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emk
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 Message 25 of 1317
04 March 2012 at 8:14pm | IP Logged 
C'est fini!

I just finished Le Tour du Monde. What a fun book. I had never read the English
version, so I was eager to find out what happened. And I admit that I sacrificed some
of the trickier bits in my rush to reach the end. :-)

I put the registration and test dates for the DELF B1 exam on my calendar today. I have
until June 13th to improve my French.

Next, I think it's time for some intensive L/R with Harry Potter. This is much slower,
because I'm working page by page, looking stuff up and listening to the audio
repeatedly. The narrator speaks quickly and uses a strong French [ʁ], both of which
will be good practice for the exam.

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emk
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 Message 26 of 1317
06 March 2012 at 12:47pm | IP Logged 
I'm still trying to figure out the best way to do L/R with Harry Potter. Right now, I'm
reading the French, checking the translation of difficult sentences against the
English, and then listening through the French. Maybe it would go faster if I read the
English first while listening to the French.

Thanks to another thread here on HTLAL, I discovered MC Solaar, a popular French hip
hop artist. If you're not familiar with his work, here are some useful links:

MC Solaar Caroline video
3 latest albums for $9 (US, MP3)
Lyrics for L/R
Wikipedia

Frankly, I don't know much about hip hop, but I do like the mellower, jazzier styles.
And I really like MC Solaar. He can be poetic, nostalgic, and slightly cynical. His
accent and grammar are usually pretty standard. And his lyrics are excellent. Here's
Clic clic, from the lyrics site above:

Quote:
De la terre en Afrique, comme dans le sud de l'Amérique
On utilise la même logique même si ça n'est pas démocratique
Quand s'emmêlent les politiques
On met des gamins dans des Jeep
Qui sans esprit critique utilisent le clic-clic.

And Coup d'œil dans le métro:

Quote:
Dans le rôle principal il y a la providence,
Pour aider à l'intrigue il y a le facteur chance,
Les décors sont des décors naturels,
Et le casting est fait de personnages réels
Mais la réalité dépasse la fiction
S’il s'agit de cœur et de séduction

His easier songs work surprisingly well for intermediate L/R. They're very rapid
standard French, and they're catchy enough that I don't mind 10 repetitions.
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emk
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 Message 27 of 1317
07 March 2012 at 8:22pm | IP Logged 
I woke up early and did some L/R this morning with Harry Potter. For a change, I tried
reading the English first, while listening to the French. Then I switch over to
French/French for several passes, and eventually drop the French text. This seems to go
much faster than starting with French/French—and only using the English as a crutch—
because I spend less time fumbling with two books. And afterwards, I listen to the
audio repeatedly in the car.

Using this approach, I've made it over halfway through chapter 1, with decent listening
comprehension. I get virtually all of the first few pages, and 90+% of the pages I've
read more recently.

I'm still debating intensive vs. extensive reading. Do I double-check every unfamiliar
word and strange grammatical quirk? Or do I concentrate on making comprehensible-but-
unfamiliar words natural and obvious? Or do I do a little of both?

I continue speaking almost exclusively French with my wife. This intensive study & use
of French is physically exhausting.

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emk
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 Message 28 of 1317
11 March 2012 at 5:03am | IP Logged 
This week, I discovered Lang-8, and wrote several journal
entries in French. (I also corrected a bunch of journals for other folks.) It's a good
site, and I really need the practice with French writing.

French orthography is pretty challenging: Between the silent letters, the verb forms,
and the accents (especially the ones which only appear in certain verb forms) there's a
lot to get wrong.

But writing diaries is giving me a good excuse to study the details of French grammar.
In conversation or extensive reading, it's easy to miss things like the partitive
article. But if I have to write it all down, and a native speaker points out my errors,
then I know what I have to study.


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Sunja
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 Message 29 of 1317
11 March 2012 at 11:49am | IP Logged 
I'm also at Lang-8 practicing French. I've started revising the basics like questions and answers. I tried writing normally as I would in English and it was a disaster! I've decided to write something small every day and I hope to weed out most of the problems until June.


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emk
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 Message 30 of 1317
13 March 2012 at 3:06am | IP Logged 
Sunja wrote:
I've decided to write something small every day and I hope to weed out
most of the problems until June.


This is my plan, too, right down to the test date!

I'm spending most of my (limited) free time on French these days.

My written French has improved rapidly at Lang-8, perhaps because I had so much room
for improvement. At the moment, my writing fills much the same niche that intensive
reading and scriptorium exercises fill for other students—it forces me to slow down and
notice all the little details.

I've been doing a lot of miscellaneous studying: conjugations, punctuation, grammar,
prosody, etc.

But careful writing is having a painful effect on my speech: I'm making fewer errors
when I speak, at a big cost in fluency. Let's hope that this is a temporary phase, and
that I eventually iron out some of the errors and start speaking fluently at a more
correct and complex level. I think it's easier for my wife to deal with error-filled
speech than broken speech!

A nice breakthrough on the reading front: I listened to an extra 20 minutes of Harry
Potter while walking in the sun at lunch, and it made a lot more sense than it did last
week. I haven't read this part of the book in almost 10 years now, and nearly 50% of it
was making sense on the first listening pass today.

The audiobook of Harry Potter is challenging because of the narrator's prosody. Regular
French has a melody like this: --/ ---/ ----\, where "/" marks a rise in pitch (at the
end of the subject, or verb phrase, or other constituent), and "\" marks a fall (at the
end of a statement). The "---" in between is a set of fast, equal-duration syllables,
which sound a bit like a machine-gun.

But when the narrator wants to slip in a long subordinate clause, he says something
like "---/ --/ ----/ ---------------------------/ ---\", speeding up for the
bold-faced part. It's a challenge!
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songlines
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 Message 31 of 1317
13 March 2012 at 3:49am | IP Logged 
One problem I had with Bernard Giraudeau's reading of the Harry Potter novels is that he sometimes sacrifices
clarity for expressiveness. - For example, from time to time he adopts distinctive "voices" for some of his
characters,   whispers certain dialogues, or speeds up the reading. But for me, the gains in dramatic impact aren't
enough to compensate for the loss in comprehension.

- Of course, I do appreciate that people trying to learn French by Listening/Reading aren't his target audience. ;-)

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emk
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 Message 32 of 1317
13 March 2012 at 12:05pm | IP Logged 
songlines wrote:
One problem I had with Bernard Giraudeau's reading of the Harry Potter
novels is that he sometimes sacrifices clarity for expressiveness.


Yeah, he really does, doesn't he?

But the difficulty actually helps me right now. To use an example, it's sort of like
when I learned to snowboard. My biggest gains always came from pushing myself beyond my
level, wiping out left and right, and then retreating back to easier trails. On
the easier trails, I'd focus on clean form (and not on mere survival!), and my ability
would take a dramatic leap. So with French, I'm looking for something similar: Brutally
hard L/R followed by something much easier.

But for somebody doing L/R at an A1 or A2 level, I think these books would be more
frustrating. I guess the dialog is easy enough to skip, but those long, rapid-fire
syllable chains occur once or twice per paragraph.


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