I can’t believe it, but I finished the Assimil Course New French with Ease and I’ll finally be able to do a complete review of the course.
How are the Assimil’s books?
The books of Assimil contain about 100 lessons. The method is designed to be used every day for about 30 minutes. All lessons include audio and text translation on the other side of the page; minor grammatical, phonetic and cultural explanations are at the foot of the page. The lessons that are exclusively grammatical are every seven lessons.
The Assimil courses are divided into two waves. The first phase is called passive, in this step; you only have to complete a lesson per day. The study in the first phase lasts about 20/30 minutes depending on the difficulty of the lesson. The second phase is called active and starts in lesson 50th, in this stage besides continuing to make a new lesson every day; we must go back to the first lessons and translate the text from your language to the target language. In this step, the time it takes to complete a lesson is between 30/50 minutes.
Instructions from Assimil and what I do
The book contains few instructions explain how should be used. Searching the internet, I found this blog post with full instructions. The instructions are for Dutch/English course.
1. Listen to the text with the book closed. It does not matter if you do not understand what is said. You will gain a general impression of the sounds, hearing the pronunciation without being influenced by the spelling.
I listen to the audio twice or thrice without reading the text. I think it’s important to check how much I did understand without reading.
2. Listen to the recording a second time while looking at the English translation.
3. Read the Dutch text aloud (with the aid of the phonetic transcription if necessary). Be sure you understand the meaning of each sentence, comparing it with the translation as required.
I do not follow the instructions 2 and 3.
4. Now read the Dutch text again, but this time without looking at the translation.
I read the original text, check and underline the words I don’t understand. I look the translation of words or phrases that I do not understand.
5. Listen to the recording twice, once while looking at the English translation, and once while looking at the Dutch text.
I listen to the audio only once while reading the original text.
6. Listen to the recording again with the book closed. At this point you should understand what is being said.
I don’t follow this instruction.
7. Listen to the recording once more. Stop the machine after each sentence, and try to repeat it aloud.
I listen to the recording and try to accompany the text reading aloud, or I repeat immediately after the audio (shadowing) without stopping the audio. I do this two or three times, until I feel that my pronunciation is correct.
8. Carefully read the comments several times. Examine the Dutch sentences being explained. These notes are very important.
I read the comments only once, usually when I’m between the instructions five or six. I underline what I think important. I only examine the phrase carefully when I think it’s necessary.
9. Read the exercises. Repeat each sentence several times. The exercises review material from the current lesson and from preceding lessons. If you have forgotten certain words, consult the English translation.
I accompany the audio exercises along with the steps in the texts. I.e., I repeat the exercises the same number of times that the lessons. The written part of the exercise is the end of my study and that is how I finish my day of study with Assimil.
10. Examine the examples of sentence structure. They show how words and phrases are combined in Dutch, which is not always the same as in English.
• I don’t study every day, it is difficult to maintain discipline.
• When I think I had not understood a previous lesson well, I review it before starting the new one.
• Sometimes, when I had time I reviewed the lessons just listening, or listening and reading, 20 to 30 lessons per time. By the way, I’ll never forget the first lesson.
– Pardon madame. Où est le métro Saint-Michel?
– Le métro Saint-Michel? Attendez une minute..
– Nous sommes au boulevard Saint-Michel. La fontaine est là-bas.
– Oui, d’accord. Mais où est le métro, s’il vous plaît?
– Mais bien sûr! Voilà la Seine et voici le pont.
– C’est joli; mais s’il vous plaît..
– Ce n’est pas à gauche, alors c’est à droite.
– Voilà! Le métro est à droite!
– Vous êtes sûre?
– No. Je suis touriste aussi!
The company says that the Assimil course will take the student from zero to a solid foundation in 6 months and that the student will feel comfortable with the language in just 3 months. When you finish the book you would be in B2 level.
My opinion is that three months using only Assimil, do not let the person comfortable with the language, but it can happen after six months. Despite being a great course, I don’t believe that is possible to reach the B2 level. When finishing the book, students will be between the A2 and B1 levels, depending on individual effort. The best part is that Assimil covers a large vocabulary in small time frame and it is varied. Each course has between 2,000 and 3,000 words. But to reach the B2 level one needs to know about 4000 words.
The texts are creative and the fact that after the 50th lesson he forces you to write is also positive. I would never attempt to rewrite the texts if wasn’t “mandatory” in the second phase.
The audio quality is very good and the pronunciation is quite clear. At first, they speak very slow to help in understanding, but they get gradually faster.
The Portuguese/French version on the official website: book + audio in MP3 cost € 65.90.
I used the English/French version (more lessons) on the official website: book + audio in MP3 cost € 65.90.
In Amazon the English/French version New French With Ease (Assimil Method Books – Book and CD Edition)) is cheaper. And the Portuguese / French version is not available.
Is it worth? Yes, the course has a good quality and if it’s made a commitment to always study you can reach B1 level.