Re: Nótaí Galaxyrocker -- Irish and French with wanderlust ramblings

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galaxyrocker
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Re: Nótaí Galaxyrocker -- Irish and French without wanderlust ramblings

Postby galaxyrocker » Thu Jan 13, 2022 9:16 pm

We're two weeks into 2022 and I have yet to write anything...sounds typical!

That said, I'm now back in Dublin and have been trying to do something with French daily. Usually part of a lesson in Graimmaire Progressive. I skipped the A1 book and went straight to the A2-B1 book, as it seems to cover most everything the same, just spending less time on some basic stuff like conjugations of être and agreement between nouns and adjectives, etc.

I'm seriously considering classes at Allaince Française, and I tested into their A1.3 level, which is about what I expected.My only worry is that they're going to go much slower than I need to or want to go. It seems they're only going to cover basically four to six lessons over the eight weeks. I'll still likely pay for it, but also work through the book on my own outside to try to move faster (coupled with Anki, etc. I should be able to). They're using Tendances so I have to buy that and the workbook. I've thought of using iTalki and going at my own pace as I self-study but the AF gives 16 hours of contact for €205, which is quite hard to beat, even if I'm taking into account the costs of the two books I'll have to buy. Nobody on iTalki gives near that much of a deal. I just worry I'll be held back now that I'm focused in. Though it certainly would be good for my production skills, which are sorely lacking compared to my active ones, reading especially.

I've also flitted back with doing Duolingo again, and once you make it outside the basics it's not awful if you set it to type. Though I do hate it gives me little to no typing in French, it's mostly also moved away from translating to English, instead having me pick the correct French word (multiple choice, which isn't good, imo, when they could have me translate it from English and type it). But it might be a bit of a better supplement now that I've tested out of those beginning levels (and some tests you could do without knowing anything the answers were basically given to you, another instance of how flawed it is). I don't particularly like it, but I can see how it'd help me get reading skills, and that's what matters.

Otherwise, after this eight week session at the AF is over, I'm not sure if I'll continue on with them. Maybe, if they let me skip from A1.4 to something higher (depending on ability, of course and if I can actually improve that much), and I'm looking at doing an immersion stay in Brest over our two week break if I can afford it (and looking at part time jobs so I can afford it!), which should really help. All to hopefully do a masters I haven't heard back from! But, if not this year, maybe next year it would work out, and I can either return to teaching in America or do a data science/programming type job here in Ireland as that's what most of my classes are like for the next term, which starts Monday. It's quite frustrating not hearing back from them, but I did send another email today to basically the whole department, so we'll see what happens tomorrow and early next week.

With Irish, I haven't done much at all. Some use online, but not even that really. I was hoping to do a course, but French is going to have to take priority, along with my studies and any possible part time job (maybe teaching Irish, something I've got in the works).

Otherwise, it's just a waiting game from Brest, hoping that I can somehow slip in even without Breton/Welsh or French. Thankfully it's a bilingual program, so there might be some hope especially if I can do English-based courses the first semester or really get my butt in gear to learn French. Here's hoping. I'd also appreciate any graded French readers y'all can offer. I looked around the International Bookstore some the other day and didn't see any, but I'll check again when I'm there tomorrow and see what I can find.
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Re: Nótaí Galaxyrocker -- Irish and French with wanderlust ramblings

Postby Xenops » Thu Jan 13, 2022 9:50 pm

Just some thoughts in favor of iTalki:

1. It’s one-to-one tutoring, so you’re not competing with other students.

2. You can do trials with tutors, rather than pay ahead and possibly be stuck with one instructor you don’t like.
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Re: Nótaí Galaxyrocker -- Irish and French with wanderlust ramblings

Postby galaxyrocker » Wed Jan 26, 2022 11:49 am

Still working away, slowly, at French. Trying to immerse as much as possible, but honestly not doing as much as I would like or need to in my opinion. That said, I've changed my class schedule up so now I only have three modules instead of six, which should give me a lot more time to focus in on French in that spare time.

I'm also having second thoughts doing a class with the Alliance-Français. They cover a unit and a half in their A1 textbook in 8 weeks. I feel I could get the textbook (Tendances) and the activity book with corrections and probably go much faster. Yes, I won't get the output, but I can use iTalki for things like output as long as I can internalize the grammar and work on my aural and reading comprehension. It's €205, which I can easily afford, and is 16 contact hours but I feel they just go quite slow, slower than I can and need to progress (which makes sense as their goals are not the same as mine). Thoughts on this?


I did hear back from Brest, and all seems to be a go there. I'll apply in April (weirdly enough, even though I'm not an EU citizen, I can still apply via the EU process as I'm an EU resident), hear back in June which is when I'll have the French interview. Hopefully by then I'll have been able to do a week or two in Brest itself (or some other part of France) doing a homestay and taking immersion classes, and maybe another week right before the interview even as my modules finish at the end of April and I have no finals, though that will depend on my research project.
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Re: Nótaí Galaxyrocker -- Irish and French with wanderlust ramblings

Postby DaveAgain » Wed Jan 26, 2022 1:24 pm

galaxyrocker wrote:I'd also appreciate any graded French readers y'all can offer. I looked around the International Bookstore some the other day and didn't see any, but I'll check again when I'm there tomorrow and see what I can find.


I'll apply in April (weirdly enough, even though I'm not an EU citizen, I can still apply via the EU process as I'm an EU resident),
If you can create an account with Culturetheque.com (this seems to vary by country) you could borrow some graded readers from there.
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Re: Nótaí Galaxyrocker -- Irish and French with wanderlust ramblings

Postby galaxyrocker » Sun Feb 13, 2022 11:29 pm

I decided against doing the AF course. Having picked up the Tendance A1 book that they use, I'm glad I made this decision. The lessons are two pages each, same in the workbook, and there's only four per unit. They were going to take eight weeks to cover 6 lessons (a unit and a half), plus a 'project' at the end of the units. That's just way too slow when I can do a lesson a day reasonably well, without many difficulties in the exercises (usually just mixing gender of nouns, which can be fixed, or not knowing enough vocabulary, which can also be fixed). I'm already almost done with Unit 2 and a good chance I could have Unit 3 done by the end of the week.

I've been going through the Nature Method book as another one -- French for Reading, since my purpose is academic reading. I don't focus much on understanding everything in the NM one, but on getting the general gist of the chapter and being able to answer the questions at the end of it. Perhaps I should focus more on it, especially as there's two version of the audio online now. I do usually listen to the audio while I go through it, or on a second read-through.

Furthermore, I've been doing the 'Grammaire progressive' A2-B1 book, though I do need to pick up my pace in that.

Finally, with French, I've done the placement test for an immersion programme in Nice -- we've a two week break the week before and the week of St. Patrick's Day (and I honestly have no intention of spending St. Patrick's Day in Dublin -- I've heard it's a mess and I really don't care to experience that), and I'm hoping I can get some valuable immersion. I've not been doing really any output, and little-to-no input except reading and grammar study, honestly. I just don't have the interest in many TV shows or movies, though I'm going to try to give it a go as a way to 'relax' at the end of the day. I do still try to listen to a podcast, but I'm not consistent with it, and often zone out anyway. That said, I tested into their 'Intermediate 1', though the quiz was really solely based on grammar and I could guess a decent amount from where I studied before. I'd likely drop down to the highest level of beginner, if I do it. Now it's just trying to figure out what the cost would be, as well as the deal with flying to France. The new CoViD rules make things annoying: from Feb 1 if it was 9 months between second shot and booster, you're not longer considered fully vaccinated. Mine was slightly more, because I was here in Ireland and couldn't get the booster here, but it also happened before the Feb 1 change, which I've heard means that I'm in the clear. And of course, once I get there I have to get an EU covid pass, as Ireland doesn't give the QR codes to foreigners, but it seems most French pharmacies tend to do so. So that'll be fun, I'm sure. Emailed our international advisor today about it, and might email the French embassy tomorrow as well just to be sure, especially if the program in Nice is reasonably priced. Fingers crossed with it.

As for Irish, I've actually done some more with it. We've started playing AoE 2 via Discord...through Irish. Generally on Saturday night, and it's been quite the fun time. Something new to do with the language, definitely. I've also gotten into the National Folklore Collection last week, and hope to get some star names collected when I visit again tomorrow. It'll be great fun and I'm looking forwards to reading the manuscripts (one from a region where Irish is now extinct, but apparently collected 15 pages of star lore). I'm excited for that. I need to get back to listening to Iris Aniar in the mornings, or episodes of Comhrá or the corpus from Connemara I bought, as well as reading. That'd really solidify things and push me to that next level, where I just need lots of immersion (especially pronunciation).

I've also decided to turn my attention to trying to get a job in Galway. If I can do that, or one where I can work from home, I likely won't return to teaching and would even turn down France. I'd do what I could to move to the Gaeltacht and work (why I'd love the work from home one), and just live my life through Irish as much as possible, as well as study and do what I can to promote the language from the speech community. Eventually, I'd still pursue a masters/PhD, likely at NUIG, but that'd be after I get Irish citizenship and all that fun jazz. There's also such a thing as PhD by publication, so if I could use my time there to write some high quality articles, it could be great. Especially in terms of descriptive material, etc. That'd take priority over going to France, even, which takes priority over returning to teaching. Not sure if I really want to spend more time in Dublin, honestly. Part of me loves the city, but a good part of me doesn't really feel anything for it. It's weird.

Though I'm not sure if I'd return to teaching at all, if I could get some tech job in Nashville or a work from home job in the States. That'd be nice too, even if I have been promised accelerated classes in every subject I'd teach and get 3 months off out of the year to do independent research/travel/etc and get my student loans forgiven...Damn, doesn't sound that bad actually. But it's all really up in the air, so we'll see. Connemara or France are definitely the main two goals, though.
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Re: Nótaí Galaxyrocker -- Irish and French with wanderlust ramblings

Postby galaxyrocker » Sun Feb 20, 2022 9:17 pm

Looks like Nice is on the table, and I hope to finalize everything tomorrow. I'm a little nervous about it, which is odd as I never felt any of this when I traveled to Malága or Quintana Roo for Spanish courses, with the latter definitely being much more involved as I had to actually order a bus ticket in Spanish, then pay attention to make sure I got the correct stop, etc. I'm not sure if it's CoViD or what, but I'm sure it'll go away and dealing with it will be a great experience for me. With regards to CoViD, it turns out that if it's been after 9 months since you got your second shot, you have to have the booster to be considered 'fully vaccinated'. It's not that you have to get said booster before the nine months is up. I'll still likely get an antigen test the day before just to 100% guarantee I can get on the flight, but it should be set to go! I'll be doing 30 hours of courses both weeks I'll be there, so it should be fairly intense, which I hope is what'll help me the most.

I've found I can generally read things well, thanks to Nature Method and French for Reading, but my listening comprehension and productive abilities are lagging far behind. With regards to the former, I've started watching La Révolution on Netflix. It's a struggle, because I really can't sit still and watch TV (apart from sports), but I found it interesting. It's a shame it's already been canceled. As of now, I'm watching with English subtitles as that helps me to pay attention to the French words I do know, but I might shift into the future. I'm also open to any toher French TV show recommendations, especially anything scifi/fantasy related or live action game shows, trivia,etc. Otherwise, I might just watch dubbed Netflix.


I've also been listening to Assimil's New French series. I'm not working through the books and not shadowing the exercises as I should (mainly because I listen while walking to and from class, or waiting around others), but I do listen repeatedly until I can make sure I understand everything that's going on in the episode. I've worked through the first 50 or so before, so it's good to get back to them. I also did give another listen to Hugo's great Inner French intermediate podcast. Vocab is definitely my biggest weakness.

Which I've been working on. I downloaded the Anki 5000 most common French words list and have been going through it (semi-regularly) in the French> English direction. I need to start adding the other direction to help my recall and make them more active. Other than that, I've just been trying to get words via reading from context from the two books I'm reading through.

As to Irish, I haven't been able to do as much as I'd like simply because French has taken my focus, but I still play some games in Irish weekly, as well as do a Connemara Irish reading group and go to the Irish speaking bar in Dublin. It's part of my life that it's not hard to use and maintain, even if I feel my level weakening. Depending on how stuff for my thesis and France/jobs works out, I hope to maybe move out west to Connemara during the summer to write/finalize things with it and just basically use Irish all the time -- if it doesn't put in on my French too much, which is the key thing at least until June.

That said, if I can find a job in Galway/work from home that would let me live in Connemara, I'd probably take it over France. While I'd love to get a masters/PhD in Celtic Studies, I can always read and work as an independent scholar, and I'd be in a good spot if I had the chance to live amongst native speakers and record the best ones we can to help preserve the language, etc. And there's also always returning home to America, which does sound good at times when I talk to my friends/family. We'll just have to play everything by ear as regards those things. It's very possible I won't be able to get a job quick enough and my French won't be good enough, which would basically force me back to America (in December, at the latest). There's also the whole point of what I want to do with my life. I enjoyed teaching due to the time off and, at least for being unmarried in rural Kentucky where I was, I was well-paid and could use the income to travel a lot during the summers for language learning purposes. And the student loan forgiveness! So there's a lot to recommend teaching as well. Really, the only thing I'm certain about is that I don't really want to stay in Dublin. But, if I get a job that pays too well to resist that won't let me work remotely, that can be changed too I guess.
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Re: Nótaí Galaxyrocker -- Irish and French with wanderlust ramblings

Postby galaxyrocker » Mon Feb 28, 2022 9:30 am

Everything has been finalized with Nice and I'll be flying out Sunday evening. Going to be there for 12 days, doing 60 hours of 45-minute lessons over that 12 day period. I hope to find a good way to quantify my level before and after, and use that in order to give a good write up here and on r/languagelearning, but this will likely be my last writeup before I leave; I hope to maybe get one done while there, but it depends as I might also just fly to Corsica or see about an overnight ferry, etc. Or visit some other part of the area, though there's also the possibility of me just exploring Nice and studying, which is what I really need to do. I'm excited, but I'm also anxious about it, most likely because of all the issues surrounding Covid and needing to get a French vaccine passport once I get there if I want to enter any restaurant/building except the school. And France's Covid rules -- while I think I'm good with my vaccination and booster status, I need to book a PCR appointment too, just to be safe. Other than that, there's some things happening in my life here in Dublin that I really don't want to take basically two weeks away from. It might be good for me, but the two weeks could change a lot, unfortunately. Oh well, can't change it now but dang is it frustrating.

With the programme in Nice, I did their placement test and it put me at a B2 level. But it was purely a grammar knowledge test that was multiple choice, so I'm definitely not there and it's vastly overplaced me. But it gives me some hope I might slip in at an A2 level, which might be just enough above me to really allow me to see progress. I've finished unit 2 in Tendances, and hoped to do unit 3 last week but due to exams last Thursday and one today it got pushed to the wayside. I hope to finish it this week -- then I'll be past where the AF wanted me to start. Otherwise, I've been working through Nature Method and French for Reading, focusing mostly on the latter this week. I hope to get back into doing exercises in Grammaire Progressive and Vocabulaire Progressive soon too, though I've had several exams as everything's led up to the mid-term break. I also hope to get back into listening, either with Inner French or La Revolutión on Netflix. Perhaps with fully French subtitles for the latter, even if I don't understand most of what's going on; we'll see, as I'm generally just adverse to watching things. Perhaps something shorter on YouTube could do the trick, or football.

For Irish, I still use it regularly. We played AoE 2 Saturday night and again last night on Twitch with an Irish language streamer who's a friend of mine. There was a Pop-Up Gaeltacht I attended which was great, but which sparked the things happening that I don't know if I can afford to take two weeks away from, in a good way. It's frustrating, but was a lot of fun. Very much a wide range of levels present, and some of the people at the bar didn't have any Irish (but easy enough to recognize what drink you want!), but it was fun. I was introduced to some of the Twitter "stars" of Irish, though they're fairly cliquey from what I've seen (both on Twitter and in real life). So mostly I hung out with my friends who were there and the people from the regular conversation group I attend on Fridays.

Still looking at the possibility of moving to Connemara over the summer, though it's lower down the table now due to the aforementioned things. I've also pretty much decided that I'll probably stay in Ireland through December, barring France, even without a job. I've been too risk adverse my entire life, with the most 'risky' things I've done being going 6 hours away for university and doing this masters. I need to change that and start living life without worrying, and this is a good chance. I've the money to be able to stay that long without having to worry about work, though I'll be able to work any job full-time on my student visa (and definitely when I graduate and get the graduate visa). I'm looking at getting my teaching certificate transferred, but it's quite unlikely I'll be able to get it for maths which is what I'd rather teach, as opposed to physics due to the way the certification process works here (unlike Kentucky, they essentially require a maths degree here). But, I'm hoping though I should be able to find a job with either, either in an Irish-speaking school or a regular one as those two subjects are difficult to find teachers for. The bigger problem would be continuing teaching after the two years on the graduate visa as I don't think I could get a general employment visa for it. There are some ways around this (citizenship marriage anyone?), but they'd be even more difficult, so we'll just have to see what happens I guess.

Otherwise, I'll talk to y'all when I'm in France, and would appreciate advice for how to basically get a good gauge of my level, so that I can do a good before/after post.
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Re: Nótaí Galaxyrocker -- Irish and French with wanderlust ramblings

Postby DaveAgain » Mon Feb 28, 2022 9:39 am

galaxyrocker wrote:
Otherwise, I'll talk to y'all when I'm in France, and would appreciate advice for how to basically get a good gauge of my level, so that I can do a good before/after post.
TV5 Monde's mock TCF test is the best French test I'm aware of.
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Re: Nótaí Galaxyrocker -- Irish and French with wanderlust ramblings

Postby Caromarlyse » Mon Feb 28, 2022 11:39 am

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French Immersion in Nice in Review

Postby galaxyrocker » Sun Mar 20, 2022 5:54 pm

This is a copy of my post on Reddit, just in case people here are interested. Formatting may or may not work. I'll have more to say next week and am going to try to get back to going weekly.

So I just got back late Friday night from a two week immersion program in Nice, France. I felt it would be beneficial to write up about my experience for others interested.

# Background

I studied French way back in high school, but that was over a decade ago. I really learned nothing, honestly, and had no clue how to study a language then. Since then I've learned Irish to (certified) B2 fluency, and am functionally fluent at least. I dabbled some in French since then, but have had no long term focus on it. Then I found there's a masters in Celtic Studies in Brest that only requires a B1+/B2 level (no formal exam needed, just an interview) as it's a bilingual program. I thought it would be interesting to apply for, so I really started digging into French again at the beginning of this year.

Now, granted, I've had experience with Spanish and had gotten it to a ~B1 level, though I've lost most of that. I've done several immersion courses in both Spanish and Irish as well, so generally knew what to expect in terms of class format. I got started, as I said, back in January through self-learning what was interesting to me. Mainly grammatical stuff and verb conjugations. I started working through the A2-B1 *Grammaire Progressive* book as well. I had also done a few chapters of *French for Reading* (aimed at reading academic texts) and the Nature Method French book. But I was less than 10 chapters in either book.

#Level Before

Before going in, despite having 'studied', I really don't feel I had that great of a level of French. I could read a lot more than I could talk, but my listening comprehension wasn't great and it was difficult to speak as I'd had no practice with it. I'd mostly only ever done grammar practice, Anki study for vocabulary and some of the exercises from the A1 level of *Tendance*, which our local AF suggested. I had thought to take a test with the AF, but they wanted to place me in A1.3, which would last for 8 weeks and only cover two units of the book they used. So instead I bought the book and worked through that; I never even made it to the starting unit for their A1.3 class. I did dabble some with Duolingo as well, but I really think it's a horrible learning tool (*especially* the app; browser is better) and never stuck with it.

That said, on the multiple choice test for entering the school I decided to study at, I got a B2. I knew this was way overrated, as it mostly was just grammar knowledge. When I got to the school, they had us do another one. I got enough points on the speaking part to be placed into A2, and same with the grammar. I feel that adequately describes my level at the time as well.

# Course and Lodging

I was taking the intensive course, which meant I had 20 45-minute lessons per week in the mornings and another 10 in the afternoon. The morning classes were A2, and were honestly too low for me *in terms of grammar*. The teacher apologized at the end of the first week and me and another student were supposed to be moved up, but the incoming group of students was lower level than anticipated, so we were unable to. Thus I had to learn grammar stuff I already knew (*ce(t) and cette, passé composé, imparfait*, etc). However, in terms of vocabulary and speaking and listening, it was *definitely* the right level. I don't think I could've moved up to a higher level, especially in terms of vocabulary.

Overall the course was great though, as it did give me a solid foundation for stuff, and I was able to ask my own questions. It definitely got me a lot more confident in my listening and speaking ability.

The afternoon courses were where the real magic happened, though. They were extremely intense, and small group (2-4, whereas the morning was 9). The others in the course were a higher level than me as well, so the material was all at B1 level or a bit higher. It was mostly focused on speaking and listening, not grammar, so I developed quite a lot of useful vocabulary and skills there. It really pushed me and I'm glad I did it, even if I was super wary after the first one (I don't think the teacher knew what level to expect so it was above all of us for a while)

I was also staying with a host family the entire time. They were great, though I only really talked to them -- as much as I could at least -- during dinner. They were amazing though, and it did help my French some as it gave me even more avenues to practice. I really felt bad I wasn't able to talk much with them, though they always lowered their French for me, and translated when they could and tried to guide the conversation. They were amazingly welcome and accommodating of my poor level. Especially the first week!

# Results

The class I ended up finishing in was an A2+ course, and I got a certificate saying I had reached that level. Realistically, I'd probably put myself at a B1 level. I know pretty much all the tenses/moods (including compound ones, even if I don't know the names) except the subjunctive, which I have yet to study. My teacher even said I should've been in a more advanced class and they hope there is one if I come back. I've also noticed a marked increase in my listening ability. Before, I struggled with the Inner French podcast, and now i have no problems whatsoever with it. It's still at a good level for me, though I have no problems distinguishing words and clearly understanding about 80-90% of what's going on (when I don't lose focus). This is a huge improvement from where I was before. My writing is also better, and I feel more confident in writing, as well as in speaking. I just need to refine my grammar practice as well, and stop making some little mistakes; I also need to focus more on my pronunciation.

# Where From Here

Well, I'm already looking at going back to the school in May-June. The application for the programme in Brest is June 20, if I remember right, and the interview would be shortly after that. If I can go the last two weeks of May and the first two weeks of June, there'd be a very good chance that I'd easily be able to get through the exam and do academic work in French. It helps that I don't need the DELF, since it's a bilingual programme (yay Celtic Studies).

I'm likely to keep studying on my own as well. Going to double down working through Grammaire Progressive A2-B1, skipping things I already know and have worked on. This'll hopefully get me to the advanced level (B1-B2) book sooner. I've also got Vocabulaire Profressif to help expand my vocabulary and cultural understanding, and hope to find a copy of the phonetic/orthography ones to help there. Perhaps even the conjugation one just to practice and drill the forms.

I've been doing Anki mainly just learning to recognize words. I don't particularly enjoy it, but it's helping me develop my passive vocabulary at least. Active will come later, as it's nowhere near as important right now imo. I'm using a deck with the 5000 most commonly used words

I'll keep listening to Inner French as well, and perhaps start using the transcript and mining for words I don't know, perhaps adding them to Anki or just writing it down to help me remember (this is what I did for Irish). I also might try to watch some French tv shows, and listen to an easy news section in French and work through Monde5's content. I don't have much patience for TV, though, so we'll see. Might try finding some shorter YouTube stuff aimed at the B1 level, or just watch French game shows (recs welcome)

I intend to start reading as well, even if the content is more difficult for me and I'm not entirely sure what's going on. I got both a graphic novel, thinking it'd be easier since there's pictures (I'm also impressed at France's seemingly thriving graphic novel scene), as well as a book on the Gauls. I'll likely focus on the latter and write down words I don't know. I'll also go through the old Teach Yourself French, which is heavily translation based but very thorough, which should help me get more vocabulary and practice. I've also ordered a book *Les Langues de France* so we'll see how that goes; it's linguistics, which I'm a nerd about. It'll also pair nicely with my Spanish language book about languages of Spain!

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Well, that's all I can think of for this. If you have any questions, please let me know and I'll be glad to answer them. I'm a firm believer of immersion programmes, and truly think it's the best way to get into the language (perhaps barring FSI), though I recognize not everyone can take the time off (I was a teacher, now I'm a student again) or afford it (though this one was reasonable: 60 hours of classes and breakfast/dinner for 14 days for ~€1400 if I remember correctly).
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