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77 of 77 people found the following review helpful
on 13 January 2008
This is an excellent book for a beginner who wishes to go beyond the typical phrase book/audio materials. The way this book is written; the reader, even with a very basic knowledge in French, can understand, get the general idea and relate to the stories and facts presented. The sentences and phrases used in the book, particularly in the first sections (Julie and Marc in Paris), are constructed in an easy to understand manner. They, in a clever way, avoid the use of more complex grammatical features. Only a very basic French grammar would be required to read this book. The entertaining feature of the book combined with its straight forward sentence structure encourages the learner to read further and construct new knowledge and understanding in French.
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101 of 102 people found the following review helpful
on 18 January 2006
I wish this book was available when I was first learning French at school many years ago. It provides excellent consolidation for those with a basic knowledge of French, increasing vocabulary and expressions, without the additional complication of too many tenses. The questions at the end of each section (with example annswers at the back of the book) are well worth spending time on, as they really do help check correct understanding. My only criticism, and this is minor, is that I felt some additional "on page translations" would have been useful, but a decent dictionary rectifies this. The content, including an abbreviated review of French history makes it eminently readable
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19 of 19 people found the following review helpful
on 18 May 2010
This is a great way to start learning French. The dialogues, for me at least, are hilarious and hughly enjoyable. I dont speak any French at all so this is my first book. It assumes some basic knowledge of French but thus far I have refrained from using a dictionary and I can understand practically all of it. You follow the lives of 2 American Students, 1 of whom speaks reasonabley well (the female) and the guy who hasnt a clue. This is only up to lesson 5 I think. The dialogues have key words annotated to the side and it is very cleary laid out. The CD is basically a copy of the book with all the dialogues in audio. There are questions after each dialogue bar a couple that are also in French - I think its impressive.
Highly reccommended
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17 of 17 people found the following review helpful
on 2 March 2011
I found this book to be really good. Once it was on my computer I found I logged on to it regularly, as it was on my desktop. It filled a gap, in that I understood the words, but wasn't always sure of the pronunciation. I would have given it five stars, but was so disappointed when I realised that only the first section, and part of the third were on the CD. I think this is something that is missing. When you try to learn a language on your own, or even re-learn something you learnt at school, you need the sound to copy the pronunciation.
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37 of 38 people found the following review helpful
on 12 August 2012
I have read no other reviews before writing this.

There are quite a few things I would like to say about this book and, because many of them are negative, I should start by saying that, contrary to what it may later seem, I would highly recommend this reader for any beginners, or low to mid-level intermediate students of French. I could best describe my own level, when I bought this reader, as advanced beginner; I found it tremendously useful. It builds up one's vocabulary very well and it advances one's understanding of grammar. The first section is particularly clever by including one or two conversations between the students - Marc et Julie - which explain some principles of the language that beginners would find especially useful and which affords learning in two ways.

There is a vocabulary of key words in the right hand margin. This is a novel idea, and somewhat useful, but see my later comments on this. There is also a vocabulary at the end of the book. Each part is followed by a comprehension exercise.

This first section is rather "Janet and John" (remember them) and I found this a bit tedious, but I still learnt from it. There was a word on the very first page that I had not met before. However, this would be perfect for beginners.

The later articles are very interesting. The second section deals with French history from Vercingétorix to Jaques Chirac. Naturally, it is on a simplistic level - the history, not just the language which begins to get more challenging at this stage - but for someone most interested in English history, but knowing very little about French history, this was illuminating and allowed me to learn not only more French but some of the country's history and culture as well.

The final section includes four short stories from nineteenth century writers. I found this much more challenging, in parts, but less so than I had expected. I rather assumed this would be like a beginner in English reading Dickens, but it wasn't like that at all. However, I think the stories were edited a little, from the original, but, from what I could see, not radically; the main change, I think, being to remove the passé simple.

So what about the negative?

Firstly this book is written for Americans so if, like me, you find American English an irritant then you have to overcome this prejudice. Some of the translations need a bit of thought before you realise that the English equivalent given is actually American. To be honest, this is a nit-pick because there are not many words that present a problem in this way. However, it would be good to have an English version, but I quite accept that this would not be economical.

I am not entirely sure how a complete beginner would cope with this book. Unless they are a quick learner with lots of time to devote to their studies (perhaps a full time student for example), I think this will need to be regarded as a companion that they use over a long period of time. I work full time and have limited time to devote to my French. I also mix up my learning with different techniques. I spent only between half an hour and an hour each day, with some days missed, on this book and it took me nearly 4 months to complete it - including doing all the exercises and doing all the looking up and research on new words.

The marginal vocabulary is a bit random. I suppose it is impossible to decide what should go in this margin and what should be left out. Learners pick up words randomly and what one would have met another may never have seen. But I found many words in the margin that I already knew well, but equally some words in the text which I had never encountered which were not in the margin and, worse, not in the vocabulary at the back either. Sometimes a word I didn't know was not in the margin but, when the same word reappeared later on, it was in the margin. I felt the choices, sometimes, as to what was included and what was not, seemed to me slightly odd. You must not expect every word you do not know to be given and everyone will need a good dictionary or access to Word Reference to help them through.

I looked up every word in the margin in a good larger Oxford dictionary (the pocket sized dictionaries are not very good and I wouldn't recommend them) or, mostly, on Word Reference. I also had to look up many more words that were not in the margin. I recorded them all in my vocab book to help me learn them. I found that I more or less ignored the vocabulary at the back.

The gender of nouns is not given in the marginal word glossary. More often than not one can work out the gender from the text, but not always. It is important to learn nouns with the definite or indefinite article so that gender sticks and my own view is that this was one of the most serious shortfalls in the book. The gender is given in the vocabulary at the back but, as already stated, not all words are in this and, personally, I didn't use it as explained.

I also felt that the marginal vocabulary should have used the infinitive for verbs rather than merely quoting the form of the verb that appears in the text. If you only use a dictionary, especially a small one, this can prove a problem because verb forms will not appear.

Some of the translations were dubious as well and I felt sometimes gave the wrong sense to things. This is another reason why it is important to look up new words in a good dictionary or online so as to find alternatives and put the correct spin on what was written in the French, before you get to the stage of thinking in the language. It is surprising how small nuances can put such a different meaning on things and I truly felt that, on several occasions, the editors had made the wrong choice.

The comprehension exercises are useful but they require discipline. Much of the time it only requires rewriting what is in the text, but even this can be useful as a means of learning and getting words to stick. Once or twice I felt the questions were ambiguous and I found I had got the wrong end of the stick completely when I looked at the answer at the back; this was not because of a incorrect translation (although I did this too on a couple of occasions) but just because the question had no obvious answer. Mind you, I never liked English comprehension when I was at school!

So in conclusion I would say this is an excellent reader, highly recommended, provided you do not expect to have to rely on the vocabulary in the book, but instead prepare yourself for much looking up of words in a very good dictionary or online.
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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
on 24 July 2009
If, like me, you studied french at school, but it was a long time ago..then this is an excellent book for reconnecting with the language and jogging the memory of half-remembered grammaire and conversational phrases. The first part(Julie and Marc in Paris)manages to revise basic language and vocabulary in a useful and practical way without feeling forced (most of the time anyway) and the remaining two parts with short chapters of history and culture are interesting and written clearly and simply without condescenion. I highly recommend this book!
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23 of 24 people found the following review helpful
on 20 September 2009
I came to this book with basic French only (O'level French)but, unlike some French reader bppks I have wasted my money on, you can start to read this book straightaway without it being much of an effort. What I really like is the way it very gradually gets more and more difficult and so now I am half way through the book and do have to start looking some words up in the dictionary on a regular basis. I have actually re-read the first half of the book a couple of times because when I go months with no time to read, I like to check that I have improved since I read it through the first time.So you more than get your money's worth from the book. I am learning quite a bit about French History from the second section of the book and its a pleasant change from the subject matter in many books aimed at improving your French. I highly recommend it. It would be a great help to a keen student learning French at school and bored with the usual subject matter in GCSE French courses but is just as good for those like me, wanting to take their French up again later on! I wish I could find more books like it.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
on 3 December 2009
Firstly the book arrived in excellent condition. I am currently learning French and have found this book to be big help. I'd got into a bit of a rut with my French and thought I was quite poor with it. But I was given a confidence boost from reading only a few pages of this book at how much French I actually knew. What is also good about this book is that it covers an over view of French history and introduces reads to famous French authors. I highly recommend this book to anyone who is learning French.
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23 of 24 people found the following review helpful
on 6 June 2009
I am a native French speaker and I give French tuitions. I have recommended the parents of my GCSE pupils to buy this book. It is a very good book for that level and for any French beginner. It will help you develop your vocabulary but also understanding of texts. Each text is followed by a series of questions. A new series of questions and vocabulary games is at the end of each chapter to reinforce the vocabulary learnt.

I wanted to give 4.5 starts unfortunately Amazon would not let me do that. The only negative point is the design of the book. Each text has got a black and white drawing which reminds of some book when I was at primary school 20 years ago. This has no negative impact on the content of the book and could be the reason for such a good price for that quality.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
on 30 May 2010
I bought this book a few weeks ago and have found it very useful. The conversations are very funny and relatively simple. The writer assumes that the user has basic knowledge of French but there is a vocabulary section at the back which I found very helpful.

The book is easy to read. It starts with very simple, everyday stories and gets more difficult as one progresses. It has comprehension activities after each mini lesson and extensive revisions throughout. It was a good buy!
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