Fokus Deutsch for German Review

Discussion in 'Product Reviews' started by Peregrinus, Oct 23, 2014.

  1. Peregrinus

    Peregrinus Active Member

    May 27, 2014
    Native Language:
    Intermediate Languages:
    Basic Languages:
    Fokus Deutsch was a German learning series produced by the Goethe-Institut and WGBH and funded by Annenberg Media for English speakers, and for some years ran on various public television stations in the USA. They also produced the Destinos for Spanish (and Nuevos Destinos) and French in Action for French. Basic information can be found in the wikipedia article for same. It was designed by Prof. Robert di Donato, who acts as one of the narrators on the videos.

    Apparently Annenberg discontinued distributing the course, and it is listed in the catalog as same and refers to the Goethe site. However a domain search on Goethe's site turns up no information on the program. It thus cannot be purchased new, and apparently is no longer being distributed to public television stations.


    Textbook 1 -labeled Fokus Deutsch: Beginning German 1
    Textbook 2 - labeled Fokus Deutsch, Intermediate German
    Audio CDs
    Video DVDs
    Workbook/Lab Manual
    Instructor textbook versions
    subtitle files in zip file (on 3rd party site even though with Annenberg logo)

    Apart from the DVDs and older VHS tapes, the materials above can mostly be had cheaply used off Amazon. However note that there is currently a deceptive listing for a book 3, which is actually just the 2nd intermediate book. I have not actually seen the audio CDs, and their numbering scheme may actually go to 3, but still just covering the two books above.


    There are 36 videos of around 30 minutes each, and the course starts out following a German family in Rheinhausen, with the daughter Marion the focus. After a while it morphs into stories about Marion herself as actress for the series and a college student. It then leads to various segments such as interviews with some German students and a group of videos on a German family with a kid and the problems juggling their careers and home, and some videos about other aspects of German life. After a video segment, there will be commentary and explanation by Prof. di Donato and Marion (Susan Dyche). Every so many lessons there will be a review segment.


    Since I used only the videos and the subtitle files (which I only used to extract vocabulary into Anki), I cannot speak to the printed instructional materials. Based on reviews elsewhere and what is contained in the videos, I would rate it similar to and maybe a little more advanced than Living Language Ultimate Advanced, or above Deutsche Welle's Deutsch Warum Nicht but not covering all the material in their other beginning course, Deutsch Interaktiv.

    Since I only extracted words I did not already have, I cannot give an accurate vocabulary count, but my guess would be around the 2000-2500 mark. With only 36 lessons it is not as extensive as Destinos, let alone the far more comprehensive FIA.


    As mentioned above, this course is no longer available from Annenberg new, nor apparently the Goethe Institute, although perhaps they use it in house for their resident language courses. It is however "findable", including currently on youtube, although the description is in Spanish (though still an English base). It is also available in various libraries, though often only the older VHS versions. As to the audio CDs, as per above, they are available along with the textbooks for reasonable prices online.

    Recommendations for Use

    Due to issues with availability and the amount of materials one would have to collect to use this as a primary course, along with the fact that it is not as extensive as its sister courses in other languages, I would recommend using only the videos and subtitle files as review material for extra comprehensible input after completing another beginning course or two. It could be replaced or used in addition to the older BBC German video courses for this purpose, also available on youtube and which Elexi linked to in the German Resources thread.

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