Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Review of Armfield Academic Press

Therese (15) has expressed an interest in learning French for awhile, so having the opportunity to review Armfield Academic Press's Getting Started with French was perfect for her! What was even more perfect from both of our perspectives was the fact that these lessons, particularly those at the beginning of the book, are very short and easy and are designed to be completed in only minutes. What could be better than Therese getting to learn to French without it interfering in any meaningful way with her other subjects?

Introducing Getting Started with French {Armfield Academic Press}
Getting Started with French is a book designed specifically for homeschoolers (and self-taught students), which could be one of the major reasons that it slips so well into your existing curriculum plan. I know that one reason that I have been hesitant to let Therese pursue her interest in French is that I didn't think she had room for it in her schedule, but with Armfield Academic Press, she does.

Getting Started with French is a 281 page softcover book, about 8.5" x 11". It contains 172 lessons, a short introduction explaining how to use the book, a short page of advice on how to continue the study of French, a comprehensive answer key, a pronunciation guide, a glossary, and a subject index. Although it may be tempting to jump right into the lessons when you first get the book, especially given the brevity of them, resist! The section titled "How To Use This Book" is critical. It is full of great information and tells exactly how the book should be used to its fullest effect. It also tells how to find and download the accompanying free pronunciation recordings and audio commentary of the book's authors. It's truly the best of both worlds. You can move at your own pace and teach yourself, but help is truly right at your fingertips (or your earbuds). You aren't at the mercy of your own ability to interpret a written pronunciation guide. I really enjoy this method of learning. Once you've settled into the program, it is suggested that you devote about 30 minutes a day to it.

Therese and Getting Started with French

The way Therese typically likes to do many of her school subjects is by binging: she will do days and even weeks worth of work at one time. She likes to get in the zone of a subject and stay there. That method is especially tempting with a course like this one where the lessons are very short. The authors specifically caution against that, though. Because it is necessary to internalize a foreign language, to marinate in it, it really is most effective to only do one lesson per day. As I indicated previously, though, that's actually better for her schedule. It's nice when everything conspires to give your child what she needs anyway!

Each lesson proceeds in the same way. First, you learn the new word for the lesson, listening to the pronunciation guide (spoken by a native speaker) to make sure that you are pronouncing the word correctly. Next, you read the grammatical information in the lesson, listening to the audio commentary in order to most fully understand how the French language actually works in practice. In many lessons translation exercises come next. One can choose to do them mentally or to write them down. Then, the authors stress the importance of verbal practice, or French conversation. After all, the best way to really learn a language is to speak it. Finally comes French Composition, or the art of translating English to French. In order to do this, the authors suggest using the answer key to translate the English translations of the French exercises back into French. This curriculum really is all-encompassing!

I really appreciate the simplicity of Getting Started with French. It is thorough but gentle. It includes everything you need without requiring you to purchase a huge expensive curriculum package. The audio downloads are a wonderful (free!) addition. This curriculum is proof that you can incorporate language study into your day without it becoming either invasive or a hassle.

If you don't want to study French, don't worry! You can also select from Getting Started with Latin or Getting Started with Spanish! Getting Started with Russian is also in the works! I like this method enough that I will likely check out one of these other books (as French is not really my language of choice). Also, don't forget to click the banner below to see how other Crew families are using Getting Started with French!

Introducing Getting Started with French {Armfield Academic Press}

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