The Assimil method of learning languages has been around for decades. From preliminary research, the methodology does not have a hard scientific backing; it reads more as a "workbook" for learning a new language.

The main format is a series of lessons (which are composed of 8-20 sentences) accompanied by audio files of the lessons being read aloud. On one page you can read a short transcript in your target language and on the other, read the translation in your first language.

I have seen different suggestions for how to use Assimil. One of the more agreed methods look something like this:

The Passive phase (first 50 lessons):

  1. Listen to the dialogue with the book closed.

  2. Listen to the recording a second time while looking at the translation.

  3. Read the target language text aloud.

  4. Read the target language again, this time without looking at the translation.

  5. Listen to the recording twice: 1x looking at the English translation, and again but looking at the target language.

  6. Listen to the recording again with the book closed.

  7. Listen to the recording once more, pause the audio after each sentence and repeat.

  8. Read the comments and the notes that explain various points of the dialogue.

  9. Read / Repeat the exercises; complete them.

The active phase:

  1. After reaching lesson 50, go back to lesson one. Re-listen to it and read the French as it plays.

  2. Now, try and translate the dialogue from your native language to the target language (without listening to the audio.).

  3. Compare your translation with the original.

  4. Repeat: Lesson 51 -> Lesson 2

Notation System

Throughout the lessons you may come across "footnotes" that look like so:

Alors il a voulu entrer par la fenêtre, mais, étant(N-3) un peu ivre,

The use of N-3 indicates that the next review-lesson at the end of the 7-day/lesson-set will reference and explain that note; in this case, N-3 explores the present participle of etre.


From reading user perspectives online, some seem dubious of the Assimil approach, especially for learning non-latin-descended languages.

I have largely found it to be a useful resource. I stopped using Anki, and was quite happy to have a "one Assimil lesson" a day to feel like I was making progress. A lesson takes me about half an hour on average.

The "second wave" of translating from English to French is a great exercise, one that is particularly rewarding in which seeing your progress is much more evident.