Willfr’s French Language Log

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willfr
White Belt
Posts: 19
Joined: Thu Dec 26, 2019 10:33 am
Location: France
Languages: English (N), French (A2)
Language Log: https://forum.language-learners.org/vie ... 15&t=12172
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Willfr’s French Language Log

Postby willfr » Sun Dec 29, 2019 5:40 pm

Introduction

(Following advice from reineke, I’m pasting my first post here from https://forum.language-learners.org/viewtopic.php?f=17&t=12166, to start my language log)

I have been learning french independently for a few years. I didn’t study it at school but I managed to pass DELF A2 - (though that’s based on a lack of good foundations) last year. At the start of this year I moved to France with my french partner but as my work is online, and entirely in English, I haven’t been exposed to french in the way I perhaps imagined. Every week I communicate in English much much more than French because of work. I’m also doing (distance) postgraduate study - again in English.

We don’t have friends where we live, so communicating in french is usually in shops, with my partners family when we visit them, and my partner will speak french to me but I’ll respond in English.

Almost one year on, I feel pretty embarrassed. My French has moved on a little but I still feel very uncomfortable producing written or spoken language. If I need to write an email, it always goes through deepl. Phone calls are still out of the question. Trips to the doctor require that I translate a script in deepl and then memorise it. In general, my approach to interactions is to nod and smile and hope that a question doesn’t come my way. :oops:

I feel trapped between cultures, having lost frequent touch with all of my English speaking friends back home but have failed to fill that gap with french acquaintances. As such, work and my partner are my only sources of communicating. And this is in English :(

My comprehension is pretty good. I can watch most french tv with a fairly good idea of what’s happening though radio is still a difficult.

I have accumulated many many different books on grammar, vocabulary, etc., signed up to Kwiziq, downloaded numerous apps and accumulated many many anki cards (I had to steep as everything I encountered was getting noted as card worthy), but these just seem to soothe my sense of discomfort for a couple of weeks before I start looking for something better. a few weeks ago I found a french teacher and set a goal of DELF B1 in 2020. She has been incredibly helpful but it’s only couple of hours a week.

She notes that there is a lot of very very basic stuff I’m still taxed by and wonders if my goal is right for me. That said, any test we do I usually come out at about A2, which she says is because my ability to understand - or at least appear to do so in DELF type questions - is good.

Reading so many articles about immersion, I feel that I have let myself down by not making more of the opportunity.

So, embarrassingly, here I am, in the home of French, with a french partner, trying to learn French, so I can continue my life in France, but not feeling I am making headway.

Soooo... following advice from many lovely people on my first post my plan this week is to focus on making time daily to work on French rather than simply think about it. One hour per day of grammar work (I’m still grappling with irregular -er verb endings for present indicative!) along with three hours of lessons with a teacher to build confidence for speaking.
13 x
I'm learning French and these are my current resources:
  • Grammaire Progressive du Français - Beginners & Intermediate
  • Schaum's French Grammar
  • Kwiziq
  • Alter Ego 3

366 Day Challenge: 14 / 366

katsu
White Belt
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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: Willfr’s French Language Log

Postby katsu » Mon Dec 30, 2019 4:09 am

One thing you might try is to start practicing output with your partner, but in small doses--for example, when you have a meal together you can declare that for the duration of the meal you will both only speak French. You can even give your partner a topic to ask you questions about ("ask me to describe my childhood friends," for example) for each meal. You can alternate this with English-only meals, so you're not always the one making embarrassing mistakes.
2 x

willfr
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Posts: 19
Joined: Thu Dec 26, 2019 10:33 am
Location: France
Languages: English (N), French (A2)
Language Log: https://forum.language-learners.org/vie ... 15&t=12172
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Re: Willfr’s French Language Log

Postby willfr » Sun Jan 05, 2020 8:04 am

2020 Week 1

After all the supportive and helpful messages from people in my post asking for advice, how could I not spend this week making sure I worked as hard as possible on French? ;)

I notice that some people like to keep track of the specific amount of minutes the spend on different activities. Whilst my analytical side would love to do this, I can see how it would become a tool for procrastination and I would end up spending too much time on the accounting and not enough time on the actual work!

That said, I know that every day of this week I have spent at least 2 hours on French work (sometimes as much as 6) and then an additional 2 hours reading, watching TV or interacting in French with my partner/in a shop/etc. It has been helpful because I haven't had much work and I decided to pause study for my postgrad course just to make some focus.

The general theme has been to use Kwiziq to identify A2 grammar areas that I am struggling with (mostly irregular verbs in the present) and then drill myself on these until I have learnt them for that day. Then the following day, I return to a list of verbs and try to conjugate them all in the present. If I am successful, I return to the verb the next day, if not, I keep writing out the conjugations until they stick, then return to them the next day. This is laborious but I cannot find any other way to make all these different endings stick. Other suggestions welcomed!

I am also having lessons with my tutor and this is based around the Alter Ego 3 book. As I haven't had lessons, nor worked from a proper text book like this before, I am still finding it difficult to know to what extent I should learn everything by hard or just have some familiarity. One thing I know if that I am terrible at writing emails and letters, so I should spend more time practising. Is this simply a case of rewriting something until it sticks in memory or are there better approaches?

At night I have started to read a French book (Check-point by Jean-Christophe Rufin) on my ereader. It seems I am tapping every other word for the translation but I understand that's just how it goes at the start. I thought I finished the first chapter and felt an enormous sense of pride - only to realise it was a very short prologue! I think I am about 15 pages in, so I am pretty pleased with myself. I just need to keep being persistent with it.

The coming week will be more challenging as I need to juggle work, education and French. If I can persist with going grammar and the text book each day, I will be very happy.
3 x
I'm learning French and these are my current resources:
  • Grammaire Progressive du Français - Beginners & Intermediate
  • Schaum's French Grammar
  • Kwiziq
  • Alter Ego 3

366 Day Challenge: 14 / 366

DaveAgain
Blue Belt
Posts: 599
Joined: Mon Aug 27, 2018 11:26 am
Languages: Eng (n)
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Re: Willfr’s French Language Log

Postby DaveAgain » Sun Jan 05, 2020 9:19 am

willfr wrote:One thing I know if that I am terrible at writing emails and letters, so I should spend more time practising. Is this simply a case of rewriting something until it sticks in memory or are there better approaches?
If you've got a large bilingual dictionary in the house, it probably has a section in it with useful phrases and sample letters/emails. You could perhaps look at those and use them as models. Double-translation of them (french>english>french) would help any required boilerplate phrases stick.
1 x

willfr
White Belt
Posts: 19
Joined: Thu Dec 26, 2019 10:33 am
Location: France
Languages: English (N), French (A2)
Language Log: https://forum.language-learners.org/vie ... 15&t=12172
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Re: Willfr’s French Language Log

Postby willfr » Sun Jan 05, 2020 9:31 am

katsu wrote:One thing you might try is to start practicing output with your partner, but in small doses--for example, when you have a meal together you can declare that for the duration of the meal you will both only speak French. You can even give your partner a topic to ask you questions about ("ask me to describe my childhood friends," for example) for each meal. You can alternate this with English-only meals, so you're not always the one making embarrassing mistakes.


Thank you! This is a great idea and I’ve suggested it for the week ahead :)
0 x
I'm learning French and these are my current resources:
  • Grammaire Progressive du Français - Beginners & Intermediate
  • Schaum's French Grammar
  • Kwiziq
  • Alter Ego 3

366 Day Challenge: 14 / 366

willfr
White Belt
Posts: 19
Joined: Thu Dec 26, 2019 10:33 am
Location: France
Languages: English (N), French (A2)
Language Log: https://forum.language-learners.org/vie ... 15&t=12172
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Re: Willfr’s French Language Log

Postby willfr » Sun Jan 05, 2020 9:31 am

DaveAgain wrote:
willfr wrote:One thing I know if that I am terrible at writing emails and letters, so I should spend more time practising. Is this simply a case of rewriting something until it sticks in memory or are there better approaches?
If you've got a large bilingual dictionary in the house, it probably has a section in it with useful phrases and sample letters/emails. You could perhaps look at those and use them as models. Double-translation of them (french>english>french) would help any required boilerplate phrases stick.

Time to dust off my massive Collins dictionary! Thank you.
2 x
I'm learning French and these are my current resources:
  • Grammaire Progressive du Français - Beginners & Intermediate
  • Schaum's French Grammar
  • Kwiziq
  • Alter Ego 3

366 Day Challenge: 14 / 366

gsbod
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Joined: Sat Jul 18, 2015 3:22 pm
Location: UK
Languages: Native: English
Also speaks: German
Certificates: Japanese (JLPT N2)
Currently de-rusting: French
Language Log: viewtopic.php?t=1152
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Re: Willfr’s French Language Log

Postby gsbod » Sun Jan 05, 2020 2:04 pm

willfr wrote:The general theme has been to use Kwiziq to identify A2 grammar areas that I am struggling with (mostly irregular verbs in the present) and then drill myself on these until I have learnt them for that day. Then the following day, I return to a list of verbs and try to conjugate them all in the present. If I am successful, I return to the verb the next day, if not, I keep writing out the conjugations until they stick, then return to them the next day. This is laborious but I cannot find any other way to make all these different endings stick. Other suggestions welcomed!


My GCSE French teacher was pretty thorough at teaching us grammar, although it was not the fashion at the time. I still remember her making the point that in her first year learning French at school, they spent most of the time reciting irregular verbs in the present, which she said was really boring at the time, but later on proved to have provided a solid foundation. I don't think you need to spend a whole year on this, but if what you are doing is working, keep at it.

I don't know how many verbs you are targeting at the moment, but while a handful are so irregular you'll need to just learn them by heart, a lot of the irregular verbs in the present can be divided into groups which follow similar patterns - so you may find it useful to learn these as groups. I'm loathe to suggest another book since I think you've got plenty of resources, but Schaum's French Grammar gives a very thorough breakdown of these groups. Maybe work through the relevant chapters in Grammaire Progressive first and then see how you feel.

willfr wrote:I am also having lessons with my tutor and this is based around the Alter Ego 3 book. As I haven't had lessons, nor worked from a proper text book like this before, I am still finding it difficult to know to what extent I should learn everything by hard or just have some familiarity.


I am having the same dilemma at the moment. I learned German from scratch as an adult, and I took a very thorough approach to my textbooks around the A2/B1 level, building my own decks of flashcards in Anki to memorise pretty much all vocabulary and phrases which came up. On the one hand it was very time consuming, on the other hand I made very rapid progress compared to my classmates. I do wonder if I could have dealt with it in a more efficient manner, however. I'm currently working through Le Nouvel Édito B1 on my own and am trying to resist the urge to turn everything into flashcards, just to see what happens. The urge is strong, however.

One suggestion for working with your textbook: since you are currently targeting the verbs in the present, it might be useful to actively look out for these in the reading exercises in the book to make sure you are correctly recognising them for what they are as you read.

willfr wrote:One thing I know if that I am terrible at writing emails and letters, so I should spend more time practising. Is this simply a case of rewriting something until it sticks in memory or are there better approaches?


I guess as an ex pat this is something of much more immediate importance than for someone learning a language comfortably for fun. I'd suggest making sure that you are familiar with the standard format for emails and letters for different audiences and the standard phrases that are used in them. You could prepare a crib sheet for this. Then I think it's just a question of getting feedback from your tutor in order to uncover the types of errors you are making and work on eliminating them.
3 x

jackb
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Language Log: https://forum.language-learners.org/vie ... 15&t=12251
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Re: Willfr’s French Language Log

Postby jackb » Sat Jan 11, 2020 4:48 am

willfr wrote:2020 Week 1

The general theme has been to use Kwiziq to identify A2 grammar areas that I am struggling with (mostly irregular verbs in the present) and then drill myself on these until I have learnt them for that day. Then the following day, I return to a list of verbs and try to conjugate them all in the present. If I am successful, I return to the verb the next day, if not, I keep writing out the conjugations until they stick, then return to them the next day. This is laborious but I cannot find any other way to make all these different endings stick. Other suggestions welcomed!



I make sure to say the problem conjugations. Then repeat them into google translate to make sure I'm not killing the pronunciation. I also look at the conjugator on the reverso site(https://conjugator.reverso.net/conjugation-french.html) . The display helps me recognize the pattern of the conjugation. There is usually a connection between the pronunciation and the conjugation. Hope this helps
1 x
366 Day Challenge: 71 / 366

willfr
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Location: France
Languages: English (N), French (A2)
Language Log: https://forum.language-learners.org/vie ... 15&t=12172
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Re: Willfr’s French Language Log

Postby willfr » Sat Jan 11, 2020 12:08 pm

2020 Week 2

I’ve had another productive week of working on French. Some days I clocked over 6 hours of work on French (excluding stuff like watching TV, talking to people or dealing with administrative stuff such as switching the Internet provider) but the minimum amount of work was 2 hours on any given day.

Do I feel a huge sense of progress? Nah, not yet. I still am struggling to know how and what to focus on and whether I am devoting my time to the right areas. I guess that’s just how it goes when you’re in the country because there are so many new bits of language occurring throughout the day that they always make me wonder if I should switch my focus.

Do I feel a huge sense of achievement? Totally. I’ve really committed to be persistent and consistent with my French work and though I cannot say I love rewriting verbs every day, the sense of achievement I get when I realise voir and recevoir are conjugated differently is highly rewarding. It is still a ‘micro’ achievement rather than something more impressive (like a phone call) but I guess over time these build up to support me with the more challenging tasks.

The general shape of my study this week has been:

Conjugating Verbs in the Present
I already know the regular verb endings but there are lots of -er variations that I haven’t memorised by heart. Not to mention all the other irregular verbs. I got a 1990 copy of Bescherelle Conjugaison and started with the verb groups in the order they appear and work through them in that order. It means I cover avoir, être, se méfier, aimer, etc before moving onto -ir verbs like tenir before working my way through -re verbs.

I started by listing the infinitives of first 20 verbs from the book and then set about writing out the present conjugation for each of them. If I get it correct, with zero faults, I give myself a green tick. If I get any sort of fault – from writing c instead of ç, to not knowing how to conjugate the verb at all) I give myself a red mark. Each morning, I return to the list, with the aim of getting three consecutive green marks over three days for each verb. Then, a bit like SRS, I wait a couple of days and retest myself, whilst also adding more new infinitives to my list.
IMG_20200111_125844.jpg
Example of my verb score chart
IMG_20200111_125844.jpg (65.02 KiB) Viewed 183 times


It’s slow, I use a lot of paper and it can be frustrating to have a verb that goes green-red-green-red-red-green-green-red-green-red as it indicates I am still struggling to memorise the conjugations. Still, I persist and hope at some point the differences become incredibly obvious.
My tutor said that once I nail verbs in the present, the hardest work is done. Not sure if this was simply to keep me motivated.

French lessons and associated homework

I have 2 online French lessons a week with a tutor. I have set the goal of passing B1 and chose this tutor because of their job as a DELF examiner. We use Alter Ego and the pace is quite something. In a few weeks we have done comparatives, personality adjectives, interviews, the subjunctive and relative pronouns. After each lesson my head hurts and I feel as if I am a lost cause. Then I notice after a couple of weeks, if I keep referring to the material, tiny miniscule slivers of knowledge begin to appear.

Each lesson I am given a lot of homework to complete. Some of this is grammatical exercises, whilst other parts might be dictation, or comprehension or writing. I like the variety but I amways feel incredibly stretched by the work. And the feedback is usually around the same issues – grammar! So dividing my time up between French grammar basics, French working towards B1 and all my other daily demands has been difficult.

One thing I am till incredibly poor at is constructing verbal sentences on the fly. If my tutor asks my opinion or a question, I default to very simple responses.


Going over Grammar that I should already know but don’t

Even though I got a high score for my A2 DELF exam, I have terrible foundations. So I am using Kwiziq to go over lots of things that I “should” know before even embarking on the B1 stuff. My biggest challenge at the moment? Prepositions.

Oh if I could somehow commit prepositions to memory. I’ve tried writing the same sentences out over an over again, only to be stumped when I encounter a question where the city changes from Los Angeles to Paris, or where it’s a Region, such as Texas, or an ambiguous gender for a country. In addition to to/in/from/of difficulties with relation to place, I am also struggling with prepositions for time and other elements.

The frustration here is that I have been trying to learn these for years and cannot seem to make it stick. Any advice will be massively appreciated!

When it comes to understanding old, and new, grammatical concepts I have three resources, in addition to Kwiziq, to help me: Grammaire Progressive Debutant, Grammaire Progressive Intermediate, and Schaum’s French Grammar. My partner asked me, which one is the most useful and it struck me that not one is sufficient in helping me understand. I seem to need to go to all four of them and then, eventually, I start to make sense of the rules. In this way I feel that there’s some sort of resistance to “grammar” that might be holding back my progress.

Other stuff that I don't consider studying but is still in French:


Reading
Each morning I skim through a French daily newspaper on my tablet and each night I read a couple more pages of Check-point, whilst tapping words I don’t know for translation. There are free book exchange boxes throughout the town, so I picked up a Marc Levy novel with the intention of underlining words/phrases I don’t know as I go through the book. That’s probably not going to start for at least a few weeks though.


Talking
I’ve had a few small exchanges in shops and restaurants (trying to book a restaurant for Sunday lunch for eight people with one vegan is incredibly difficult in this town but it’s pushing me to interact more) and every day I am speaking French with my partner who is under strict instructions to remind me that I am speaking English if I switch.


TV
I've watched quite a bit of French TV over the week. Totally passive an, except for one programme on Netflix, without subtitles. Not sure I could turn TV watching into a learning activity. By the evening when I do watch TV, the thought of 'thinking' seems like a horrible idea! :lol:

Listening
When I am going to the shops I try to listen to the Inner French podcast. It's super clear and I wonder if it would be a good exercise to use a section for the translating to English and then back to French exercise that I haven't started yet!


Next Week
My plan for the week ahead is
  • Maintain the momentum with at least 2 hours per day of 'work' plus lots of TV, reading and talking
  • Try to get started with letter and email practice (I did find some great examples in the middle of my Dictionary, thank you to @DaveAgain for the suggestion)
  • Try to do a small amount of French to English to French translation. I am curious to see if this works well for me


OK, that’s enough for now. I am still a bit unsure of how to use these logs and how they can best work for me but I suppose that will come over time. I just realised that the hour spent thinking about and writing this could have been spent learning French! If you have any thoughts about how I can be better organised, or optimise my learning, or to finally figure out prepositions, please let me know. I'm here to learn!
5 x
I'm learning French and these are my current resources:
  • Grammaire Progressive du Français - Beginners & Intermediate
  • Schaum's French Grammar
  • Kwiziq
  • Alter Ego 3

366 Day Challenge: 14 / 366

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iguanamon
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Studies: Catalan
Language Log: viewtopic.php?t=797
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Re: Willfr’s French Language Log

Postby iguanamon » Sat Jan 11, 2020 3:33 pm

Willfr wrote:I am still a bit unsure of how to use these logs and how they can best work for me but I suppose that will come over time. I just realised that the hour spent thinking about and writing this could have been spent learning French! If you have any thoughts about how I can be better organised, or optimise my learning, or to finally figure out prepositions, please let me know. I'm here to learn!

This is exactly what someone at your level can use a log for in their learning process. Many of us have been where you are and can help. Even those of us not learning or who who haven't learned French.

Most people who successfully use tv for language learning tend to concentrate while learning on one series instead of multiple ones. In this way, a learner gets used to the actors' voices. Patterns and situations repeat. Vocabulary repeats. The visual clues are huge aids in comprehension.

When I first started with a Brazilian series, it was mind-numbingly difficult. I worked with a tutor who recommended the series and explained the process in more detail here. With an accurate transcript, the need for a tutor can be eliminated. There are ways to make an incomprehensible series comprehensible.

1) Watch a dub of a series with which you may be familiar in English.
2) Go to https://www.opensubtitles.org and get subtitles- if not accurate at least can make the series comprehensible, especially if the English is also available. You can make your own parallel text to use.
3) transcribe the episode as best you can and compare it to an accurate transcript (there's a list somewhere here on the forum of series with accurate transcripts).
4) Search for a synopsis/recap of the episode- many can be found on wikipedia or elsewhere online. These help you to see what's happening in the episode and can give clues to aid in comprehension.
5) Take notes as you watch.
6) Write a review and ask for correction.
7) With a dubbed series- watch first in English then in French or vice-versa or French-> English-> French

These are some strategies that can be employed to make more active, more efficient use of your time while working with native materials. I am also fond of Cavesa's approach of just watching massive amounts of native series and not doing much of what I have described previously. It worked well for her. It has also worked well for reineke. There are many ways to use native material in your learning.

Still, the key is to stick with one series with a large amount of episodes, 70-100, at least. Doing this may seem limiting but if you can eventually understand one series, you will be well on your way to understanding another and leveraging that comprehension into everyday life by understanding more spoken language around you and using phrases and words you will have learned in your own speech.

As to what to watch, again, a dubbed series can be very helpful. Cartoons, a comedy, a drama... as long as you stay away from overly complex urban/crime/police dramas with lots of underworld/youth culture slang at first. Remember, sometimes you have to crawl before you walk and walk before you can run.

Learning a language can seem overwhelmingly complex, but it doesn't have to be. It's about making the incomprehensible more comprehensible. Take this example from S01 E07 Friends (disclaimer: I have no idea whether the French is an accurate transcript) via the website opensubtitles.org:
Friends S01E07- The one with the blackout wrote:[/b]

11
C'est trop cool !

12
Toute la ville est dans le noir.

13
D'après maman, ça touche Manhattan,
Brooklyn et le Queens.

14
On ignore jusqu'à quand.

15
Les mecs, c'est géant !

16
Un pantalon et un pull ?
Pourquoi ?

17
Qui je vais rencontrer ?

18
Des électriciens ?
Des pillards à marier ?

19
On en parle plus tard ?

20
Je peux appeler ?

21
Je veux voir si ma grand-mère va bien ?
.
11
This is so cool, you guys.

12
The entire city's blacked out.

13
It's all of Manhattan.


14
They have no idea when it's back on.

15
- You guys, this is big.

16
- Pants and a sweater.
Why, Mom?

17
Who will I meet in a blackout?

18
Power-company guys?
Eligible looters?

19
- Can we talk about this later? Okay.

20
- Can I borrow the phone?

21
I want to call my apartment and check on my grandma.

Obviously this is not exact word for word translation. Still, it can help a great deal with comprehension and eventually, these crutches won't be needed. This is just an example of what you can do to make something comprehensible and learn from it. It does require time and effort.

Bonne Chance !
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