… make it this book.
Contrary to what you may believe from the title, there’s actually nothing modern about it – it was first published in 1959.
It was published, in fact, in the days before the “communicative approach” with its glossy pictures, survival phrases and grammar-by-osmosis. This book takes the hardcore approach: sit down for half an hour a day, read through some grammar principles, then translate a myriad of sentences like “my pencil is yellow but yours is prettier than mine”.
There’s nothing glossy about it. There are no pictures; there aren’t even any colours. It’s probably not what you want if your aim is to get by on a week’s holiday in Mallorca. But if you want a firm foundation for your language learning, if you want to be fluent, if you’re in it for the long-term – then still now, in 2012, the age of apps and paperless dictionaries, there’s really nothing better than this.