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First Start French Review by Heather JackowitzDanielle Schultz
4605 Poplar Level Road
Louisville, KY 40213
First Start French from Memoria Press was modeled after the beloved Latina Christiana program. Written for grades 3-8, it is systematic, easy to use, and fun.
The program includes a teacher book, a student book, and an audio CD. There are 36 lessons, of which six are review. Students learn six songs, 24 proverbs, vocabulary, grammar, dialogue, and some French culture.
The teacher edition begins with an overview of the program and gives reasons to study French. Then the author offers ideas for how to use the program, including a suggested four-day schedule. Vocabulary, grammar, and dialogue are introduced on the first day, reviewed and practiced on the second and third days, and quizzed on the fourth day. She suggests a daily half-hour class followed by 10-15 minutes of individual vocabulary and grammar drill. However, the author also encourages going at a pace that is reasonable for each child and allowing younger children to do their work orally if necessary. Older or more capable students may go faster and are encouraged to do all written work.
Each lesson in the teacher book is presented on a double-page spread, including reduced and completed student pages as well as plenty of teaching notes. The appendix includes several prayers, including the Lord's Prayer and the Rosary, along with suggested supplemental resources and a French/English glossary.
The student edition opens with a helpful pronunciation guide. Each lesson begins with a song or saying followed by vocabulary, grammar, and dialogue. A translation and grammar worksheet provides written practice for each lesson. Weekly quizzes (and answer key) are available at www.firststartfrench.com. Five lessons are followed by a review lesson, including information about French culture (manners, families, school system, food, symbols, and holidays).
The audio CD features a native French speaker pronouncing clearly each word in every lesson. There is no time to attempt to repeat her as she simply recites the lesson in order. The CD also includes a young woman with a pleasant voice singing each song, accompanied by guitar.
First Start French progresses at a very reasonable pace. It is inexpensive, very easy to use, and nicely formatted. Although the program states that no teacher knowledge of French is necessary, it would certainly be very helpful. I have a B.A. in French, and although I am quite rusty after all these years, I do find that my background knowledge comes in handy when my children are having trouble understanding a concept. The second year of First Start French is due out in spring of 2008. Together, both years will constitute one year of high school French. DVDs will be in the works after the second year of First Start French is completed.
Having homeschooled my children for ten years now, I rarely get excited about new homeschool curricula anymore. First Start French is a true homeschool gem that I am excited to recommend. Maybe it's because Danielle Schultz doesn't promise that her program will make my children fluent French speakers without living in a French-speaking country. Or maybe it's because each lesson is clean and uncluttered, and I feel like I can actually do it. I'm placing First Start French high on my list of curricula to recommend to new and veteran homeschoolers. A job well done, Ms. Schultz!