Book review: 6000+ Essential French Words
If you think that the word essential implies "only basic words suitable for beginners", don't be fooled. 6,000 carefully-chosen words is enough to offer a wide range of both basic and more advanced vocabulary as wel shall see.
Advanced, detailed, up-to-date vocabulary
As with most vocabulary books, the words and phrases are organised into a number of topics. Many of these headline topics will sound familiar: General Descriptive Words, People, Family & Relationships, Food & Cooking, School, Work. It's good to see some topical categories such as Social Problems & Controversial Issues and Computers & the Internet.
However, don't be mistaken by some of the simple topic names: this is a vocab book that "goes in deep". The Food & Cooking section isn't just about boring old beef and chips: items such as gésier (gizzard), flétan (halibut) not to mention various other fish I've never even heard of are all on the menu. All of the sections are broken down into subsections whose names reveal the more advanced nature of some of the vocabulary: the cookery section, for example, features Nuts and Grains and Spices; the Travel section, as well as boring old topics like Cars, features a section on Space Travel; within Work as well as a list of professions as you'd expect, we have sections on Advertising, Marketing, Public Relations and Sales; the Sports & Leisure section goes into detailed vocabulary to do with specific sports. (Note that despite topics such marketing and advertising, the book probably isn't quite a substitute for a technical dictionary if you work heavily in one of these fields, though it will get you started.)
The vocabulary is generally up-to-date, detailed and the level of organisation will help students to quickly find a topic that they're genuinely interested in. I found few out-and-out mistakes, but many of the translations are US-specific and a few may be confusing for UK readers. For example, a minivan is definitely not the same thing as a monospace ("people carrier", "Chelsea tractor") to British speakers. Occasionally, the French term given isn't the most usual with the meaning given. For example, in Online Terminology, "bande (passante) large", whilst possibly used in engineering to discuss filters and spectra, is not the usual way of saying "broadband" in the computing sense (haut débit or, especially in Canada, large bande).
All comments and material contained on this page are accurate to the best of the author's knowledge.