The great push to C2 (Extra French Edition)

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PeterMollenburg
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Re: The great push to C2 (French)

Postby PeterMollenburg » Mon Jan 09, 2017 8:27 am

First up, 6 hours/day of French is pretty bloody decent! Beats me how you do it, but then again our lives are completely different. Still, nice work, keep it up! Therefore, don't go anywhere near another language until you reach your French objective(s) is my personal opinion.

Then you can 'play'. Have you considered Dutch? It could be a good bridge between German and Afrikaans. It would kind of be like Latin is to the romance languages- it would be highly useful for picking up Afrikaans, and in fact with a little focused listening time i'm sure you'd be able to understand all the Afrikaans you'd hear without any formal study. Of course, given you're interest in Afrikaans, i'm almost certain you're aware of the relationship and connections between these three languages. While learning Dutch would give you somewhat of a discount for learning German. However, I think you would most definitely have to put in some hard work to learn German, as opposed to 'picking up' Afrikaans from a Dutch base. Still, you haven't mentioned Dutch, so I doubt all this talk is of much good to you, but you did mention Brussels. It seems like you're drawn to Afrikaans, and whether or not it's practical, given a future move to Strasbourg, I'd encourage you to find a way to implement the learning of this language, even if only in a small way, into your life on a regular basis once you reach the level of French you're aiming for. You could still fit in German in, as your French would be part of your daily life and your French level that you will have wanted to attain, would have been achieved, thus freeing up some time for German (alongside a little Afrikaans).
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Re: The great push to C2 (French)

Postby whatiftheblog » Mon Jan 09, 2017 9:25 pm

PeterMollenburg wrote:First up, 6 hours/day of French is pretty bloody decent! Beats me how you do it, but then again our lives are completely different. Still, nice work, keep it up! Therefore, don't go anywhere near another language until you reach your French objective(s) is my personal opinion.


That's just it - besides work + my friends, I really don't have very many obligations, hence all the free ("free") time. I try to make sure everything I'm doing has some sort of French soundtrack to it at the very least, except for the 15-20 minutes a day I let myself go on English-language message boards (like this one!). That means every chore, every activity, every commute, everything is done with some kind of French component. Tonight, for example, I need to clear out and rearrange my cabinets, and I have two political talk shows lined up in my playlist for this very purpose (there's a really lame political pun in that sentence :geek: ). It's actually really helped - I had my second italki lesson today, and it went really well, there were only a few times I struggled with finding the best / most appropriate word for what I was trying to say... I spent another hour or so afterwards talking to myself, working through different interview prep questions and talking about whatever came to mind, particularly if it was something where I wasn't immediately certain of the best expressions to use. This method seems to be working for me.

And you're absolutely right about Dutch / Afrikaans / scheduling / etc. For now, there's only one goal, and after that I can start fiddling with song lyrics and other nonsense :D

Thanks for stopping by, PM! Best of luck to you on your French journey.
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Re: The great push to C2 (French)

Postby whatiftheblog » Sat Mar 04, 2017 9:37 pm

Bit of a hiatus there, heh :)

Hi everyone! Good to be back. I recently let myself get dragged into a nasty online debate over language learning methods in a Russian-language Facebook comment thread, of all places, and thought wistfully back to how nice everyone is here on this forum… However, this experience also pushed me to take proper stock of just how far I’ve gotten (and how I got there).

Based on a mix of self-assessment and external commentary, I'd now say that I'm probably a strong C2 in listening/reading and a low C2 in speaking and writing - I sat down to compose my personal statement a few weeks ago and it just... came out of me in under an hour, with very few linguee checks and only for very specific phrases. What I most enjoyed about that process was that I finally felt like I had an intuitive grasp of the rhythm of professional-yet-personalized written French - it reads quite well in French, but it would turn out quite awkward if it were translated word for word into English, which is how I know I didn't just drop French words into English thoughts, but rather that I actually thought it up in French. When I really started going hardcore on this in September of last year, I would have assessed myself as a low-mid (I'd say I got to mid very quickly) C1 in listening/reading and a strong B2 in speaking and writing, so take that for whatever it's worth.

I feel that my progress has been incredible, yet I've done almost nothing "hard" - it's literally just been hundreds (thousands) of hours spent consuming native material dedicated to the things I'm most interested in and forcing myself to talk about it, however infrequently. I'd call this method something like AJATT Lite, but now I'm living proof that it actually works.

How I got there

I’ve been meaning to put together an updated “day in the life of a C2 striver” sort of overview for a while now, since I know I’ve found it really helpful to read other people’s detailed learning method overviews. Below I’ve described my routine and added costs where appropriate. I should note that I have the immense privilege of very few obligations in life outside of work, but I do freelance on the side, so my workweek is about 50% longer.

The key has really been to identify “holes” in my day that should be plugged with French but aren’t and to make adjustments as needed, including the simplification of certain processes through technology. I’ve invested in a $20 shower speaker for my mornings and, with the help of a certificate I had, a pair of the latest wireless Beats ($200) to be able to continue listening to my playlists even while my phone charges (this was an entirely extraneous expense you can totally do without). I used to schlep quite a way’s away to a newsstand that carries French publications, but I’ve switched to online subscriptions ($2.99/issue for L’Express, ~$10/monthly for Le Monde), which are cheaper and obviously easier.

Sling just launched an online French television package I’ve been considering, but for the time being, I’m also paying $2.99 for the SurfEasy VPN app that lets me watch other interesting streaming or replayed TV shows / news reports / documentaries.

I spend about $40/month on books off of Amazon.fr, but that’s pretty much it – everything else is free.

Daily schedule

Here’s what my weekday life looks like now:

6:30 – 6:45 am – I’ve deliberately set up my bed, side table, and iPhone home/lock screen so that every day begins with French from the second I wake up. First up: French morning news catchup via headlines in the BFMTV, Le Monde & Franceinfo apps + Twitter

6:45 – 8:30 am – Watching/listening to BFMTV or Franceinfo blasted through a Bluetooth shower speaker powerful enough to be heard throughout my apartment (and in the shower, obviously). This lets me transition straight from headlines into live broadcasts.

8:30 – 9 am – Listening to Franceinfo or podcasts on my commute; once it warms up I’ll be walking to work (45 minutes), so I’ll be leaving earlier, but the accompaniment won’t change.

9 am - noon – I log in to LeMonde.fr (paid subscription) when I get to work and then gradually read through at least all of the articles on the front page during downtime. If I have a period of time in which I’m working on a large technical/formatting/database project, I’ll have BFM or a podcast on. I've also created a separate Twitter account where I'll tweet (in French!) throughout the day if I have feelings about a news item or something.

Noon – 1 pm – either watching BFM or reading a magazine (L’Express). On Mondays, I spend my lunch break on Skype with an italki teacher; I’ll be upping this to 2h/week starting next week.

1 - 6 pm - continuing to follow the day’s news through apps & Le Monde during downtime; watching video feeds if something important is happening (and it’s now happening every hour, so this has been fun!). If I work out that day, I’ll watch a vlog or another kind of video on my phone while on the machines.

6 – 7 pm – Franceinfo or podcasts on my commute home and any errand runs I do

7 – 8 pm – C dans l’air in replay on Youtube

8 – 11 pm - BFM, Franceinfo, C dans l’air (Youtube), political rallies & pressers on Youtube, vlogs, blogs. This is also when I’ll do the “faux vlogging” I mentioned in another thread yesterday, where I’ll take a topic out of the news or a lifestyle piece or something and pretend to vlog through it for 20 minutes, sometimes longer. This piece has really helped.

11 pm to close – Reading - currently finishing Un president ne devrait pas dire ça, about to start the HOTLY anticipated Révolution by one Mr. Emmanuel Macron. Magazines are also included here if there’s something interesting I haven’t gotten to. French is thus the first and last thing I interact with every day.

General activities

Walking, driving or riding absolutely anywhere, including to/from lunch, to the other side of the building, to the corner store, to CVS, as well as inside of stores, while grocery shopping, while checking out at the self checkout, while generally shopping for anything: podcast or Franceinfo radio; this ensures that I preserve a monolingual environment as much as possible in my head, drowning out the noise pollution that comes with living and working in an English/Spanish-speaking environment.

Cleaning, laundry folding, any other chores: BFM or a Youtube video

Cooking: I’ve established a routine where I come home from work and immediately turn on that day’s C dans l’air (an hour long) to watch/listen to while cooking and feeding my cat. This ensures that I take the time to do both the cooking and the French, and the two are merged very efficiently.

Notes

* A general guiding principle has been that anything that can be done in French should be done in French. Any Wikipedia article I read, review or instruction set I’m looking for, or recipe I want to make should be in French whenever possible. Anything that can be researched in French has to be done in French – I’m really making an effort to keep eeeeeeeverything I possibly can francophone, so even if I have something very minor to Google, I should always try to do it in French. If I want to read something unbearably light, like fashion or décor or whatever, it also has to be in French. A side bonus of this is that I’m exposed to different items and products and aesthetics, because American lifestyle bloggers all seem to be carbon copies of each other.

* On the importance of reading: I should note that while in Cambodia, which was magical, I watched very few videos, but I did read 5 or 6 thick political magazines cover to cover on the beach. I didn’t feel any sort of “dip” in my abilities after getting back home to my normal routine. From this I draw the anecdotal conclusion that reading is super important :)

* Avoiding distractions: I noticed that I lose 15-20-minute blocks of time when I see social media alerts on my phone. Even though the notification is still in French because my iOS is set to French, I’ll tap on the alert and it’ll inevitably be an article a friend posted in English (or Russian), and 15 minutes later I’m four articles deep into the internet and none of these articles are in French. I’ve since turned off all onscreen alerts except for French news and texts/emails, and I’m monitoring my Facebook use carefully to ensure that I avoid falling down any rabbit holes. If I need to catch up on international news throughout the day, well then, it’s fortunate that I have RFI and France24 and newspapers and magazines and half of Africa in French :)

* On the weekends my schedule looks quite similar to the weekday version, except the blocks of time when I would usually work at work are filled with freelance work from home. If my freelance project for this week is a serious bore, as is the case this week, I bribe myself with French – for example, today I’m allowed to watch one interview from the campaign I’m following the closest (the reward) for each batch of legal research I summarize (the task).

Upcoming changes

1. I need to read more books.
2. I'll be upping italki and enlisting the (paid) help of a native francophone friend for additional hours of conversation every week.

ETA: I do continue to make time for social engagements whenever I can, of course. My friends and I gather every Wednesday night for a few hours, and we'll usually try to do something on a Friday or Saturday night, although now I keep myself on a strict schedule and avoid staying out late. And obviously listen to a podcast on the way there and back :)

* * *

That's about it for now. If any of you are still skeptical about the artificial all-native immersion method and you're at the B2/C1 level, please do yourself a favor and give it a whirl, it very well might work :mrgreen:
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Ani
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Re: The great push to C2 (French)

Postby Ani » Sat Mar 04, 2017 11:05 pm

I love this post! Just "liking"it isn't enough. I am probably where you were at some point last year and I am hoping to see a big difference by the end of 2017 with, more or less, some grammar study and a double super challenge completed by December. This gives me lots of hope :)
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Re: The great push to C2 (French)

Postby whatiftheblog » Sat Mar 04, 2017 11:19 pm

Ani wrote:I love this post! Just "liking"it isn't enough. I am probably where you were at some point last year and I am hoping to see a big difference by the end of 2017 with, more or less, some grammar study and a double super challenge completed by December. This gives me lots of hope :)


Heh, thanks! You'll get there! I think the "finding holes in my day" part was a breakthrough that really helped me align my environment as much as possible with that of a real live French person in France. For example, I just got up to make myself some tea, and since the process takes about 3 minutes, I took a French song with me (Céline's Encore un soir album is still perfection and I'm also getting super into Vianney). While listening to music I also try to basically "write out" the lyrics in my head as they come up to ensure proper spelling/endings/accents/etc. If I'm unsure of anything I'll look it up, but usually my first guess is correct.

I hope all of the above was at least a little helpful :D Good luck!
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Re: The great push to C2 (French)

Postby PeterMollenburg » Sat Mar 04, 2017 11:48 pm

I agree with Ani. That's a fantastic post above Ani's. Thanks for the detail whatiftheblog!
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Re: The great push to C2 (French)

Postby the1whoknocks » Sun Mar 05, 2017 10:49 pm

Your approach to improving your French is inspiring and very actionable. Thanks for taking the time to 'type it up'.

I listen to Spanish every morning in the shower and have never even thought of getting a Bluetooth shower speaker. That will change this week as using a proper speaker will allow me to listen to an actual program, versus just music. I'll also be searching for a good online magazine in Spanish to browse though during the day.

Thanks again! I'm sure I'll be revisiting your post.
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Re: The great push to C2 (French)

Postby whatiftheblog » Mon Mar 06, 2017 2:49 am

Thanks folks! Glad it was helpful. I should add one more continuous activity: writing out little phrases I find interesting/helpful/"ah yes that makes sense" that I encounter along the way. Here's a snippet from a running Notepad document I have open:

Lapidation

Il est illégal d'employer quelqu'un, fût-ce l'époux(se), sans rémunération.

que je sache

On parle d'argent public et apparement il n'y aurait pas beaucoup de boulot effectué pour ce tarif là.


I go over these (this is volume 4) from time to time to activate any dormant active vocabulary, and this has proven quite helpful as well.
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Re: The great push to C2 (French)

Postby whatiftheblog » Wed Mar 08, 2017 12:09 am

A couple of additional points since I just looked at the calendar and, um, [PANIC].

1. I have upped my "faux vlogging" to an hour a day at a minimum. Just did my household tasks to a soliloquy on the current state of the French presidential campaign. It went well! I was surprised!
2. I'm carving out specific blocks of time during which I only read. This has proven very helpful.
3. I've decided to embark on a French writing project of sorts. I have many feelings and points of analysis to share regarding the election and just the general state of things worldwide. Unlike when it comes to domestic politics, where I have a large group of friends to talk to, I don't have anyone who'll really be willing to entertain me on the topic of French politics for longer than a few minutes, though I have gotten a few to where they're at least curious about it. So instead, I'll be trying to write out what I hope will be a very long essay (or a collection of essays, I guess) on all the sociopolitical/philosophical/historical things I want to discuss. This gives me a continuous project to work through, which I've noticed is very helpful in getting me motivated to write.
4. Round one of the process of editing my personal statement is scheduled with my italki teacher for next week. :?
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Re: The great push to C2 (French)

Postby MamaPata » Wed Mar 08, 2017 4:37 am

Interesting! That sounds like a great idea. I'm quite into politics, but haven't been properly following the French elections to my shame. Do you have any suggestions about where to start?
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