I purchased Alpha Teach Yourself French in 24 Hours (ATYF) quite some time ago, and it has been sitting on my shelf gathering dust. Shameful! ATYF is overflowing with information, with excellent descriptions of concepts, and an exceptional amount of material on exceptions-to-the-rule. At times, maybe too much!
In a sense, the book is like a lesson-based grammar. It slowly goes through each category of information, having already covered nouns and adjectives before even touching on verbs, and only once all these pieces were there getting into prepositions and conjunctions. And while the presentation is thorough, it does make it hard to create examples in the context of real sentences until the book is half-way through.
I would not suggest this for study by itself, or for complete beginners, though this would likely be the perfect text for refreshing your high school French after years away from the language (as it was for me). This course is also not aimed at just conversation, as many courses are. Extended sections are spent on formal communications in writing and for business settings, and literary forms that will not be used in conversation at all are touched on by the end.
Other than numbers, and lists of prepositions or verb forms matching stated exception cases, there is very little effort to provide regular vocabulary in each lesson. Once the last half of the book is reached though, vocabulary learning begins in earnest. The vocabulary is extensive, much more than can be handled in one sitting. This is going to require frequent return and study to get a full handle on.
Overall, the stated goal is that each chapter would take an hour to read. And while one the surface this is true – you can read it straight through in an hour – I spent between two and three hours on every chapter. That included reading it through either once or twice (and taking notes while doing this), then posting from my notes on my blog. And I would not say I spent enough time on the material, especially the vocabulary. So take the “in 24 hours” with a grain of salt.
In any case, I give this book ★★★☆☆. The material is well stated, and very little of the language is left untouched. I just had this feeling of drowning by the end of every lesson.
Alpha Teach Yourself French in 24 Hours
Author: Dr. William Griffin
Soft Cover, 460 pages
Publisher: Alpha Books