June 26, 2010 | Greek
On Mice and Language Books
I reach Pimsleur's second level of Greek and also complain a little about self-study guides.
Today I finished the first level of Greek Pimsleur and promptly got started on the second. Different verb forms and tenses are floating around in my head. Pimsleur has already introduced me to some past, present, and future, and I am a little dazed. Sadly, there is no third level for Greek, so I am halfway done with Pimsleur for this language.
In the afternoon, Brandt and I went to a party supplies store on 14th Street, to buy some things for a party we would be going to that evening. On our way, we stopped in a jewelry store on the same block. An Asian woman behind the counter spoke to one of her co-workers in a language that I didn’t immediately recognize. I asked her what it was.
I feared that her answer would be what it in fact turned out to be: Korean. You would think I would at least be able to recognize it at this point. Embarrassing! When I left, I said, Kamsanida (“thank you” in Korean). That made me feel slightly better.
Seen on the Way to the Party Tonight: This Is in English, and I Still Found it Confusing
Once back home, I did some work in Read & Speak Greek. I enjoy this book, but I have a comment on self-study guides, which is that I disapprove of exercises for which no answers are, or can be, provided.
For example, if I am learning on my own, I don’t like to compose little essays about myself, which I was often asked to do in my Italian and Spanish books, and which I never did—because obviously there’s no answer key for that, and who would have checked my work? This is self-study, folks! There is no teacher. That’s the point.
I mention this issue because in my Greek book today, I got to an exercise entitled “Where are the mice?” There is a drawing of a room filled with 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, 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.
I’m thinking fewer mice would have been a good start.