on 2 May 2011
Research interests meant that I needed to acquire an advanced level of reading knowledge of French. Finding a suitable textbook was a major problem. Most textbooks cater primarily for children or tourists, emphasizing conversational skills, and tend to follow a mind-numbingly tedious narrative format, no doubt designed to lend the material some superficial interest, rather than the kind of functional, key grammar-oriented, plan, supplemented by passages of literary and scholarly French, that I was looking for. This book was perfect. I had almost no previous knowledge of French, but now, after just a few months of not very intensive study, I can read Montesquieu, Rousseau and Voltaire without difficulty in the original French. I would recommend this book to anybody with similar objectives. I would, however, point out that if you wish to acquire speaking or aural comprehension skills, you should supplement this book with another course.
on 11 April 2011
I bought this book for the exact reason the title suggests - I need to learn French, from scratch, for a graduate degree reading requirement - and it is perfectly designed for this purpose. It concentrates solely on reading, uses the reader's knowledge of English in a much more systematic and effective way than any other primer I've ever used, and uses very appropriate academic example texts throughout.
My problem with the book is the quality of the proofreading - there are errors, as early as the very first lesson, which would cause really serious problems for an unobservant reader. Typos, and table contents being scrambled. I haven't yet got all the way through it so I don't know yet how far these problems extend. Assuming I don't come across significantly more than I have done so far, my advice to prospective buyers would be: reading this book you do have to be careful of these typos, but given that I haven't come across any other book which is as perfectly suited to its intended purpose in other respects, it's still definitely worth it.