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United States
Joined 4218 days ago

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

 Message 1265 of 1317
16 June 2015 at 2:57pm | IP Logged 
patrickwilken wrote:
I just wish it was dubbed into French. :)

Why? Are you feeling language wanderlust? :-)

The French have a long history of dubbing almost everything into French, and they're really good it. This is a blessing for people learning French—we can watch familiar movies and series in your L2. Unfortunately for me, the French seem to be slowly moving towards more and more subtitles.

Time to rename my log?

I can't rightfully claim to be C1. I've never taken the DALF C1 exam, and if I haven't been heavily immersed recently, I still halt a lot and search for the right word, at least in more abstract conversations.

On the other hand, it's rather annoying of me to continue to pretend that my French is accurately represented by calling it "B2." I scored quite well on my B2 exam almost three years ago, and since then, I've done the original 10,000-page Super Challenge, watched vast amounts of TV, and used French at home almost every day for 3 years. When I look at the sample DALF C1 reading exams, my reaction is, "OK, and that would take 15 minutes, so what do I do with the rest of the time?" And on my best days, I can clearly outperform what I did on the B2 oral exam. My French is far better than it was.

And yet, on the average day, I can't just open my mouth and effortlessly sound like a college-educated adult in French. If you just toss me a copy of Science et Vie and ask me to discuss an article, maybe I can do it, and maybe I'll spend all my time trying to glue together intelligent sentences.

To overcome this, I usually need to do several things:

1. Get lots of sleep (and then possibly some caffeine).
2. Spend several hours listening to French podcasts or reading French novels.
3. Warm up my French articulation, often by singing along to really fast MC Solaar songs.
4. Spend a few minutes talking before everything "clicks".
5. Be a little lucky.

And then, on these blessedly good days, I enter a state where I can talk about films or work or popular science or books or gun culture in the US, all without searching too many words. I feel confident that when I open my mouth, the right words will be there to express an idea. In this state, I feel ready for almost anything: exams, professional work, or maybe even a presentation. It's not that my French is perfect then, but that all my problems seem minor and readily corrected. "Oh, yeah," I think, "some more practice, a bit of time with a tutor, and I'll be good."

So I don't know quite what to do. As previously mentioned, it's hard for me to keep my French fully activated all the time while living in the US. But no amount of "study" is going to help me as much as actually being fully immersed at this point. And since I don't know how to proceed, I'm having trouble choosing a new title for my log. :-)

Edited by emk on 16 June 2015 at 6:20pm

2 persons have voted this message useful

Senior Member
United States users can see my Skype Name
Joined 3351 days ago

1044 posts - 1823 votes 
Speaks: English*, French, Spanish
Studies: Italian

 Message 1266 of 1317
16 June 2015 at 3:13pm | IP Logged 
I should also probably rename my log, since I dropped Portuguese from my routine. But it's in my plans eventually, so maybe one could consider the title an aspirational thing, sort of like "Fluent In Three Months."

Anyway, activation is a hard problem. I find that a combination of some reading aloud (for "mouth readiness") and writing keeps me in pretty good shape, despite my dearth of opportunities to actually speak French. But that's not going to get me to the "next level."
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Senior Member
Joined 3219 days ago

1546 posts - 3200 votes 
Studies: German

 Message 1267 of 1317
16 June 2015 at 3:37pm | IP Logged 
emk wrote:
patrickwilken wrote:
I just wish it was dubbed into French. :)

Why? Are you feeling language wanderlust? :-)

Not really. I still have too much to learn in German, but perhaps in a couple of years I'll tackle French or Spanish or perhaps something harder like Japanese.

If you aren't aiming for the C1 test then I would drop it from the title. I think fluency is a lot broader than the C1 certification anyway - which is what I think you are aiming for.

What about something like "A random walk to French fluency"?
1 person has voted this message useful

Senior Member
Virgin Islands
Speaks: Ladino
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2224 posts - 6708 votes 
Speaks: English*, Spanish, Portuguese, Haitian Creole, Creole (French)

 Message 1268 of 1317
16 June 2015 at 4:55pm | IP Logged 
Most of us concluded quite a while ago that you have indeed already wandered to C1, even without the piece of paper to prove it. So, yeah, in that sense the title is disingenuous. The title should reflect what you are doing right now in the language- enjoying French and continuing to explore it. Of course, that is if you want to keep this log focused solely on French.

Your log has 100% popularity. Since everyone reads your log, it stands to reason that the majority of us are not French learners or speakers (myself included). I come here to read your insights into language-learning in general. Perhaps "Enjoying French- musing on language learning". You'll think of something. It's a good problem to have, :). I remember following your log when you were working diligently to get to B2, now, you're swimming in French. You've come a long way since "Buffy".
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Russian Federation
Joined 5283 days ago

9753 posts - 15778 votes 
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Speaks: Russian*, English, FinnishC1, Latin, German, Italian, Spanish, Portuguese
Studies: Danish, Romanian, Polish, Belarusian, Ukrainian, Croatian, Slovenian, Catalan, Czech, Galician, Dutch, Swedish

 Message 1269 of 1317
16 June 2015 at 6:26pm | IP Logged 
Very true. Also, when people sit C1 exams, they generally make sure to do exactly what you described - get a lot of input, get more sleep and coffee, etc. My C1 exam started at 8.30am, with listening and speaking a little into microphone on casual topics ("the children are messing around in the yard, scold them"). I'd had as much sleep as I could get but when they met me at the entrance and accompanied me to the classroom, and in the meanwhile told me to switch off my mobile phone, I was tired enough that it took me a few seconds to process the colloquial word for it. I'd have expected to hear the more official term, and besides, in Russia you generally just have no access to your bag during a major exam so it was an unexpected thing to hear. (what if I have another technical device there, or even a second phone? are you trusting me just like that?)

Anyway, after listening there were the reading and writing parts, maybe an hour or so each, and the grammar&vocabulary section that has been abandoned since (but I scored C2 there :))). We had some breaks for a quick snack etc, and finally the speaking part started at 1-2pm. We were invited one by one and talked with each other in the meanwhile. It just felt logical to speak Finnish.

When someone was done, they would obviously tell us about their experience, and when it's your turn you get a list of topics where you have to choose two. And then before I got to ramble about ecology (including menstrual cups :D), I was asked how my exam day had been, which parts were easy/hard and what my strong points in Finnish are. And finally, more or less 6 hours after the first part started, my speaking was actually tested. I was very much ready, certainly more than when I crossed the Finnish border at like 7am a few days earlier.

As you know I didn't have to do a presentation or something, and when I had nothing more to say I was asked questions. I didn't choose the easiest topic out there (everyone's fave topic seemed to be "now and before", which is about describing technological progress and showing that you know various relevant terms like washing machine, automatization, microwave oven etc). I had what I consider an embarrassing fail when I said "operaatio" instead of "leikkaus" which I did know, given my interest in medicine. (operaatio is used for military or mathematic operations. and in general you sound off if you overuse the -tion loans - they do exist, but they're far less common than in most other languages)

So, it's not like I came in at 8.30am and was asked the hardest questions at once. This wasn't easy either, and it's comparable to the Russian exam I took while finishing high school (apart from actually listening and speaking). But based on your posts (and also Cavesa's) I definitely think you would pass C1 (and maybe C2 too, at least it's definitely within your reach if you were to work with a tutor again).

Edited by Serpent on 16 June 2015 at 8:20pm

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Senior Member
AustraliaRegistered users can see my Skype Name
Joined 4162 days ago

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

 Message 1270 of 1317
17 June 2015 at 2:45am | IP Logged 
I must admit I'm absolutely astounded. I'm starting to question if I am the only human
participating in this forum and the rest are well-rounded bots representative of the
matrix that is trying to pull the wool over my eyes. But I'm onto you, you, you bots!
Cracks are appearing. I know you are a bunch of bots because I'm seriously wondering
why NO-ONE has mentioned this yet. I mean c'mon guys. Why hasn't anyone yet suggested
that emk change his log title to simply "Wandering" ? I mean all he'd have to do is
quit learning languages (pfft, easy), drop everything, quit his job, leave his family
and just wander... out there.. you know? That makes a LOT of sense.

On a less serious note- why not sit a C1 exam emk? or even C2? Then you could truly
justify changing your log title :)

Yes, it is somewhat disappointing that French films are becoming increasing subtitled
instead of dubbed. Not to raise any political turmoil but I think this is one of so
many signs of globalisation/americanisation that I've often discussed, and that is
really really disappointing from my perspective. And just for the record I do
appreciate American culture- but I also appreciate all the others too :)

It's always enjoyable following your log btw. Thanks for sharing your experiences with
Montreal too btw. I wish I could pop over there for a day or more. Still I can now
refer to your handy map and insight into books and cinema :)


And I ain't even alien, for realz

Edited to avoid bot suspicions

Edited by PeterMollenburg on 17 June 2015 at 2:46am

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Senior Member
Joined 3219 days ago

1546 posts - 3200 votes 
Studies: German

 Message 1271 of 1317
17 June 2015 at 10:27am | IP Logged 

If (or anyone else reading this) likes arthouse cinema, PM your email address to me, and I can send you a month's free trial to Mubi.

Mubi is very different from Netflix and the like. It offers only 30 films at a time (1 new film a day). Think of it as an arthouse cinema that only shows films for a month. The selection (at least in German) is good but eclectic. Most films are offered in original language with subtitles or in dubbed versions and of course there should be lots of French films offered with the French Mubi site, as there are German films on the German site.

What might work quite well for you is that the selection of films are based on IP number, not on your physical address (when I travel I get films for the region I am in, not for Germany). Mubi has no problem with me paying with a German CC and using Mubi in other countries.

You can get an idea of what you might see on their French FB page.

I think the total cost for a year is 35 Euros, though the prices might vary a bit for US subscribers.

Edited by patrickwilken on 17 June 2015 at 10:39am

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Senior Member
ScotlandRegistered users can see my Skype Name
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1468 posts - 2412 votes 
Speaks: English*, Italian, French
Studies: Spanish

 Message 1272 of 1317
17 June 2015 at 10:35am | IP Logged 
I'm not sure what to say on C1. You seem to have a very honest and realistic picture of your strengths and weaknesses, which is refreshing when many people tend to have a falsely high or low one. I know that there's a huge difference between "C1 on a good day with lots of preparation" and actual C1.

I've never done the exam myself, but what I will say is that the standard required to pass it seems to be lower than what the official descriptions and checklists would suggest. I know plenty people with English C1 certificates whose English is, well, not great and would probably not tick most of the boxes on the self-assessment list. You don't need full marks to pass, just 50% if I remember correctly. I don't know if the French examiners are stricter, but it seems that even if your level isn't quite C1 on paper, you'd probably still stand a good chance at the exam with adequate preparation.

Of course all this is beside the point since you don't seem to be interested in the exam right now, and understandably so - why spend time on learning the specific exam format that you could spend on more important skills, if you don't need the qualification? I think patrickwilken is on the right lines, your goal seems to be fluency above all. Or proficiency or whatever other word, depending on the definitions you prefer.

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