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Monday, October 25th
The instructional levels offered by Strokes International include:
Each course can be purchased separately for $60. Or, you can buy the combined package for French 1 and 2 for $101, or all three levels for $141.
Because Strokes is focused on learners within the European Union, American customers should expect to pay at least $30 in shipping fees when selecting any products that aren't available via download. Fortunately, at the time of our review, all of Strokes International's French lessons were download-only.
In general, the Strokes approach uses spoken dialogue interactions with the computer, including a pronunciation trainer, "intuitive" grammar training, vocabulary games and flash cards, a dictionary and conjugation tables, and even the ability to export audio versions of the lessons in MP3 format for learning on the go.
Strokes lets you try a set of three lessons for free, which you will have to download to a computer (it's not available via mobile device or tablet). When we downloaded the trial, it took about two minutes to get it set up. Unfortunately, when we tried to use the system tour, the URL it used never loaded.
So, we went ahead and used the three-lesson sample without much guidance. We started at the very beginning of the French 1 program, and we were left confused. There were a lot of rotating carousels of pixelated images and stock photos with associated French vocabulary beneath them, some grammar pronoun matching with no explanations, and a halfway decent voice recognition module. When we tried to use the specific exercises for grammar, we were only able to see a preview: it's not included in the free trial.
Compared with other French lessons available, the Strokes International program feels very outdated, clunky to use, and not suited for American students. There's almost no user feedback, little customer support, and even the Strokes website has numerous typos and errors - which doesn't inspire much confidence that students will be able to learn and master French using the Strokes system. We recommend that you choose a more up-to-date provider of French lessons among the higher-ranked options in our review.
In order to know which type of French instruction would work well for you, ask yourself this question: "Why do I want to learn French?" For some, learning French is a requirement for school or work. In that case, choosing a provider of French lessons that will deliver the necessary vocabulary and grammar, reading and writing skills, and even pronunciation will be important.
You may want French lessons that will help you be a better-educated traveler. If you frequently visit any one of the 29 countries where French is spoken as an official language - not just France and Canada but also Switzerland, Haiti, Togo, and Madagascar, to name a few - being able to speak French fluently could make a huge difference. And, who wouldn't want to be able to confidently order coffee and a croissant in a Paris cafe?
Finally, individuals with family trees that extend into French-speaking cultures may be interested in learning more about their heritage and connect with living relatives.
With so many options for studying the language independently, what should you look for in the ideal French lessons? Here are some aspects to consider as you evaluate the many programs currently on the market:
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