French - Better grasp of grammar

24th February 2012 at 00:00

What's it all about?

I have been running French revision courses for sixth-formers in Brittany since 1990 and have helped prepare more than 1,000 students for their secondary school exams. Many of them suggested I write a book.

But the real reason I began writing it was that most of my students simply did not have a basic grounding in French grammar, writes Caroline Tracey.

The grammar books I have seen are outdated or so bound up in the current structure of topic-based learning that the grammar is lost in specialised vocabulary.

My challenge was twofold. The grammar needed to be very thorough and not topic-based, and the vocabulary kept simple. I made no assumptions of previous knowledge and I wanted to lighten the burden on teachers who are bogged down with topic-based syllabuses.

The idea of my grammar book is that it could be used as a self-teaching book - the explanations are comprehensive; the exercises are structured according to difficulty; and the answers include additional notes that explain where students may have made mistakes. A further challenge was to show that grammar does not have to be boring. I have tried to ensure examples and exercises cover a range of contexts. And in the explanations, I often address myself directly to the reader as if I were there.

The final challenge was getting the book published: mainstream educational publishers showed no interest, so I had to put my money where my mouth is and self-publish. I hope it will give overworked language teachers some valuable assistance.

Find out more

Caroline Tracey is the author of French Grammar: Essential French Grammar for the Sixth Form and Beyond. For details of her courses or to order more than 10 books, visit

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