Monday, November 11, 2013

Review of French Essentials

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French Essentials is one of those reviews that I can't believe I actually received. It's amazing. It's terrific. It's worth every penny if you're not blessed enough to get it free for review. Can you tell I like it? The Full Access Online Program is nothing short of delirium-inducing. It includes every single aspect of language learning, from written work to language lab. Honestly, it is far better than the Spanish classes that I took in school (nothing could be better than the Latin I took in school, but that has everything to do with my amazing Latin teacher). And since Therese (12) has been begging to learn French, reviewing this program truly has been a wonderful experience.

How It Works

French Essentials' website says it best:
French Essentials is a complete, downloadable French curriculum with online features that include culture, fun exercises, lesson tests, and more. Designed by experienced French teachers specifically for home learners, it is clear and easy to use and does not require previous knowledge of French.
What on Earth could be better than that?! French Essentials is unique in that even the downloadable pdf worksheets feature audio content (in addition to the video content that is on the website). There are several components to the website and the program, so I'll describe each of them.

When a student logs in, this is the dashboard she sees:

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Clicking on "Download Area" allows the student to select the module on which she is currently working, bringing up a page like this:

Clicking on a lesson will download that lesson's worksheet. For example: 

At the bottom of the Module 1 Download Area, you see this:

It is here that parents can download, well, the workbook, answer keys, and Module 1 Checklist! The checklist is great because it allows you to make sure that you have done everything that is necessary for each lesson.

The checklist is such a great bonus, as it is something that I would ordinarily create for myself (so that Therese had something to keep herself oriented). I love that French Essentials is so complete that they include it as part of the program!

The online portion of the program looks like this:
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The online exercises are actually Quizlets flashcards! I use Quizlets for everything, so I was delighted to see them incorporated into this program! Language lab!

Therese uses another app for learning and practicing SAT vocab words, so this type of learning format is very familiar to her, and it is one that she really enjoys. She loves this aspect of French Essentials!

The test should look familiar, given the online exercises!

Yep! More Quizlet! Therese had no idea how easy the test was going to be. She is used to Latin and Greek, so she takes her languages seriously! In fact, she has taken three tests so far, and hasn't even typed in the answers. She just blurted them out to me. She knows it will get harder...

Finally, there is the Culture component:
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Learn about Francophones and where around the world French is spoken. The Culture element rounds out this program to make it 100% complete!

How We Used French Essentials

Therese has done this program all on her own. She logs on, checks her checklist to see what she should be working on, and completes her assignment. I have been forcing her to complete only one assignment per day because it is a new language and I want her really to learn. However, that is completely contrary to the way that I normally homeschool. To that end, I am going to let her loose and let her go as fast as she wants, provided that she continues to practice her vocabulary and her accent with her father. Thank goodness she has finally gotten over her shyness about practicing languages orally! Doing Latin with her when she was six was frustrating! She shows me her written work, I hear her teaching the other kids (10, 8, and 8) what she has learned, and she practices with Henry. Otherwise, this is a course she completes 100% on her own. Another reason to absolutely love it! 

How Much Is It?

Full pricing of French Essentials can be seen here. Essentially, you have the choice to subscribe by Module (with 90 days access for $69.95) or by year (with access to all Modules 1-5, with 5 still in progress as of this writing, for $149.95). Modules 6-10 will be available in the future. For the duration of your subscription period, you have access to all downloads and website exercises.

How does the whole Module thing work? Where do you start? The FAQ is definitely the place to go for these answers. French Essentials does not recommend its program for students younger than 3rd grade. It provides these grade level equivalencies for its program Modules:

At this point, I would love it if Therese could go all the way through this program! Henry is semi-fluent in French (or was, at one point!), and he loves that Therese is taking subjects right now that he can be a part of!

I am so in love with French Essentials that I was prepared to give it a trial run whether or not we got the review (go check out the website if I didn't give you enough screenshots - I bet you'll agree that this is one complete language program!). I don't think a kid can get enough languages, and I happen to have one that loves to learn new ones. She currently is taking or has taken Spanish, Latin, Greek, and now French. In terms of ease of teaching and her love of the program (Latin will always be our first love language, I think, but that's okay! It fathered French!), French Essentials is hands-down our family favorite. I wish there were more companies like it!

If you've had enough of my gushing, go check out the other Crew reviews ;-)

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