Who's on First? (Jack's French Log)

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Arnaud
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Re: Who's on First? (Jack's French Log)

Postby Arnaud » Fri May 22, 2020 9:21 pm

jackb wrote: I got kinda kicked in the face with the speed.
The speed is normal but perhaps Eric Cantona's southern accent can be a problem if you're not used to it.
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jackb
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Re: Who's on First? (Jack's French Log)

Postby jackb » Tue Jun 09, 2020 8:33 pm

It's been a tough couple of weeks. I missed a few days (3), but I think I've been productive. I'm about 75% in B2 material kwiziq. I still like it but the way they added the tenses and moods really put me off. They just dump the lessons on conjugation other verbs on you without explaining why or when you should use it. I ended up sending and email to support to ask for a list of what I would call head pages for each tense and mood just so I can get them straight.

I made a pretty big realization. I really don't like flash cards for vocabulary. It's possible I don't have the system right, but I feel like there is always something missing. Then I go back and spend more time tagging or organizing my cards. I was going down a rabbit hole and NOT studying. It's a strange thing. The more I read (which I enjoy), the more I enter flashcards, and the higher the due cards get. I'd reached a point where I was avoiding reviews because the number had gotten too high and I wasn't reading to not have to enter the flash cards. One day I thought to myself "This stupid" and I started reading. I feel much better about it. We'll see how long this lasts.

Since then, I finished Le Petit Nicolas, Season 1 (22 episodes) of Clone Wars, and Season 1 of Miraculous Ladybug (26 episodes). Miraculous Ladybug was a surprise. I was feeling down last weekend and binged it. Not sure if I'll continue, but it was a nice change from the stuff I usually watch and what is going on in the world. The french is fast, clear and high pitched. I also watch 2 episodes of a show called Balthazar. It's on Acorn (in the US) and forces the English subtitles. It's a happy medium to watch with my wife.

I really have to downloads Jeffers' spread sheet. Keeping track of this is starting to get hard.
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jackb
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Re: Who's on First? (Jack's French Log)

Postby jackb » Sun Aug 16, 2020 4:02 pm

Wow, it's been a long time since I posted an update. I'm cruising along in the movie portion in the super challenge. I downloaded Jeffers' spreadsheet, but I just didn't want to figure it out. It's mostly a way to make sure I am on target and I'm way ahead on pace so it's not a problem.
I shifted my reading to include more intensive work. I just need it. I'm using a Kindle so lookups are easy. I'm also writing down the words I don't know (or can't remember). Tough sentences get written down and deconstructed. I've been doing it every day, but not for too long because it tires me out.

On the plus side, random french words have been bouncing around in my head. Sometimes I am comfortable enough to say them. Genuine speech is still out of my grasp, but now I'm confident it'll come. I'm going to start pushing a little bit.

Kwiziq quizzes have basically stopped. All of the stuff was new and was starting to feel like homework. I wasn't familiar enough with the constructions so I had no option but to try to memorize which make me not want to study. I did just start doing the dictées on kwiziq. It's one of the ways to push talking. They're good enough at this point. I do a listen, write, read, speak cycle while repeating as necessary. Right now I'm doing one a day.

I was looking at Malay language learning materials the other day and I had to prevent myself from going down a rabbit hole. It was also the first time I realized I have a list of languages to learn. It's a weird thing. My perspective on how I'm learning French has changed a bit. I'm looking at the 'why' I'm going things with an eye on what I hope to learn from it. It's a long way off though. I want to be (or feel) advanced before adding a language, mostly because French is my first. If anyone is wondering, the list is Malay (Bahasa Melayu), Spanish, and Chinese.

I'll have to do some searching on how people actually do the multiple languages thing. It still confuses me and I don't think my 'method' is set enough at this point.
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jackb
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Re: Who's on First? (Jack's French Log)

Postby jackb » Mon Sep 07, 2020 3:49 pm

My last post got me thinking about how far I want to get with french and if my current method of work with the language (I don't want to call it study) will get me there. Before starting any other languages I want to get to an advanced level and my current activities aren't going to get me there. Actually they might, just not in a good time frame.

My activities with French have been very extensive heavy. It was very good for me to dip my toes into language learning at a level I was comfortable with at the time. Intensive would have turned me off at the beginning and I never would have gotten this far. Now it feels like it is holding me back. Mostly in the area of vocabulary. My listening and reading are seriously hampered by it. Almost completely ignoring speaking and writing is adding fuel to the fire.

So here's my current daily plan:
1. Continue reading (extensively) for 30 minutes
2. Read one article (intensively)
3. Write 1-3 sentences for each new word
4. Review flashcards *

There was an article on a local blog about getting access to the library's periodicals during the abbreviated pandemic hours. It turns out that my library has access to press reader (https://pressreader.com). There are over 500 newspapers/magazines in french spanning all kinds of topics. I'm very happy I stumbled on this. It will be my source of articles.

It should be about 2 hours a day in the beginning because writing sentence is hard.

I also figured at some point I need to get over to dialang for an assessment of my skills. Don't know when that's going to happen though.

* Yes, I'm back on the flashcard train. Apparently, I've been making flashcards wrong. It has contributed to my previous dislike of flashcards along with the 'oppression of the due'. The only problem is it is hard to making good flashcards. The cards will be either ipa, audio, or require me to speak. French words need to start coming out of my mouth!! The words I come across and don't know will get entered based on.
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jackb
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Re: Who's on First? (Jack's French Log)

Postby jackb » Wed Sep 09, 2020 2:50 pm

This past long weekend my wife and I binged a show called Unité 42 on Netflix. I was pleasantly surprised. I wasn't sure if I would like it, but I ended up enjoying every episode. Watching with English subtitles is tough. My brain wants to shut off the French audio and only read the English subtitles. I'll probably watch it multiple times in the next couple of months. There always seems to be one person that I miss half of their words. In this one, it was 'Billie'. Must be the slang.

Another piece of goodness I found (again) is Lous and the Yakuza. She only has a few songs, but they are all winners in my book.



I first heard about her and her story on the podcast Le Tchip

It's good to have fun with French!
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jackb
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Re: Who's on First? (Jack's French Log)

Postby jackb » Sun Sep 20, 2020 2:32 am

I finished Harry Potter 3 and Clone Wars season 4. I’m at a good pace for the super challenge. I also went over the 1000 page mark! The second half of the book was noticeably easier.

I’ve been thinking and searching the forum for different personal methods and techniques. More about the hows and whys to understand the whats. I’ve been feeling like I have been floundering by not having a good course of study. Just ‘consuming native content’ isn’t doing it for me. Or rather it might be doing it for me, but I just don’t know it yet because this is my first time learning another language. I’m just taking stock of what I know about learning a language that is not language specific, more about the process, my preferences, etc. This stuff needs to get out of my head, so here it is:

Intensive learning
I started all of this just be doing Lingq in a pretty extensive way. It was really a way for me to do minimal work and think I was doing something. I’ve always leaned towards extensive activities mostly because they allow me to be lazy. I thought Lingq was making the input comprehensible, but it wasn’t. Well, it may have been for some people but not for me. I am only just now realizing that I should have been working intensively until the stuff I was working on becomes comprehensible, then work extensively.

Old Programs
After Lingq, I realized that I needed to start from the beginning. Steve Kaufmann may be able to start off with his mini stories, but they weren’t working for me. I chose the Berlitz Self-Teacher and moved to Assimil, Kwiziq and a couple of others. I really like old programs. I’m not sure if it is the hand holding nature of a course or what. It might also be the recovering history teacher in me. Who knows.


Reading, writing, speaking, listening, grammar and vocabulary.
Four skills and two subject areas. They’re all important, but I have been kind of haphazard in learning/exercising them. I’m pretty reading heavy, and up to a point, that is ok with me. Every thing I’ve done has been the path of least resistance. Somewhere in the beginning, speaking took a backseat to reading and it’s been that way ever since. Grammar and vocab are used in all of the skills. I think those are best addressed by Anki or similar. I just need to get over my love/hate relationship with flashcards (aka learn how to make good flash cards).

Evaluations
I don’t know what level I am in with any of the skills. I would generally intermediate, because I’ve reached my broad definition of intermediate for anything. Basically it’s once improvement can only be realized after months of practice instead of days or weeks. I have to do a Dialang test, but also regularly think about the skills and how to work on them. I need to ask “Is exercise/drill/activity/book A helping to increase skill B?” or “Is there a better thing to do to help advance skill B”?

Goals
I haven’t had a well defined goal. It was mainly to learn French well enough to use French to get better. When I read it, I could say I’ve achieved it. Maybe that’s why I’m having this ‘language learning crisis’. I just need to set a new goal. It might have to be a CEFR level, then again….maybe not.


I guess this is why it takes so long to learning your first foreign language by yourself. You don’t know what you don’t know. I’m not sure how all of this stuff fits together yet, but I’m convinced letting this stuff inform how a learn in the future will make me a better learner. It’s just a struggle right now.
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jackb
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Re: Who's on First? (Jack's French Log)

Postby jackb » Mon Sep 28, 2020 2:52 am

So I took the Dialang test and came back with B1 for Structure and Reading and A2 for everything else. I'm not sure how I feel about it other than the tests were weird. I had no idea what to expect or context to deal with the questions. I'll probably take the tests again around the first of the year to see if my changes had an effect on things.

I'm in the process of 'kicking the tires' on FSI Basic French. It's a monster course in general, but it looks like the dialogs are a killer. I was hoping to do it as an audio-only course, but I don't think I'll be able to. The dialogs will trip me up every time without the book. It'll get me speaking, that's for sure. I'm going to do a couple of lessons and see how feel about it.

I've been doing the flashcards daily and I've noticed that they are taking slightly more time to finish the reviews. If I keep entering new information, and I keep getting new cards, they will eventually take over the actual study time. I have to figure out a good way to limit the reviews, or just not really caring about them. But if I do that, what's the point of doing them at all? What do I really want to get out if and am I getting it?

I haven't started HP4 yet. Starting these books are hard for me. It always takes a while before they get rolling, and if I remember correctly, this one takes longer than most because of the length. I am going to add the audiobook and 'work' through the book more.

For goals, I don't think I'm going to set a main one. I need to think a bit more. My practice for the last few months has been sort of scattered, so I'm going to try to use the log to help me focus a bit. So here are my goals for the week:

Do 2 lessons of FSI Basic
Work on HP4
Figure out Anki settings
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jackb
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Re: Who's on First? (Jack's French Log)

Postby jackb » Tue Nov 03, 2020 1:07 pm

It's been over a month. I've been doing a lot of thinking and work with French, but not posting.

I'm really liking FSI Basic. I do it as a mostly audio course. It is surprising how much they pack into the course. It is great to get practice in the mechanics of speaking. Some letters and combinations of letters are coming easier. More French is randomly coming out of my mouth simply because I'm confident it some things. The biggest surprise for me is the listening. Even though in some sections you are only asked to repeat, or change one 'simple' thing, you have to have heard and distinguished the difference between votre and vos in order to say the answer correctly. The whole ignoring to tu may be an issue later, but for now it's helping me. I would never get practice with it and when you need it you need it. The grammar is pretty basic at this point, but that's kinda the point for me. I'm starting unit 4 this week.

I'm just over the halfway point in La Coupe de Feu. I've been reading ahead, then listening to the audio to catch up. I'm not sure I can keep doing the audio. The reader is all over the place with the volume. His softs are too soft and the louds are too loud. The voices he does are also annoying. I'm going to put HP down for a couple of months after finishing this book. I wasn't a big HP fan to begin with and the things that irritated me in English are irritating me in French. I'm up to reading about 20-25 pages an hour.

Poking at Anki and its settings made me realize how I want to use it. I don't want to use it to remember everything forever. I want it to make doing what I'm doing this week easier. I did the first 2 chapters of HP4 intensively with the audio. I used Anki with settings to show me the cards at my preferred interval 1,2,4,8 (days). I put in sentences and phrases with words and grammar construction I knew, but tripped me up. It's helped and made my reading more enjoyable. The next book I start, I'll do the same thing. I have to remember it's a tool not 'the way'.

I just started Gilmore Girls on Netflix. I've never seen an episode because it's not my kind of show, but it seems to have all of the things I was looking for; women talking about everyday things and living happily ever after. The Clone Wars series had too much 'pew, pew, pew' and not enough dialog in the last few seasons. GG has 7 seasons with 22 episodes. I hope it's not all Lorelai being childish.

For long term goals, I need to get a certification. I have no plans in really 'needing' it, but I want something to shoot for it. Sometimes certs/degrees require you to be more well rounded. So either B2 or C1 by the end of next year. I have to decide soon. If it's going to be C1, I'll need to buckle down now. Who knows, a winter of lockdown just might be the thing for C1.

Goals this month (November):
Complete FSI Basic Units 4,5
Finish La Couple de Feu
Finish Season 1 of Gilmore Girls
Write something and submit for correction.
Decide on certification and buy prep books.

Edits: removed FSI unit 6 from goals. The just got longer and I don't really want to push myself to burnout with this.
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jackb
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Re: Who's on First? (Jack's French Log)

Postby jackb » Wed Nov 25, 2020 2:24 pm

Goals this month (November):
Complete FSI Basic Units 4,5
Finish La Coupe de Feu
Finish Season 1 of Gilmore Girls
Write something and submit for correction.
Decide on certification and buy prep books.


I'm happy with my progress so far this month. I'm on track to complete most of them. The writing goal is the only one I haven't even thought about. Maybe I'll do that this weekend. Writing a paragraph and submitting it should be too much. I've registered for a site I stumbled on called Journaly. It's in beta, so I might not get any corrections. La Coupe de Feu is finished. FSI unit 4 is done and I'm on tape 6 of 7 in Unit 5. I'll have it done with some time to review. I'm on episode 17 of season 1 in Gilmore Girls. There are 22 episodes. One episode a day is doable for a week. I'm going to shoot for B2 by the end of next year. I'm going to get two workbooks, but I'm not sure which ones just yet.

A few weeks ago, I did something different. I went through a French Voices podcast (#63) translating all unknown words and interesting turns of phrase. I noticed that my listening comprehension jumped after spending a week or so digging through it. I seem to get more from listening since then. I'm going to make it a part of my regular practice. Some of them are for purchase. I may buy one or two. I think these are worth it.

FSI is a challenge, but it is exactly what I need. The mechanics of speaking is a barrier for me and this kind of brute force approach allows me to be able to hear my mistakes and work on them. I want to get comfortable just saying words and talking to myself before I try to talk to other people. If I'm not comfortable with myself, how can I be with someone else?

I'm taking a break from Harry Potter. I checked out some easier stuff from the library, La Toile de Charlotte and Les Vacances du Petit Nicolas. From what I can tell so far, children's books have pretty complex grammar with less sophisticated vocabulary. I think that's the right way to go for me right now.

I've come to realize that learning or recognizing grammar and learning vocabulary is hard for me. I'm going to try to break them apart this month. The ideas are still bouncing around in my head about how to do this. I need to practice writing so, at the moment, I'm going to try to write some sentences with an artificially small vocabuary. No, I'm not sure how to pick the vocabulary or the sentence structure, tenses, etc.

Goals for December:
Read La Toile de Charlotte and Le Petit Nicolas
Complete FSI Units 6 and 7
Go through 3 French Voices podcasts
Write two sentences a day. *
Buy two B2 test prep books

I going to try, in the future, to make my goals based on the 4 major skills. This forces me to evaluate my materials and progress. Who knows.......I might change it all up next month!!

*Two sentences sounds so small, but that's the point.
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mverse
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Re: Who's on First? (Jack's French Log)

Postby mverse » Wed Nov 25, 2020 4:57 pm

Hi jackb,

Nice journal! I'm also learning French. It's interesting that you went from extensive activities to more formal activities as I did the same thing and I've seen a few other users come to the same conclusions after doing mostly extensive activities in the beginning. I think the extensive activities made it easy for me to put time in everyday until I had the motivation and desire to do more intensive activities, so I don't regret it. I'll probably try to front load with more intensive activities for whatever language I learn after French though!

Also the music recommendation from earlier in your journal of Lous and the Yakuza is great! The other French speaking artist I know is Stromae which I totally recommend.


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