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Assimil
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ReleasedN/A
AudioYes
Textbook{{{Yes}}}
MethodL-R Method
Currently Published{{{availability}}}
Price$~50 €~75
Languages See article


Assimil is a French company producing dialog-based language courses. Their materials are generally considered excellent, but require more self-discipline than the Foreign Service Institute courses. Many people alter the "official" Assimil instructions slightly to fit more into their personal learning style, by emphasizing Shadowing, transcribing the audio portions of the lessons, etc.

Some people find the Assimil voice actors speak unnaturally slowly during the first week or two of dialogs. During the first few lessons the dialogs are repeated twice. This is to reinforce the totally new sounds...

Assimil has a very wide range of languages available, most originally published with a French base. Many courses are eventually adapted to other base languages.

How to use Assimil[]

Assimil tends to include very vague instructions with their books. But Michael K. found a more detailed set of instructions in Assimil: Dutch With Ease:

Book & Audio Instructions
1. Listen to the text with the book closed. It does not matter if you do not understand what is said. You will gain a general impression of the sounds, hearing the pronunciation without being influenced by the spelling.
2. Listen to the recording a second time while looking at the English translation.
3. Read the foreign text aloud (with the aid of the phonetic transcription if necessary). Be sure you understand the meaning of each sentence, comparing it with the translation as required.
4. Now read the foreign text again, but this time without looking at the translation.
5. Listen to the recording twice, once while looking at the English translation, and once while looking at the foreign text.
6. Listen to the recording again with the book closed. At this point you should understand what is being said.
7. Listen to the recording once more. Stop the machine after each sentence, and try to repeat it aloud.
8. Carefully read the comments several times. Examine the foreign sentences being explained. These notes are very important.
9. Read the exercises. Repeat each sentence several times. The exercises review material from the current lesson and from preceding lessons. If you have forgotten certain words, consult the English translation.
10. Examine the examples of sentence structure. They show how words and phrases are combined in the target language, which is not always the same as in English.

In practice, few students follow these steps exactly. The essential ideas are repeatedly listening to the audio while reading both versions of the text (probably about 10 times in various combinations) and taking the time to do the exercises and read the notes. Assimil encourages students to do one lesson per day.

Other students combine Assimil with Shadowing or Scriptorium. Yet others use it as an excellent supplement to more traditional approach or a core around which they gather their own curriculum.

Reviews of Assimil in general[]

  1. The original thread on HTLAL in which Arguelles basically introduces Assimil.
  2. Assimil experiment group log with a lot of experience concerning the method and individual courses as well.
  3. A video review by Arguelles.
  4. A review on the NPR website by the linguist John H. McWhorter. This includes a nice description of what he could do when he finished the courses.
  5. Assimil Adventure: 6 languages at a time. An experienced polyglot tried to tackle 6 Assimil courses at once, for a wide range of languages, include ancient Egyptian and Swahili. This ultimately proved to be overwhelming, but along the way, he was able to compare different Assimil courses in detail. It turns out that there's a considerable range in quality and difficulty.

How far will Assimil take you[]

One of the most informative about the many threads on the topic When to start: Whenever you wish. Assimil is suitable for all from the true beginners to those in need of refreshing the language or covering gaps.

Where are you likely to end, in terms of CEFR levels:[]

With Ease series[]

Assimil claims level B2, however consensus among HTLALers varies from A2 to B1, depends on the particular language and edition and on how much you internalize all the content. Most agree that Assimil covers the grammar to the B1 (at least for the easier languages), prepares you well for real conversation when it comes to listening and making your own sentences but there is just not enough vocabulary to claim the B2, often not even the B1.

Assimil <Language Name> series[]

Many of the With Ease courses have been recently revised, and the "With Ease" has disappeared from their titles. At the time of writing, these new courses are available with a French base, and a few have been translated to English. A few distinguishing features:

  • These courses tend to start slower, with less text per lesson in the early part of the course.
  • The amount of explanatory text appears to have increased.

At the time of writing, there's no clear consensus on whether these courses differ from the With Ease courses in any significant way.

Without Toil series[]

Most HTLALers who have got the opportunity to compare say that the old Assimils had more content inside them and therefore lead to better results. It is well possible as many courses are being dumbed down over the decades. However, some of the older Assimils contain dated vocabulary and conversation situations and most are hard to obtain. Unfortunately the company isn't going to either reprint them or release them to the public sphere (one member asked in past for personal reasons), so copyright defeats us again here.

Using series[]

Assimil claims C1, most agree on B2 or even B1+, depends on quite the same things as with the With Ease series.

Business series[]

These courses exist for only a handful of languages, and they use a slightly different format than other Assimil courses. They tend to cover slightly more advanced material than the Using courses, and they include longer recordings with plenty of fast, natural audio, plus some suggested writing exercises. The Business French course would be excellent for somebody who wanted to take the DELF B2 Pro exam.

Languages (target language)[]

This list is organized according to target language. In this list you will find both old courses that are out of print and new courses currently available.

Catalan[]

French[]

Italian[]

Latin[]

Languages with currently available programs[]

This list is organized according to base language.

Arabic base[]

  • English
  • French

Dutch base[]

  • Chinese
  • French
  • English
  • German
  • Greek
  • Italian
  • Japanese
  • Polish
  • Russian
  • Spanish
  • Japanese
  • Portugese
  • Swedish
  • Turkish

English base[]

  • Arabic
  • Brazilian Portuguese
  • Chinese
  • Dutch
  • French
  • German
  • Hebrew
  • Hungarian
  • Italian
  • Japanese
  • Spanish
  • Romanian
  • Russian
  • Yiddish

French base[]

  • Albanian
  • Alsatian
  • Ancient Egyptian
  • Arabic
  • Armenian
  • Auvergnat (Occitan dialect)
  • Basque
  • Breton (Armorican)
  • Brussels Dialect
  • Bulgarian
  • Caledonian
  • Cantonese
  • Catalan
  • Chinese
  • Corsican
  • Creole
  • Croatian
  • Cuban
  • Czech
  • Danish
  • Dutch
  • English
  • Esperanto
  • Estonian
  • Finnish
  • Flemish
  • Francoprovencal
  • French
  • Gascon (Occitan dialect)
  • Georgian
  • German
  • Greek (Ancient)
  • Greek (Modern)
  • Hebrew
  • Hieroglyphics
  • Hindi
  • Hungarian
  • Icelandic
  • Indonesian
  • Irish
  • Italian
  • Japanese
  • Kabyle
  • Khmer
  • Korean
  • Languedocien (Occitan Dialect)
  • Lao
  • Latin
  • Latvian
  • Lingala
  • Lithuanian
  • Lorrain
  • Lyonnais (Francoprovencal/Arpitan Dialect)
  • Malagasy
  • Maltese
  • Marseillais (Occitan dialect)
  • North of France Dialect
  • Norwegian
  • Occitan
  • Persian
  • Picard
  • Polish
  • Portuguese
  • Provencal (Occitan Dialect)
  • Quebec French
  • Romanian
  • Russian
  • Sanskrit
  • Serbian
  • Serbo-Croatian
  • Slovak
  • Slovene
  • Spanish
  • Swahili
  • Swedish
  • Swiss German
  • Tagalog
  • Tamil
  • Thai
  • Turkish
  • Ukrainian
  • Vietnamese
  • Walloon
  • Welsh
  • Wolof
  • Yiddish

German base[]

  • Arabic
  • Bulgarian
  • Chinese
  • Corsican
  • Czech
  • Danish
  • Dutch
  • English
  • Finnish
  • French
  • Greek (Modern)
  • Hungarian
  • Hindi
  • Italian
  • Japanese
  • Norwegian
  • Polish
  • Portuguese
  • Russian
  • Spanish
  • Swedish
  • Turkish
  • Vietnamese

Hungarian base[]

  • English
  • French
  • Italian
  • German
  • Spanish

Italian base[]

  • Ancient Greek
  • Latin
  • Spanish

Japanese base[]

  • French

Polish base[]

  • Chinese
  • Croatian
  • English
  • French
  • German
  • Italian
  • Japanese
  • Portuguese
  • Romanian
  • Russian
  • Spanish
  • Swedish
  • Turkish

Portuguese base[]

  • Creole
  • English
  • French
  • German
  • Spanish

Russian base[]

  • English
  • French
  • German
  • Italian

Serbian base[]

  • English
  • German
  • Italian
  • Spanish
  • French

Spanish base[]

  • Arabic
  • Basque
  • Catalan
  • English
  • French
  • German
  • Italian
  • Japanese
  • Portuguese
  • Russian

External links[]