Penny Vincenzi endorses learning French with memory tricks

The best-selling novelist Penny Vincenzi needed to learn French to research her book Dangerous Something. Fortunately she approached Maria Rice-Jones, the author of Unforgettable French.

It was the feedback from Penny Vincenzi, and Maria’s other students over the years that recently prompted her to put all her teaching methods, memory tricks and visual aids into a book.

Here are Penny’s thoughts on Unforgettable French:

This is a truly amazing book. At least five years after my one-to-one lessons with Maria Rice Jones, I can remember some of the mnemonics she taught me and that is without using them since.

I went to her for a crash course in French; I was writing a book about Paris in the war and had found an old lady who could tell me about it. Only problem: no English!

 I’d done French O-level and that was all –  and a long time ago. Maria saw no problem with this and sat me down in her study to revive my linguistic memories. Her method is wondrously simple; it uses memory tricks to fix the fiendishly complex French language in your mind.

And all these years later I can still remember a couple: for instance when to use “en” and when to use “à”. If the mode of transport in question has an engine it is “en” if it doesn’t it’s “à”. Thus “en avion” and “en train” but “à bicyclette”.

 And then there’s the little masculine and feminine tricks: again I only remember one, or rather one sequence. Most nouns ending in “e” are feminine and the rest masculine; but not all of them. So, a politically incorrect solution. In the bad old days, only boys went to school; therefore the nouns to do with education were masculine – le livre, un dictionnaire. And indeed in the workplace – traditionally a male domain – le téléphone. By the same token, women are at home in la maison, holding une fleur.

There are thousands more, clever, imaginative tricks and ideas; anyone learning French, needs Maria.  She is God’s gift to the linguistically challenged.

Read some more reviews for Unforgettable French.

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Filed under French, Key Stage, Key Stage 2, Key Stage 3, Reviews, Teaching Ideas

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