The Frenchification of Mademoiselle R

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Rebecca
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The Frenchification of Mademoiselle R

Postby Rebecca » Fri Jan 01, 2016 10:52 pm

Hello!

As a long-time (mostly) lurker over at HTLAL, I have jumped ship to join everyone else over here at this rather spiffy new website.

After a few (ok, many) abandoned attempts to learn French over the past few years, I am ready for another go at learning this lovely language. Indeed, I have a very important reason - my fiancé is French. I am native English and we live in Scotland, and our relationship has been conducted entirely in English thus far, which he speaks very fluently after 15 years in the country. However, my French is almost non-existent. As most of his relatives have no English either, family holidays in France are somewhat...difficult, to say the least. Learning French would certainly make my life easier. (Not to mention my wedding vows!).

I would classify myself as almost a complete beginner. I had the typically inefficient school French lessons between the ages of 12 and 14 or so, nothing of which I still remember.

Over the last few years I have passively picked up some words and, at a rough guess, I can recognize somewhere in the region of 200 words, but my speaking and listening ability is not far from zero. To all intents and purposes, I am a blank slate.

As I am fairly new to serious language learning, I suppose I will initially be learning as much about how to learn, as actual French itself. After a few abortive attempts to start learning, I have also picked up some negative associations about language learning and in my mind, French has turned into a monster of seemingly insurmountable difficulty. I realise I need to let go of these beliefs if I am ever to progress.

My goals for the year are:

Approximately B1 Level
5,000 word passive vocabulary
Ability to hold a simple conversation

I also hope to develop a consistent routine and to try several methods and strategies to determine what works best for me. I intend to work fairly intensively over the course of the year, but as I have an illness which includes Chronic Fatigue, it can makes life rather difficult and unpredicatable. My energy, stamina and ability to concentrate varies considerably from week to week, month to month, so I cannot make a definite statement about how many hours of study I can put in each day. I will just have to play it by ear and do whatever I can manage.

My next post will detail the provisional learning plan I have drawn up...
Last edited by Rebecca on Tue Jan 05, 2016 5:06 pm, edited 2 times in total.
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Re: The Frenchification of Mademoiselle R

Postby tomgosse » Sat Jan 02, 2016 1:16 am

Welcome to the forum.
Please consider joining our French group, Les Voyageurs. The group is open to people of all levels. We are here to help each other. I'm looking forward to reading about your study plan.

All the best,
Tom
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Rebecca
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Re: The Frenchification of Mademoiselle R

Postby Rebecca » Sat Jan 02, 2016 11:14 am

Thank you Tom! Your thread looks like a true wealth of information and I will definitely be joining in. I'm in awe of all the accomplished language learners here on this forum and how you all share your knowledge so generously!
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Rebecca
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Re: The Frenchification of Mademoiselle R

Postby Rebecca » Sat Jan 02, 2016 11:30 am

As I seem to have spent much more time collecting study materials over the last few years than actually studying (!), I have a fairly comprehensive set of tools at my disposal. I have come up with a very tentative plan outlining my activities for the next twelve months. I am sure once I get into studying, much of this will change or become redundant as I get to know what works for me. At the moment I will be basing my studies on this plan of action:


1-6 Months:

FSI French Phonology
Pimsleur French Levels 1-5
Michel Thomas French Foundation, Advanced, Vocabulary & Language Builder Courses
Assimil New French With Ease
Living Language French: Beginner-Intermediate
French In Action (after 3 months of study)
FSI French (after 3 months of study)


6-12 Months:

Assimil Using French
Living Language French: Advanced
French In Action
FSI French
Native Materials

Supplemented By (1-12 Months):

Anki
French Films/TV
Podcasts
Graded Readers
Vocab/Grammar Books
Listening-Reading? (Possibly)
And most importantly...speaking practice with a native (the fiancé!)

I hope to update this log at least once a week to check in my progress.
Last edited by Rebecca on Sun Jan 03, 2016 8:16 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: The Frenchification of Mademoiselle R

Postby tomgosse » Sat Jan 02, 2016 11:49 am

I've added you to Les Voyageurs. :)
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Re: The Frenchification of Mademoiselle R

Postby Stelle » Sat Jan 02, 2016 3:02 pm

Bonne chance! It looks like you have a solid plan!
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Re: The Frenchification of Mademoiselle R

Postby rdearman » Sat Jan 02, 2016 6:40 pm

Rebecca wrote:As I seem to have spent much more time collecting study materials over the last few years than actually studying (!), I have a fairly comprehensive set of tools at my disposal. I have come up with a very tentative plan outlining my activities for the next twelve months. I am sure once I get into studying, much of this will change or become redundant as I get to know what works for me. At the moment I will be basing my studies on this plan of action:


1-6 Months:

FSI French Phonology
Pimsleur French 1-3
Michel Thomas French Foundation, Advanced, Vocabulary & Language Builder Courses
Assimil New French With Ease
Living Language French: Beginner-Intermediate
French In Action (after 3 months of study)
FSI French (after 3 months of study)


6-12 Months:

Assimil Using French
Living Language French: Advanced
French In Action
FSI French
Native Materials

Supplemented By:

Podcasts
Graded Readers
Vocab/Grammar Books
Anki
Listening-Reading? (Possibly)
And most importantly...speaking practice with a native (the fiancé!)

I hope to update this log at least once a week to check in my progress.


If I could make a suggestion. I'd move ANKI up to the first 1-6 months. You'll be able to load vocabulary from your beginners books and study at odd moments on a phone (if you have a smart phone) when waiting in queue's etc. Also you might want to make a deal with your live-in native to speak for 1 hour a day only in French? Or perhaps start with only 15 minutes?

Also you might want to consider jumping right into native materials and get a couple of French films to watch and a book or two to read. Simple books like Le Petit Prince or Le Petit Nicolas to start.

Think about signing up for the Super Challenge in May, which is to read 100 books and watch 100 films. It will really boost you're French, it certainly did for me.
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Re: The Frenchification of Mademoiselle R

Postby jennybenny25 » Sat Jan 02, 2016 7:25 pm

Following your log- im a fellow french learner :)

Liking your plan!

x
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SpanishDuolingo: 20 / 64

SC Films: 1 / 50

SC Books: 0 / 50

Outputchallenge: 220 / 50000

FirstSpanishReader: 5 / 29

CoffeeBreakSpanishSeason1: 10 / 40


---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
FirstFrenchReader: 15 / 29

Writing: 243 / 1000

FrenchDuolingo: 29 / 78

CoffeeBreakFrenchSeason1: 15 / 40

LiveFrench: 2 / 25

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Re: The Frenchification of Mademoiselle R

Postby emk » Sat Jan 02, 2016 9:28 pm

Rebecca wrote:I am native English and we live in Scotland, and our relationship has been conducted entirely in English thus far, which he speaks very fluently after 15 years in the country. However, my French is almost non-existent. As most of his relatives have no English either, family holidays in France are somewhat...difficult, to say the least. Learning French would certainly make my life easier. (Not to mention my wedding vows!).

Even though many of my in-laws can speak English, I'm really glad that I learned French. In my experience, people like your fiancé who use their second language constantly can "reveal" almost all of who they are when they speak it. But people who only speak their second language occasionally are often at a huge disadvantage when using it. And because of this, I had a very limited incomplete view of my in-laws back when we spoke English. I've had a great time getting to know them better when they're not fighting with a language barrier, and they can express themselves effortlessly. And of course, it's great to know that I can travel to a French country, talk to people, understand the news, deal with a hospital emergency room, and so on. Learning French was definitely a good idea. :-)

Rebecca wrote:I also hope to develop a consistent routine and to try several methods and strategies to determine what works best for me. I intend to work fairly intensively over the course of the year, but as I have an illness which includes Chronic Fatigue, it can makes life rather difficult and unpredicatable. My energy, stamina and ability to concentrate varies considerably from week to week, month to month, so I cannot make a definite statement about how many hours of study I can put in each day. I will just have to play it by ear and do whatever I can manage.

I can't imagine what Chronic Fatigue would be like. We do have several great people on this forum who've had to work around various chronic illnesses, and maybe they have some interesting suggestions?

Personally, while studying French, I've only dealt with ordinary fatigue, though sometimes in large quantities. (Two newborns, a case of influenza, some rotavirus infections that knocked me flat, and a head injury, among other things.) I can pass along some tricks I learned, but I don't know whether they'd be helpful for you. So please feel free to take all this with a large grain of salt. :-)

One helpful strategy for me has been to divide my study time into "high quality" time, "low quality" time, and little bits of time scattered throughout the day:

  1. High quality time: I have lots of mental energy and strong focus. This is the time I use for pushing my limits, or for doing things which involve explicit study and concentration.
  2. Medium and low-quality time: I don't have enough concentration to study, but I can still use the language in level-appropriate ways. This gets a lot easier around B1, once native materials start becoming accessible. In the very beginning, I can listen to music in the language I'm studying, or look at the ideas in iguanamon's multitrack approach post, or loop audio I've already studied and understood before. This time doesn't necessarily help me make much forward progress, exactly, but it does keep me from sliding backward, and perhaps it lays groundwork that makes studying easier later on.
  3. Little bits of "lost" time throughout the day: Perhaps I'm standing in line at the store, or a I have a few minutes alone at lunch, or whatever. This time is great for things like Anki and reading.
The idea is to recognize that not all time is created equal, and different activities are better suited for different types of study time. I think many of the experienced polyglots here use a system similar to this. After I reached B1, for example, one of my favorite ways to work on listening comprehension was to watch TV series in French with my wife. Watching TV in French could be exhausting at first, but I was already sitting on the couch, and so dozing off wasn't the end of the world. :-)

During those times when I've been absolutely wiped out, one thing that has helped is to put my "high quality time" activities on the backburner, but never completely lose track of my low-quality time activities. Another thing that sometimes helps me is to look at some of the old AJATT posts about creating an environment that makes language learning almost inevitable.
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Re: The Frenchification of Mademoiselle R

Postby Rebecca » Sun Jan 03, 2016 2:23 pm

Thanks for your good wishes, Stelle! I have already made a start on my plan.

jennybenny - Thank you! I have subscribed to your log too, and will be following along. Hopefully we can pick up some tips from each other.

rdearman - Thank you for your thoughtful advice. I realise now that I probably should have made it clearer in my plan of action above that I intend the supplementary activities like Anki to be carried out at all stages - right from the beginning. I will edit my earlier post to better reflect this. In fact, I have started loading vocabulary into Anki already from my text books. Although time consuming, I can see that if I am consistent in reviewing material this could be an incredible tool for my language learning.

As for speaking practice with my partner, unfortunately my speaking ability is so limited at present that I can barely put two words together, let alone have a rudimentary conversation. Hopefully that will change very soon, and I intend to make speaking a priority as soon as possible. We have been reading out loud together from the first couple of Assimil dialogues, as well as Beginner's French Reader, by Anne Topping, and a couple of FrenchPod101 podcast transcripts, though. I recognise that I have hit the language learner's equivalent of the jackpot in terms of having a native speaker at my beck and call to practice with, and I intend to make the most of it!

Actually I really enjoy French films and have watched many over the years, but always with subtitles, as I don't really understand anything without them. I want to make French films and TV a regular part of my study and will try to use them in a more deliberate and considered way, rather than just passively consuming them, as in the past. I will be logging the French films that I watch and may give short summaries or reviews, if others would find it interesting.

Thank you for the book recommendations. I think I already have Le Petit Prince somewhere, and I have heard good things about the Le Petit Nicolas books. The Super Challenge sounds very interesting indeed, so thank you for alerting me to that. Sounds like exactly what I need!

emk - What a wonderful post, thank you! I completely understand what you mean when you talk about people only revealing themselves when they can talk comfortably, without struggling with the language. I have known my in-laws for years, and they are lovely, welcoming people, but I feel like I have barely scratched the surface in getting to know them, simply because I cannot talk to them without my partner translating between us. Not to mention the general awkwardness when he has to leave the room and it is just us left together. You can only get so far with smiling and nodding. ;) The visits to France to see them would be much more enjoyable and less stressful if I can at least hold a basic conversation. I think the in-laws are eager for me to learn, too, and I can understand why. They probably feel that they hardly know me either.

Your study tips are very useful and are similar to the strategies I already have to use to manage my life. The symptoms of my illness range widely from little more than normal fatigue to being utterly debilitated. Fortunately, the latter does not occur very often. Usually I am somewhere in the middle.

The most important thing I want to work on this year is consistency. I will get nowhere without it, as my previous attempts at learning French have proved. I need to build a routine, as much as is possible, and not let the studying slip completely, even during more difficult times. I think I may set up a playlist for times when I can only listen to non-demanding audio, for example.

Anyway, at the moment I am having a pretty good spell, so I want to capitalise on it!
Last edited by Rebecca on Sun Jan 03, 2016 8:13 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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