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!
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!