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Assimil is a dialogue based learning course popular amongst language learners. Assimil has a range of courses available in a variety of languages, but is geared primarily towards French speakers.
What is Assimil? It publishes several different series, their most popular being Sans Peine or With Ease.
The Assimil Sans Peine courses are a combination of dialogue-based texts and audio where you learn by working through passive and active stages. In the passive stage you complete the lessons by reading and listening. While in the active stage you not only listen to and read the lessons, but attempt to translate the dialogues on your own.
So is it still a relevant learning tool? In the past, I have used Assimil to study languages I already had a foundation in — Chinese and Croatian. So for this review I decided to take on the challenge of studying a language in which I was a beginner: Korean.
I had dabbled in the language, but my Korean reading was precarious at best, my vocabulary extremely limited and my understanding of grammar non-existent. Having completed the course, here are my thoughts. The courses are available in language combinations, although only 16 of these are for English speakers while 49 are for French speakers.
I really like that both the audio and book are available as a complete package, especially because the audio is directly related to the text. Each book includes a thorough introduction to the language with tips on pronunciation , the writing system if there is one, and general features of the language. Following the introduction, the course dives right in.
While I could have slowly worked my way through Korean texts, I really appreciated having the transliteration printed below the dialogues so that I could focus on speaking and listening comprehension, rather than my reading skills. A look inside the Assimil course. Each chapter includes a brief dialogue although these grow longer as you progress and notes on content.
Together with the translation that conveys the meaning of the text, a literal translation is included so that you get a feel for word order and vocabulary without needing vocabulary lists or grammar exercises.
The lessons intentionally avoid going into great depth on grammar , instead offering a collection of simple dialogues with detailed footnotes on rules as they appear as well as notes on the culture tied to the language. How I Used Assimil I personally work through the lessons, reading the dialogues out loud before shadowing them once more along with the audio.
I can then go back and review what I need with the text. This approach works well for my learning style, but I could understand why other learners might not be a fan of the series. The strengths of the Assimil method definitely lie in the way it offers context for what it teaches rather than word lists or grammar exercises isolated from how the language functions in day-to-day life.
Most lessons can be completed in around an hour, so they are a manageable length. Assimil Korean includes practical and relevant phrases and vocabulary for real world situations.
Through the course, I learned words and phrases that were incredibly useful and applicable to daily conversations. These included: I almost forgot! What genre of books do you read most? What time do you get off work? There was nothing to eat in the fridge, so I went out to the restaurant across the way. What kind of food do you like? I really like that Assimil jumps right in and skips the laborious introductions that span several chapters in other courses.
But this also means that depending on the learner and depending on the language, the usefulness of the material in the books really varies. Overall, the language in the texts is relatively formal. Personally, I prefer this. I would rather be overly formal than rudely informal. Especially with a language like Korean where honorifics are important. Assimil claim that their Sans Peine series will take learners to the B2 level according to the CEFR scale and that their Perfectionnement series will get you to the C1 level.
In terms of vocabulary, it was not as thorough as I would like from a course that works through so many levels. For most learners, this is fine because relying on just one course or learning tool to teach you a language is never a good strategy, but it could be deceiving for those expecting an all-in-one language resource.
I will say this: Because the Sans Peine course gets to B2 level in about 71 lessons, they quickly grow challenging. What Could be Better about Assimil? I did have some issues with the Assimil approach. The introductions and basic pleasantries were not as in-depth as I would have expected for a course aimed at beginners.
There are some phrases that fall into this category, but the course quickly shifts into situational and culture-related dialogues. The one thing that I would really love to see added to the series would be additional relevant phrases at the end of each chapter. These could be phrases that might fit into the example dialogue and they would serve two beneficial purposes. One, you could role play and swap out some of the phrases so you really get to maximise the dialogues in the book.
And two, you get additional vocabulary and phrases suitable to the theme of each chapter without having to figure out the grammar to piece them together yourself. Most computers no longer have a disc drive built in, so I had limited listening options. Fortunately, there is now an option to purchase the course with a USB key with the audio. Finally, the selection of Assimil courses available to English speakers is relatively small in comparison to their overall catalogue.
This also makes accessibility outside of Europe somewhat difficult or more expensive. If you do speak French or another continental European language , however, Assimil is an excellent resource to work on laddering. The only critique I had is that you do have to find the time to sit down and concentrate on the lessons, which is different from some of the other resources available that are more portable. It was just challenging enough to hold my attention and the time it takes to complete the lessons is just right.
I also like the extra cultural tidbits and language facts they add in the endnotes. It gives me a nice break from actual language learning but still keeps me in the right mindset. I was honest with myself as I completed the various exercises, working to find the answers on my own before double-checking the result against those provided.
Because the lessons were so succinct, I found I ended up with just the right balance of right and wrong answers to keep me motivated not so many that I grew frustrated but not so few that I became bored. If you really want a way to track your progress, you can do so with the exercises at the end of each chapter. The book contains review sections every six chapters. I was pleased with the frequency of these — neither too much nor too little.
Assimil: The Verdict The verdict: I would definitely use Assimil again in the future, but with the caveat of doing it my own way. Assimil brought me from having an entirely shaky understanding of Korean to being able to confidently have short and direct exchanges in the language. I am definitely not at a B2 or even B1 level, but I would say that I am somewhere in the vicinity of A2 and that I might hit B1 with another pass at the book and by more intensively working on the translations, or active phase of the book.
The Assimil method runs contrary to the Speak from Day 1 approach. It suggests that the learner take a passive learning approach for the first several chapters, then step into an active approach in the later chapters. This means that you work through the beginning of the book by reading, listening, and completing the exercises. If you ignore these directions, however, and reading the dialogues from the first lesson, you can Speak from Day 1 with Assimil.
You can use it however you see fit and take as much time as you need with each section. While the content of every dialogue may not be useful for every learner, I like the context that it gives the language and I find this approach much more effective than that of some of the other available course books. Other Assimil courses available for English speakers:.
ASSIMIL AMERICANO SIN ESFUERZO PDF
Assimil is a dialogue based learning course popular amongst language learners. Assimil has a range of courses available in a variety of languages, but is geared primarily towards French speakers. What is Assimil? It publishes several different series, their most popular being Sans Peine or With Ease. The Assimil Sans Peine courses are a combination of dialogue-based texts and audio where you learn by working through passive and active stages. In the passive stage you complete the lessons by reading and listening.
Assimil Review: An Honest Look at the Assimil Language Learning System