GIVE IT A GO
Learning another language leads to plenty of benefits for the young and old, says Peter Stewart
One of the advantages of taking up a new language is that it enhances your cognitive skills. Testament to this is a man in his late 70s whom I met at my local bookshop. He told me that since starting to study French for just 15 minutes a day a couple of years ago, he had seen an improvement in his memory and attention span.
Anyone whose progress is being hampered by a bad memory will get plenty of useful tips in Unforgettable French: Memory Tricks to Help You Learn and Remember French Grammar and Vocabulary (Brilliant Publications, £19.99). This visual book uses sound and word associations to enable you to absorb essential phrases and grammatical points. There are also exercises to help you track your progress.
To gain greater insight into French culture, click on to readfrance.com, a Us-based online bookstore. The selection of English and French-language books is grouped according to regions and includes contemporary adult fiction, memoirs, histories and children’s literature, as well as conventional tour guides.
If learning key verbs quickly is of appeal, try French: Fast Track Learning From Phrasal Verbs (Createspace Independent Publishing Platform, £6.99). This handy guide will teach you the French equivalents of 100 commonly used English phrases combining a verb with another grammatical element, for example ‘break down’ or ‘see to’. More than 600 examples provide plenty of opportunity to practise what you have learnt.
A great way to get children interested in learning the language is by playing a game. Snap in French (Usborne Publishing Platform, £4.99) contains colourful cards featuring words for everyday objects such as fruit, pets and household objects.
If you prefer to study French through film, pick up a copy of 8 Femmes, a 2002 murder mystery with a darkly comic tone, starring Catherine Deneuve. The story of eight women who are questioned following the murder of a man in a snowbound manor house has humorous, fast-paced dialogue that will be sure to improve your fluency.