PM’s French Adventures in the Matrix

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Re: PM’s French Adventures in the Matrix

Postby PeterMollenburg » Fri Aug 02, 2019 1:41 am

Update on Projet de Cinq Langues

Lately, it’s been really hard to manage to reach 3 hours a day of focused study in prep for the exam. Yesterday I didn’t make it and have done my last 45 min from yesterday, this morning. However whether I can fit in 3 hours today and even tomorrow due to circumstances at home remains dubious. Basically I cannot distract myself with anything. Last night I distracted myself with looking up various children’s magazines in several languages - a way which could prove useful, inclusive and promote the knowledge of other languages further in the household while helping me with my goals at the same time. Still, it cost me time I couldn’t spare last night (and the night before). But, I now have 3 children’s French magazine subscriptions, which are great for getting the kids involved in stories, learning and discussing curious things about the world and themselves.

The 3 hours/day used to be achievable once upon a time when life wasn’t as busy. It doesn’t seem so realistic nowadays. Yes it might be if I function like a soldier, but believe me work is already constantly very very busy and to be always under pressure at home is difficult to tolerate- sometimes I just want to zone out a little. I felt this 3 hours/day of French for exam prep can be good trial run to see whether I can dedicate 3 hours a day for 5 languages post exam (that’s not 3 hours each, but shared, like i’m dedicating now solely to French).

If I’m realistic, putting interruptions into the scheme, such as a potential move an hour away from work and/or study, I played around with the numbers according to different scenarios to see how much study I can get done over the coming just over 2 year period. I can’t let go of the 5 languages I have chosen at this stage, but I cannot deny that in reality I’m not likely to achieve 3 hours per day of intensive study. And, I must not ignore these important factors 1. I want to introduce all 5 languages. 2 Dutch is more important than the rest in terms of progress in the near future. 3 French must not take a backslide, and preferably move forward. So....

If I have 3 hours per day, studying 45 minutes per language rotating through them, going by 770 days of study (from late November to 1st Jan 2022), this is a maximum amount of intensive study achievable per each of the 5 languages:

462 hours (219 hours/year)
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However, if I always do Dutch twice, being more important, for every other language once, I end up with this:

770 hours of Dutch, 385 hours of the other four.
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However, as stated, 3 hours/day is likely unrealistic I think. So If I base the same plan (Dutch twice for every other language once), I come up with this based on 2 hours per day.

513 hours of NL,
256 each for the four others.
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And in a drastic scenario in which I’m just really really stuck for time (this is still plausible given I’m considering taking on more nursing studies etc), well here’s what I get out of 1.5 hours/day of study:

385 hrs NL,
192 hours for the four others.
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So, I’m likely to stick to the idea of doing Dutch twice for only one session for each of the other languages. I think it’s more realistic. My Dutch will noticeably advance, my French won’t ‘die’ and I’ll get a taste of the others as they go into slow learning mode. And perhaps this will be how it continues - whichever language I want to improve faster will be learned two times, while only one time for the rest.
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Why do them all at once? (cutting down languages would increase the time for each one). While the children are young I want to introduce them to the other languages (languages I’m interested in - no sense in teaching them something that doesn’t interest me). A gradual approach which involves my children is the best approach here I think, for their gradual increase in comprehension and mine as well. Thus, I will begin reading stories to them in each of these languages, introducing them mainly next year (Dutch they already hear occasionally). French will remain the first choice, Dutch second, the rest will perhaps lead to a passive knowledge more than anything as there won’t be enough time to teach them thoroughly.
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If I do only end up with 1.5 hrs/day of intensive study time, but I am travelling long distances to work of around an hour in one direction, I will use that time for more exposure to the languages I deem more important, which at this stage are French (always wanting to improve), Dutch (increased job prospects in BE - must advance quicker than the rest), and Norwegian (really mostly out of interest, although working in No is a possibility, but distant in reality). Thus even if I only get 385 hours of Dutch and 192 hours of French and Norwegian intensive study done in the next two years or so, listening practice will add significantly more time, and story-telling more time will add hours for all of the languages. German and Spanish will remain present, slow-growing unless circumstances change.
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Re: PM’s French Adventures in the Matrix

Postby PeterMollenburg » Mon Aug 05, 2019 12:37 pm

Went to a Uni open day yesterday. Have never been to one, and now as a middle aged adult, I decided it was time. Guess I got some useful things out of it. I took my nephew who has a little way to go in high school, but it gave him some things to think about. Of course what I'm considering is a masters in translation and/or interpreting. It's a slightly big deal that I decided to do this as it was over 2 hours away and it cost me a whole day, which I don't regret, but free days are rare lately, since i'm either working or have a busy day with the kids.

I attended a few info sessions and spoke to a few people, got some contacts, stuff to get the ball rolling. The linguistics talk was exciting, I thought, and walking around the campus just made me want to have my time over again and study all the things I find really cool - languages, linguistics, international relations, sustainable development... that sort of thing. It had me thinking though, as one of the questions I posed was what level do I need to enter a masters of translations +/- interpreting... and I started to doubt my capabilities again. Although lately I'm feeling my French growing a little as well.

Anyway, I've also been up to no good revamping, reworking, undoing, doing all kinds of language mixtures, mélanges, combinations, combinaties and combinaciones. In the end I'm confused. I add all 5 languages to my plan, take a couple out, take some more out, figure I ought to focus on Dutch mainly next year, then wonder about Norwegian, then consider right out of left field, learning Portuguese some day because it will help me get a Job in Luxembourg (but of course I'd learn German and Luxembourgish too).... as you can see, i'm just totally insane.

I then also think, all the information and advice many others have given me on this forum over the years, what absolutely right. I concluded these things.
1. Do not do too many beginner courses.
2. Do more advanced courses, but try to be efficient about that as well.
3. Read and listen to truck loads of native content.

Why? Well, I think I've said this before, but after x number of years learning French, I really should be pretty darn close to native speaker level. I don't think I am. My conclusion is - too much time spent in beginner course land. Doesn't matter, no matter how many wise people told me this, I had to learn this lesson myself. But boy am I itching to read read read and listen listen listen and speak speak speak - ALL NATIVE content and with natives in terms of speaking. But I can't. The exam is around the corner and I don't know turd from dog turd when it comes to the structure of this academic French stuff. I cannot give more time to native content when I must know the exam content.

I also started to think, well if I can only spare some time for Norwegian and Duch aside from French each day, then I ought to really use all the French based content I can find, because I don't want to reduce the amount of French I'm learning while not yet C2. rdearman's comments came back to me (focus on getting to C1/C2 BEFORE starting any other languages). And I thought, who am I kidding, if I'm not C2 yet, I mean wtf, I need to reach C2 if I'm going to make a job out of translation and be considered for this masters.

Anyway I was close to throwing in the towel yet again on this exam, but I figure, I need to have an italki session with my favourite tutor and see what her take is on it before I go making any rash decisions.

Peace out. How many scripts are in a scab. I mean are you for real?
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Re: PM’s French Adventures in the Matrix

Postby rdearman » Mon Aug 05, 2019 3:12 pm

To do two things at once is to do neither
- (Publilius Syrus, an Iraqi enslaved by the Romans. Flourished first century BCE.)
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Re: PM’s French Adventures in the Matrix

Postby PeterMollenburg » Wed Aug 07, 2019 1:44 pm

I feel if I announce a break (yeah I know, this will rock the forum down to it’s foundations), which I’m not likely to honour, I might disappear for a second or two, reappear with a DALF C2, and be awarded a lifetime appreciation award for honouring the forum with my presence, coupled with a standing ovation...

I might even then go on to be a champion polyglot, learning 0.25 languages in 56 years, earning me like heaps more admiration, which, of course, I’ll just brush off -

« Bof, ce PM, c’est-à-dire, moi, si vous préférez d’être exacts toujours, il est rien je vous dis, rien. Juste un être humain... D’accord il est composé d’une bonne partie de dragon aussi, mais, mis à part... ben... jettez ses ailes aux orties un petit moment, et sauf le feu qu’il ne cesse pas de cracher sur ceux qui ne croient pas ses soi-disant complots, ses prétendues histoires pleines de ridicules, comme je viens de vous dire, c’est rien, lui. D’accord d’accord. J’accepte l’honneur, en toute honneur qu’il est complètement honorable, ce premier ministre, monsieur PM de toutes langues partout autour à travers mondes et l’univers... »

Voilà, je prendrai un petit pause... euh, maintenant !
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Re: PM’s French Adventures in the Matrix

Postby PeterMollenburg » Tue Aug 13, 2019 1:09 pm

The Perfect Storm is brewing....

My first purchased language course in many moons arrived today - Assimil Le Norvégien, and it stirred up some serious language lust in me. Meanwhile tomorrow I have a chat to my 'favourite French (exam) tutor' to give me the final word on my situation. I've been feeling the rising desire to learn other languages, while the French mission appears incomplete and I yet I don't want it to drag on for what feels like forever. I want a realist, with exam insight to tell it how it is - where I'm at, what I need to do, how many (if any) other languages I could learn now and in the future. I'm also wanting to write to one of the faculty members re: a masters in interpreting and/or translation I'm considering undertaking commencing 2021 - but what is required for acceptance into the course (i.e. what level of French)? Can I resist Norwegian? Will I finally sit a C-level exam this November? Will I be able to fit in multiple languages and still advance in French? Should I introduce more languages now or later... how later... how many.... how much time on each? Will I be able to learn much at all next year while considering post graduate studies in nursing that will help my 'Belgian nursing case'.

Who knows what the future holds. One thing is certain I really love languages (yes, I know, I'm not alone here!) and I'm really really really wanting to learn NO, DE, (more) FR, (reignite my) NL, ES and there are even more still, such as RU, AR, PT, LU and I even consider IT sometimes. Were I to win big in the lotto tomorrow, I know what I'd spend the vast majority of my time doing, but more likely in a very different location.

Batten down the hatches, there's a storm on the horizon! (aren't you just clinging to the edge of your seat?!)
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Re: PM’s French Adventures in the Matrix

Postby PeterMollenburg » Wed Aug 14, 2019 12:47 pm

Well, I just finished my skype/italki 'lesson' with my favourite tutor/teacher...

She advised that I am definitely capable of passing C1 and C2 (also suggesting, as Cavesa has several times, that they are almost one and the same, i.e. very little difference), but there's work to be done with regards to strict exam centered preparation. I'm even going to boast a little here - she said that out of all the people she teaches French to over italki/skype, that I have an impeccable accent and the best ability to communicate in French. Mind you, me being me, I still have doubts here and there, but that's my perfectionism saying there's so much more to learn, not some kind of self-doubt saying I'm not good enough. She said I had clearly improved (my French) since last year. She also conveyed a lot of positivity with regards to raising my children in French.

To my inquiries of the kind "What about all the C1/C2 expressions/words I don't know at all in my ressources?", her response was (as many an experienced forum member has already said around these parts, sometimes directly to me), there will always be things you don't know, there will be texts that will make you feel like you don't even know the language at all.

To my suggestions of introducing other languages, despite my busy lifestyle, she conveyed utter confidence in my ability to take on another or even several languages at once (note in the past around B2-level of French, she strongly advised against such endeavours). She emphasized that Spanish could be learned rapidly given where I am at with French.

She did question whether I needed C1 or C2. She posed that question just for some reflection of course, like forum members have done so here as well, and of course my objective remains, given it now appears tantalisingly close, yet still oh so far (get to work PM, get to work!). I'm hoping this skype session has given me the boost I need to push for the final intense marathon of study to come.

She mentioned the importance of three things in particular with exam preparation - listening practise, reading loads and doing mock exams.

Hang in there Assimil Le norvégien, I've got some work to do yet! Now, to take a look over my study schedule and start (after I get a good sleep of course!)!
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Re: PM’s French Adventures in the Matrix

Postby overscore » Thu Aug 15, 2019 1:25 am

« Bof, ce PM, c’est-à-dire, moi, si vous préférez d’être exacts toujours, il est rien je vous dis, rien. Juste un être humain... D’accord il est composé d’une bonne partie de dragon aussi, mais, mis à part... ben... jettez ses ailes aux orties un petit moment, et sauf le feu qu’il ne cesse pas de cracher sur ceux qui ne croient pas ses soi-disant complots, ses prétendues histoires pleines de ridicules, comme je viens de vous dire, c’est rien, lui. D’accord d’accord. J’accepte l’honneur, en toute honneur qu’il est complètement honorable, ce premier ministre, monsieur PM de toutes langues partout autour à travers mondes et l’univers... »


Si c'est toi qui a écrit ça, je te lève mon chapeau. C'est assez bien composé et je vois pas trop de fautes.
Ça doit faire des années que j'ai pas entendu le mot "ortie" et donc j'ai dû sortir mon dictionnaire pour le chercher :D
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Re: PM’s French Adventures in the Matrix

Postby PeterMollenburg » Sun Aug 25, 2019 2:07 am

After the initial very positive feedback as mentioned above and the ensuing massive degree of enthusiasm which meant a string of days of super focused hard work on my French, I hit a wall and fell off the... whatever it was... a small cliff?

My work life is absolutely insanely busy, as I’m now back working in (a different) emergency department (and enjoying it more than I expected, perhaps because I know it will help my case for work in Europe - but it is so insanely busy), no down time at home, having to forego sleep so that I could get my study done several evenings in a row, rubbish shift changes (finish at 10pm, start again 7am), doing extra around the house as my wife has been unwell... and it all got a bit too much.

My studies went off track along with my eating and i’m now exhausted and haven’t studied properly for a few days, but have at least maintained contact, of course, with the language. I now understand why my once seemingly attainable target of three hours ‘desk study’ per day has become much harder to achieve. In truth, I don’t know that I ever really have reached 3 hours every single day consistently of desk study (desk study = focused sit down concentrated study, as opposed to watching, reading to kids and other activities), it’s always been a goal that’s been tricky to achieve, and the latest attempt proves to me it’s not sustainable with everything else that goes on. I have to be realistic.

It’s making me realise that long term it’s not feasible, unless I include other activities as my learning time, those involved with my kids - i’m thinking about all the other languages I’d like to learn and how reading with the kids, as I’ve often suggested is definitely the way to go - for me and them. I mean I want to keep learning, may as well include them and that way not be a bear hiding away from the family (okay, I probably wouldn’t, but I have that tendency).

Nevertheless, the pressure is on for November. I’ve got some serious ground to cover and yesterday, which I believe was a culmination of several things, including eating a truck load of sugar the night prior, which I almost never touch, and it saw me become a kind of angry bear for much of the yesterday morning. I whinged to my language tutor (via type-written message) and she was nice enough to provide some encouraging words back.

I had a second tutor session, prior to falling off the cliff, in which I didn’t feel as good about my French as the first one, as I was very tired and my French was not so smooth. Also, slightly discouraging was that she said aim for C1 and then see if you can reach C2. What I was not clear on was if she meant in preparation for November, or only sit C1 in November, then C2 later, another time. In the end, however, C1 is better than my current B2, and I might as well keep attempting to progress with the time I have and hope that I can cover enough ground.

I’m finding the written component especially tricky, not because I can’t spell, I can, in fact very few issues there. I find the writing techniques tricky - pulling apart an article, knowing exactly how to structure my writing piece according to the rules of such things.

I know, I know, this was never going to be easy, and as Luca and many other widely known polyglots and accomplished language learners around these parts will say, you must push yourself out of your comfort zone to progress, and this I am feeling, especially given I don’t like the content (language exams and their prep books are not my thing), and I’ve been exhausted.

On a side note, I’ve began using france.tv quite a bit (all the regular French stations - France 1 through to 5) to try out some more native content, since we had some trouble with Netflix lately. Glad I did it, some interesting stuff on France.tv. I watched a doco on La Durance, it’s history (cultural history in the area, not the river as much), surrounds etc. Bits of nature, bits of history, beautiful cinematography. Watched a few other things too, it’s been fun. I think my French listening skills are improving. They need to, I can’t afford to have big gaps at this level! I’m reading where I can and finding it tricky to get the time in for that. Thanks iguanamon for the reading content! (I’ve started one, will provide some feedback in due course).

I have another tutor session Tuesday, will prob talk about my recent slump and what I can realistically achieve. Peace out. Throw a dwarf over the bridge of your nose.
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Re: PM’s French Adventures in the Matrix

Postby MamaPata » Sun Aug 25, 2019 9:52 am

Why not just book the December C1? It will be useful for your work prospects, so it's not money down the drain even if you decide you want to sit the C2 in the future (and it'll be good exam practice for going on to do the C2). It will help you feel more confident in your level and have more faith in yourself. If it's booked, you can't talk yourself out of it. I strongly doubt that you will fail, but even if you do, that will be useful in identifying your weaknesses. All seems positive!

Also, going back a little in your log, I am quite surprised that you don't think you have good enough French to do the translation masters. I would say your French is definitely at the level of someone who did a degree in French, which is what a lot of people will do before doing the translation Masters. As your teacher has said, you're never going to know every word, that's not the point. What exactly did they say at the Open Day that put you off?
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Re: PM’s French Adventures in the Matrix

Postby PeterMollenburg » Sun Aug 25, 2019 11:27 am

MamaPata wrote:Why not just book the December C1? It will be useful for your work prospects, so it's not money down the drain even if you decide you want to sit the C2 in the future (and it'll be good exam practice for going on to do the C2). It will help you feel more confident in your level and have more faith in yourself. If it's booked, you can't talk yourself out of it. I strongly doubt that you will fail, but even if you do, that will be useful in identifying your weaknesses. All seems positive!


Well, I'd prefer to make this journey complete ASAP - C2 in November is preferable. It feels like a weight hanging over me and I'd really like to tick it off (if I could), and obtaining C2 would feel like I have completely ticked that box, or completed coloured it in if you will, with no unfinished business. I'd rather not settle for C1 if I'm capable of C2, I'm just not sure I am with the constraints I have. I know the French system of testing will change post November too, as I had posted about in another thread recently - it's set to change to be more in line with the rest of the EU. It'd be nice to tick it off before the changes, simply because I feel it is going to be potentially dumbed down and also as I have all the content relative to the current system. Problem is, I found my motivation a little late in the year (yet again - although not as late as last year), and after getting started with some serious study, I've hit a wall of exhaustion pretty quickly. The question remains, what can I can slap together in the 2 and a half months that remain... enough to obtain a C1, a C2, or neither? I'd like it over and done with this year, so I can begin to release the pressure a little and introduce some more fun, via both whatever I feel like doing in French, coupled with some fun with other languages. Were I not to pass a C-level exam in November, the way I feel currently, it would be somewhat exasperating and feel like this part of the journey (the part to obtain C1/C2) is a never ending saga of should I/ shouldn't I, can I/will I, do I have time and so on and so forth.

MamaPata wrote:Also, going back a little in your log, I am quite surprised that you don't think you have good enough French to do the translation masters. I would say your French is definitely at the level of someone who did a degree in French, which is what a lot of people will do before doing the translation Masters. As your teacher has said, you're never going to know every word, that's not the point. What exactly did they say at the Open Day that put you off?


I don't know, I guess like most language learners who trudge along for a lengthy adventure into advanced territory, as rdearman pointed out somewhere recently (I think in his log), the more you know, the more you realise you don't know. Some days I guess I get a little more focused on the 'don't know' rather than what I 'do know'. They weren't necessarily negative towards me in general. The first foreign languages faculty member I approached with regards to the interpreting/translation masters, who was a native French speaker, when I asked what kind of a level one might require for entry purposes into the program (and I briefly mentioned CEFR levels and my current B2, aiming for C1/C2) he conveyed some hesitancy in his reply, some doubt in his tone and words (with regards to my level), which I think sowed that seed of doubt in my mind. However, on reflection now, I think he didn't know completely what he was talking about. Some of the doubt came from my own thoughts on ever being capable of passing C1/C2 at the time. I've since summoned more belief in myself with regards to the C1/C2 exams, thanks to my tutor, but of course know I have to put in the hard yards and work hard on the stuff I don't like very much for the possiblilty to become a reality. He went on to redirect me to another faculty member to assist me, as he didn't know the answer to my question, as he wasn't involved with the masters programmes. Later, when I spoke with yet another faculty member after being redirected again, this next person was much more involved with the masters programmes (but still not the head of the interpreting/translation masters itself), and she was much more encouraging - I only received positive vibes from her and a definitely go for it kind of attitude, but again, she also was not the best equipped to judge my particular language level/situation. I'd have to, of course, undergo a language assessment interview, which was mentioned, which I'd actually be surprised if I had an issue with it, but one never knows.
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