Miscellaneous language material inquiries!

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Miscellaneous language material inquiries!

Postby outcast » Sun Mar 19, 2017 5:10 pm

Hi, I actually have asked some of the following questions before in my respective language logs, but I think they got buried under my lengthy posts and went unanswered. Ok:

1. I need good recommendations for German and French B2 and C1 testing test-preparation materials. I have look around a bit but I can't really see the books, and/or the descriptions are non-existent, well at least on Amazon. In any event there are plenty of French and German learners here so I am asking for you to take just a moment of your time and recommend something to me. I don't need a detailed description, a recommended title and publisher along with a sentence or two on what makes the material a good buy will suffice.

2. For those with Android phones, what typing keyboards do you like the best? I am not satisfied with my current downloaded ones, I can't type whole phrases or sentences with them, I have to type a word and select it before typing the next word. But the build in keyboard (Samsung Galaxy S7E), while I can type longer phrases, only allows for four language keyboards at any time. I need a keyboard with 8 or 9 language toggle and where I can write full phrases or sentences without having to choose every word when typing something out.

3. I am going to buy an e-reader finally. My question is what is the best "Ecosystem" for finding books in many foreign languages? That is to say, which of the formats has the most variety of titles available without restrictions for someone in the United States. I don't want to commit to some system and then find out I can't purchase a lot of the foreign language stuff, or that their variety is limited compared to others.

Thank you!
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Re: Miscellaneous language material inquiries!

Postby Speakeasy » Sun Mar 19, 2017 6:34 pm

I have no intention of sitting a formal exam of German. Nevertheless, in my habitually obsessive fashion, I acquired an unnecessarily large hoard of materials, including virtually all of the "testing" materials available from the major German publishers: Langenscheidt, Klett, Hueber, and Schubert. I found these materials to be very well-prepared.

Although my use of the testing materials was restricted to a "self-check" of my progress, I would imagine that they would be of considerable benefit to anyone wishing to prepare himself/herself for a formal exam and more particularly so if they were to be used in conjunction with the help of a tutor of German. However, given my own limited goals, I found them to be no better than the "free" testing kits available on the Goethe Institut and Deutsche Welle websites.

I suggest that you try the "free materials" first. Afterwards, should you decide to purchase materials from the collections of the forenamed publishers, I suggest that you select one series only, particularly as all of materials have the same goal -- one can easily get carried away and spend a fortune. In the end, "life itself" will provide a better measure of your abilities.
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Re: Miscellaneous language material inquiries!

Postby DaveBee » Sun Mar 19, 2017 7:58 pm

outcast wrote:1. I need good recommendations for German and French B2 and C1 testing test-preparation materials. I have look around a bit but I can't really see the books, and/or the descriptions are non-existent, well at least on Amazon. In any event there are plenty of French and German learners here so I am asking for you to take just a moment of your time and recommend something to me. I don't need a detailed description, a recommended title and publisher along with a sentence or two on what makes the material a good buy will suffice.
If you use Amazon.fr, and type 'DELF B2' as the search term, you'll see several exam prep books come up. CIEP (the organisation behind the DELF/DALF exams) also list some.

I've not taken the exam myself, so I can't recommend a particular book.
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Re: Miscellaneous language material inquiries!

Postby Cavesa » Sun Mar 19, 2017 8:34 pm

Ok, time to procrastinate a bit!

French B2 and C1/C2 materials. Why C2 as well? Because the C1 and C2 levels tend to be together in one volume. Since they are the hardest exams, it doesn't make sense to give each other less space than to each of the previous levels within the same series, but I stopped looking for logic in the realm of French learning resources long ago :-D

I am mentioning only stuff I have personally used, at least partially, so the list is not complete.

Réussir le DELF B2 or Réussir le DALF C1,C2 published by Didier. Very good books. Older, but the exam hasn't been changed dramatically since the publication.

DALF C1/C2 250 activitées, or their B2 book by CLE. Both Didier and CLE have published newer books since, but I cannot talk about those. But these two series I have mentioned are really good, if you are looking for exam assignment practice. However, don't expect too much from the explanations. I have already written about the problem with DALF writing preparation a million times (so many times I worry I would annoy everyone if i kept repeating it further :-D ).

Activités pour le Cadre européen commun de référence, niveaux C1-C2 (of course there is a B2 book), CLE
a hybrid between a course and a preparatory book. It does focus on some things not that covered in other resources, like accents, it tries to teach writing styles. It might be good for someone else, but I personally didn't like it much. A book I wish I hadn't bought, but there were fewer resources available a few years ago. I found out that a lot of the activities were in the end useless, given my experience with native input. And the output explanations and exercises didn't go deep enough. The author probably tried to make it a grammar and vocab review book too. Really, a hybrid. I prefer resources, that do fewer things well.

writing learning:
Production écrite FLE, niveaux C1 / C2 by didier:seems like a really good book, but I couldn't get my hands on it in time.
What I found helpful instead: Le résumé, le compte-rendu, la synthèse : Guide d'entraînements aux examens et concours by PUG. I had one of the older editions, so there might be differences, but it was the only book that really tried to explain the genres and the differences between them.

Normal classroom aimed courses try to include some exam preparation too, but most are not good. Alter Ego is one of the exceptions. Sure, the books (especially the lower levels) have many of the classical troubles of this type of coursebooks. BUT! The 4th and 5th levels (B2 and C1) are good and I especially liked their pages "techniques pour..." which adress various types of writing assignments.

while looking for publisher of another book, I found Préparation DALF C1 Textes d'argumentation: Pour les candidats et les enseignants - avec corrigés by Vasso Loukou, which looks really good (I looked at the sample). And they have other levels and skills. I really wish this would have been around a few years ago. That is why I am mentioning it, despite not having personal experience with using it before an exam.

Online resources usually stop at B2 level, for example the rfi stuff for learners. But I don't recommend it much. You have a lot of B2 listening material on course CDs. And when you are done with that, you should go to the real stuff, in my opinion. It makes no sense to spend a hundred hours on dumbed down listening exercises.

As usual, I recommend the Progressive series by CLE, even though those are not exam preparatory books. It sucks to stupidly lose points on grammar mistakes. The highest level, Perfectionnement, is awesome.
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Re: Miscellaneous language material inquiries!

Postby aokoye » Mon Mar 20, 2017 12:31 am

outcast wrote:1. I need good recommendations for German and French B2 and C1 testing test-preparation materials. I have look around a bit but I can't really see the books, and/or the descriptions are non-existent, well at least on Amazon. In any event there are plenty of French and German learners here so I am asking for you to take just a moment of your time and recommend something to me. I don't need a detailed description, a recommended title and publisher along with a sentence or two on what makes the material a good buy will suffice.

I'm short on time so I'll only answer this one right now. Have you looked on amazon.de and amazon.ca or amazon.fr? At least for German amazon.de has all or most of the test prep material that is in print, sometimes with descriptions (in German of course). For test prep specifically I would suggest Cornelsen, Hueber, or Klett. Schubert Verlag doesn't publish test prep specific books and Langenscheidt's second/foreign language branch appears to have been bought by Klett, but I don't know if they ever really published test prep books (within the past 15 years). Some of the Hueber books have previews on Google Books and the other two publishers have previews of some books on their websites.

Make sure that you get a book/books that are actually written for the test you're taking. For German I can think of 4 tests off the top of my head that are either B2 or that one can score a B2 on (on a spectrum from B1 to C1). They all have different formats. I also recently was told by a professor who administers the B2 Goethe Institute test on a regular basis that the Hueber books are good preparation for that specific test.
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Re: Miscellaneous language material inquiries!

Postby aokoye » Mon Mar 20, 2017 12:39 am

Speakeasy wrote:Although my use of the testing materials was restricted to a "self-check" of my progress, I would imagine that they would be of considerable benefit to anyone wishing to prepare himself/herself for a formal exam and more particularly so if they were to be used in conjunction with the help of a tutor of German. However, given my own limited goals, I found them to be no better than the "free" testing kits available on the Goethe Institut and Deutsche Welle websites.


What were the differences and similarities that you found in the test prep materials. Are you specifically talking about test prep or are you talking about general materials from Deutsche Welle (I haven't seen anything that was aimed at any of the tests on their website - obviously there is a lot of test prep stuff on the Goethe Institut's website but there's also some newer general material)? I will say that if someone is trying to prepare for the TestDAF I would not suggest they use Goethe Institut materials because the tests appear to have very different formats from B1 through C1. I think the C1 might be slightly more similar but there are still some differences that it would be foolish not to prepare oneself for. Also given the time and money that one has to spend on the test not passing because you didn't prepare for the format would be unfortunate.
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Re: Miscellaneous language material inquiries!

Postby Speakeasy » Mon Mar 20, 2017 2:38 am

aokoye wrote: What were the differences and similarities ... if someone is trying to prepare for the TestDAF I would not suggest they use Goethe Institut materials because ...
1. There is no need to list the similarities amongst the materials that are available from the major German publishing houses; they are comparable to one another in virtually every possible manner. The differences in content and emphasis are truly insignificant and, when you think about it, this should come as no surprise.

2. My recommendation would be that anyone wishing to sit an exam -- whether they are a student attending classes or an independent student -- should schedule time with a tutor and (a) decide which set of preparation materials best reflect the anticipated exam, then (b) working with the tutor, prepare oneself in a manner such that success on the exam would be a virtual certainty. It is quite conceivable that a given tutor would recommend the Goethe Institut and Deutsche Welle materials, whereas another would recommend materials available from the major German publishing houses, and whereas still another would suggest that exam preparation materials are a waste of time and money and that the student should rely on the tutor's judgment and guidance. Then again, in the latter case, I believe that I would find a replacement tutor!
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Re: Miscellaneous language material inquiries!

Postby aokoye » Mon Mar 20, 2017 6:47 am

Speakeasy wrote:
aokoye wrote: What were the differences and similarities ... if someone is trying to prepare for the TestDAF I would not suggest they use Goethe Institut materials because ...
1. There is no need to list the similarities amongst the materials that are available from the major German publishing houses; they are comparable to one another in virtually every possible manner. The differences in content and emphasis are truly insignificant and, when you think about it, this should come as no surprise.

2. My recommendation would be that anyone wishing to sit an exam -- whether they are a student attending classes or an independent student -- should schedule time with a tutor and (a) decide which set of preparation materials best reflect the anticipated exam, then (b) working with the tutor, prepare oneself in a manner such that success on the exam would be a virtual certainty. It is quite conceivable that a given tutor would recommend the Goethe Institut and Deutsche Welle materials, whereas another would recommend materials available from the major German publishing houses, and whereas still another would suggest that exam preparation materials are a waste of time and money and that the student should rely on the tutor's judgment and guidance. Then again, in the latter case, I believe that I would find a replacement tutor!


Do you not realize that there are different exams and that those exams a. focus on different types of language and b. have different ways of testing? Then again you don't actually want to take any exams (which is fine - I wouldn't unless I needed to or it wasn't a hassle) so you really have no dogs in the fight. Also really, misquoting me?
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Re: Miscellaneous language material inquiries!

Postby blaurebell » Mon Mar 20, 2017 10:49 am

outcast wrote:3. I am going to buy an e-reader finally. My question is what is the best "Ecosystem" for finding books in many foreign languages? That is to say, which of the formats has the most variety of titles available without restrictions for someone in the United States. I don't want to commit to some system and then find out I can't purchase a lot of the foreign language stuff, or that their variety is limited compared to others.


I really like my kindle. I got one without the background light because there seems to be more contrast in the screen without it and I don't like using the light anyway. My husband's kindle has a kind of cold light that would keep me from sleeping if I were to use it late at night. With kindle you can either purchase on amazon itself which I believe has its restrictions - you can't buy everything from everywhere I think - or buy/download from any place that offers epub and a number of different formats. Kindle can only read mobi, but you can convert a whole lot of formats to the kindle format (mobi) with a software called Calibre. I haven't had any problems finding all sorts of books or getting them converted for the kindle in Spanish, French and Russian. From Amazon directly I've only bought English and German titles with my German Amazon account. I've used other sources for other languages.
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Re: Miscellaneous language material inquiries!

Postby Tomás » Mon Mar 20, 2017 1:10 pm

blaurebell wrote:
outcast wrote:3. I am going to buy an e-reader finally. My question is what is the best "Ecosystem" for finding books in many foreign languages? That is to say, which of the formats has the most variety of titles available without restrictions for someone in the United States. I don't want to commit to some system and then find out I can't purchase a lot of the foreign language stuff, or that their variety is limited compared to others.


I really like my kindle. I got one without the background light because there seems to be more contrast in the screen without it and I don't like using the light anyway. My husband's kindle has a kind of cold light that would keep me from sleeping if I were to use it late at night. With kindle you can either purchase on amazon itself which I believe has its restrictions - you can't buy everything from everywhere I think - or buy/download from any place that offers epub and a number of different formats. Kindle can only read mobi, but you can convert a whole lot of formats to the kindle format (mobi) with a software called Calibre. I haven't had any problems finding all sorts of books or getting them converted for the kindle in Spanish, French and Russian. From Amazon directly I've only bought English and German titles with my German Amazon account. I've used other sources for other languages.


How do you get LWT to work with your kindle?
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