French…With Ease? My Thoughts on The Assimil Method

Here, in North America, we have Rosetta Stone. It sounds pretty awesome and all, until you see the price.

Is that a typo?

Of course, this includes one-on-one time with professional language teachers via a video program like Skype or something. Sounds awesome, but seeing as I’m just trying to warm up before hopefully pursuing French in university, it’s a little excessive.

I can’t even remember where I found out about Assimil. It’s not a household name on this side of the pond, so I was skeptical. Although, the American Amazon site had the French kit up for a total of $40 with shipping, and I was sold.

Just 8 days later and it was on my doorstep when I arrived home from a particularly horrible shift at work. Once I got all the tree sap off my hands (don’t ask, but if you’re ever in the situation, margarine works like a dream), I opened it up. You get a small, but surprisingly heavy, book with over 500 pages of lessons. There are also 4 CDs included, which just have people reading/acting out the exercises so you can work on your accent and word recognition.

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I only use the finest of bookmarks

Here is a look at a lesson:

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Trust me, it makes more sense when you're actually doing it.

I’ve only done the first six lessons, but I feel like this is perfect. It picks up almost right where high school French left off. Instead of memorizing grammar over and over and over again by just filling in the blanks, this system uses it practically. You go over common phrases and how to use them, as well as small grammar things I missed in high school. (ex. make sure you use “de” when asking someone about an object. Vous voulez de la tartine?…oh god that’s probably wrong.)
These were just things that would be crossed off in your essays in high school and you’d have no clue why, you’d just accept it because you were so sick of grammar.

My one gripe: The audio recordings are spoken at a snail’s pace. I want to listen to how a French person would converse with another French person, not how they would converse if they were speaking to an invalid. There should be a fast and slow version of each sentence spoken, but I guess that would have doubled their costs (?)
Oh well, I’ll stick to French TV with the captioning on for that part.

Perhaps I will one day achieve my goal of being able to order what I actually want when driving through rural Quebec. One day, Michelle, one day.

The book also likes to remind you regularly to not try too hard or study too much. I’m already in love. 

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6 responses to “French…With Ease? My Thoughts on The Assimil Method

  1. I like the idea of not studying too hard! I’m just about to spend winter in France, and I swear my French has got worse the more time I’ve spent there! Hopefully, after a prolonged stay I’ll be reversing that trend 🙂

    • I’d imagine all of the different accents, slag, and regional dialects would throw anyone off the trail.
      There’s even a quebec “redneck” accent that is impossible to pick out the words from. Oh well, one day at a time. Good luck with the learning!

  2. This is a great review, I’m going to check out Amazon now. I use Rapid French, by Earworms to learn on my ipod. It’s ok but I think I need a little more structure like the books your using.

  3. This was so helpful! I’m learning French too. I’m lucky because I live with five French people. But I really can’t pick things up unless I have a structured learning method. I will have to check this out. 🙂 x

    • You are very lucky! I think if you live with French people this book will be perfect. You’ll probably read it over and think ‘OH so that’s what they mean by that” the whole way through. Good luck!