My 8 year old decided last year that she no longer wanted to study Spanish and she wanted to study French. Since we had multiple resources for learning Spanish and NONE for French, we turned to a free program from our library. I have nothing bad to say about the program but it definitely was not as thorough as what we had been using for our Chinese and Spanish studies. So when given the opportunity to review French Essentials and give it a try, I thought this would be the perfect opportunity to move forward with our French lessons. Since I have 5 years of Spanish and no French studies, I was pleased to have the opportunity to utilize a program that would teach us both French.
French Essentials is a program developed by a married couple of teachers who took their own teaching from home to DVD to now an interactive, online French curriculum. It is a complete, interactive French program, available through the French Essentials website, broken down into modules.
There is an online assessment tool to help users determine which module to begin with if students have previous language lessons. There are currently 5 modules (though eventually there will be a total of 10 modules) and each module is broken down into between 15 and 25 lessons. Additionally, with your subscription to French Essentials you are given access to a workbook containing printable worksheets, as well as quizzes, tests, and an answer key. A cultural lesson section is also included.
The program is available through the website. Once you have signed up, you have immediate access to the interactive lessons to begin using. Each lesson has embedded links that provide pronunciation audio files as well as video files and links to the website to corresponding printables. The website also provides teachers/parents with a checklist to use when going through the lessons to know whether there are quizzes and tests available for the current lesson the child is viewing.
What We Did
We took the online assessment tool, though we knew that we would be starting with Module 1 as our previous French studies had not been very lengthy. The assessment tool did tell us to begin with module 1. We opened module 1 and downloaded the first three lessons onto our desktop and began. It was a little confusing utilizing the downloaded lessons. In certain browsers, the links back to the website for printable worksheets did not work so my daughter could not do the lessons without assistance. We had to contact customer service; however, the customer service was very quick to respond and very helpful. Even though we had issues with the links back to the website, we were able to get the worksheets and culture references directly from the website so it did not hinder our studies.
We moved through the lessons at our pace, which is a nice part of the program. We even repeating a couple of lessons as we felt that a good basis is important for language retention. It was easy to repeat the lessons and gave my daughter some more confidence in working through the lessons on her own.
We printed off the checklist, which is provided on the website, to be able to check off what we did and see if there were assignments and workbook pages for the lesson.
We printed off the worksheets and completed them after the lessons were viewed. We filed these worksheets into a notebook so we would have them to refer to in the future.
The website states that the French Essentials program is for grades 2-12 and I think this is probably pretty accurate. We could have used this last year and done fine but it was very appropriate for my 3rd grader and would still be good for others starting to study French.
We found the lessons short and easy to move through in a timely manner. My daughter thought they were good and liked that she could click on the words and hear the pronunciation. The graphics were colorful but not too overwhelming and the workbooks pages were great to practice what was learned and give my daughter the opportunity to review the lessons.
Overall, we liked the program. It was easy to use, easy to integrate, and seemingly thorough. I am thankful that there are embedded audio files to allow us to hear the pronunciation of words since I do not speak French and could not help her. That was a positive for me. I liked the worksheets and the interactive nature. I especially like the addition of cultural studies with the lessons. This gave us a feel of a complete study of French and its country. I liked that there was an emphasis on France as well as other French speaking countries such as Quebec (where the writers of French Essentials are based) in the cultural studies.
I liked that my 3rd grader could go through the lesson on her own if necessary. I typically printed her worksheets for her and listened to the lesson but she could have done it alone. The online, interactive flashcards and games made studying fun. The quizzes and tests were good practice to see what your student has learned. We enjoyed the program and I think it’s a good fit for my 3rd grader and look forward to her moving through the rest of the modules.
You can check out the program on the French Essentials website. You can purchase a single module to French Essentials for $69.95 giving you 90 days to download all the files to your computer. You can also choose to purchase the entire package (eventually the 10 modules, currently the 5 modules) for $149.95 and this will give you 1 year to download the materials. You can see your purchasing options here.
Read more about what the TOS Crew has to say about French Essentials here.