Practice Makes Perfect: German Vocabulary
March 10, 2013
Author Ed Swick
Series Practice Makes Perfect
Publication Date 2007
Skill Level Intermediate, Advanced
Practice Makes Perfect: German Vocabulary by Ed Swick is divided up into chapters such as “Animals,” “Holidays,” “Farms and gardens,” and “The human body.” It balances explanations, word lists, and examples with exercises.
While it is too advanced for a beginner, Practice Makes Perfect: German Vocabulary would be appropriate for intermediate and advanced students. And if you proceed, you will need to have a relaxed attitude about the goofy transitional sentences that lead from one vocabulary topic to the next.
For a section on “Wilde Tiere,” you are told, “Wild animals live everywhere in the world and can be found in lakes and oceans, deserts, mountains, forests, and jungles.” In the human body chapter, you are informed, “The body is not just a bunch of body parts linked together but rather a system of organs, limbs, tissues, and functions working in concert to perform the many acts that we call life.” In the chapter “Around the house,” I learned, “A German apartment or house has the same kinds of rooms as found in other European or American homes.”
For some reason this goofiness doesn’t bother me, and in fact, I find it—and some of the vocabulary—pretty funny. Die Schädlingsbekämpfung aus der Luft is “crop dusting,” Furchen pflügen means “to plow furrows,” and, most important, Durchfall is “diarrhea.”
Some of the exercises are kind of silly. For example, Exercise 14.4 asks you to identify at which of the three meals—breakfast, lunch, and/or dinner— you consume various beverages and foods: Milch, Wiener Schitzel, Blumenkohl (cauliflower), etc. That’s not a good use of my vocabulary-learning time.
Nonetheless, other exercises were often fun, and I loved the vocabulary lists. Many of the words were familiar to me from my past life studying German, but I am pretty sure that, as a New Yorker, I will not be retaining words such as Schuppen (shed for storing tools and equipment) or Viehstall (cowshed or cattle barn).
A second edition of Practice Makes Perfect: German Vocabulary came out in 2012. It appears to contain all the content of the 2007 edition reviewed here, along with a new chapter at the end, entitled “Germany in the twenty-first century,” that covers technology terms.