Resolution: re-establish my skills in French

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MrsStarez
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Languages: I can read and write French, but my spoken capabilities are limited. I'm looking to develop further, especially in a business sense, as I'm getting increasingly asked if I would be able to use French at work.
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Resolution: re-establish my skills in French

Postby MrsStarez » Wed Sep 05, 2018 7:03 pm

September always seems like a good time of year to make resolutions. Even though I left full-time education a long time ago, I always have a “back to school” feeling at this time of year: back into regular routines once the relaxed summer is over. This sentiment is particularly strong this year, as my son is about to start school. I’ve recently changed roles at work and am about to increase working hours. Perhaps a little counter-intuitively, this will also bring me a couple of hours of “spare” time each week, between finishing work and doing the school pick-up.

I don’t want to spend this time doing chores or being a lady of leisure. I want to do something productive with this time, and getting back into French would tick that box nicely. My new boss has asked if I’d be able to deal with French clients in French, and at the moment, the answer is firmly “not at the moment”.

My degree was partly in French, but not having sought much opportunity to use it means that my knowledge and confidence have weakened considerably. I’ve done various online tests which rate me as a B2, but I think a B1 is probably a more accurate reflection of my abilities.

I want to get back to where I was, and feel comfortable in writing and speaking French, then take the plunge of doing this at work. I’m just coming to the end of a holiday, so I’m going to use my first afternoon off to plan out what I’m going to do and set myself some targets.

Any advice would be very much welcomed :-)
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DaveAgain
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Re: Resolution: re-establish my skills in French

Postby DaveAgain » Wed Sep 05, 2018 7:51 pm

MrsStarez wrote:My degree was partly in French, but not having sought much opportunity to use it means that my knowledge and confidence have weakened considerably. I’ve done various online tests which rate me as a B2, but I think a B1 is probably a more accurate reflection of my abilities.
1. It might help your confidence to listen to group discussions on a set topic, work conversations with clients will be on a limited range of topics too.

A current affairs panel programme on one topic per episode is "C dans l'air".

https://www.france.tv/france-5/c-dans-l-air/

https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCvg4_w ... 47A/videos

Radio phone-in shows are french people speaking on the phone :-)

https://www.francebleu.fr/emissions/se- ... rance-bleu (scroll down for old episodes)

https://www.francebleu.fr/emissions/cuisine-ensemble-4

2. But to be more confident in your speaking and writing skills you need to speak and write.

You could write a work issues diary in french, that only you would see. Two online grammar checkers are Bonpatron.com, and languagetool.org
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MrsStarez
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Posts: 52
Joined: Mon Jul 23, 2018 11:31 am
Languages: I can read and write French, but my spoken capabilities are limited. I'm looking to develop further, especially in a business sense, as I'm getting increasingly asked if I would be able to use French at work.
Language Log: https://forum.language-learners.org/vie ... php?t=8933
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Re: Resolution: re-establish my skills in French

Postby MrsStarez » Wed Sep 05, 2018 8:10 pm

These look to be excellent resources - thanks very much.

I guess if I were to spend an hour or two a week in a coffee shop watching/listening to some of these programmes, that would count towards my language learning and would feel like I’m being a lady of leisure :-)
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DaveAgain
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Re: Resolution: re-establish my skills in French

Postby DaveAgain » Wed Sep 05, 2018 9:08 pm

For speaking practice you could "self-talk" through some client conversations you've had that day, but do it in french. You could improve on your answers, or make the issue more complicated than it was.

For live speaking practice, you could look at online language exchange websites (Rdearman recently reviewed some) or perhaps look into local french clubs (in the UK these are sometimes called "french circles").

EDIT
Ani is experimenting with the Tandem language exchange phone app.

https://forum.language-learners.org/vie ... 80#p115694
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MrsStarez
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Posts: 52
Joined: Mon Jul 23, 2018 11:31 am
Languages: I can read and write French, but my spoken capabilities are limited. I'm looking to develop further, especially in a business sense, as I'm getting increasingly asked if I would be able to use French at work.
Language Log: https://forum.language-learners.org/vie ... php?t=8933
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Re: Resolution: re-establish my skills in French

Postby MrsStarez » Mon Sep 10, 2018 9:19 pm

Thanks again!

I mentioned upping my skills in French to my boss today, just in passing - and he’s already put me on a project with French clients! He, and they, aren’t expecting me to speak French to them, but it’s a positive step on the work front.
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DaveAgain
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Re: Resolution: re-establish my skills in French

Postby DaveAgain » Mon Sep 10, 2018 10:06 pm

MrsStarez wrote:I mentioned upping my skills in French to my boss today, just in passing - and he’s already put me on a project with French clients! He, and they, aren’t expecting me to speak French to them, but it’s a positive step on the work front.
Hey that's super news. Your workplace looks like a wonderful aid for your French learning, and they pay you too!
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MrsStarez
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Languages: I can read and write French, but my spoken capabilities are limited. I'm looking to develop further, especially in a business sense, as I'm getting increasingly asked if I would be able to use French at work.
Language Log: https://forum.language-learners.org/vie ... php?t=8933
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Re: Resolution: re-establish my skills in French

Postby MrsStarez » Fri Sep 14, 2018 12:59 pm

The best laid plans and all that... I'd intended to work out a learning plan on Wednesday, but a mummy friend in need meant that I swapped care of my own child for care of hers, and did no language work at all. I did, however, improve my Lego skills.

I've got a "proper" day off today (child in school, not starting to work on Fridays until next week), so have started looking at where my weaknesses lie. I've found the Lawless French Kwiziqs really helpful here. You fill in lots of multiple choice "kwizes" and it produces a "brain map", which shows which areas need the most attention. I've also watched half a French film on Netflix, "Il a déjà tes yeux", but as I've still not figured out how to work our TV, it's had English subtitles, which I've consciously tried to avoid looking at.

I mentioned to my boss that I'm going to make a concerted effort to improve my French, with a view to being able to use it at work, and already I've got a project based in France to work on! (If only it were possible to get a pay rise that easily!) The work we'll be doing will end up being translated into English by an agency, but it's good to know that I'm going to get some exposure to French at work, even if so far, it's just been looking at some French supermarkets' websites.

Being back in the office means that I'll have lots of commuting time, so if anyone could recommend some French language podcasts, I'd really appreciate it. There seems to be a lot of podcasts for beginners on there, but I'd like to think I'm a little bit past that and can do something a little more advanced :-)

My next opportunity to concentrate on some study will be next Friday, so the plan is to (a) identify on Lawless which areas of grammar I need to refresh, (b) add to my online notebook which lessons I need to complete and do at least three of them, (c) work out how to switch subtitles off the TV and (d) watch the rest of the film!
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DaveAgain
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Re: Resolution: re-establish my skills in French

Postby DaveAgain » Fri Sep 14, 2018 8:28 pm

MrsStarez wrote:Being back in the office means that I'll have lots of commuting time, so if anyone could recommend some French language podcasts, I'd really appreciate it. There seems to be a lot of podcasts for beginners on there, but I'd like to think I'm a little bit past that and can do something a little more advanced :-)
I quite like Une vie, une oeuvre, but I think I mostly listen to radio dramas or audio tracks from TV series on my MP3 player.

There is one from Slate.fr, Transfert, where french people just share weird stories from their lives. A different one each episode.
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MrsStarez
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Posts: 52
Joined: Mon Jul 23, 2018 11:31 am
Languages: I can read and write French, but my spoken capabilities are limited. I'm looking to develop further, especially in a business sense, as I'm getting increasingly asked if I would be able to use French at work.
Language Log: https://forum.language-learners.org/vie ... php?t=8933
x 62

Re: Resolution: re-establish my skills in French

Postby MrsStarez » Thu Sep 20, 2018 12:33 pm

From somewhere, probably this forum, I've gained masses of confidence with French in the last week.

I had ordinarily shied away from speaking in French in the office on account of my heavy English accent. I've since come to the conclusion that as my French colleagues have heavy French accents but just get on with speaking in English, then I should just go for it, and I did. When I'm speaking though, I do find that I'm very consciously correcting tenses and grammar, but I guess that will get easier.

More French projects are coming my way, and I've taken to e-mailing in French internally (definitely not with clients - yet). I ran one e-mail through the grammar checker that @DaveAgain suggested and it only found one error. I'd managed to write "sera conducté" rather than "sera conduite". A bit of a head-in-hands moment there! I'm finding that whilst I can work my way round more complex sentences and tenses (I was always stronger on the grammar aspect) I'm forgetting some of the absolute basics of vocab and grammar, so when I'm not working tomorrow afternoon I shall focus on learning from my mistakes.

I've also been listening to some French podcasts in the car and am really enjoying this. I should have done this years ago :-)
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MrsStarez
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Posts: 52
Joined: Mon Jul 23, 2018 11:31 am
Languages: I can read and write French, but my spoken capabilities are limited. I'm looking to develop further, especially in a business sense, as I'm getting increasingly asked if I would be able to use French at work.
Language Log: https://forum.language-learners.org/vie ... php?t=8933
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Re: Resolution: re-establish my skills in French

Postby MrsStarez » Fri Sep 28, 2018 1:07 pm

Following last week's successes, I didn't feel like I'd made much progress this week. Without forming a proper plan of what to do and when, it had been far too easy to get sucked into other activities (working late, birthday cake baking, emergency trips to buy curtain poles, you name it!), so last night, I decided that come what may, I would switch off from work at midday and focus on some French.

Of course, that didn't happen and I finished work late - again - but I got all the important things out of the way and logged out of work e-mails. I have some French projects to work on next week and the client is keen to communicate in French. Although I don't officially work on Friday afternoons, this is a good French project for me. Lots of YouTube videos later and I have a very long list of vocabulary and phrases I can use. I've also completed a stack of grammar exercises and dictées on Lawless French/Kwiziq (whose head office I can see from my current location!) so having done nothing for the last few days, it feels like I've got something useful.

Resolution 1: switch off from work on Friday lunchtimes and head to the coffee shop with my laptop and French books.
Resolution 2: step away from the cake!
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