Jeffers- B1 French by June 2022

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jeffers
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Jeffers- B1 French by June 2022

Postby jeffers » Fri Jul 02, 2021 1:03 pm

I have a whole new goal, so I decided to start a new log. (Link to my old log: https://forum.language-learners.org/viewtopic.php?f=15&t=13383)

I have always wanted to take a DELF exam, entirely for personal reasons. I don’t need it for professional reasons, and I don’t intend to immigrate to France or to study at a French university. However, I have always believed that one day I should sign up for a French exam to focus my studies and for the satisfaction of achieving the goal. The only real obstacle is that I am a teacher and the exam dates I’ve looked at always seemed to fall during term time, but teachers can’t normally take a day off for personal development. Yesterday I was browsing through features on Kwiziq and saw a blog post about preparing for the DELF and DALF exams. Long story short, I realized that the B1 exam at the London Alliance Française in June 2021 fell during my school holiday! Although they haven’t released dates for 2022, it looks like there’s a good chance next year’s B1 exam will also happen during my holiday, so I have decided that I will spend the next 11 months preparing to take the DALF B1 exam. Can you feel the nervous excitement?

Why B1? I’ve reckoned my French level to be on the A2/B1 threshold for a long time now. A few years ago when I first considered doing an exam, I was looking at A2 exams because I’d rather score well on an exam than take the next level up and just scrape a pass. However, I’m setting my sights higher for a few reasons: I have a lot of time to prepare for this, I’ve been on that threshold for quite a while so I should be able to get there, and most importantly, the B1 exam seems to fall in the first week of June each year, when my summer half term break usually happens as well.

The good news is that 11 months should be plenty of time to prepare well. Obviously any good idea like this needs to start with a plan of action. I will roughly divide the plan into two timeframes: 6 months from now until the end of the calendar year, and 5 months from the beginning of 2022 until the exam itself. For phase 1 I’m planning to do continue with the basic language buildig I’m doing now, but turn it up to 11. Phase 2 will be focused on specific test prep and working on my weaknesses in the four examined skills.

Phase 1 (6 months from now until the end of the year)

The focus here will be on a thorough review of the language, and loads of input.

Language review:

Kwiziq- This will be my main source of revision and learning. Assuming all goes well, I will extend my subscription and try to have completed all the topics up to B2 at 90% or better. I expect to work on this every day.

To support my grammar study with Kwiziq I will use Grammaire progressive du français - Niveau intermédiaire, at the very least working on topics which Kwiziq shows to be problematic. I might make a tentative goal to complete Grammaire progressive by Christmas. I intend to continue with dictées from https://dictee.orthodidacte.com/ which will help with listening, writing and spelling, and I have some vocab sets on Memrise which were recommended by Cavesa. I also have a few other courses I may make haphazard use of as time permits: Hugo in 3 Months, Hugo Advanced, Assimil NFWE and Assimil Using French.

I have been thinking of doing a cover to cover review of Assimil NFWE, including using the audio extensively for shadowing. I may do the full review, or I may just do the shadowing, no decision yet. Basically, whatever I can get done by Christmas and still meet the main goals with Kwiziq and input.

Input:

Basically I intend to complete my French Super Challenge, and in fact exceed the targets. I have loads of options for listening, reading and watching. The dual deadlines of SC and a looming exam will hopefully strengthen my resolve and focus. For reading I still need to complete another 3400 pages (19 pages per day), and for watching/listening I still need to complete another 1821 minutes (or 10 minutes per day).


Phase 2 (5 months from January to the end of May)

As yet I don’t have a plan for phase 2, just a few ideas. I know I will need to do a lot more speaking and writing, and probably start them sooner. I will still continue with some of the elements of phase 1, depending on how useful they are being and the progress I’ve made by then.

Other things that I will consider include probably working through a DALF-specific revision guide, and maybe getting a tutor with experience helping students with exam prep. If anyone has any other advice or ideas, I’d definitely like to hear them!
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Le mieux est l'ennemi du bien (roughly, the perfect is the enemy of the good)

French SC Books: 2925 / 5000 (2925/5000 pp)
French SC Films: 9000 / 9000 (9000/9000 mins)

Grammaire progressive intermédiaire: 59 / 257 (59/257 pp)

jeffers
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Re: Jeffers- B1 French by June 2022

Postby jeffers » Fri Jul 02, 2021 1:13 pm

For the purpose of creating a baseline for this goal, below are pictures of my progress in the Super Challenge, my ahcievements in Kwiziq, and my brainmap in Kwiziq. I hope that within a month or two they will begin to look rather different!

For the Kwiziq achievments, I would like to have gold shields or diamonds all the way down to B1. For the brainmap everthing from A0 to B1 should be pretty solid green. And obviously for the SC the column charts should be at or above 100%.

Kwiziq Acnievments 2021-07-02 sm.png
Kwiziq Acnievments 2021-07-02 sm.png (43.9 KiB) Viewed 1014 times

Kwiziq brainmap 2021-07-02 sm.png
Kwiziq brainmap 2021-07-02 sm.png (337.51 KiB) Viewed 1019 times

SC progress 2021-07-02 sm.png
SC progress 2021-07-02 sm.png (62.49 KiB) Viewed 1015 times


One more baseline: I'm at 160/4099 words learned in the main Memrise set I'm using.
Last edited by jeffers on Fri Jul 02, 2021 2:30 pm, edited 1 time in total.
9 x
Le mieux est l'ennemi du bien (roughly, the perfect is the enemy of the good)

French SC Books: 2925 / 5000 (2925/5000 pp)
French SC Films: 9000 / 9000 (9000/9000 mins)

Grammaire progressive intermédiaire: 59 / 257 (59/257 pp)

DaveAgain
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Re: Jeffers- B1 French by June 2022

Postby DaveAgain » Fri Jul 02, 2021 2:01 pm

jeffers wrote:If anyone has any other advice or ideas, I’d definitely like to hear them!
An Austrian lady gave a talk at the Polyglot Gathering suggesting people consider using language exams as a motivator for study.

Two things I remember her mentioning are:
    1. make a budget
    2. sign up ASAP - to be committed. (I realise in your case the exact dates will be an issue).

------
PS. I think this is a super goal to set yourself! :-)
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Carmody
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Re: Jeffers- B1 French by June 2022

Postby Carmody » Fri Jul 02, 2021 2:43 pm

Sounds very exciting; wish you all the best.
Don't forget to let us hear which books you read.
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Re: Jeffers- B1 French by June 2022

Postby Dagane » Fri Jul 02, 2021 7:32 pm

DaveAgain wrote:An Austrian lady gave a talk at the Polyglot Gathering suggesting people consider using language exams as a motivator for study.

I agree. I feel it works for me.
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jeffers
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Re: Jeffers- B1 French by June 2022

Postby jeffers » Sun Jul 04, 2021 11:44 am

I read and studied a lot this morning, so I felt like I had some time to play with progress bars. These are the main measures of my progress until Christmas. I've put the most important ones in my signature as well. I'll update these periodlically:

French Super Challenge
French SC Books: 2360 / 5000 (2360/5000 pp)
French SC Films: 9000 / 9000 (9000/9000 mins)

Grammaire profressive du français (niveau intermédiaire)
Grammaire progressive intermédiaire: 25 / 257 (25/257 pp)

Memrize
Memrize French Nouns 1: 690 / 4099 (690/4099 words)

Note that as of 1 Aug I have expunged Kwiziq from my progress bars because they have annoyed me and then I remembered that they are not the only good option. Kwiziq has been replaced by Grammaire profressive du français.
Last edited by jeffers on Sun Aug 01, 2021 1:09 pm, edited 4 times in total.
5 x
Le mieux est l'ennemi du bien (roughly, the perfect is the enemy of the good)

French SC Books: 2925 / 5000 (2925/5000 pp)
French SC Films: 9000 / 9000 (9000/9000 mins)

Grammaire progressive intermédiaire: 59 / 257 (59/257 pp)

jeffers
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Location: UK
Languages: Speaks: English (N), Hindi (A2-B1)

Learning: The above, plus French (A2-B1), German (A1), Ancient Greek (?), Sanskrit (beginner)
Language Log: https://forum.language-learners.org/vie ... p?p=190813
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Re: Jeffers- B1 French by June 2022

Postby jeffers » Wed Jul 07, 2021 7:26 pm

Things are moving along nicely, more or less as planned.

Reading
I've finished Le Petit Nicholas es ses voisins and then jumped right into Le Petit Nicholas et les copains, finishing it over the weekend. My current major read is now La fille de Brooklyn Guillaume Musso, because it was recommended on the podcast Balades. So far it's quite good. I've also read the transcripts of two Lupin episodes.

Listening
I've started listening to the Inner French podcast from episode 1. It is remarkable how much slower he spoke in the early podcasts. So far they are holding my interest, even though I listened to them all a couple years ago. Hugo is often talking bollocks about subjects he has researched a couple weeks before, but it doesn't matter as long as he is talking clearly about a wide variety of topics.
I'm also planning to start on the audiobook of the Musso I'm reading, but I don't know yet when I'll start that.

Watching
I watched the first two episodes of Lupin series 2 last Thursday, but I haven't watched anything since except one episode of Parole de chats on youtube.

Grammar etcetera
This is where I think it's getting interesting. I was never quite sure how good Kwiziq would be, but I got a one month subscription for July, and I'm finding I'm using it quite a bit. What bothered me before is that when you fail on something on a test, Kwiziq doesn't really have a way to drill the topic. You just have to read the lesson again. So what I've been doing to make revision of missed questions a little bit more "sticky" is that I've been taking notes in an exercise book. Although I only started doing this on the 25th of June, I've nearly filled half of an 80 page notebook! My note taking has not been to review later, in fact a lot of it is so scruffy it can barely be read. It's just that the act of writing out the rules and some examples helps to focus my mind as I study the topic and think about where I went wrong. Today I hit silver in A1, which was faster than I expected. However, most of the lesson content was pretty familiar. In many cases I already know how to apply the rules by intinct even though I don't know the rules. I expect that A2 will be a bit slower and B1 even more so. My overarching goal is to get A0 through B1 to gold before Christmas. As a short-term goal I think I can complete A2 and be started with B1 by the end of the summer holiday (end of August).

I had an epiphany while trying to figure out the spelling rules for semi-regular verbs such as acheter, mettre, lever, etc. The spelling differences are mainly accounted for by the way the damn words are pronounced! One reason I have trouble with the spelling of verbs I learned 7 or 8 years ago is because most of my learning was reading, listening and speaking back, with very little writing. It turns out I know how to pronounce j'achète and I know how to pronounce nous achetons. Why does the first have that accent and not the second? Because that damn e is pronouced differently dummy! I know how to say il promet and I know how to say nous promettons. Why the double tt? Because of the way you say it! Well duh. Now if only I could work out the issues with il est vs c'est!

Speaking of spelling, I am continuing to do dictées using https://dictee.orthodidacte.com/. I've completed 6/21 of the A1 FLE dictées. The content has been ridiculously simple, but the purpose is to improve my spelling and I feel it is helping a lot.

Yesterday I discovered Linguno https://www.linguno.com/, and so far I'm loving it. I was looking for a way to drill verbs better than Kwiziq, and found it with a Google search. Basically, it gives you 10 sentences with the verb blank, and you have to type the right verb. You can work through their own verb sets (arranged by CEFR level), or set up your own. The customisation options allow you to choose specific verbs and tenses to work on; you can even choose which persons to drill. The best thing is that you know instantly when you make a mistake, and at the end of a set it immediately gives you any you missed right away so you can reinforce what you learned from your mistakes. I'm finding it to be a really useful complement to Kwiziq. Best of all, it is currently free because it is in beta. They expect to work out their business model sometime in the second half of 2021, although I think they are behind schedule because they say a texts section is "expected to come out in March 2021", but there's no sign of it yet. If I continue to find it useful, I'll write a full review of Linguno in a week or two.

I almost forgot to mention my Memrise set! I'm up to 265/4099, from 160 Friday afternoon, so about 20 "new" words learnt per day. So far they're all known words, but often I don't know the spelling or I'm not sure of the gender. Hopefully in a month or two I'll start hitting more unknown or barely known words.
8 x
Le mieux est l'ennemi du bien (roughly, the perfect is the enemy of the good)

French SC Books: 2925 / 5000 (2925/5000 pp)
French SC Films: 9000 / 9000 (9000/9000 mins)

Grammaire progressive intermédiaire: 59 / 257 (59/257 pp)

DaveAgain
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Re: Jeffers- B1 French by June 2022

Postby DaveAgain » Thu Jul 08, 2021 5:30 am

Article on what preparation one person made for a French C1 exam.

http://joyoflanguages.com/prepare-dalf-c1/

I thought it might give you some ideas for activities you could try.
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jeffers
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Language Log: https://forum.language-learners.org/vie ... p?p=190813
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Re: Jeffers- B1 French by June 2022

Postby jeffers » Wed Jul 14, 2021 11:35 am

My plan of action started quite simple: reading, watching/listening, Kwiziq. Slowly I’m adding new things: Memrise, Linguno.com and the TV5 Monde Apprendre app. I know if I add too many tools I’ll burn out, but these have been useful.


Reading:

I’m a little over 40% through La fille de Brooklyn by Guillame Musso, and it getting easier as well as more interesting as I go. At first I was looking up 3 or 4 things on every page which was really keeping me from getting into a flow. A lot of the time, words I was looking up were things like names of trees, etc. Musso likes to add these sorts of details to his descriptions, e.g. a road, “lined with chesnut and maple trees”, but looking them all up was too much of a chore. I’ve now decided to only look up words which affect whether I understand what is happening, or phrases which look to be interesting idioms. From averaging 3-4 lookups per page I’m down to 1 or 2. That has definitely had a positive effect on my pace, without too much reduction of my learning.

To complete the Super Challenge I need to read at least 18.3 pages per day, so I’m trying hard to beat that number. I’m hoping that during the summer holiday I can blitz my reading challenge, catching up to where I “should be”, so that I can afford to read less daily when needed, especially as the new term starts.

I’m already thinking about what I want to read next. For more fun reading I’m thinking of starting Harry Potter 1, In the hopes that I will be able to read many more pages in a session. I’ve also bought Métronome by Lorant Deutsch. I have plenty of unread books, but this looks interesting, the language is supposed to be quite straightforward, and I think it’s about time I added some non-fiction into my reading mix. I’m trying not to have more than one book “on the go”, but I may start Métronome before finishing Musso, and switch between fiction and non-fiction as my mood dictates.


Watching/listening:

I’ve not watched anything substantial since my last update, but I expect to do more when I’m on holiday, such as finishing Lupin and getting into Les reines du shopping and/or Dix pour cent. Meanwhile, I have watched a couple of short videos on Linguo.tv which is a website with a lot of short videos with native subtitles. It looks like it has potential.

I’m still listening to Inner French, managing 2-3 episodes per day on my commute. So far he hasn’t started the segment in which he plays a badly spoken segment by one of his listeners and then says how good they’re doing. I really don’t know why he does it. Probably because his language learning philosophy is to push a lot of speaking, so he wants to show how easy it is. In reality, it’s just a drag when you get to that section on his podcasts which are otherwise quite interesting.

I’d like to find a short (10-15 minute) podcast aimed at native speakers. Short, because I’d listen to the same episode 3 or 4 times. However, I haven’t found anything except for news. In the evening I’ve started listening to 12-15 minute newscasts from Europe 1 using Google Podcasts. If anyone has any podcast suggestions I’d love to hear them. I asked on the French resources thread, but no replies.

I’ve also listened to a bit of the audiobook of La fille de Brooklyn. I like audiobooks, and I have several on audible that I have yet to listen to, but I’m thinking that the type of audio that will be on the B1 exam is closer to podcasts and newscasts than to audiobooks. Speaking of which, I've not used the TV5 Monde Apprendre app enough, but it looks like it is spot on for preparing for the listening portion of the DELF exams.


Language learning tools:

Kwiziq: I’m currently working on A2, and up to 23.22% on it. Last week I was doing 10+ quizzes per day, but I realize that it’s progressing me too fast and adding too many new lessons, so this week I’m down to 5-6 quizzes per day. I still like the course and it is working nicely at patching up a lot of my gaps and cracks. Some users of Kwiziq have complained that the same questions come up too often, but I haven’t found that to be the case. It may be because I’m on the French course and they’re on the Spanish course (which is newer so probably has fewer questions per topic). I’m on a 1 month subscription, and now I’m wondering what to do when the month ends. I could go for the 3-month package, on the basis that I’ll probably finish all the lessons up to the end of B1 by then. On the other hand, if I want to keep using it daily up to my B1 exam next June, then a 1 year subscription would be cheaper than subscribing for three months three times. I’m leaning towards the full year, but £115 in one go is quite a bit.

Memrise: I’m working on a card set of the 4099 most common nouns. So far it has been mostly review, but I needed work on the spelling of a lot of them (such as gueule) and still need reminders on the gender of many others, so I’m accepting the review as worthwhile. I looked ahead at future lessons and it looks like I’ll still be mostly reviewing known words for a while but as I progress the percentage of new words will grow. I’m up to around 430/4099 and I hope to be up to around 3000/4099 by Christmas, which I would do if I average 15 new words per day.

Linguno: I haven’t been this enthusiastic about a new tool for a long time. Although I’ve only been using it for a week or so, I can see myself using it extensively for the foreseeable future. I’m doing two things: first of all, I’m using their levelled conjugation courses, which have three sets for each level from A1 to B2. Currently I have a 92.6% score on A1 set 1, and 87.4% on A1 set 2. The idea is that you are ready to move up to the next set when you pass 90%. The second thing I’m doing is making custom sets of tricky verbs that are coming up in my Kwiziq lessons. I really wish I had Linguno when I started learning French, but it is currently an awesome support for my thorough review of grammar.

Orthodidacte... oops! I haven't done any dictées for a week or so!


Output:

What I know is missing in my current preparation is any significant output. I’m thinking I need to start writing regularly, and soon. I’m thinking I should gather some topics that are typically used for the question portion of the speaking exam and write up my answers to get started. Then I may memorize them as “language islands”, and record myself speaking them out loud. It may also be smart to find a tutor or language partner to practice speaking with. On the one hand, there is a strong case for “doing the hard bit first” so the rest is easy. On the other hand, I’m currently fixing spelling errors and grammatical mistakes that I don’t want to be making when I start doing more output, and meanwhile the more I’m reading and listening the more I’m speaking French to myself without really trying. So there could be a good case for saving more intense work on output for when I start exam-specific preparation in January. In any case, I’m not going to start anything new until the school term is over next week and I’ve had a day or two to catch up on sleep!


Keeping the long term plan in view

My plan to prepare for the B1 exam in June 2022 is to focus on the language until Christmas and then exam specific work from January onwards. So until the end of 2021 I want to read and watch/listen to as much natural French as possible, while doing a thorough review of grammar and vocabulary. So far that plan is working well, I’m making good progress, and my confidence that I will be successful on the exam is growing steadily.

Days to go (to 1 June): 322
6 x
Le mieux est l'ennemi du bien (roughly, the perfect is the enemy of the good)

French SC Books: 2925 / 5000 (2925/5000 pp)
French SC Films: 9000 / 9000 (9000/9000 mins)

Grammaire progressive intermédiaire: 59 / 257 (59/257 pp)

DaveAgain
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Re: Jeffers- B1 French by June 2022

Postby DaveAgain » Wed Jul 14, 2021 1:03 pm

jeffers wrote:I’d like to find a short (10-15 minute) podcast aimed at native speakers. Short, because I’d listen to the same episode 3 or 4 times. However, I haven’t found anything except for news. In the evening I’ve started listening to 12-15 minute newscasts from Europe 1 using Google Podcasts. If anyone has any podcast suggestions I’d love to hear them. I asked on the French resources thread, but no replies.

France Culture's Le feuilleton is ~20mins.

EDIT
Les Odyssées is a ~15 minute history podcast for children.
C'est au travers de 60 épisodes que vous pourrez vivre la découverte des Etats-Unis, la révolution Française, la chute du dernier empereur chinois, les fouilles de la grande vallée des rois en Egypte, la folle énigme du masque de fer, les aventures de deux femmes pirates, le récit d'un roi légendaire, le pouvoir de la reine Aliénor d'Aquitaine etc.


Les doigts dans l'assiette is a phone call to a food producer. They seem to be of variable length ~5 mins. I think there used to be 30 min version of this on swiss radio.
Éleveurs, pêcheurs ou encore producteurs de lait… Europe 1 suit tout au long de l'année une quinzaine de professionnels de l’alimentation dans leur quotidien.
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