The language methods devised and published by Assimil feature :
A course book with between 60 and 146 lessons, depending on the language.
Short, daily lessons with humorous drawings, which make the learner familiar with the new language through intuitive assimilation.
Every seventh lesson includes a review of the grammar and vocabulary points presented during the week. A series of notes provides information about the civilization and culture of the country. Recordings are three or four audio cassettes (or compact discs).
The texts are read by professional actors who are native speakers of the target language. The speed of presentation picks up progressively as the learner becomes more at ease with the material. The recordings are a vital aid for self-study. In addition to allowing the learner to hear the language in a variety of authentic situations, they help to train the ear and improve pronunciation. For some languages, Assimil publishes an advanced course, which enables the learner to go beyond everyday conversation.
A Unique Principle : Intuitive Assimilation
How did you learn to speak your own language?
Chances are, you don't really know. You listened to your parents, and bit by bit, began to understand them. Then, once you had absorbed - or assimilated - the meanings of the sounds, words and word associations, you began to construct word groups and sentences yourself.
This is the process that Assimil uses. Naturally, we adapt our courses to take account of the fact that our readers are teenagers or adults who have already mastered their native language.
The Passive Phase In the first phase, learners are simply getting acquainted with the new language, immersing themselves in it for about 20 to 30 minutes per day. They listen to the text, then read and compare it with the English translation on the facing page. They repeat the sentences out loud in order to learn the pronunciation, using the phonetic transcriptions provided in the book and the recordings. During this phase, the learning process is passive. Learners do not try to form their own sentences, but simply "soak up" the language.
The Active Phase After completing the first half of the book, the learners have acquired enough vocabulary and automatic reflexes to begin creating and forming their own sentences. This is the acquisitive phase of the learning process, which involves completing one "active" lesson and one "passive" lesson each day.
In the active phase, learners simply cover the target-language text and reformulate it out loud - and in writing, if desired - using the translation text on the facing page. The active phase continues throughout the second half of the book. Thus, a course with 100 lessons will be assimilated in about 5 months for the most common languages. The result is a firm grasp of the new language, acquired intuitively, which can be used and built upon without effort or hesitation.