On with the Motley

This is my review of Mot a Mot Fifth Edition: New Advanced French Vocabulary by Paul Humberstone.

Although I believe this is designed for AS level students, with more advanced vocabulary for A2 shown in bold, it is also useful for adult students with a grasp of the basics, who want to have at their fingertips the turns of phrase needed in conversation or written exercises.

I like the way the material is themed: phrases to enrich conversation, e.g. "A mon avis" or "Je ne suis pas d'accord"; some common synonyms and easily confused "false friends" like "versatile" in French which means "volatile" in English; aspects of everyday life, even into such details as emotional life, sun worshipping, eating disorders and tobacco addiction;topics of conversation such as many aspects of the workplace, politics, the tabloid press, celebrity, the environment – it's hard to think of a neglected aspect.

Since this is not a dictionary, it may be hard to locate a particular word, or check if it is even listed, so I see this as a book to browse, say when waiting for a bus, or to consult before embarking on a conversation or essay on a specific topic.

If you had mastery of all the entries, your French would be quite impressive. It is true that it can be hard to learn from lists of phrases. To get more than the general benefit of reading the entries several times, you probably need a learning strategy: for instance, to stimulate one's brain, suggest the French for an English phrase before looking at the version given. Another approach is to practise using each phrase in a specific example.

On a "little and often" basis, I hope this handy reference book will make a noticeable difference to my French over the next few months.

⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ 5 Stars

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