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French for Free review

This is a quick guided tour of the site French for Free which is party of the FrenchSpanishOnline website by Pascal d'Hervé.

The contents feature vocabulary by theme, "French method", conversation, verbs, GCSE, grammar, expressions, easy vocabulary, difficulties, news in French and English, exercises and "hear what you type". There is a good degree of interactivity on the site, as well as a mine of reference material.

The Vocabulary section is very extensive and each of the 26 topics  includes lists and a whole host of interactive tasks including matching, drag and drop, gap fill and multiple choice. There is some use of colourful pictures and "audio quizzes" where students listen to a short clip and then do exercises. There is also the opportunity for students to record their own voice. All vocabulary, both individual words and phrases, can be listened to.

The section entitled French Method has a set of mini dialogues and vocabulary lists. Once again, students can listen to everything and follow scripts. Arrow keys can be used to move from slide to slide. I found that the top of each page did not display in Firefox, even though the section states that Chrome, Firefox and Safari all work well. Check it with your own browser.

The verbs section is simply a lengthy list of verb conjugations with audio.

The GCSE section contains a set of themed presentations, based on a few questions. These are in the form of quite short sentences without linking words. Students would certainly find them an excellent reference source for their own controlled assessments (i.e. they could cheat by copying them, or better use them as a guide for their own work). Once again, all is recorded. Teachers could use the recording without scripts visible for listening comprehension work.

The Grammar section is pitched largely at the intermediate to advanced level, including, for example, subsjunctives and more advanced compound tenses. Explanations are in Youtube video format along with written explanations  and are very clear. These would be good for reference or revision for keen students. Some grammar points have a multi-choice interactive task at the bottom with a good number of examples.

Let me also mention the embedded text-to-speech page ("Say what you type") which allows students to paste in or type text which is then read aloud in very good French.

There is a good deal more on the site which I won't go through now. Suffice it to say that this site is clear, very useful and could be used selectively by teachers in the classroom, but better by students working alone. GCSE and advanced level pupils would get the most out of it. It appears to be iPad-friendly.

For interactive grammar a site such as languagesonline.org.uk is more attractive and better graded to students' abilities. With French for Free you would also have to integrate which bits you used in class very carefully. For this reason I feel it is, on the whole, better as a student revision/reference source. That said, you have to admire the enormous amount of work that has gone into this site. I also like the large amount of audio material available. You should really have a look at it!

How come it's free? Well. if you do not have an ad blocker you will get plenty of advertisements, but they are not obtrusive enough to make the site unpleasant to use. Maybe at some point the site will be monetised.




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