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sctroyenne
Diglot
Senior Member
United StatesRegistered users can see my Skype Name
Joined 3441 days ago

739 posts - 1312 votes 
Speaks: English*, French
Studies: Spanish, Irish

 
 Message 761 of 1317
26 October 2013 at 1:19am | IP Logged 
Oh, and reading editorials will help a lot too!
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emk
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United States
Joined 3582 days ago

2615 posts - 8805 votes 
Speaks: English*, FrenchB2
Studies: Spanish, Ancient Egyptian
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 Message 762 of 1317
27 October 2013 at 1:17pm | IP Logged 
Wow. Just wow. I finished Le Déchronologue. This book is going to haunt me for a while. Definitely the best "alternate history" novel I've read in a very long time, and one of the best SF novels I read in the last few years. For those who like to see their genre tropes subverted, it should not be missed.

It was a nice challenge, too—I highlighted 431 interesting passages, many of which will find their way into Anki via SRS Collector. This is more than I captured from the last two books combined, and enough to keep my Anki queue full for almost a month at my current rate of introducing new cards. This is still less that one highlight per page, though I'll admit I skipped a lot of vocabulary related to 17th-century clothing as well as a decent number of things that would make poor Anki cards. That still leaves me with over 98% comprehension in a rather challenging French text.

My Super Challenge is now 97% complete, with only 578 pages to finish by the end of the year. I'm not sure what book I'll start next. I'm tempted by volume two of Le Puits des Memoires, a light but competently-written fantasy trilogy. Looks like volume 2 won the Prix des Imaginales 2013, which is always a good sign.

sctroyenne wrote:
I think the tactics in How to Improve Your Foreign Language Immediately by Boris Shekhtman might help here. My Turkish co-worker essentially used his islands technique (without knowing what it was) to expand what she could talk about in English. She said she would go to the same place every week for happy hour and the regulars would ask her all these questions about Turkey. When there was something she didn't know how to talk about, such as the economy, minorities, etc, she would say, "Let me go study up on that and I'll tell you next week" and she would do just that.

Thank you, sctroyenne, for your excellent speaking advice.

My problems, I think, are really ones of range and ease. I've been speaking French with my wife for over a year and a half now, and I do OK with all my favorite topics. But if you throw me into a group of French speakers, my level is good enough that nobody's going to cut me much slack. So I'm expected to keep up with the conversation, and it's a struggle when the conversation turns to books and other abstract topics. (I've actually made progress with books. But that's just one subject among hundreds.)

None of this is made easier by the fact that I'm still waiting for my French gender system to finish coming online. More and more, I just know the gender of words, and my brain notices quite a few of my output errors. But there's still a lot of kinks to be worked out.

Watching my kids learn to speak (and occasionally play with French-speaking kids), I actually feel like I can keep up with many native 4-year-olds, and some 5-year-olds, with my gender system lagging maybe a year behind my overall "age level." But kids that age are only fluent in a sense—once you get them away from their favorite topics, their speech production often falls to pieces.

So that's my problem in a nutshell: My raw, "natural" French can keep up with native preschoolers and some kindergartners, but I want to able to function like I'm 20. And I don't think natural methods will get me there soon, without either a sudden breakthrough or a much more aggressive speaking environment. I know from first-hand observation that I'm more at ease in French than many heritage learners who've been exposed to the language since birth, but who only get to use it at home.

I really just need to suck it up and find a lot more conversational opportunities. I'm sort of the adult version of a heritage learner, and I'm running up against the same environmental limits that many kids do. Without a fast-talking peer group, it seems hard to put that final polish on conversational skills.

What I really want to hear is that other people had breakthroughs one day and could suddenly start talking like educated adults. :-) But it didn't work that way for any of my comprehension skills—those arrived by a slow accretion of little things, until one day I could say, "Hey, not bad, I can really do this."

Maybe a half-dozen conversations with different people every week for a few months would be just what I need. We'll see.

SRS Collector

My testers have been busily importing SF short stories, Kindle highlight files and random snippets from around the web (the later using the Chrome extension), with varying degrees of success. They've provided me with awesome feedback, which I've slowly been implementing. And we've made a total of 396 Anki cards, with 1,792 still remaining in our queues. Many thank yous to my testers!

Once I fix a few more irritating bugs, I'm going to start making cards for Le Déchronologue. And I'll open things up to several more volunteers, now that the app is almost presentable. :-) Send a PM if you're interested, and if you're willing to risk beta software. Once I do one more round of tests with people who read my log, I'll start a new HTLAL thread just for SRS Collector, and invite everyone to come try it out.
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VivianJ5
Diglot
Senior Member
United States
Joined 2312 days ago

81 posts - 133 votes 
Speaks: English*, French

 
 Message 763 of 1317
27 October 2013 at 2:50pm | IP Logged 
I wish I could tell you I woke up one day and, voila!, sounded like an educated adult, but, as you know, doesn't work
like that. I've had my moments, when I feel like my French is exceptional (for an American who didn't start learning
the language before university), and other times, I still mix up my "le" and "la". And this is after more than 30 years
of speaking, spending four years in France, a month every summer for 25 years, and two years at a French
university. So go figure...

What helped me the most, besides extensive reading, was speaking to a variety of educated people on a daily basis.
I worked in a French lycée in the U.S. for many years (as an English teacher), and the diversity of conversations was
beyond anything I could have gotten with just speaking with my French husband and kids. I know it's hard to find
that type of environment in an Anglophone country, but maybe listening to a variety of radio programs, on the arts,
or history, or politics, or watching the French talk shows with fascinating guests...I'm amazed at the variety and
scope of native material now available through the internet. Would have been a huge help for me all those years
ago!

But, having read this whole thread (all 96 pages!), I'm so impressed at the progress you've made so quickly. It took
me many, many more years (I'd say a good ten) to feel as fluent in French as you seem to be now. But we can all
improve, can't we :-) ?
3 persons have voted this message useful





emk
Diglot
Moderator
United States
Joined 3582 days ago

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

 
 Message 764 of 1317
28 October 2013 at 9:58pm | IP Logged 
Thank you, VivianJ5, for sharing your story. Working in a French lycée in the US sounds like an excellent challenge!

I started volume two of Le puits des mémoires, and I'm really impressed by how much my recent reading and Anki work has payed off. Various words that I grabbed from Le pont de la rivière Kwaï, Le père porcher and Le Déchronologue are actually turning up quite often in this book. It's mostly handy little words like givre "frost" and gésir "to lie extended/hidden/abandoned"—the sort of thing that shows up every couple of books, but not quite often enough to stick. By dumping this stuff into SRS Collector and then into Anki, I'm actually making measurable progress with that whole "an unknown word every page or two" business.

As of page 40 or so in the new book, I've grabbed 25 sentences and skipped a few words for archaic clothing, vegetable merchants, and so on. (I got three new words on one page in an arena combat scene, including une herse "portcullis".) I'm really happy with this whole Moon+ Reader/SRS Collector/Anki workflow—I can aggressively pursue pretty obscure vocabulary without interrupting my reading too much. And in the long run, since I'm using sentence cards in Anki, it works like any other vocabulary I acquired through extensive reading. I like learning words without relying much on English. I tend to be better about collocations and associated prepositions if the word stands on its own.

Anyway, I like to share the little victories as well as the frustrations. :-)

Edited by emk on 28 October 2013 at 9:59pm

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emk
Diglot
Moderator
United States
Joined 3582 days ago

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

 
 Message 765 of 1317
01 November 2013 at 4:09am | IP Logged 
I finished volume 2 of Le puits des mémoires. Ar the 18 month mark, my Super Challenge stands at 9,842 pages read, 158 pages remaining.

In a light 400-page fantasy novel, I highlighted 141 passages to add to Anki. I didn't take everything, and quite a few passages contain multiple words, but still: not bad.

This has been an amazing challenge.
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tastyonions
Triglot
Senior Member
United States
goo.gl/UIdChYRegistered users can see my Skype Name
Joined 2715 days ago

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

 
 Message 766 of 1317
01 November 2013 at 6:37pm | IP Logged 
Congratulations, that is extremely impressive.
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emk
Diglot
Moderator
United States
Joined 3582 days ago

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

 
 Message 767 of 1317
01 November 2013 at 10:48pm | IP Logged 
Whoo-hoo! I finished my Super Challenge! The final book was La Planète des singes, a fine piece of French science fiction. After a long week of work, I took the afternoon off and read 220 pages in less than five hours. I marked 79 sentences for importation to SRS Collector.

Also, do you remember the shelf of ebooks that I bought at the start of October?

Five of nine are now read, in less than a month!



The Super Challenge was an awesome idea, and I'm amazed at how much it has helped my French. To give you an idea of how much I've learned, check out this quote from February 2012 on page one of my log, less than 6 weeks before the start of the Super Challenge:

Quote:
I've now read 52% of Le Tour du Monde. It's actually getting harder—I'm running
into sentences that don't make sense, even after I look up all the words. Perhaps 60%
of the text is clear, another 30% makes sense if I think about it or look up some
words, and 10% is very difficult to understand. Whenever Verne starts talking about
steamboats or tropical plants, I start skimming.


So 10,000 pages absolutely make a huge difference. Now, what will be my next adventure?
3 persons have voted this message useful



tastyonions
Triglot
Senior Member
United States
goo.gl/UIdChYRegistered users can see my Skype Name
Joined 2715 days ago

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

 
 Message 768 of 1317
02 November 2013 at 12:21am | IP Logged 
Learning Spanish! ;-)


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