Two extremely good publishers for language courses are Assimil and Linguaphone.
Let's take a look at which one is best.
|Assimil's very popular New French With Ease|
|The undeniably excellent Linguaphone Complete French|
Many serious language learners like these courses more than any others. This leads people planning to use these courses for the first time to ask: Which should I use first? Which is the simplest to work with? Which will take me the furthest? In short, which is best?
Which is best? - The Short Answer:
Which is best? - The Long Answer:
Okay, so I've just given you the short answer in case you simply want to know "which one is better?" "which one should I buy?" So, there you go, it's Assimil. Be happy. Go buy it.
For those of you interested in a longer answer, here goes.
Both ranges of courses are excellent. They are definitely some of the best quality language courses available to someone wanting to learn a foreign language.
They also both work in a similar way. Basically, you listen to the material - which in both cases consists of a number of dialogues recorded in the language you're learning - and then you use the accompanying books first to learn to understand what is being said in those dialogues and then later to be able to produce that same language yourself.
Although the quality of individual courses varies somewhat within each range - Assimil French is very good for example whereas their Arabic offering is not - typically the vast majority of both the Assimil and Linguaphone courses are very good and if used properly have the ability to help you along the path to learning a second language.
So, why is Assimil better?
Well, one issue is simple practicality. As I mentioned before, the basic way in which these courses work is that you listen to the dialogues that make up the bulk of the learning material and then use the accompanying books to understand those dialogues and then later to be able to produce that same language yourself. Since this is the way they function, the format of those books is important.
For the Linguaphone courses, you get a book with a transcript of the dialogues, all written in the language you are learning. You then have a second book that teaches you what all of it means, providing translations and explanations of different parts of the dialogues, which is fine.
The way Assimil does it is much better though. It puts all of this together in one book, with a transcript of the dialogues in the language you're learning on the left hand side of the page and a translation of this in English on the right. It also provides explanations of the language, all in the same book. This idea of having everything in one book is most definitely a good one. Whereas with the Linguaphone you have to keep swapping between the two, with the Assimil you get it all in one place. The translations are typically very good and you can compare it all, sentence by sentence. It just makes it so much easier and more practical.
Other than this, another thing the Assimil courses have on their side is that they are frequently funny. They make you laugh. Typically, the Linguaphone courses don't do this.
Finally, there's also an issue specifically for anyone wanting to learn French and Spanish with Linguaphone. Around 15 years ago, the French and Spanish Linguaphone courses were altered to use a different method than the one described above. I do not recommend this new edition of these courses. So, if you want to study French or Spanish with the Linguaphone courses, you will need to seek out one of the previous editions.
All these comments aside though, I do not want to give the impression that the Linguaphone Complete courses are anything other than excellent. They are superb. It's just that the Assimil courses are just that little bit more practical, and sometimes a touch more fun, to use.