Way back when I first started to learn Chinese, I was based in Paris, France. I know, a strange place to start learning Chinese. But, that’s a story for another time.
This book was hugely popular and very common among Europeans learning Chinese. I’ve finally got around to reviewing it. Let’s see whether it really does help you learn Chinese with ease?
Europe’s Top Language Learning Method
- 49 all-inclusive and progressive lessons
- 91 exercises with key
- Chinese-English lexicon
- Grammar summary
This book was originally written in French so, whilst very good, there will be some translation errors throughout.
Will these small errors get in the way of your Chinese language learning? Honestly, probably not.
The Assimil method
‘Assimil is a revolutionary self-study method based on the simple, effective principle of intuitive assimilation. This is the natural process through which you learned your own language. With lively dialogues, simple notes, and practical exercises, the Assimil method will bring you to a level where you can converse comfortably.’
This method is strong, effective and it’s been working for lots of folks all over Europe for maybe longer than you’ve been alive. Assimil was founded in 1929!
- A selection of texts literature, journalism, politics, and daily life
- Substantial new vocabulary
- Idioms and expressions that are vital to mastering the subtleties of Chinese
- Advanced grammar
- Systematic revision to consolidate what you have learned
- A unique witty style that tried and tested
The lessons are absorbable. They are really small, compact and Assimil includes a lot of explanation, not just for each dialogue, but even for the practice exams.
The basic sounds are included with the CD or mp3 version. Get whatever one makes sense to you but drill those sounds from the beginning.
The chinglish explanations are excellent. They restructure the sentences in the format that Chinese use so you can get to grips with their sentence structures. That helps me to see how Chinese express themselves.
The cool thing is the Assimil system is one that you can use on your own, you don’t need a class or tutor to accompany your efforts.
Assimil breaks down your study into two phases. The first is passive and then comes active.
- You’ll read through dialogues using the phonetic transcription as a guide (or listen to the recordings if you have them — which I strongly suggest you do)
- Repeat each sentence out loud
- Read the translation on the facing page
- Use the notes to understand distinctive features of the language
- Test yourself using the two exercises (with answer keys) that accompany each lesson
- Review what you have learned each week in a concluding review lesson
- Once you are halfway through the course you will know enough to go onto the active phase
- As you learn each new lesson you will also review an earlier one, following their instructions, and translate the dialogue from English to Chinese
“With regular study, in just a few months you will be able to speak fluently and naturally!”
This promise is a bit overblown, you can get quite good at Chinese. Fluent is just a few months is pretty far-fetched. Read this article to find out why.
But of course, the progress you make, all depends on the effort you put in. With 49 lessons to get you to a B1 level, you could do a lesson a day and in about a month and 3/4 you’ll be finished. That might make your brain explode though.
What Level Am I?
B1/A1 is the common European framework level for language acquisition.
The “A” Levels
The “B” Levels
The “C” Levels
When you get to Level C you’re basically a Chinese Ninja. Oh, Ninja’s are technically Japanese. You’re a Chinese Kung Fu Martial Artist!
If you want to compare the Assimil language learning method with Living Language Chinese, check out this video where I review it.
Want more book reviews from me?
Click here for my comprehensive list of the best books to learn Chinese.
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