"Was ist schön? Das Kleid ist schön!" (what is pretty? This dress is pretty!) was one of the first things I learnt to say in German. I thought, what rot, and got my hands on some cassette tapes that taught me to say things like, "Das Volkswagon ist ein Deutche wagon" (The Volkswagon is a German car), "Das ist ein kleiner Hund" (This is a little dog) and "Das ist kein Hund - das ist eine Katze!" (That's not a dog, that's a cat!).
By the time I'd mastered such phrases it was time for me to go to Austria without being able to say "What's your name?", "Where can I find food?" or "How to I get to my hotel?" and I lost all faith in the language-learning system.
Until a few days ago when, strolling through Salzburg's Old Town, I saw a woman stop, point to a dress in a shop window and exclaim, "Ein schöner Kleid!". If only she'd noticed a small dog / cat and a Volkswagon, all my learning would have been worthwhile.