These days, almost everywhere you travel, you’ll find people speaking English and for the most part, you should be able to get by not speaking the local language. But just because you can, doesn’t mean you should!
Learning a new language is not just a fun challenge to take on as an adult but it can also help you out on your travels, whether it’s asking for directions, ordering a coffee or just exchanging pleasantries. And even if you don’t speak the language perfectly, most locals will appreciate that you’ve made the effort to communicate with them in their native tongue.
So how are you going to learn a new language? The folks at Assimil sent me their product to try and so far, so good! Assimil is a language-learning program that they say can help someone learn a new language in weeks instead of years. Assimil has been popular in Europe for a long time (the company was originally founded in France in 1929) but it’s new to the United States.
The Assimil program comes with a CD and a handy and compact study book. When I first received the kit, I was excited to try it out and then realized I don’t have a CD player! With all my music stored digitally, I hadn’t even thought about this. But for just $25, I was able to .
I thought learning a new language would be really difficult. I was a little intimidated by the idea of it. But Assimil makes it so easy. Simply pop in the CD and get speaking right away in Lesson 1. I worried that there would be long lessons focused on grammar and conjugations, like the way you learn a language in school. But with Assimil, the focus is on a language’s practical application right from the very beginning.
To teach myself French (my wife speaks French so I thought this was a good language to start with), I buckled down with the CD and accompanying book. In the very first lesson, I repeated after the instructions on the CD and had my very first conversation about where to find the metro station St. Michel. Already I felt like a local in Paris! The CD provides the audio portion of language learning and lets you hear the correct pronunciation of each word. Plus, you hear the where the emphasis should go on a word and how to nail the French accent. With the corresponding book, you can read along with the words you are saying in French and on the opposite page, you’ll see the English translation. That made a huge difference for me because each word I was saying was being reinforced three times: Once on the CD, once with the words written in French in the book and once with the English translation.
This particular program comes with 113 lessons that get progressively more difficult and more complex. With a focus on conversational French, the lessons offer up common real-life scenarios you might find yourself in while traveling, like in a café, in a shop or asking for directions. Further along in the lessons, you’ll learn common idioms and more business-oriented language if you’re traveling for work.
I love that each lesson offers up helpful tips and explanations about why things are said the way they are. For instance, the order of words in a sentence in French can be completely different than in English. Or they’ll give additional tips on pronunciation and intonation.
While I have a ways to go before I can complete all 113 lessons, I already feel like becoming bilingual is a real possibility with the help of this course. And since they say that it’s best to start teaching a child a new language when they’re really young, I’m hoping that between me and my wife, my son will learn French now, too!
If you’re hoping to learn a new language yourself, check out the Assimil programs and try it out for yourself. As they say in the book: “Our key rule is: do a little every day. Only through constant can you make the most of your natural powers of learning. Try and set aside some time every day – even if it’s only ten minutes – and make sure that you treat the course as pleasure, not work.”
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