Hugo Language Courses (1890's - 2000's)

All about language programs, courses, websites and other learning resources
Speakeasy
Black Belt - 1st Dan
Posts: 1989
Joined: Mon Jul 20, 2015 5:19 pm
Location: Canada (Montréal region)
Languages: English (N), French (C2). Studying: Italian, Spanish, Portuguese, German, Dutch, Polish, and Russian; all with widely varying degrees of application, enthusiasm, and success.
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Hugo Language Courses (1890's - 2000's)

Postby Speakeasy » Sat Jun 01, 2019 5:07 pm

PART 1 of 2
HUGO EARLY PERIOD: 1890’s – 1970’s


POINT OF DEPARTURE
Late to the Party
A couple of years ago, I purchased the Hugo “Complete” German package containing this publisher’s “Three Months” and “Advanced” courses. Although I appreciated the obvious care with which the authors had prepared these materials, I did not really warm up to the approach to teaching. Still, having sampled a couple of these courses, the effect was curiously akin to what one experiences when eating Nachos or Jelly Beans; I had a mild craving for “just one more” and decided to add their “Business” course to my collection. My interest concerning the differences between the most recent editions and the previous generations, which date all the way back to the late 19th century, prompted me to add another item, and then another, and yet another, leaving me with a fairly comprehensive assortment of Hugo courses and supplemental materials for the study of German.

As there had been no extensive discussions of the Hugo language courses on the LLORG, and as those on the HTLAL tended to be limited to brief comments either extolling the virtues, or decrying the failings, of these courses, I decided to offer the reader my own appreciation. Having already completed the first draft, I came across Professor Arguelles’ excellent reviews on YouTube and it now appears that I have arrived “late to the party.” Undaunted and unashamed, I incorporated some of the professor’s comments into my own presentation and now offer this revised version to the more patient amongst you. Stop me if you’ve heard this one before …

Incomplete Information
Although the British publisher of self-instruction language courses, the “Hugo Languages Institute”, operated successfully for more than a century, there is surprisingly little information available on the internet covering its genesis, its publishing history, the changes to its ownership, or its apparent cessation of operations. The information that I have been able to put together was drawn from the catalogues of the major online booksellers (which continue to offer a few remnants of some of the Hugo courses dating back to the late 19th century), incomplete publishing histories, websites specializing in information concerning record labels, comments on the HTLAL and Amazon, and Professor Arguelle’s YouTube reviews.

Demarcation Line
In the mid-1980’s (I believe), the new owners to the rights of the Hugo materials, Dorling Kindersley (DK) Publishers Ltd, commissioned a major rewrite of the entire catalogue of Hugo language courses. While these new courses represented a significant departure from those of the previous generation, it would be not unreasonable to say that they retained many elements of the former’s approach to teaching. I have chosen this transition from the “old” to the “new” courses as a convenient demarcation line between what-I-have-labelled the “Early Period” which extended from the company’s inception circa 1890 through to the 1970’s and the similarly-labelled “Late Period” from the 1980’s through to the 2000’s.

Hugo Languages Institute Era: 1890’s – 1970’s
The “Hugo Languages Institute” was founded circa 1890, by one Charles Hugo, for the publication and sale of a series of self-instruction language courses covering a broad range of languages. In addition to these materials, which were designed for autonomous use, customers were encouraged to subscribe to a correspondence service which offered the support of qualified instructors, or to attend classes, or receiving private tutoring at the institute's offices in London.
Hugo Advertisement (correspondance, class tuition).JPG
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During the eight decades leading up to the middle-to-late 1970’s, this publisher focused its efforts on the marketing of their “Simplified Series” the major component of which was the “Three Months” language course.

PUBLICATIONS
Hugo Simplified Series

The “Hugo Simplified Series” was a collection of small printed manuals for the self-instruction of a broad range of languages having the “Hugo’s [Language] Self-Tuition Course in Three Months (Without a Master)” at its core. In reviewing the items listed below, it is reasonable to assume that those bearing similarities of content were either minor revisions or simply changes to the titles. Whereas the “Three Months” courses covered a broad range of languages, most of the supplemental materials were published for the frequently-studied languages only. It is also possible that, as new languages were introduced in the series, the elements which would have been otherwise included in the supplemental booklets were incorporated in the “Three Months” course manual. For example, a number of later editions of the “Three Months” courses were revised and expanded, integrating elements from the supplemental materials. The titles below were drawn from the major online booksellers’ websites (my collection includes most of the items below for the study of German).

Hugo’s [Language] Self-Tuition Course in Three Months (Without a Master)
Hugo’s [Language] Simplified: An easy and rapid self-instructor
Hugo’s [Language] Conversation Simplified
Hugo’s A Complete Guide to [Language] Pronunciation
Hugo’s [Language] Idioms Simplified
Hugo’s A Collection of Practical Sentences Gradually Introducing the Most Important Idioms of Hugo’s [Language]
Hugo’s A Simple But Complete Grammar of [Language]
Hugo’s [Language] Grammar Simplified
Hugo’s Key to the Standard Edition of [Language] Grammar Simplified
Hugo’s Key to the Exercises in Grammar of [Language]
Hugo’s [Language] Genders Simplified
Hugo’s [Language] Verbs Simplified
Hugo’s [Language] Reading Simplified
Hugo’s [Language] Commercial Correspondent


Other Publications
The first item listed below was part of the “U.G.O. Series”, an abbreviation that I have not been able to identify. The phrase books covered a startlingly-broad range of languages as did the publisher’s dictionaries. The last item below was likely unique in its genre.

Hugo’s How to get all you want when travelling in [Country]: A really practical phrase-book indispensable to tourists, with the imitated pronunciation of every word
Hugo's [Language] Phrase-Book for Tourists
Hugo's Pocket Dictionary: [Language-Language / Language-Language]
Hugo’s How to Avoid Incorrect English


Hugo’s [Language] Self-Tuition Course in Three Months (Without a Master)
The Hugo Language Institute’s “Three Months” self-instruction language courses were first introduced around 1890 as “Hugo’s [Language] Self-Tuition Course in Three Months (Without a Master)” and remained in continuous production up until the company ceased operations more than a hundred years later. As demonstrated by the company’s longevity and by the broad range of languages which were covered in the series, public response was apparently quite positive. Whereas Professor Arguelles, in his video review, offered his opinion that Hugo’s catalogue included a rather limited selection of languages, my searches reveal that the courses from this period covered at least the following: Arabic, Catalan, Chinese (Mandarin), Czech, Danish, Dutch, English, French, German, Greek, Hebrew, Hindi, Hindustani, Italian, Japanese, Latin, Norwegian, Polish, Portuguese, Spanish (Latin American), Spanish (European), Russian, Swedish, Turkish, Welsh, and perhaps others. In addition, courses covering the frequently-studied languages were offered in several language bases other than English.
0 Hugo In Three Months.JPG
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Editions versus Generations
I have copies of the Hugo Three Months German courses (under slightly different titles) from this period from 1890, circa 1920, circa 1930, circa 1950, 1969, and 1979. For all practical purposes, the contents and the presentation of the course manuals are identical. While the edition from 1969 shows a slight rearranging of the texts, I would say that it is substantially the same as all of the previous editions. Although the edition from 1979 contains very minor updates to the texts to that from 1969, it is essentially the same course manual, differences in print aside. Even Charles himself Hugo might have been surprised to discover that his approach to teaching, including the essential contents of the course manuals, was unchanged from 1890 through 1979 (which was reprinted up to at least 1990). That is, there was only one generation throughout the entire period!

AUDIO RECORDINGS
Hugophone “ancillary” recordings: 1920’s – 1970’s
This publisher, like many of its competitors at the time, quickly adopted the newly-developed audio recording technology of the late 19th and earlier 20th centuries under their own “Hugophone” record label, but did so in a manner that differed significantly from that of most other publishers. From the 1920’s through to the 1970’s, the Hugo Languages Institute did not include, nor offer for separate purchase, audio recordings which were directly-linked to the contents of their “Three Months” course manuals. Rather, prospective customers were encouraged to purchase a set of ancillary “Hugophone” records and manuals for practicing their aural/oral skills (see ancillary* below). Course manuals of the period included a voucher which accorded the purchaser a small discount on the price of the record sets. There were two generations of these recordings.

Hugophone 1920’s – 1950’s
The first generation of Hugophone recordings appeared in the early 1920’s as sets of three (3) x 12-inch x 78 rpm shellac gramophone records accompanied by two pamphlets, one containing the L2 transcriptions and the other the English script (I have a copy of the latter). Total duration would have been approximately 20 minutes. Whereas the Three Month course manuals covered a broad range of languages (refer to the list above), the ancillary recordings were available only in a narrow selection of languages: French, German, Italian, Spanish, Russian. The record labels were imprinted “Hugophone System (Two Voices)” as an indication that the recordings were of two individuals discussing a variety of subjects related their visit to the L2 region: Travelling, The Hotel, Excursion in a Motor Car, A Stroll in Town, Shopping, Paying a Call. The dialogues, which had been translated from the English script to the target languages, did not progress in difficulty and maintained a steady level of CEFR A1 throughout. In comparison to the popular literature, magazines and newspapers, theatre and cinema, or archived speeches and public debates of the period, the language used in the dialogues was surprisingly affected and mannered.
1 Hugophone Record (1920s).jpg
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Hugophone 1960’s – 1970’s
The second generation of Hugophone recordings appeared in the early 1960’s as sets of one (1) x 12-inch x 33-1/3 vinyl record accompanied by two laminated sheets measuring 8” x 10”, one containing the L2 transcriptions and the other the English script (I have a copy of the Hugophone German album). Total duration was approximately 28 minutes, which is rather unusual for an LP record. As before, whereas the Three Month course manuals covered a broad range of languages, the ancillary recordings were available only in a narrow selection of languages: French, German, Italian, Spanish, Russian. While the format of two individuals discussing a variety of subjects related their visit to the L2 region was retained, as were the themes, the dialogues were completely re-written and re-recorded, maintaining a steady level of CEFR A1 throughout. Although language used was ‘correct’ for the period, it was unusually contrived. The dialogues are recorded once at a leisurely pace, followed by a second recording which sounds unnatural and which I believe was artificially sped up. The effect of the stilted speech, the doubled recordings, and the total duration of barely 28 minutes on a 12-inch LP record cause me to believe that these LPs were, in fact, reproductions of the 1920's recordings.
1 Hugophone Record (1960s).jpg
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*Ancillary: The jackets of the 1960’s era Hugophone record albums contained the following promotional statement: “Hugophone is not a language course – it is an advanced aid to pronunciation ancillary to ‘Hugo’s [Language] in Three Months Without a Master’. It is, if you like, the ‘finishing school’ and because it is able, orally, to illustrate the subtle inflections, rhythms, and tonal qualities of a foreign language to our ears, it is of great value to the tourist, the perfectionist and the serious student. The most important function of the Hugophone [recordings] is to break through the ‘sound barrier’ – that unconscious resistance to perfect pronunciation which often arises from lack of self-confidence – a reluctance to take the first bold steps towards words, phrases and sounds with a true [Language] accent. What makes Hugophone so superior is that it is not stilted in any way – there is no trace of the average textbook approach, but instead it presents actual everyday conversations (with a written transcript for the eyes to follow) of ordinary people speaking those ordinary things you will want to say when you are abroad. Hugophone does not teach you what to say, but rather how to speak with faultless pronunciation. To this end, great care has been taken with the preparation and production of this recording, so that as your sound guide you have only the clearest, truly authentic voices, accurate to the last inflection.” I commented on Hugo's promotional statements in the "REVIEW" section below.

Hugo Cassette & Record Language Courses: 1977 – 1985
At some time around 1977, Hugo Languages Ltd finally adopted the practice of many of its competitors by offering language courses comprised of their “Three Months” course manuals and audio recordings which were directly-linked to the contents of the former, as either (a) 4 x 12” x 33-1/3 vinyl LP records, or (b) 4 x C60 audio cassettes. These packages were available for the self-instruction of only a small portion of the publisher’s catalogue: Dutch, French, German, Greek, Italian, Portuguese, Spanish, and Swedish. I have a copy of the publisher’s German course, with the recordings, from 1979. The images below depict the 1977 edition and the 1979 edition, respectively.
2 Hugophone (Hugo) Cassette Language Course.JPG
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REVIEWS
Professor Arguelles, in his YouTube reviews (appended to Part 2 of this thread), confirms that the Grammar-Translation Method was used in the Hugo courses from this period. Whereas he acknowledges that the course books provide an excellent overview of a given language, he finds the presentation of the material uninspiring. While it is surely a matter of personal taste, when compared to the courses by Assimil, Cortina, Linguaphone, and many others of the period, I find myself agreeing with the professor. Professor Arguelles reminds the viewer that the publisher’s use of “Three Months” in the series title was not a promise that the student would be able to master the L2 within three months. Rather, it was merely the expression of an opinion to the effect that a daily regimen of one-hour’s study over a three-month period would provide the user with a foundation in the target language but that this would this not lead to a level of skill approaching fluency. As to the relevance of these courses from this period, the professor suggests that they would be best used as supplements to a study programme based on other materials such as Assimil and the like. The few comments on the HTLAL which touch upon these first generation courses tend to support the professor’s point of view.

The only element which truly surprised me was Hugo’s decision not to offer audio recordings directly-related to the contents of their language courses right up to 1977 and, in their place, to offer sets of “ancillary” recordings. By way of comparison, during the same period, the publishers of the Assimil, Berlitz, Cortina, Linguaphone, and many other self-instructional language courses, either included large sets of audio recordings with their course packages (the dialogues and exercises of which were directly-related to the contents of their course manuals) or offered these for separate purchase. I find Hugo’s statements on this matter difficult to accept (see “ancillary” above). First, in contrast to this publisher’s claim that the recordings contained “no trace of the average textbook approach” and that they presented “actual everyday conversations of ordinary people”, I found both generations of the recorded dialogues unnatural and out-of-sync with everyday speech. Second, not only did the publisher attempt to justify a demonstrably “inferior” practice but, in an exemplary demonstration of “double-speak”, they compounded the sham by declaring their practice to be “superior” to that of their competitors. The only thing “superior” here was Hugo’s chutzpah! Finally, given the ease of access to recording facilities, the low costs associated with record production, and the long-established and more accessible practice their competitors, I consider Hugo’s position vis-à-vis audio recordings a failure of imagination.

Although the “Simplified Series” had the potential of bringing the independent-learner into the CEFR A1+ range of competence, aural/oral skills would have required additional development through means beyond those provided by the ancillary audio recordings. This aspect was corrected only as of 1977 when the publisher began offering packages containing the Three Months course books and associated audio recordings. I view Hugo’s product line from 1890 through the late 1970’s as curiosities of primary interest to collectors of vintage language-learning materials.

COMMENTS?
The presentation above is bound to be incomplete and it is likely to contain a number of errors of fact. Should anyone wish to correct or augment any of this information, or otherwise comment on it, I would be pleased to hear from you.

EDITED:
Attachments, typos.
Last edited by Speakeasy on Thu Sep 12, 2019 11:06 am, edited 22 times in total.
8 x

Speakeasy
Black Belt - 1st Dan
Posts: 1989
Joined: Mon Jul 20, 2015 5:19 pm
Location: Canada (Montréal region)
Languages: English (N), French (C2). Studying: Italian, Spanish, Portuguese, German, Dutch, Polish, and Russian; all with widely varying degrees of application, enthusiasm, and success.
x 5339

Re: Hugo Language Courses

Postby Speakeasy » Sat Jun 01, 2019 5:08 pm

PART 2 of 2
HUGO LATE PERIOD: 1980’s – 2000’s


Dorling Kindersley (DK) Era
In the mid-1980’s (I believe), the new owners to the rights of the Hugo materials, Dorling Kindersley (DK) Publishers Ltd, commissioned a major rewrite of the entire catalogue of Hugo language courses, instituting changes to the approach to teaching.

MAJOR MATERIALS
I have chosen to classify as “major materials” the three self-instruction language courses for which this publisher is best known: Hugo Three Months, Hugo Advanced, Hugo for Business. These courses were conceived to provide the user, either individually or collectively, with a CEFR A2-B1 level of skill upon completion.
1 Hugo Major Courses.JPG
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Hugo [Language] in Three Months
The Hugo “Three Months” series of self-instructional language courses is the founding and fundamental product for which this publisher was renowned for over a century. In the late 1970’s or early 1980’s, the new owner of the rights to the Hugo product line, the Australian publisher, Dorling Kindersley (DK) Publishers Ltd, commissioned a complete re-rewriting of all of the courses which were to remain part of the updated catalogue. I find myself somewhat at odds with Professor Arguelle’s assertion that this product line covered only a handful of the frequently-studied languages, particularly in light of the fact that the major online booksellers, websites presently offer the most recent editions of Three Months courses for the study: Arabic, Chinese (Mandarin), Czech, Danish, Dutch, English, French, German, Greek, Hebrew, Hindi, Italian, Japanese, Norwegian, Polish, Portuguese, Russian, Scottish (Gaelic), Spanish (Latin American), Spanish (European), Swedish, Turkish, and Welsh. In addition, a number of these courses are available from language bases other than English, viz., French, Russian.

The Three Month course packages comprised the following materials: (a) a 5” x 8-1/2” course manual of approximately 280 pages, and (b) four audio cassettes or CDs of about 3-3/4 hours total duration, and (c) a hard shell plastic case. The target language was introduced in a fairly conventional manner; that is, through the presentation of a selection of basic notions of basic grammar, supported by a number of short exercises for reinforcement, culminating with an end-of-lesson dialogue.

While the pace of instruction is initially relaxed in these courses, about mid-way through, it picks up significantly, to the surprise and dissatisfaction of some users. There is significant support for this series on the HTLAL and the LLORG and, not surprisingly, Amazon Customer Reviews are consistently strong. The only decidedly negative comments that I have come across have to do with some reviewers’ displeasure concerning an apparent over-emphasis on the target language’s grammar, a point of view which I do not necessarily share. In my view, while the “information available” in these courses would be (barely) sufficient to bringing the student up to a level of CEFR A2 upon completion, I find that, in practice, they do not have the same potential as, say, the Assimil courses and I suspect that the actual level achieved would be closer to CEFR A1. Many forum members disagree with my on this point and view these courses as having the potential for CEFR A2.

Hugo More [Language] in Three Months
Hugo Taking [Language] Further
Hugo Advanced [Language] Course

The “Advanced” courses (published under at least the three separate titles listed above) were issued as “sequels” to the Three Months self-instruction language courses covering a selection of the more frequently-studied languages: Dutch, French, German, Italian, Portuguese, and Spanish. The approach to teaching was very consistent with the series that preceded it, a feature which would surely be appreciated by users who adapted well to the Three Months series; that is, explanations of grammar supported by exercises for reinforcement, followed by an end-of-lesson dialogue.

Whereas the publisher promoted these courses as “advanced”, my impression is that the level upon completion would be in the CEFR A2-B1 range. While I have not come across any reviews concerning these courses on the HTLAL or the LLORG, it is possible that some members have posted their comments in the logs or under discussion threads addressing other issues. The support for this series by customers Amazon.UK is quite strong, but not uniformly so. A number of the negative comments make, in my view, unfair comparisons to other language courses, or complain that these courses are too advanced. My reading of the positive comments is that, on balance, these reviewers had more experience as independent language-learners and that they were more realistic in their expectations of this product line, of the work required to master the materials, and of the level of competence on completion than were those who posted negative comments.

Hugo Complete [Language]
It should be noted that packages bearing the product name ‘Hugo Complete’ were not separate language courses. Rather, these were convenient compilations of the “Three Months” and the “Advanced” course manuals and their respective audio recordings.
2 Hugo Complete German.JPG
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Hugo [Language] for Business
The “Business” series was available for the self-instruction of French, German, Japanese, and Spanish in a business context. The materials included: (a) a 5” x 8-1/2” course manual of approximately 230 pages, and (b) four audio cassettes having about 3-3/4 hours total duration, packaged in (c) a hard shell plastic case. These courses, which assumed no previous knowledge of the L2 on the part of the user, covered every major element of the language’s structure up to and including the lower-intermediate level. The presentation is quite conventional: dialogues supported by notes on grammar along with brief examples of common usage.

In the initial dialogues, the user is introduced to vocabulary which is common to many other introductory language courses. However, from about one-third of the way into the course up to the final lesson unit, the emphasis shifts considerably to vocabulary encountered almost exclusively in a business context. This emphasis is so pronounced that I would wager that anyone having already completed a standard CEFR A1-A2 course would experience difficulties in following many of the dialogues. The pace at which new grammatical concepts and new vocabulary are introduced is quite intense, so much so that I came to the conclusion that, with a view to easing the strain on the student, either (a) one should complete, at a minimum, a CEFR A1 course prior to using these materials, or (b) the publisher would have been better advised to separate it two separate courses and include additional exercises in support of the dialogues. While, grammatically speaking, these courses cover all of the major elements of the L2 up to the CEFR B1 level, I suspect that the actual level upon completion would not exceed CEFR A2.

I have not come across any comments concerning the “Hugo for Business” series on the HTLAL, the LLORG, or on Amazon, a matter which suggests to me a lack of awareness of these materials as well as a possible lack of interest. I would not hesitate to recommend these courses even to students who have no particular interest in business communications: (a) as a very solid review of the structural aspects of the L2, and (b) for exposure to a level of vocabulary in which many professionals, whether they want to or not, should become conversant. Despite what they might otherwise think, their time would not be lost in studying the relevant Hugo for Business course.

LESSER MATERIALS
I have chosen to classify as “lesser materials” those having a less ambitious scope than the major materials; that is, those which rightly fall into the category of phrase books, expanded phrase books, and supplemental aids to study for which the level upon completion would be in the CEFR A0 range.
Hugo Lesser Materials (selection).JPG
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Hugo [Language] At the Wheel
Hugo [Language] On the Move

The product names “At the Wheel” and “On the Move” were used market this series. Materials included: (a) a 4-1/2” x 7” course manual of approximately 160 pages, and (b) four audio cassettes having about 3-3/4 hours total duration, packaged in (c) a hard shell plastic case. Languages covered by the series were: Dutch, French, German, Greek, Italian, Portuguese, Spanish. The course structure was that of an “all audio course” which could be used, as the product names suggested, whilst occupied by other activities such as driving a car, attending to chores, and so forth. The courses were “designed for people who need to learn enough [Language] for immediate practical use – a holiday, a business trip, or general interest – but it goes much further than a ‘survival’ course or recorded phase book.” And so they were! The vocabulary, basic phrases, and sentences are those which would be of greatest use in every-day, transactional-level communications in typical settings that a visitor to the L2 region would likely encounter; that is, Hotels, Cafés, Restaurants, Banking, Sightseeing, and the like. The accompanying course manual served as a transcript of the entire set of recordings which, as is often the case for “all audio” courses, were primarily in English.

Hugo Just Enough [Language]
Materials of the “Just Enough” courses included: (a) a 6-1/2” x 9-1/4” course manual of approximately 130 pages, and (b) two audio cassettes having about 1-3/4 hours total duration, packaged in (c) a hard shell plastic case. These courses were an interesting expansion of the standard phrase-book-style CEFR A0 language guides. The manuals were comprised of surprisingly-for-the-genre large number of brief, commonplace, situational dialogues (hotels, cafés, shopping, and the like) with translations, word lists, and very skeletal notes. For someone who had already achieved a solid beginner’s level, these guides would have appeared quite simple at first glance. However, given the absence of the simple exercises and explanatory notes that are often included in more comprehensive courses, these phrase books could have represented a little too much of a challenge for the beginner.

Hugo Speak [Language] Today
The materials of “Speak Today” series included: (a) a 4-1/2” x 7” course manual of approximately 70 pages, and (b) an audio cassette of about 60 minutes duration, packaged in (c) a hard shell plastic case. Languages covered by the series were: Dutch, French, German, Greek, Italian, Portuguese, Spanish. The course content is comprised of a dozen or so short dialogues (with English translations) designed to assist the user practice basic, every-day, transactional-level communications in typical settings that a visitor to the L2 region would likely encounter; that is, Hotels, Cafés, Restaurants, Banking, Sightseeing, and the like. Note carefully that the contents are short, scripted dialogues, not a collection of useful phrases; so, this is not really a phrase book. The recorded dialogues are presented twice: (1) both speakers, without pauses, at conversational speed, and (2) local L2 speaker only, with pauses provided for the L1 student to assume the role of the visitor. Although these CEFR A0 materials are very similar to phrase-book-style aids to travellers, and could have easily served as such, they were also marketed as “necessary” supplements to study for beginning students. Necessary? Really? Does this assertion not call into question the effectiveness of the publisher’s own basic language courses?

Hugo [Language] Travel Pack
Hugo [Language] Eyewitness Travel Pack
Hugo [Language] Phrase Book

As for many other publishers of language guides, travel guides, phrase books, and aids to travelers, this publisher has, since the late 19th century offered a series of standard phrase books designed to meet the minimum communication needs of a short-term traveller to a region where the L2 predominates. The phrase books themselves, which were sold separately, covered a very broad range of languages, rivalling those of many other publishers in the genre. In addition, Hugo Language Books Ltd marketed packages under the “Travel Pack” and “Eyewitness Travel Pack” product names which contained: (a) the standard 4” x 5-1/2” phrase book of some 130 pages, (b) a pocket-sized bilingual dictionary, (c) one audio cassette of about 50 minutes duration, packaged in (d) a hard shell plastic case. The contents of the phrase books resembled those of any other publisher; that is, a collection of prepared phrases to be used in predictable situations. The audio recordings present most, but not all, of the printed materials in the phrase books both in English and in the target language along with the occasional amplifying comment.

Hugo [Language] Verbs Simplified
The “Verbs Simplified” series were 4-1/2” x 7” reference books of approximately 90 pages wherein the basic elements, tenses, and moods of the L2 verbs were presented. A very short list of high-frequency verbs was included in the appendix. Although the information in these supplements to study is clear, succinct, and well-organized, it duplicates that which is commonly available in introductory-level language courses, simple grammars, and bilingual dictionaries.

REVIEWS
This is where the rubber hits the road. Comments on the HTLAL and the LLORG refer primarily to the “Three Months” courses of the DK era and are generally supportive, as are those by most Amazon Customers. Still, there are dissenting views. I have provided links to what-seemed-to-be the most representative discussions of the Hugo courses on the HTLAL along with Professor Arguelles’ three YouTube reviews of the Hugo series. Although two of the videos are labelled ‘Spanish language resources’, given the uniformity of approach in the Hugo courses, the professor’s comments apply to the entire series.

Hugo Foreign Language Learning Series Reviews – Professor Arguelles – YouTube


Spanish language resources Hugo's Spanish courses part 1 - YouTube– Professor Arguelles – YouTube


Spanish language resources Hugo's Spanish courses part 2 - YouTube– Professor Arguelles – YouTube


Hugo’s In Three Months Which One? - HTLAL - August 2010
(AKA: The Professor Takes a Beating)

http://how-to-learn-any-language.com/forum/forum_posts.asp?TID=22710

Has anyone used Hugo ’X in Three Months’? – HTLAL -- February 2014
http://how-to-learn-any-language.com/forum/forum_posts.asp?TID=38126&PN=4&TPN=1

Hugo in 3 months - HTLAL - February 2010
http://how-to-learn-any-language.com/forum/forum_posts.asp?TID=19197&PN=74&TPN=1

Hugo VS Assimil french which’s the best? - HTLAL - May 2010
http://how-to-learn-any-language.com/forum/forum_posts.asp?TID=20609&PN=70

Hugo Russian in 3 Months vs New Penguin Russian Course - HTLAL - September 2011
http://how-to-learn-any-language.com/forum/forum_posts.asp?TID=29331&PN=14

On the whole, my own experiences with the “major” Hugo materials have been mixed. While I acknowledge that all of the information necessary to acquiring a basic understanding of the target language is present in the “Three Month” courses and augmented in the second-level courses, I was not charmed by the approach to teaching. Furthermore, I believe that there is at least one aspect of these courses which might be problematic for some users. Taking the “Three Months” German course as an example, I find that the division of a programme which aims for the CEFR A2 level or higher into only 13 lesson units forces a faster pace in the acquisition of new concepts than do some other courses. This means that each lesson is heavily-laden with new grammatical concepts and a great deal of new vocabulary. In addition, while the recorded exercises do provide some support, this leaves only 13 dialogues in the entire course. The “Advanced” and “Business” courses suffer from the same problem. This aspect, alone, imposes a needlessly hefty burden on the independent learner. While the following comparison is perhaps unfair, at the opposing end of the self-instruction spectrum, the Assimil courses offer the user approximately 100 progressive dialogues and short exercise sets, thereby providing a slower, less jarring, and more incremental pace of learning (I freely admit that the Assimil notes are insufficient explanations of the grammatical features deployed in their dialogues). The Series Editor would have been better advised had he kept in mind the adage: “How do you eat an elephant?”

Putting aside my reservations above, which apply to all of the “major” materials, in defence of the Hugo “Advanced” courses, I disagree with comments to the effect that these contain too much new vocabulary and that, for this reason, they are unnecessarily difficult. In my view, it is to be expected that the lower-intermediate-level student, if he truly wishes to advance in his studies, must be exposed to large amounts of new vocabulary and, on this point, the Hugo Advanced courses are not unique in the genre. Despite their common-to-this-publisher limitations, I would still recommend that anyone having already completed introductory course consider these materials for use at the lower-intermediate level.

Ditto for the Hugo “Business” courses. I would not hesitate to recommend these courses even to students who have no particular interest in business communications: (a) as a very solid review of the structural aspects of the L2, and (b) for exposure to a level of vocabulary in which many professionals, whether they want to or not, should become conversant. Despite what they might otherwise think, their time would not be lost in studying the relevant Hugo for Business course.

As to the “lesser” Hugo materials, my only comment would be that I wonder what-in-the-world the guys and gals in the Sales & Marketing Department were thinking of when they commissioned these products, apart from following the latest trends that is. I have no problems with their quality. Rather, I question their pertinence in Hugo’s catalogue and the position that they could have occupied in a marketplace which was already saturated with materials of this type. Having laboured in that revered department on behalf of two major companies myself, I can assure you that Marketing Managers, even Senior Marketing Managers, are every bit as error-prone as the rest of us. Also, they likely received “performance bonuses” for having squandered their employer’s resources on these doomed-to-oblivion products.

CORRECTIONS? COMMENTS? GRIPES?
Do you have any information concerning the Hugo line of products that you would like to share with the rest us? Perhaps you have your own “Hugo story” strongly supporting, or thoroughly disparaging, the series? Did I enlighten you or did your eyes glaze over before reaching the bottom of this thread? Please, feel free to comment!

EDITED:
Attachments, typos.
Last edited by Speakeasy on Tue Jun 04, 2019 11:06 am, edited 3 times in total.
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David1917
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Re: Hugo Language Courses

Postby David1917 » Sun Jun 02, 2019 12:04 am

When I posted the link for the Hugo collection on eBay, I tried in vain to locate a Hugo thread. Speakeasy, thank you for an extremely fine history of this publisher, of which I only knew what I had found in their courses of my own and from of course Prof Arguelles's video.

I whole heartily recommend the Hugo course to many people who either need something after Assimil or have a need to "brush up." I myself found great success with Hugo Russian after my first trip to Russia as a Russian learner, as the brevity in its overview gave me both the means of consolidating where I was, and indicated the points where I needed to do more work.
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Re: Hugo Language Courses

Postby Speakeasy » Thu Sep 05, 2019 9:46 pm

ADDENDUM to PART 1 of 2
HUGO EARLY PERIOD: 1890’s – 1970’s


Hugo’s Self-Tuition Courses: 1900’s through 1940’s?
In Part 1 of this presentation of the Hugo’s Language Institute courses, I mentioned that this institute offered “self-tuition” courses.
Hugo's Self-Tuition (advertisement).JPG
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Not long ago, I came across an offer for a complete set of the course booklets for Hugo’s German Self-Tuition Course and snapped them up.
Hugo's Self-Tuition German (collection).jpg
Hugo's Self-Tuition German (collection).jpg (247.43 KiB) Viewed 212 times

There are 50 booklets in all, measuring 4-inches x 6-3/4-inches, comprising approximately 15 pages each. The page-numbering follows sequentially from the first book through to the last in the series, for a total of 800 pages of instruction. Although the booklets are undated, I believe that they were printed during the early part of the 20th century.

The approach to teaching is very similar to that of the Hugo’s Simplified series course books with the self-tuition booklets using a larger, more easily readable font than the former. I compared the contents to my 1905 and 1920 editions of Hugo’s Simplified German and I would say that the two courses are similar, but not exactly the same. According to the advertisement for the self-tuition courses, the assistance of a qualified instructor was available which I assume would have been effected via correspondence.
Hugo's Self-Tuition German (example lesson).JPG
Hugo's Self-Tuition German (example lesson).JPG (67.17 KiB) Viewed 212 times


One of the booklets that I purchased contained a promotional pamphlet inviting the student to purchase the institute’s “Hugophone” records which I mentioned in Part 1. As reported above, the recorded dialogues of the Hugophone records were not related to the courses in any manner beyond the commonality of the language being taught.
Hugophone Records (Advertisement).JPG
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Hugophone Records (Label).jpg
Hugophone Records (Label).jpg (118.95 KiB) Viewed 212 times
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Re: Hugo Language Courses

Postby Random Review » Mon Sep 09, 2019 3:08 pm

Speakeasy wrote:Whereas the publisher promoted these courses as “advanced”, my impression is that the level upon completion would be in the CEFR A2-B1 range.


I think A2 is too low, mate. At least for Spanish (the one I have completed) and German (started, but not completed). If the Spanish and German ones are typical, the series will take you to a very solid B1. Supplemented with native materials, a low B2 is entirely possible (and TBF I know of no course that can take you beyond B1 without such supplementation with native materials).
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German input 100 hours by 30-06: 4 / 100
Spanish input 200 hours by 30-06: 0 / 200
German study 50 hours by 30-06: 3 / 100
Spanish study 200 hours by 30-06: 0 / 200
Spanish conversation 100 hours by 30-06: 0 / 100


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