Preface

 

            This short beginner’s grammar book has been conceived as an alternative to the larger first year books available today. It will be particularly useful in courses meeting only three times a week, in “accelerated courses,” in courses where the emphasis is on reading where a short grammar is needed, and in all courses where the large number of students combined with a traditional setting of the class do not allow for constant small group interacting.

            The book consists of sixty grammar lessons and twelve oral presentations. Each lesson and presentation is to be covered in one day. We have concentrated on two areas: on one hand, brief and clear grammatical explanations with examples and exercises; on the other hand, a large and practical vocabulary for school, travel, business, and human relationships. We have been particularly careful to include modern business terms, and the focus has been conversation in the United States where, realistically speaking, most of our beginners are going to speak French.

            In some ways this book represents a certain return to a traditional approach to learning. Students are provided with four types of exercises to perform.

  1. the rigorous memorization of the first part of each lesson
  2. the understanding of all main grammatical points
  3. the careful preparation of exercises
  4. the preparation of topics for written and oral presentation.

Since we wanted this book to be brief, complete, practical, and portable, we have not included the usual repetitions and drills, even though they naturally belong to a French beginning class, along with slides, videos, CDs, and sample literary readings. It is indeed very important for students to listen to and imitate dynamic teachers whose expertise we do not doubt, and who have the freedom to bring to the class their own experience and knowledge.

            One of the most important points of this method is the fact, that, all along the entire book, as well as with each lesson, students know exactly what they are supposed to learn, what is their level of proficiency, and what grade they can expect. Every lesson is divided in three parts, involving about 30 minutes each of study. The first part should require only a small effort of memory, the second part demands a little more thinking, and the third part consists of written exercises. In order to clarify their relative importance, these three parts have been labeled minimum knowledge, working knowledge, and thorough knowledge, with instructions on how to study. Students will be rewarded according to their knowledge of each section, and there will be no surprise concerning grades at exam time.

            We believe that, while learning French, students of this book will acquire a good sense of responsibility and accomplishment, and that teachers will welcome the organized structure, and will be happy with the results.

            There is a short lab program on CD, providing students the opportunity to hear and practice the conversations that are spoken by native French speakers. There is another group of CDs where the “working knowledge” or “grammar” section is explained, thus giving students the opportunity to learn French on their own.

 

 

                                                To the teacher

 

            You may find it a good idea to present each lesson to the class before asking students to study it at home, making sure everyone’s pronunciation is adequate. The whole class can repeat the dialogue after you. Then, you can ask the students to repeat separately, with everyone receiving individual attention. Along with these drills, you may want to bring your own substitutions, which fit your particular group.

             It is a good idea to go over the grammatical explanations with the students to supervise their pronunciation and to make sure they do understand the concepts. Now you can feel free to speak French at all times without fearing that they missed the main point. Since they have the English text in front of their eyes, they cannot stray too far.

            But do let the students do the exercises themselves at home. There is a certain solitary effort that is absolutely necessary for the learning process to take place.

            At the next meeting, start with a short quiz on the dialogue, exercises, and whatever seems important to you. Then, present the next lesson. It is, of course, important to review several lessons from time to time. However, you will find that the exercises systematically bring up most previous rules and vocabulary, along with the matter of the day. We have had much success with the “speaking French” presentations, keeping corrections to a minimum and keeping as our main criterion the reactions of the class to the words of the student-speaker.

            Of course, it is your class and we hope this book can help you teach it.

 

To the student:

 

            The key to our book is that students know exactly what they have to learn, and can realistically finish a study of the complete structure of French in one academic year.

            The book consists of sixty grammar lessons and twelve oral presentations. Each lesson and presentation is to be covered in one day. We have concentrated on two areas: on one hand, brief and clear grammatical explanations with examples and exercises; on the other hand, a large and practical vocabulary for school, travel, business, and human relationships. We have been particularly careful to include modern business terms, and the focus has been conversation in the United States where, realistically speaking, most of our beginners are going to speak French.

            Each lesson has three parts or pages. The Minimum Knowledge page has the dialog that students will have to memorize. This memorization will give them the basis of understanding the grammar involved in the lesson. The Working Knowledge page has the grammar points highlighted in boxes with simple explanations and further examples. The Thorough Knowledge page consists of exercises that students will prepare in order to test their comprehension. Our major exercise is a translation from English to French.

            There is a short lab program on CD, providing students the opportunity to hear and practice the conversations that are spoken by native French speakers. There is another group of CDs where the working knowledge or “grammar” section is explained, thus giving students the opportunity to learn French on their own.    There are also “French to French” questions at the end of every 10 chapters. They serve as supplementary material for speaking French to students.