Zelda's French Log (+ Modern Greek)

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Chung
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Re: Zelda's French Log

Postby Chung » Mon May 07, 2018 6:51 pm

zjones wrote:Hello!

I've been lurking on this forum for a few weeks, and I finally gave in and registered an account. I've had a love affair with French language and French history for as long as I can remember, but I never actually learned the language since I was homeschooled and had limited access to language-learning resources. I'm in my mid-20's now and I find myself with lots of free time to study whatever I want, so I figured that now was as good a time as any to really dive into learning a language. There was no question about which language -- I've always known it was going to be French.

Past Forays into French

In the last few months, I almost finished my Duolingo French tree. Only when Duolingo pushed their new update (the "Crowns" system) did I realize that Duolingo was not getting me anywhere close to where I wanted to be. So I decided to do some research, and that's when I found this forum. I was amazed! I was a victim of popular language marketing schemes, like "No need to learn grammar!" and "Learn like a child!" and "You must have full immersion, and you will become fluent in two days!" and even "Language learning should be easy." (I exaggerate, but you get the point.) I believed this information even though it was completely contrary to the way I learn. My preferred learning method is to learn slowly, build a solid foundation, understand why as much as possible, and use lots of workbooks. (I really love workbooks...)

It was with great relief that I started reading all the opinions here, as well as the authentic advice that learning a language was indeed going to be difficult. I decided, after a few weeks of deliberation, to quit Duolingo, purchase the Assimil Français course (the one that used to be called New French with Ease), practice my pronunciation with FSI Phonology, and attempt to increase both the depth and breadth of my knowledge with any other supplements I could find. I'm not yet to the point where I can consume native media, but I'm hoping that it won't be too many months before that's possible.

My Current Study Plan

[*] Assimil Français (I'll decide how I want to study it when I receive my course this week)
[*] FSI French Phonology (one lesson per day)
[*] Coffee Break French (one podcast per day)
[*] Easy French Step-by-Step (~30 minutes per day)
[*] For fun, a video game in French (I'll have to look for one, I have Assassin's Creed but they speak too quickly and there's no time to process the language. I feel like a Switch game might be better.)

Any comments or critiques on my study plan are appreciated!

My Log

I intend on using this log at least weekly to report my progress. I also plan on using it to post meanderings, examine any problem areas, and keep track of my goals.


I think that it'd be worth trading off ambition with making progress. It's feel great to get a ton of books in short order from Amazon in your favourite subject but then you realize that you need to balance your enthusiasm with a comfortable amount of effort or discipline to make progress. I'm learning Italian right now, which as easy as it is for someone who's fluent in French, I still need to build confidence in what I'm using. If you're finding the FSI phonology course too boring, and Assimil a little much, why not try the DLI French Headstart for Belgium? These courses are meant for military or diplomatic personnel assigned to work outside the USA. The goal of these courses is to teach Americans to sound less gringo, know how to read signs, and use the language for survival or basic interactions in their foreign postings. I'm using the Italian version right now, and I really like it because it focuses on mastering a handful of useful sentence patterns (and their vocabulary) through a lot of repetition and manipulation. It's a good way to kill about 30 minutes as a beginning learner when working through a textbook isn't that appealing. It's not as sterile or dull as doing pure pronunciation drills with isolated words or nonsense syllables but it's not as overwhelming as making me juggle a ton of basics in the unit while still training my ear (and mouth) for native pronunciation and word order.

Each module contains language for a situation typical of someone being abroad for the first time and is subdivided into 4 units with each unit anchored by a short dialogue (5 or 6 lines). In addition to making you repeat the phrases in each line, you get lots of exercises based on the dialogue (repetition, translation, substitution or transformation). It works well for me with my lowered expectations because of the emphasis on learning the bare basics with only a minimum of grammar instruction. A minor irritant is the occasional bit of military or vocabulary terminology (I've already learned to say things like No, lavoro alla NATO "No, I work for NATO" in response to Lavora al quartier generale, Tenente? "Do you work at headquarters, Lieutenant?") but I can easily replace the ranks and organizations with civilian items such as signor(e) "Mr." or la banca "the bank" and it's just fine.

Anyway, however it goes, bon succès!
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Re: Zelda's French Log

Postby sfuqua » Mon May 07, 2018 8:49 pm

What a wonderful log!

Assimil will take you all the way to reading French. Have you tried shadowing it?
Have you looked at glossika? I don't really recommend their current setup; it costs way too much for studying one language. Perhaps someone still has a physical copy of their original course that they could legally sell you. Glossika isn't really a language course, but it does help with fluency.
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Re: Zelda's French Log

Postby zjones » Mon May 07, 2018 10:07 pm

Chung wrote:I think that it'd be worth trading off ambition with making progress. It's feel great to get a ton of books in short order from Amazon in your favourite subject but then you realize that you need to balance your enthusiasm with a comfortable amount of effort or discipline to make progress. I'm learning Italian right now, which as easy as it is for someone who's fluent in French, I still need to build confidence in what I'm using. If you're finding the FSI phonology course too boring, and Assimil a little much, why not try the DLI Frech Headstart for Belgium? These courses are meant for military or diplomatic personnel assigned to work outside the USA. The goal of these courses is to teach Americans to sound less gringo, know how to read signs, and use the language for survival or basic interactions in their foreign postings. I'm using the Italian version right now, and I really like it because it focuses on mastering a handful of useful sentence patterns (and their vocabulary) through a lot of repetition and manipulation. It's a good way to kill about 30 minutes as a beginning learner when working through a textbook isn't that appealing. It's not as sterile or dull as doing pure pronunciation drills with isolated words or nonsense syllables but it's not as overwhelming as making me juggle a ton of basics in the unit while still training my ear (and mouth) for native pronunciation and word order.

Each module contains language for a situation typical of someone being abroad for the first time and is subdivided into 4 units with each unit anchored by a short dialogue (5 or 6 lines). In addition to making you repeat the phrases in each line, you get lots of exercises based on the dialogue (repetition, translation, substitution or transformation). It works well for me with my lowered expectations because of the emphasis on learning the bare basics with only a minimum of grammar instruction. A minor irritant is the occasional bit of military or vocabulary terminology (I've already learned to say things like No, lavoro alla NATO "No, I work for NATO" in response to Lavora al quartier generale, Tenente? "Do you work at headquarters, Lieutenant?") but I can easily replace the ranks and organizations with civilian items such as signor(e) "Mr." or la banca "the bank" and it's just fine.

Anyway, however it goes, bon succès!


Thank you for stopping by, and for the suggestion! I probably wasn't clear in my first post, but some of the resources I listed in the beginning of the log weren't new to me, namely Coffee Break French and Easy French grammar book. Assimil is my only recently-acquired resource, and instead of being too much, I'm finding that the beginning lessons are too easy for me. I flew through the first 10 lessons in a few days, but decided to pace myself after that, in order to fill in any of my false beginner gaps.

However, my speaking skills are very weak, so I really appreciate the link to the DLI French Headstart for Belgium! I wonder if it would be appropriate for me since I am learning France French, and I'm not familiar enough with Belgian French to know if there are differences apart from the number systems. Do you have an opinion on that?

sfuqua wrote:What a wonderful log!

Assimil will take you all the way to reading French. Have you tried shadowing it?
Have you looked at glossika? I don't really recommend their current setup; it costs way too much for studying one language. Perhaps someone still has a physical copy of their original course that they could legally sell you. Glossika isn't really a language course, but it does help with fluency.


Hello! Yes, I really enjoy Assimil. The humor is just enough to make me giggle every now and then. By shadowing, do you mean pausing the audio after each line/sentence so I can repeat it aloud myself? If so, then yes I do shadow each Assimil lesson. I do it several times until I'm fairly comfortable with my pronunciation, and I look at the French text when I do it. I wonder if I should also be shadowing with the book closed... hmm.

I checked Glossika's website about a month ago and was put off by the cost (although I can see how it would be useful for someone who learns multiple languages). However, I wasn't aware that they used to have a physical course. I will keep an eye out.
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Chung
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Re: Zelda's French Log

Postby Chung » Mon May 07, 2018 10:45 pm

zjones wrote:
Chung wrote:I think that it'd be worth trading off ambition with making progress. It's feel great to get a ton of books in short order from Amazon in your favourite subject but then you realize that you need to balance your enthusiasm with a comfortable amount of effort or discipline to make progress. I'm learning Italian right now, which as easy as it is for someone who's fluent in French, I still need to build confidence in what I'm using. If you're finding the FSI phonology course too boring, and Assimil a little much, why not try the DLI Frech Headstart for Belgium? These courses are meant for military or diplomatic personnel assigned to work outside the USA. The goal of these courses is to teach Americans to sound less gringo, know how to read signs, and use the language for survival or basic interactions in their foreign postings. I'm using the Italian version right now, and I really like it because it focuses on mastering a handful of useful sentence patterns (and their vocabulary) through a lot of repetition and manipulation. It's a good way to kill about 30 minutes as a beginning learner when working through a textbook isn't that appealing. It's not as sterile or dull as doing pure pronunciation drills with isolated words or nonsense syllables but it's not as overwhelming as making me juggle a ton of basics in the unit while still training my ear (and mouth) for native pronunciation and word order.

Each module contains language for a situation typical of someone being abroad for the first time and is subdivided into 4 units with each unit anchored by a short dialogue (5 or 6 lines). In addition to making you repeat the phrases in each line, you get lots of exercises based on the dialogue (repetition, translation, substitution or transformation). It works well for me with my lowered expectations because of the emphasis on learning the bare basics with only a minimum of grammar instruction. A minor irritant is the occasional bit of military or vocabulary terminology (I've already learned to say things like No, lavoro alla NATO "No, I work for NATO" in response to Lavora al quartier generale, Tenente? "Do you work at headquarters, Lieutenant?") but I can easily replace the ranks and organizations with civilian items such as signor(e) "Mr." or la banca "the bank" and it's just fine.

Anyway, however it goes, bon succès!


Thank you for stopping by, and for the suggestion! I probably wasn't clear in my first post, but some of the resources I listed in the beginning of the log weren't new to me, namely Coffee Break French and Easy French grammar book. Assimil is my only recently-acquired resource, and instead of being too much, I'm finding that the beginning lessons are too easy for me. I flew through the first 10 lessons in a few days, but decided to pace myself after that, in order to fill in any of my false beginner gaps.

However, my speaking skills are very weak, so I really appreciate the link to the DLI French Headstart for Belgium! I wonder if it would be appropriate for me since I am learning France French, and I'm not familiar enough with Belgian French to know if there are differences apart from the number systems. Do you have an opinion on that?


For the most part the difference in sound between Belgian French and French of France is minor and is a little bit like the difference between certain American English accents (think North Central (~ Minneapolis) versus Mid-Atlantic (~ Philadelphia)). There are more noticeable differences in vocabulary but as a beginner they won't trip you up that often. A couple of the larger numbers form a well-known set of examples of these differences but you already know that.

Considering that you're a false beginner, you'd find DLI French Headstart for Belgium easy on one hand since many of the words and a few of the basic concepts (e.g. present tense, grammatical gender) are familiar to you already. On the other hand, it really forces you to get these bare basics down pat right down to saying them at a natural clip in response to the audio cues. If you can get this right, I think that this can only build your confidence in speaking up in fairly mundane or "simple" situations, and complement what you already know passively to a greater degree.

I like to think of the DLI Headstart courses as accomplishing what Pimsleur sets out to do but all for free and with an accompanying textbook with a better variety of exercises. You could use DLI Headstart while driving although I don't recommend that since the exercises require a little more thinking than mindlessly repeating in the pauses provided what the narrator said. I can see it now. You get in a car accident, and say "But, but officer I was just doing language drills when the the rear bumper of the car ahead of me ran into the front bumper of my car!": distracted driving for a member of this forum, I guess. :roll:
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Sgt Schultz
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Re: Zelda's French Log

Postby Sgt Schultz » Tue May 08, 2018 12:24 pm

zjones wrote:7 mai 2018

Man, I'm really hung up on my expectations for French. I know that I'm happier when I let go of my expectations and just enjoy the journey, but unfortunately this is something that I need to re-learn over and over again in many different areas of my life. I ran into this issue with fitness recently; I started exercising because it was good for me, but then I saw some positive aesthetic changes in my body and became obsessed with looking stronger and more fit. When I wasn't seeing the muscle gain that I was expecting, I was disappointed and my confidence plummeted. I had to stop thinking in terms of aesthetic changes and instead consider my progress in terms of the weight I can lift and the way my body feels.

With French, I don't trust myself or my language learning methods. I have some solid beginner level resources (Assimil, two grammar books, graded readers) but I'm constantly questioning whether they're improving my French enough. Perfectionism at its finest.

I think that if I trust my daily routine, putting in time and effort and allowing myself to be a learner, I'll end up in a good place no matter where it is. Beginner's mind, right? Besides, I started French because I love it. I want to enjoy every moment spent learning this intriguing and beautiful language, even when it's challenging and I make mistakes.


When I learned my first language, Spanish, I felt the same way. I jumped from one course to another, second guessing if I picked the right method, right course, etc. What I end up finding out was that it's more important to do something each day and not worry about what that something is as long as I was enjoying it. Over time each little bit I did added up and formed a solid base. I think the most important thing in this phase of study is to find something (or some things) that you enjoy doing every day and keep doing it.

Another thing that might help, after each month of study look back at what you studied 1 month ago. If it seems easy, you're making progress. That helped keep me motivated and assured me that what I was doing was working.
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Re: Zelda's French Log

Postby indeclinable » Tue May 08, 2018 2:43 pm

Sgt Schultz wrote:What I end up finding out was that it's more important to do something each day and not worry about what that something is as long as I was enjoying it. Over time each little bit I did added up and formed a solid base. I think the most important thing in this phase of study is to find something (or some things) that you enjoy doing every day and keep doing it.


Indeed, that's exactly what modern language acquisition theory tells us. According to Krashen, one can literally memorize a whole grammar and still be unable to speak and understand the target language (Think of a linguistics mayor student). Whereas one can be theoretically ignorant of the language's grammar and still be fluent in the language (Think of any kid that does bad in English and spelling-bee). What matters is the comprehensible input, that is, coherent, logical content that you understand and enjoy.

I like your working-out analogy, is not only about a particular set of exercises or regiment training (method) that you'll reach results, is about mainly about discipline and dedication and a healthy life-style (comprehensible input).

The thing about language acquisition (unlike grammar learning) is that's eminently unconscious, so it might be disturbing to some to think that they're learning the language without the effort of following a particular method. And just like going to the gym, you'll not see the results immediately, but they're there, slowly developing under your skin every time you listen, read, understand a message in the target language. Curiously, Krashen's experiments showed that the perfectionists students that stressed the most about the results where the ones that took longer in acquiring fluency.
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Re: Zelda's French Log

Postby reineke » Tue May 08, 2018 5:13 pm

What matters is you.
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Re: Zelda's French Log

Postby Ani » Wed May 09, 2018 5:44 am

Hey! Just took a peek through your log. If you liked (or tolerated) Wakfu, maybe try Troll Hunter on Netflix. I think it's significantly better.

Be patient with Assimil. I'm with Reineke -- Didn't you just get Assimil two weeks ago? :) It takes much longer than that to see improvement. The more your progress, the longer it takes to see. If the new and shiny is wearing thin after two weeks, you'd do better to steel yourself for the journey to come. At higher levels, it might be hundreds of hours between noticable improvements.
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Re: Zelda's French Log

Postby renaissancemedici » Wed May 09, 2018 6:06 am

Careful with such worries, they may undermine your entire effort.

When we study alone there is no classroom to use as our context, so we may feel a little lost. But if you trust your textbook (and I'd trust Assimil a lot!) then it guides you very naturally and you see the progress you want. Just work hard at it, enjoy and then forget about it. It will happen.

When you are no longer a beginner, or even a false beginner, you'll add other things to the mix, but for now...
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Re: Zelda's French Log

Postby sfuqua » Wed May 09, 2018 2:50 pm

When I said shadowing I was talking about thishttp://learnanylanguage.wikia.com/wiki/Shadowing

I'm a big fan of shadowing, and Assimil is pretty easy to adapt to this approach.
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10000 pages : 109 / 10000 "just reading" Spanish and French
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