Learning a language through stories makes for a much more engaging experience, says Peter Stewart
As the nights begin to draw in, there is nothing nicer than sitting in front of the fireplace with a good book. And if it is a French story, then that is even better! Today, there are plenty of foreign-language short-story books popping up on the market, and they can be a refreshing alternative to the grammar-based method of learning.
Anyone looking to learn French through a good story and significantly increase their vocabulary will enjoy French Short Stories for Beginners (Createspace Independent Publishing Platform, £12.90). The book contains 15 fun and engaging French tales, all packed full of description that will enable beginners to acquire up to 1,500 new words. Each story has a glossary and comes with an audio download to help improve your pronunciation and listening skills.
Parents keen to encourage their younger children to get to grips with French should seek out Daniel and the French Robot (Createspace Independent Publishing Platform, £5.49). The two stories are designed to appeal to three-to-seven-year-olds and introduce them gradually to the language, with only a few French words introduced at a time.
Another handy resource for youngsters is Clothes Vêtements: Bilingual Children’s Picture Dictionary (Createspace Independent Publishing Platform, £7.67). This colourful 24-page guide will expand learners’ clothing vocabulary, with French translations for everything from gloves to knee-length boots.
If developing your vocabulary to be able to discuss topical issues in French is a priority, Insider’s French: Intermediate Conversation Course (Michel Thomas, £39.99) will prove particularly useful. The course book features dialogues and role-plays focusing on colloquial French and contemporary Francophone culture. The course pack comes with an audio CD containing comprehension exercises to improve your listening skills.
For a more light-hearted approach to learning French seek out a copy of the film Rosalie Blum. This 2015 comedy-drama, starring Noémie Lvovksy, centres on a random encounter between a male hairdresser and a lonely woman that has unexpected and life-changing results. The combination of clear accents and slower-paced dialogue will help beginners get a feel for the language.