Carmody's Log for French

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Carmody
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Re: Carmody's Log for French

Postby Carmody » Mon Mar 04, 2019 4:04 pm

It is a real privilege to be a member of this Forum and to be able to learn how the language journey is going for others. Many have wonderful successes but so often I read of the frustrations and despair of so many people and why it is they have to give up on a language. The descriptions are always so honest and heartfelt.

What it tells me is that my journey is not an easy one but rather a very hard one. Very hard. So apparently, others find it as frustrating as I do. Learning the language requires many years of hard work, patience and perseverance.

So a big thank you to everyone for sharing honestly in how their language journey is going.

Some, of course, have it easy but my guess is that the rest of us have to work at it.
;)
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Re: Carmody's Log for French

Postby Cèid Donn » Mon Mar 04, 2019 7:38 pm

Some, of course, have it easy but my guess is that the rest of us have to work at it.


I don't think anyone gets out of needing to work hard at it, and that's why sadly not many people really get far with self-learning languages. I just hope you're not trying to compare yourself to "celebrity" polyglots on You Tube who have far more privilege and support via their celebrity and status (if not their own language learning businesses as well) to pursue their language learning than most of us non-celebrity learners do. Many of us don't get much support at all and that reality doesn't help those of us who try to stick with it either. So I tend to gear my expectations toward the reality that this "hobby" of mine is at times seemingly fruitless and at other times very lonely and I look for ways to avoid known pitfalls like self-doubt and letting myself be devoured by negative emotions. It might be little things like crediting myself of small successes, changing up my study routine or engaging with other language learners when I can, but even then, I can succumb to discouragement and frustration, because I'm as human as anyone else. C'est la vie, non? :)
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Carmody
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Re: Carmody's Log for French

Postby Carmody » Mon Apr 08, 2019 2:12 pm

For starters I have read over 1000 pages in French from various authors over the past 4 years. Reading French is a real joy; I am so grateful for it. My study schedule is 2 hrs. of reading a day and 1 hr. oral using many different sources on YouTube.

However my progress to date for my oral comprehension is abysmal. I can understand the French spoken in these three YouTubers:

Francais Avec Pierre
https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCVgW9ZQaGBk6fsiPgE2mYDg

Home Language
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wVvYjii6HrI

Francais Authentique
https://www.youtube.com/user/francaisauthentique/videos

But when I move from that level to real world spoken French I am at a total loss ; helpless. It is as if I am in a box and can’t get out; no progress at all.

Dialang says I am B1 in all my skill sets but I know that is way too high.

My question is simple: how can I progress beyond the simple and fundamental level where I am stuck now. I realize I am a tortoise and everyone else is a hare, but at the level I am at there seems absolutely no hope.

Should I be doing something differently?

Thank you.
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Re: Carmody's Log for French

Postby Lianne » Mon Apr 08, 2019 2:26 pm

Hi Carmody! I'm new to your log and haven't read all of it yet, so I don't know what you've tried before, but I'm in a similar boat. I just started extensive reading a couple of months ago and it's going really well. The YA novels I'm reading aren't all that complex, but they're getting more and more comfortable to read. But when I watch TV, it's SO HARD to understand anything.

Have you done L-R? I've recently started a bit of that, and feel like the L2-L2 stage of it was really helpful. Reading a whole novel while simultaneously hearing the audiobook, I think, really helped my ability to match up sounds to words. I think I'm making real progress in that aspect of listening comprehension. Now, I think my new biggest obstacle is speed, because I just can't comprehend French fast enough to understand native speakers.
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Carmody
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Re: Carmody's Log for French

Postby Carmody » Sun Apr 14, 2019 12:16 am

Lianne

Thanks for your feed back. Yes I agree that listening and reading is vital; and I have not been doing that.

When watching different video clips on YouTube I think the goal for me is to listen without actually translating and I find that very hard to do. I spend a lot of time on YouTube trying to comprehend but it is very tough going.

So I was thinking taking a class at Alliance-Francaise would help and to do that I took a test and had an interview test in French. I was a nervous wreck in the interview but the interviewer said he found I was at a B1 level. That for me is great and a wonderful surprise but I am still finding it difficult to comprehend without translating. And everyone tells me that is what I have to learn to do.
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MorkTheFiddle
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Re: Carmody's Log for French

Postby MorkTheFiddle » Sun Apr 14, 2019 3:28 am

Carmody wrote:I am still finding it difficult to comprehend without translating. And everyone tells me that is what I have to learn to do.

Let me be, as often, the odd man out. I definitely do not believe that you have to learn "to comprehend without translating." I definitely do not believe that you must make that a goal.
Whenever I listen to anything said in French or Spanish, provided it is not too fast for me to understand, I don't translate it in my head first. I just understand it. And, most importantly, I have never tried any learning strategy to make that happen. Just after listening enough, I understood without translating.
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Re: Carmody's Log for French

Postby Morgana » Sun Apr 14, 2019 4:20 am

MorkTheFiddle wrote:
Carmody wrote:I am still finding it difficult to comprehend without translating. And everyone tells me that is what I have to learn to do.

Let me be, as often, the odd man out. I definitely do not believe that you have to learn "to comprehend without translating." I definitely do not believe that you must make that a goal.
Whenever I listen to anything said in French or Spanish, provided it is not too fast for me to understand, I don't translate it in my head first. I just understand it. And, most importantly, I have never tried any learning strategy to make that happen. Just after listening enough, I understood without translating.
Not so odd. It has also been my experience that the translating goes away after a while, without my intention to make it go away. It's not uniformly absent, of course. Anything that I don't know yet, I obviously try to consciously process, and anything I've only just recently learned, or recently learned and forgotten, I do have to translate to understand. But over time the unfamiliar becomes less unfamiliar until it is finally familiar.

Carmody, is there nothing at all that you do not translate? Or is it just some things, perhaps newer words and phrases, things you've encountered less often, or only encountered them for the first time recently, for example? I would suggest that it is entirely normal (and necessary) to translate the less familiar until they eventually become familiar and thus do not need our conscious processing anymore. In any case, I wouldn't sweat it. Keep reading and listening and listening and reading. I like that Steve Kaufmann describes the process of acquiring a language as "getting used to" the language. And you can only get used to something by being exposed to it a lot. I'm not there yet either, still lots of things to learn, lots of looking up required, but little by little piece by piece bits here and there become automatic. I bet the same thing is happening for you too, Carmody, but we always want to be better ;)

ETA:
Carmody wrote:For starters I have read over 1000 pages in French from various authors over the past 4 years. Reading French is a real joy; I am so grateful for it. My study schedule is 2 hrs. of reading a day and 1 hr. oral using many different sources on YouTube.
Is it a typo, that 1000 pages? Did you mean 10,000 perhaps?
Carmody wrote:...
But when I move from that level to real world spoken French I am at a total loss ; helpless. It is as if I am in a box and can’t get out; no progress at all.

Dialang says I am B1 in all my skill sets but I know that is way too high.

My question is simple: how can I progress beyond the simple and fundamental level where I am stuck now. I realize I am a tortoise and everyone else is a hare, but at the level I am at there seems absolutely no hope.
I think what you are describing is not so unusual for B1. Dialang has told me I have B1 listening skills in Swedish, and in my experience listening to different sources, my comprehension can be quite hit-and-miss. It's great that you can listen to those three Youtubers and understand. This is a positive thing and something you can build on :) What I'm doing to try to budge out of my alleged B1 is watching Swedish tv. It's tough and there is a lot that flies by me, but I get things here and there and especially with television series I stick with for a while and re-watch, I can understand quite a lot without the need for any subtitles. Lianne also mentioned audiobooks, and reading the book while listening to the audiobook. I used to do that (listen and read at the same time), and eventually I could listen to young adult novels in audiobook form without the book. It sounds like your reading is at a very good level, so you likely have a very good level of vocab and likewise a good feel for grammar. It is probably an issue of just getting in more and more listening to a variety of sources, sometimes extensively (just listening without pausing to look up words or worrying about how much you understand) and sometimes intensively where you do look up some or all of what you don't understand.
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Carmody
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Re: Carmody's Log for French

Postby Carmody » Sun Apr 14, 2019 6:42 pm

A very big thank you to Lianne, MorkTheFiddle, and Morgana for not just dropping by but sharing your wisdom with such comprehensive answers. It is greatly appreciated. Studying on one’s own can be a bit difficult when problems arise. Everyone else always seem to do it so effortlessly and flawlessly.

Everyone’s advice is excellent and I do plan on following it.

Re the number of pages I have read. Yes Morgana you are correct the number of pages should have been 10,000 pages. For each book I read, I read it first extensively then 2-3 times intensively for vocabulary and idioms. So the number of pages is actually closer to 20,000 in that sense.

For the record, the books I have read are:
L'Armoire Magique C.S. Lewis
HarryPotter, à l'école des sorciers J.K Rowling
HarryPotter et Le Prisonnier D'Azkaban J.K Rowling
Le Petit Prince Saint Exupery
Le Retour de l'Enfant Prodigue A. Gide
Bonjour Tristesse F. Sagan
L'Amant Marguerite Duras
La Symphonie pastorale A. Gide
L'école des sorciers JK Rowling
Stupeur Et Tremblements A. Nothomb
L'Élégance du hérisson M. Barbery
La Carte et le Territoire M. Houellebecq
Le Sabotage amoureux A. Nothomb
Métaphysique des tubes A. Nothomb
Histoire du lion Personne S. Audeguy
Le lit defait F. Sagan
Les yeux jaunes des crocodiles K. Pancol
La Peste A. Camus
Le Sud Yves Berger
Mercure A. Nothomb
La biographie de la faim A. Nothomb
Thérèse Desqueyroux F. Mauriac
Poil de carotte J. Renard
La Place A. Ernaux
La Douleur M. Duras
Le Château de ma mère M. Pagnol
Les Années Annie Ernaux
La grammaire est un chanson douce E. Orsenna
Un Coeur Simple G. Flaubert
Le chant de l'océan M. Dupuy
Lambeaux C. Juliet
L'homme qui plantait des arbres Jean Giono
J'irai cracher sur vos tombes B. Vian
Un barrage contre le Pacifique M. Duras
Un Pedigree P. Modiano
Jean le bleu J. Giono
Sans famille H. Malot
Le Château de mon père M. Pagnol
Un Sac de Billes J. Joffo
Le Lit Défait F. Sagan
Voyage au pays des arbres J.M.G. Le Clézio
35 Kilos d'espoir A. Gavalda
Dans le jardin de l’ogre L. Slimani
Je l'aimais A. Gavalda
Poisson d'or J.M.G. Le Clézio
Regain J. Giono

Morgana
Carmody, is there nothing at all that you do not translate? Or is it just some things, perhaps newer words and phrases, things you've encountered less often, or only encountered them for the first time recently, for example? I would suggest that it is entirely normal (and necessary) to translate the less familiar until they eventually become familiar and thus do not need our conscious processing anymore. In any case, I wouldn't sweat it. Keep reading and listening and listening and reading. I like that Steve Kaufmann describes the process of acquiring a language as "getting used to" the language. And you can only get used to something by being exposed to it a lot. I'm not there yet either, still lots of things to learn, lots of looking up required, but little by little piece by piece bits here and there become automatic. I bet the same thing is happening for you too, Carmody, but we always want to be better


Morgana, yes I do understand some but it just seems I should be understanding a whole lot more. However,I think you have summed me up very accurately. So I guess I will try “not to sweat it.”

If anyone cares to suggest any favorite French fiction authors of the 20th-21st century not on the above list I would love to hear what they are. I am always on the look out for new French authors. Young adult titles could be good too. (Please note I don't read sci-fi, murder/mystery, or horror books.)

Thanks again to everyone for your patient explanation of how to go about improving my understanding of the Oral side of things.
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Carmody
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Re: Carmody's Log for French

Postby Carmody » Wed Apr 24, 2019 2:22 am

Memo to self:

I am always having to remember to get back to basics and I think Johann below reiterates some very important basics that I need to remember:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MnnS9f1Iqdg&t=85s
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MorkTheFiddle
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Re: Carmody's Log for French

Postby MorkTheFiddle » Sat Apr 27, 2019 2:31 am

Carmody wrote:
If anyone cares to suggest any favorite French fiction authors of the 20th-21st century not on the above list I would love to hear what they are. I am always on the look out for new French authors. Young adult titles could be good too. (Please note I don't read sci-fi, murder/mystery, or horror books.)

Le roi de fer by Maurice Druon. I've read it twice. It is part of a series of 5 or 6 novels, but I have read only the beginning of the second book, and I did not find it as interesting as the first. The series is famous for inspiring the books behind the TV hit Game of Thrones, but I have not seen GOT so have no comment. For the record, the other novels in Druon's series, which is called Les rois maudits, are (2) La reine etranglée, (3) Les Poisons de la Couronne, (4) La loi des males, (5) La Louve de France, and (6) Le lis et le lion. These all are "straight" well-written, well-researched historical novels, there are no dragons, and a few scenes involve human reproduction. I may skip over the 2nd and go straight to the 3rd.

La Méditerranée et le Monde méditerranéen à l'époque de Philippe II by Fernand Braudel is about a lot more than the title suggests. I read it in English translation only! but I once had a copy of the French and it did not seem too tough, especially for one like you who have read a LOT more French than I have.

What about Agota Kristof, who wrote a trilogy of novels about two young brothers caught up in war called, Le grand cahier, La preuve and Le troisième mensonge? Quite easy to read, rather grim in content. There are audio books of this, too, probably Audible.

Maybe something by Colette, Chéri, for example.

Don't forget Marcel. My understanding is that French kids are assigned only book 1, Du côté de chez Swann. Even though a windbag, Proust is bearable in bits and even interesting. Litteratureaudio and Librivox both have decent audio versions of various books. For readers with older eyes, I recommend the Folio editions rather than the Pleiades. And there could well be other editons, too.
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