Practice Makes Perfect: French Vocabulary (Second Edition)
March 10, 2013
Author Eliane Kurbegov
Series Practice Makes Perfect
Publication Date 2012
Skill Level Beginner, Intermediate, Advanced
I like many of the Practice Makes Perfect books (offered for multiple languages), including their vocabulary books, but I’m afraid this was an exception.
The exercise design in Practice Makes Perfect: French Vocabulary just isn’t good. As an example, Exercise 2.5 gives you a list of traits such as la malice, l’impatience, le sarcasme, etc. You are then asked to “write a check mark next to the word you consider a desirable attitude or human characteristic.”
That is ridiculous. French and English are so etymologically intertwined that traveling mentally from French to English often requires very little brain activity; going the other way, however, is more of a challenge and could in this case have made for a more stimulating and educational exercise. In addition, considering whether malice is a negative or positive character trait is silly and a waste of time, and it does not advance my understanding either of French or of human nature.
In another exercise, I was asked to judge which noun didn’t fit in a series of trios of words. A sample trio: l’île (the island), le continent, and la péninsule. Don’t test my grasp of land forms; test my grasp of French! In another one, I had to decide which of various pairs of bodies of water was smaller. Some of the vocabulary was pretty obscure: l’embouchure (mouth of a river) versus le golfe (bay)?!
Another exercise asked me to decide whether the nouns listed were soupe, salade, or dessert. Help.
In addition, there is not enough reinforcement or practice to learn the amount of vocabulary presented here, and the level is off. Practice Makes Perfect: French Vocabulary is supposed to be for advanced beginners and intermediate learners of French, but it attempts to teach you how to say “abscess,” rash,” slight sprain,” and “inner-ear infection.” (As I write this review, I don’t recall how to say any of those.)
I have used two editions of this book: the 2008 edition and the 2012 edition. The only difference I see between them is that the new one includes a chapter entitled “Vocabulary for Technology.”