Learn to Speak French Cds - the Easiest Way to Learn French?

By: Dennis Cordy

Now I may be considered a bit of an oldie by some people's standards - forty seven next birthday - but I can remember when the only ways to learn to speak French were lessons at school with dreadfully boring text books or boxes full of audio tapes that most people couldn't afford. Now we have many new technologies to choose from and learn to speak French CDs are amongst the most popular for good reason.

You only have to browse through the products on offer at places like Amazon to find dozens and dozens of choices. Every aspect of learning to speak French is covered and every age range.

At their most basic there are the simple audio books - a CD you can put in your player at home or in your car. It's much like the old tape systems in that you listen and repeat what's said. Nothing wrong with that. Many, many people have learned perfectly adequate French using this kind of system. It's not particularly fast and not particularly involving, but if you're driving or doing something else where you can only listen it's still quite effective. I quite often have a CD of this type on while I'm working on the computer. It may not have all my attention but the fact that it's playing means I absorb at least some of it - even if that's just getting used to the sound of French pronunciation. Every little helps and prices start from just a few dollars so everyone can afford them.

At the other end of the spectrum are the fully interactive French CD courses that you use in your computer. These have sound files that you can listen to, just like the more basic versions but they go far beyond that. Some have small movie clips based on real-life situations that you can watch and learn from. Some add interactivity to this - you have to choose the right answer from a selection. Some have interactive games and exercises to help you with the various aspects of French grammar. They also have written texts that you can print out and read. In a nutshell they cover all aspects of learning to speak French in a much more involving way often called "immersion" or "accelerated" learning.

There's a price to pay for this sort of technology of course, the big well-known names like Rosetta Stone and Pimsleur will cost you hundreds of dollars to reach a good level of French. Whether that's worth it is up to you. Certainly tens of thousands of copies of programs like these have been sold. Is it the easiest way to learn French? These systems are very good, no doubt about it, they will certainly help you learn French faster than any book ever did but before I say yes, this is the easiest way to learn French, there is one other type of course we should look at.

For the last couple of years there have been pure downloadable French courses. No CD or DVD just the software itself. This kind of delivery, like downloadable music and film, has been made possible (and practical) by faster internet connections.

The result is a couple of French courses that, because they are delivered digitally, offer the same sort of functionality as the CDs with all their advanced teaching methods and interactivity, but at about half the cost. As a result they've become very popular so before you buy your learn to speak French CD I would certainly look into these as an alternative.

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