Practice Makes Perfect: French Verb Tenses
March 10, 2013
Author Trudie Maria Booth
Series Practice Makes Perfect
Publication Date 2008
Skill Level Beginner, Intermediate, Advanced
Practice Makes Perfect: French Verb Tenses by Trudie Maria Booth is appropriate for advanced beginners, intermediate, and advanced students. I am in general partial to books on verbs, because verbs are so central to language and communication. I am also in general partial to the Practice Makes Perfect series from McGraw-Hill, because the books in it contain more exercises than any other grammar series I have used.
Unfortunately, I was disappointed by Practice Makes Perfect: French Verb Tenses. Exercise design is critical, and in this book, the exercises are flawed.
Sometimes they are too long and therefore tedious. In addition, there are too many exercises without answers—for example, four exercises in a row on pages 175-6 that ask for subjective responses to questions such as, Qu’est-ce que vous feriez si vous étiez très riche? Qu’est-ce que vous ne feriez pas? (What would you do if you were very rich? What would you not do?) If you are using this book on your own, without benefit of tutor or teacher, answerless exercises are pointless and annoying.
Other exercises don’t give you enough room to respond. That may sound trivial, but when you repeatedly have to squish your answers into tiny spaces and then try to read what you’ve written while checking back and forth against the answer key, it gets cumulatively annoying.
In one case, I was asked to translate a paragraph from English to French, but the lines for the translation were on the back side of the page where the English was. You can’t flip back and forth every three words to see what you’re translating; it just isn’t manageable. So I crammed the translation into the margins next to the English and made a big mess.
Over the course of an entire grammar book, small inconveniences can add up and dent the pleasure of studying.
McGraw-Hill rather prolifically issues new editions of these Practice Makes Perfect books with, in my experience, little difference between editions. Please note that this review is for the 2008 version of Practice Makes Perfect: French Verb Tenses; a second edition came out in 2012. The newer edition includes additional review exercises at the back. I don’t see other differences, but it is entirely possible that there are additional changes of which I am unaware.