of the focus on travel situations, I think students may find a lot of the content of the book to be somewhat boring, but it may prove useful to those who are actually interested in trying their German out in these kinds of situations in German-speaking countries. The grammar explanations are pretty clear and easy to follow, and there is a fair amount of grammar covered considering it's a book for beginners.

The greatest weakness of this book seems to be the amount of fluff that it contains. There are tons of images used throughout the book, most of which are just silly clip-art-like cartoons or stock photos. If they wanted to liven up the book with images, I would have suggested using photos of famous people, places, and landscapes from German-speaking countries with captions identifying what was shown. There are some images in the book which look they are probably from Germany, but there are no captions for any of the images to let us know one way or another. Some students seem to be drawn to this course because of the glossy pages and bright colors, which is great if that helps motivate them to pick up the book. Others, like myself, are probably wondering why they bothered adding a bunch of frills instead of concentrating on improving the content of the book from a pedagogical standpoint. The same thing can be said of the audio recordings, many of which have an unnecessary lead-in by an English speaking narrator. I think this can be really frustrating when all you want to do is listen to the German conversation without having to sit through a bunch of unneeded explanations.

"The greatest weakness of this book seems to be the amount of fluff that it contains.There are tons of images used throughout the book, most of which are just silly clip-art-like cartoons or stock photos."

As the Teach Yourself label suggests, this is a book that can be used with or without an instructor. Just because it is a “teach yourself” book, It doesn’t mean that it isn't appropriate for classroom use. On the contrary, I think that this book would best be put to use in the hands of an instructor that could help guide students through the course and fill in all the hazy areas that weren't covered by the authors. Overall this isn't too bad of a course given the amount of content, but it is limited in its scope and its ability to be taken seriously as a bona fide academic text. Despite the scattered formatting and abundance of visual distractions, however, I would recommend this book as a supplementary material for beginning German students, particularly in a classroom setting



Leave your review for 'Complete German'

Fields with * are required.