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geoffw
Triglot
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United States
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1134 posts - 1865 votes 
Speaks: English*, German, Yiddish
Studies: Modern Hebrew, French, Dutch, Italian, Russian

 
 Message 33 of 1317
13 March 2012 at 1:07pm | IP Logged 
I think that's a great strategy. I've done the same with German, always looking for the hardest stuff I could
"handle," and then finding that easier things just seemed a lot easier afterwards...and after a while, the harder
things become a little less hard, too.
1 person has voted this message useful





emk
Diglot
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United States
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2615 posts - 8805 votes 
Speaks: English*, FrenchB2
Studies: Spanish, Ancient Egyptian
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 Message 34 of 1317
16 March 2012 at 4:18pm | IP Logged 
Thank you to everyone for your comments and encouragement.

My wife and I have speaking French for a month! In all that time, we've only used
English a for a few sentences here and there, and for a handful of important
discussions. This is seriously hard work, but I'm seeing some improvement: A month ago,
I struggled to find circumlocutions, and now I'm struggling to find idioms.

I've also been writing a few paragraphs every day at lang-8, and my writing has
improved dramatically. Of course, this doesn't say much, because I'd never attempted to
write much before. For me at least, writing seems to fill the same niche that intensive
reading or a scriptorium exercise fill for others: It forces me to notice the fine
details.

I also bought a grammar book,
Essential French Grammar. This book is short and to the point, with lots of
examples. It focus on explaining the regular cases and the most important dozen or so
exceptions to each rule. I read the whole thing (except for the cognate list) in about
2 hours, and it really helped consolidate my intuitive knowledge of French grammar. If
nothing else, it's given me a confidence boost when speaking and writing.

When listening to French, I'm starting to hear the fine details of unfamiliar
expressions, and saying, "Oh, so that's how I say that." It's like my brain is
turning into a sponge.
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emk
Diglot
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United States
Joined 3641 days ago

2615 posts - 8805 votes 
Speaks: English*, FrenchB2
Studies: Spanish, Ancient Egyptian
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 Message 35 of 1317
19 March 2012 at 3:57pm | IP Logged 
I've definitely made it off my plateau.

My wife and I logged another 20+ hours of conversation in French this weekend, and I
read over 12,000 words at Lingq, mostly at the levels Intermediate 2 / Advanced 1. And
I'm writing a few short paragraphs every day at lang-8. My fluency comes and goes: At
times, I pause while searching for the right idiom. At other times, I know what I want
to say, but it's hard for me to handle the sheer phonology of French. But when I get
lucky, I feel like I'm speaking actual French, and not baby French.

I need to do actual, old-fashioned drills for "en", "y" and "dont". I still have
trouble understanding and using the first two in speech, and I don't reliably
understand "dont" when it's pronounced as a badly-eroded /dә̃/.

We watched Banlieue 13 and Taxi this weekend. Since French movies rarely
have subtitles in French, I try to glance at the English subtitles and then listen to
the French audio. Sometimes, I actually understand the dialog. :-) I really wish I
could get a subtitle track for Taxi and study it intensely using Lingq.

I was listening to some of MC Solaar's slower songs, and I started picking out quite a
bit. "Ce mec est en Playboy." Huh? *googles* Ah, "Ce mec est un playboy".

85 days until the DELF B1 exam! I'm seriously considering signing up for the B2 as
well, if they'll let me take both.

Edited by emk on 19 March 2012 at 4:00pm

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geoffw
Triglot
Senior Member
United States
Joined 2797 days ago

1134 posts - 1865 votes 
Speaks: English*, German, Yiddish
Studies: Modern Hebrew, French, Dutch, Italian, Russian

 
 Message 36 of 1317
19 March 2012 at 4:06pm | IP Logged 
Congratulations on your progress! That was fast!

Really? 20 hours of conversation in a weekend? Wow. I wonder if I talked with my wife for 20 hours all last week.
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emk
Diglot
Moderator
United States
Joined 3641 days ago

2615 posts - 8805 votes 
Speaks: English*, FrenchB2
Studies: Spanish, Ancient Egyptian
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 Message 37 of 1317
19 March 2012 at 6:07pm | IP Logged 
geoffw wrote:
Congratulations on your progress! That was fast!


Thank you! At the moment, my "method" is something like:

1. Massive amounts of input: Books, movies, radio, audio.
2. Lots of daily conversation and a little writing.
3. Just enough study to help me notice the tricky parts of the input.

Once I made the decision to speak French with my wife, I didn't have much choice: I
could resign myself to feeling like an inarticulate idiot, or I could improve. And
having an actual test date on the calendar doesn't hurt, either.

My wife and I have always talked a lot, and there's a nice advantage to using French:
She has C2-level oral skills in English, but it's still too easy for me to dominate an
English conversation. In French, I actually have to shut up and listen. :-)
2 persons have voted this message useful





emk
Diglot
Moderator
United States
Joined 3641 days ago

2615 posts - 8805 votes 
Speaks: English*, FrenchB2
Studies: Spanish, Ancient Egyptian
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 Message 38 of 1317
21 March 2012 at 12:11pm | IP Logged 
Wow, sometimes I can speak French, and sometimes I can't. When I'm tired, and I've been
working in English for several hours, I stammer, I hesitate, and I have the syntax and
vocabulary of a young child.

But if I sit down, put on some headphones, and listen to streaming talk radio for half
an hour, a whole new world opens up. I can suddenly string together subclauses and find
the right words with only a little stammering.

Basically, if I don't warm up my spoken French a bit, I lose most of the gains of the
past two months.

As for the talk radio, it varies: Sometimes I understand almost everything, especially
when the subject and vocabulary is familiar. At other times, I miss enough words that I
totally lose the thread. And accent makes a huge difference.
3 persons have voted this message useful



geoffw
Triglot
Senior Member
United States
Joined 2797 days ago

1134 posts - 1865 votes 
Speaks: English*, German, Yiddish
Studies: Modern Hebrew, French, Dutch, Italian, Russian

 
 Message 39 of 1317
21 March 2012 at 2:45pm | IP Logged 
I've experienced that a good bit, too. It's even clearer to see when it goes in reverse. When I've been speaking or listening to German more or less exclusively for a long stretch, it takes a while for my brain to get back into English mode. Not that I can't speak English well, but my brain by default will first try to process thoughts in German, instead of English, since that's what it's been doing for the last few hours.
2 persons have voted this message useful





emk
Diglot
Moderator
United States
Joined 3641 days ago

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

 
 Message 40 of 1317
22 March 2012 at 7:12pm | IP Logged 
I've read about 20,000 words this week using the LingQ interface, which is a really
great way to do L/R and intensive reading, especially at the intermediate level. I just
hover my mouse over a word to see the definition, and I can make a "LingQ", which is
both a flash card and a "persistent highlight"—the site will automatically mark the
word in yellow whenever it appears.

Almost all of the lessons on the site include audio, and there's a decent
Android/iPhone app that—for $10 a month—allows me to listen and read while on the go.

Even better: LingQ can sort unknown words by how often I see them.

So I wrote a Ruby script which takes my most-frequently-encountered vocabulary words
and turns them into two Anki decks: One with words in context, and the other with cloze
deletions. This is precision-guided SRS, so to speak—I'm targeting just those words and
phrases which just won't stick. These decks are small (only 150 cards or so), and I
intend to throw them out in a month or two.

Anyway, if enough people are interested, I could build a website that turns LingQ word
lists into Anki decks. Or if you don't mind hacking on a Ruby script, I could send you
a copy.


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