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I Like Hugo's "In Three Months" Series

11/29/07

Permalink 11:45:54 pm, by Ritchie Annand Email , 277 words   English (CA)
Categories: Reviews, Books, Languages

I Like Hugo's "In Three Months" Series

When I was at my sister's wedding in the UK, my relatives offered to look after our baby for a few minutes while we rampaged through one of Rochester's used bookshops, "Baggins".

It was far too big for a decent perusal of any sort, but before I left the store, I tracked down its language learning shelves, and I found two book's in Hugo's older language series: Arabic in Three Months and Russian in Three Months. I already had Dutch in Three Months - the only other one I had ever seen in the series - and had thoroughly enjoyed it. In my mind, a good language-learning book - and I grant that this is my style and perhaps nobody else's - should do the following:

  • Give you a good, decent pronunciation guide with as much description as you need to replicate the sounds without CDs or cassettes
  • Keep the pronunciation training wheels on for the first many chapters
  • Give you really good rules of thumb for grammar in the language instead of explaining every exception to death before you need it or insisting that you just have to learn everything as a special case
  • Give you a usable vocabulary
  • Have some good quality assurance so that you don't encounter that often-correct feeling of "hey, they never even gave me this word, and it's not in the mini-dictionary at the end, either

The quality part seems oft overlooked. I'm pleased to say that the Russian one, at the very least in its older incarnation (I've not seen the newer remakes), fulfills this checklist admirably. Now I can truly pester my Russian coworkers in grand style. Well, in a few months, anyhow :)

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