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Can you learn a language using cds/books?

Can you learn a language using cds/books?

Old Oct 17th, 2002, 10:52 AM
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Can you learn a language using cds/books?

Can you really get a good grasp on a language by using books and cds?
Old Oct 17th, 2002, 11:06 AM
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this is a very good question that i would like to know the answer to as well. quick, before I blow $100 on language cd's.
Old Oct 17th, 2002, 12:00 PM
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Someone on this site must have experience with this
Old Oct 17th, 2002, 12:05 PM
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here's the short answer: no.

Books/CDs can help you get started, but the only way to really learn a language is by constant practice, speaking, listening, reading and writing. This works best in a complete immersion environment.

However, any exposure is better than none, especially to a combination of spoken and written materials. So, the CDs and books may be a good start, but only if you are diligent about practicing. Otherwise, it's wasted money.

A class may be a better investment, especially if combined with informal discussion groups in the target language.

Old Oct 17th, 2002, 12:11 PM
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I've been trying to learn Spanish with a book (The Complete Idiot's Guide to Spanish) and cds (the 3 disks cost less than $20 together at Costco.) My daughter's boyfriend is fluent in Spanish, so whenever he comes over, I ask him questions. I haven't gotten to the point where I've tried a conversation with him (other than "hasta luego" to which he replies, "hasta la pasta"--my daughter's taking Italian so he's being cute). I've only been doing this for about 6 weeks now and I'm not good at languages so it's hard for me to tell. My husband doesn't want to go back to Spain until one of us speaks Spainish, so I'm very motivated.

Wish I could give you a better answer, but I'm not really not sure.

(I've also been listen to Cameron tapes we bought in Spain and plan to rent some Spanish movies in hopes that these will help too.)
Old Oct 17th, 2002, 12:33 PM
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I'll give the dissenting answer: of course you can. but there are keys to getting results.

1. It takes time. 30-60 minutes per day, 5 times a week or more would be a good place to start. If you were in a 100-level course at a good university, the recommendation would be triple this amount of time.

2. Take it seriously. Do the written exercises. Make flash cards.

3. Say it out loud. Let me repeat this: say it out loud. Half od "I can't learn this" is "I'm embarrassed at hearing myself say this stuff". You can do it. Say it out loud.

4. Use all kinds of other things to compliment the investment you make in books and CDs (by the way, you don't HAVE to BUY them - - visit libraries available to you - - even yout local HOSPITAL library may have invested in wonderful books and CDs for Spanish or other languages). visit websites. Buy a magazine or two. Try a chat room, based in the country you're planning to visit.

You can do it. Start today.

It's true, you will learn 3-5 times as much per day and you will grasp so much better how it actually sounds once you get there. but building on a foundation of 250 words before you arrive will make a world of difference in what you learn once you're there.

Best wishes,

Old Oct 17th, 2002, 01:10 PM
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I'm with Rex on this one. Last year someone on Fodors (I believe it was Elaine or Elvira) recommended the Pimsleur language course to me and I went out and bought it. While there are no books with this one (it's purely "listen and repeat") I found it to be a supperb course for getting a basic grasp on the French language.

I purchased the course about six weeks before we left and was surprised by how much I understood and could say once we arrived in Paris. I just used it again to "brush up" before a trip to Quebec and actually found myself speaking French to people quite handily.

So, it is possible, and I highly recommend Pimsleur's to get you started.

Old Oct 17th, 2002, 01:27 PM
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The answer, of course, depends on what you expect when you say "good grasp". You can get sense of how to construct sentences and substitute what you need using CDs. Books are needed for grammar and reading.

I have gone thru Just Listen, Ultimate, Barrons, Michel Thomas, Pimsleur, two computer CD and two others I have forgotten. No, I did not buy them all, I have used the library as much as possible.
About the only CD product I thought worth spending money was Pimsleur. They are expensive but they produce results. In essense you have to practice alot and Pimspleur excels both in quality and quantity. The 3 level series has about 45 hours of audio. No other product comes to even a fraction of this.
Use your library as much as possible. The 3 level set at retail price is more than a roundtrip airfare from NY to Paris.
There are shortcoming of CD and books alone. No matter how well the book is written, you will have questions and need a resource to ask questions. The Pimsleur series does not come with the transcript, so you do not really know how the words you are saying are spelled.
Of course, it is best if you can find an immersion environment, but it is a tall order for many.
Old Oct 17th, 2002, 01:40 PM
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I agree with Rex and David. I especially agree with point # 3 by Rex ("Say it out loud.") I took four years of French in high school, but we practiced so much reading and writing (and not so much speaking and listening) that I was always much less comfortable trying to communicate verbally. I am also definitely all for borrowing books, CDs, and/or videos from your local library. I don't think people realize everything that is available in libraries today (in medium to large sized cities, anyway).
Another option might be your local community college - many of them have non-credit "just the basics" type of foreign language classes (so they would not have the pressure that a college-level course might have). Good luck!
Old Oct 17th, 2002, 01:48 PM
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I've worked at learning Italian and have gotten better at it, but not good. I like the Pimsleur and Michel Thomas. Actually learning Spanish did help with the Italian. There are many similarities and it helps you see what is being done with conjugating the verbs. They also have 16 (or so) verb tenses where we only have 6. I try to learn the basics to get along. Your best bet is a class, but books and tapes and the library will help. M.
Old Oct 18th, 2002, 05:46 AM
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Old Oct 18th, 2002, 06:02 AM
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Are the Berlitz cd/book sets any good?

I have a Berlitz scool near my work and plan on taking Spanish in the winter, but I am planning a trip to Italy in June and would like to learn some of that language on my own.
Old Oct 18th, 2002, 06:58 AM
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I agree that it really depends on what you mean by "get a good grasp." For me, that means fluency, and being able to think in the target language. If you mean being able to memorize/recognize certain words (within a fairly narrow semantic range; ie, being able to order in a restaurant) then, yes, CDs and basic books will help get you started.

Whatever you do, the most important thing is to practice, practice, practice, practice.
Old Oct 18th, 2002, 07:09 AM
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<<we only have 6>>

This is a problem. Trying to learn the grammar of another language in greater detail than you know the grammar of your own native language.

to have

we have
we are having
do we have?

we had
we have had
we had had
did we have?

we are going to have
we will have
we shall have
we would have
we would have had

Have some!
Old Oct 18th, 2002, 07:17 AM
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I am currently using the Pimsleur French cd's and am on Lesson 16 of French II. It has taken me a long time to get to this point and while I can say some things and understand a lot, I am not fluent in French. I feel I need to converse with someone.

I find listening to the cd's at least 30 minutes per day as recommended in a quiet place uninterrupted is essential. I usually do a new lesson twice in one day the first time and usually listen to it approximately 4 times or more. Trying to listen to them in the car just doesn't work. I found myself concentrating so hard I forget to get off at my exit and if you must stop after 20 minutes and then finish the other 10 minutes latter, it just didn't work for me.

I also have purchased the French in Action books that go with the course shown on PBS and am studying grammer. I find being able to see the words helps to engrain them on my memory. I find this adds to my understanding that I cannot attain with the Pimsleur cd's alone. I tape the programs off the TV and watch them several times as well.

I purchased my Pimsleur language cd's from Ebay. You must be careful though as once I received a defective set (I returned it for a refund). My public library now has the entire French I and II sets.

I also purchased the books and workbooks for French in Action from Ebay.

What I really like about the Pimsleur course is the repition. Not even the French in Action course comes close to giving me that kind of practice. Unfortunately, I haven't retained everything I learned and find that when I go back and listen to cd's in the French I course, I have forgotten some of what I learned already.

I have tried the Berlitz but honestly, I like Pimsleur so much, I didn't give it much of a chance.

I had German in HS and used the German I course to brush up before going to Switzerland. It used the same phrases (dialogue) as the French course which I found quite amusing because I found myself answering in French to the German questions telling me that something sank in. lol I found German easier than French.
Old Oct 18th, 2002, 07:46 AM
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I will be relocating to German next May and would like to know which Tapes/CDs/Books you would recommend if you had to use this method to learn another language? Any advice regarding learning German?? Thanks!
Old Oct 18th, 2002, 08:36 AM
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Old Oct 18th, 2002, 02:47 PM
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Has anyone tried any of the programs offered on the Internet?
Old Oct 18th, 2002, 02:58 PM
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If you are serious, then I would highly recommend Michel Thomas (8 CD set). He teaches you basic grammar and then allows you to build up sentences logically. It will amaze you how much you know after just 2 CD's. I would also recommend that you supplement this with a simple travel tape because Thomas doesnt teach you things like numbers, days of the week, months of the year and simple menus and drinks. If you take a gite in France for instance, it helps to know things such simple things as "where is the fridge?" and "where are the knives and forks?". I liked the "French on the Move" by Hugo.
Old Dec 2nd, 2002, 09:59 AM
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I would be interested to hear from others who have used Pimsleur. I'm fluent in French and am taking Spanish lessons. I find it very easy to learn and retain the grammar principles, so that I can read Spanish relatively easy (at a basic level) and I can write short paragraphs (with the use of a dictionary). However, I'm finding it very difficult to carry on a conversation, respond to questions, etc. In other words, I can't seem to retrieve the Spanish that's in my head (I think). I'm wondering if Pimsleur would help with this. I'm a bit sceptical because I've always felt I needed to see something in order to understand it, not just hear it - and I understand that you don't get transcripts for the Pimsleur CDs and tapes. Any advice?

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