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Commercial French Study Programmes

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  • 3 weeks later...

As a tutor of Modern Foreign Languages myself,  I have had access to, and opportunity to review many commercially available courses and resources. Personally, I would not recommend that you spend so much on a single course. Not because I feel that there's anything wrong with them, but I think you can get much better value by investing in a cheaper course such as Breakthrough French by Stephanie Rybak (available for £27 from Amazon), or if you a complete beginner I would recommend BBC's Talk French (also available from Amazon for £9). Remember that NO single resource will in itself lead to advanced profiency (regardless of what the marketing 'blurb' might tell you) And, if you were thinking of investing a couple of hundred pounds or more, you would do as well to enrol in an adult evening class where you will hopefully receive much better 'hands on' tuition and practice.

I would also suggest that you make use of your local library where you should be able to hire a great range of materials including the above mentioned courses, as well as Michel Thomas and even Linguaphone.

Anyway, that's just my view - 'hope it helps.




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Many thanks Julie for your reply   .......... I share your view on learning a language, as I find in France, when a seven year old is able to converse better than I, despite knowing nothing about rules of grammar!

I just wonderd if amongst all the commercial packages available if one stood out. A number appear on ebay at reasonable prices, I was thinking of trying a few to see what suited me best, I will certainly try those you suggest. Thanks once again


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  • 2 weeks later...

I agree with Julie, in that a lot of courses are very over-priced. I'm a language nut myself, and have looked at and used a great number of courses (and I've even written two in the Teach Yourself series - not in French though, so I'm not advertising myself here - but that's another story!).

Linguaphone courses are very good, in my opinion, but they are very expersive, and you don't need to spend that much. If you live anywhere near Manchester, I know for a fact that the Central Library carries virtually all the Linguaphone courses, and you can rent them for a minimal sum each week. If there is one problem I can see with Linguaphone, it is that the courses assume you already know the metalanguage of grammar. It doesn't make such concessions to the beginner, but in reality, grammatical terminology has been dropped or played down in UK schools to the point where the understanding if the grammar consitutes a hurdle before you even start to learn the language.

Not just to be partisan, I do recommend Teach Yourself as a way to start out learning a language. I know their requirements, and authors tailor their courses to the complete beginner, explaining everything in simple terms as you go along.  

However, my favourite book/CD series is the 'Ultimate" series by Living Language. They reflect the way I advocate studying and learning a foreign language. Moreover, some of them, including the French version, offer an advancaed course that you can take after the first book. Well, TY does too, in French. 'Ultimate' courses are not too expensive either.

The BBC courses are usually pretty good too, although I haven't had much contact with the new(ish) French one. A vous la france and the books that followed it were very good, and tailored to conversational French, Why were they replaced, I wonder? You can get those at Manchester Central Library too, so presumably there are such facilities all over the country.

Pimsleur are fantastic...and so is the price! If you can get hold of them cheaply to supplement your language learning, I recommend you do so.

There's also a software course called Rocket French that's pretty new on the market, and that you might be interested in, that's very good.

Hope that helps.

As a final note, and one that you won't want to hear, in the end it doesn't matter how good your course is, if you don't put in dedication and effort, you won't learn French. You are the key. The resource is important, but secondary to your motivation. Learning a language as an adult is nothing like learning it as a child. In spite of what many commercial courses and suspect methodologies claim, you cannot learn a language in adulthood the way a child learns it...and why on earth would you want to? [;-)]


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Lots of sense in the above postings.

Just a thought on acces to cheaper items such as laguage courses; in UK there are internet 'freecycle' groups around. They are set up to try to keep things out of landfill sites. There will be one near you, I'm sure, if you live in UK, or one near a good friend or relative. As well as being an excellent 'green' idea, so many good people respnd to requests with what you are wanting - most times! The protocol is that you join (free), and then you are meant to offer something you no longer want/need first. We have passed on lots of stuff to new owners, and have also had a few of our 'wants' given to us. Great system! Google for 'freecycle', then look up nearest group.

My only comment on courses is that Michel thingy was recommended to me by my boss a few years ago. Personally, I spent years at evening classes (now very expensive in our area), lots of time in France - weeks and months at a time, and it just grew!

Lots of luck with finding a course, Jo

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  • 5 weeks later...
Bonjour!   Does anyone have experience with the "Rosetta Stone" language courses?   You see them a lot in airport kiosks, etc.   I was given a set (levels 1 & 2) but have not installed them yet.

Other than evening evening courses at my local college, is there any hope is becoming conversant in French?   [:)]



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I have a neighbour who moved here (on her own) a year ago.  She needs to work here eventually to support herself, so language is a key thing for her and she spoke only about 3 words of French when she came here.  She is doing really brilliantly now but she attends 3 different French courses in the area (one government sponsored, for job seekers, the other two she pays for); she spends 2 hours a day studying on her own; she has joined the local twinning commitee and goes to all their meetings where she teaches them a little English and absorbs French at the same time; she has got friendly with an ex- teacher and spends one afternoon a week with her learning French; she never watches English telly or listens to UK radio, she only has French programmes on; she reads French fiction, never English.  My moral - yes, there's hope, but you need to work at it!!!
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Congratulations to your neighbour Cooperlola.   Gave me a little more inspiration.  Bravo.   The more different media the better.  I'm now also trying to translate a few Yahoo.fr news pieces, pc searches and watch as much TV5, some of the films even have subtitles which help.  Some days it's harder than others to motivate, the odd break thru.  I'm not giving up, despite setbacks and criticism, what with that and the embaressment and blushes... I keep telling myself it'll be worth it...  

thanks for that





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  • 4 months later...

Hi Chris,

Just wanted to thank you for your comments. My wife and I hope to move to France later this year & need to improve our french. We saw Rosetta Stone at the France show at Olympia & were impressed BUT not by the price-£300 for the first three levels! I've found Rocket French on the net with a free trial AND whats seems a good offer for the full download. Key thing that I like about Rosetta's offering is the opportunity to speak into a mike linked to computer & get feedback on pronunciation, plus it uses 'total immersion' i.e. no translation-just naming people, objects and saying sentences just like we did as kids.

However, I'll try Rocket French and give feedback if anyone's interested?

Thanks again,


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