Reviewed by Richard Herdegen
Unfortunately, to acquire fluency in another language is something that doesn't happen overnight. However, there are numerous "shortcuts" marketed as "instant" teaching aides for learning a foreign language. The question then becomes, "Which one will do the best job for me?"
If one subscribes to name recognition for direction, such as Gillette is to shaving products, then the name Berlitz is immediately associated with language tuition.
"Shortcut to French" by Berlitz is a small, pocket size, soft-cover book for anyone requiring a quick introduction to French. It does not take on the task of teaching grammar and language construction but rather provides the reader with 100 words that assist in compiling some 500 French phrases predominantly used by a tourist or visitor.
What takes this booklet to the head of its class is the fact that Berlitz has devoted research time not only to investigate the 100 most used words but has also taken the steps to provide the phonetic pronunciation of these words to the reader. And, the latter is particularly helpful with the French language insofar as many of the words are pronounced quite differently than they appear in writing, especially to an American. In fact, without audio assistance, phonetic pronunciation is absolutely essential to speak French properly.
Realistically, the booklet is not magical. However, if one becomes familiar with its contents, it can be a tremendous assist when attempting to communicate in a completely French environment. In this regard, the publisher has sectioned the booklet in such a way that by simply "flipping" of the pages, the reader will quickly find his area of need, e.g. "meeting people", "accommodations", "problems and emergencies" and, of course, "dictionary". I would rate this book high on the list of requirements to have handy when visiting a French speaking country.