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French for Children, Primer B Set Review by Jennifer King

Joshua Kraut with David Spieser, PhD.
Classical Academic Press
515 S. 32nd St.
Camp Hill, PA 17011

My oldest son is eleven and loves foreign languages! The last few summers we have hosted students from France and this has really encouraged him to learn this beautiful language. Since I know very little French, I considered it a great blessing for him to be given the opportunity to use French for Children, Primer B from Classical Academic Press. We received both the teacher and student books for this course along with the 6 DVD & Chant CD Set. This is a yearlong course that is recommended for grades 5-7. If it’s any indication of how wonderful this program is, their motto is, “Classical Subjects Creatively Taught.”

My son started using this one right away when it arrived. He even loaded the audio CD which has all of the words and phrases, exercises and chants, onto his tablet so he could listen with his headphones on, wherever we went. This very much utilizes immersion style learning and I find that to be a great benefit.

There are seventeen chapters within this program which is full of dialogue, translation, vocabulary, dictation and grammar exercises. There are also quizzes to help reinforce all that is being learned as you go along. There are also three review chapters and an end of the book review.

The lessons are about 45 minutes long but that didn’t bother my son at all. He really enjoys how teacher (and author) Joshua Kraut teaches grammar, vocabulary and conversation in each lesson. While these lessons are long, they are very engaging and so helpful! Unlike so many programs our children do not just learn common words and phrases but also dialogue and vocabulary, grammar structure, and parts of speech. This is everything our children need to learn and speak French fluently.

There are so many fun activities involved within this program. Begin your lesson with Listen to the Dialogue. This is in English and French; a story that is told throughout the course, to introduce vocabulary in each lesson. As we read along we gain a greater understanding of the words being learned, within the story being told.

From there we move on to Chants.  My son would typically listen and chant along a couple times, depending on how difficult it was for him to learn the words. In some cases he would be singing these all day around the house too! Music really is a wonderful way to help our kids learn and maintain information. I am always in awe of how quickly, and how much, they learn this way!

Throughout the lessons there are encouragements to maintain a Conversation Journal.  My so has one in fact, he made it himself, where he keeps track of words, and phrases, and interesting details as they relate to what he is learning. I think it is fun for him to be able to look through the pages and see his progress with the language too. He has even written little stories and poems, in French, in those pages. Can you see how exciting and creatively inspiring this program is?

There are also worksheets within the book to help learn the grammar and vocabulary.  While I am not typically a worksheet kind of momma, these really are great helps in seeing how well all that they are learning is being understood. And let’s face it, when it comes to language learning, this stuff matters. Of course these worksheets are great! In some instances you must fill in the blanks, translate a sentence, and then speak it aloud. You can check yourself with the audio files too! Finish up your worksheet by dictating what you hear in another audio file.  You can write the French as it is spoken, and translate that into English too. There are also plenty of reviews built into the lessons and an end of book review to complete the course.

When learning is fun it’s amazing what kids can do! Certainly we all know that when we are enjoying what we are doing, we definitely gain so much more from the experience.  There is such power in learning in a way that is engaging, and encourages creativity.  This kind of learning is what inspires and makes kids into lifelong lovers of learning too. I want to see that as much as possible with my children. This is one of those materials that really inspires that!

-Product review by Jennifer King, The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine, LLC, March, 2017