25 Jul 2007

Rapid German

This is a CD to teach German. I reviewed the Chinese one a few months ago, and naturally this is a very similar presentation, with the same 10 track titles: I would like...; To order; Have you ...?; To the airport; Numbers; days & times; Is there ...?; Directions; Where, when & what time?; Problems, problems!; and Do you speak English? In fact they have mostly the same phrases. Ordering a bottle of wine somehow seems more natural for German that it did for Chinese!

The way it works is there is a native German-speaking woman and a native English-speaking man. The English comes first then the German. As the track titles above suggest the 10 lessons cover useful phrase book stuff, at the most basic level. All the time there is a music track playing - easy to listen to. I do not know if the music helps memorizing the sentences but it does make the CD easy to have on in the background while working or doing other things. There is a handy 20 page booklet with the CD, which shows all the phrases on the CD, as well as describing the theory behind the learning method.

I did 'O' level German at school, which seemed to be all about learning the 16 words for "the". Thankfully not a mention of that here: ein/eine/einen/zum/zu/der/das/die/etc. are all introduced in context without being pointed out. After my German exam (I passed by the way) all I could speak in German was gutentag and "der das die die, dem dem den den", which does not get you very far. Listening to this CD course, in every school lesson, would have made a lot more sense. And we could have played cards while doing it. (Sadly the only class we actually got away with playing cards in was sociology.)

As I noted in the Rapid Chinese review, if we are looking for downsides the CDs are maybe a bit pricey, and are quite passive: no quizzes or chances for active usage of the language. But that is fine, it would not be easy to have on in the background if it was like that. Just do not expect this can be your only tool to learn the language. If you are looking for another beginner-level course I can recommend the BBC's German Steps, which is web-based and free.

Overall I like these EarWorms CDs and they will be my first choice when I want to learn the basics of a new language.

See http://earwormslearning.com for the other languages they do. At the time of writing Spanish, French, Italian, Greek, Mandarin Chinese, Japanese and Russian, with Portuguese and Arabic coming soon.

Rapid German: Amazon UK, Amazon JP

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