- Series: Basic
- Audio CD: 208 pages
- Publisher: Berlitz Publishing; Abridged edition (February 1, 2003)
- Language: French
- ISBN-10: 9812460608
- ISBN-13: 978-9812460608
- Product Dimensions: 8.6 x 1.9 x 11.3 inches
- Shipping Weight: 1.8 pounds
- Average Customer Review: 6 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #6,438,718 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Berlitz New Basic French (French Edition) (French) Abridged Edition
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About the Author
In January 2003, the renowned Berlitz Publishing became part of the Langenscheidt Group. The Langenscheidt Publishing Group, the premier group of map and travel companies, offers over 4,000 North American and international street maps, road maps, atlases, language-learning, bilingual dictionaries, and travel-related products covering countries, cities, and languages in every continent.
Top customer reviews
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One of the good things about this course is that the French is totally accurate: the phrases are things the French actually say, and there are no bloopers like confusing French "le menu" and "la carte". Moreover, the recordings are good in that the sound is clear and comprehensible, and all speakers are native French speakers yet have a variety of accents. In addition, the material selected and presented in this course is well-chosen, useful stuff. All this is helpful for the learner and are reasons why I like this course.
On the other hand, there are some drawbacks. I think the material could have been ordered differently so that the really essential things for tourists are all towards the beginning, and the less important things towards the end.
Also, I personally feel that there is far too much English on the CD's. There's a great deal of explanation in English and then just a tiny snippet of French. In my view, the explanations belong in the coursebook so that you don't have to listen to them over and over again when you want to listen to the French. After all, what you need to train your ear is to hear French, and the more, the better, so that your ear becomes attuned to French intonation (which is nearly impossible to do when you only hear a few words at a time).
In addition, the illustrations in (New) Basic French are only so-so, in my view. They're in color, which is a plus, but they are rough (and sometimes not-so-attractive) drawings and can't compare with the quality of say, the DK Eyewitness Travel 15-Minute French course, which has gorgeous photos of scenes and people in France, or the Barron's Beginner's Self-Study French (see below for links to these works). However, the Berlitz drawings are nevertheless useful for practice purposes and often lend themselves to question-and-answer work in a classroom setting.
Another potential drawback with the course, I think, is that the check-tests and exercises are too easy - they let you get away with mere 'recognition knowledge', when what's required is active mastery of that little bit of vocabulary or grammar. If you're only going to listen to French, you can get away with recognition knowledge, but if you're going to speak it, you need to be able to come up with the words you need on your own (there's no multiple-choice box hanging up in the air for you...).
I teach French to adults and often turn to this Berlitz course when I am called upon to teach short, 8-week classes (a total of 16 hours of classroom instruction). It's difficult to find a useful book that gives the essentials in such a short period of time; overall, I find that this Berlitz course is far from perfect but is the best of a far-from-perfect bunch.
If you want to study on your own and time is not an issue, there are two moderately-priced courses I would recommend: the two I've mentioned above. I especially like the Barron's Beginner's Self-Study Course: French (Beginner's Self-Study Language Courses) - it's an excellent all-around work - in fact, I can't think of anything to fault it for! One thing I particularly like is that the CD's have only French on them, so you spend your time hearing French, especially French as conversation. It also helps you become of aware of and then learn proper intonation - which is probably even more important in speaking comprehensible French than is your ability to produce the individual sounds accurately. (I am aware that some students will consider that the recordings being French-only is a drawback - but I think that the extra effort required at the beginning with such recordings is more than repaid with the progress the student makes in comprehension and in his/her own speech, too.)
The other excellent beginner's course is DK Eyewitness Travel 15-Minute French 15-Minute French (Eyewitness Travel), but I would rank this one just behind the Barron's course, because, although it's very clearly structured and covers everything, there's perhaps not enough practice material. Also, there's not much repetition of the French words and phrases on the CD's - so in some cases, if you miss it when it's first said, that's it!; you may not hear it again.
There are perhaps other courses out there for absolute beginners, but the ones I'm aware of are in another price bracket, and most people want to get started without spending too much money.
I would be happy to hear other people's experience and views on this. Thank you!
Never confuse self-teaching with an actual classroom experience. Nevertheless, our family found this Berlitz CD to be an effective tool.
This product is really not very good. It's overpriced and you should really shop around before buying. Beware, also, of glowing reviews that seem to...well, sell the product. I have seen too many of my students spend their last few euros on berlitz prodicts, such as this one, only to find themselves with a tacky, ineffective, and utterly disappointing product.