La grande aventure de Thomas dans le monde des francophones.

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tomgosse
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La grande aventure de Thomas dans le monde des francophones.

Postby tomgosse » Wed Aug 26, 2015 4:28 pm

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Well, as William Shakespeare wrote,
"Once more unto the breach, dear friends, once more ... "

For more years than I want to think about, I wanted to learn to speak and read French. I had a number of false starts, a lot of periods when I did nothing, and a nagging sense that I was no good at learning languages. Back in the early sixties when I was in junior high school I wanted to take a French course. Unfortunately that class was full and I was put into a Latin class. The poor woman who taught it was one of the most boring teachers I ever had. I was miserable, did poorly, and had a years long aversion to studying languages.

After high school I moved to Montréal (I'm a dual-national, Canadian-American). I did pick up a bit of French, but is was mostly street slang with a very thick joual accent. Being young I thought it was hip to use the street slang and try to sound like I came from the east end of the island. My boss, who was an Acadian from New Brunswick, gave me a hard time about it and always told me to learn "normal" French. I should have listened to him.

Over the next decades I would start and stop learning French. I took adult-ed classes at community colleges and a few university courses. The adult-ed classes were too simple for me and seemed as if they never got beyond basics such as, "Bonjour" and "comment-allez vous" ? The students in the university courses only wanted to get a passing grade and the teachers accommodated them.

So, I worked as a manufacturing engineer, got married, and retired. Two years ago the Marlborough (Mass.) Public Library offered a free beginners French course. It was taught by a wonderful woman named Narcisse who has a real love of the language and teaching. The classes were small (five to six students) and that gave us a lot opportunity to interact and speak in French.

We used a textbook named, Grammaire Progressive du Français, Intermediare. I found it a very demanding text because it is all in French. And being from France it is for students who grew up in a French speaking environment. Still, I learned more in that class than in any other class that I ever took.

Then last year life got complicated. I started having kidney stones and was diagnosed with Chronic Kidney Disease. Also, my wife went into a nursing home. That meant I spent a lot of time dealing with nursing home bureaucrats, lawyers, Medicare and insurance companies. My studies fell by the wayside. My wife passed away in February.

I did take one more course with Narcisse this summer, but that is the last course she is teaching. So, now I'm studying on my own again. Some us students from the class meet twice a month to practice speaking French with each other.

The courses that I am using on my own are:

French in Action. If you live in the United States you may remember seeing this on public television. It consists of fifty-two half hour videos that introduce different parts of French grammar, and a fairly cheesy love story between Mireille and Robert. I purchased the text book, workbook, study guide and audio that goes with the course. You need these to really get the most out of the course. I don't see how anyone could learn French from simply watching the videos. This is expensive, but no more so than signing up for a university course.

Pimsleur French. This is an audio only course that takes you through basic French. The biggest advantage of this course is that it really helps with listening and pronunciation practice. It is expensive to buy but you can borrow the CD's from your public library.

Duolingo. The creator of this online course wants to provide free language education to the world. I like this course a lot.

Memrise. This app is kind of hit or miss. I like using the flashcards, but quality of each course on Memrise can vary. The courses are created by users and can have mistakes, vulgar answers, or be simply incomplete. The three courses that I use on Memrise are : Beginners French A1, Complete Duolingo French Vocabulary, and The 450 Most Common French Verbs. Both Duolingo and Memrise have settings to remind you to do a minimum of practice each day. I find that helps me stay on track. I'm logging my progress in my signature and hope to update that once a week.

Those are my top resources. I also subscribe to TV5Monde on cable and leave that channel on most of the day. I listen to Paris Chanson and Radio YéYé on my computer. I recorded about six hours of French songs from YouTube and listen to them in my car.

That's it for now. I hope to update this on the weekend.
Tom
Last edited by tomgosse on Sat Mar 25, 2017 2:17 pm, edited 17 times in total.
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Re: Mon aventure fantastique français !

Postby pir » Fri Aug 28, 2015 1:23 am

I am very sorry for your loss, Tom. Sounds like last year was really horrendous for you.

Imagine some kind of non-awkward segue here.
Image

Seems to me like you did get over the hump in French this time!

How far along are you in your Duo tree? I just finished mine and have started the reverse one, which I am actually liking quite a bit more. I am also doing Memrise: French A1 and Duolingo vocab, and I finished murielmorgan's Basic French, which was pretty decent. Do you like French in Action? I keep looking for video that is at my level, but all I can find is either too simplistic or so fast that I miss too much. I've watched a couple of episodes of Extra, but oy, the cheese factor is so strong I can't get myself to watch more of it -- I'm not so much concerned with the cheese of the story, but the speech in that show is very much exaggerated, and it also features an American with the most hideous accent ever.
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Re: Mon aventure fantastique français !

Postby Arnaud » Fri Aug 28, 2015 5:46 am

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Re: Mon aventure fantastique français !

Postby kimchizzle » Fri Aug 28, 2015 6:12 am

Arnaud wrote:If the "cheesy factor" is not too much of a problem, you can try Hélène et les garçons. The first 11 episodes are subtitled precisely.
It's as cheesy as Extra but more natural and probably more difficult.


I saw this post and decided to watch a bit of this show. Actually, I like it, it is quite funny, especially for anyone who has ever lived in France for sometime because the mannerisms and the way of speaking is very natural like that of French people the same ages as the actors. So I can recommend this show as well.

Good luck in your studies. A wise man once said anyone can learn a language, all they need are good materials and knowledge of where to get new materials when they are finished, dedication and perseverance, and lots of time. It might not amount to much, but I believe in your abilities to learn French and I look forward to watching your success and reading about your milestones. :)
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Re: Mon aventure fantastique français !

Postby tomgosse » Sat Aug 29, 2015 6:58 pm

pir wrote:I am very sorry for your loss, Tom. Sounds like last year was really horrendous for you.

How far along are you in your Duo tree? I just finished mine and have started the reverse one, which I am actually liking quite a bit more. I am also doing Memrise: French A1 and Duolingo vocab, and I finished murielmorgan's Basic French, which was pretty decent. Do you like French in Action? I keep looking for video that is at my level, but all I can find is either too simplistic or so fast that I miss too much. I've watched a couple of episodes of Extra, but oy, the cheese factor is so strong I can't get myself to watch more of it -- I'm not so much concerned with the cheese of the story, but the speech in that show is very much exaggerated, and it also features an American with the most hideous accent ever.


Thank you for your kind words Pir.

Duolingo tells me that I am at level 8. I just finished the Time skill and am ready to start Infinitives. I never thought of doing it in reverse. Thanks for the tip. On Memrise I'm up to a thirteen day streak. Last year I had a fifty day streak.

I really like French in Action. While the video's are twenty-five years old they haven't become too dated. Too get the most out of the series you need to buy the text books and they are expensive. Besides the text book, you need the workbook and study guide. Without the study guide I would be lost in how to proceed. The audio files that the workbook tells you to listen to are different from the audio in videos. The audio files cost me $200 alone. To buy all the material for twenty-six lessons (one college semester) cost me $350, about what tuition at a university would come to. But, I consider it a good investment for what I got. The material is very dense and it takes me a least one week to finish a lesson.

I agree about Extra being cheesy. They should call it the Limburger Show! Lawrence Ray, who played Sam, is also in two of the other languages in this series. His wikipedia entry says that besides his native Dutch he speaks fluent English, German, and Spanish. Maybe that is why his French was so bad.

All the best,
Tom
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Re: Mon aventure fantastique français !

Postby pir » Sat Aug 29, 2015 8:06 pm

Yay for streaks! I admit that most gamification leaves me cold, but maintaining that streak does motivate me to do something every day even when I feel lousy.

Yes, the reverse tree is actually cool; I recommend it. My main complaint with the regular tree was that I had to produce so little French; 8 out of 10 translations were from French into English, and that felt pedagogically wrong. The reverse tree has the same L2 -> L1 behaviour, which sucks for French students learning English, but is better for us English speakers (though there's now the problem that the French isn't always idiomatic, just like the English in the regular tree leaves a lot to be desired). But as long as I listen to a lot of native audio and read native texts, I'm hoping that will not affect me much; Duo isn't really drilling the sentences anyway. Tip: turn off the audio in the reverse tree, that will remove the pure listen-and-type exercises from the rotation, so you get even less English.

I found an upload of French in Action on Youtube, and started watching it, and yes, that's a really good course. Thanks for letting me know about it! I am not sure I'll want to spend the money on all the auxiliary materials; I have a lot of other choices which I have accumulated over the years whenever I saw something on sale or could grab it from a friend, and it is a bit basic for me at this stage. But it really does look worth it. Capretz does immersive teaching right; lots and lots of repetition with imagery that leads you to derive the meaning naturally, and also exposes you to variations (like conjugated verbs). Though the mouthy guy in the class bugs me, but fortunately we don't see him a lot.

Thanks to Arnaud for Hélène et les garçons as well -- yup, heavy on the cheese, but nowhere as bad as Extra, and it's much more my level as well.

If you don't mind, Tom, I'd like to befriend you on Duolingo and Memrise, maybe we can motivate each other if either of us flags.
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Re: Mon aventure fantastique français !

Postby tomgosse » Sat Aug 29, 2015 9:31 pm

pir wrote:
If you don't mind, Tom, I'd like to befriend you on Duolingo and Memrise, maybe we can motivate each other if either of us flags.


My pleasure.
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31 août 2015 - Mon aventure fantastique français !

Postby tomgosse » Mon Aug 31, 2015 1:33 pm

Bonjour à tous,

This has been a slow week for language learning. I had four doctor appointments and I'm scheduled for an operation on Friday morning.

French in Action. Here is what I was able to finish this week :
I am almost finished with chapter three. Now I can say, "Nous allons inventer l'histoire deux jeuns gens." I'm trying my best to do every exercise in the workbook. At this rate it will take one year to finish the first twenty-six lessons.

Memrise and Duolingo. These two I work on everyday and complete the minimum goals set. I'm still at level eight of Duolingo. I need 160 experience points to get to the next level. Right now I have 1490 points. Now, Duolingo says that I am 41% fluent in French. I don't know what that means. Does it mean that I've finished 41% of the course, or I get 41% of the questions correct ? Who knows !

Memrise says that I have learned 562 words. I wish I could remember which ones they were. I have a fifteen day streak in both of these courses. Last year I had a fifty-two day streak which was the highest I ever had.

Pimsleur. I finished lesson seven. I really need to do this every day. It is too easy to forget the lessons if I skip a day or two.

Pronounce It Perfectly In French
. I just started this and I've listened to the first two lessons. I'm pretty sure that this is one of those courses that will never end. When I finish it I will have to go back to the beginning and start over.

Easy French Reader. I keep reading the first two chapters over and over. Kind of a dull story and hard to get into.

This Week In My Life: On Wednesday my French group meets at 10 AM in Marlborough. We were students of a free French class at the Marlborough Public Library and decided to keep meeting when the course ended. And that's free, as without cost. Not the Free French who fought under DeGaulle in the Second World War.

On Friday I go for a lithotripsy and get some new plumbing put in. Not looking forward to that. :(

À bientôt mes amis,
Tom
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Re: Mon aventure fantastique français !

Postby Mohave » Mon Aug 31, 2015 8:24 pm

Tom -

Great work! Kee up the consistency! Before too long, you will see a great difference! Don't forget to have fun along the way! Maybe during your recovery, you can listen to some French music or watch a French movie with subtitles. That always (and still) puts a smile on my face!! :D 8-) :D Also, consider Extra! It's a corny "Friends-style" series designed for language learners. They talk slow, repeat key points, you can find a version with subtitles, and there are transcripts available. When you are at the beginner stage, it's nice to find a resource that you can use! Did I mention it was corny?

Bonne Chance!
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Re: Mon aventure fantastique français !

Postby rlnv » Tue Sep 01, 2015 12:20 am

Mohave wrote:Tom -

Great work! Kee up the consistency! Before too long, you will see a great difference! Don't forget to have fun along the way! Maybe during your recovery, you can listen to some French music or watch a French movie with subtitles. That always (and still) puts a smile on my face!! :D 8-) :D Also, consider Extra! It's a corny "Friends-style" series designed for language learners. They talk slow, repeat key points, you can find a version with subtitles, and there are transcripts available. When you are at the beginner stage, it's nice to find a resource that you can use! Did I mention it was corny?

Bonne Chance!


That's really a great learning resource you pointed out there. I don't seem to recall anyone ever mentioning that, and it certainly looks to be really good for A level listening comprehension. Excellent.

Edit: Here is a link to extr@.
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