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French for Reading
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Top Customer Reviews
A tip for choosing a French/English dictionary suitable for beginners: See if there's an entry for "eu" ("had") that at least refers you to "avoir" ("to have"). If there isn't, find another dictionary--one that doesn't assume you know things like entirely irregular past participles.
I just passed my department's reading exam in French -- like other people mention, the book prepares you for multiple fields of readings (mine was in Japanese Literature) -- I used this book entirely to get me through it.
Forget Jean-Pierre and Marie -- this book has real documents and stories in French -- no generic contexts. Students of Literature will probably enjoy this book not only for the skills, but also the reading selection (you're reading Hugo, Baudelaire, Bergson, Rousseau in the original!). Students of history and science, have no fear -- there's good stuff for you too.
How I prepared for my exam: I read the book, but halfway through I went back and did daily review of previous chapters as I progressed -- things like the French subjunctive, imperfect tenses, etc are hard to grasp, but a little review and you'll comfortable with it. Vocabulary cards and a thorough review of theFalse Cognates at the back of the book are a must. After about 2 months of daily work (about 2-4 hours a day), I was able to read articles in my field with little difficulty. Bon chance!
But that's a different matter from how great this book is. I found it particularly wonderful because of the little guarantee on the back--that it covers all aspects of French grammar as required for overseas French schools. I got the feeling that after I had mastered this book, I wouldn't have to worry about running across some huge and surprising gap in my body of French knowledge. So far, that has held true.
This book is pretty hardcore, and I found it hard to be motivated to study it without having some concrete goal--mine was a trip to France. I had always eschewed reading, claiming I only cared about speaking--but I have realized that as an adult, it's much easier to pick up grammar quickly by reading, and since reading is easier than speaking/understanding, it gives you an early basis for general confidence in the language.
So, with a goal in mind, I painstakingly went through this book in (I think it was) about two months, making sure I knew all covered vocabulary and grammar before moving on, and then reviewing earlier chapters as suggested in the book. I also used it in conjunction with Mastering French Vocabulary: A Thematic Approach, another book which I have greatly appreciated.Read more ›
After one month of working through 15 to 20 pages a day, I passed the translation exam I need for my degree in art history--with NO prior background in French.
In fear and desperation I bought about 15 books: grammars, workbooks, etc. In the end this, and a dictionary, were all I needed. Forget reading a straight grammar; it's useless without exercises. And forget introductory style workbooks. They won't get you far enough fast enough.
If you are like me and can't stand the thought of wrote memorization, this book is particularly good. The exercises are perfectly calculated to repeat the right vocabularly enough times in the right order and contexts so that you learn it through use rather than memorization--as you would in an immersion program for speaking--only much more quickly.
I only wish comparable texts existed for German and Italian.
After working through this book, I was able to read French-language books and articles in my area (history and international relations), and to use these sources in research for my book. The "decoding" method was too frustrating for me, since my pace was snail-like, or escargot-like, perhaps. Now I can read at a decent pace, without fear of making frequent errors in translation.
French is not a "hard" language, in the way that the other languages that I need for my research are "hard." But I would say don't be fooled. It is a very subtle language. The placement of the "que" in a "ne . . . que" phrase can make a tremendous amount of difference. If you really need to read French, this is a wonderful book.
Regarding other reviewers' comments: I think that it is worth the price. As another reviewer put it, you can use this book in place of a reading course and save money. Besides, reading courses often use this book, so you may end up buying it anyway. Finally, I didn't find that I was able to work through it as quickly as some others on this site. It took me about four months. But I am very slow at learning languages, so, as they say, actual results may vary.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Though published many years ago, it is still a great book with lots of exercises and explanations of French grammar.Published 4 days ago by John C
This wonderful book will teach you how to read French. Amazingly, after having spent 10-12 minutes with this book over breakfast for perhaps a couple of years, I can now read the... Read morePublished 3 months ago by unreadlibrary
I've enjoyed working out of this book so far - now that I'm a few chapters in, I notice and comprehend little bits and pieces of French text (usually in sheet music) wherever I go! Read morePublished 7 months ago by Patti
Learning French on your own will definitely go more smoothly if you already know another (Romance or Germanic) language. The books assumes that you do. Read morePublished 10 months ago by A. King
I bought this book originally when I first began learning French, and I continue to learn from it. I believe that a beginner can start with this book (among others, of course) and... Read morePublished 16 months ago by Troy L Teague
This is a very effective teaching tool. I have only just started working through it, but I am impressed with my progress in reading/understanding French. Read morePublished 16 months ago by E. Soleil
This book is fantastic for passing graduate reading translation exams. Just be consistent with your studying. It gives plenty of grammar explanations and full English translations.Published 19 months ago by Sarah