A Collection of Reviews and Comments


LAURA K. LAWLESS is probably the world's most well-known French language guide of the very popular Web site. Here is her review of the book and audio CD:

Guide Rating and Review

Les Portes Tordues, by Dr. Kathie Dior
Reviewed by Laura K. Lawless

Guide Rating -

Les Portes Tordues: The Scariest Way in the World to Learn French is a unique book aimed at upper beginning and intermediate students. In fact, it is so unique that it's rather difficult to categorize, because it's a French-English bilingual book, grammar book, and audio book all rolled into one.

Les Portes Tordues recounts the mysterious adventures of a girl and boy trapped in a scary house with twisted doors, and is illustrated with 37 Victorian-like black-and-white illustrations. But there's much more to Les Portes Tordues than just the story! Each chapter contains the following:

  1. Passage from the book, in French and English
  2. Audio track of the French passage
  3. List of tricky vocabulary
  4. Grammar lesson (mainly verbs and idiomatic expressions)
  5. Grammar quiz
  6. Answers to quiz

The first 12 chapters cover basic French grammar in short, easy passages. From chapter 13 on, the story passages get progressively longer and more difficult, and the grammar lessons are very cleverly incorporated into the story itself. For example, in order to open locked doors, the protagonists have to recite certain vocabulary lists or verb conjugations that were discussed in earlier chapters. In the last chapters of the book, a thorough grammar and vocabulary review is woven into the story. Instructions within each chapter are written in a friendly yet distinctly professorial style. A French-to-English vocabulary list and index completes the book.

On the audio CD, the narrator (a native French-speaking university instructor) dramatically recites the French with a different voice for each character. (Note from the editor: Actually the author plays the tiny roles of Henri and the old man.) The narrator's recitation is clear and fairly slow - intermediate students shouldn't have any trouble understanding.

Although Les Portes Tordues is written for upper beginning- to intermediate-level students, with a little creative thinking it can be used by just about anyone: absolute beginners can practice listening while following along in the book, to get used to the sound and appearance of French; teachers can use it during story time - listen to a chapter or two, review the grammar, lead a discussion, and then pass out photocopies of the text; etc.

The 160+ page book is available in a perfect binding. The audio CD is just over an hour long and each chapter sits on one track, so it's easy to stop and start again right where you left off.

Les Portes Tordues is self-published, so the only way to buy it is directly from the author. (Note from the editor: This situation has recently changed and the book is now also available through a distributor.) To learn more about Dr. Kathie Dior, read and listen to a sample chapter, and order the book, please visit Web site (or call 1-877-622-3176 or 1-765-471-2249) - but watch out for the twisted doors! :-)


PROFESSOR L. WOODWARD, Houston, Texas: "As an educator, I see your book as one of the absolute best language learning tools I have ever seen."


"This is certainly the scariest way to learn Spanish and it is also a fun way. The book takes you through a scary story of adventurous children in a scary house, which has many large wooden doors which present challenges. This in itself makes it fun. It also gives it a feeling of structure and makes the student want to continue to find out what happens. What makes it a challenge is that you can’t just go on, you have to answer questions and get them right before you can move on; yet another great tactic to get students to learn and enjoy it. The use of wide ranging vocabulary means that it is a good opportunity to pick up plenty of vocabulary, but with the line by line translations it is not a problem if you find it a lot at once. The format is well thought out with pages especially for notes in each chapter, always useful for when you come to look through the book again. Also there is a useful glossary at the back of the book to look up vocabulary.

What really makes this book work is the interconnection between the stories and the chapters and tests. The challenge is linguistic, but it feels like a game or a puzzle, something more fun than conventional learning. However, it did strike me that there is an emphasis on thorough learning, which is a crucial aspect of language learning. There is a CD which comes with this book, which helps anyone learning on their own. You can listen to the stories being read out in each chapter, which brings the book to life and also demonstrates how it should be pronounced. (The recording is in South American Spanish).

All in all, this is a unique idea for learning, because it is plot driven, which makes it exciting. Originally it was conceived of in French, but I think this is a great Spanish version of the book, and I would recommend it to learners who want something less conventional, or especially for younger learners who find the standard books boring and hard to concentrate on. Learning doesn’t have to be boring and this book proves that!"


Editor-in-Chief and Executive Director respectively of the past AFAC-Internet French Club (IFC).
Here was their review:

"French teachers now have a brilliant tool to make learning French grammar and verb conjugation fun and interesting for their students in the innovative workbook and story "Les Portes Tordues". Developed by Dr. Kathie Dior, the workbook and accompanying CD take students to a mysterious and scary world where knowing how to correctly conjugate French verbs can be a matter of life or death.

The story at the heart of "Les Portes Tordues" centers around Françoise and Henri, two children trapped in a mysterious house that may be haunted. As they try to escape, both children must count in French, know colors and expressions in French, and conjugate French verbs. Each chapter teaches a variety of vocabulary and verb conjugations which students must master in order to proceed to the next chapter.

"Les Portes Tordues" is an excellent supplemental tool for teachers of all levels of French. Students will learn to conjugate regular, irregular and reflexive verbs and to use indirect object pronouns. They can also improve their pronunciation and listening skills by reading aloud and listening to the accompanying CD. Beginning French students can easily follow the French narration by reading the English translation, which follows the French text line for line. Advanced students will enjoy reading the story as well. The more advanced vocabulary and verb conjugations provided with each chapter promotes sentence building and true fluency. The text is written so that each chapter is a bit longer and more advanced than the previous one so as to ease students into the story. By the time students are reading full pages of text, they will be so immersed in the story that they won't mind (or notice) the extra work.

IFC Editors recommend "Les Portes Tordues" French language workbook. It is engaging, exciting and provides excellent language reinforcement. "Les Portes Tordues" is a must for any French language classroom."

JOSEPH Q. DAILY, Fine Artist extraordinaire,

"I just wanted to join the list of people singing the praises of The Twisted Doors. It is easily the best foreign language tool I have ever come across! Having made several false starts trying to teach myself various languages, I am finding that reading (and hearing) French in the context of a story is the best mode of learning for me.

This French reader is unique in that the text is specifically designed to build the reader's vocabulary and grammar in a seamless progression, AND it contains a full line-by-line English translation, in addition to basic end-of-chapter reviews and a thorough glossary. Considering its purpose as a learning tool, the story is plenty gripping, and no less enjoyable for its campy elements. Moreover, the CD narration guides the reader through a nice variety of pacing, emotion, and intonation, and my wife and I have quite a good time attempting to imitate the characters' voices."

CHRIS THOMAS, East Sussex, Great Britain, professional British playwright, producer, and photographer, gave the book a 5-star rating on the Barnes and Noble site.  Here is her review:


"What an exciting way to learn French!
This is the most exciting way I have ever come across for learning a foreign language. The book is written as an adventure in French, with English translation for each chapter. Although the reader is impatient to find out what happens next, unless the vocabulary and exercises are completed to a satisfactory degree, continuing to the next chapter is strictly forbidden. This in itself is an incentive to do the necessary work! The information will be needed later in the book, so it's best to learn it properly to begin with. The story is so exciting that the student is compelled to learn each step thoroughly in order to find out what happens next. The combination of a suspense story with the exercises results in a thoroughly enjoyable and exciting way to learn French."

JUDITH CUNEO, California, international flight attendant, gave the book a 5-star rating on the Barnes and Noble site.  Here is her review:

"Mysterious twist to learning French
This book is very different from other language books. Instead of conjugating verbs and memorizing rules of grammar, the reader finds himself drawn into an intriguing bilingual mystery. The twists and turns in the story provide great motivation to continue to the next chapter and on to the final surprise ending. In addition, the author uses everyday French phrases instead of the stilted sentences of the typical language textbooks. Since my high school French was over 20 years ago, I was surprised at how much I learned and how quickly I progressed. Now that I have completed the book, it is fun to pick it up and see how much I can read without looking at the English translation. And the review provided at the end is a great reference for vocabulary and many common verbs."

FRANCISCO S., entrepreneur, Buenos Aires, Argentina, gave the book a 5-star rating on the Barnes and Noble site.  Here is his review:


"As in the North as in the South,"The Twisted Doors" For Learning French!
I am studying French at home without a teacher. "The Twisted Doors" book and its accompanying audio CD is the most helpful learning material I have bought. Not only is it very easy to study with this book, but it also seems to have something magical that keeps me always in a studying mood. The author, Kathie Dior, knows very well what the student needs, and it is written in that sense. The audio CD was recorded with high quality sound. The voice has a special intonation according to the situation described, which helps in the understanding of the text. There are many French books available for purchase on the Web and here in my homeland of Argentina. But this book is the best."

GLENDY, Hong Kong: "Hola, Señoria Kathie, "¿Me recordas? Quiero decirle que me gusta mucho su libro!! Ya he completado un curso fundametal de español por principiante. Su libro es muy interesante y útil. Los audio récords me dan la impresión fuerte que todos los vocablos llegan a ser básico y solido. Este libro, todas las cosa como la historia, la combinacion entres lo texto y la parte audio, las lecciónes sobre las gramaticas, etc es a las mil maravillas : MUCHAS GRACIAS. Como el estudiante principiante, su libro abre las puertas por la imaginació manera nuerva y importante de aprender la lengua extranjero. Me alegro que puedo encontrar su libro. Espero que vas a escribir otros libros....dentro de poco. Lo siento que mi escrito se parece rara. Pero sin embargo, me gusta decirle MUCHAS GRACIAS."

ETHELYN R., Sunrise, Florida: "I have enjoyed it so much that I would like to give it as a gift to my friend..."

J. DATESMAN, former Dean of Students at Lake Forest Academy in Illinois: "I love your French story as a way to learn French. As a former teacher, I approve!"

GLENDA P., Cardiff by the Sea, California: "I have really enjoyed your book. I hope you are thinking about another book!...The CD is an excellent addition to the book."

TREVER TALBERT, Thomasville, NC: "I just wanted to write a quick note to say that I am really enjoying Les Portes Tordues. I have traditionally had a miserable time with language books because of lack of interest - spending weeks learning to count the weekdays, etc. "Les Portes Tordues" has been very enjoyable because of its immediate immersion in "real" language, as well as the fact that there's a story so there's actually something to maintain interest as I go. This is extremely important for me since my wife and I will be moving from the US to France in about 4 months!"

ELISABETH TIMENCHIK, Israel: "Each time I listen/read to the French version I marvel how fine it is made both in terms of pedagogic as well as in terms of tellling the story. I especially like the point about the verb "etre" written on the tombstone. I think "Les Portes Tordues" is a wonderful product."

CATHERINE FORD, French teacher, South Korea: "I am really excited to be using your wonderful resource with my high school French classes. I ordered it a few weeks ago and am using it in South Korea!"

We have many other wonderful reviews, but we don't have the time to post them all.

[French & Spanish Home and Ordering]      [French Sample Chapter]      [Fr. & Span. Description]      [Spanish Sample Chapter]

[ESL/EFL Home Page: Learn English!]

LES PORTES TORDUES (The Twisted Doors):
The Scariest Way in the World to Learn French! ISBN 9780971022713

The Scariest Way in the World to Learn Spanish! ISBN 9780971022720

THE TWISTED DOORS: The Scariest Way in the World to Learn English!
ISBN 9780971022737 (Teacher's ESL/EFL Edition)
ISBN 9780971022744 (Student's ESL/EFL Edition)

Copyright© 2000-2015 Kathie Dior
All Rights Reserved. (French and Spanish Books) (ESL EFL ELL Book: Learn English!)