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Customer Review

56 of 57 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Most Useful French Book Ever!, 3 May 2011
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This review is from: Mot a Mot Fifth Edition: New Advanced French Vocabulary (Paperback)
I bought this book after having read an earlier edition of the book belonging to my college. I thought it would be useful for writing essays but I was surprised at just how vital it is for French A level. Especially since the newer version contains a lot more than the previous editions.
I can honestly say that this book is my absolute bible for A level, and I'll definitely be taking it to Uni this year. It has everything in! There are tons of helpful and idiomatic essay phrases for every single section of the essay/presentation and within those, a few phrases that can be used colloquially.
There is also extensive topic specific vocab, which goes way beyond the key terms of the topic, containing vocabulary which you wouldn't even think to use in English!
This can be extremely helpful when researching a certain topic for speaking exams, essays and the like.
I especially like the fact that there are useful little points on which prepositions to use after a selection of commonly used verbs, and a page of synonyms for common words.

I highly recommend this book to anyone wanting to study French for A level onwards. It's inexpensive, and in my opinion an investment when I consider the amount I've used it so far. Couldn't live without it now!
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Showing 1-6 of 6 posts in this discussion
Initial post: 12 Aug 2013, 13:34:31 BST
I recently bought an older edition. First I'll say, while i understand the one star and two star reviews, -- the point they seem to be making is that swotting is not the same as learning -- I think this book is a worthwhile purchase, and owning it will do no harm to anyone, even if you hardly use it. However, considering it a 'passport to high grades' or 'vital to A level/ University level French' might be a very bad idea, as other things to be far more important.

I can speak from experience: I did my A level around ten years ago and got 267/300, without resits. I didn't revise, or hardly, -- not because I was lazy, but because I couldn't see the point. I worked reasonably hard, and above all, I enyojed the course. I certainly didn't 'swot' with a book like this, or with any other vocab lists. (I didn't own any textbooks or reference books apart from a dictionary, and didn't use any books apart from the one class book and the photocopies that were handed out in class.)

My feeling is, that for some A-level students, repeating sophisticated phrases that they memorise from a book like this will help them feel serious and professional and give them confidence. Yet it probably would have had the opposite effect for me: the idea that the phrases I naturally produce are not good enough would make me feel less confident, and if I felt that I would be better off parroting phrases from a book, it would break my flow, and would make me find it hard to take the course seriously, the whole thing would feel more like a pointless game.

Here is some general advice from a languages graduate, it tells you what I mean when I say 'swotting' is not the same as learning; some of you will know all this, but for those who don't: independently doing listening exercises (not just for comprehension but for grammar, vocab etc), reading a newspaper or listening to the radio are stimulating activites which make you think for yourself, allow you to make your own observations about how French language works, and gradually get a feel for the language. Jump in the deep end, get a student-price subcription to le Nouvel Obs. (And use Mot a mot as a handly lexicon while you read). At university level, 'swotting,' or Over-Relying on a book like this, will not cover up the fact that a student has not done this work, just like sprinkling icing sugar on a chocolate cake will not hide the fact that the cake is not very good.

At university, the most important thing is to know the basics well. You get heavily penalised for making numerous basic errors. You get a mark for your basic level, so using a very obscure grammatical structure eg the imperfect subjunctive correctly will probably not boost your grade, not even slightly, nor will very sophisticated vocab. For more information about how to use the your study time effectively at Univerity, in a way that will boost your grades, consider looking at a book like ''Study Skills for Language Students: A Practical Guide'', and ask your tutors etc.

In reply to an earlier post on 12 Aug 2013, 14:55:48 BST
Last edited by the author on 12 Aug 2013, 14:56:59 BST
Rachel says:
I understand this point, and in all honesty I hardly revised before my A level exams - maybe a week before, I looked over vocab, and phrases, and still managed to get a high A. The same with the two firsts I have received so far at uni.. I, of all people, understand that language learning is a gradual process.

The point I was trying to make with my review was that OCR and AQA do not see language learning how it should be and expect you to stick to a very specific and ordered syllabus. The exam boards don't test you in a logical way - stealing a few key phrases from this book can only help you in surpassing what other students can give.

I thoroughly enjoy language learning and can't get enough of it and if you want to continue learning languages beyond A level and university then the above advice is valid, but I can say from personal experience that this book definitely helps you through A level, and I imagine those who aren't particularly gifted at or passionate about languages will find it useful, especially considering the way you are expected to learn and reproduce information. It's not supposed to be a book you read cover to cover and it's not supposed to be a book you over-rely on, but it is by all means a book you can dip into to use certain phrases and specific terminology which correspond with your exact A level topic.

I think the best way to boost your overall language level is to spend time in the country, even just a few weeks over the summer. This is the best way you will excel at university, this from experience.

In reply to an earlier post on 29 Nov 2013, 01:37:51 GMT
Last edited by the author on 29 Nov 2013, 01:38:35 GMT
Interesting comments, I think all you say is valid. I had made my original comment because I felt there was a lack considered comment in some of the reviews. You have reassured me!

I'll add a few things to my earlier comment:

1) I was fortunate enough to do my A levels at a very good institution.

2) Things have got more competitive since I did my A levels.

And as a combination of 1 and 2: at the time, I didn't have much sense of A-levels being 'artificial' or rewarding the wrong priorities, (and I'm sorry that the environment may not be as good for young people now.)

Posted on 26 Aug 2015, 14:45:35 BST
Felixcat says:
Where's the audio / visual material? There is none mentioned. How can anyone lean to speak, pronounce or comprehend aural French without an audio CD at least! For this reason I think it's overrated Rachel!

In reply to an earlier post on 27 Aug 2015, 08:26:30 BST
Racheyd93 says:
The audio/visual material was provided in my lessons at school (this review was written over four years ago, before I'd even began my degree, let alone finished it!). The book is designed to be used alongside an A level course you are taking, which involves a lot of essay writing, most of which is based on the topics in the book. For this reason it was extremely useful for me during A levels to help make my many essays stand out from the other millions of french A level students. For the purpose it serves, it is a very helpful tool, but no - not to be used for simply 'learning to speak French' :)

In reply to an earlier post on 27 Aug 2015, 09:52:23 BST
Felixcat says:
Ah okay, I'm not taking A Levels, I'm self studying French at home. Thanks!
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