Read & Speak Greek for Beginners (with CD)

3 Greek, Books, Multimedia

March 10, 2013

Authors  Hara Garoufalia, Howard Middle
Series  Read & Speak for Beginners
Publisher  McGraw-Hill
Publication Date  2008
Price  $18.95
Skill Level  Beginner

On the title page, this Read & Speak Greek for Beginners book/CD combo annoyingly promises to be “the easiest way to learn to communicate right away!” Ridiculous.

But it’s cute for what it is. There are flashcards and games and it is a good-natured little book.

One gripe: with self-study guides, I strongly disapprove of exercises for which no answers are, or can be, provided. In this book, for example, there is an exercise entitled “Where are the mice?” It is accompanied by a drawing of a room full of mice, and you have to write sentences about them in Greek saying where they are.

The problem is, there are a lot of mice. So many, in fact, that you could construct many, many different sentences about them. There’s a mouse on the computer. There’s a mouse on the bed. (Ugh.) There’s a mouse next to the television. There’s even a mouse in the refrigerator. (Super-ugh.)

Because the permutations are so plentiful, no answers are given. If you go to the answer key for Read & Speak Greek for Beginners, you see: “There are many possible sentences. If you can, check yours with a native speaker.”

I’m sorry, but I do not have a native speaker sitting around here waiting to fulfill the responsibilities of the book writer! The exercise could so easily have been designed so that there could be answers, which makes this misstep particularly irksome.

Another gripe is that people are presumably coming to a very basic-looking book like this without a knowledge of the Greek alphabet. Instead of teaching you the letters first, the authors put the alphabet table on page 90, then in the meantime give you a list of words almost right away, send you to the CD, and tell you, “Look at the script for each key word and try to visualize it, connecting its image to the pronunciation you hear on your CD.”

I find this order of events bizarre, and it is common in this series. If I don’t know a single letter in a seven-letter phrase, how am I supposed to read it? I am not a three-year-old child in the informational-sponge phase of her life. I am a somewhat older person who would benefit from a rational explanation of the writing system.

Therefore, to benefit from Read & Speak Greek for Beginners, I learned the alphabet separately on my own. A true beginner’s guide should not require that.

Note: Since I used this book, a newer, second edition has appeared.

Read & Speak Greek for Beginners: Kind of Cute
Read & Speak Greek for Beginners: Kind of Cute

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