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Peer Review

Liberte: A first year French textbook

by Gretchen Angelo


Overall Numeric Rating:

4.5 stars
Content Quality: 4.5 stars
Effectiveness: 4.5 stars
Ease of Use: 4.5 stars
Reviewed: Mar 23, 2013 by World Languages Editorial Board
Overview: Liberté, by Gretchen Angelo (French-CSU), is a first-year open college French language textbook with an excellent communicative approach. There is a teacher book and a student book. Both can be downloaded in Adobe Acrobat format, and are freely available under the Creative Commons Attribution-Non Commercial-ShareAlike license. There are also extensive audio recordings, which are available free of charge in MP3 format. These recordings are presently available only to teachers using the text for their classes. Each chapter is built around communication strategies, with precise grammar points, and exercises also actual French cultural phenomenon around authentic documents and real “how does it work in France”... Each chapter starts by the objectives: what students will be able to do (communication performances). What they will know about French-Speaking world and what students need to know in order to perform these tasks (grammar structures that would be treated in the chapter).
Type of Material: Downloadable open text. Manual, exercises and sound track. 600 pages. With answers of the questions.
Recommended Uses: In class but can easily be used by a motivated self learner. The purpose of that book is to be used as a textbook to cover the entire needs of a class. Activities, Grammar, Lab activities.
Technical Requirements: n/a
Identify Major Learning Goals: The student can address all the skills-listening, speaking, reading and writing with this textbook.
Target Student Population: Intended for First year college French. Also for independent study.
Prerequisite Knowledge or Skills: n/a

Evaluation and Observation

Content Quality

Rating: 4.5 stars
Strengths: This is a complete, open textbook, somewhat spare on illustration but complete as far as typical first-year material is concerned. While it lacks the glossy maps and diagrams often contained in undergraduate French textbooks, it contains the essential vocabulary and structural content of a typical French manual.
Concerns: Gretchen Angelo is still improving and adding more material to this great textbook. At the time of the review,it was still missing Future simple, conditional and subjunctive.

Potential Effectiveness as a Teaching Tool

Rating: 4.5 stars
Strengths: This textbook is very engaging. The variety of the content and the relevance (up to date) are attractive. There are many uncommon nods to French culture that are really refreshing and can open activities in the classroom. It identifies perfectly the learning objectives and the prerequisite knowledge to perform communicative tasks. This is a teacher/student resource that can be used as an independent study resource. It can inspire assignments and some other curriculum. This is an excellent teaching tool. The explanations on grammar points are very deep and make difficult concept understandable.
Concerns: The text would benefit by a larger number of standards-based communicative exercises in the interpersonal and presentational modes. It can use more realia and more learner-driven and learner-centered activities.

Ease of Use for Both Students and Faculty

Rating: 4.5 stars
Strengths: It is a very well organized and easy to use curriculum. The instructions are clear and consistent and it has a well-structured navigation scheme. Each chapter has 3 parts that are complementary and each new chapter recycles material from previous chapters. The format is very engaging. The sound track is accessible for teachers who will use the textbook in their classroom.
Concerns: The text could be enhanced by more mention of the Francophone world. Online exercises, perhaps on a course wiki or website would add value to this course.

Other Issues and Comments: This book must be considered a pioneer in open textbooks for language instruction and it will provide a cost-effective, direct manner to learn the French language. It would be great to add more Francophone references and perhaps to add some video to complement the grammar-vocabulary activities.