Review - French In Action

French In Action is a brilliant 52 episode video instructional program presented by Annenberg/CPB, an educational foundation. It has been shown on public television since it's production in the 80's, but is just as useful today. The program was designed by Pierre Capretz to teach everyday uses of French and is intended for high school, college, and adult learners of French at the beginner to intermediate level. Annenberg/CPB makes French In Action, and other programs in its catalogue, available to learners by television, video, dvd and a free video-on-demand feature from its website.

It begins with a classroom instructor, Pierre Capretz himself, prompting a beginning French class to invent a story about an American student and his French friends in Paris. Mr. Capretz uses lots of devices to demonstrate points including teaching, as a teacher should, demonstrating on a blackboard or with onscreen text, repeating phrases and changing elements, live action scenes with the evolving invented characters, interacting with the classroom and many more. These different approaches break up the instruction to keep it interesting and always moving forward. Also, there are many examples of grammar points or idioms from television programs, commercials, movies, cartoons and interviews with people. The audience is not expected to understand everything, but this immersion approach is designed to familiarize the learner with the most common and useful everyday French expressions and pick up on the rhythm of the French language.

Some knowledge of French is helpful to get the most out of the program, but if someone wanted to dive in to French, they couldn't go wrong with this program. It is interesting and enjoyable immersing yourself into the French language and learning about France and French culture in the process.

The Capretz method is primarily designed for classroom instruction and the layout of the program encourages classroom participation and interaction. There are additional learning materials at the website for this very purpose. The program is so good, however, that self-learners can get a great deal from the program on their own. I found this program on public television many years ago after studying French in High School and found it to be a great refresher. After discovering the video-on-demand feature at the Annenberg/CPB website, I began to watch the program again and I still find it useful. I highly recommend this program to anyone wanting to learn French, it is a fantastic resource.

Annenberg/CPB airs French In Action, and many other educational programs, on public television. Their website has information on where and when these programs will be aired. This series, and others for learners of Spanish, German, Chinese and Japanese, can also be purchased on video or dvd with or without the coordinated coursebooks. Many of these educational programs can be found in public libraries and school libraries, as well. The most interesting and exciting option is the free video-on-demand feature. If you have a broadband internet connection, you can view these programs for free, anytime you like. Simply register your email address (you'll receive a monthly newsletter) and you can have 24-hour access to this series and other programs. Annenberg/CPB and French In Action represent the very best combination of quality learning, affordability (ie free!) and convenience. If you are learning French, go to their website and one way or another avail yourself of this excellent learning tool.

French In Action Information Page

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"I thought about it over the summer, then I decided that the people who had made the biggest impression on me were those born abroad who have added the French language and culture to their original language
and culture."

- Bernard Pivot

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