French for Children
I fell in love with this course as an introduction to the French language (mon amour!). A parent can sit and read along, or let a student go at it independently. Author Joshua Kraut (ironic name for a French teacher) does a great job making French friendly to the newbie. Even if your student has had some informal French in the past, this is a good course to bridge them into a full-tilt French curriculum.
There are 17 chapters in Primer A (13 are content; 4 are review.) If you do one chapter per week, you will finish in a semester. A basic weekly schedule is inside the student book. Each lesson chapter has 4 parts: memory, grammar, worksheet and quiz. The memory part includes a dialogue of a continuing story. This is great for pulling students through the material. The story reads somewhat like a fable and introduces you to new vocabulary you will see in the lesson. You will see both French and English in the dialogues. You will also practice your speaking with a chant from the audio files. The chants teach your mouth how to form the sounds. So, practice these until you master them! Vocabulary is the other component of the memory section, about 10 words per chapter. Memorize these words! Make some flashcards and practice them: it will help you later in the lesson and in your further French studies.
The grammar part of the lesson is where you learn how the structure of the language works. You will often be asked to refer to previous pages as reminders that will help in the current lesson. Mostly, you will learn the order of words in sentences, such as those pesky adjectives that come after nouns (but not always), articles and word gender/number, and quite a bit of vocab. You will see verbs conjugated, but not get into the nitty-gritty of this just yet.
Worksheet exercises let you practice your grammar and vocabulary. You are encouraged to look back at lessons for whatever you need for the exercises. These pages are in the primer and are not reproducible. The separate answer key provides these worksheet pages with answers filled in.
A quiz at the end of each lesson is expected to be done without looking at any other parts of the book (These answers are in the separate answer key as well.). If you cannot complete the quiz without peeking at the lesson, you are probably not ready to move on to the next lesson. Go back and spend more time on those words and concepts. You will be glad for it! At the end of every quiz is a dictation (dictee). Students play the audio file and write what they hear. This portion will really develop your sense of the relationship between the spoken and written languages. French has a lot of silent letters and it takes practice to get the hang of it.
In the back of the primer are some really good resources: a glossary of all French words used in the lessons, charts for quick reference, dialogue and chant translations, a prepositions list, verb list and verb conjugations. It would still be helpful to get your student a nice French/English dictionary and encourage them to find the translation for their own everyday words.
If the teacher is not familiar with French, consider the DVD and Chant CD set, which features 4 DVDs with the author teaching the lesson to her students. Each lesson corresponds to the weekly chapter in the Primer, and text appears on screen as the lesson is presented, so you can easily follow along. The students chant their weekly grammar work, and vocabulary and visual images appear which correspond with the words. The DVD includes a 40–50-minute lesson to watch with each weekly chapter. The audio chant CD features all dialogues, grammar chants, vocabulary, conversational phrases, and more! Set includes 6 DVDs and 1audio CD.
NEW FOR 2023: Chant and audio files are available streamed online.
What will you learn? A lot about pronunciation right off the bat and I love this! It is called "pronunciation wizard" and it’s a crash course in French sounds. The book is written to the student, as if a French-speaking (francophone) friend is explaining it to them. I can see this being used by a student the summer before entering a high school course if they have not had any prior French. In 2015, Classical Academic Press also published Primer A, which is 245 pgs, pb. The Answer Key also includes some teacher notes, 240 pgs, pb. (Get both!)
The 2nd year course is just as delightful as the 1st! The format is similar with some additional resources added in the form of helpful grammar charts. English is still used in the instructions that are featured throughout the consumable student book. You will learn: pass compose with etre and avoir (including negatives), stressed pronouns, reflexive verbs, questions, near future (not the future tense), lots of great expressions and vocabulary words to use, and loads of new verbs. There are 17 weekly chapters. It is organized to do something every single day, but most people will do French 3-4 days a week, not 7. You have some flexibility here. At the end of Primer B, your student will be well on their way to using a high school French program with success! The softbound student book and answer key each have 258 pages.
~ Sara (the former high school French teacher)