Learn German Easily: Case Study Report #1

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case-studies-50_We’re underway!

The Learn German Easily case study has seen its first seven sessions.

How did I do? And more importantly: how did the course perform?

I’ll reveal all the details in this first report.

What’s This About?

For those who don’t know, Smart Language Learner does case studies on language products and methods. To be fair, I started doing them only recently, about two months ago, and this is the first report of the second case study.

For this one, I chose the German language course: Learn German Easily. You can read about all the specifics in the case study announcement post.

Note: the links to the course are affiliate links, which means that, in case you purchase, I’ll receive a commission at no extra cost to you. While I can confidently say that the course has at least some quality, I can’t fully recommend it yet as I’ve not spent enough time with the course yet.

stopwatchTime Spent

We’re 11 days into the case study.

During this time, I managed to do seven 40-minute sessions. This equates to 280 minutes.

With a longer-term case study like this one, that isn’t sufficient to find out if the course can teach you German effectively but it is enough to obtain some good first impressions about it.

parametersParameters Changed

The course is quite difficult at the start. Especially if you have no previous experience with German.

Even for me, a native Dutch speaker, was it hard enough to make me change some of the case study parameters.

To make a long story short: I needed more repetitions! That is: I needed to repeat the lessons more.

And that’s what I’ve been doing since the second session.

As it stands now, my study pattern is as follows:

Vocabulary Lessons

  1. I listen to the lessons while reading them at the same time: 5 reps
  2. I listen to the lessons while repeating (saying) the words and sentences: 5 reps
  3. I listen to the Question and Answer game: 5 reps
  4. I listen and answer the Question and Answer game: 5 reps

Stories

  1. I listen to the stories while reading them at the same time: 3 reps
  2. I listen to the Question and Answer games: 1 rep
  3. I listen and repeat the Question and Answer games: 1 rep
  4. I listen and answer the question and answer games: 2 reps

This increase in time spent with each lesson, may mean that I won’t be able to complete all lessons before the end of the case study. (Was always going to be difficult, anyway.)

Luckily, I run the show;-). I may change these parameters when I notice that I’m improving faster than I though I would. If that’s the case I could turn the number of repetitions down again to make up for the lost time.

Results

As I said, the course starts out fairly difficult. Or maybe it’s the different manner in which the lessons are structured. This is not your everyday language course.

It has practically no explanations.

Grammar rules?

Forget about it!

Verb charts?

Not a chance!

This course is all about understanding the language and its words and grammar by listening and speaking (repeating, and answering questions). You could go as far as saying it’s a form of immersion.

Alright, I’m getting a bit off track here. Back to the results.

Remember I said how it hard was at the start of the course? (Of course I do. You talked about it only 12 sentences ago!) Well, that only took a session and a half, or so. During the second session I already noticed that I had learned some things. Which is always nice. Especially after a hard first session.

The problem is that, contrary to the first case study, I can’t really measure the results. (Now I know why you were beating around the bush!) This is about more than just words learned.

As it stands now, after seven sessions, I know there have been some results, but the real strength or weakness of the course is something that will probably only present itself at or near the end of the case study.

Without cold hard results, the meaning of this first report may be as obvious as one and one making four. Fortunately, the time with the course did allow me to come away with some first impressions about the course.

plus-smallThe Positive

Let’s be cheerful and start with the positive.

What I really liked is the length of the vocabulary lessons. Just a few minutes each.

This short duration allows you to easily repeat the material ten’s of times in a relatively short time span. This is great because, with anything that you want to remember, the initial repetitions are extremely important.

Two-hour lessons would not be suitable for many repetitions, except for the biggest of language nerds. Which, of course, we aren’t, right?

Well, maybe we are (and let’s celebrate it!), but even so, it would still be difficult to do a satisfying number of repetitions. So the short length is good, I like it!

Unfortunately, the stories, and especially the accompanying Q-and-A games, are a bit longer. (The course has seven stories and one story has two parts.) The good news is that the stories seem to be pretty good and engaging.

I’ll tell more about the stories later on. First, let’s get serious and go to:

min-smallThe Negative

So what didn’t I like?

The course instructions. It’s not a biggy but it would have been nice to have clearer instructions on how to work your way through the course.

The PDF file that comes with the vocabulary lessons says you should start out by listening and repeating the words and sentences, while the order confirmation email tells you to just stick to listening and reading for the first few times you go through a lesson. Confusing.

It’s like Lucas Kern (the course creator) said to me: “you have to find your own way of going through the course.”

Once again, it’s not a huge problem but it can be confusing and it delays “getting” into the course a bit.

On the other hand, it’s always good to deviate a little from course instructions to tailor the approach to your situation. A native Dutch speaker learning German should not do as many repetitions as a native Chinese speaker, for example.

Is it Fun?

In the marketing of the course the word “Fun” plays a big role. “Learn German with Fun” is the headline of the sales page.

The course offer an interesting approach to learning a language, but is it entertaining?

I started the course doing three vocabulary lessons first. And yes, there are some funny words and sentences included:

  • Nimm den Finger aus der Nase. (Take your finger out of your nose.)

or

  • Stinken deine Füße manchmal auch?  (Do your feet stink sometimes too?)

These and all other words and phrases are narrated by Lucas Kern himself. It’s refreshing to notice that he doesn’t take himself too seriously. He uses his funny voice on many occasions. You can even hear him cry and expressing his disgust for Whiskey by letting out a long “ewww!”

All of this helps, but it’s in the stories where the promise of entertainment is really fulfilled.

Or so it seems.

I have done only one story so far, but it’s great. (I did take a peek at the other stories.) It’s the story that has two parts and I can’t wait to find out how it continues in the second part!

The stories do seem a little childish but maybe that’s why I like them so much. 🙂 It’s proof that the course doesn’t take itself too seriously, and that’s a good thing. It helps fight boredom.

All in all, it seems like a quality product. A unique product in many ways. In contrary to the website, which seems a bit sloppy and dated, it’s clear that a lot of effort was put into creating it.

How good it is?

Hard to say for now. As I said in the results section: time will tell!

This is Just the Start

The case study continues until the 21st of August, 2014. In other words, there’s more to come in terms of my experiences with the “Learn German Easily” course.

It would be great if you joined me in exploring the merits of this product. It’s helpful to have more people sharing their results and comparing them.

If you’re interested, you can buy the course here:

http://www.smartlanguagelearner.com/go/learn-german-course/

Please take into account that I’m not giving a full recommendation (at least not yet). How could I? I’ve only spent 280 minutes with the course so far!

Okay, that pretty much wraps this report up. When there are new developments I’ll be be back with another case study report.

All the best!

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Comments

  1. Sergio Rodrigues says:

    And they call the course “Learn German Easily”?

    • Noel van Vliet says:

      It’s never “easy” to learn a new language. But there’s always some marketing involved, of course.

      I think “Easily” refers to the fact that all you need to do is listen, read, repeat and answer questions. You don’t have to worry about grammar.

  2. Cool update!

    You talk about liking the length and how easily the sessions can be repeated, but what would your thoughts be in comparison, to say, Pimsleur, where the sessions are longer and have repetition built into them? If you know Pimsleur, what are your thoughts about their presentation in terms of balancing the capacity of information they’re asking your to contain with repetition per lesson?

    • Noel van Vliet says:

      Great question.

      I think Pimsleur is good at what it does: getting you to a very basic level of speech. All you do is listen, repeat and answer, somewhat similar to Learn German Easily, and the program does the rest for you. I have only used Pimsleur Spanish but my impression is that they take a while before introducing new stuff. In other words, it’s sometimes too easy.

      I like the short lessons because they give you a sense of control. It won’t overwhelm you. Anybody can complete a lesson of a few minutes and, like I said, it’s easier to repeat. In the end it comes down to personal preference, I guess, whether you like the shorter lessons with manual repetitions, so to speak, or the Pimsleur approach.

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