Learn the Essentials of French (review)
Bonjour! We’ve been trying out a new downloadable/online French curriculum called French Essentials. Combining offline worksheets and activities with online practice, cultural resources, and testing, French Essentials will offer a total of ten modules. (It’s still a work-in-progress at this time, but that means you can join now and get a great early-bird price, and you know how fond I am of good deals!)
When the student (or teacher) first logs in to French Essentials, it’s incredibly easy to find what you need; everything is well-marked. Hit the download area for your workbooks, lessons, answer keys, and schedule, along with a convenient checklist to help keep things on track. Or, if you’re ready for online exercises, tests, or cultural experiences, all you have to do is click and you’re there!
Culture materials include both PDF discussions and images of things relevant to French, including word usage, people that speak French, and interesting places. Only one level is available at this time.
The lesson plans and worksheet pages are straight-forward, but don’t expect immersion; these have plenty of details in English, at least in the early modules, which makes it much easier for non-French-speaking parents to facilitate learning.
The worksheets allow plenty of room to write, and the text is large enough to be easily readable without being huge. Activities vary from simple fill-in-the-blank to determining what the appropriate response would be to a given situation; the “story problem” questions are excellent for both critical thinking and real-life usability.
The lesson & test checklist makes it easy to follow along and know exactly where your student should be; I could only wish that all curricula made it so easy, as I generally spend far too much time making my own versions of this! Lessons are easy to follow.
The online exercises surprised me; they use a free service called Quizlet, which makes me understand why the curriculum is priced, but all online exercises are free, with or without purchase. (To try them out, sign up for a free account here.)
What ages is French Essentials for? This is a bit difficult to quantify. Second grade through high school, with some explanation:
- 2nd graders might not yet be ready for the written work, but could certainly follow along visually and verbally, starting written work the next year
- 3rd graders should be able to complete one module per year; about a lesson a week in the early modules
- 4th graders would need to complete 1.2 modules a year through 8th grade, then one per year during high school
- 5-8 grades would need to vary their schedule according to how much time they’d have; it’s preferable to complete more modules during the early years, and leave the last 3 or so at one module per year
- 9th graders should have time, but only if they move very fast through the modules, three in 9th and 10th, 2 in 11th and 12th
- 10-12th graders would likely not have time to complete the program, as it’s not yet finished, and they would have to move extremely fast once it is complete.
What the kids think:
In summary, that the instruction and workbooks are fairly typical for foreign language curricula, but they are absolutely-in-love-with the online exercises! Flash cards without the work of making them, plus some matching exercises and even a typing “game” make practice a great deal more interesting than run-of-the-mill options.
Much the same, except I have to admit I’m left wondering this nagging little thought: why on earth is a program that’s supposed to provide, upon completion, the equivalent of two years of high school French 1) not finish-able in two years by a high school student?
Individual modules of French Essentials are priced at $69.95. As of right now, a complete subscription to all ten modules is just $149.95, and purchasers will have access to upcoming modules as soon as they are available. Not sure if you want to commit to the entire program? Purchase module 1 now; if you choose to upgrade within 30 days, all you’ll pay is the difference.