PM’s French Adventures in the Matrix

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PeterMollenburg
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Re: PM's log: Consistent French, Inconsistent Declarations

Postby PeterMollenburg » Sun Nov 20, 2016 11:36 pm

Well I've certainly had to curb my enthusiasm with relation to courses. There's so many I'd love to get into (and which I own), but just not enough time, and as I've clearly acknowledged now (ie at this point on the learning path for me personally), that, were I to spend all of my time doing courses, the process of learning, would be too slow (I need to cover more ground now) and other areas such as listening skills and reading would suffer somewhat. I think it would take a great number of years to get through them all even if I dedicated myself to courses and courses only. Still there are certainly some on my short list I really want to work my way through, but now I feel I'm like many other learners on this forum with a more sensible and balanced approach of a combination of a course or two, plus plenty of reading, listening and other such activities. Still, not enough speaking (well none almost). It will happen. Perhaps being my first very serious continous/consistent attempt at learning a language to a high/advanced level this process has been something necessary for me to go through. I doubt the next time round my approach will be so lop-sided. I'm sure I'll start with courses, but the transation ought to happen sooner into introducing other aspects earlier on.

I think having done so much with courses unlike many other learners early on has really enabled me to be really on top of my pronunciation. I really am proud of my French pronunciation. In the past, I assumed that many other accomplished adult foreign language learners had excellent pronunciation, so it strikes me to hear the opposite or that many are somewhere in between. Perhaps this is why I felt the need to go ever so slowly with courses in the beginning, particularly with French, being such a tricky language to pronounce, at least compared to the other European languages I have studied to varying degrees (French, German, Dutch). Thus, if anyone wants to ask for advice with language learning, at least I might be able to assist in one area. I'm not a prolific reader, not great on scientific theories of language acquisition, rubbish with programming, failed in the past with learning multiple languages simultaneously and actually progressing efficiently, but I can develop pronunciation well- still trying to communicate that to others would remain a barrier. Perhaps some of us are intrinsically not so good at pronunciation (i'm intrinsically not as good as many perhaps most with reading for example), still I am a big believer in hard work. You might start off behind, but hard work will eventually put you out in front or close.

On the topic of pronunciation, there has been a discussion on it in the forum of late, as to whether it is a separate skill or not. I don't think it matters so much as to whether it is a separate skill or not, but what does matter is to always be continuously working on improving or being acutely aware of one's pronunciation in all areas of language use and study. In the beginning, I worked on pronunciation heavily until less and less sounds/imperfections seemed to need work. If I read I speak out loud, if I don't know how to pronounce a word (even now still rather often on occasion), I will verify the phonetics via IPA in an electronic dictionary. If I speak, I focus intently on the syllables I pronounce. If I listen, I listen to the pronunciation with focus. If I write I am sounding syllables out and so on. I feel, you must work on prounciation from the beginning and gradually iron out all faults, and always be on guard, never drop your guard, because laziness amounts to sloppy pronunciation.

I am not sure if the above may offend anyone, and I sincerely do not mean to. I know that there are some very decent language learners that cannot seem to improve their pronunciation. I have really no idea why this is (personality? auditory issues? comprehension problems? empathetic nature? Analytical nature? Impatience? etc etc). I can only guess. Please disregard my comments on hard work and pronunciation if you feel no matter what you do you cannot seem to improve your pronunciation- I believe such comments are applicable only to those who know they can improve on their pronunciation. Still, it baffles me why some cannot do so.

The other night I watched a video of Luca (the Italian polyglot dude) on youtube from Thessaloniki (location of recent polyglot conference). He was discussing the intermediate plateau and progression through to the advanced levels of a language. It could've deflated me with the realisation the easier stuff is behind me and the long road is ahead, yet it didn't. I feel I've worked so hard up to now that the long road ahead is the easier section of the journey for me, given how much I worked the basics to death. Although I have no certificate to prove it I feel I've somehow officially arrived at B2 with my acknowledgement of my skills and departing from courses done to death, coinciding with a leap in listening comprehension.

After I watched the video, I saw that the local Alliance Française offers the exam sessions in 6 months almost to the day and 12 months to the day. Along with the video, and reading some recent comments again by iguanamon on progressing beyond the intermediate stage, the exam dates felt like a 'sign'. I will aim to pass the B2 in May and hope to sit the C1 in November next year. I've made such declarations before, and this path has been stretching ever longer, but I think the B2 in May is a very feasable goal, while C1 in Nov remains a loose target. The thing is I could be under or over estimating my level. Thus I could blitz the B2 or I could do rather less impressively, both of which will have an impact as to how far off I am from really passing the C1.

One of the things potentially in my way i is wanderlust. I really really really want to get into Dutch, but I doubt I will do so, without progressing much further in French and having the official proof of such. All the while I continue to research nursing opportunities in Europe and German would be a very useful language to have at least a B1 level in. I do want to learn German, but I don't feel enthusiastic about it right now. I have concluded France is not a country I can nurse as the first country I attempt to nurse in outside of Australia. I would not be perrmitted to do so according to the information I've come across. However, working in Québec, Switzerland, or another European country beforehand would allow me to potentially work in France later. French nursing conditions look rubbish, Québec is arguably not any better (depending on your personal view really), Belgium is marginally better perhaps, while Switzerland is clearly better. However, at 40, with an average CV (i'm not the trauma King of Australian emergency departments) and a place every 2nd French nurse dreams of working, Switzerland could be unrealistic. Luxembourg also looks very promising, but unlike Switzerland where German would help, in Luxembourg it's pretty much essential (which I like culturally, but I'm not in that position currently), nor do I speak any Luxembourgeois. Plus, again, it's a little bit of an el dorado and likely hard to get in.

My wife and I working towards part time French living down the track as Australian nursing conditions and pay are among some of the best in the world, so it makes sense to work here and take prolonged breaks in Europe. Still opening the door to working there would be an asset, and a full year abroad would facilitate this, one would hope. We'll see what will eventuate. Changes need to happen in this hemisphere first before making any of this viable, so it's years away yet, and if nursing does not come through for me, then it will be more of a semi-retirement plan longer down the track. I would love to be able to drop everything and just go, but when you have a family with no savings and not much of a financial leg to stand on, skills, plans, research, and change is necessary.
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Xenops
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Re: PM's log: Consistent French, Inconsistent Declarations

Postby Xenops » Mon Nov 21, 2016 1:34 am

I tend to think (optimistically) that everyone has a talent, but everyone can't be good at the same things, even with hard work. You just might have an easier time with pronunciation.

I'm curious as to what research you have found that told you the working conditions of nurses in various countries? I imagine the conditions are similar for other health professions.
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PeterMollenburg
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Re: PM's log: Consistent French, Inconsistent Declarations

Postby PeterMollenburg » Mon Nov 21, 2016 1:57 am

Xenops wrote:I tend to think (optimistically) that everyone has a talent, but everyone can't be good at the same things, even with hard work. You just might have an easier time with pronunciation.

I'm curious as to what research you have found that told you the working conditions of nurses in various countries? I imagine the conditions are similar for other health professions.


Thanks for stopping by Xenops. I take on board your opinion with regards to talent/pronunciation, but I'm not going to argue for or against it, as in the end I just don't know. Your opinion seems equally valid.

As for working conditions. Now and then I will go off on little internet adventures in search of 1.the process to integrate into foreign countries with regards to nursing. 2. read English speaking forums with anecdotal evidence of English speaking expats attempting to integrate into foreign nursing systems (used to read these more than I do now). 3 French speaking forums or articles with comments attached in which French nurses describe their working conditions in relation to other (usually Francophone) regions of the world.

In search for number 1's the other day, simply as I was curious again, I sidetracked myself with a number of number 3s- one article I read and kept the link to which was somewhat interesting given my situation but of which I found the anecdotal evidence much more telling (as usual) below the main article and spent a good amount of time reading all of the comments from French nurses who had nursed outside of France. I think such comments provide much more insight than a nicely presented article.

These are the latest 2 articles I read (the comments in the 2nd link were the ones I was referring to). Of course I don't base my total opinion on these articles alone, as I've read much more in the past on such things and have slowly gathered a 'sense' of what it appears to be like in these Francophone countries for nursing. I'm also yet to read all the comments following the first article. Oh and just for the record in the past I have done a good amount of reading on comparison of salaries and cost of living and the like. I think it's hard to surpass Luxembourg and Switzerland is my conclusion, but you are better off crossing the border each day to take full advantage of the situation. If this seems like pinching every penny, well given the fact these countries are well paid in general across all professions (strong banking sector in Luxembourg for ex. drives up average wage perhaps), nurses still earn low wages in these places by comparison to other professions, and the cost of living is high, thus, best to cross the border is my rough conclusion from a very distant large island in the southern hemisphere.

http://www.installation-infirmiere.fr/index.php/modes-d-exercice/49-etre-infirmiere-en-belgique

http://www.albus.fr/logiciel_infirmiere/sesam_vitale_infirmier/2015/07/des-infirmiers-francais-en-partance-pour-des-pays-etrangers/

Edit: Now i've read all the comments below the first article, which weren't as enlightening as the second. They do however help me form the idea that 1. as per usual integration into foreign nursing systems is complicated with much red tape. 2. Nursing in Belgium is possibly no better than France (financially or work load). The main thing that interests me with Belgium is the fact that Dutch (or Flemish to be correct) is spoken by around 60% of the country's population, and it's a language I have a burning desire to return to studying in the near future, also the nursing integration exams are supposedly easier for Belgium compared to France.
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PeterMollenburg
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Re: PM's log: Consistent French, Inconsistent Declarations

Postby PeterMollenburg » Mon Nov 21, 2016 4:46 am

With regards to my study routine, i've realised a couple of things. Firstly I'm easily going to make the target of 100 films for the Super Challenge. Thus i've opted to remove 'watching' from my committed desk study time, as in theory I should be able to make it to 100 'films' by watching sufficient amounts of TV outside of my committed desk study time and free that up for other activities which I don't do enough: reading mainly.

So my TV watching outside of study time will be a mixture of French news as that has worked well for me and kept me in touch with current affairs in France and beyond (i don't watch my own country's news, so it doesn't hurt to watch this), and the chosen series I'm still going with is Sex and the City, which I haven't done much with lately, but am not too concerned. Thus I believe there's enough watching in my weekly activities to not be concerned.

Where I've re-booted my Super Challenge quickly surpassing the expected 100 films by the end, i'm still well behind on reading despite picking up my game. There again it will be of benefit to trim my desk activities down somewhat.

My routine is as follows:

-----------
Par roulement :
-----------
Des cours :
Un cours difficile :
• Assimil Using French
Un cours facile :
• Pimsleur French 5
----------------------
Le français intensif :
La lecture intensive :
• Bien-dire
• Think French
Écouter / Regarder :
• Yabla
Écouter :
• RFI Journal en français facile
----------------------
La lecture extensive :
Un livre en français facile :
• Easy French Reader
Un livre plus difficile :
• Le Régime Cétogène contre...
----------------------------------

Again the idea is 3 hours of rotation. Each hour consists of the first 15 min dedicated to SRS.

So I have an hour (well 45 min really) for courses, 45 min for extensive reading and 45 min in the middle for intensive activities, whatever they may be.

I'm also not concerned with listening as now my commutes to work contain no courses, as I reached the end of Pimsleur French 5 and instead of reviewing it again during commutes, I decided I might review it and add SRS cards during my course study hours, but for the moment am focused on reaching the end of Assimil Using French, so I don't care if I never do that. So to and from work it's native French listening time.

So I'm still doing courses, but increasing my reading, and doing some other intensive activities (of which there's a few to choose from).

Speaking is the major thing missing, but as I said, I will definitely pick this up down the track. I do speak out loud when reading, speak to my daughter only in French, but I'm not currently doing any conversational sessions with native speakers.

On and upwards.

Fry a fry, like for real
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Re: PM's log: Consistent French, Inconsistent Declarations

Postby DaveBee » Mon Nov 21, 2016 7:56 am

PeterMollenburg wrote:So my TV watching outside of study time will be a mixture of French news as that has worked well for me and kept me in touch with current affairs in France and beyond (i don't watch my own country's news, so it doesn't hurt to watch this), and the chosen series I'm still going with is Sex and the City, which I haven't done much with lately, but am not too concerned. Thus I believe there's enough watching in my weekly activities to not be concerned.
I've come across a french sit-com called 'Fais pas ci, fais pas ça' that I quite like. (I don't understand a lot of the dialogue though! :-))
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PeterMollenburg
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Re: PM's log: Consistent French, Inconsistent Declarations

Postby PeterMollenburg » Mon Nov 21, 2016 9:31 am

DaveBee wrote:
PeterMollenburg wrote:So my TV watching outside of study time will be a mixture of French news as that has worked well for me and kept me in touch with current affairs in France and beyond (i don't watch my own country's news, so it doesn't hurt to watch this), and the chosen series I'm still going with is Sex and the City, which I haven't done much with lately, but am not too concerned. Thus I believe there's enough watching in my weekly activities to not be concerned.
I've come across a french sit-com called 'Fais pas ci, fais pas ça' that I quite like. (I don't understand a lot of the dialogue though! :-))


Thanks Davebee,

I have seen this sitcom mentioned a few times and it seems to be reported as worth watching. Definitely a series to keep in mind, cheers.
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PeterMollenburg
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Re: PM's log: Consistent French, Inconsistent Declarations

Postby PeterMollenburg » Mon Nov 21, 2016 12:59 pm

Xenops wrote:I'm curious as to what research you have found that told you the working conditions of nurses in various countries? I imagine the conditions are similar for other health professions.


Another interesting article (in English) comparing various countries with regards to nursing conditions:
https://news.euspert.com/best-nurse-jobs-best-countries-nurses-work/
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Re: PM's log: Consistent French, Inconsistent Declarations

Postby PeterMollenburg » Tue Nov 22, 2016 6:13 am

Slight dilemma:

When to begin studying my next language:
The sooner I start studying my next chosen language (while continuing with French) the quicker I will reach a decent level in that next language.

Which language:
German would theoretically very much open doors in Switzerland, Luxembourg (stiff competition, maybe wouldn't get qualifications recognised there) and ever so slightly help for Belgium.

Dutch like German for Switzerland would help for Belgium. And like German for Switzerland, Dutch is a majority language for the country. Still I am aiming for Francophone regions, but a smattering of another language would be nice.

Considering I've spent a lot of time in the Netherlands, I think it makes sense to aim for Dutch, and it's the language i'm more interested in currently.

Dutch doesn't open as many doors on a grander scale than German, and the wages in Belgium are not as good as Switzerland.

I guess i'm just talking out loud. Once again I feel like Dutch is what I should go with, mainly because that is what I'm motivated to do. Still any one with a different opinion is totally welcome to say something if you feel like it.

When do I start that next language?
Maybe I will introduce Dutch sooner rather than later. I'd really like to open up job opportunities in Belgium by increasing my skills in Dutch aka Flemish, but at the same time I've always said I ought to pass a C1/C2 exam in French before introducing any other language.

Any thoughts anyone? keep going with French for another 12months/24months or introduce Dutch much sooner and balance between the 2 languages? I'm afraid of ruining my French. I really want to master it and don't want any other language to hurt that mission. If only I was already much more accomplished in French already... ah, first world problems. Don't I love creating imaginary dilemmas?

Disclaimer: please if you want to comment, do so, but I must say given my track record/pig headedness I"m likely to still do what I want despite logic.
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Re: PM's log: Consistent French, Inconsistent Declarations

Postby rlnv » Tue Nov 22, 2016 7:02 am

PeterMollenburg wrote:Slight dilemma:

When to begin studying my next language:
The sooner I start studying my next chosen language (while continuing with French) the quicker I will reach a decent level in that next language.

Which language:
German would theoretically very much open doors in Switzerland, Luxembourg (stiff competition, maybe wouldn't get qualifications recognised there) and ever so slightly help for Belgium.

Dutch like German for Switzerland would help for Belgium. And like German for Switzerland, Dutch is a majority language for the country. Still I am aiming for Francophone regions, but a smattering of another language would be nice.

Considering I've spent a lot of time in the Netherlands, I think it makes sense to aim for Dutch, and it's the language i'm more interested in currently.

Dutch doesn't open as many doors on a grander scale than German, and the wages in Belgium are not as good as Switzerland.

I guess i'm just talking out loud. Once again I feel like Dutch is what I should go with, mainly because that is what I'm motivated to do. Still any one with a different opinion is totally welcome to say something if you feel like it.

When do I start that next language?
Maybe I will introduce Dutch sooner rather than later. I'd really like to open up job opportunities in Belgium by increasing my skills in Dutch aka Flemish, but at the same time I've always said I ought to pass a C1/C2 exam in French before introducing any other language.

Any thoughts anyone? keep going with French for another 12months/24months or introduce Dutch much sooner and balance between the 2 languages? I'm afraid of ruining my French. I really want to master it and don't want any other language to hurt that mission. If only I was already much more accomplished in French already... ah, first world problems. Don't I love creating imaginary dilemmas?

Disclaimer: please if you want to comment, do so, but I must say given my track record/pig headedness I"m likely to still do what I want despite logic.


I think the motivation factor is one of the most important considerations. There was a thread where, I believe the most common sentiment expressed was desire before usefulness. With Dutch you have desire and usefulness, both. A one-two punch, a rope-a-dope, a chest full of tools giving you coverage of both the two official Belgium languages.

Perhaps you could start off with some causal Dutch study after you pass your French B2? You are still planning to sit that soon, right? In my humble opinion, juggling more than one language as a beginner is a bad choice, but you are far from being a beginner. And you are far from having a lack of motivation and commitment to numbero uno, French. So at whatever point you feel ready to introduce a second language, I'm sure you will succeed and keep the flame burning with French too.

Go for it!
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Re: PM's log: Consistent French, Inconsistent Declarations

Postby DaveBee » Tue Nov 22, 2016 7:51 am

rlnv wrote:
PeterMollenburg wrote:Slight dilemma:

When to begin studying my next language:
The sooner I start studying my next chosen language (while continuing with French) the quicker I will reach a decent level in that next language.

Which language:
German would theoretically very much open doors in Switzerland, Luxembourg (stiff competition, maybe wouldn't get qualifications recognised there) and ever so slightly help for Belgium.

Dutch like German for Switzerland would help for Belgium. And like German for Switzerland, Dutch is a majority language for the country. Still I am aiming for Francophone regions, but a smattering of another language would be nice.

Considering I've spent a lot of time in the Netherlands, I think it makes sense to aim for Dutch, and it's the language i'm more interested in currently.

Dutch doesn't open as many doors on a grander scale than German, and the wages in Belgium are not as good as Switzerland.

I guess i'm just talking out loud. Once again I feel like Dutch is what I should go with, mainly because that is what I'm motivated to do. Still any one with a different opinion is totally welcome to say something if you feel like it.

When do I start that next language?
Maybe I will introduce Dutch sooner rather than later. I'd really like to open up job opportunities in Belgium by increasing my skills in Dutch aka Flemish, but at the same time I've always said I ought to pass a C1/C2 exam in French before introducing any other language.

Any thoughts anyone? keep going with French for another 12months/24months or introduce Dutch much sooner and balance between the 2 languages? I'm afraid of ruining my French. I really want to master it and don't want any other language to hurt that mission. If only I was already much more accomplished in French already... ah, first world problems. Don't I love creating imaginary dilemmas?

Disclaimer: please if you want to comment, do so, but I must say given my track record/pig headedness I"m likely to still do what I want despite logic.


I think the motivation factor is one of the most important considerations. There was a thread where, I believe the most common sentiment expressed was desire before usefulness. With Dutch you have desire and usefulness, both. A one-two punch, a rope-a-dope, a chest full of tools giving you coverage of both the two official Belgium languages.
Plus isn't Dutch supposed to be the closest relative of English? Presumably you could be up and running in Dutch much faster than German.

(With Switzerland the situation seems to be further complicated by several different varieties of German. Standard-german for written communication, dialect Swiss-german for speech. That said, German of course opens up Germany and Austria too.)
but at the same time I've always said I ought to pass a C1/C2 exam in French before introducing any other language.
I have a lot of sympathy with that notion. Perhaps see how your B2 exam goes, and then consider how much work you feel would be needed for the C1. You might think you're already there if you ace your B2.
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