77 of 78 people found the following review helpful
instead of memorizing the dictionary...,
This review is from: Mastering a French Vocabulary: A Thematic Approach (Mastering Vocabulary) (Paperback)
Sometimes I've wished I could just increase my vocabulary in a huge chunk by reading the dictionary--but of course that isn't very practical or efficient, since on my way to learning useful words I would probably be distracted by hundreds more unuseful ones. This book offers the practical alternative to reading the dictionary! You can start with the chapters that are most interesting to you, and even within those chapters, see at a glance the subset that will be the most useful to start out with (sections of chapters are divided into "learn first" and "learn later" parts). Every time I have looked at this book and gone through a chapter or section, and then have a conversation, watch a movie, or read a book in French, I've recognized words that I just saw in this book. I sometimes prefer it to a dictionary--there is an alphabetical index of French entries--because when I look up one word I might be intrigued by and learn some of the related words near it. The introduction talks about the painstaking and lengthy process the editors went through when trying to decide what words were useful enough to include in these books, and how to categorize them--that is exactly the kind of thing I would hope the creators of a vocabulary book would do. I very much recommend this book for someone (like me) who has a good functional grasp of the language but is short on vocabulary. If you already have a very strong vocabulary, it might be useful for filling in any gaps (or for self-validation of your vocabulary prowess!).