I’m back to my short hop travel habits this month, with language recces in Germany and France. And, as ever, a trip to a target language country is a trip to hunt books for some triangulation fun!
You might already guess that the initial objective of my bookshop hunt was Assimils. These (large) pocket-sized paperbacks have achieved an almost mythical status amongst polyglots. And not without good reason; the parallel text method is solid. I’ve experimented a lot with recreating the format via AI recently, but it’s great to find the originals on bookshop shelves.
And I did spot a good few Assimil editions, in fact. Sadly, not as many as I have on previous occasions, and also not many of the more affordable standalone book editions. More and more often, it seems that French and German bookshops are stocking the much more expensive book-CD sets. Maybe when I’m feeling a bit more flush, I thought.
But take heart. In much greater abundance, in shiny, colourful, school textbook style jackets, I found another rich seam: Éditions Ellipses. It turns out the publishing house is a staple of francophone tuition. They have books across the subjects, not least languages. And languages aren’t an afterthought, either – they have course books in over twenty of them.
What I loved about the Éditions Ellipses books I leafed through was the practical / vocational slant. Many are geared up to accreditation across the skills range. They’re all levelled using the Council of Europe CEFR labels. And the company appears to be putting titles out so regularly, that the material in them is bang up-to-date.
In the end, I plumped for two Éditions Ellipses francophone language learning titles. The first is one of two ‘Greek through short stories’ books they do, Petites histoires pour apprendre le grec moderne. I went for the B1-B2 book, frankly thrilled to find anything for Greek learners around that level. The books are a little like the “Short Stories In…” series, but so much more comprehensive, with extensive vocabulary, grammar and practice exercises.
The second one I treated myself to was Deutschland Aktuell. L’Allemand d’aujourd’hui. It’s a more advanced, thematic text, using texts as training models for talking about contemporary German topics. I’ve been wanting to revive my not-practised-enough German for a while, but couldn’t find much in the way of engaging resources for B2-C1 in the anglophone market. This Éditions Ellipses text was just the ticket.
So now I’m home, with two wonderful new course books for some systematic learning at a level that’s appropriate to me, and with engaging, up-to-date content. If you, too, are struggling for non-anglophone language learning materials and have a workable level of French, do check out Éditions Ellipses – there are some gems to be found.