Question: Are there any textbooks for learning French that are based on the natural method?

What's the natural method, you say? It is a method of learning the language like a child would, that is the textbook would be all in French and would be very easy to read at the beginning, even with no previous knowledge of the language, and then progresses to more advanced texts. There are no translation excercises, no explanations of words or grammar in your mother tongue – the point is to get you to immerse yourself into the language, to start to think in the language. Words that might be difficult are explained by illustrations. Hans Ørberg's Lingua Latina per se illustrata (something like "Latin illustrated in itself") is a perfect example:

Lingua Latina: Familia Romana, Chapter 1

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    Une question très intéressante! Merci de l'avoir posée :) As a French learner myself, I think text(s) like this would be very helpful to new French students, and others who would learn the language. However, I would like to add that learning the grammar behind (any) language is very important, because it allows you to determine the meaning of words and expressions by context, analysis of mode and tense (for verbs), and gender/number rules. That's just my opinion though, depends on your own preference for learning the language :) Apr 4, 2014 at 10:27
  • @ChrisCirefice: Yes, I agree and in Lingua Latina there is always a section in the chapters with grammar (in Latin). There's also a student manual in English (or whatever first language you have), but the aim being, of course, to get you to grasp as much grammar as possible from the text and the notes at the side. But mainly, what I want to avoid in my learning, is to get stuck in trying to understand the language through translation. The comprehension takes too long and you loose the different nuances.
    – citizen
    Apr 4, 2014 at 13:39
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    That may be a stupid guess, but have you considered children books? Like the ones you read to the children aged 3 or less. There is a picture and a simple text, explaining the scene in very simple words, simple grammar etc. You could find something like: "Toto le chien est content de retrouver Robert. Il sourit." With a dog smiling at a man as picture (yes, dogs can smile in children books!). But I'm not totally sure it is what you are looking for.
    – Laurent C.
    Apr 7, 2014 at 15:27
  • @LaurentC.: I actually have and I have some children's books that I'm going to read and I think it's a great alternative to what I'm looking for. But there's also the trouble finding/buying all these books and you can't work with one book or one series of books for the same amount of time you could work with the kind of textbook I'm looking for.
    – citizen
    Apr 7, 2014 at 20:04
  • Based on the description alone, the intended method may be either the natural approach by Stephen Krashen and Tracy Terrell (1970s-1980s), or the older direct method (sometimes called the "natural method", adding confusion). In both methods, spoken communication comes before reading and writing, while Latin instruction focuses on reading, not spoken communication.
    – Tsundoku
    Oct 7, 2016 at 12:40

3 Answers 3


@citizen: That's a great question... The only book that I have been able to find that matches your description, is a book called "Easy French Reader," by R. de Roussy de Sales (ISBN 978-0-07-142848-4). The book starts off with "easy" stories, and the level of difficulty progresses with each chapter. There is a small glossary, and on average about three of the more difficult words appear on the right margin of the page. The book starts off with fictional stories, moves on to stories about the history of France, and ends with excerpts from stories written by French authors.

I've found this book to be extremely helpful, but I've had difficulty finding more that are like it. If you can find any more books like this one, post the info--I would greatly appreciate it. Whether this book is what you're looking for or not, I wish you the best of luck, and happy reading!

  • This seems to be almost exactly what I'm looking for. Judging from Amazon's preview, it might not be as geniously designed as Lingua Latina per se illustrata, but nonetheless it seems to have a lot of the things I'm looking for and that it might be a very good book. Thanks!
    – citizen
    Apr 11, 2014 at 18:14

Worman, J. H.: First French Book after the Natural Method. Woman's Language Series. 1883. (Scanned by Google Books.)

It is not clear to what extent this "natural method" is related to the direct method (sometimes natural method) that Maximilian Berlitz introduced in the late 19th century.


Great question! As far as the books go, my all time favourite is "The Little Prince" : Wiki link

Read it in 4 different languages that I had to learn throughout the past 10 years. There's no vocab on the side, but the text is as simple as it gets.

Good luck!

  • The Little Prince is a book but not a textbook.
    – Tsundoku
    Oct 7, 2016 at 16:57

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