Customer Reviews: French Complete Course: Basic-Intermediate, Compact Disc Edition (LL(R) Complete Basic Courses) (English and French Edition)
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on July 23, 2003
The "lessons" in this package are simply lists of words and phrases. Some of these words are in boldface, the CDs contain those words - nothing more - nothing less.
The learning approach taken is to memorize without applying the knowledge in any context. If you have a fantastic memory combined with a lot of patience, you migh actually learn to understand some french by this package, but otherwise there are many better alternatives.
The Pimsleur products are exceptional quality but expensive. For a more hi-tech approach the "Learn to speak" series by The learning company may be appropriate.
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you *can* get a working knowledge of the French language.

I wouldn't recommend the Living Language series as the be all and end all of language instruction. This is a definite beginner/refresher course, designed to familiarize the person with basic everyday expressions, the alphabet, numbers, cognates (words that are similar in French and English), and so on.

The main point of language instruction is memorization - something we all had to do in elementary school all those years ago. I understand the majority of the reviewers' gripe about the series not putting what you've learned to use. I echo that sentiment in wishing that this series would include more exercises other than match this expression with the correct answer.

It may seem a bit empty to just have a native speaker reading off a list of the alphabet, numbers, and everything else in the course book but to hear a native speaker pronouncing the language is key. If you can pick up from that person the way words in that language are pronounced, chances are pretty good that you can be understood by native speakers when you do your own pronounciation.

Language instruction is different for everyone. If you have the time and the money, perhaps a course at the local community college will do (although those tend to be immersion courses - where the instructor starts right in with the language whether you understand it or not) or you could go to the local French society for some classes. In Philadelphia, we are fortunate to have the Alliance Francaise de Philadelphie that offers French language courses. They are a bit expensive (for members and non-members) but the teachers are directly from France. Can't beat that!

Treat the Living Language series as a primer for more in-depth language instruction.
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on July 3, 2004
Different people might require different methods for learning a new language. This method contains 40 lessons and 3 CD's. You can listen to the tapes while reading the book at the same time. Therefore, it is not a course you can take only listening on your way to work. You do need the book. Nevertheless, it is, at least for myself, a much better approach than other methods that say that you don't need any book. Considering the price, it is a bargain.
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on July 22, 2005
This course is quite cheap and at first seemingly very straightforward and bland, but don't be fooled, as you progress in your French studies - be that through a language school or simply self tuition - you will come to realise that this little package is in fact a highly valuable resource that you can re-visit time and time again.
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on May 9, 2006
Although I had Spanish in HS, I perfected my accent and grammar through daily usage abroad. When I started learning French, I had a spanish accent. HOWEVER, after diligently studying, listening, and imitating the cds (or cassettes) of this program, non-natives said my accent was great! But I have fooled native speakers as well...they really thought that I was from some francophone country! Grammatically, I thought this book was just right for "serious" beginners. Also, the little phrases found in the lessons are some of the phrases we use daily in English! The price is great for the info it contains...I have recommended it to a few of my "self-starter" friends and students. They've made excellent progress in pronunciation and forming simple, grammatically correct sentences!
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on November 8, 2009
I've had this set for a few years, where it has sat on my shelf gathering dust. I was starting with zero knowledge of French when I first tried to use this set. It starts describing all the various pronunciation rules, using lists of example words. The Audio CDs contain only the French words (no translations), and so are useless without you following along in the book (unless you're only interested in listening to someone repeat French words).

This pattern is seemingly repeated for all the lessons: lists of words and phrases that you're supposed to memorize, but lacking much in terms of context or conversation that might help your brain retain them. I'm a little perplexed by the other high ratings. Maybe it's just me, but I can't think of how anyone would find this format useful to learn, whether they were a newbie or just reviewing.

To give you an indication of how much material this "course" offers, Lesson 40 (the last one) is on conjugating regular and some common irregular verbs (in which you'll probably be looking up 'pluperfect' in an English dictionary). Aside from a ton of conjugation rules you're expected to memorize all at once, there are two sample conversations given- 'Discussing Vacation Plans' (12 lines), and 'At the Pharmacy' (13 lines).

I feel like I've learned more French just from the free content you can find online, including sample tracks of Michel Thomas and Pimsleur offerings, Learn French by Podcast, etc.

You do get a French-English dictionary, so that might of worth, but at 259 pages, it's not very comprehensive.

If you're looking for review material, or something to supplement a class, I would recommend something like Learn French by Podcast (the audio is completely free, you can buy pdf guides for the lessons à la carte).

If you're looking to learn from scratch, I would keep looking. Michel Thomas or Pimsleur may work for you (you can read more about them on their own product pages, and download sample lessons from their respective websites), or try some software. I just started with Fluenz, so we'll see how that goes, but it's already light years beyond where this Living Language set took me.
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on August 24, 2014
I can't recommend this product. The sections aren't really lessons as there is no explanation to the rules of grammar. Also the sections are subjects as opposed to say a section on a particular verb. Really the only thing you can learn here is if you have a perfect memory. Even repeating the phrases with the CD's is darn near impossible as it goes really fast and each phrase is so different from the last that repetition isn't being used. I gave the second star for price and hearing the pronunciation on the CD's has some value.
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on September 11, 2013
I was so excited to start listening to this CD in my car! What a disappointment when I realized that all it is is a series of French words being spoken. I have been trying to bone up on my French for an upcoming trip and have tried 3 other courses loaned from the public library. This is by far THE WORST! I have 5 years of high school and college French, so I do know what they are saying on the CD, but if you do not have the advantage of already knowing the language, I am not really sure how these lessons could possibly help. Steer clear!
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on November 9, 2009
I haven't tried to learn a language since I was in high school in 1965. I looked a several courses and found this one in our local library. After one week, I understood pronunciation, some verb conjugation and some common expressions. I probably learned around 500 words. What I liked about this course is that it combined audio CD's where I could hear the words being said correctly with a course book that explained the pronunciation in writing so I could see the correct spelling. A week after starting this course, I decided to purchase the program so I would have it for future reference.
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on July 8, 2013
I was looking for a CD that I could practice with while in the car. I can do that with this CD, but the book is needed to get the full benefit, which makes it a little inconvenient for me.
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