With a wide variety of topics to choose from apart from learning languages the sure quality of each book really depends on the author and quality of the book so keep in mind that there are Teach Yourself books that are simply written a lot better than others.
The primary focus of this is on their language series. For what you get I must say that I am quite impressed with how it is produced. Typically you can book the book with 2 CDs that accompany the dialogues in the book and sometimes with its own unique exercise for each lesson.
I have used Teach Yourself for various languages such as Bulgarian, Catalan, Czech, German, Icelandic, Norwegian, Spanish, and Ukrainian. I have to say that each book is quite unique although they do follow a similar format written wise. If you buy these books make absolutely sure that come with CDs! Otherwise you will find that the written descriptions are inaccurate and meant for a speakers of English that is spoken in the United Kingdom (Where Teach Yourself is based).
The dialogues are unnatural and very stilted– Even though the language in them is grammatically correct and it would be something you would use in writing. I just can’t imagine a native having such a conversation on a regular basis.
The storylines are unengaging and quite frankly boring– Every story tends to have similar themes of person A meets person B and then they meet person B’s family and then adjust the story to fit core vocabulary in and then add addition vocabulary and dialogues (that are not recorded by the way) for that lesson. At the end of the back person A goes back to their home country, to a neighboring country or stays in (one of) the country (-ies) where the language you are learning at the end.
Core vocabulary and grammar points– I noticed this depends on the author’s ability to explain their native (or a language they are fluent in) language to their learners. Some did a great job at making it easy to understand and how it is used while others made it as difficult as possible.
Irrelevant information related to the course– The Icelandic course for Teach Yourself kept slipping in references to the International Phonetic Alphabet (or IPA) to help you pronounce Icelandic. Unless you are studying linguistics as well or someone who does not speak English natively, this is going to be completely useless to you and more complicated than it has to be.
Taking it further section– This can be one of the most useful sections or one of the most useless sections in the entire book. It really depends on what the author(s) recommend. These supplemental links and books can vital for increasing your motivation or a ground-breaking reference to help you make sense of things. I usually like to have a look at them to make sure that their resource still exists online. (There are times where some, a lot or non of the links no longer work or have content that has NOTHING to do with your language nor its culture(s) at all.)
Now that is not necessary the author(s)’s fault but owner(s) of the websites that inspired the author(s) to provide the webmaster with more traffic because their site had content relative to their book.
Overall layout– Many of the editions that I have used in the past were the the most update version at that particular time. Black and white and occasionally with drawings and photos (in black and white of course). The length varied on the language and how much content the author(s) added to their course. I tend to prefer the ones that were thicker because they had much more to learn from than the thinner books which were so limited that there are some (ex: Teach Yourself Icelandic) that work better as a phrasebook than an actual course.
Many of the older courses had immensely useful information/content that should have been kept in the more recent editions. Then the Complete series came out which (for many languages) just copied all the content from the previous Teach Yourself edition and just added colours to make it more visually pleasing. However, there are a very that have added newer content as well.
Verdict: I do recommend this series for those who are just getting started in the language and for those who need a refresher before transitioning to programme like LingQ , Duolingo , or Language Pod 101
Share you experience with using the Teach Yourself series by leaving a comment below. Did it work for you or were you left disappointed?