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145 of 146 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The best language course in the world
I've tried a number of different language course in a number of different languages over the years, but this is far and away the best. It's an immersion course, which means the videos and the audio-tapes are completely in French. It helps at the start if you've done a little French before, but even if you haven't, the extra effort in the early sections pays off...
Published on January 15, 2001 by Bob

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38 of 48 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars NOT good for travel prep
After reading the reviews I thought I had found the perfect course to learn French before a trip. I had two months to study and am a motivated language learner. That being said this course was practically useless. This a course designed for college classroom study, not independent home study. Also if you need ANY explanation at all for grammar or pronunciation look...
Published on May 8, 2006 by Coop


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145 of 146 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The best language course in the world, January 15, 2001
By 
Bob (Perth, Western Australia) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: French in Action : A Beginning Course in Language and Culture : The Capretz Method: Textbook (Hardcover)
I've tried a number of different language course in a number of different languages over the years, but this is far and away the best. It's an immersion course, which means the videos and the audio-tapes are completely in French. It helps at the start if you've done a little French before, but even if you haven't, the extra effort in the early sections pays off handsomely. The videos are an essential part of the whole package, though they seem to be fairly widely available on public TV. (Here in Australia, ABC TV shows them nationwide, continuously, as part of the Open Learning programme). I strongly recommend buying them if you can, otherwise you are going to have to tape all 52 programmes off-air - you need to watch them over and over for maximum benefit. Each episode consists of 10 minutes of the story (a charming and quirky American boy meets French girl in Paris soap opera)and twenty minutes of explanation by Professor Capretz, an equally charming and quirky instructor. The whole is interlaced with hundreds of brief extracts from French film and TV. You watch the video several times, then work through the audio tapes to improve your own speaking, pronunciation and comprehension, read the text, then do the exercises. It might sound repetitive (all language learning is), but the story does hold your interest right to the end. I did it as a two year course with Open Learning in Australia, through the University of New England, and was sorry when it ended. This is a good way to do it, but it will work fine for a self-learning course. It's fairly costly, with textbook, workbooks, study guide and audiotapes, not to mention the videos, but you won't find a better course for learning to speak French or understand it from radio, film or TV. The reading side has been strengthened in the second edition, but to get to be a fluent reader you will need extra reading outside the course.
One of my teachers ( a French national) criticised the course for cultural bias (a little upperclass and American) and he has a point, but for a rapid and enjoyable path to fluency, this course can't be beaten.
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80 of 82 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Best course available but you need all the books., December 22, 2005
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This review is from: French in Action : A Beginning Course in Language and Culture : The Capretz Method: Textbook (Hardcover)
This is the best French language course you can find. If you want to use it for self study you do need to purchase the workbook, audio tapes, and study guide along with the textbook. The textbook is designed to be used with the PBS series, French in Action. The good news is the television series can be watched at [...] for free.

To get the best out of this course you need the workbook, and the workbook needs the audio cd's. The material on the cd's is different than the audio on the television program in that it includes exercises on pronunciation, listening and observations on grammar.

To make sense out of all this material you need the study guide. It's the road map to the course and explains how to use the other material. This is especially true if you are using this as a home or self study course.
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85 of 89 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Best French course, November 2, 2002
By 
Salil Phadnis (Chandler, AZ USA) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: French in Action : A Beginning Course in Language and Culture : The Capretz Method: Textbook (Hardcover)
I have tried several self teaching french course books, audio tapes, etc. None of them comes close to French in Action. My french language skills have jumped several levels after I started studying this course. After having finished about half of this course, I was able to get by quite well in French during a recent trip to France. This course teaches you French and France, its culture and its people like no other.
Although all the video tapes, audio tapes, workbooks seems like a very expensive deal, there are ways to do it cheaply. The video section is broadcast year round on PBS channels, as well as available online at the learner website. I skipped the audio tapes since most of the excercises in the workbooks can be done without audio tapes and furthermore if you watch each video several times you have already understood the conversation. Then all that is needed is the textbook and the two workbooks. It can take a long time to complete the 52 lessons, but language learning is a long process. French in Action does make it very enjoyable.
I don't think this is a beginner level course, though. Its probably useful to do some other basic course for a couple of months before starting on this one.
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50 of 51 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Le cours de langues français le plus complet, December 13, 2005
By 
Stephen Sykes (Rockville, MD USA) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: French in Action : A Beginning Course in Language and Culture : The Capretz Method: Textbook (Hardcover)
"French in Action" is a complete, college-level language course intended for students who have aspirations of fluency. The course consists of five components: video tapes (or DVDs), audio tapes (or CDs), textbook, workbook and study guide. All the components work together and are necessary for the course to be effective. The course utilizes an immersion method, meaning that after the first couple of lessons, everything except the study guide is in French. In spite of its high profile and ready access on public television, I don't think it's a good course for beginners. It moves quickly and would probably be best for someone with previous study in the language. The course would be nearly ideal for a college-level student with at least a year of high school French under their belt.

It's a full meal. There are 52 lessons divided into two, 26 lesson parts. Each part can be purchased separately, but any way you slice it, the entire course is a considerable investment in both time and money. Working about an hour per day, it's paced to be handled at the rate of about a lesson a week. At full speed, you might be able to finish it in a year. Because most of the lessons involve some kind of conversational practice, the course is best taken with a partner or the help of a tutor. Self-study students might be tempted to eliminate the conversational and writing exercises, but doing so would be a mistake. Those exercises constitute at least half of the value of the course.

One of the real strengths of "French in Action' is that it puts an emphasis on the French language the way the French actually speak it, which is quite a bit different from the way American phrase books tend to teach it. Right from the start, you're listening to the language at full speed in all its idiomatic glory. If you're anything like me, you'll have the sense of always struggling to catch up. But, I like the fact that the early emphasis is on listening and getting a sense of the rhythm of the language. Younger students will probably like the fact that after the first several lessons, they will have learned at least a dozen ways to insult their friends.

One of the weaknesses of the course is that the audio tapes really need to be used along with the workbook. Hence, it's difficult (though not impossible) to use them in the car during long commutes. Don't expect a standard presentation, because the material isn't handled anything like standard French textbooks. Tenses, for example, are introduced so matter-of-factly that the very first words you utter are in the future tense. And there is no emphasis at all on word-for-word translation. In fact, quite often you're listening to idiomatic phrases in which the individual words when analyzed don't make much sense, but the meaning of the entire phrase when spoken in context is perfectly clear.

"French in Action" is a real grown-up language course for students with mature study skills and sufficient interest to get through it. I, myself, have taken a couple runs at it over the years and have only recently developed a successful study routine. Though the video program is on public television all the time, it's not a casual course at all. Don't believe the promos that suggest that all you have to do is "listen, watch and get involved". Just watching the shows on TV won't get you very far. You will spend at least 350 hours going through the entire course and probably more like 700-1000. That may sound like a lot, but by the end you will doubtless have a better understanding of French than you would have had from any other commercial package.
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39 of 39 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Best Conversational French method, July 20, 1999
By A Customer
This review is from: French in Action : A Beginning Course in Language and Culture : The Capretz Method: Textbook (Hardcover)
This is an amaizing course in how to communicate in French. Communication is not only the words in the sentance but how they are constructed and the subjects that evoke a response. The course is fun, albeit corny but amusing, story of an American boy in Paris who falls for a French girl. Through their adventures one is introduced not only to the language but to the subjects dear to the French heart. I have heard some of the conversations almost verbatum between French people during my 6 years in France. I still listen to the tapes from time to time to memorise sentences that work at engaging french people. Any of the conversations on food are a winner along with things like 'la belle pierre de France'. Its amaizing what cords these subjects and the way they are presented in the course ring a chord with the French. The people who put this course together understood the differences between the American perspective and the French perspective and were able to emphasize or play with these differences to point them out in the course. I wouldn't consider buying any other method until I had this one.
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30 of 30 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A superlative approach to learning French, December 28, 2004
By 
Robert Moore (Corvallis, Oregon United States) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: French in Action : A Beginning Course in Language and Culture : The Capretz Method: Textbook (Hardcover)
One reviewer mentions that this course is inappropriate for middle school students. Absolutely correct. This a sophisticated college level course that demands much of the student. But if handled systematically, it is the closest thing to immersion in a French speaking culture obtainable in the many courses offered and that is the key to its success. The PBS film clips are the best known segment of the course, but in fact they are the least essential. The tapes [or CDs] and workbook, in conjunction with the text, are the very heart of the course. Children learn language through repetition and this is what the tapes provide on a mature and challanging level. The emphasis is on speaking and common language usage [colloquial speech]. As Robert - one of the protagonists in the video - observes, there are people who take university degrees in a language in America and yet are unable to ask simple directions when they arrive in the culture they studied. This course - text, workbook and especially audiotapes [or CD's] provides a speaking as well as a writing comprehension of the French language. Most college level courses only provide the written segment.
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20 of 20 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The closest thing to being in France, April 11, 1999
By A Customer
This review is from: French in Action : A Beginning Course in Language and Culture : The Capretz Method: Textbook (Hardcover)
Although I have been studying French since High School, the Capretz method features something that no high school or college course can supply - interesting French conversations.
I find the program not only to be challenging, but very entertaining. Because there is actually a story going on, I don't mind watching the videos or listening to the tapes. Unlike other popular methods on the market, Capretz uses dialog which is usefull to the student.
In addition to being fun, the tapes also stress repetion and drill after drill. The tapes also depict French as it is actually spken today. For example, all the speakers say jsui instead of je suis.
I find this the best mathod on the market. The only problem is that if you can't get the video segment off the television then the program is going to cost you some big bucks!!
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19 of 19 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Fun, structured, and a great beginning. Needs CD ROM, March 21, 2006
By 
This review is from: French in Action : A Beginning Course in Language and Culture : The Capretz Method: Textbook (Hardcover)
I now live in France and am fluent, and I can say French in Action helped me out on my path to learning French. First, the blond girl Mireille is quite pretty and a joy to watch (for males). The guy, Robert, is a little goofy. Anyway, the story is entertaining enough, with some nice scenes of Paris (especially Jardin Luxembourg) and with a grand finale of a visit of many of France's finest sites.

The text book, workbook, and video combination is excellent. As others have noted, it is one of the best self-learning guides available in any language. The workbook has the answers in the back. If you take this in conjunction with a course, so much the better.

However, this will not make you fluent by any means - at most it gets you up to intermediate. Enough for tourism at any rate, but not enough to prepare you for a life in France and working in French. But the books don't claim to do so.

It would be nice if there were CD-ROMs available (if there are, i haven't seen them). These CD ROMS could have games, quizes, etc.

Just one other thing - the book is GIGANTIC! At least when I had it; it was almost too big for my bag, and was the largest of my university books.
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17 of 17 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars comprehensible input, November 22, 2009
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This review is from: French in Action : A Beginning Course in Language and Culture : The Capretz Method: Textbook (Hardcover)
Superb product. Perhaps the best language program in the world, as another reviewer stated. Please let me explain why I think that.

After learning several languages as an adult (French is my 7th) I came to realize that variety is good for me. I look for the most effective products for each aspect of language learning. For French, I used Pimsleur to get grounded in the language, think on my feet, and nail down my pronunciation. I used Michel Thomas to acquire a lot of grammar quickly. I listen to Learn in Your Car for vocabulary and grammar reinforcement. I use Anki flashcards for visual reinforcement. I have a conversation class, all French, once a week with a wonderful teacher on Skype. French in action videos are my listening practice, and the text is my reading practice.

For listening and reading, ideally what one wants is comprehensible native material (Krashen's i+1) for a beginner that gradually builds into normal native material. Very few language materials have attempted this, and even fewer have succeeded. FIA is the only one I know of that not only accomplished this difficult feat, but did it in a high budget, TV quality production, complete with fun story line, cute characters, excerpts from movies and TV shows, etc. The text is equally comprehensible, which makes it an easy introduction to reading. For these reasons, FIA gets my vote for best language program ever.

But I still wouldn't use it as my only program. Multi-tiered approaches are much more efficient, IMO. So if watching the video alone is too hard for you, soften it up by trying Michel Thomas or Pimsleur or something. But please don't try to convince the world that this is a bad product. We know otherwise.

I think getting the text used on Amazon is the best way to go. As for the video, if you don't want to go through the hassle of downloading them for free, you can try what I did. I bought them on an auction site for $25. You'll see several up for bids at any one time. Many, perhaps most, are by people who have made many copies, and want to sell them for big bucks. Just keep submitting low bids, and you should be able to get one quickly.
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16 of 17 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A must get for serious French Learners, September 28, 2000
By 
shelley20 "shelley" (Bronx, NY United States) - See all my reviews
This review is from: French in Action : A Beginning Course in Language and Culture : The Capretz Method: Textbook (Hardcover)
This along with the video cassettes are an absolutely invaluable resource for anyone serious about learning French. It is total immersion without having to go to France, and crafted in a way that is not intimidating. It is a very endearing little story about two attractive young people in Paris, and is capable of enthralling even the beginner into the story in such a way that One cannot take this course without wanting to go through it all the way to the very end (Its actually sad when it ends) not becuase of a tragedy but because of the bonding with the characters that is established throughout their fun-filled odyssey through Paris. The result, an absolutely revolutionary concept of learning the language that has not been matched since its inception!
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