In French, It’s The Little Things That Hurt You: A Look At French For Reading By Karl C. Sandberg And Eddison C. Tatham

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 ones 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.


About Robert M. Weiss
From an early age, I've taken great pleasure in reading. Also, I learned to play my 78 player when I was quite young, and enjoyed listening to musicals and classical music. I remember sitting on the floor, and following the text and pictures of record readers, which were popular in the 1940s and 50s. My favorites were the Bozo and Disney albums. I also enjoyed watching the slow spinning of 16s as they spun out tales of adventure. I have always been attracted by rivers, and I love to sit on a boulder with my feet in the water, gazing into the mysteries of swirling currents. I especially like inner tubing on the Rogue River in Southern Oregon. Since my early youth, I've been interested in collecting minerals, which have taught me about the wonderful possibilities in colors and forms. Sometimes I try to imagine what the ancient Greeks must have felt when they began to discover physical laws in nature. I also remember that I had a special passion for numbers, and used to construct them out of stones. After teaching Russian for several years, I became a writer, interviewer, editor, and translator. I continue to delight in form, and am a problem solver at heart.

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