Can we get some lessons on the French passé simple?
Given how poorly the passé composé/imparfait distinction is currently covered, I'd rather see improvement in that area before adding in another, much less common past tense
Yeah, the distinction between passé composé/imparfait has got to be a priority, but the passé simple seems to be pretty widely used in storytelling. It would be nice if after finishing the tree one could pick up a novel and (while maybe still needing the help of a dictionary for the vocabulary) be able to recognize grammatically what is going on.
While I take French as a class, there are excellent resources online for finding out the difference between the imparfait and the passé composé. Just search up "imparfait passé composé" on YouTube or some other video site and you'll be good to go. Other than that, when I'm trying to read French stories, I usually look up the passé simple on an online dictionary. In my opinion, it's not worth memorizing the passé simple conjugations, because they aren't used much at all outside « littérature française », but you can also find guides of the passé simple elsewhere online. Tl;dr: the Internet is your friend in this aspect.
It is also important to realize that most verbs in the passé simple can be recognized by a learner who has no knowledge of the tense itself. There are a few tricky ones (such as the être) - but a passage in this tense should be fairly comprehensible. And therefore, since most French learners really only need to recognize the passé simple, teaching here should not be a priority.
The advice that I've gotten from French teachers is to get acquainted with passé simple but don't bother learning it.
Yeap... we never ever use the Passe simple in everyday conversation, unless you want to sound like a pompous idiot.... it is only a tense used in books...
Amd even if all french people will recognize the verb, many of them will still have problem to conjugate some verbs in the passe simple out of the blues... and secondly, that tense sounds HORRIBLE when used with Nous and Vous...