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emk
Diglot
Moderator
United States
Joined 3639 days ago

2615 posts - 8805 votes 
Speaks: English*, FrenchB2
Studies: Spanish, Ancient Egyptian
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 Message 1201 of 1317
02 June 2015 at 6:30pm | IP Logged 
patrickwilken wrote:
I hope you continue to hang around HTLAL. I have always found our thoughts on learning interesting to hear.

I've always enjoyed your observations greatly, and the HTLAL community has always been an enormous pleasure.

James29 wrote:
Also, is what we are feeling really true? I mean... we are assuming that we'd be up to that level we want with a few months of professional immersion. I'm wondering if that is a mistaken assumption.

Well, in my case, one of my colleagues is a native English speaker who's been speaking French on and off since childhood, and who has lived in France for years. Obviously, his French is excellent. So just for the fun of it, I've had some actual working, professional discussions with him in French, and it's not too hard as long as we stay away from deep technical arcana. If I had to do this full time, I'm sure it would be exhausting and frustrating for a while as I filled in vocabulary holes and got into the swing of things. But I'm assuming that if I can already have actual work conversations in French today, that a few months would be enough to get the kinks out and make it real.

It does help that my wife and I have been speaking almost exclusively in French for years now. I can do basic casual conversation on autopilot. But it still really would help to have coworkers who talked about the sort of things which appear in CommitStrip.

garyb wrote:
So you're probably right about victory, it's not being able to handle situations as much as knowing you could learn to handle them if you need to.
...
When I was in France for a week I loved how easy it was to switch on the hotel TV and have twenty or so channels all in French. Watching series/films online is great but not quite the same thing.

I've been thinking about this for the last couple of days, and I've decided that:

1. I'm done learning French until I have some interesting new opportunities, but
2. I still want to use it regularly throughout my life.

(2) is actually tricky if I'm not in "study mode". In a perfect world, I would have all of the following:

1. A Kindle account on Amazon.fr. (Tricky.)
2. Cable TV, including some interesting high-end channels like Canal+, with DVR functionality. (Might be very tricky.)
3. A paid-up Izneo subscription.
4. A paper subscription to Le canard enchainé and Science et vie.
5. Interesting, up-to-date French podcasts in my car. (Not sure how.)
6. Cool things to read on the web in French. (Got it.)

The goal would be to make sure that the French resources are plentiful and inviting, so that I just use them naturally without making an effort. As Khatzumoto once said, it's all about logistics. But to pull this off, I'd need to work out a monthly budget, try some experiments, and set everything up to run on autopilot.
2 persons have voted this message useful



patrickwilken
Senior Member
Germany
radiant-flux.net
Joined 2640 days ago

1546 posts - 3200 votes 
Studies: German

 
 Message 1202 of 1317
02 June 2015 at 6:38pm | IP Logged 
emk wrote:

1. I'm done learning French until I have some interesting new opportunities, but
2. I still want to use it regularly throughout my life.


Is there such a difference between "learning" and "using" if you are at a high intermediate level in your L2?
1 person has voted this message useful



iguanamon
Tetraglot
Senior Member
Virgin Islands
Speaks: Ladino
Joined 3369 days ago

2224 posts - 6708 votes 
Speaks: English*, Spanish, Portuguese, Haitian Creole

 
 Message 1203 of 1317
02 June 2015 at 11:35pm | IP Logged 
emk wrote:
...Here's the dilemma I've been wrestling with for a while now:

1. Sure, I could pay specialized tutors to talk about work stuff with me, but
2. If I had an opportunity to use French with a team at work, I wouldn't really need tutors.

Have you ever thought of getting involved with a French open-source project on the technical end? Granted, it's a volunteer position, so- no pay. Still, it could get you used to working in French with French-speaking colleagues and force you to get by working in French. It would save tutoring money. Also, perhaps you could do some volunteer tech work for a French NGO. Just some thoughts, I don't know how viable they are given the demands of making a living and having a family.

This is an interesting discussion. While I still discover something new everyday in my languages, at this point in Spanish and Portuguese, it's more like "polishing" it than actively learning for me. Like emk, I know that if I could spend 6 months to a year in São Paulo, Lisbon, Madrid or Mexico City, my Spanish and Portuguese would polish nicely and rise to meet the new circumstances. That move is not likely going to happen for me. Neither do I have the skills to do volunteer work on an open-source project.

Even with all the tools at our disposal, there's only so far you can go with a language when you are not in-country. (English and its ubiquitous nature perhaps being an exception.) I live most of my life in English. I live in an English-speaking place, albeit with a significant Spanish-speaking minority. I work in English (though very occasionally I do get to use my languages- mostly Spanish and once in Kreyòl and Portuguese). My family speaks English. The majority of my friends speak English too. I think that's pretty much the situation for most of us who don't live in a TL country or a multilingual city nor living with an L2 partner. There's only so far one can go with a language given these particular circumstances. "False immersion" can and does go a heck of a long way but it is not the equivalent of true immersion. 

At this point, for me, as patrickwilken says- using is learning and there's not much difference between the two. I can always improve and that is an ongoing, everyday, process. The good thing is I can read/listen to/watch anything in Spanish and Portuguese. I can travel with ease in the Spanish-speaking/Lusophone world. I have friends who speak both languages natively and it is nice to speak with them, just hanging out like I do in English. It's pretty cool and a lot of fun too, despite the fact that my languages still could use polishing.

Edit: while you were away, I found some cool links to share with a lot of French (and Spanish) content to download, free and legal, audio and text- even epubs. Radiobooks Citybooks

Edited by iguanamon on 03 June 2015 at 1:46am

3 persons have voted this message useful



garyb
Triglot
Senior Member
ScotlandRegistered users can see my Skype Name
Joined 3314 days ago

1468 posts - 2411 votes 
Speaks: English*, Italian, French
Studies: Spanish

 
 Message 1204 of 1317
03 June 2015 at 10:40am | IP Logged 
patrickwilken wrote:
Is there such a difference between "learning" and "using" if you are at a high intermediate level in your L2?


Personally I found that recognising and accepting the necessity of "learning" as well as "using" was the most important thing to keep making progress at the high-intermediate/low-advanced stage. For a while I fell into the trap of thinking that I was past the stage where I needed to study, and I'd keep progressing just from input and conversation, but that just kept me on a plateau for a while. Adding back in more learning-oriented activities (e.g., SRS, grammar books, self-talk, tutoring, DuoLingo tests, intensive reading and listening) got me unstuck and continues to keep things moving. Of course one could just as easily get stuck in a plateau from too much learning and not enough use; I've come to believe that both are critical to progress.

Of course, if you were living and working/studying in the language, there would probably be a lot more overlap between usage and learning, like in those first few months of picking up technical vocabulary. To an extent, the "learning" activities I mentioned are to compensate for the fact that my "usage" situations aren't frequent enough and don't push me enough.
6 persons have voted this message useful



PeterMollenburg
Senior Member
AustraliaRegistered users can see my Skype Name
Joined 3583 days ago

821 posts - 1273 votes 
Speaks: English*
Studies: FrenchB1

 
 Message 1205 of 1317
03 June 2015 at 11:10am | IP Logged 
garyb wrote:
I've come to believe that both are critical to progress.


Great post garyb, all of it makes sense with this one sentence ringing very true. I
couldn't agree more- doesn't mean I am currently following this balanced approach but I'm
certainly a believer nonetheless
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emk
Diglot
Moderator
United States
Joined 3639 days ago

2615 posts - 8805 votes 
Speaks: English*, FrenchB2
Studies: Spanish, Ancient Egyptian
Personal Language Map

 
 Message 1206 of 1317
03 June 2015 at 1:38pm | IP Logged 
iguanamon wrote:
Have you ever thought of getting involved with a French open-source project on the technical end? Granted, it's a volunteer position, so- no pay. Still, it could get you used to working in French with French-speaking colleagues and force you to get by working in French. It would save tutoring money. Also, perhaps you could do some volunteer tech work for a French NGO. Just some thoughts, I don't know how viable they are given the demands of making a living and having a family.

French programmers mostly run their open source projects in English, unfortunately, because most of them can read English fluently and write it well enough to get by, in my experience. (Very little programming documentation is ever translated into French, so French programmers get the equivalent of a couple mandatory Super Challanges per year. So of course their English is decent!)

Volunteering for a French-speaking NGO is an excellent idea. When I have more time, I should probably look into what Medicins Sans Fontiers needs in the way of technology volunteers, or something.

iguanamon wrote:
Edit: while you were away, I found some cool links to share with a lot of French (and Spanish) content to download, free and legal, audio and text- even epubs. Radiobooks Citybooks

Nice! Thank you. For reasons that will become clear below, I'm definitely looking for quality French audiobooks at the moment, free or otherwise.

garyb wrote:
Personally I found that recognising and accepting the necessity of "learning" as well as "using" was the most important thing to keep making progress at the high-intermediate/low-advanced stage.
...
Of course, if you were living and working/studying in the language, there would probably be a lot more overlap between usage and learning, like in those first few months of picking up technical vocabulary. To an extent, the "learning" activities I mentioned are to compensate for the fact that my "usage" situations aren't frequent enough and don't push me enough.

Yes, I do agree that study can help even at high levels. My software for capturing sentences from audiobooks and turning them into Anki cloze cards has been super helpful for picking up obscure vocabulary, and I have some ideas for extending that to listening comprehension.

But one of the reasons why study is frustrating at my level is that 90% of my remaining practical weaknesses seem to involve "activation" of knowledge I already know. Assuming I wanted to have a challenging conversation in 6 months time, and if I had to choose between:

1. Studying intensely with a tutor for the next three months, and going back to my daily French routine for three months, and
2. Waiting 5 months and 29 days, then listening to a couple of podcasts and reading part of a book,

...then I would expect to see much bigger gains from (2) at this point. When my biggest conversational problem is activating my (non-household) French, then study doesn't gain me much.

PeterMollenburg wrote:
I couldn't agree more- doesn't mean I am currently following this balanced approach but I'm certainly a believer nonetheless

I've certainly found that combining oceans of interesting input mixed with a small amount study will help much more than either on its own. And if I were actually working in France, I'd pursue such balanced approach: Lots of professional conversations and reading, plus some focused exercises on the side.

Project: Making French content easier and more interesting

I'm too busy to right now actually study French, but not too busy to use it. Unfortunately, as I noted upthread, English-language media has recently been winning out in my life because it's far easier for me to acquire interesting English media than French media. So I need to do two things:

1. Make it as easy to acquire French media as it is to acquire English media.
2. Improve the quality of the French media at my disposal.

Step 1: French in my car

Since I currently drive about 3 hours per week for work purposes, most of it on a low-traffic interstate, I decided to tackle my car first. I had two goals:

1. Always have fresh, interesting podcasts available on my car stereo without manually downloading them to a USB drive and carrying it out to my car. I know, from experience, that high-effort solutions never get done.
2. Have an easy way to buy new French music.

Now, I've always known that my car stereo has special support for iPods, but I've never actually used it. So yesterday at lunch, I finally picked up an iPod Touch that will live in my car, and I configured it to automatically download new episodes from Les années lumières (an awesome science podcat), Les Cast Codeurs (an in-depth programming podcast) and lots of interesting stuff from RFI, France Culture, France Info, France Inter and France 24. I also used the iTunes store to buy some Stromae and other French music, plus a French-language audiobook of children's tales for the kids.

On the pratical front, my car is parked with range of my household wifi, so the iPod should be able to keep itself up-to-date and charged with minimal intervention. (The iPod isn't visible when plugged in, and crime is no problem: I know people around here who don't even own a key for their front door!)

So that's one barrier to easy, interesting French that I've eliminated.

Next steps: TV or Kindle?

Other questions on my agenda:

- When will my VoilaTV box update itself to Francophone TV, and will I actually get some better channels and some basic recording functionality, as promised?
- What would it take to set up a Kindle that's permanently attached to Amazon.fr?

I also have to decide how much money I'm willing to spend every month for this project. We don't buy US cable, which saves us better than $100/month, so maybe it would be reasonable to spend $7/month on a permanent VPN for certain household devices. Hmm.

Does anyone know how to set up a French credit card if you don't actually live in France? Pre-paid is OK, as long as it allows access to French online stores.

Edited by emk on 03 June 2015 at 1:54pm

1 person has voted this message useful



PeterMollenburg
Senior Member
AustraliaRegistered users can see my Skype Name
Joined 3583 days ago

821 posts - 1273 votes 
Speaks: English*
Studies: FrenchB1

 
 Message 1207 of 1317
03 June 2015 at 2:22pm | IP Logged 
emk wrote:


PeterMollenburg wrote:
I couldn't agree more- doesn't mean I am currently following this balanced
approach but I'm certainly a believer nonetheless

I've certainly found that combining oceans of interesting input mixed with a small amount study will help much
more than either on its own. And if I were actually working in France, I'd pursue such balanced approach:
Lots of professional conversations and reading, plus some focused exercises on the side.


I keep falling back into my course pattern but wise ppl like yourself are helping steer the 50,000 tonne
stubborn vessel away from that iceberg :)

emk wrote:

Does anyone know how to set up a French credit card if you don't actually live in France? Pre-paid is OK, as
long as it allows access to French online stores.


I tried to switch my account from US amazon to amazon.fr once quickly purchased a couple ebooks and
promptly got told off. I got so annoyed as I didn't comprehend why amazon.fr can purchase so many English
language titles while amazon.com has few French titles. After complaining they threatened to shut my
account down altogether if I didn't comply (which included switching back to US amazon as my 'home
account') Ironic when I live in Australia. I know this doesn't help you...

Another thing that may not help you... I know a guy in Australia who owns apple devices who set up a 2nd
apple account with a French address (chosen randomly off google maps). He doesn't pay for French content
in the French apple store with a credit card (too problematic) but uses a 3rd party company that sells various
European countries iTunes giftcards to buy 'in country credit' to purchase French titles. If this interests you
lemme know, I'll get in touch with the guy :)
2 persons have voted this message useful



patrickwilken
Senior Member
Germany
radiant-flux.net
Joined 2640 days ago

1546 posts - 3200 votes 
Studies: German

 
 Message 1208 of 1317
03 June 2015 at 2:26pm | IP Logged 
emk wrote:

Step 1: French in my car


Setting up the car with easy to hear podcasts is great.

I did something similar when I bought a radio for the kitchen, which is permanently set for Deutschlandradio Funk (the German equivalent to the BBC/PBS). I get lots and lots of good German language whenever I am in the kitchen cooking/cleaning, which adds up to a significant amount of time over the course of a month. If I lived outside of Germany I would buy an Internet radio to achieve the same result.

This link might be helpful for Amazon.fr: How-to-get-Amazon-to-think-Im-in-France

Would it be easier for you to get a Canadian CC or at least Amazon.ca account? I am assuming that there would be a lot of French content there as well.

---------

I get that focussed study is helpful - though I am clearly allergic to it - but I have seen people (notably my wife) get to very high levels only by using the language (mostly by immersing themselves in high-quality media - though also of course by talking/writing).




Edited by patrickwilken on 03 June 2015 at 2:30pm



3 persons have voted this message useful



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