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German in Action is a new German foreign language text that is designed to help English speakers understand and communicate in German easily and confidently.
German in Action is a new German foreign language text that is designed to help English speakers understand and communicate in German easily and confidently. Professor Walter Stewart has produced a new method which he calls the “cognitive” method that allows English speakers to use their intuitive knowledge of their own language in order to cognitively connect to ways of saying things in German. The method employs integrated everyday vocabulary, reading selections, dialogues, and exercises in order to constantly reinforce a speaker’s confidence in reading, writing, and speaking. Although German in Action employs grammar, it is by no means a traditional foreign language “grammar” text. Rather, the native language and syntactic structures that every speaker knows intuitively are the primary guides to making communication in German an enjoyable and rewarding experience.
German in Action is designed as a new approach to language acquisition in German that I call the Cognitive Approach. At its simplest, the Cognitive Approach attempts to tap into the myriad number of language structures that speakers of English already intuitively possess and to connect them with analogous structures in German as far as is practical. Although grammatical topics and forms are used throughout the text, this is not a grammatical approach per se; neither is it a competency-based model. Rather, grammar is utilized here to inform the learner about the overall Gestalt of the language; that is to say, the approach is meant not only to point to how grammatical structures and forms function, but more importantly, why they are used, and most importantly, what each of these contributes to the speaker’s ability to express himself and to communicate his ideas.
The text is purposely written in a practical, conversational format in order to engage the learner in the material and to demystify the structural and grammatical mechanisms at work in the language. Language acquisition is facilitated in this approach by a purposefully designed format of repetition that runs from chapter to chapter throughout the entire text. To accomplish this, points of structure, forms, and vocabulary are repeated in prose sections, exercises, dialogues, and then finally in chapter review sections. Moreover, what is learned in one chapter is reviewed in the next chapter and from that point forward. In addition, all of the dialogues anticipate the material in the coming chapter without comment. Thus, after one has learned a dialogue, the structural points, related forms, and vocabulary are already firmly established in the mind before any technical explanation has to be provided.
Also at the core of German in Action is the fact that I have taken great pains to associate language structures in a related chain that some may find unconventional. However, I believe that the subtle structural “triggers” that inform native speakers of, say, which adjective ending to use in German, can be adapted to the thinking of American speakers of English in order to simplify using German adjectives. This goes for all of the other structures treated in the text as well.
Above all, German in Action is by no means a thoroughgoing grammar text. I have pointedly used terminology that sounds un-grammatical whenever possible in order to disengage the learner from making that association, even though there is no getting away from what grammar represents. Nonetheless, some topics like the Passive Voice, the Genitive, the Comparative, or the Indirect Discourse Subjunctive are not formally covered at all, although some of these topics may be integrated to greater and lesser extents as part of the fabric of the text. The greater purpose here has been to provide the learner with a clear understanding of the language and the ability to use what is learned with confidence by the end of a year’s study.