Wulf's Webden

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Sprechen Sie Deutsch?

Having recently acquired a copy of German Short Stories for Beginners from Touri Language Learning as part of the LibraryThing Early Reviewers programme, I can definitely confirm that the answer is nein. Even my reading of German, which used to be stronger than my speaking when I took GCSE German at school, is not great. I can get some sense of the story, slightly supplemented by the German summary that follows and then, if it has gone reasonably, not too many surprises when it comes to the English summary that follows that.

Each story is then followed by a short, multiple choice quiz – first in German and then in English. At a glance, I can do reasonably well at that although, if I was being a serious student rather than exploring how much I remember, I’d want to return to the story again and search for the answers. As an educational tool, I think the design is quite good, particularly placing the German story and summary first so the student has to do some work (if they resist skipping ahead), although perhaps the short key vocabulary list would be better at the beginning than the end of each section.

The biggest weakness is that the stories aren’t particularly interesting to me; they are about children doing things like going to the park and making a friend or accidentally taking their pet dog to school. Language-wise, I could do with something that is more at a Janet and John level; story-wise, I’d prefer something more grown-up. The children, who might enjoy the stories, probably couldn’t cope with the language.

Overall then, a nice idea as a learning tool but I’d wonder if it might fall down because of that gap between the challenge of language and the simplicity of the story content.

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