Teach Yourself Greek (with CDs)
Revised April 8, 2013
Author Aristarhos Matsukas
Series Teach Yourself
Publication Date 2003
Skill Level Beginner, Intermediate
This Teach Yourself Greek book-CD combination is one of numerous offerings for different languages in the Teach Yourself series from McGraw-Hill. To date I have not found any book-CD combination products in this series that I liked, though I did enjoy the Teach Yourself book for Russian well enough to finish it happily.
Teach Yourself Greek is ostensibly designed for learners with no previous knowledge of Greek, but in the end I feel that it was packaged with an eye to consumer-appealing marketing rather than a serious consideration of how people learn.
I did like the history of the Greek language in the back of the book.
Back to the beginning first, though, where it tells you: “The emphasis is on the communicative aspect of the language; first just try to get the gist of the dialogues, bearing in mind the name of the unit. There are many phrases in the first four units (designed as a ‘survival package’—a basic introduction to the language you need in Greece) which are best learned as phrases. You will meet the grammar explaining the structure of the phrases in later units.”
Agh. To me that is pedagogically absurd. Give me the grammar in appropriate stages and I will get to the phrases when I am good and ready!
I made it only through about page 60 of Teach Yourself Greek. The layout is unfriendly, the exercises cramped.
I also found the audio component largely unusable. Throughout the CDs you are supposed to rewind Greek excerpts as necessary in order to find the answers to questions asked of you. And you are told to pause the recording as needed for your responses.
The product would be much, much better if dialogues were simply repeated (as they are in Pimsleur) and if requisite pauses were included as part of the recording (as they are in Pimsleur). I am guessing the Teach Yourself audio approach was part of a larger plan to keep costs low while pretending the experience is a meaningful multimedia one.
But I would just like to note, McGraw-Hill, that I’d much rather pay a little more for a product and skip having to act as my own DJ.
Addendum: Since I used Teach Yourself Greek, it has gone out of print, and McGraw-Hill has issued an updated version under the name Complete Greek with Two Audio CDs: A Teach Yourself Guide. I haven’t laid my hands on it, so I can’t say how much better or worse it might be, but an online examination of the table of contents suggests that much of the content has been preserved. Based on McGraw-Hill renovations I have seen for other languages in their new Complete series, I am going to guess that some of my aesthetic gripes above have been addressed, however.