Practice Makes Perfect: Complete German Grammar
March 10, 2013
Author Ed Swick
Series Practice Makes Perfect
Publication Date 2012
Skill Level Beginner, Intermediate
I won’t deny there was some good practice in this book by Ed Swick. Like the McGraw-Hill Practice Makes Perfect series generally, there are many, many exercises—more than you find in your typical foreign-language grammar—and that is a good thing.
But I have a few beefs about Practice Makes Perfect: Complete German Grammar. The exercise design is not as good as it could be, meaning the learning-to-labor ratio is too low. There is too much mindless copying without edification. Mindless exercises are a huge turnoff for me.
In Exercise 11-6, for instance, you are given ten pairs of independent clauses, then told to combine the first three with und (and), the next three with aber (but), the next two with oder (or), and the final two with denn (because). Nothing changes in the sentences, so you are really just copying over words and sticking another word in between. I need to be forced to use my brain more than that or I won’t really learn!
Exercises 18-2 through 18-7 also all provided a long run of too much copying—and too little thinking. I could point out more such examples.
There is no glossary in the back, as there was in this book’s Practice Makes Perfect counterparts Complete French Grammar, Complete Italian Grammar, and Complete Spanish Grammar. I like glossaries. They are helpful and make life more efficient.
To conclude, one thing I like about the Practice Makes Perfect grammars is that they are on average less sober and more playful than the books I have seen from, say, Barron’s or Routledge. Language-learning should be fun! Practice Makes Perfect: Complete German Grammar did not really have that playfulness; it felt kind of plodding.