Like many people I have wanted to be able to speak basic French. Being able to impress a dinner companion by ordering directly from the menu at a fancy French restaurant or to converse with the locals at a Parisian cafe seems like a great skill to acquire. After reading a number of reviews online I decided to try Living Language French.
The course promises to teach real-life French used by everyday people. This is the same teaching approach used by the US Department of State to prepare their employees for postings in France. Below I share my experience with this language course, including what material is contained inside and what I felt to be the major pros and cons of this course.
I also compared Living language French to some of the other leading French language courses on the market. Finally I offer a personal recommendation on whether I think it's the best option or not.
The Platinum edition costs $179. This gives you access to textbooks, audio CDs, and online material. You can also choose to purchase the French essential components which include one book and three CDs for $29.99. Alternatively you can purchase the French complete components course which includes three books and nine audio CDs priced at $49.99.
The course uses the Living Language method. Based on the same language teaching methods that are used by the US Department of State to teach their diplomats and other government employees when they are posted overseas. This teaching method has been used for over 50 years and has a proven track record of success. It is similar to the language learning methods taught in most classrooms at college and high school.
The system begins by teaching the most important words and phrases in French. These are taught using English as a base so you don't have to try and guess the meaning of the words. From there the student learns how to put these into full sentences and use them in conversation. Once the student can make basic sentences and hold simple conversations, he/she enters the retention phase. Here French Living Language uses multimedia practice to cement the knowledge into the long-term memory. Finally the student learns the underlying grammar principles to develop their own language for practical situations.
Compared to other language learning courses Living Language uses a much more traditional approach to teaching French. Sometimes this can be advantageous compared to the immersive approach used by courses such as Rosetta Stone (my review). One of the problems with the immersive approach is that it is difficult to teach the intricacies of French grammar principles. With the Platinum French course you gain a good foundational base of knowledge before you progress to having conversations. The language learning approach is quite similar to that used in Rocket French (my review). Like Rocket French it teaches the basic grammar and vocabulary using direct translations into English. Once this basic material has been taught using interactive conversation lessons, it allows you to use the knowledge that you have learned. Also, like Rocket French, the course includes a number of quizzes and games to help you cement your knowledge.
Living Language is a very comprehensive course. It includes a huge array of language learning material with a wide variety of different media. The academic approach to teaching French used in this course will be familiar to most students. The major disadvantage is that the material is sometimes a little boring compared to some other courses. If you simply want to practice conversational French, Rosetta Stone may be a better option. Another good choice is Rocket French which includes more games and quizzes to add interest to your French learning and is priced significantly lower. Overall Living Language offers one of the more interesting French online courses on the market.