Book review: Berlitz 5-Minute Travel: French

Où allez-vous pour les vacances?

If you’re heading off to foreign shores this year and can’t speak the lingo, the new Berlitz 5-Minute Travel series could be just what you need.

Whether you are on holiday or business, being able to speak and understand the rudiments of a language is far more satisfying than hoping everyone else can speak English.

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Focusing on the essential phrases required to get by on a trip abroad, this new series, available in French, Spanish and Italian, promises to help people of any age to learn a new language in minutes.

Does it sound too good to be true? It isn’ five-minute lessons combine workbook activities, challenges, internet research and an audio CD featuring native speakers to help with correct pronunciation.

Developed by language teaching experts, the course is easy to use and can be enjoyed for just a few minutes before or after work, on your daily commute or as you wind down before bedtime.

The book is divided into 99 lessons across 11 colour-coded units which take readers by the hand and guide them gently through the most important vocabulary, phrases, grammar and essential information for a trip abroad.

Preparing for Travel covers the different modes of transport you might encounter, days of the week and months of the year and even vocabulary to help checking in at the airport.

There are greeting and introduction phrases, help with communicating about local places, finding directions, ordering in cafes and restaurants, shopping for souvenirs and enquiring about using computers and phones.

If you are planning a night on the town, there are helpful sections on understanding nightlife vocabulary and even advice on striking up a conversation with a stranger!

And if you need medical attention while you are abroad, the course tells you how to ask for help, what to say to the doctor and a vocabulary list for different body parts.

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Colour illustrations, photos, dialogue, postcards, articles and emails are used throughout to introduce real life situations while special Smart Tip boxes highlight important culture, language and pronunciation information.

A review at the end of each unit provides an opportunity to test your knowledge before progressing to the next level and a glossary at the back is perfect for quick word checks.

So don’t be struck dumb on your travels this year because there’s never been an easier, or quicker, way to get to grips with the basics of a language.

(Berlitz, paperback, £9.99)