French for Children with Three Audio CDs, Third Edition Paperback – Jan 14 2011
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My only disappointment is that there is not another level after the child completes the book.
We also have the German for Children(it comes in several languages). We spend time in the evening doing the program with our 4 year old son. I soon realised that my 2 year old knew all of the songs and was responding to questions directed at his older brother in German. They love the Super Cat cartoon.
Note: A young child can not do the lessons without help from an adult.
As for the reading part -- sure, words like "monsieur" can be confusing to see in print, since they do not sound the way they look. But that's something you have to get used to sooner or later, if you're going to use the language at all, so why put off learning it? Anyway, for most words that's not an issue. So it is great that the child is getting both parts of the language experience simultaneously.
Some folks believe that it's more important just to get the child accustomed to the spoken language. Whether or not that's really true, it's going to be very hard for most parents unless they are fluent in the new language. This program does not require the parent/teacher to know any more than the child -- and you can learn together for that matter!
For the record, I speak French well enough to know that the text is accurate and that the speakers are mostly native French -- and in fact, speak with a more "natural" cadence than the way we used to learn in school.
I was pleased to see that the "course" is in fact carefully planned to progress logically, and that it is broken down to reasonable 8-12 minute lessons. Working through one unit gives the child a feeling of accomplishment without having to struggle for a long time. It also allows the parent/teacher to replay specific segments for review, without making an individual lesson overly long.
The audio program works interactively with the workbook -- but it is not always clear when the book has material that can read along with the narration, as opposed to those segments that are being done purely by ear. Thankfully, from time to time the narrator refers to specific pages, so you find your place eventually. It's not that big a deal, and the book is generally quite wortwhile as an adjunct to the main lesson content.
A very cute component that some children may like (ours does!) is that there is a silly little cartoon storyline that progresses, three frames at a time, at the end of each unit in the book. Each new episode uses a few new vocabulary words from the latest lesson. We have not completed the course yet, so I don't know whether the story will be all that great, but that's not the point. I can see that after each lesson, our child is enjoying the experience of being able to read a bit of this comic strip, out loud, in French! It's a great confidence builder and adds fun to cap off each lesson.
The program comes with a separate CD with instructions for parents/teachers. It's a bit long to listen to (one could just read a manual!) but the disk also contains songs and other items that are compiled from the lesson disks, into one convenient place.
For parents whose school districts do not offer world languages in the early elementary years, this course is a reasonable way to introduce a younger child to French language (and to some extent, French culture) so that they get at least a little foundation while their minds are still growing. It won't be enough all by itself to replace a year's worth of school-based study, but it provides an easy-to-follow, well-planned lesson structure that can get you started.
It's not Rosetta Stone or the like, but since it has a much more modest price, it's probably worth 5 stars in comparitive terms of bang-for-buck.
That having been said, I vastly prefer this program to the others I have purchased and it nicely integrates lessons/activities with songs which the children remember and enjoy singing.