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Songlines’ Deuxième langue.

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songlines
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Canada
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729 posts - 1056 votes 
Speaks: English*
Studies: French
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 Message 1 of 243
21 December 2010 at 4:53am | IP Logged 
My 2012 TAC posts start on page 8 of this thread.
post 57

My 2013 TAC posts start on page 17 of this thread.   


My 2014 TAC posts for Team Deuxième will start on     
page 30 of this thread.

---------------------- -------- --

Like many (most?) Anglophone Canadians outside of Quebec, my French language skills are woeful, to put it
mildly. Years ago, I started with a couple of years of French at a community college, and have more recently
taken two intensive months at the Culture-Francaises-ILCF/Institut-de-Langue-et-de-Culture-Fra ncaise-ILCF-Paris">ICP in Paris.   Since
taking a couple of holidays in France, I’ve dabbled in French: occasionally listening to French news
broadcasts, and gradually acquiring a small collection of language courses, the main ones being:   

- Living Language Conversational French. (Full course used a number of times; this was my principal
“refresher” tool before holidays.)
- Barron’s Mastering French. Levels 1 and 2. (Used passively - while doing the dishes and the like - but I
lack the patience to sit down and concentrate on it. Only reached partway through level 1.)
- French in Action. Textbooks Parts 1 and 2. (Recently acquired. Not yet used.)
- Assimil. French with Ease. (Bought out of curiosity, after reading about Assimil on these forums.)

There are also almost a dozen vocabulary and grammar books gathering dust on the same shelves.

Despite this plethora of material, my French has stubbornly languished at what I suspect is the A2 level, with
the occasional foray to B1. At the ICP, I could (for the most part) understand what the profs were saying, but
they were extremely skilled at pitching their conversation at our level. I can understand much of the
(captioned, not subtitled) language in the documentaries and newsmagazines I watch: things like
“Decouverte” (Science/nature programme, often with translated segments from the BBC), and the evening
news.

But of course, the broadcasters for these programmes speak exceptionally clearly; it’s an entirely different
story with Quebecois soaps, or game/variety shows! Just at the point when I feel like smugly patting myself
on the back, I’ll find my comprehension plummeting to “zero”, as when I try watching something like “Tout le
monde en parle”. Or when (in Paris) I tried posting a registered letter, and found myself unable to handle
even that simple transaction en français; or when I miss crucial elements in a conversation, and answer in
utter non-sequiturs.

I also have ongoing problems with verb conjugations, and with noun genders.

My primary goal: to get myself consistently and comfortably up to B1 level (for listening/speaking), and
perhaps beyond to B2 (certainly for reading). I expect to stay at A2 for writing, and don’t plan to work on that
element.

One small challenge: I have a hearing impairment, and this makes it harder for me to follow audio.   I always
(even with English) use the captions when watching a DVD or the TV, and use phone amplifiers at work. It’s
not an insurmountable problem: the captions are certainly helpful (and some movie theatres also have open-
captioned, or “rear window captioned” screenings); and I avoid “All Audio” - type courses: I usually try to
have a transcript of some sort to follow.   

Sometimes, my disability may be useful, as when I was able indicate my hearing aid when asking
Francophones to speak more slowly; rather than being just a dunderhead Anglo who had poor French, I
became a hearing-impaired dunderhead to whom they. had. to. enunciate. each. word. <smile> .   Ah, if only,
in real life, people spoke with les sous-titres scrolling away underneath.

Updated Jan 2014 to remove now-irrelevant stuff. Sadly the info about me being "at A2 level with occasional
forays into B1 is still relevant", though I hope the forays are more frequent now.


Edited by songlines on 28 January 2014 at 2:56pm

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songlines
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Canada
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729 posts - 1056 votes 
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 Message 2 of 243
11 January 2011 at 7:48am | IP Logged 
Well, after a quiet but thoroughly unproductive holiday season (came down with the flu; popping Advil for Christmas lunch and dinner), I'm back at the starting gate with all the other January enthusiasts.

There's no shortage of French grammar books chez moi (there's no shortage of books, full stop; had to buy new Billy bookcases last year), but the one that I've recently found most useful is a small guide: Collins Easy Learning French Grammar . It's perfect as a quick review/overview of key points once learnt but since forgotten, and has a good sections on verb conjugations, as well as verb tables at the end.   Best of all, it's portable enough to toss into my bicycle pannier or (now that winter and snowy streets are here) in my backpack, in the optimistic hope that I'll use those spare minutes (during lunch break; waiting in queues) for language learning.

My little pre-Christmas gift to myself was an iPod Touch, now loaded with Assimil.   I have both Anki and Quizlet on my laptop, but haven't yet loaded apps for the respective programmes onto my iPod.   Are there any apps from this list of Quizlet apps that other Htlal members particularly recommend? And what about the Anki app? (I suspect that, at $25, it may not be an easy sell for those people who aren't already Anki users, but...) A new release is coming up soon, so I may wait for that upgrade first, in any case.

And - I've just mentioned this book on another thread - I hope to work my way through Saul H. Rosenthal's The Rules for the Gender of French Nouns. I'd previously tried to use John Walker's (yes, he of Autocad fame) Le Truc de Genres , but found that I was slipping into the nasty habit of confusing the exceptions with the rules. Rosenthal has examples aplenty, and I'm hoping that - with the requisite work - it'll mean a real improvement in my French genders.

Interestingly, Rosenthal is not a French academic, and seems to have authored his language books outside of his day job. If Amazon is to be believed, he's also the author of Sex Over Forty, and from the blurb on the back, is an "MD, founder of the Sexual Therapy Clinic in San Antonio, Texas; ... fellow of the American Psychiatric Association, former associate professor at the University of Texas Medical School, and a graduate of Harvard College and Harvard Medical School". Whew! - All that, and writing half a dozen books on French words and expressions!   My vastly more modest goal for the future will be to study his "Rules for the Gender...", and take a baking course. There must be some French vocab there, right..? Thinking of brioche, croissant, crème anglais, soufflé, and, of course, pâtisserie.

Hmm. Perhaps I'll pop downstairs for a little snack...

Edited by songlines on 11 January 2011 at 8:24am

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songlines
Pro Member
Canada
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Joined 3437 days ago

729 posts - 1056 votes 
Speaks: English*
Studies: French
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 Message 3 of 243
14 January 2011 at 4:57pm | IP Logged 
My French is expanding to include somewhat eccentric vocabulary, the result of using Tintin (and Harry Potter,
but more on that later) in L-R or DVD as language-learning resources. Samples of my latest Quizlet entries:

le jappement (yapping, yap, yelping): Milou seems to do this a lot in the films, so I expect this to need this word
as long as I'm reading/watching Tintin.
le gémissement (moan, whimper, wail): Again, a fair bit of this going on, as people get bopped on the head.
Sapristi! : (Heavens!   colloquial expression).
un nid de guêpes: (hornet's nest). Used figuratively, to mean they've landed in a tight situation.
fiston: (son, sonny). Used figuratively as a term of address. Update: I've seen it used elsewhere as "kid".
un poltron: (a coward). Not used for our hero, of course.

Gleaned from Le Crabe aux pinces d'or, and Tintin au Tibet.

If anyone's interested (if anyone else is even reading this log..?), I have a set of
photos from my visit to
the Belgian Comic Strip Centre in Brussels. The CBBD
naturally includes a wealth of Tintin-related material on display, as well as what seems to be a sizeable library of
other graphic novels.




Edited by songlines on 01 February 2012 at 4:48am

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polyglossia
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205 posts - 255 votes 
Speaks: French*

 
 Message 4 of 243
15 January 2011 at 7:40pm | IP Logged 
Hey Songlines!!!

Good luck with French !! I see that you're using Tintin... Since it's a well known comic in France, I also use it for German and English mainly to found out some new words... Now since you're canadian, I guess you should be able to gather a lot of material there... though I figured out once I couldnt even find a simple book in French when going to Calgary... I went to Chapters and I said I was looking for a book in french (silly me!! I thought Canada was a bilingual country !!!:)) and all I could find was a method to learn French !! I was like struck by the limited material there in French...

Bon courage en tout cas!!! Essaie d'écrire en français, je corrigerai tes posts!! :))

Edited by polyglossia on 16 January 2011 at 10:29pm

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songlines
Pro Member
Canada
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Joined 3437 days ago

729 posts - 1056 votes 
Speaks: English*
Studies: French
Personal Language Map

 
 Message 5 of 243
17 January 2011 at 5:30pm | IP Logged 
polyglossia wrote:
Hey Songlines!!!

Good luck with French !! I see that you're using Tintin... Since it's a well known comic in France, I also use it for German and English mainly to found out some new words... Now since you're canadian, I guess you should be able to gather a lot of material there... though I figured out once I couldnt even find a simple book in French when going to Calgary... I went to Chapters and I said I was looking for a book in french (silly me!! I thought Canada was a bilingual country !!!:)) and all I could find was a method to learn French !! I was like struck by the limited material there in French...

Bon courage en tout cas!!! Essaie d'écrire en français, je corrigerai tes posts!! :))


Polyglossia, Merci beaucoup pour l'offre;   bien sûr, j'accueille tous des rectifications! Mais pour le moment, l'écriture n'est pas ma premiere priorité. Peut être je vais écrire en français un peu de temps en temps, ou quand ma grammaire française et l'orthographe sont plus ameliorées.

And yes, I'm fortunate in that I have relatively easy access to French language material.   [Perhaps not so much in the Chapters in Alberta :-) ] Some of the Chapters here in Toronto have French language departments; and of course the public library does too.   Sadly, the Toronto branch of Renaud Bray was very short-lived; and the Librarie Champlain has also closed.

But I get CBC in French - and most importantly - with closed captions. And most of the DVDs I rent or borrow have either French language soundtracks or subtitles or - best of all - both. And, of course, as one of the other Canadians (Spanky? Microsnout?) on this forum has pointed out, there's "an endless - endless!- supply" of official Federal (and also provincial) material in accurate parallel texts.

Municipal material will also arrive in bilingual format (and one can often request versions in some of the other major languages used here in Toronto, e.g. in Chinese); and national companies such as banks will also send brochures/other information in bilingual format. My bank (TD Canada Trust) additionally has some of its automated teller machines (les guichets automatiques; also known as "cash machines" elsewhere) set up with an optional Chinese screen. And I expect that other major companies with branches in some predominantly Chinese areas (e.g. Markham, Ontario, and Richmond, B.C.) also have publicity, cash machines, etc. in trilingual form.



Edited by songlines on 17 January 2011 at 5:43pm

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songlines
Pro Member
Canada
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Joined 3437 days ago

729 posts - 1056 votes 
Speaks: English*
Studies: French
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 Message 6 of 243
18 January 2011 at 8:24am | IP Logged 
[QUOTE=songlines] I also have ongoing problems with... noun genders. /QUOTE]

And, from The Rules for the Gender of French Nouns. Rule One:

With rare exceptions, Nouns ending in "T" are masculine.

Including:
-Nouns ending in ET and AT: no exceptions. Examples of the rule: le creuset, un état.
-With rare exceptions, nouns ending in OT, UT, IT, OIT. Examples of the rule: le bibelot, le statut, le lit, le toit. (Exceptions: la dot; la nuit)
-Nouns ending in ÂT, ÔT, ÊT, ÛT and ÎT. Examples: le mât, un impôt, un arrêt, le goût. (Exception: la forêt).
-Nouns ending in MENT. Examples: un assortiment; le sentiment. (Exception: jument - a male or female horse.)
-Nouns ending with a T preceded by any consonant. Examples: le gant, le talent,le pont, le départ, le compost, le doigt, le district, un watt, le concept. (Exceptions: la dent, la part, la plupart, la mort.)

Edited to add the ât, ôt, etc... and a couple of Rosenthal's examples for the rules (he has dozens more). And also the exceptions he notes, though I wonder if I should leave the latter out.   As mentioned, I previously had problems learning genders from Michael Walkers Fourmilab: le Truc de Genres
because I confused the examples with the exceptions. But Walker listed only the exceptions. So I'll try again this way.

I should mention that Rosenthal's book is well worth getting, to read his expanded discussions/notes. They really help to lodge the rules into one's memory.
   


Edited by songlines on 18 January 2011 at 6:06pm

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polyglossia
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Speaks: French*

 
 Message 7 of 243
19 January 2011 at 4:55am | IP Logged 
intéressant !!!

Je n'avais jamais remarqué que les noms se terminant par -C+t étaient masculins!!

Mais bien sûr, comme tout le temps en français, il y a des exceptions :

une dent !!!

Une autre exception pour le pluriel :

en français, il y a trois noms qui changent de genre au pluriel :

amour, délice et orgue (à apprendre par coeur, comme le font les écoliers français, dans cet ordre!!)

un amour enfantin -> des amours enfantines
un délice exquis -> des délices exquises
un grand orgue -> "les" grandes orgues


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songlines
Pro Member
Canada
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Joined 3437 days ago

729 posts - 1056 votes 
Speaks: English*
Studies: French
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 Message 8 of 243
21 January 2011 at 4:46am | IP Logged 
polyglossia wrote:
...comme tout le temps en français, il y a des exceptions :
une dent !!!

Une autre exception pour le pluriel :

en français, il y a trois noms qui changent de genre au pluriel :

amour, délice et orgue (à apprendre par coeur, comme le font les écoliers français, dans cet ordre!!)

un amour enfantin -> des amours enfantines
un délice exquis -> des délices exquises
un grand orgue -> "les" grandes orgues



Merci, Polyglossia. Oui, Rosenthal a noté (et j'ai déjà ajouté au dessus) "la dent" comme une exception.

Mais je ne sais pas encore les noms qui changent de genre au pluriel. - Plus des details déroutants...!

---
Thanks, Polyglossia. Yes, Rosenthal did note "la dent/teeth" as an exception to the rule that nouns ending in "ent" (or, more generally, nouns ending in "T" preceded by a consonant) are masculine in the French language. (And I added it above when listing the examples.)

But I hadn't been aware of nouns which changed genders in the plural form. Yet more potentially confusing details to learn...!



Edited by songlines on 21 January 2011 at 5:36am



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