Newbie Acquiring French [Will my method work?]

General discussion about learning languages
User avatar
Black Belt - 2nd Dan
Posts: 2753
Joined: Wed Jul 22, 2015 11:54 am
Location: Australia
Languages: English (N), French (B2-certified), Dutch (High A2?), Spanish (~A1), German (long-forgotten 99%), Norwegian (false starts in 2020)
Language Log: ... 15&t=16235
x 5994

Re: Newbie Acquiring French [Will my method work?]

Postby PeterMollenburg » Tue Apr 06, 2021 8:19 pm

lysi wrote:
PeterMollenburg wrote:I'm not one to hold imaginary conversations either. I'd sit down, do my study and work the pronunciation hard with every single word.

Absolutely disagree. French orthography is actually very consistent in knowing how to pronounce a word from how it's spelled, but not about how to spell a word from how it's pronounced, so as a learner you don't have need to know how to pronounce every single word. Sure, it's important to work on pronunciation but you don't need to work on every single word.

I agree. I don't look up the pronunciation of every word either, since exactly as you say, French orthography is very consistent.

Firstly, I was speaking about a novice learner in terms of pronunciation where one learns to recognise those predictable orthographical patterns in the beginning stages. So, agreed, once the patterns are discovered, pronunciation of every single word is definitely not necessary. However, to encourage oneself to produce the language not only accurately but frequently in varied word combinations and on varied topics, that is to develop well-rounded output or put simply 'speak', then regular practise, I found is definitely not a bad thing, especially if access to native speakers is not a frequent occurence.

I'm not suggesting that French orthography is a nightmare, I'm providing my experience on improving output and pronunciation. The "every single word" comment is more relevant to the earlier stages of learning French where some learners might avoid speaking aloud or get lazy with their pronunciation. I'm encoraging some focused and consistent hard work. Break down the patterns of pronunciation and develop those muscles.

For me, even once well beyond the beginning stages of any language, I find speaking aloud is good for keeping one's pronunciation on track as well as simulating some kind of output. This isn't everyone's cup of tea or preferred method, of course.

After one recognises the patterns of French pronunciation (which phonemes are represented by which orthography) and has French pronunciation well understood it's not about the perceived difficulty of the pronunciation of the language but about keeping up some good habits to practise output. Speaking aloud becomes more about reinforcement, developing habit or consistent output based on good pronunciation learned from the beginning much like a familiar daily exercise in which keeping fit is important as well as good technique.

Speaking with conversational partners could be just as useful if not better, but I was speaking from experience in that I had no-one to speak with or in truth very rarely. Thus, there's a lot of value (in my opinion) in speaking every word aloud so that when you do speak with someone, you've practised (or simulated) a good deal and are primed for conversation. It might not flow perfectly but at least you'll have spoken most of the words you employ multiple times before.
3 x

White Belt
Posts: 23
Joined: Sun Jan 24, 2021 8:17 pm
Languages: English (N), Korean (B2?), French (B2?)
x 62

Re: Newbie Acquiring French [Will my method work?]

Postby kundalini » Tue Apr 06, 2021 10:05 pm

Le Baron wrote:I just wanted to say that beavering away to get a 'near native accent' is very often a pipe dream and one that menaces your actual progress.

For some time I've thought of pronunciation as a fifth component of language learning, along with listening, speaking, reading, and writing. One can get along perfectly well without a good accent, but then again, many language learners also do fine without learning to read or write at a high level, whether they're greengrocers or professional athletes in a new country.

Pronunciation was probably neglected historically because of a dearth of resources, but technology has made it much easier to make progress for those who are interested.

Accent acquisition is a worthy goal imo, and with appropriate information and proper feedback, I think most people can improve their pronunciation, often significantly.

At the moment I'm making a leisurely effort to improve my accent in French, acquiring one phoneme at a time and incorporating it into my spoken French. Perhaps it's true that a native or near-native accent is a pipe dream for me, but I do not feel that making improvements is one.
3 x

User avatar
Le Baron
Orange Belt
Posts: 211
Joined: Mon Jan 18, 2021 5:14 pm
Location: Pays-Bas
Languages: English (N), Dutch, French, German, Esperanto (a very worthy language). Studying: Spanish, Swahili, rather slowly, but surely. Also Sranantongo in the past with my wife, but it has lapsed.
x 384

Re: Newbie Acquiring French [Will my method work?]

Postby Le Baron » Tue Apr 06, 2021 11:41 pm

I can honestly agree with you. There's nothing wrong with pursuing accent improvement, only when it's an impediment to properly getting speaking in the first place and outweighs functional aspects. It's great to have good pronunciation and I'm always trying to make small improvements. It's just not as important as people imagine.

We would think it absurd to send e.g. Sophia Loren for elocution lessons to improve her English/French diction (she always did excellently despite flaws), or send Gérard Depardieu on an accent reduction course. Yet it's often a coveted goal for language learning.

Of course in the language learning circles lots of people are specifically aiming for language mastery, so it's perfectly understandable to me why it's desired. Also, as we know, different learners have different goals (reading, consuming audio/films rather than mainly verbal communication). Yet for those seeking to get talking in languages for practical communicative reasons, probably because they rapidly need to, it's not that big a deal at the outset. I actually known people who sit at home 'practising correct pronunciation' so that they can finally go out and start speaking properly. Their biggest fear? Saying words with a pronounced accent, slightly 'off' whilst being observed by native speakers and then wanting the floor to open up and swallow them.
2 x

Return to “General Language Discussion”

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: Bing [Bot] and 2 guests