My Beginning French Study Plan

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arthaey
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My Beginning French Study Plan

Postby arthaey » Sat Nov 21, 2015 9:45 am

Below is my "first draft" of my study plans for beginning French in January. I'd love to get some feedback from others who have studied French!

As you can see from my list below, I'm a fan of the "do whatever you normally do, just do it in your target language" school of thought. ;) I'm also trying to jump to native materials ASAP, even though I'm starting out as a (false) beginner. I don't have any particular "need" for French — no exams must be passed, no job depends on it — so that has also informed my choices in materials.

Pre-2016
  • read Wikipedia articles about French (meta, not language-study per se)
  • evaluate various materials, to see which ones I think I'll like (student podcasts, native podcasts, TV shows, music, web comics, blogs, and subreddits)

Routine, Daily
Fundamentals:
Reading:
  • read Reddit
  • check up on Facebook friends
  • read my Twitter timeline
  • play Criminal Case
  • study vocab for weekly cooking "dates" with my sister
additional reading activities, to start a few months(?) into my studies:
Writing:
  • tweet (at least 1 reply, 1 original tweet)
  • scriptorium (of what content?)
  • update forum language log (hi! ;))
Listening:
  • music
Speaking:
  • self-talk
  • develop "language islands"

Routine, Weekly
Reading:
Writing:
  • writing prompt (post to lang-8 & here)
Listening:
  • <student podcast> + exercises
additional listening activities, to start a few months(?) into my studies:
  • watch an episode of <TV show>
  • watch a movie (starting with Disney! :))
  • <native podcast>
Speaking:
  • attend a local meetup
  • do a 1:1 language exchange (if I can find French speakers interested in a rank beginner)
  • cook with my sister

Obviously, I will change my plans as life happens ;) and also as my level improves. I haven't been a "false beginner" with a cognate-language background before, so I'm not really sure what to expect in terms of how rapidly (or not) I'll progress.
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Re: My Beginning French Study Plan

Postby rdearman » Sat Nov 21, 2015 10:45 am

I recommend you do some subs2srs anki cards with a French movie where you can get subtitles for English & French. EMK has a very good post on the old HTLAL with instructions for doing this, and recently posted a script for doing it in the resources are a here. Sorry, I'm just heading out, and don't have time to look up the links but I will try to remember to come back later and update this post with them.

Also you might want to consider some iTalki tutors. Otherwise looks very good to me, oh and you should join the study group (semi-TAC or whatever we're calling it).

Bon Chance!
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Re: My Beginning French Study Plan

Postby emk » Sat Nov 21, 2015 3:58 pm

arthaey wrote:As you can see from my list below, I'm a fan of the "do whatever you normally do, just do it in your target language" school of thought. ;) I'm also trying to jump to native materials ASAP, even though I'm starting out as a (false) beginner. I don't have any particular "need" for French — no exams must be passed, no job depends on it — so that has also informed my choices in materials.

This looks like a really interesting study plan, and it might work well if your Spanish gives you enough of a "boost" to work with native materials very early on. But a lot will depend on whether your chosen materials provide you with enjoyable and more-or-less comprehensible input. Honestly, if you didn't already speak a Romance language, I'd be worried that you might need some kind of easy parallel texts such as those provided by Assimil. So basically, I'd say not to worry about this, but if you do find that you're struggling with impenetrable texts and audio, try to find something that you can more-or-less understand with pleasure, even if that involves sneaky workarounds.

arthaey wrote:Routine, Weekly
Reading:

If you like xkcd, you should also consider adding CommitStrip, which is available in both French and English (but the French writing is better, with very idiomatic spoken French). This is one of my personal favorites. :-)

And you may have heard me recommend this before, but you may want to check out Izneo, which provides an enormous selection of French graphic novels online, with low prices, multi-page previews, and no region restrictions. This is an enormous industry in France, and they publish a lot of good stuff for a huge variety of tastes.

rdearman wrote:I recommend you do some subs2srs anki cards with a French movie where you can get subtitles for English & French. EMK has a very good post on the old HTLAL with instructions for doing this, and recently posted a script for doing it in the resources are a here. Sorry, I'm just heading out, and don't have time to look up the links but I will try to remember to come back later and update this post with them.

Yeah, this was a little experiment I tried with learning Spanish using native materials from day 1, and I felt it was a huge success until I came down with influenza, a rotovirus and a new job in rapid succession. :-/ Here are the links:

Given your relatively geeky background, your cognate language, your interest in flash cards, and your desire to start out with native materials, this might be worth investigating. Expect to spend a weekend fighting with the tools the first time, but once you can the hang of it, you can produce a few hundred fun flash cards trivially in an hour or two.
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Re: My Beginning French Study Plan

Postby tomgosse » Sat Nov 21, 2015 6:54 pm

Wow! That is one ambitious plan. I doubt that I could do in a week what you plan to do in a day. :shock:

I wish you all the best in your learning.
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Re: My Beginning French Study Plan

Postby arthaey » Sun Nov 22, 2015 12:28 am

rdearman wrote:Also you might want to consider some iTalki tutors. Otherwise looks very good to me, oh and you should join the study group (semi-TAC or whatever we're calling it).

The iTalki tutors are a good suggestion that I had forgotten about. Thanks!

As for the forum study group, I'm definitely joining that. I expect to get pointers to useful resources, as well as corrections and encouragement, from the group. :)

emk wrote:it might work well if your Spanish gives you enough of a "boost" to work with native materials very early on. But a lot will depend on whether your chosen materials provide you with enjoyable and more-or-less comprehensible input.

FWIW, I can understand much of the French written here on the forum, and I can muddle through the Assimil FAQ to find the answers to my questions without resorting to google-translating the page. :)

Spoken French is, of course, another thing altogether. If I have subtitles (in any of French, Spanish, or English) I can hear the individual words and sometimes understand it (based on reading it). But without subtitles, I only catch words here and there and maybe the overall gist/topic.

emk wrote:Honestly, if you didn't already speak a Romance language, I'd be worried that you might need some kind of easy parallel texts such as those provided by Assimil.

My sister, who is going to be taking my lead in how to study French despite our different backgrounds, should probably add Assimil to the mix. (If she does take that advice, then I'll likely end up doing it too. Which is fine.)

emk wrote:If you like xkcd, you should also consider adding CommitStrip, which is available in both French and English (but the French writing is better, with very idiomatic spoken French). This is one of my personal favorites. :-) And you may have heard me recommend this before, but you may want to check out Izneo, which provides an enormous selection of French graphic novels online

Thank you! That comic looks awesome. In a few months, I'll probably be orderings some graphic novels, too. :)

emk wrote:
rdearman wrote:I recommend you do some subs2srs anki cards with a French movie where you can get subtitles for English & French. EMK has a very good post on the old HTLAL with instructions for doing this, and recently posted a script for doing it in the resources are a here. Sorry, I'm just heading out, and don't have time to look up the links but I will try to remember to come back later and update this post with them.

Yeah, this was a little experiment I tried with learning Spanish using native materials from day 1, and I felt it was a huge success until I came down with influenza, a rotovirus and a new job in rapid succession. :-/

I'm hoping to have a new job in 2016, but I'll do my best to skip influenza and a rotoviris. (Both?? Wow, that's really unlucky and sounds miserable. :()

Thank you for all the useful links. I suspect I will have a subs2srs'd La Reine des neiges in my future. And perhaps the songs from La légende du Roi Arthur too, which I just stumbled across and sounds amazing. I suddenly feel a lot more motivated to understand French!

tomgosse wrote:Wow! That is one ambitious plan. I doubt that I could do in a week what you plan to do in a day. :shock:

Many of the bullet points won't actually take much time at all: flashcards, Twitter, Facebook, Reddit, Criminal Case, this forum... ;) And listening to music and self-talk are nearly background tasks, which I can do while shopping, doing chores, etc.

As far as my planned "daily" activities, I'm only expecting to have to "carve out time" for the actual workbooks & drills; I already "waste" time on social media, so I'm not anticipating that tweaking the percentage of English/Spanish to English/Spanish/French will be too difficult.

Finding time for the video content (and the prepping thereof!) will take more time. But hopefully it'll work out — I consider this fun, after all! :)

tomgosse wrote:I wish you all the best in your learning.

Merci!
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Re: My Beginning French Study Plan

Postby Cavesa » Sun Nov 22, 2015 12:54 am

That sounds ambitious and fun!

I wish you lots of success and I agree I'd be worried about your plan, had French been your first romance language. Fortunately, it's not, so you are likely to rise fast :-)

For easy reading, I recommend lingua.ly as another source. It is an app but the main part are news articles based on your vocabulary. And there is a snake game for vocab practice (awesome when one gets tired with flashcards). I am occassionaly using it for German and I should probably more. It could be just what you need, as you appear thirsty for native content right from the start :-)
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Re: My Beginning French Study Plan

Postby arthaey » Sun Nov 22, 2015 1:10 am

Vocab snake game?? Wow!

One reason I've resisted the various sites for vocabulary-building (LWT, Readlang, lingvist, lingua.ly, Duolingo, etc) is that I dislike having to tell all these various sites plus my own Anki deck which words I already know. I wish there was a way for them to sync and it Just Work, but that's pretty much a pipe dream since not all of these sites even support export...
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Re: My Beginning French Study Plan

Postby tangleweeds » Sun Nov 22, 2015 7:31 am

Les 500 exercices de phonétique
then: FSI Phonology course

I might switch the order on these two, as the FSI Phonology is designed for raw beginners, using a limited vocabulary. Meanwhile, Les 500 Exercises is entirely in French, so you'd be reading the language before knowing quite how to pronounce it.

If you can find a way to afford it, I've found Assimil worth its cost, even on my meager budget. They use better voice actors than most courses, and texts are more amusing than the usual course book. Perhaps if you and your sister were able to share the CDs, you'd only need to buy the book alone, which is quite a bit cheaper.

And now on a total tangent:
What's a snake game? and where in Lingua.ly is it hidden?
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Re: My Beginning French Study Plan

Postby AlexTG » Sun Nov 22, 2015 8:56 am

Have you considered using learners tv shows to ease yourself into watching real tv? Extr@ is a fun and corny 13 episode sitcom for French learners. French in Action is apparently excellent and made by the same guy that made Destinos (if you ever used that for Spanish).
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Re: My Beginning French Study Plan

Postby arthaey » Sun Nov 22, 2015 9:12 am

tangleweeds wrote:I might switch the order on these two, as the FSI Phonology is designed for raw beginners, using a limited vocabulary. Meanwhile, Les 500 Exercises is entirely in French, so you'd be reading the language before knowing quite how to pronounce it.

That's a fair point. Thanks!

tangleweeds wrote:If you can find a way to afford it, I've found Assimil worth its cost, even on my meager budget.

My sister has agreed that she'll probably need the extra help that Assimil would provide, so we're going to bite the bullet and buy it. We'll be sharing, at least...

tangleweeds wrote:What's a snake game? and where in Lingua.ly is it hidden?

This is a snake game. Made famous on graphic calculators and old candy-bar phones! Some of my best bored days in math class in high school were spent playing snake. ;) (I'm not sure where it's hidden in Lingua.ly, alas.)

AlexTG wrote:Have you considered using learners tv shows to ease yourself into watching real tv? Extr@ is a fun and corny 13 episode sitcom for French learners. French in Action is apparently excellent and made by the same guy that made Destinos (if you ever used that for Spanish).

I never did watch "Destinos" (found out about it well past my beginner stage with Spanish), and it looks like the cornier of the two... I'll give "Extr@" a try, though. Thanks!
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