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Monday, April 16, 2007

Yes, I'm Learning French

Warning: This post is going to be very informative but also very long.
Grab something to drink and maybe a snack.

What I’m currently studying and using:

Side-by-Side French & English Grammar
by C. Frederick Farrell Jr.

ABOUT THE BOOK: The Side-by-Side Grammar books present explanations of the essential elements of Spanish or French grammar alongside their English-language equivalents. This method allows students to build on what they already know; not only do readers learn grammar for a new language but also enjoy the added benefit of strengthening their grammar skills in their native tongue !

Each lesson clearly explains functions and uses of the different parts of speech and includes abundant examples for each entry. Because the vocabulary is limited to frequently used words, students can concentrate more on a sentence's structure instead of becoming tangled in its meaning. A "Quick Check" section summarizes main ideas in each section and helps readers retain the most important information. New to these editions are exercise sections to further reinforce students' comprehension. Also available: Side-by-Side Spanish and English Grammar.

HOW I'M USING IT: Let's be honest, it's been a while since I studied grammar. Camille is only 6, so teaching her grammar is not really reviving my memory of the more complicated terms. This is helping me, it gives the grammar term on the left side in English and explains it well with examples. Then, it explains in English about French grammar- how it is the same as English grammar or different and how. I'm using this to refresh my memory and to learn about French grammar. I'm not forcing myself to memorize grammar rules just yet, only to familiarize myself. I am slowly going through this, taking one or two weeks per subject/chapter as I feel comfortable. I read the selection everyday, there are exercises but I don't do those until I feel confident in what I learned from reading.

Schaum's Outlines French Grammar 4th ed.

by Mary E. Coffman Crocker

ABOUT THE BOOK: At last, a guide that explains points of French grammar and structure simply, then clarifies each with concrete examples. The examples use the language of real-life situations. This new edition also makes difficult topics, like the difference between mood and tense, even easier to understand. Numerous fill-in-the-blank and other exercises with delayed answers help cut down the time it takes readers to gain proficiency and confidence communicating in French. Also available: Schaum's Outlines (German, Spanish, Chinese, Italian and Latin) Grammar

HOW I'M USING IT: I'm using this book as an extension of the first one, it doesn't have the explanations of English grammar the Side-by-Side book above has but it has more exercises and French. Whatever I'm studying in Side-by-Side, I'm also studying it in this book. Same time schedule, as I learn.

Easy French Reader

by R. de Roussy de Sales

ABOUT THIS BOOK: These unique guides are based on the premise that the best way to learn a language is to start reading it, immediately. Suitable for raw beginners to intermediate-level language learners, the new editions of these popular titles feature engaging readings of progressive difficulty that allow learners to rapidly build comprehension.

Easy French Reader begins with the adventures of two friends, an American and a Parisian, as they learn about their respective cultures. This is followed by readings on the history of France, from ancient Gaul to the present. The final section features four abridged short stories by famous French authors.
Also available: Easy Spanish Reader, Easy Italian Reader (by different authors).

HOW I'M USING IT: I have to say, I LOVE this book! What a boost of confidence! It really is easy to read and understand, the back of the book has a dictionary in case you come across a word you don't understand. There are three parts to each chapter: first- you read a narrative, second and third are exercises regarding the narrative. ALL in French. I'm using this daily, reviewing the last story before I read the new one. I'm only moving as quickly as I understand, if I can't answer the questions 100%, then I stay with that narrative until I do. So far, it's been a narrative a day but the book progresses from beginner to intermediate level, so I may be slowing down after a few narratives. This is increasing my vocabulary as well!

Michel Thomas' Speak French for Beginners

ABOUT THE PROGRAM: No books. No writing. No drills. And nothing to memorize-- ever! With his patented method, Michel Thomas has taught languages to top celebrities and--through his bestselling audio programs--more than a million everyday learners around the world. At the end of this ten-CD beginner’s program, you will have acquired:

* A full working vocabulary
* Essential comprehension skills
* Complete language confidence

Don't try to memorize specific words or expressions. It is a basic principle of the Michel Thomas™ method that the responsibility for the student’s learning lies with the teacher. With Michel Thomas as your teacher, your learning will be based on understanding--and what you understand, you do not forget! Also available: Italian, Spanish and German.

HOW I'M USING IT: This is amazing, I've listened to quite a few audio products but when I'm attempting to formulate a sentence or thinking about how to say something, my mind goes back to Michel Thomas' voice. I should say that I don't have this set of cds, I have the older 8 cd set but they are the same with the exception that two of the cds in this 10-cd set are review cds.

Michel Thomas is teaching two people, a man and a woman in the program, they are learning alongside of you, mistakes and all! Now, I think anyone who listens wants to strangle the woman on the cd at some point, especially when you're listening and you think you have the right answer and she's not doing it right. I listen to the same track 3-5 times or until I can use the information M.Thomas has taught and then I move on. It's less frustrating (I've found) to listen to the same one until you're ready to move on instead of listening to multiples and then going back to review. I've been thinking about taking notes about what I'm learning with this, just to see it on paper. I just put this on my ipod and take it with me everywhere, listening 3-5x a week.

French 1
The Standard Deviants

Never fear, the fun-loving smart people at Standard Deviants have created this video tutorial that will help you master the basics of the French language in no time flat. Subjects covered include basic vocabulary, the French alphabet, vowel sounds and accents, verb forms and conjugation, gender, definite articles, formal and informal constructions, and much more. ~ Mark Deming, All Movie Guide
Also available: Italian, Spanish

HOW I'M USING IT: I try to watch this 1-3x a week, but lately with the travelling I haven't been able to and I've found that it does pay to take notes and pause the video. I don't have the DVD, I have the VHS tape that I bought YEARS ago and found it recently tucked into a closet. This program is available on if you have access or you can rent it through Blockbuster or Netflix.

French in Action

The Capretz Method

ABOUT THE PROGRAM: This series uses active participation to increase fluency in French, while introducing French culture. Pierre Capretz’s proven language-immersion method is presented within a humorous teleplay with native speakers of all ages and backgrounds. The storyline of an American student and a young Frenchwoman's adventures in Paris and the French countryside is reinforced by Dr. Capretz’s on-camera instruction. The series is also appropriate for teacher professional development. Watch the videos free here.

HOW I'M USING THIS: I'm watching this 3x a week, at first I didn't make it through the first one because I got frustrated. I had immersion frustration! I went back and watched it again and realized towards the end, it is explained with words on the screen and it made much more sense! I found the book to go along with this on BookMooch but I haven't started using it yet. I keep forgetting to grab it. I might put the book into my daily reading so that I'm prepared when I watch the video. Oh, best part- it's free! Click on the link above to get immersed!

SparkNotes French Vocabulary Study Cards
(the Grammar set is waiting in the wings)

ABOUT THE CARDS: There's 1000 vocabulary cards, on the side where the French word is displayed, it also tells you whether the word is a verb, masculine/feminine noun, adjective, adverb, preposition, interjection, conjunction.
Also available: English, Spanish-may be more...

HOW I'M USING THEM: These are perfect for on the go studying, I grab 20 at a time and just flip through them for a week until I can look at the English word and "know" the French equivalent! I also have the grammar study cards waiting to be used but I'm reserving those for after the two grammar workbooks mentioned above.

I like that I can organize these by grammar if I wish without risking being wrong. I can also use these for the children if I wish, maybe as we study new words I can put them up for them to see the spelling. I purchased these for myself and the ones below for both my children and I.

French Vocabulary Flash Cards by QuickStudy

I also have these flash cards which I currently use with Camille. They are organized by subject which makes it easier on me. Here's what it contains.

ABOUT THE CARDS: Box of 1000 Flash Cards include color coded tabs on the top of the cards to easily remove and replace cards in the proper section.
Also available: Spanish and possibly other languages.

Card Categories include:
·Adjectives ·Adverbs ·All Verbs ·The Body ·Food and Drink ·Sports/Entertainment ·Studies ·The Family
·Weather ·Time ·Travel ·Greetings ·Bank ·Color ·Clothes ·Measurements ·Numbers

So with the above, I am reading French, studying syntax/grammar, vocabulary, watching & listening to native speakers, listening and practicing with a renowned language teacher but that's not all I'm doing. With all this, I'm watching the children's French videos, our own movies in French or with French subtitles, I'm reading simple French children's books to my children or listening to one of their audio/books with them.

I'm also:
-Applying what I'm learning by talking to my children in the French I do know or teaching them some of the vocabulary I've learned.
-I'm repeating the lessons, rewatching the French in Action, listening again to Michel Thomas until I have a firm grip on the material before moving on. I'm writing in a notebook instead of in the workbooks above.
-Meeting with my "tutor" once a week to speak French and receive constructive criticism.
-Learning through my children's materials as well: books, videos, songs, games, creating learning posters for them, flashcards, etc.

I'll post what I'm doing with the dc in a couple of days. I hope you've found this helpful, there are many wonderful resources out there, the key is finding what will work for YOU.



Kristiana said...

This sounds so great!! I don't know if you could tell me, but I wonder how many of your resources are available in other languages and which ones are just written for French? I lean more towards Italian myself. Great to read though. Thanks for sharing.

OC Mom said...

Hi Jessica,
One of my dc is starting French so I will look into some of these resources. Would you mind sharing how long you've been studying French, and *why* you are working on becoming a bilingual French/English family?
OC Mom

Marie said...

Wow, this is amazing! Thanks for sharing this. I never considered such total immersion while still in the U.S. I'll love to hear the updates as you and your young ones progress.