French Basic Course Table of Contents


French Basic Course (Revised) draws heavily on the 1960 French Basic Course by Dan Desberg and associates and incorporates the 1967 French Supplementary Exercises by Robert Salazar. It owes a debt to the many people who have contributed to the evolution of language instruction since the establishment of the Foreign Service Institute. One member of the staff in the early years whose part should be especially recognized is Naomi Pekmezian, first supervisor of French instruction at FSI.

Monique Cossard planned the revision, coordinated the efforts of the many staff members participating in the work, and revised the grammar notes which, in their earlier form, had presented difficulties to students. The dialogues, of which she was the author in the 1960 edition, remain unchanged.

With only minor exceptions, all parts of the volume have been tape recorded. Alain Mornu served as chairman of the recording group and Mr. Salazar served as consultant. Voices on the recordings are those of David Deceuninck, Elizabeth Barnett de Maynadier, Bernadette Ernould, Annie Goldmark, Paulette Martin, Annie Procopio, Jacqueline Taylor, Ketty Blanchy Thompson, Mr. Mornu and Mr. Salazar. The recordings were made in the FSI studio under the technical direction of Jose Ramirez, with help from Albert Whiting. Mr. Mornu checked and edited the tape recordings and cross referenced the printed text to the tapes.

The cover and title page were prepared by John McClelland of the FSI Audiovisual Staff, with assistance from Joseph Sadote, Acting Head of the unit. The photography which provides the background for the cover of this book is the work of Claude Abron, a French Language instructor. The volume was typed by Francine Haughey, who, with Mr. Mornu, Mr. Deceuninck and Catherine Hanna, did the proofreading of the French portions. The English portions were proofread by Joann Tench Meeks. The work has had the benefit of feedback from all members of the French teaching staff and valuable counsel from Dr. C. Cleland Harris, Chairman of the Romance language Department.

James R. Firth, Dean
School of Language Studies
Foreign Service Institute
Department of State


Planned in two volumes, French Basic Course (Revised) has been designed to help students reach a level of proficiency which will enable them to participate effectively in most formal and informal conversations. The dialogues, drills, situations and narrations have been tape-recorded unless otherwise indicated in the text.

For beginning students, the twenty-four units are designed for a six-month intensive training program of six hours of class per day, plus outside preparation. Each unit presents a situational topic introduced in a dialogue, and usually five grammar points. Each grammar point is preceded by grammar notes which generally are expressed in non-technical terms.

Other units include materials of the following kinds.

  1. A dialogue to provide a body of natural French conversation as a source for subsequent drills and exercises. (At FSI these dialogues are commonly memorized.)
  2. Useful words to supplement the vocabulary with a limited number of additional words, usually related to the topic of the dialogue.
  3. Vocabulary awareness to enable the student to better identify the elements of the utterances he learned as a whole and to regroup and review vocabulary.
  4. Drills of six different kinds, each type designed for a specific purpose.
    • Lexical drills to manipulate already acquired vocabulary and improve fluency.
    • Learning drills to introduce new grammar points (with reference to the corresponding grammar notes).
    • Practice drills to give the student an opportunity to illustrate in sentences the grammar point he just covered.
    • Question / Answer drills to prepare the student for normal conversation.
    • Review drills (Drills preceded by an (%) have been included for optional use with fast-moving students.)
  5. Situations to improve comprehension and serve as a basis for questions and elementary conversation.
  6. Narrations to provide reading material and introduce a very limited number of vocabulary items.
  7. Written exercises to offer to the student opportunity to relate the spoken language to the writing system.

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