Com­bine words with im­ages to make learn­ing French more re­ward­ing, says Peter Ste­wart

France - - Reviews Five Minutes With... -

Brows­ing the lo­cal book­shop, I couldn’t help but no­tice the in­creas­ing range of re­sources de­signed for vis­ual lan­guage learn­ing. While some peo­ple might say that a gram­mar-based ap­proach is the only way for them, I do be­lieve that as­so­ci­at­ing words with im­ages does help us to re­tain the vo­cab­u­lary needed to com­mu­ni­cate with ease.

Any­one wish­ing to learn a range of ev­ery­day French terms will find the new Fire­fly French-english Bilin­gual Vis­ual Dic­tio­nary (Fire­fly Books, £25) es­pe­cially help­ful. More than 5,000 words are in­tro­duced on dif­fer­ent themes, which in­clude the home, leisure, pets, work and sports, and come with full-colour pho­to­graphs and art­work. Ev­ery item is clearly la­belled in French with the English trans­la­tion un­der­neath.

Par­ents look­ing to teach their chil­dren French should seek out Cail­lou, My First French Word Book (Cail­lou, £6.99), fea­tur­ing the ad­ven­tures of the ti­tle char­ac­ter, a four-year-old boy. The board book con­tains more than 200 ev­ery­day words on top­ics such as an­i­mals, house­hold ob­jects and fam­ily mem­bers, and are all brought to life by colour­ful il­lus­tra­tions. An­other use­ful guide for tiny tots is Un, Deux, Trois: First French Rhymes (Frances Lin­coln Chil­dren’s Books, £7.99). This book and CD pack brings to­gether 25 il­lus­trated nurs­ery rhymes fea­tur­ing sim­ple words and phrases that younger chil­dren are en­cour­aged to re­peat and sing along with.

For any­one look­ing to im­prove their French for an im­mi­nent trip across the Chan­nel, then the French Vis­ual Phrase Book (Dor­ling Kin­der­s­ley, £7.99) should do the trick. This handy guide cov­ers many real-life sit­u­a­tions and fea­tures gal­leries of words and pic­tures that make it easy to find key vo­cab­u­lary and to re­mem­ber what you have seen. The ac­com­pa­ny­ing 60-minute CD con­tains an easy-to-use pro­nun­ci­a­tion guide.

For a more un­usual take on lan­guage learn­ing, seek out a copy of the 2012 comedy-drama Du Vent Dans Mes Mol­lets. The film cen­tres on an ec­cen­tric fam­ily whose nine-year-old daugh­ter be­comes friends with an un­ruly girl of her own age. The fun part will be try­ing to mas­ter the col­lo­quial lan­guage used in day-to-day sit­u­a­tions.

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