This semester I’m taking Theological German as an independent study. My professor gave me two textbook options – Manton’s Introduction to Theological German and Sparks’ German in Review. I chose Manton’s textbook as Sparks’ textbook was $100+ on Amazon. Thus far I have hated German; enough for me to consider giving up bratwurst (at least until the semester is over). Yesterday I was in despair. I was trying to translate some Catholic writing on Mary from German and wanting to cry. My dilemma was that once the date to drop a class has passed you are stuck in the class – I couldn’t get out of this.

This morning, on a whim, I checked out Sparks’ textbook. It was night and day. I read through most of it in an hour and a half this morning and now have hope. I’m reminded of what my Hebrew professor, Jack Collins, said about learning Hebrew, “Hebrew isn’t hard. There’s lots of three year olds in Israel speaking Hebrew.” The point is most languages aren’t that hard to learn; often it’s the textbooks that let us down. If you are trying to learn a language and are finding it difficult, consider supplementing with a different textbook. You may simply need a different presentation of the material for it to click in your head.

My recommendations for a few languages:
Greek: Combination of Mounce and Baugh
Hebrew: Combination of Weingreen and Pratico
German: Sparks

Given the time and headache a good textbook can save you, spending a little extra on a better textbook is worth it in the end.