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The German Basic Course was designed to help students reach a level of proficiency which will enable them to participate effectively in most formal and informal conversations. The dialogues, drills, situations and narrations have been recorded on audio unless otherwise indicated in the text.
For beginning students, the twenty-four units are designed for a six-month intensive training program of six hours of work per day, plus outside preparation. Each unit presents a situational topic introduced in a dialogue, and usually five grammar points. Each grammar point is preceded by grammar notes which generally are expressed in non-technical terms.
Most units include materials of the following kinds:
- 1. Basic Sentences as an entry point to the language, demonstrating basic grammar and vocabulary, and presented in a dialogue format so that the nuances of meaning and a natural understanding of the sentence functions can be gained readily.
- 2. Notes on Pronunciation to develop proper pronunciation of the distinctive German vowels and consonants, and to explain the spelling system of the language.
- 3. Notes on Grammar to present and develop an understanding of the underlying structure of the language at all levels.
- 4. Drills of six different kinds, each type designed for a specific purpose.
- a. Substitution drills to reinforce knowledge of vocabulary and nuances of lexical grammar and meaning, so that one can automatically substitute new and different words into a basic sentence without garbling meaning or syntax.
- b. Variation drills to practice forming variations on a basic sentence, changing mood, tense, subject, adding negation, etc.
- c. Vocabulary drills to rehearse and deepen knowledge of the fundamental units of the language, so that comprehension and usage function on an automatic level.
- d. Translation drills so that students can render translations quickly from German into English, and vice-versa.
- e. Response drills to practice using basic sentences in an interactive and meaningful context, so that the language is learned to communicate, and not merely for reading or translation.
- f. Conversion drills for practice in changing word and sentence forms such as singular/plural, negatives, word order in sentence, and all other common mutations of sentences.
- 5. Conversation Practice to further practice pronunciation, translation, etc. in a communicative context.
- 6. Situations to improve comprehension and serve as a basis for questions and elementary conversation.
- 7. Narratives to provide reading material and introduce a very limited number of vocabulary items.
- 8. A Finder List, which is a vocabulary list found at the end of each unit.