Tuesday, November 12, 2013

TOS Review: French Essentials

Some of my “people” came from France. In fact, if you spend some time in these Ozark hills you might come across a Bilyeu, LeMaster or Michel. It’s been years since any of those people have uttered the mother tongue. . It is one of the most beautiful languages, but one of the hardest to pronounce (at least for this hillbilly). 

I always want to give Josiah an opportunity to learn new things and languages are just one of those things I think are important part of an individual’s education.  When the chance to review French Essentials came along I didn’t hesitate.I received access to their full online program.


What I Received

French Essentials is an online French program intended for homeschool students 2nd grade through High School. The emphasis is on grades 3-8, but a student can earn high school credits by combine modules. There are 4 Modules available at this time, but Module 5 should be completed by the end of 2013. 

Each individual Module contains between 15 and 25 lessons.  The lessons take the student step-by-step. They are made up pdf lessons, interactive online exercises and audio files. Parental involvement is dependent on your child’s age and reading level. To use French Essentials you will need a computer with a good internet connection and speakers. You will also need Adobe Reader, Adobe Flash Player, and Quick Time installed on your computer (all are free). 

The lessons themselves come in a downloadable .zip file with online activities available after Lesson 4 (Module 1). Embedded within the files are audio/visual lessons, worksheets to print off and a test. French Essentials uniquely provides a multi-sensory approach using reading, writing, listening comprehension and speaking using all of the tools I mentioned above. 

French Essentials start at the beginning. There is no need for you or your child to have any experience with the language whatsoever. If your child does a background in French, he or she can take a placement test to find out what Module to start with. 

I received a full access to their online program for a year. You can purchase just a module at a time for $69.95. Full access costs $149.95 per year.

How We Used It

The very first lesson was quite an experience. I downloaded the zip file and we started with the French alphabet and pronunciation. It was hysterical. We had a lot of fun following along with M. Legentil as he demonstrated correct pronunciation. 

Because Josiah is dyslexic, I wanted to be sure there wasn’t anything “lost in translation” while he worked through the lessons.   

However, the more he moved through the lessons it became apparent that it was going to be more difficult than I anticipated.In particularly after he moved to the online activities.
He was able to see the words and hear the pronunciation. However, when he got to the spelling it was extremely difficult for him to complete. I realized that we needed rethink our French lessons for now.

 Whenever I receive a product for review, I always take into account that accommodations will have to be made for my dyslexic guy. I’m okay with that. I would rather work a little harder to ensure that Josiah gets the most out of the wonderful educational products we are blessed to review. However, sometimes there are times I just can’t accommodate enough.

 The issue isn't with French Essentials, it is with French, itself. It is considered an Opaque language (like English). Opaque means that the language does not have a clear letter-sound correspondence and contains more irregularities. Josiah has had a bit more exposure to Spanish and has had a bit more success. It, however,Spanish not an opaque language. It is a bit easier to manage because it has a more clear letter-sound correspondence.I honestly didn't consider this little issue when I requested it for review.

 Despite Josiah’s struggles, the program is very well constructed. The online activities are particularly well done. Your student will have plenty of opportunity for practice.

 Below is a screenshot of the Module 1. You can see the buttons for each 'lecion, as well as the tests. 

 This is a picture of one of the flash cards. Well, bonjour to you to! Generally, the English word is on one side and its French translation is on the other. The student just clicks on the card to flip it. You are able (as I did) to change the settings so both are on the same side of the card. I hoped it would be easier if Josiah could see them side by side.

This is a fun practice game called Scatter. The object is to move the picture to the correct word. It changes all the time.

Just a little funny note here. Josiah has a gift of mimicry so his French accent is coming along very nicely! 

 I really think this a terrific program for those of you who would like to introduce your child to French. All the components, the worksheets, audio files and online activities, provided a well-rounded foreign language education. 

I can’t forget to mention the lessons on French culture. We were able to enjoy reading through these. Both of us learned quite a lot! 

You can check out the program by registering for free and getting access to a few lessons.
Some of my Crew friends reviewed French Essentials as well. Go check them out!


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