Think French Online Audio Magazine Review!

An independent language advantage course review by Ali Gibbs – Brighton, UK

Keen to develop my language learning skills in French, I sometimes search the internet for ideas about where I can next take my language learning journey and how to best use my time and energy to further my learning in French. Even though I speak some French, it is easy for me to feel overwhelmed by the wealth of resources out there, and I’m often left feeling frustrated and de-motivated by the seemingly low quality and unstructured nature of some of the resources available online.

So, I was very pleasantly surprised when I found the Think French online audio language magazine!

“At last, a method to enhance the process of learning another language which takes advantage of today’s technology, whilst remaining engaging and easily accessible with a traditional good structure and balance of vocabulary and grammar”

The French audio magazine comprised of between 8-10 articles or ‘stories’ as I liked to think of them. The feature that I found most exciting and helpful was the ability to listen to the whole of each article being read to me in French, whilst at the same time reading along myself. The narrator spoke very naturally and at a comfortable pace for me. This really helped me to understand what I was reading and improve my own pronunciation of the language. There is lots of flexibility however and you, the reader, get to choose when or if you want each article to be read to you, or one article read but not another. You can also pause the audio at any time if you need to check something in your own dictionary at home or pause to write something down.

Visually the layout is good – there are usually two images per two-page article and this really encouraged me to immerse myself in the articles. The text is well laid out. There are well-defined paragraphs, which means you can easily pinpoint your progress as you read and there is sufficient content in each article for you to feel it’s going to keep you, but without becoming boring.

There is a very helpful bilingual glossary easily located on each pageand the words that appear in the article have been formatted in bold so you know for sure whether the word features in the glossary. This means there is no need to pull your attention away from the article to take a look. The glossary terms are also grouped in line with each paragraph making the reading process flow better and learning this waycuts down on learner frustration as it really felt like I was progressing through the articles at a good pace, which I found motivated me.

The grammar article was also helpfully supported by an audio recording making it much less dry than my previous experiences of trying to engage with French grammar, whilst at the same time offering you a chance to sharpen your listening skills. The grammar teaching was, in the issue I read, based around a comparison of the current French and American styles of greeting people, which helped maintain my focus and introduced some context. I found the examples really did ground the teaching in something real, and in this instance, something of social importance.

For those of us who are impatient types (myself included!) the immediacy and ease of access to the magazine’s material does appeal. Once you have registered and paid your membership fee (a process which honestly took me under five minutes), you have instant online access to the material and each new monthly issue for the length of your subscription! But that’s not all, you can choose between downloading the whole magazine in one go or an article at a time. You can download and print the material if you find it easier to read a hard copy.

“What’s more you can also download the audio clips to your computer, a cd, iTunes or even your smart phone so that you can take these vibrant learning resources wherever your life takes you”

This is an excellent approach given that engaging with any new language lessons a little and often is supposed to be a better method of learning a language compared to long period sat trying to absorb something!

The only thing I found a little frustrating was that the audio clips were not wholly integrated with the text of the articles (and by this I mean, on the same page as the text). The audio recordings were accessible only by clicking on the website pages themselves. Having said that running the page with the audio content alongside the magazine’s PDF really wasn’t too tiresome. I think this limitation says more about the capabilities of PDF readers at present anyway.

Overall, using the Think French audio language magazine proved to be a very enjoyable,modern and active language learning experience. The magazine has equipped me with lots of new vocabulary and put me in touch with up-to-date ways to understand what I read and hear. Most of all I felt excited and inspired to continue on my journey towards being able to confidently communicate with others more and express myself in French!

Buy a Think French audio magazine subscription now>>

The Think Language range of audio magazines is also available as  Think Spanish and Think Italian>>

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