Thursday, April 30, 2009

Memoria Press- First Start French

Je t’aime francaise! I love all things French; French food, French culture, my friends in France, the beautiful country of France and especially the French language. I was delighted to receive First Start French as one of my last products to review for The Old Schoolhouse Homeschool Review Crew this year. First Start French, written for grades 3-8, is a wonderful curriculum designed to introduce students to the French language and culture.

Because of my love of the French language I have searched for a quality language curriculum for years. Some offer outstanding opportunity for developing conversation skills, but lack in grammar. Some develop grammar and vocabulary awareness, but lack culture study and pronunciation practice. First Start French has been carefully designed to introduce students to all aspects of French language study; vocabulary, pronunciation, grammar and culture. I especially appreciate the cultural highlights nestled within each lesson in the form of proverb, story, Bible verse or song. The curriculum even includes “Notre Pere” (The Lord’s Prayer) en francaise and English.

Thirty-six basic lessons, teachers’s manual and answer key, student manual, and a CD recording of all vocabulary and songs from the lessons round out the curriculum package for $39.95. Each lesson has a standard format to follow with vocabulary, dialogue and grammar instruction on Day 1, vocabulary review, dialogue practice, grammar review, a translation exercise for Day 2, dialogue, translation, and grammar practice on Day 3 and review and quizzes for Day 4. In addition each lesson contains cultural information and a chanson (song) to enhance the learning experience. Author Danielle L. Shultz encourages making use of “great books” and other additional resources listed in the back of the teacher’s manual for advanced study. By utilizing all First Start French has to offer a student could easily receive one credit towards a beginning high school French class.

My 11 year old daughter, Micah took on the challenge of helping me out with this review. Micah has a general familiarity with the French language as our family worked through a different basic French curriculum last year. We have hosted two French students in our home over the past three years and my oldest two daughters have traveled to France the past two summers to visit our dear friends. There is a lot of French conversation that takes place in our home on occasion and of course cultural experiences abound. Micah has not spent a lot of time with grammar study, however so I was grateful for the chance to introduce these very important principals to her.

When I asked Micah what she thought of First Start French after three weeks of use she replied, “I like the songs with some of the lessons. I enjoy listening to the vocabulary and dialogue on the CD so I can learn how to say the words just right. It’s also nice that it doesn’t take much time out of the day, but I am still learning a lot.”

Our instructional lesson time was brief each day lasting no longer than 20 mins. Further practice and independent study is recommended each day by the author. I agree that extra practice is mandatory for achieving true fluency and comprehension. I once read a statistic which stated it takes 900 hours of exposure to a language before fluency is achieved. If the student of First Start French only made use of the brief 15 min. lesson time it would likely take him 22 typical school years to reach this goal, so plan on extra practice and study time. Making good use of the handy resource section in the teacher’s manual will encourage practice and make extra lesson time a breeze.

Memoria Press offers curriculum to support Latin, history, penmanship, copywork, Christian studies, logic and rhetoric for the classical home educator and their students in grades K-12. You can visit their website at to view an on-line catalog, pricing, interesting articles regarding classical education and information about special on-line classes for older students. Whether your homeschool is classically driven or not First Start French will easily support your foreign language education needs.
Vive la France!

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