Jeffers' super challenge log: French and Hindi

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jeffers
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Jeffers' super challenge log: French and Hindi

Postby jeffers » Sun Apr 29, 2018 8:04 pm

I've decided to start a fresh log for a fresh challenge. This evening I signed up on the Super Challenge thread for a full challenge in French and a half challenge in Hindi. I don't expect to finish the Hindi reading portion, but I really hope to finally complete a full challenge in French.

First a quick recap: last summer I planned a trip to India with my "original family", my brothers and sisters and my parents. One of my two brothers died of cancer four years ago, and one of his wishes was that some of his ashes would be spread where we used to live in India. So after years of indecision, I pushed everyone to plan a trip together with the immediate family and none of our own spouses or children (to keep things simpler). Since the plan until the trip my language studies were 80% focused on Hindi, but unfortunately I didn't do have the work I did before my last trip to India. Work has been far more demanding and stressful, resulting in less energy for serious study. The trip took place over the two weeks of the Easter holiday, and while I feel my reduced preparation made me less fluent, I made quite an impression on my family and most of our taxi drivers. Also, we saw tigers in the wild!

Now that my India trip is over my focus is back on French. An additional driver is that I have booked a trip to Marseille for 4 days this summer, so I have essentially 2.5 months to get my French up to speed for my first real experience of French in the wild since my first year of study (7 years ago?) My main focus will be on reading and listening/watching for the super challenge, but I also have a few other things I want to do to get ready:
  • Finish Hugo French in 3 Months to get a firmer grasp of points of essential grammar. I last stopped on chapter 9, so there isn't too much to do.
  • Review Pimsleur 2 & 3 for practice getting my tongue working properly and to review key grammatical forms in a spoken way.
  • Finally watch La prononciation française pour de vrai which has been on my shelf for at least two years gathering dust. As this DVD course is 100% in French it also counts for the SC.
  • Write a few short bits to memorize and use as "language islands". I'll probably post them on Lang-8 for feedback. This is something I've made several plans to do, but have never actually done. With a trip looming, I think this is probably the most useful preparation I could do to enable me to speak when I get there.


Super Challenge French plans
For reading I have many books on Kindle. The ones I most want to get into are:
Le Petit Nicolas. These lovely books are now all on Kindle, and several volumes now have audiobooks as well. I plan to re-read the volumes I've already read (7 books), and then buy and read the rest one by one (there are another 4 or 5).

In addition, I bought the following books during the last super challenge but never got around to them. This time for sure!
  • Les nouvelles enquêtes de Maigret, by Georges Simenon. I like Maigret's style.
  • Un sac de billes by Joseph Joffo. I read about half of it a year ago. I'll probably start again from the beginning, and take a slightly more intensive approach, even taking notes.
  • Learn French with Stories. Yeah, yeah, I should be well beyond this sort of thing, but sometimes it's nice to read something easy.
  • Les Maquisards, by Hemley Boum, which was highly recommended by the arts editor on 7 jours sur la planête.
  • Un aller simple, by Didier van Cauwelaert.

    I also bought the following three kindle books this week, just because.
  • Mon ami Maigret, by Georges Simenon.
  • La passe-miroir (Livre 1) - Les Fiancés de l'hiver, by Christelle Dabos. It looks like an interesting fantasy series, and I wanted something current.
  • Le Petit Nicolas et les copains, because I must, and because audible has the audiobook.

Finally, at some point I'd like to re-read Les orpailleurs by Thierry Jonquet, and then read the sequel, Moloch. Les orpailleurs was really tough going; there were times when I had little idea what was going on for pages on end. However, the story got me gripped and I found myself staying up at night for hours reading it.


For my reference, my previous log was https://forum.language-learners.org/viewtopic.php?f=15&t=2612
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Fresh new progress bars for the 2018-19 Super Challenge:
Fr books: 14 / 100films: 24 / 200
Hi books: 0 / 50films: 0 / 50

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Re: Jeffers' super challenge log: French and Hindi

Postby rdearman » Mon Apr 30, 2018 8:29 am

Welcome back. Good luck with the challenge.
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Re: Jeffers' super challenge log: French and Hindi

Postby PeterMollenburg » Mon Apr 30, 2018 12:00 pm

It is great to see you back jeffers. Thanks for sharing with regards to your Indian adventures, and good luck with your French objectives, SC and otherwise! I’ll be watching your progress on the leaderboard.
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Re: Jeffers' super challenge log: French and Hindi

Postby jeffers » Wed May 02, 2018 9:15 pm

We're on the second day of the Super Challenge, and so far it's going well. I've been listening to Les Récrés du Petit Nicolas during my commute, and reading Petit Nicolas et les copains on my kindle. So far I've read 7 of the 16 stories (so something like 50-60 pages), and listened to 11 of 15 stories on the audiobook. I've also listened to a 43 minute podcast from Au coeur de l'histoire. It's always nice to push yourself a bit during the first few days so that you feel like you're ahead of the daily minimum from the start. The trick I've always missed is to avoid getting burned out too quickly!



Deinonysus made a nice little table showing the average daily requirements to complete double, full and half challenges. I've made my own calculations in the past, but this is so nicely formatted, and it saves me the trouble of digging mine out. :D
Deinonysus wrote:Sorry if this is duplicating info that's already out there, but I posted a table with target pacing for different challenges on my log, and then I thought I should probably post it here too just in case anyone else might find it useful. This is based on 610 days from today through the end of 2019 (inclusive).

ChallengeBook Pages/dayFilm Min:sec/day
Half4.107:23
Full8.2014:45
Double16.4029:30

(From the Super Challenge discussion thread, https://forum.language-learners.org/viewtopic.php?f=21&t=7997&start=30)

I figured out during a previous challenge that if I were to do nothing else but read a Petit Nicolas story every day I would pretty much complete the reading part of the challenge. A quick calculation on one of my books shows that each story averages 8.75 pages, so that's spot on.
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Fresh new progress bars for the 2018-19 Super Challenge:
Fr books: 14 / 100films: 24 / 200
Hi books: 0 / 50films: 0 / 50

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Re: Jeffers' super challenge log: French and Hindi

Postby jeffers » Sun May 13, 2018 11:29 am

Nearly two weeks into the challenge, and I'm making good progress despite being super busy at work.

I started by reading Le Petit Nicolas et les Copains, a typically amusing set of stories by René Goscinny and illustrated by Jean-Jacques Sempé. These stories are now relatively easy for me to read, and I typically need to look up about one word per page. Although I never read this one before, it felt familiar and comfortable, which I think is a good place to be for improving your language. Rather than puzzling through sentence after sentence, checking the meaning of word after word, the books are giving me a sense of the rhythm and flow of the language.

This is why the core of my reading strategy involves repeated reading and reading from series. Krashen recommends reading trashy series in translation. For him this means he reads Star Trek novels in his target languages. I like the Petit Nicolas series for French because they have become easy enough for me to read, and they are enjoyable enough that they bear up to being read again and again. I've probably read the first one 7-8 times and listened to the audiobook many times more than that.


For the film side of the challenge, I never lack something to do. I don't watch police series in English, but for some reason I really enjoy French policiers. We have Sky TV which has TV5 Monde, and they usually have a policier series on the go, normally a year or two after it was on TV in France. The series they're currently showing is L'Art du Crime about a cop who ends up having to team up with an art expert to solve crimes about sport. No! It's crimes involving the world of art. It's kind of run of the mill, but watchable.

Netflix has some good French series, but they're hard to find because they no longer have the option to list international films by country of origin. I've discovered Marseille due to the recommendation of a friend, and Au Service de la France due to a recommendation on this forum (I think). Au Service de la France, listed as "A Very Secret Service" in English, is a very dry comedy about spies trying to hold France's empire together in 1960. There is only one series so far, but I really hope they make more.

Normally the bulk of my film challenge comes from podcasts and audiobooks due to listening while commuting and taking walks or bike rides. However, I've only counted one of each so far, because most of my commute time has been given over to reviewing Pimsleur. I've listened to one episode of Au coeur de l'histoire (a new episode about recent findings about Néandertals), and Les Récrés du Petit Nicolas, wonderfully read by Benoît Poelvoorde. I'm now reading the book (again).

Summary of the Super Challenge so far:

Books: 148 pages = 3 books (nearly)
Film: 615 minutes = 4 films
Last edited by jeffers on Sun May 13, 2018 4:25 pm, edited 1 time in total.
3 x
Fresh new progress bars for the 2018-19 Super Challenge:
Fr books: 14 / 100films: 24 / 200
Hi books: 0 / 50films: 0 / 50

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Re: Jeffers' super challenge log: French and Hindi

Postby Mohave » Sun May 13, 2018 1:43 pm

Welcome back Jeffers! It's great to see you posting again! I look forward to following your progress and looking to your recommendations. We have somewhat similar tastes in reading. I found two gently-used Maigrets in a bookstore on a recent trip to Texas and I believe I picked Un Sac de Billets several years ago while in Belgium. I need to add that to my reading list. I'm also a fan of French policiers.

Best of Luck!
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Re: Jeffers' super challenge log: French and Hindi

Postby jeffers » Tue May 22, 2018 1:57 pm

I learned a long time ago never to say to myself, "I don't need this word". It feels like whenever I come across a word to learn that I think is going to be useless, I find it comes up in the real world. Inspired by a post by Cavesa on the thread "How to improve oral comprehension and production" https://forum.language-learners.org/viewtopic.php?f=17&t=8143&start=10, I decided to give Memrise a go, and I started on two sets of nouns: +French Nouns 1 (nouns 1-4099 from a frequency list, which will mostly be review), and +French Nouns 2 (nouns 4100-8199). In the first couple of days I came across the words escroquerie ("fraud") and guérisseur ("healer, faith healer"), and they both seemed like they were going to be unusual. However, in one episode of a policier I watched last night, escroquerie was used in the first five minutes, and guérison ("healing") came up later on, which I was able to recognize because it's a cognate.

I was watching the show with subtitles on, and when a totally unknown word is used I don't think I pay the slightest bit of attention to it. Rather, my brain just latches on to the subtitle alone. However, when I know the words being spoken I see the translation but clearly hear the word. So vocabulary is going to be the key to weaning myself off of subtitles.

I don't rely on subtitles for everything: I listen to audiobooks and podcasts, for which I am relying entirely on my own understanding. I also have some TV series without subtitles, and I like to watch 7 jours sur la planète which has French subtitles. Sometimes when I listen to Au coeur de l'histoire I understand 80-90% of what is going on, and other times I feel quite lost. In those cases I think it comes down to vocabulary and my familiarity with the topic. This is just a personal thing, but I don't think I am a person who can pick up much vocabulary aurally. When reading I can work out the meaning of a word I don't know. But when I hear a new word, I've realized I just hear "blajfldasj".

I do think my oral comprehension has stagnated in the past year or so. Part of the reason is that I didn't do as much listening as I had done before. But Cavesa's comment made me realize that I'm missing a lot simply because I haven't been actively expanding my vocabulary for a long time, and as I listen to more and more native audio there are more and more words I'm missing. So I'm back to working on vocabulary for now, and we'll see how it goes.

EDIT: I just thought of another example from the same vocabulary set on Memrise: marmite which means a cooking container. Noir Désir have a song with the line "la marmite de l'ermite est remplie de rubis". I didn't exactly know what a "marmite" is, but I understood the point of the line.
The song is l'europe from the album des Visages des Figures. The song is an odd one, but good.
https://youtu.be/tchJ2vHz_nM (For some reason that link takes you to the middle of the song).
If that's too weird for you, try Le Vent Nous Portera https://youtu.be/NrgcRvBJYBE
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Fresh new progress bars for the 2018-19 Super Challenge:
Fr books: 14 / 100films: 24 / 200
Hi books: 0 / 50films: 0 / 50

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Re: Jeffers' super challenge log: French and Hindi

Postby jeffers » Thu May 24, 2018 12:25 pm

I received a copy of Grammaire progressive du français niveau intermédiaire from Amazon yesterday, and I am looking forward to digging into it. I've been meaning to get a copy of this for some time as the series has gotten so much positive feedback both on these forums and on the reviews on Amazon. I know I need to work on my basic grammar, and the lessons in Hugo French, while good in their own way, aren't really cutting it for me. Hugo uses very brief explanations followed by numerous examples, whereas I need a bit more explanation and definitely more practice. I've been wanting to get one for a while, but I had never decided on the "débutant" or "intermédiaire" level.

Having a fairly quick flip through the Grammaire progressive, I think this is going to fit my needs better: the left pages each explain a single topic, while the facing page will have related exercises. My quick flip through the book shows me that I made the right choice with the intermediate book, because it starts with topics I'm fairly confident in, but also has topics that I don't know much about. The whole book has 52 sections, so I will attempt to complete at least one section per week. We'll see how that goes! :lol:

The workbook also comes with a CD, which I had expected to have extracts from all the lessons, but in fact is only for the final section which is a series of 12 comprehension exercises. I've not decided whether to work on those as I go through the book, or to save them all for the end. I think it will be more useful, and definitely more interesting, to break the workbook up and do comprehension as I go along.

Two more comments: I thought the book was quite expensive, but it's actually a lot thicker than I expected, and there are additional exercises available online or through their app, accessed with a code printed inside the cover. The second thing to bear in mind is that corrections are given in a separate book, Corriges, which brings to total cost to £32.45... pretty pricey IMO, but I think it will be worth it if I actually work through it.



In other news, I've found a very active French meetup about 35 minutes from my house, and I'll be going for the first time to their fortnightly meeting this evening. I'm nervous about what it will be like, but I know that I need speaking practice in order to be able to speak!


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Fresh new progress bars for the 2018-19 Super Challenge:
Fr books: 14 / 100films: 24 / 200
Hi books: 0 / 50films: 0 / 50

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Re: Jeffers' super challenge log: French and Hindi

Postby jeffers » Fri May 25, 2018 6:51 am

Being at a French language group for the first time was an interesting experience. I wasn't sure what to expect, but I thought I would mainly listen during the first meeting and only talk a bit. However, people kept asking me questions, so during the two hours of the evening I probably ended up in full back and forth conversation 3/4 of the time. On the other hand, I found I struggled for words a lot more than I expected, so a large part of my speaking was struggling for words and saying "umm, aaahh" while making strange faces. It was quite a mental workout.

I was surprised with how difficult it was for me to speak because I can speak much more easily in Hindi than I was able to speak last night in French, and yet I find it easier to understand French when I read and watch. The obvious reason is that I have been speaking Hindi for years, and I have spoken French... presque jamais.

The group was interesting. There were 17 people with quite a variety of abilities: some who spoke quite fluently, and others who struggled to find their words, and there was a native speaker who goes to the group to have the chance to speak in his own language for a bit. I think it was a good decision to attend, and the practice will do me a lot of good. Considering how difficult it was for me to speak last night, my upcoming trip to Marseille would have been a bit of a disappointment, but I think after several practice sessions I will have a better experience trying to speak with people when I visit.

I'm only sorry I waited so long to take up the opportunity!
0 x
Fresh new progress bars for the 2018-19 Super Challenge:
Fr books: 14 / 100films: 24 / 200
Hi books: 0 / 50films: 0 / 50

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Re: Jeffers' super challenge log: French and Hindi

Postby jeffers » Sun Jul 01, 2018 7:47 pm

It's been over a month. I haven't been active on these forums, but I've been very active with my French. With two months (10%) of the Super Challenge gone, it seems to me I would find it useful to summarize and review how it's been going so far.

Films
I have logged 2213 minutes on the film challenge, 36.9 hours and a total 24.6 "films". At that rate I should more than double the challenge of 100 films.

The highlights for me have been some Petit Nicolas audiobooks and the TV series Les petits meurtres d'Agatha Christie.

I have recently started watching the daily soap opera Plus belle la vie, which has been interesting. My hope is that a daily 26 minute dose of realistically spoken French will improve my conversational comprehension. Initially I felt like everyone was talking far too fast and I couldn't catch a word they were saying. Of course, it became clear after an episode or two what the little sub-stories are all about and as a result it is becoming easier to follow the conversations. I've never been a fan of soap operas, but two weeks of this has shown me that now is the time to give it a go for a while at least.

Books
As of the end of June I read 710 pages, a total of 14 books. At that rate I would easily exceed the challenge of 100 books, and it has made me wonder if a double challenge would be feasible.

I've had immense enjoyment from Petit Nicolas books, of which so far I've read Le Petit Nicolas et les copains, Les récrés du Petit Nicolas and Le Petit Nicolas. I still probably have to look up a word or two on most pages, but I find I can read these books with sufficient fluency to feel immersed in them.

The French meetup I joined has a reading group, and I've just finished Le chapeau de Mitterand by Antoine Laurain, which I also enjoyed very much. It was more difficult to read than Le Petit Nicolas, and I often had to look up 5+ words per page or put phrases through a translator to make sense of them. However, even without support I would have been able to understand enough to know almost exactly what was going on. I also have the audiobook; although it is difficult to follow at times, it really helps to have read the book first.


Other things
I had plans to make a lot of progress in grammatical study this month: I wanted to finish Hugo French in 3 Months and do a lot of work in Grammaire progressive du français niveau intermédiaire, but I haven't touched either for over a month.

On the other hand, the French meetup has been invaluable in helping me to learn to speak. I still struggle to speak my mind, but I feel like every session helps me to make practical progress. I only wish I had started attending sooner!

EDIT: I forgot to mention that I have continued to use Memrise on and off, using the French vocab courses recommended by Cavesa. One course is based on the 4099 most frequent words, and so is mainly review so far, and the other is based on the next 4099 most frequent words, of which about 2/3 so far have been unknown to me. It's been nice that I've noticed several of these unknown words popping up in my reading or watching, which I think is proof enough that the courses are worthwhile.
3 x
Fresh new progress bars for the 2018-19 Super Challenge:
Fr books: 14 / 100films: 24 / 200
Hi books: 0 / 50films: 0 / 50


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