In French, It’s The Little Things That Hurt You: A Look At French For Reading By Karl C. Sandberg And Eddison C. Tatham
October 22, 2016 Leave a comment
French for Reading, a programmed text, is by far the most ambitious and thorough of all the Prentice-Hall for Reading series. Unlike the other language texts in the series, this one has no gradual introduction to the history and geography of the country and no introduction to its culture. Instead, it plunges immediately into original texts, beginning with an excerpt from a chemistry journal on the definition and analysis of polymeric(macromolecular) structures. This is no coincidence, because at the time the text was composed in 1968, there was a great emphasis on learning to read scientific articles in different languages. So, in this book, the reader will find many articles taken from scientific journals ranging from the influence of water and light on plants to nuclear physics. There are also literary passages, economic excerpts, religious articles, historical and political reflections. In short, the book provides a thorough introduction to reading technical French on many levels. At the end of the book there is a potpourri of articles for additional reading practice, including one about how to be a shaman, why water-witching can be effective, a diary of a German princess at the court of Lois XIV, dangers of atmospheric pollution. The good news is that all of these articles are much easier to read than the difficult passage from Pascal’s “Dialogue with the Libertines”, concerning Pascal’s famous wager and his religious thought in the last chapter, Chapter 21.
The authors state that after having completed the text, “… you will be able to recognize the meanings of all the grammar forms in Le Francais fondamental(the French government list prepared for overseas French schools.) The most difficult and problematic elements of French are the small words. Indeed, it is rather disconcerting to learn that there are eleven uses of the word “que”. One has to be careful not to forget “le” and “la” which often blend into other words, leaving a solitary “l”. The pronoun “on” has many meanings, depending on the context. Thus, it is necessary to look at all the tiny words with extra care, otherwise you could miss the essential meaning of the sentence. The authors are excellent guides, however, and if you work through all the frames, you should be in excellent shape to read any technical French that you might need in your research.