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on 14 September 2010
As compared with other French learning programmes, SmartFrench rates high in my view. Phonetics and meaning go hand in hand in an interactive approach that takes the learner gradually into the language. The package is user friendly and efficient. I am happy to recommend it to anyone investing money and effort in learning French.
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on 21 February 2010
Ive been using the whole range of SmartFrench products for some months now and am sure it is the best language course i have ever tried in book,cd or cd rom form.
I would recommend starting with the introduction cd's before tackling the beginner version.The introduction cd's need repeated listening ,usually this is where it all falls apart (i found repeated listening to Michael Thomas cd's extremely difficult due to his strange accent ,pompous manner and wierd exchanges between his two students )i have listened to the smartfrench cd's some 11 or 12 times and still find them quite fresh and Christian Aubert's accent easy to listen to .
Having worked on verbs,numbers and vocabulary from the introduction cd's i find i can express most of the things i want to say without a struggle.I have also used the Penguin Parallel French texts to suppliment my listening and ahve found these useful but not terribly relevent are much of the vocabulary is quite obscure , maybe Christian Aubert should write a Smart French parallel text book ,i would certainly buy that.
I am now working on the beginner conversations which are similarly fascinating (peopled by a wig maker ,a chef,a model and various other real french people ,boring it is'nt ) the emphasis being on listening and speaking rather than reading.
The cd rom is extremely easy to navigate around and as for reading smartfrench for travellers will be going with me when i go to Paris and the Dordogne this year as it is packed withvery useful phrases.
On the stregnth of Smartfrench i purchased SmartsSpanish and was delighted to find it followed the same format using a native Sanish speaker and real Spanish people ,the attention to detail is the same and i am looking forward to exploring the product in greater detail in the near future.
I find the main difference with the Smart Language series is that i practise every day and don't resent it one bit ,and yes ive found it relly sticks and tenses seem easy .
So all in all a really great product which will teach you how to speak French the way real French people speak with the correct liasons and vocabulary as it has been compiled using recorded conversations .Unique and practcal ,well done SmartFrench.
David Bentley .
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on 24 January 2012
I love, love, love this product. The hardest thing for me about learning French is to understand the spoken language. The main advantage of this product is that it helps you to do exactly that, better than any of the other products I have experienced. (* see below for more explanation of this)

I spend a lot of time in Paris, and I have been surprised at how much more difficult it is to understand and to speak French than the other languages I use when I travel (Portuguese and Spanish). One of the reasons is that the spoken language doesn't sound very much like the written one, and SmartFrench really helps you to understand and to speak it as it is actually spoken. That's why I say it helps you "decode" spoken French, explaining where and how letters are dropped or run together, and giving very useful examples of difficult (puzzling without the guidance) phrases that are frequently used in Paris.

I really appreciate the unique step-by-step methodology the author employs to help you "hear" and understand. It is a well-thought-through, systematic and interactive program that builds listening and speaking skills like no other. The approach helps you focus on phrases that are common, yet difficult and will help you over these rough bumps to significantly ease your comprehension and improve your speaking skills. There are also some good bonus features like additional interviews and sounds. The approach is unique and valuable, worth MUCH more than the price you pay.

That said, it should be used as a complement along with other resources, as you also need to learn grammar and build vocabulary, and this product alone won't do that.

* Here are some other resources I have used: I bought the 5 levels of Rosetta Stone (the whole package). I completed all the levels. Its repetition and visuals are helpful, but it doesn't get at the core of "decoding" spoken French the way SmartFrench does. (I used these programs simultaneously over a period of time. SmartFrench is harder than Rosetta Stone, but it's how people really express themselves; just doing Rosetta Stone alone doesn't prepare you to understand what people are saying, in my opinion.)

I also initially bought other resources: the Books with CDs (French for Idiots and French for Dummies and 30 Days to Great French); also Pimsleur as well as Instant Immersion French software. These are all okay, and could be used along with SmartFrench, but they don't provide the listening/ speaking tools of SmartFrench.

I have a French tutor once a week, which is excellent overall, but it's also good to have the intensive listening/ speaking practice of SmartFrench. The more you listen, repeat and are exposed to the spoken language, the better. In my work with the tutor, we cover a lot of different things, and don't focus just on speaking and listening, plus she speaks more slowly so it's really great to have SmartFrench also.

I also had a small technical problem and contacted the company, and my problem was handled right away. That kind of service means a lot to me.

If you really want to learn to speak French and understand spoken French, this is the program you should buy.
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on 8 March 2011
Briefly this product puts you right in at the deep end for a beginners product but it has a method that means you are talking French like a French person straight away. Good product - better than learning lists of vocab and grammar!
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on 13 May 2013
Whilst most language programmes tell you how to speak in a foreign language, they do it in a formal way. In other words, they teach you to speak as you write. For example, to find a train station you would perhaps learn it like this: 'Can you tell me the way to the train station' Not so with SmartFrench. This programme teaches you how to speak naturally so it becomes something like 'Where's the train station?'
People drop letters all over the place and this SmartFrench programme teaches you the casual style that we all use in day-to-day conversations. 'Do not' become 'Don't', 'We are' becomes 'We're' and so on.
Most language courses are divided into useable sections such as 'Meeting People' 'Shopping' 'Getting Around' and so-on, but with this programme, you listen-in to a video of normal conversation that could be about anything, film reviews, jobs and general chat. It's therefore not suitable for basic communication on a short trip, it's designed to get you to understand how the French speak in day-to-day conversations.
There's a booklet and a computer display of the words exactly as they're spoken with all the hesitations and mumbles to help you fully understand the speech patterns. Rather like the way we learned our own language as children. It takes a while to get used to the speed and informality of the style but once you've listened a few times you start to catch up.
It would help though, if you had a slight knowledge of French already, even a few basic words. I did school French many years ago and that helps, so a total beginner may find this harder to grasp. (so, 4 stars instead of 5)
Persevere, listen and copy and in a few months, you'll understand how the language is spoken by real people. Then, when you get to a French speaking country, you'll be chatting like a native and won't (will not) sound like a tourist with a phrase book. Highly recommended.
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on 23 July 2012
I have been using these products for several months AS DIRECTED by their creator, Christian Aubert, and have found them extremely helpful. I've used both "SmartFrench - Introduction to French, Volumes 1 and 2" and also the 4-CD-Set "Beginner Level." What is so amazing about this material is that you truly can learn the language by just listening! If you are planning on a trip to France I would say this is the way to learn. You may not learn to read the language, but you will learn to understand what is said to you and to speak it to some extent, and that is the point. I plan on purchasing "SmartFrench for Travellers" before my trip to get more help in recognizing the written word.

Mr. Aubert teaches something that I imagine few other language courses go into--he teaches the contractions that the French use in their conversations. Unless you learn to hear the words contracted (the way French natives actually say them), how can you hope to understand what is being spoken? Mr. Aubert also highlights IN RED the letters that are NOT pronounced in a sentence. (There is a PDF format of "SmartFrench - Introduction to French, Volumes 1 and 2" which can be printed out for your convenience, as well as a booklet included with the 4-CD-Set "Beginner Level").

'Just listening is the key to your future progress' says Mr. Aubert, and he is right! I find myself (I'm a gardener) out in the yard telling my plants IN FRENCH, "Well, you've got to have everything!" (See "Beginner Level CD 1 - Soundis" and you'll know where I'm coming from;-) It is so much fun to have French words or phrases pop into my head from out of the blue, and I feel like a child learning her first language with ease. If you don't try this material and do it consistently, you'll never experience the joy I'm talking about. Five days a week I spend an hour on my treadmill with my earphones on, and I'm learning a language without the chore of memorizing. Imagine that! Pas mal!
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on 30 April 2014
Wow, a program that actually helps me to UNDERSTAND the spoken language! I have always been good at mimicking my teachers, and believed I could speak almost accent-free. I also worked hard to build my vocabulary and study verb conjugations. So I couldn't figure out why it was so hard to understand the language when anyone but my teachers or fellow students were speaking. I'd rent a french film and feel so discouraged. I was lucky to pick out a few words! This program has helped tremendously. The instructor explains that traditionally French hasn't been taught with an understanding of the extent to which liaisons are employed. For example, "Je suis" is actually pronounced "shwee." There are so many examples like that. I've streamed a couple of french films lately, and the instructor is right on the mark. I can't say I'm fluent yet in my listening or speaking, but for the first in a very long time, I trust I'll get there.
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on 2 October 2014
Compulsory for anyone serious about learning spoken French.

I received a very nice note from the course instructor on my invoice - handwritten! How wonderful in this day and age to get that much!

I had owned a previous version of this French course years ago and unwisely loaned it to an (ex) friend and never got it back (of course). I have taken French in school so I had a basic knowledge of French, but in my day, it was literary French we studied; Maupassant, Gide, etc. I left school unable to speak a word.

I have used the Michel Thomas courses and Pimsleur courses (all very good in their own way). But, this is my absolute go-to-French study system.

And, please do not loan it to anyone.

Merci beaucoup Mille fois
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on 27 August 2014
I wasn't sure about this when it first arrived. It's been produced on a shoe-string by the looks of it, but it's well-worth persevering with it. You need to work through all the exercises in the order it suggests though - don't be tempted to miss steps. There's a lot of repetition, and at first I wasn't sure why I was being asked to repeat it all word by word. But I am finally starting to see the benefit - I'm in the middle of the advanced section, and am really struggling, but when I go back and re-listen to the beginner and intermediate sections I can see how I've improved. The main thing is to keep persevering at trying to understand the French without referring to the written text. Good luck!
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on 20 February 2010
Fantastic product - and faultless sales service. My son has struggled with French for years and is now facing his GCSE with a lighter heart! Can recommend the help and customer service as second to none - Smartfrench really seem to care and I would recommend them to anyone unreservedly. Huge thanks.
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