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Fluenz Version F2: French 1+2
Now, our review of this French language learning DVD and CD program:
There is a basic contradiction presented in the pedagogical thought behind Fluenz French learning software, but it might actually do the student good. In their novel approach to French language learning, the makers of Fluenz have struck a rare balance between treating the student like an intelligent adult, while at the same time making the lessons accessible. They don't teach in French. They teach in English. To the masters of French language instruction who have reigned for centuries, this is indeed a unique approach.
But that's about par for the course; through and through, Fluenz F2 French learning DVD program emphasizes uniqueness. They are careful to point out that their software is not a one-size fits all solution. In other words, they couldn't just use the same formulas in this version of their software, and then repurpose it all for learning a different language other than French. In fact, it was crafted specifically for English speakers learning French, with seemingly as much attention to the nuances of the English language as to those of the French language.
Because just as we've discussed elsewhere on this site, there are strong similarities between the English language and the French language. This is due to the fact that they share common roots that go back almost a thousand years, to when the French invaded England and ruled for a few centuries and greatly influenced the development of the English language.
So. The French language has echoes of English in it, and it takes a masterful educator to design the program that taps into this commonality between the two languages, and coaxes out an understanding of the nuances of French from the English-speaking student.
That's what they're one step short of claiming. And to be honest we can see what they're getting at. We tried out the software, and found it immensely helpful that they did not put the lessons in French. Many language instructors in traditional classroom settings do this, thinking that it will be helpful. For many students, it may be. (Personally, though, it never was for me. I got much more out of language classes in which I actually understood the lessons!) Indeed, when it comes to understanding the finer rules of French grammar and verb conjugation, feminine and masculine noun endings and so forth, a beginning student of French will be lost and frustrated. So we give major props to the Fluenz program for seeing past this common teacher's mistake, and just giving us the straight dope. Teach us the rules in English. It's one of their stated core principles: "It's easier to learn French by starting out in English."
But it doesn't feel patronizing. Which is good news for the makers of Fluenz. After all, that's the whole philosophy behind their software: NOT to treat the students like children, but rather to engage them in real life conversational situations in a multi-media environment. Speaking of which, the graphics definitely were amazing. Overall, despite a few forgivable glitches, the lessons synchronized with the images and the graphic scenarios to give a very enveloping sense of being there in the scenarios, and so language learning could definitely take place. And while I'm generally a staunch believer in function over form, the multi-media embellishments to this program were crucial to keeping me fully engaged. I wasn't tempted to get distracted.
Fluenz French Discount