Our homeschool had always felt that studying languages is important and we started out oldest on Latin and Mandarin early in elementary school; however, French is a language that my daughter asked to be added to her studies. Every year we study French now and are starting our son this year, that is why we were excited for the opportunity to review Getting Started with French from Armfield Academic Press.
I had never heard of Armfield Academic Press and was excited to give their unique format for studying French a try. Getting Started with French is a beginning French book for homeschooler and those that are “self-taught” and intended for all ages. It was written by a homeschool dad, in cooperation with a French language expert, to be used by homeschoolers and self-taught students. What makes it unique is:
- it’s self contained – no extra materials are needed to complete the lessons
- the book itself is large – making it easier to use in a group
- it’s non-consumable – so you can use it with several students
- the lessons are short – each lessons is no more that 15 minutes
The course is meant to be used in the homeschool environment or with a student wanting to learn French who doesn’t have access to a tutor to help them. The book includes a pronunciation recordings and author commentary recording free to download from their website that correspond to the lessons in Getting Started with French. The answer key is in the back of the book and the exercises that are included with many of the lessons can be completed orally or in a notebook so the book is available for use with students in the future.
There are 172 lessons in the books. Additionally the almost 300 page book contains a “How to Use this Book” section, explaining in detail how the book was intended, by the author, to be used. There is also General Advise, an Answer Key, a Pronunciation Guide, a Glossary, and a Subject Index, making the book very user-friendly and easy to navigate.
The website has free downloadable pronunciation guides for their books. You can download them in a .zip format or individually, which was nice because if we were somewhere where we didn’t have access to our computer where we downloaded them, I could access just what I wanted from the website on my smartphone and listen to the pronunciation. There is a pronunciation for each lesson available for download. The pronunciation download may be very short, depending upon what you are working on. Maybe even just 2 words, but as the lessons get more difficult, there may be many more words to be pronounced. The pronunciation guide is simply that, the French speaker pronouncing the words that are BOLDED in the lesson as new vocabulary.
Additionally, the author has included his author commentary to download from free from the website. There is an author commentary for each lesson. These are small, snippets from the author and coauthor, along with a French speaker, who pronounces the words and who interjects information with regard to the French language. The author’s commentary is NOT a reading of the lesson to the student, it is additional information and basically a discussion between the authors, the French speaker, and the students. There is discussion about the lesson, the concept that is covered, and additional insight and information about the topic.
Each lesson has a title which discusses the word, phenomenon or element in the French language. The authors do a great job at explaining why French is the way it is or how it differs from English when learning to speak the language. The student learns to read, understand, and speak the language at the same time.
The lessons are very short and cumulative, so they build on each other. There is also review throughout the lessons. Some lessons have exercises included with the lesson to allow the student to practice speaking or writing and some lessons, especially in the beginning, are very brief and have just 2 words to work on pronouncing. But the student is speaking a word in French from the very first lesson, not just learning concept before speaking.
Another great feature of the lessons is that some lessons include a snippet at the end of the lesson about Expression in French. This is a really interesting part of the lesson that teaches the student about common expressions, typically used even in the English language, that are French and from where their derive. For instance, the student learns about the word “adieu,” which means farewell. “I bid you adieu” is an expression that many English speakers use however, they likely use it incorrectly. The difference between “adieu” and “au revoir” are discussed and the literal meaning of “adieu” is explored.
Some of the other expression that are discussed after some of the lessons include bon appetit, Mardi Gras, voila and au contraire. This part of the lessons my older daughter and I found very interesting. My younger son didn’t really know most of the expressions yet so he didn’t find it as interesting.
Overall, we REALLY like the concept and setup of Getting Started with French. I LOVED the short lessons, making it easy to fit in each day a little French practice. We did it together as a group, me, my 11 year old and my 6 year old. They both enjoyed the lessons and were able to follow them. The exercises were something my 11 year old did, I did not require my 6 year old to write out the exercise, we did them orally. I liked that the setup allowed me to do the lessons this way to individualize them for each student even though we were working through the lessons together. Since the course is set up to master something before moving on, we decided to work through at my 11 year old’s pace so that the lessons are early exposure to the French language for my son and we will go back and work on more mastery after we have moved through the lessons with my daughter. I think this will keep him from being discouraged since he is not ready for writing the language at this point.
I loved that the book is self contained and that the downloads are included and easy to use. The answers to the exercises are in the back of the book and the page number where the answers can be found is notated after each lesson. This seems to be a great introductory book to the language and I look forward to our family using it throughout the year to work on our basic French.
Armfield Academic Press also has Getting Started with Latin and Getting Started with Spanish available. I’m very curious about the Latin, but not sure I can buy another book right now but, maybe in the future I’ll be lucky enough to have the opportunity to review it. I’m always looking for a light way of adding more Latin studies to our day, especially with my younger ones.
And if you are interested in Russian, I understand Getting Started with Russian is a book that is coming soon, which I think is really exciting as well, though I think that would be more of interest to me than my kids.
Be sure to check out what the rest of the TOS Review Crew had to say about Getting Started with French from Armfield Academic Press by clicking the button below. And visit Armfield Academic Press on Facebook or on their website.