Top positive review
Reviewed in the United States on July 24, 2014
This course and the Michel Thomas course take a similar approach to introducing french. Both use spaced repetition, in which they come back to words and concepts already introduced. Both are based around testing (eg. they ask continually "how would you say") and testing like this is shown to be much more effective than simply reading a word list or dialogue over and over. I did the Michel Thomas course and then this one; if doing it again I'd reverse the order. It is still worth getting both; hearing somewhat different versions of the same material helps reinforce it. This course (and Thomas) require concentration; it isn't something you can do while driving.
I prefer this course to Michel Thomas because the correct response is given by a native French speaker, instead of Thomas who has an accent. In this course the question is posed, there is a pause, then the correct answer. In Thomas you are in a small class as the 3rd student. They often stumble a bit, and if I was in a live class I'd want the Thomas approach because he fixes it by going back to something they know and working forward. But their mistakes on tape may not be your mistakes. Furthermore your fingers get a workout with Thomas since you need to pause after every question, while this course has pauses built in (although in later CDs they seemed a bit too short).
Another plus is this course gives all the verb tenses from the start. The Thomas course standard course only uses some of the verb tenses. And I liked the frequent role-playing ("you are at a market", "you are at a hotel") in which a sample interaction is played out, something you don't find in the Thomas course. One nit is that when Paul prompts for 1st/2nd/3rd person he almost always goes in the same order, so you don't get as much of a testing effect to strengthen your recall as you would if he used a random order.
So can you get by in French after this course? Both this and Michel Thomas seem to imply that in just a few hours using their method you can accomplish what hundreds of classroom hours fail to do for most students. After this course you can form some sentences, have a small but useful vocabulary, and understand how to use some of the pronouns. It's a good start, but both Noble and Thomas play a trick to sidestep conjugation. They teach the full present-tense conjugation of "want" and "can" so that any other verb can be used in the infinitive form (eg. "can we X", "they want Y", where X and Y are verbs you don't know how to conjugate). That's great, it gets you talking, but native speakers are going to conjugate verbs in writing and speech and you simply won't recognize them. After using this course I started with Assimil French, which has simple dialogues that use grammar and verbs well covered in the Noble course but with real conjugations. I found I understood little from the early lessons the first time I heard them. I'm not criticizing Thomas & Noble, actually I strongly endorse them, but I think the marketing oversells what you will learn.