Review of the Day – Video Grammar Course for Beginners

Hello everyone,

the new year has just begun and everyone is still adamant about their new years resolutions. And one of the most common resolutions besides working out more, less drinking and inventing time travel (that’s one of mine. This year’s the year, I feel it) is learning a new language. And one of the most commonest new languages is German.
Wow… my writing really sucks this year.
Anyway, Kerstin Cable, a fellow language blogger, language learner, teacher and author of two books, has created a video course about German grammar for people who, for some crazy reason, have decided that they want to start learning German. Today, we’ll take a look at it and find out if it’s just what you need or if it’s just kind there. So are you ready to find out? Great

Kerstin Cable is a language learner, teacher, blogger and podcaster. She’s also author of two books about language learning (don’t worry, I’ll add links below) and she’s teaching teachers how to teach and she is a likable and very dedicated person. That’s my impression of her, anyway. She really, really cares about her students, and tries her utmost to keep them motivated and make learning as easy and as fun as possible. Not the worst qualities for the host of a video course I would say :). If you want to check out her stuff, here’s her blog:

Fluentlanguage.co.uk

But now let’s start with the review.

Course – “Easy German Grammar for Complete Beginners”

That’s the title of the first video course and that’s exactly what it is. In 16 videos, each between 3 and 10 minutes long, the course leads you through the most important basics of German grammar. First, you learn about verbs and how to conjugate them (and yes, you learn what “conjugate” is, too), then you get introduced to nouns and the whole gender thing, you learn the very basics about sentence structure and word order,  all 4 cases, the spoken past, negation and the modal verbs and then the course wraps up with a look at one of the most confusing things of all … prepositions.
Often, a video is accompanied by a little quiz and for each of the four sections you’ll get a little workbook… well… let’s say booklet… with summaries, more tips and exercises.
The course costs 57 dollars. For that you life time access to the videos as well as email support.
So, that’s for the facts… time for opinion.

What I liked

The …uhm… currycolluuuh…sounds intense but the lectures are actually pretty digestible and Kerstin’s talent of keeping you motivated really shines. I mean, I’m not learning German, so I don’t really know how it is to make your first steps in this language, but I’m pretty sure that you’ll always feel “save” with her and trust her as your guide… sounds stupid maybe but I think a student really has to have some trust in the teacher.

Overall, the currilulumum makes a lot of sense. Present tense, spoken past tense, negative, word order… all you need to start talking in daily life, it’s all there. Well, except questions. It’s much better than what you get from many textbooks or apps or software.

The overall production quality is pretty good. The videos are basically a power point-style presentation with off screen narration but it’s neither overloaded or overly fast nor boring. The fonts look nice an natural and the audio quality is good enough. There are a few differences in audio level and there’s a pretty obvious cutting mistake at one point but it never feels cheap or unprofessional.
The course is hosted at Teachable and the layout there as well as the navigation is great. I had some issues with the player when skipping around in the vids but that might have been due to my sucky web connection (I still have one of those old modems from the 60s).

What I didn’t like

I already mentioned that I think “Questions” should definitely be a topic in a course on basic grammar. And there would have been room for it because toward the end, the course starts to feel cramped. First, there’s the Genitive which Kerstin includes in all the tables. Sure, Genitive is nice and all, but I think for a beginner it is just clutter you need to ignore.

But the real problem in my opinion is including prepositions. Prepositions is HUGE topic in German because not only are there one million prepositions, but they also come with their very own grammar in that they have their own case rules. And then there are the contractions like “an+dem” is “am” and so on. Kerstin tries to cover that in one video and I think it’s too much at once. If you’ve felt fine until that point chances are you’re left overwhelmed and confused and while you can try to apply all the stuff you learn about verbs and modals and maybe even cases you most certainly won’t be able to use any of that preposition stuff in conversation because it’s just an overload.

Other than that I have a couple of minor complaints. Sometimes the progression is a little off. Like…Kerstin would use a jargon term or refer to a concept without having introduced it before. Not a big problem if you have some knowledge about the theory behind languages and the jargon but if you’re really a complete beginner learning your first second language, these things might be confusing and make you feel stupid. Seriously… it’s incredible how many people feel stupid when it comes to learning a language. You’re NOT. You’re smart! You’re just venturing out into completely new territory. It’s okay to be clumsy and shaky. The most elegant dancer can look clumsy trying to throw a basketball. But I digress.

So? To buy or not to buy…

That really depends on your situation. If you’re living on a tight budget… don’t sweat it. You can get just as far as quickly without the course. All the info is out there for free so you’re not missing out.
It’s also nothing for you, if you’re one of those polyglots who learn languages for breakfast because it’ll likely be too slow for you.

But if you’re a complete beginner, you’d like to have a nice video guide and you can afford it,  I’d say:

Go for it!

You’ll get a good foundation of German grammar in less time than you would spend with a text book or in a grammar course and it won’t feel like much work. And there’s no risk because Kerstin offers a 30 days money back guarantee.
So if you buy the course and you’re then like “Man, this really isn’t what I need” you’ll get your money back, no questions asked. And NO… it is not meant as a tool to buy the course, take it and then give it back. Be honest people! Kerstin is super fair offering this so you should be fair, too. If you buy it and you like it, keep it!

So… if you’re a complete beginner, you’d like to have a video course that takes you the first few miles on your journey toward fluency and you have 50 bucks spare, then get it right here:

  • Kerstin Cable – Easy German Grammar For Absolute Beginners
    (affiliate link… so if you buy it, I’ll get a more than decent share :)

    EDIT:
    !!! Kerstin is offering a discount of 27 Dollars!! So it’s 30 bucks, not 57.
    This offer is limited, so only the first 50 can get it. And there aren’t too many left!!!

And if you’re like “I would love this kind of course but I can’t afford it” then I have good news for you… because Kerstin will give away one course for free. Isn’t that awesome?!
Here’s what you need to do:

 **** Leave comment explaining (in German if you dare) why 2016 will be awesome ****

We’ll wait until December 2016 and see who was right.
Nah… we’ll pick a winner at random :).

EDIT: We have a winner :)… you can still tell me why 2016 will be awesome though.

So, that’s it for today. This was my review of “Easy German Grammar for absolute beginners” and I’m wondering: What’s your impression now? Is it something for you? What would an ideal course for you look like? Let me know your thoughts in a comments.
And next time we’ll finally get back to normal and learn some German. Huah!!
Frohes neues Jahr ihr lieben :).