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Instant French Vocabulary Builder and Instant Spanish Vocabulary Builder Review by Heather Jackowitz

Instant Vocabulary Builders
Tom Means
Hippocrene Books, Inc.

If you have ever studied a foreign language, you know that you get to a point where you just really need to build up your vocabulary before you can go much further. Instant Vocabulary Builders (available in French, Italian, and Spanish) by Tom Means are a great way to do just that. With each book, you will add over 4,000 new words to your vocabulary by learning word-ending patterns that are closely related to English. An audio CD includes a brief pronunciation guide as well as guides you through all 23 or 24 chapters. All of the list words in bold print are read for each chapter, followed by a matching quiz and a story with comprehension questions. An example chapter goes like this: "Many English words ending in '-ical' correspond to '-ique' in French. French words ending in '-ique' are often adjectives." Then you listen to the CD and hear a foreign speaker slowly read many (not all) of the list words, such as alphabetique, archeologique, biologique, magique, and botanique. Sometimes a sentence follows a word, such as, "J'ai visite le jardin botanique" (I visited the botanical gardens). After listening and repeating the words, you match seven words to their English equivalents. The chapter ends by listening to a dialogue between two French travelers and answering the questions using several of your new vocabulary words.

Having earned a B.A. in French, I can confirm that my greatest difficulty came when I stalled in vocabulary acquisition. In addition to reading literature in your target language, this program would make a super supplement to any French, Italian, or Spanish program. Think of it as Wordly Wise for foreign language!

-- Product Review by: Heather Jackowitz, The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine