Gretchen Angelo, California State University
Copyright Year: 2003
Last Update: 2017
Publisher: Gretchen V. Angelo
Conditions of Use
Positives - - comprehensive, communicative approach - thoughtful cultural information in each unit -- students get a full first-year French course - audio files for oral exercises available from the author when the textbook is adopted. -... read more
Positives - - comprehensive, communicative approach - thoughtful cultural information in each unit -- students get a full first-year French course - audio files for oral exercises available from the author when the textbook is adopted. - well-organized and easy to follow - students can buy a print-on-demand copy very cheaply - answer keys included Negatives - only available as pdf or print-on-demand so there is no option for auto-correct of exercises and the like
Gretchen Angelo's Liberte (volumes I and II) is an excellent resource. We have used it for about 4 years as our first-year French textbook. The textbook is available online in pdf form and accessible to all. In addition, we ask our students to purchase the paper copy through the print-on-demand publisher, Lulu, students. The cost comes out to about $11-$15 dollars per semester. Having the actual text pays off in that students can use the textbook as a workbook as well.
Updated in 2017, the book is still up to date.
Well-organized and easy to follow. Students can easily catch on to the organization of the chapters.
Completely consistent. Each chapter contains activities and readings with cultural information, vocabulary, grammar and listening exercises and answer key.
As a first-year French language textbook, modularity is a low-level concern. That said, though the chapters build one upon the other, any one could be taught separately.
With a minimum of explanation, students and new instructors can easily become familiar with the organization of the text.
The text has numerous links to images and videos (Youtube).
The grammatical explanations are easy to understand and well-explained, and well-suited to a flipped classroom approach, if desired. Though there are a few typos, overall the proofreading has been thorough and in my experience, students are so delighted at the very, very low price (for the print-on-demand version) that typos are easily overlooked.
A strength of Liberte is that it does not only focus on metropolitan France, but includes readings and activities related to a wide range of regions and countries in the Francophone world. Of the OER French resources I have seen, Liberte does the best job in presenting French as a language of many cultures and places in the world.
Many thanks to author Gretchen Angelo for her excellent work and progressive thinking in making this textbook available as an open education resource. Bravo!
The book covers all the areas taught in a two-semester first year college French course. There are twelve chapters each composed of three sections: Activities, Grammar and Lab Wroksheet and Review. Each chapter includes French-English vocabulary... read more
The book covers all the areas taught in a two-semester first year college French course. There are twelve chapters each composed of three sections: Activities, Grammar and Lab Wroksheet and Review. Each chapter includes French-English vocabulary at the end of section 1. Each chapter focuses on a theme of interest and use to a beginner. The book incorporates the four major objectives of learning a foreign language: Listening, Speaking, Reading and Cultural understanding. The grammar topics are manageable and not excessive for a first-year textbook. In general, the exercises a written well. Chapters 1-4 conclude with a self-check section that students can use to make sure they have understood the materials covered.
The material presented in the book is quite accurate. Although I have not closely read the entire book, I noticed one minor error. On p. 198, in Ex A1.1, on the left-hand column, in #10 the word "pour" should be deleted. Some choices in exercises may be eliminated to avoid controversial responses. For example, on p. 25, Ex A.5.4, "Barack Obama and la guerre d'Iraq" in the left-hand column and "stupide" in the right-hand column could be changed. On p. 26, one of the questions that students must ask their classmates is: "Tu es impolie?" ("Are you impolite?"). Under no circumstance one would ask another person if s/he is impolite. I understand the author meant it in jest. But still ...
Relevance in foreign language textbooks relates to cultural content. The sections on culture are generally presented well. Updates should be easy to incorporate.
Overall the text is clear and accessible to students. Whenever needed the author provides an explanation of a difficult term in the margin. Some explanations are redundant. For example, on p. 13, in ex A 1.3, instructors can do without the diagrams explaining how the students should move around. Sometimes the author tends to be verbose. p. 43, B 3.2 is unnecessary. It should suffice to present the verb être as irregular as the author does in the preceding section. p. 51, B 7 Gender of adjectives. The explanation needs to be concise. Just stating that "In French adjectives must agree with the gender and number of the noun they describe" should be sufficient. The comparison with verb conjugation is unnecessary.
The book presents each chapter in more or less the same way. The pattern is easy to follow and there are no surprises.
Each chapter consists of sections that are short and numbered with subtitles/intertitles. Instructors should have no problem dividing and assigning them as homework or teaching them.
Most of the material is logically and clearly presented. However, there is at least one instance where a concept that is taught later in the book is used in an earlier chapter. The comparative is fully introduced in Chapter 4. But, in Chapter 2, students are asked to compare people by age using the comparatives "older than" and "younger than." The comparative can be avoided in the latter context.
The interface for the most part is very good. There is at least one instance where the picture does not correspond to the audio. The author notes in the margin on p. 129 (C.3.1): "the drawing has been changed but the recording has not yet: pretend there are two beds."
Overall, the French grammar presented is very good. This reviewer noted one error. On p. 198, A 1.1, in #10 (left-hand column), the word "pour" should be deleted.
Cultural material as presented in the book is inclusive. The major French-speaking regions are represented.
The author may consider writing a separate instructor's manual. Also workbook may be expanded and published separately.
The textbook covers the material needed for students to reach the level of advanced beginners. It includes grammar points that cover the indicative and conditional moods. read more
The textbook covers the material needed for students to reach the level of advanced beginners. It includes grammar points that cover the indicative and conditional moods.
The book was published in 2003, so most of its cultural references to politics, the media, entertainment, and culture are outdated. It could include more references to French-speaking countries, but the author specifies that the language used as a reference is what is spoken in France. The book's format is fairly conservative (the fonts, colors, layout, etc.). The books contains almost no errors and the French is excellent.
The structure and progression of the book is solid, but the cultural references (Charlemagne) as well as some of the exercises (doing math in French) could be updated. The problem is that the book needs so many updates, partly because the book has become so large, it might be impractical to do.
The grammar explanations are explicit and thorough, including information about the history of the language, which makes reading them pleasurable and different from the explanations in many other books.
The book is internally consistent; I found no errors in this respect.
Learning a language is a cumulative process so this question does not really apply to most chapters. But for some tasks (learning how to ask about the time, talking about the weather, etc.) it is quite doable.
The topics are introduced in a logical fashion with a gradual and carefully paced progression in the introductions to the past tenses (i.e., passé composé is introduced in chapters 4, 5, 6 and 7, and imparfait in chapter 9).
Does not apply to this textbook.
This is the strong point of Liberté. Though the book says that it uses the communicative approach, it remains an excellent reference book for learning the language in a more traditional manner. There are no errors in the book.
More modern manuals portray more ethnic and gender diversity in their examples. This is probably the weakest point of Liberté; it does not recognize or incorporate the most recent changes in society and it is ethnocentric.
I have found a number of good activities and excellent explanations in the book that I would love to use for students of mine who need a good grounding in linguistics. The book is not immersive and communicative enough, however, for the active language classroom that I wish to create. I could use Liberté as a supplement in my courses, but not as the primary textbook.
The book covers the areas and ideas appropriately. However, one weakness of the book is the absence of an index or glossary. Each chapter contains a helpful vocabulary reference sheet, but the book as a whole does not have this. One reason,... read more
The book covers the areas and ideas appropriately. However, one weakness of the book is the absence of an index or glossary. Each chapter contains a helpful vocabulary reference sheet, but the book as a whole does not have this. One reason, perhaps, is that the .pdf version of the book is fully searchable, and other online dictionaries exist and are quite useful. Still, an index in particular would be helpful.
The book is accurate in its explanations of grammar topics, most vocabulary, and cultural topics. No bias is detectable. Although every French learner’s textbook contains individual quirks of the author, they are not detrimental at all to this book’s objective.
The content is up-to-date, impressively so. This may be one of the great strengths of the book, in that the author updates it at least every three years. Although 2003 is listed above with the book's title, it was updated in 2017. The updates made are appreciated, especially in a communicative language course, with names and references the students will understand. Also, cultural articles can be easily updated, e.g. evolving family structures and workers’ rights.
The grammatical explanations in each chapter are quite clearly written. At times, there could be more examples given as illustrations, but offsetting this is the presence of many comprehension-check activities for the students to do as they study. The explanations are readable, and written in prose not typical of introductory second-language textbooks, which tend to be much more bullet-point-oriented and choppy. Also, the mini-vocabulaire boxes in the margins of reading passages and communicative activities are small enough not to be overwhelming to the task but well-chosen for effectiveness.
The language of the text is internally consistent. What is especially useful in this first semester of teaching using the textbook is the consistent structure of each chapter. The author does an admirable job of organizing disparate and varied material – grammatically, in terms of vocabulary, cultural content – within a recognizable and easily-mastered structure.
The grammar sections are reasonably divided. Each chapter contains 8-10 grammatical subtopics (as opposed to many textbooks’ 4-6), which makes for smaller chunks that can be assigned in pieces. I find the smaller-sized pieces of grammar helpful, because it allows me the flexibility to change the order of assignments or to pair sections of the chapter that make sense together.
As mentioned in the clarity and consistency sections, the book is well-organized. It follows a nicely-graded path of increasing complexity and is presented very clearly and logically.
The text excels in this regard, as it is very easy to navigate to other places in the text. Those places are clearly marked, and all the links between pages that I have tried have worked. The one complaint I have is that it is often hard to go back – and find the exact place where I left off. For example, if a grammar topic has been referenced before in a previous chapter, I can quickly and accurately jump there. However, there is one glaring weakness. Once having jumped somewhere else in the book, unless I had made a note of the page number I was on, there is no ‘BACK’ button, as an online interface would have. In other words, within the .pdf format, it is an easily navigable text to jump around. I would like to know if other options could be explored in order to jump back to where I just was before I clicked away.
I have found no typos or grammatical errors so far in the book.
One of the first videos, an external link to a Youtube clip, is not inclusive in its content. I should make very clear that the book’s author is not responsible for the creation of the video, but it does contain a rather insensitive remark from a male about the way French males might greet each other with kisses on the cheeks. I have not done searches on “la bise”, but imagine there would be other videos available that might be less potentially offensive. In the other cases, the videos are culturally sensitive, and inoffensive.
All in all, this has been a good book to use, and students are grateful for it as a resource. My class section is well-organized, and I think the book’s clarity is in part to thank for that. I will adapt the materials, to be sure, but there is plenty here that is workable in order to meet course objectives while defraying student textbook costs. I am in hopes that I might develop more cultural materials, but one nice part of an open-source textbook is that it does not feel like we are wasting ineffective resources; instead, we can personalize (and continue to update) the authentic cultural materials used in class, based on evolving student interests.
This e-book aims to achieve the intermediate low-mid ACTFL (American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages) standard for students. It certainly has achieved this primary objective covering the four pillars of language learning: Speaking,... read more
This e-book aims to achieve the intermediate low-mid ACTFL (American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages) standard for students. It certainly has achieved this primary objective covering the four pillars of language learning: Speaking, Writing, Listening (Understanding) and Reading, using various multimedia techniques and phonetic transcriptions. The book is clearly written for English language speakers and does a very effective job of explaining in English where necessary, whilst at the same time running activities French. The table of contents is effective, structured and clear, however there is neither an index nor a glossary which would have probably made studying the book much easier.
The content is extremely accurate without any noticeable errors. The author has taken care to explain the French language in detail (in English) to students, so that they are fully understanding of the language's intricacies; e.g. gender, pronunciation, and writing techniques. It is based on "Standard French", as spoken ion Central France, which is understandable to all French speakers around the world.
Having studied French language and culture since 1972, I think that the contents of this book won't become obsolete very soon. Whilst French as any other language will always evolve, the level that this book is aimed at, would always that it forms the foundation, of further study. In addition the digital assets could be amended where necessary; e.g. the YouTube video explaining "la bise". It's longevity is self-evident as it was published in 2003 and is still both appropriate and relevant today.
The book is very clear in its structure and formatting. Each chapter starts with the objectives, then continues with exercises and activities and a contextualised vocabulary update. A grammar section follows, with a lab exercise and summary. The final section contains a set of revision exercises, nicely rounding off the chapter and ensuring the objectives have been ,et.
The book is exceptionally consistent, which is always a benefit to students. As they work through the materials they get to know what to expect and are able to plan their studies accordingly. In addition it also clearly helps any French tutors to plan their teaching if they intend to use the book.
The author has structured the book in a very elegant manner for electronic usage. I've been analysing it using Books on an iPad. Each page can fit snugly onto the iPad and can be easily turned.(in portrait mode). As such the reader is able to literally study a page at time. The author has also made good use of side-bars contains tips and hyperlinks to and stand-alone tables containing the words, phonetic transcriptions, and meanings, etc. The author has also effectively used both photos and drawings to point out various situations. She has also used symbols to guide the reader as to what the text refers to. For example a partner symbol designates a conversation or exercise in pairs and a microphone symbol refers to interviewing people.
The topics selected for the book are excellent and relate to "la vie quotidienne" in France. They also compare favourably with other study materials I have encountered since I started studying French in the 1970s. The materials are also very relevant , utilising French names, Francophone countries, photos, newspapers and places of interest. It is a pleasure to read.
The book's interface is immaculate. As I said I've used and iPad with iBooks software and there are no navigation problems The search facilities find words and phrases without difficulty, including metadata to find photos.
The text contains no grammatical errors at all, neither in the French language nor the English language. This is testament to the dedicated work the author has clearly put into writing the materials.
The book is culturally relevant. Whilst there are references to Francophone countries, including those in Africa and North America it can also be argued that it is "France-centric". Examples are the holidays referred to in one of the exercises relate to France.
I would definitely recommend this book as a text for foundation level at university or "A Level". Even though it is written in the USA for an apparent American audience, the author displays a definitive knowledge of the French language and culture.
The text covers all of the usual material addressed in the first two semesters of a university French language course. The grammar coverage is quite comprehensive, and I particularly appreciate the wide array of cultural notes introducing... read more
The text covers all of the usual material addressed in the first two semesters of a university French language course. The grammar coverage is quite comprehensive, and I particularly appreciate the wide array of cultural notes introducing students to important aspects of French and Francophone culture. There is no index (though there is a very helpful Title Page) and there is no glossary.
The content is accurate, error-free, and unbiased. It needs to be continually updated; there were a small handful of outdated references and anachronisms, but these can easily be fixed.
The content is up-to-date, and with regular updates and reviews it will remain relevant (particularly where certain cultural notes and contexts are concerned). The grammar itself is timeless. To make this textbook more up-to-date pedagogical trends, I would like to see more use of film (short films or feature-length), and to see these updated every few years.
The book is exceedingly clear and well-organized. I appreciate very much that the beginning of each chapter states very clearly what the learning objectives for the chapter are. The use of English in this case will be very helpful for first-year French learners.
The text is very consistent, employing a "spiral" method in which certain materials are recycled throughout the text in order to help students to gain mastery through repetition. Like any good textbook, the material builds on itself throughout the book.
The text materials can easily be divided into subunits suited to the instructor's purposes, who may easily pick and choose which materials to use or not to use. The book is not overly self-referential and easily divisible into specific exercises, projects, or emphases.
The organization is excellent. The chapters are neatly divided into grammar, vocabulary, cultural, and oral exercise sections. The presentation of these materials is consistent and predictable, which makes learning the material easier.
The interface is generally excellent. There were occasional red marks and other awkward signs on the PDF version that I pulled up (2014 version), but spacing, navigation of materials, and clarity of visuals were all excellent.
I did not find any grammatical errors. The overall coverage of the grammar is excellent. The book covers everything I would hope to cover in the first two semesters of introductory French (and then some!) in terms of grammar. I wish there were more emphasis on vocabulary, however.
The text is not culturally insensitive or offensive in any way. It makes an effort to discuss Francophone culture outside of metropolitan France, but I would like to see more authentic cultural readings and notes, even at the first-year level.
I would like to see more integration of film and music. I would like to see more cultural texts, especially authentic ones (not always artificially constructed texts created specifically with this textbook in mind). I would like to see a greater emphasis on vocabulary. The grammar coverage is excellent, the organization is clear and predictable (which is very helpful for our first-year French learners), the exercises are very useful, and I like the emphasis on oral learning exercises.
Gretchen Angelo offers a fine French-language book that is very thorough and precise and without any major or noticeable flaws in the information presented regarding grammar, phonetics, and culture. The only flaw with this work, however, is... read more
Gretchen Angelo offers a fine French-language book that is very thorough and precise and without any major or noticeable flaws in the information presented regarding grammar, phonetics, and culture. The only flaw with this work, however, is Angelo’s stated intention that this is book will facilitate a communicative approach to teaching the target language. In the first line of Angelo’s Introduction, she states: “Each chapter is based around communicative strategies.” (9) If the main objective of using a communicative approach is to eliminate the use of the student’s native language and minimize the need to explain grammar details (especially the finer points of grammar or exceptions to common use), then this work falls short of this objective being that the use of both English and of extensive grammar explanations is more akin to a traditional approach to language instruction. To her credit, Angelo admits that more grammar detail is offered in this work than is typical of a first-year language book: “The grammar included is explained in a more narrative form and in more detail than is typical for first-year textbooks. […] By providing more explicit grammatical detail than is usual in a first-year book, the author hopes to stimulate students to reflect on the grammar of their own language as well as of French, helping students to become aware that their study of French is not just about mastery of a new language and culture, but about a more critical view of their own.” (9) While this approach may be fine in a setting in which it is the professor’s intention to employ a traditional approach to teaching language (and I will admit that the grammar that Angelo presents is thorough and accurate), I am not convinced that this book can be wrapped (so to speak) in a “communicative” package. Moreover, when Angelo presents the “communicative” material in the earlier chapters, she runs into two common problems that are not easy to resolve: the use of French that is beyond the student’s initial ability to comprehend and the use of English to present culture. If this were to be a truly communicative approach, I would suggest that the author simplify the French and eliminate the cultural passages until this material can be presented both entirely and effectively in the target language. In the first case (French beyond the student’s comprehension level), I notice that many unfamiliar words are used in directions as early as the second chapter: refaire/donner/prendre/chaque (to name a few). This would probably only cause confusion and frustration in the class, forcing the professor (I imagine) to resort to English to explain the directions. In the second case (using English to present culture), it seems that it would be perfectly acceptable to wait to introduce the culture until the students are more capable of understanding the language in order to avoid the excessive use of English in the “communicative” sections. In one particularly interesting instance in which this flaw comes to light, links are given to two clips that explain “faire la bise” in the first chapter. In one clip, a Swiss man explains the practice entirely in language that a beginning student could never hope to comprehend. In the other clip, a young man from New Zealand is seen and heard speaking with a native French speaker. While the skit is amusing, it is very odd that the fellow from New Zealand speaks English to the French man while the French man responds in French with English subtitles on the screen. It’s a very unnatural and peculiar form of communication and is not at all indicative of the objectives of a “communicative approach.” If this textbook is truly to be a “communicative approach” to introduce the target language, then neither clip is all that effective in the first chapter; in the first case, the language is far too advanced for the student and, in the second case, it is not realistic communication. When Angelo introduces cultural material in French in chapter two, she again resorts to French that is beyond the student’s ability at this level; after discussing several differences between American and French homes, the author states: “peut-être qu’un jour, vous les observerez!” (87) This seems to me to be an inopportune moment to introduce the simple future or direct object pronouns to a beginner. In one very peculiar case, Angelo even seems to apologize to her student users for French being difficult. When introducing numbers from 60 to 100, for instance, the author states: “it is unfortunately best for you to learn the harder system, because that is what is used by the vast majority of French speakers.” (49) While her point may be correct with regard to these numerals, this still does not seem like a very motivating strategy to convince beginning language students to continue their studies; it might be better to remove “unfortunately” and “harder” from the beginner’s textbook if one is to encourage students to pursue their interest in the target language. Angelo also does an very thorough job of introducing French phonetics; however, her one flaw is that she assumes either too much prior knowledge of the Internal Phonetic Alphabet (IPA) or a young student’s natural interest in the minutia of phonetics and thus offers (like her grammar section) information that is far to complex or detailed for a beginning student. For instance, when trying to offer the student pronunciation guidance with the French word “sérieuse” in the first chapter, the author gives: [se rjøz] (52). I am not so sure that many college freshmen in the United States would quite know what to do with this information even though (admittedly) Angelo does attempt to explain the IPA symbols later in the chapter. Angelo also uses a footnote in this section to explain a case in which liaison is used but admits that such cases are rare; when using the “communicative approach” to teaching language, it seems as though it would be more effective if one did not bring rare cases or exceptions to the attention of the students but focused instead on common usage; the student can figure out the exceptions to the rules later on. In another case, while trying to instruct the English-language student how to produce the difficult /y/ sound in French, she offers the following advice: “To pronounce the single letter “u,” round your lips tightly as if to say [o] but say [i]. This sound does not exist in English.” (34) Here again, I am not so sure what a college freshman in the United States would do with such information, especially if this student is still not aware that the vowel sound /i/ is pronounced differently in English and French ~ a pronunciation fact that many American students still struggle with even after four semesters of college French. It is also regrettable that Angelo, who seems to be a fine grammarian, resorts to using what she calls informal English when presenting comparative forms, such as in the case of “He is taller than me.” (321) Granted, the author does use footnotes to explain herself in each instance, but she is clearly conflicted about this herself if she has to excuse her use of “informal” (or what some grammarians might even call “incorrect”) English. Given how thorough her explanation of grammar is, one would have to assume that the English speaker using this textbook would not be confused by the correct use of English grammar. The most disappointing aspect of this book for me, however, is the use of English mnemonic devices to teach the target language. In one instance, Angelo uses the English mnemonic “CaReFuL” to explain when these final consonants of –c, -r, -f, and –l are not pronounced. The use of such “tricks” (as she calls them herself) seems counterintuitive to me if one were sincere about using a “communicative approach” to teaching the target language. The most disappointing use of an English mnemonic device was when the author used “MRS. P. VADERTRAMP
The material presented in this book is extremely accurate and correct; I would just suggest that it be simplified if this were to be used as a truly communicative textbook for beginners and (especially) that many of mnemonic devices (“tricks,” as Angelo describes them) be eliminated.
The information in this book is relevant and up-to-date; however, the images of many of the politicians pictured here will soon have to be updated.
It seems to me as though the book is more appropriate to a student with a more advanced knowledge of the language (especially regarding the detailed grammar and phonetics sections) than is typical of a first-year student in the United States.
The book is very consistent in terms of the terminology used and the material presented; it presents all that one would expect to find in a first-year French language textbook ~ in fact, much of it could be simplified if this were to be used as a true first-year “communicative” textbook.
Each chapter in the textbook is clearly divided into “communicative” activities and a very thorough grammar section (all in English). The grammar sections contain very detailed information on French phonetics. Much of the information presented in the grammar and phonetics sections could probably be used in more advanced courses just so long as the professor does not mind presenting this material in English and is open to the mnemonic suggestions for learning proper French grammar and pronunciation.
The textbook presents the material in a gradually progressive manner within an expected organization of any first-year language textbook; the “communicative” sections of the first two or three chapters, however, might be difficult to teach and should be simplified.
There are many links that allow the reader to progress to subsequent parts of the book. This was especially true of the material that appeared in the earlier “communicative sections” of the book should the student want additional information about the grammar or the pronunciation of the information presented. It was, however, difficult to return easily to the section/page that one had originally left to find the extra information in the first place. I also had trouble finding common words in my search bar. For instance, “sérieux” provided not finds. A search for “fenêtre” brought me to a picture of dog sitting on a windowsill in Paris but could not locate any other uses of the word in the textbook. Also, the reference for footnote #7 in Chapter 6 was labeled as #6, which created some confusion. (324)
Angelo’s English grammar and French grammar are both very good; the author expresses herself clearly and correctly.
The textbook is culturally relevant in all the ways that one would expect a 21st-century textbook to be.
Note: Using the “Adopt this book now” link will take you to the most recent edition. A student edition with and without answer key and a teacher’s edition with and without answer key are available. I reviewed the teacher’s edition with answer... read more
Note: Using the “Adopt this book now” link will take you to the most recent edition. A student edition with and without answer key and a teacher’s edition with and without answer key are available. I reviewed the teacher’s edition with answer key, last updated April 7, 2015. The scope and sequence are very good; the material covered is everything one would expect from a first-year text. It is organized around communication, culture and grammar, as described in the introduction. Its twelve chapters can be easily divided into two semesters, three trimesters or four quarters. The TOC is clear and fairly detailed, although there is no chart or table of scope and sequence at the beginning nor is there an index, glossary or verb charts such as one often finds at the end of basic language texts. Some highlights include: the instructions to the teacher are quite good; the “lab manual,” a workbook or manual of activities expected perforce with basic language textbooks is integrated into the textbook, with each chapter’s worth of exercises appearing at the end of the chapter (this is particularly good for modularity); there is an answer key (available to students as well) at the end of each chapter rather than at the end of the book (also good for modularity); and the International Phonetic Alphabet is introduced early on, as key vocabulary in each chapter is presented with its IPA pronunciation (there are also summary lists of key vocabulary at the end of each chapter, as one would expect). Also, the text takes advantage of freely available video on the web, which is generally of good quality.
I have a bachelor’s degree in French literature, so I won’t comment on the accuracy of the French or the explanations, but I directed a first-year Spanish program at a large state university for ten years, so I do feel qualified to say that the presentation of material appears very effective.
Most of the content of the text concerns language, longstanding patterns of usage and culture, both in terms of famous artists and behavioral culture. Therefore the text has pretty good longevity. An example of something that might easily be eliminated without harming the content is the rate of exchange for the Euro on page 23.
Again, I only have a bachelor’s degree in French literature, so I won’t comment on the French, but the English presentations and explanations are cogent and accessible. This is particularly true of the grammar explanations, which students are expected to study at home. The author explicitly seeks to create a culture of grammatical awareness in both English and Spanish.
The chapters are very consistent, as is required for texts of this type. The chapters do gradually shorten, from about 75 pages in each of the first chapters to about 45 pages in each of the last chapters. This is not surprising for a first year language text as students are gradually required to produce more language themselves (writing and speaking prompts, and the exercises and activities that contain them, become shorter while students produce more language in response to them).
The fact that the lab manual or workbook is integrated into each chapter and the answer keys (if you chose one of the editions with answers keys) appear at the end of each chapter make this text much more modular than most texts on the market. The fact that it is generally free and the text videos are available online make modular use of this book quite possible. The audio for the integrated lab manual is currently only available from the author (this is expected to change in 2016); the author provides the audio files free of charge for partial and complete adoptions. I think this text is about as modular as I would be willing to accept. First year language programs require texts whose material is highly integrated, that is to say that material previously presented, practiced and explained becomes subsumed or repeated in later chapters. This “spiraling” refreshes student memory and helps students develop more complex patterns of expression by combining more discrete expressions acquired in previous chapters. In other words, it is not advisable in a language program to combine many individual chapters from different texts into a pastiche. Nonetheless, any of the chapters in this book could easily be used for review or to bolster a non-traditional language program for which one did not want to adopt a complete text, such as a short term study abroad program to a French speaking country (eg. a SA course on aging in francophone Africa or architecture in France).
The organization flows very naturally and in accordance with ACTFL proficiency tasks, starting with the most immediate context (self, others, people, objects, classroom, family, work) and ending with the more abstract (past, future, commands).
This is the area where lack of development spending by a publisher is most notable. The line art (illustration) is pretty good and the text makes great use of freely available video and photography. I would have no hesitation in adopting this book, but a few things that could be addressed include: Color and style scheme: This textbook is very plain and although well organized, it would benefit from more color and style design. Basic language texts are highly structured, with many thematic sections (dialogues, grammar presentations, cultural observations, listening practice, etc.) that repeat in each chapter. Using a color and style scheme makes these sections more readily identifiable and speeds familiarity with the text for teachers and students. Video links: I reviewed the .pdf as available on lightandmatter.com. There are numerous video clips in the textbook. The videos are on YouTubeTM and generally have 240p resolution, which is low for a desktop and is not the best quality, but works well on mobile devices because of the low demand for data. They worked well on my iPad, iPhone and PC desktop. The video settings in YouTubeTM allow the student to slow the playback to half speed, and YouTube’s software does a pretty good job of preventing audio distortion. The content of the videos is very good, culturally relevant, and is of native speakers of French. Some of the videos have ads. I would suggest using a visual style clue in the text to indicate the presence of links to videos, in addition to the word “clip”—there are also other videos linked in the text without any indication of a link other than the pointer switching to link on mouse over; links should be more prominent and a styling cue will help the user know if their device is failing to detect the link. Following the links on my desktop did not open a new window or a new tab, and as a result navigating back to the textbook always take one back to page one. Following the links on Apple mobile devices allows the videos to be opened in YouTube’s app, so you don’t lose your page in the textbook. Audio links: The audio to accompany the integrated lab manual is pretty good and the actors are native speakers. I would feel comfortable assigning it. To get access to the audio for the integrated lab manual, you will need to contact the author. She plans to have all of the audio online at lightandmatter.com by the end of 2016 so that contacting her will not be necessary. She also plans to rerecord some of the audio clips for better quality and to update any dated material. Each audio file covers an entire chapter, and is 15 to 60 MB, generally too large for mobile devices. Access to the files is currently provided through Drop BoxTM, requiring users to create a free account. It would be nice for these audio files to segmented and linked in the text at each exercise, and without the Drop Box intermediary. Typesetting: The typesetting is pretty good. I would suggest using a smaller font in the margin note textboxes; this will alleviate some of the issues arising from full justification in such a narrow space and will further distinguish the notes from the body text. I am sure the author is still working on cleaning up a few typos, such as: many of the side notes to the student and Au professeur there is a space before the colon and this should be removed; there were some margin notes in which “note” was written in italics and I’m not sure if this was intentional; on page 18, in the box containing “Grammaire: Voir B.3 “Le verb être,” page 42,” “être” should be italicized; on page 21, the asterisks in the center of the Bingo tables need to be centered horizontally and vertically; the portraits on page 25 need to be the same size; on page 40, in the body text and margin note, “tu” and “vous” in “Tu and Vous” should probably be italicized (talking about words as words); on page 49 the Au professeur note overlaps the table; the margin note on page 50 should read “…use of “four score” (“four score and seven years ago”) in the Gettysburg Address”; the last sentence on page 87, about the Marseillaise, needs a period; the Au professeur note on page 170 is set below the page; text in the vocabulary note on page 214 is overset outside the textbox; on page 519 the body text is overset on the right margin; on page 521 text is overset in the margin note; on page 523 there are some issues with the display of the table and images.
I will only comment on the English in the text and on punctuation, as I only have a BA in French (and a PhD in Spanish). I did not see any grammatical or orthographic errors. I think the text has been pretty well proofed, despite a few typos mentioned above.
Liberté presents important behavioral, historical, social and demographic information and encourages culturally appropriate verbal and paraverbal communication practices as well as an appreciation of francophone communities. The book is inclusive of francophone peoples in the Americas, Europe and Africa. I did not see any insensitive material in the book.
I am amazed that a book of this quality is available for free. If I taught first year French (I directed a large first-year Spanish program for ten years) I would very seriously consider adopting this book, and I congratulate the author for single handedly bringing it together. I think the author will continue to improve this book and its adoptions will grow. The only area of concern I have are the audio files; they work pretty well but will need to be segmented and compressed for future mobile users.
This textbook is a first-year book that can be easily used over 2 semesters in a program. It covers functions necessary to reach intermediate-low to intermediate-mid proficiency (although this proficiency would probably be not be reached until the... read more
This textbook is a first-year book that can be easily used over 2 semesters in a program. It covers functions necessary to reach intermediate-low to intermediate-mid proficiency (although this proficiency would probably be not be reached until the 2nd year). It is organized in an order that is expected for this content and is easy to follow. It covers all the typical topics covered in 1st-year programs and provides a large range of cultural information.
I did not notice any inaccuracy overall. One aspect that I would have liked to see is the IPA transcription reflecting more the verbal mode, as it was done sometimes but not others (as for (à demain)). A few vocabulary words don't seem to represent the current standard word, such as "séjour" ou "salle de séjour", used less than "salon" in France.
This book follows well the proficiency guidelines given by ACTFL as well as the 5 Cs. The 5 Cs could be more obviously stated throughout, which could facilitate planning for teachers. This allows the book to be very practical for instructors. There are several cultural instances where questions are asked to make learners compare their own cultures with the ones mentioned in the chapter. Many good questions triggering critical-thinking skill. The particular comparisons mentioned in the text are such that they do not change overtime. The content starts with a focus on words and expands throughout the chapters, adding complexity to the content, the texts and the expectations.
Not too much grammar, which is a good in order not to overwhelm students. It also follows the content that the ACTFL guidelines prescribe for intermediate-low to -mid students would know. There is a clear push for working on pronunciation, with the introduction of the IPA, for which I COMMEND greatly. Maybe beginning books do not emphasize pronunciation as much. The activities are a little bit squished together, making reading them a little difficult to read through the directions and the activities themselves. As mentioned later, the instructions for the activities could be clarified or at least illustrated more often with an example. I understand it is an open textbook, so the quality of the images is decent for this situation. There are however a few pictures a little difficult to see in details and some writings difficult to read without zooming in.
The book is very consistent throughout all chapters. There are the same sections in each chapter, which helps the instructor organize his/her lessons. It also does a good job at recycling material from previous chapters as well. One good example of consistency is the use of the IPA to support pronunciation. However, this means instructors would need to know it. This is a great way to keep pronunciation as consistent and as accurate as possible. Overall, the book follows what most textbooks present in term of communicative functions and themes.
There are many sections in each chapter of the book, which allows for easy use of it. All components of a program is included within this text: the main text, the workbook and lab book. There are some links directly added to view videos. This format makes it for long chapters, but at the same time, all is clumped together. There is also a self-check up at the end of each chapter to see if students are comfortable with the concepts viewed in the chapter. This is a good way to encourage students to reflect on their learning.
Each chapter starts what what students will be able to accomplish, according the the ACTFL proficiency guidelines and based on the national standards, when applicable. It also announces the grammar needed to accomplish those functions. Some instructors will be happy to see that the instructions for in-class activities are in French from the start. Although the notes are in English, as well as the grammar and other sections, which are meant to be covered at home. The early sections of each chapters are in French so that the instructor can use those in class without a need to use English. For home practice, the instructions and explanations are in English to be sure the students understand. The cultural tidbits are also in English, which allows students to understand. Nothing prevents the instructor to repeat it in French in class. With the activities, I think it would be nice if there were more examples before letting students try out. The grammar section is in English and long, but the goal is for students to prepare at home with as many details as possible and a few activities to practice. It would be imperative to have a system that strongly encourage students to read ahead of time, in order to have a class solely based on communication. The lab and workbook activities are also integrated in the same manual. However, it wasn't clear on how to access the audio section. The activities in the workbook did not always seem to be clearly explain. When it asks to use an adjective to complete sentences, it would be helpful for the learners to see what type. Overall, the textbook is well-organized and predictable since it follows the same format throughout each chapter.
The text is linked to a few videos (Youtube videos) and links that allows the learners to navigate through the book. The videos (youtube) are on cultural topics (in English and in French). Besides the videos, which are not numerous, there is not much audio support for outside work. The lab manual comes with some audio (if textbook adopted), but otherwise, this might be a place where more support could be developed. This book is not easily applicable to a Hybrid class, unless the instructor is willing to create a significant amount of auxiliary material, since this textbook does not come with an online platform.
The grammar is accurate and covers the major aspects needed to reach intermediate-low to intermediate-mid proficiency. It is greatly detailed to provide as many opportunities for students to understand it, and in particular, it is in English to help with comprehension. There are quite a few comparisons with the American cultures and English grammar, which is a great way to make an impact on students. There are sometimes many grammatical aspects to be studied in one chapter (as the past and future tenses in the last chapter), which might make acquisition difficult as learners might feel overwhelmed. More practice might be helpful.
The culture aspects are well developed. Except for a few older pieces, the information is accurate, interesting and relevant. There are many cultural windows offering a wide range of information. Some of the windows are linked to a video that brings more meaning to the content.
Overall, it is a good text. I believe there could be a stronger communicative component added to it via the activities. There are good communicative and open-ended activities but not many. Instructors will need to add a few more proficiency-based activities in order to push their students.
First, for anyone interested in this book, click on the 'adopt this book' button to get to the website with the complete version (http://www.lightandmatter.com/french/). The PDF version available for download on the open textbook library site is... read more
First, for anyone interested in this book, click on the 'adopt this book' button to get to the website with the complete version (http://www.lightandmatter.com/french/). The PDF version available for download on the open textbook library site is only a partial version (April 21, 2015). The website (http://www.lightandmatter.com/french/) offers full version (with or w/out answers) for students, and for instructors. *Per this website, the audio recordings used for lab exercises are only available to institutions that adopt the text - upon request to the author. Liberte is fully comprehensive as a 1st year French language textbook, and comparable to similar commercially published textbooks in its extent, topic coverage, grammar, vocabulary, and cultural information. Each chapter is thorough in content, instructional methods, oral and written practice opportunities, and supplementary materials such as direct links to youtube videos, images, and other materials online.
The content is accurate, error-free, and unbiased.
This content is up-to-date and has been written and illustrated in a way that will make most of it relevant for a long period of time. The copyright is 2003 and there are a few things that should be updated at this point. One example would be one or more of the maps of french-speaking countries where country names and geopolitical boundaries have changed since the book was written. However, such examples are few and the text is written and arranged in a way that would make creating necessary updates relatively easy and straightforward to implement.
This textbook is clear, easy to read, and provides exceptional explanation of terminology, from elaboration on basic vocabulary to definition and explanation of instructional terminology.
This book uses a consistent structure for each chapter, and consistent methods of presenting information throughout. I would like to see the wonderful 'self-check' sections that fall at the end of chapters 1-4 added in for the other chapters as well.
Not only is the text easily and readily divisible into smaller reading sections that can be assigned at different points according to different instructor preferences and teaching contexts, but it also is provided in both a full version and as a set where the full version is broken into thirds - for the purpose of smaller course approaches.
This book presents a well-designed organizational structure, and easily flows from one chapter unit to the next, each building upon the earlier chapters. As noted above in the question about interface, the embedded links allow for easy navigation throughout the book itself, and also to supplementary materials online.
The links embedded within the PDF versions of this text make it easy to move throughout the book, and also outside of the book to supplementary materials online.
I did not encounter any grammatical errors - in either the explanatory text, or the exercises, activities, or quizzes.
The text incorporates examples that are inclusive of a variety of races, ethnicities, nationalities, and backgrounds. It represents the spectrum of francophone regions in the images, contextual examples, and cultural information passages.
***This book was created with learner-centered, active learning instructional practices in mind. I particularly appreciate the learning objectives that begin each chapter, and even more, the 'self-check' sections at the end of each of the first four chapters.
Table of Contents
- 1 Bonjour! C a va?
- 2 Ma famille et mes objets personnels
- 3 Le travail et les loisirs
- 4 Sorties et voyages
- 5 Tant de choses a` faire !
- 6 Les voyages de ma famille
- 7 Mon corps
- 8 A table!
- 9 Le monde hier, aujourd’hui, et
- 10 Racontons des histoires
- 11 Au magasin
- 12 Changeons le monde!
About the Book
This French book is aimed at a first-year college student. Its features include:
- Each chapter is built around communicative strategies. Clearly defined objectives in communi- cation, culture, and grammar are given at the start of each chapter, and summary exercises at the end allow students to measure their mastery of these objectives.
- The exercises in the in-class (A) sections are composed mainly of guided practice and extension activities, along with occasional comprehension checks and comprehensible input. Some further activities are indicated in the instructor's marginal notes. The teacher can provide teacher- directed “setting-the-stage” activities, comprehension checks, and further comprehensible input before beginning each section. Many models are provided to the students to give them a secure context in which to practice their vocabulary before they are asked to produce independent language.
- The grammar included is explained in a more narrative form and in more detail than is typical for first-year textbooks. The grammar (B) sections should be read by the students outside of class before the communicative activities requiring those grammar points are done in class. By providing more explicit grammatical detail than is usual in a first-year book, the author hopes to stimulate students to reflect on the grammar of their own language as well as of French, helping students to become aware that their study of French is not just about mastery of a new language and culture, but about a more critical view of their own.
- The amount of grammar is less than is typically contained in a first-year text. The grammar included has been chosen to meet the needs of the communicative goals of each chapter, and these have been selected based on what a student ranking intermediate-low to -mid on the ACTFL oral proficiency scale should be able to accomplish. The grammatical concepts included in this book focus on those that will be needed for the sentences and questions that a typical low-intermediate speaker can form, and those are emphasized repeatedly.
- The book implicitly and explicitly recycles material from previous chapters on a regular basis, so that students can see their learning as a continual progression rather than as a rush from one grammar point to the next.
- The book is ideally used in a classroom with internet and projection capabilities; the PDF version of the book contains hyperlinks to video and audio-based activities as well as navigational links to referenced exercises within the text itself.
About the Contributors
Gretchen Angelo teaches French language and literature at California State University, Los Angeles.