Jason’s Ranting & Raving

Those who don’t read have no advantage over those who can’t.

Book Review: The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Learning French by Gail Stein

Posted by jaystile on December 13, 2009

The Complete Idiot's Guide to Learning French

The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Learning French by Gail Stein is a French reference book. It groups commonly used words for a situation into lessons.

My opinion
I’m trying to learn French and in my efforts I’ve determined I’m not a big fan of this book. I only have negative views about this book. Let me preface these views with the fact that writing a book is difficult and especially a book to teach another language. I feel bad that I’m about to rip into Gail Stein’s hard work. However, it has some serious deficiencies. As a learning book, it stinks. Each chapter has tables of vocabulary words. It doesn’t give you a good feeling for the ebb and flow of the language. Just ‘hear are the words, memorize them’. It doesn’t build gradually with resuse and repetition of things you’ve learned. It’s more like: “do you remember that one word that was in that table in chapter 7? I hope so, because here it is again in chapter 20 in the exercise”. If you have ever read any of the ‘Head First’ series of technical books they do an excellent job of teaching and transferring the information. But as a reference book, they acknowledge they stink. I would’ve much preferred the ‘Head First’ type of teaching for a ‘Learning French’ book.

On to my next point, as a reference book, it also stinks. ‘Learning French’ is not my only reference for learning. I’m also using ‘Conversationl French’ by Pimsleur. Now, I’m a big fan of ‘Conversational French’. I’m on lesson 12 of 16 and plan on finishing and maybe purchasing the next set of CDs. In practicing my conversational French, I’ve run into words and phrases that I want to know more about. Mostly, the spelling of the words to help with the pronunciations that sometimes go to fast. But I can’t easily find the things I’m looking for in ‘Learning French’ so it fails there also.

In summary you can skip ‘Learning French’. Has anyone tried the Rosetta Stone for French? I’m hesitant to spend hundreds of dollars on software that isn’t going to work for me.

French, Conversational: Learn to Speak and Understand French with Pimsleur Language Programs

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