In grade 7, after years of low-key, informal French, our children start French is Fun 1. This inexpensive textbook from AMSCO works well for us, helping the children consolidate all their earlier knowledge and extending it dramatically.
French is Fun, Book 1: Lively Lessons for Beginners, Third Edition by Gail Stein and Heywood Wald brings beginners to a reasonable level of proficiency. Students learn listening, speaking, reading, and writing skills through oral and written exercises, stories, and more. This course requires a teacher who knows some French.
The Student Text
French is Fun 1 is divided into six parts, each containing four lessons and a thorough review. Although it can be used as a work-text, we have been using it as a textbook with the children doing the written work in a scribbler.
Each of the 24 lessons teaches vocabulary using pictures and provides a formal list at the end of the lesson. Grammar concepts are usually taught by example, leaving the student to puzzle out the rules. However, each review chapter provides organized grammar rules for students who learn better that way. Several oral exercises are provided in each chapter, with scripted questions and prompts from the Teacher’s Manual and Key. There are also a good number of written exercises. Each chapter has a story of some kind, often humorous, that showcases concepts to be learned. A cartoon conversation lesson adds comic relief, and a cultural section teaches about life in France. The final section allows the student to practice recently learned skills on authentic French material and to build self-confidence.
As mentioned, the Teacher’s Manual and Key includes oral exercises, answers to the written exercises, lesson quizzes, tests after every fourth lesson, and two exams. You need this manual to teach the course. We have not used the companion workbook or the expensive audio program.
How We Use It
We have tried many different ways of studying French is Fun 1. What seems to work best for our children is a daily 15 minute session with me, practicing vocabulary, reading stories, learning new material, doing oral exercises, and reviewing. After that, the child goes off to do the relevant exercises on his/her own. This method allows us to complete the course in about a year and a half without overloading the child.
When a child finishes French is Fun 1, we start him/her on French is Fun 2 by Gail Stein. There are no newer editions of Level 2 and it is not as user-friendly as the third edition Level 1 text. On the other hand, it does present a lot of important information. Since we usually only have half a year left to study Level 2 before starting our high school French program, we just make do.
After we’d used our second hand copy of French is Fun 1 for a while, the pages started to come out. We had it spiral bound, as you can see, and it is still serving us well many years later.
French is Fun 1 is an affordable and pleasant introduction to formal French. It teaches the language clearly and engages the students on many levels by incorporating pictures, stories, real-life French examples, and cultural information. Parents who know some French will find it easy to use.
This is not a Christian book. We skip the occasional exercise, such as those about lotteries, and once or twice I had to black out a word in a story. Concepts such as dating and the importance of teen popularity are assumed. Since this is a book that requires a parent to teach it, we can discuss each issue as it arises, making it a mini-worldview course as well as a language course.
The fourth edition of French is Fun 1, with supplementary materials, is available from AMSCO, and earlier editions can be bought second hand. We own the third edition.
Disclosure: We have owned French is Fun 1 for many years. I receive no compensation for my reviews and the opinions expressed are my own.
–Written by Annie Kate, a Christian homeschooling mom of five, who reviews and blogs at Tea Time with Annie Kate. http://homeschoolblogger.com/reviewsandmore/.