Learning French in Japan

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katsu
Yellow Belt
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Joined: Wed Nov 13, 2019 8:13 am
Location: Japan
Languages: English (N), Japanese (C1~C2), French (A2~B1), have dabbled in Latin and Ancient Greek.
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Learning French in Japan

Postby katsu » Tue Nov 26, 2019 7:05 am

Hi everyone. Long-time listener, first-time caller. Some quick background: In the past I've been through several cycles of studying French intensively for a few months, and then losing interest for several more months (or years). My current goal is to try to end this "feast or famine" pattern by getting to a point where I can simply watch French media/read French books without too much trouble, so that I can simply make using the language part of my everyday life, rather than something that I have to "study". I can currently follow most TV shows *if* they have French subtitles, but turn off the subtitles, and my comprehension drops to almost nothing. Within the next year or so, I hope to get to a level where I can at least get the gist of TV/movies without any subtitles.

I'd eventually like to use this log to talk about movies/TV/books that I've discovered, but in this first post I'll mention some of the materials I've used to get to this point. The resource I've used most is Pimsleur--over the years I've gone through levels 1-5 several times each. I last finished level 5 a couple of months ago, and began looking for the next thing to listen to during my commute. I first tried various types of passive listening, like podcasts, but my mind tends to wander and I end up not listening to anything. I finally hit on the FSI drills, which, as deadly boring as they can be, force me to actually pay attention. I'm currently on chapter 10, and I find the repetition really works in helping me remember tricky bits of grammar like the order of pre-verbal pronouns. My only major complaint--FSI's obsession with using inversion to form questions, which is as far as I can tell is the least-used way to make questions in current French.

Another resource I like is the "Grammaire en dialogues" series of books. I started with the niveau débutant, and am now half-way through the niveau intermédiaire. Each chapter in these books focuses on a single grammar point, and consists of three pages: one with a dialogue (occasionally more than one) illustrating the grammar, one with an explanation (in French), and a final page of exercises. The best point of the books is the CDs with the dialogues read by voice actors. This is some of the best voice acting I've ever heard in language learning materials. I find that having even a bit of emotion in the line readings increases its effectiveness by a huge amount. Also, hearing grammar and vocab being used in actual, understandable settings rather than as disconnected, contextless sentences makes the grammar and vocab itself far more memorable. My favorite so far is the writer being interviewed in one of the dialogues in the niveau débutant. Although he's explaining to the interviewer that "Je suis un homme normal," the actor's line readings are dripping with such hilarious arrogance that several of the phrases he uses are burned into my memory. My only complaint is that the exercises for each dialogue are so few. I'd love to have an hour's worth of FSI-style drills for each chapter, read by the same voice actors. Mais il ne faut pas rêver...
13 x
French double SC movies: 127 / 200
French double SC books: 65 / 200

Lawyer&Mom
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Re: Learning French in Japan

Postby Lawyer&Mom » Tue Nov 26, 2019 8:46 pm

You’ve reached a high level in Japanese. What approaches have worked best for you? Perhaps we can find similar for French.
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katsu
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Posts: 51
Joined: Wed Nov 13, 2019 8:13 am
Location: Japan
Languages: English (N), Japanese (C1~C2), French (A2~B1), have dabbled in Latin and Ancient Greek.
Language Log: https://forum.language-learners.org/vie ... 15&t=11744
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Re: Learning French in Japan

Postby katsu » Wed Nov 27, 2019 12:48 am

Lawyer&Mom wrote:You’ve reached a high level in Japanese. What approaches have worked best for you? Perhaps we can find similar for French.

How I learned Japanese was simple: marry a native speaker and use only Japanese with them for 25 years (and counting). Worked like a charm! May be hard to replicate with French, though...

With French my issue is motivation, not technique. I feel like I'm making pretty good progress now, but there will come a day when I just won't want to listen to FSI drills or look at textbooks. My main focus now is trying to find French content that's so compelling that I'll want to keep going with it even when I lose interest in the "studying" part of language learning. For example, I'm currently watching the final season of "Un village français", which I've been binge-watching for the last several weeks. I'm also in the middle of reading the fifth Harry Potter novel. When I have more time I'll post about some other, less-well-known things I've found worth watching/reading.
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French double SC movies: 127 / 200
French double SC books: 65 / 200

Lawyer&Mom
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Re: Learning French in Japan

Postby Lawyer&Mom » Wed Nov 27, 2019 6:04 pm

Compelling TV is the next best thing to a native spouse! Binge worthy native content isn’t always easy to find. Don’t fear dubbed content. France does a remarkably good job with that.
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kraemder
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Re: Learning French in Japan

Postby kraemder » Fri Nov 29, 2019 12:21 am

I think you're on the right track but just find native material that you can consume that you enjoy. Sure, for now it will be hard and you'll want to use a dictionary of some kind to help but I think it'll be far more enjoyable than anything else. Especially for languages that use the Roman alphabet, reading is the best way to learn a language in my opinion. Good luck.

I can't believe you married a Japanese woman and moved to Japan. Amazing. I think the whole feeling like an outsider all the time in Japan would drive me crazy.
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Cavesa
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Re: Learning French in Japan

Postby Cavesa » Fri Nov 29, 2019 11:19 am

I'd agree you are on the right track, just skipping a phase. The main problem are not your skills, those seem to be adequate for the invested time, efforts, and used resources. But your expectations.

Many people mistakenly believe, that the usual progress is 1.basic coursebooks, 2.native material. Nope, nope, nope. Except for some situations (such as learners already knowing a similar language, or experienced learners using primarily different ways to learn), it doesn't work like that. The intermediate resources exist for a good reason and learners of languages with such resources are extremely lucky.

There are tons of motivational content. What genres do you usually like? In literature, there are tons of awesome classics, high literature, lower genres like fantasy, scifi, crime novels, thrillers,and so on. In movies and tv series, there are lots of great original historical series, crime series, comedies, and so on.

I'd say a huge demotivation factor in your case is lack of clear progress at the intermediate phase. The Grammaire en dialogues is a good choice, but there are more things like that. The Progressive books, Kwiziq, Édito or another B1 and B2 labeled course, or similar resources can help you get through the intermediate phase efficiently. FSI is good for some things, but I am not sure whether it is gonna do what you want it to do, as it is mainly focused on the beginners, not the intermediates.
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Fortheo
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Re: Learning French in Japan

Postby Fortheo » Sat Nov 30, 2019 5:57 am

I've been preaching about the Grammaire en dialogues series for years. In my opinion it's better than the progressive series because of the addition of the dialogues and audio with the grammar. If you need more grammar exercises, you could supplement with the progressive series (the two series work nicely together) or there's a book/ audio called

Image

Which essentially is a dialogue followed by FSI like drills. It's actually much better than FSI in my opinion, but nowhere near as extensive, and you can do it as an audio only course, altthough I did use the book from time to time to verify that I heard things correctly. Unfortunately, there's no advanced book/audio for this course, which was a huge bummer, but the intermediate course was immensely helpful.

I understand where you're coming from in regards to finding French material that interests you, but if worst comes to worst don't be afraid to watch shows dubbed in french or read books translated into French--it will open up your choices a lot and its better than not being exposed to any French.

If you let us know what kind of books, shows, or movies you're generally into, I'm sure plenty of us can give suggestions.

There's also always the option of finding a Skype partner to practice French with. In my experience, nothing motivated me more than speaking with a French person and being forced to come face to face with all my difficulties in the language.

Best of luck.
6 x

katsu
Yellow Belt
Posts: 51
Joined: Wed Nov 13, 2019 8:13 am
Location: Japan
Languages: English (N), Japanese (C1~C2), French (A2~B1), have dabbled in Latin and Ancient Greek.
Language Log: https://forum.language-learners.org/vie ... 15&t=11744
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Re: Learning French in Japan

Postby katsu » Mon Dec 02, 2019 7:47 am

Thanks everyone for all the advice. Fortheo, I first learned about the Grammaire en dialogues series from this board, and I'm guessing it was probably from your log. Congratulations, you've officially made a convert! The other book you mention looks right up my alley... I have a strong feeling it will be in my next Amazon shipment.

As for dubbed content, I've tried a few episodes of different things, but without subtitles my comprehension is so low that I can't follow the story and quickly lose interest. Right now I'm torn between soldiering on with subtitled content, hoping that my audio comprehension eventually improves enough to do without them, or forcing myself to do without subtitles now, putting myself in a "sink or swim" situation. I suppose a compromise would be to watch something with subtitles once, then watch the same thing again without. I guess I'll have to experiment with each of these methods and see what seems to work.
2 x
French double SC movies: 127 / 200
French double SC books: 65 / 200

Mista
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Languages: Norwegian (N), English (QN). Studied Ancient Greek (MA), Linguistics (MA), Latin (BA), German (BA). Italian at A2/B1 level. Learning: French, Japanese, Russian (focus) and various others, like Polish, Spanish, Vietnamese, and anything that comes my way. Also know some Sanskrit (but not the script) and Coptic. Really want to learn Arabic and Amharic.
Language Log: https://forum.language-learners.org/vie ... =15&t=7497
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Re: Learning French in Japan

Postby Mista » Mon Dec 02, 2019 4:34 pm

katsu wrote:I suppose a compromise would be to watch something with subtitles once, then watch the same thing again without. I guess I'll have to experiment with each of these methods and see what seems to work.

I tried that for a while too, but in the end I found it more motivating (and maybe more efficient too) to do it the other way around - without subtitles first, then with them afterwards. You challenge yourself more when listening without subtitles, and the second round will be more interesting because you will understand things you didn't the first time. And whenever you feel like moving straight on to the next episode without rewatching the previous one, there's no reason to feel guilty about it, because you are probably ready to move on.
2 x

Lawyer&Mom
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Re: Learning French in Japan

Postby Lawyer&Mom » Mon Dec 02, 2019 4:42 pm

Pick a show you like and already know reasonably well. For me it was ER, but sitcoms are also good. Watch 50 hours without subtitles. I promise your comprehension will skyrocket. You just have to power through.

Don’t pick something with an intricate plot. You have to be okay with not understanding much at first. Dubbed is perfect for this.
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