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French Language Book

Pismo Beach...
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French Language Book

My wife and I both took French in high school; however, that was about 11 years ago. We're planning to visit a local book store this weekend to get some travel books, but are also going to look into getting a language book or two to (hopefully) get reacquainted with our French before our trip in September. Is there a particular book - or series of books - that are recommended as a DIY review?

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for Grasse
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1. Re: French Language Book

This gets very good reviews on Amazon:

The Ultimate French Review and Practice: Mastering French Grammar for Confident Communication [Paperback] David Stillman (Author), Ronni Gordon (Author)

I also highly recommend "French or Foe" as an introduction to French culture.

Paris, France
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2. Re: French Language Book

I've read that the BBC has a good free French Language course available on their website. You might also look for free smartphone apps, instead of spending money on a book.

Paris, France
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3. Re: French Language Book

To be honest, you really don't need to go whole-hog into the grammar, etc. You also don't have enough time to do justice to a good program. Nobody will grade your speeches. Most of what you learned back then is just not necessary, and the language changes daily. Don't stress over it.

A good basic guidebook will have common useful phrases, which will be extremely helpful. As is often stressed on this forum, make a point to learn and use polite greetings, thanks, etc. - it's the most important thing you can do. You might want to download a menu translator, or at least make a list of foods and drinks that do or don't interest you, if that is a concern. Your basic French will come back to you, most especially when reading. You shouldn't have any trouble navigating, for example. If you are really concerned, bring a small dictionary - but don't worry about getting the tenses right. We have a friend who has lived here for years, using only Present and an approximation of Future and Simple Past tenses. People smile, but she makes herself understood and all goes well.

It's good to note that the French speak very quickly, especially on the telephone. You may well not understand the answers you get, but don't despair. If you are polite and honestly befuddled, most likely the French speaker will have pity on you and answer again in fairly decent English.

Los Angeles
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4. Re: French Language Book

Coffee Break French Podcasts are being enjoyed by the advanced beginners in our household, while French in Action (the BBC series) is entirely on youtube (and there's a book you can order that goes with it, but not necessary). The little Kindle book "French, Practice for Perfection" gives quick summaries of some of the main grammar points in very short form. But then, so do www.wordreference.com and www.about.com

New York City, New...
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5. Re: French Language Book

The way we are taught languages in high school and beginner level in university in the US is pretty much useless for conversation in Paris, IME.

I had taken 3 years of hs French and 2 semesters in college and when I first arrived for my study abroad program, I could barely hold a basic conversation. There is too much of a focus on grammar and writing and not enough on conversation, particularly slang and casual speaking. I assume most books you will find will have the same problem.

If you just want to learn the basics for shopping, ordering in restaurants, etc. a good phrase book should suffice. For learning some basic conversational skills, I have also heard good things about the BBC programs.

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6. Re: French Language Book

My advice is

1. Buy some CDs for your car and listen to them as you drive. Your level of French will dictate whether you buy beginner, intermediate or advanced level discs.

2. Look at online resources : http://french.yabla.com/demo.php

3. Look at some French youtube videos with English subtitles

4. Look at some French TV Channels online: http://www.tv5.org/

The most important thing is to acquaint yourself with sounds and pronunciations. Don't set your hopes too high as it takes a long time to be able to converse with a local and understand everything they say...and get your point across.

Des Moines
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7. Re: French Language Book

Last year, I spent a month in France. Even though I had a French minor in college and studied for a short time at Universite Laval in Quebec and TAUGHT elementary French at the high school level, I found that I couldn't understand native speakers beyond the first couple of words because they talk so fast. Just as an earlier poster mentioned, I could read everything, had no trouble getting around, and did well at the grocery store and Les Halles. When the woman who lived above my rental began speaking to me at the clothesline one day, I quickly told her I am American and my French is very bad. She replied, in French, that I spoke quite well "for an American." I could only assume that meant because I was even trying, it was good. I know my accent is horrible because I tried to brush up using Rosetta Stone; on the spoken sections, I could never come even close to sounding like the recording even though to me, I sounded right on, LOL.

All that to say: The poster above is right: It's likely you will be able to read all that you need to get around and to shop. BTW: Rosetta Stone was almost a complete mystery to me. It is completely different from the way I was taught a hundred years ago. I honestly don't think I would ever have caught onto the verb tenses using it. Of course, I can still conjugate in most tenses because we did so much of that in school. Bonne chance!

Seattle, Washington
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8. Re: French Language Book

I used Pimsleur CDs to prepare for my last 2 trips to France and I'm going through them again for an upcoming trip to Paris in Sept. I'm no where near fluent, but what little french I know has helped. Most importantly, it has really helped me connect with locals, which has enriched my experiences in France. Just a couple of words from me and the locals hold forth with me smiling, nodding and saying "oui, oui.". Taking the time to learn enough french to make simple requests or make simple comments is definitely worth the effort.

Metro Vancouver
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9. Re: French Language Book

"It's good to note that the French speak very quickly, especially on the telephone" ...so do the English, the Americans, the English-speaking Canadians....and also the Germans, Italians etc. ....in other words EVERYONE, when you have only recently started to learn how to speak their language...

10. Re: French Language Book

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