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emk
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United States
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Speaks: English*, FrenchB2
Studies: Spanish, Ancient Egyptian
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 Message 1057 of 1317
12 July 2014 at 12:18pm | IP Logged 
Jeffers wrote:
How hard would it have been for the woman to get her notes and powerpoint proofread? I suspect she had positioned herself as the company "expert" in English, and couldn't have admitted to her colleagues that she might need some help. Which is another important tip: no matter how good you are, be honest when you need help.

The speaker who crashed and burned was the founder of her company. With a bit more preparation, she definitely could have avoided the mistakes that were all over her slides and the rambling presentation. But the problem which ultimately sank her was a lack of listening comprehension: She couldn't take questions in real time.

Interestingly, these are all skills that the DELF B2 emphasizes heavily: It requires you to give a well-structured presentation and then to answer all sorts of annoying questions. I practiced this for weeks with an excellent and very demanding tutor. I learned lots of tricks, including how to keep from rambling aimlessly by using a mental outline. I like the DELF B2 a lot.

Jeffers wrote:
EDIT: I had a glance over Olivier Nyssen's Italki page and noticed a grammatical error in his self-quote near the top of the page: "upbringings" instead of "upbringing".

His English website may have a few mistakes, but if you want somebody to role-play a job interview or a sales meeting at a near-C1 level, he's the best iTalki tutor I worked with by a wide margin. A lot of iTalki tutors don't deal very well with advanced students, it seems.

patrickwilken wrote:
There is clearly a point that is significantly above C1 where people become comfortable in the language, to the point that native speakers no longer see that language is any kind of impediment to communication (interesting when I say this I realize that C1 isn't that point).

Yeah, there is a big difference between people who are perfectly capable of doing business in a language, and people who can interact with almost the same ease as a university-educated adult.

But one of the things that really impressed me was that some French entrepreneurs are doing business quite successfully with a combination of B2 English and very careful preparation. They still face a significant language barrier, but they can find ways to work around it. Rehearsed "islands", native proofreading, lots of focused conversational practice, and even the occasional professionally-recorded video to open a presentation—there's a lot of ways a B2 student can kick butt.

VivianJ5 wrote:
My French husband, who has been speaking English for over 40 years now, still asks me to proofread important
memos and emails, and wants critiques on his oral presentations (he still has an accent, but is very understandable).

This is actually a good idea for native speakers, too. In fact:

1. Everybody should get important documents proofread.
2. Everybody should practice their presentations and get feedback.
3. Any business which has serious money at stake should probably work with a professional writer. This especially applies to things like homepages, advertisements and promotional videos—copywriting is an interesting and complicated skill, and a lot of companies are actually pretty bad at it. This costs them actual, measurable money.

Even native speakers can benefit from outside help.

Darklight1216 wrote:
Pouvez-vous me recommander un de ces livres magique-realist, s'il vous plaît? Et maintenant
que vous habitez ici, ou est-ce que vous achetez les livres (en français, naturellement).

Pour le réalisme magique, commencez avec Gabriel García Márquez ou Jorge Luis Borges. Un jour, j'aimerais lire Borges en version originale. Pour chaque langue importante, il y a toujours quelque chose de très cool à lire ou à regarder.
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PeterMollenburg
Senior Member
AustraliaRegistered users can see my Skype Name
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821 posts - 1273 votes 
Speaks: English*
Studies: FrenchB1

 
 Message 1058 of 1317
13 July 2014 at 2:04am | IP Logged 
Hi emk,

Just wanting to follow your progress, seems like you're progressing well.

PM
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emk
Diglot
Moderator
United States
Joined 3581 days ago

2615 posts - 8805 votes 
Speaks: English*, FrenchB2
Studies: Spanish, Ancient Egyptian
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 Message 1059 of 1317
19 July 2014 at 5:22am | IP Logged 
Yay! Some good news.

My French had been a mess all day. This came as no surprise, because I've been reading too many books in English lately, and I've been busy with work. But several Francophone guests arrived late this evening, and when I started speaking to them, the words came fast and easily, and one person said that my spoken French had improved considerably since last summer. So that felt good.

I mean, I know my French isn't that bad—I sometimes need to slow down when speaking to non-native French teachers—but it's always nice when I talk about whatever I want quickly and fluently with native speakers. I just wish I could access that mode reliably, but really, it requires being "on", and having my brain in French mode, and I can't completely control either of those things at a voluntary level.

(Also, a note to myself: la mode "fashion", le mode "mode".)
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Arnaud25
Diglot
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France
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129 posts - 234 votes 
Speaks: French*, English
Studies: Russian

 
 Message 1060 of 1317
19 July 2014 at 9:03am | IP Logged 
emk wrote:
(Also, a note to myself: la mode "fashion", le mode "mode".)
:o) It's always a problem, even for natives. Here's an exemple I discovered a few weeks ago. Une espace / Un espace.
"Une espace" is a blank space used in typography, between words.
"Un espace" is a space (any space except a space between words).
Craziness...:)
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Jeffers
Senior Member
United Kingdom
Joined 2958 days ago

2151 posts - 3960 votes 
Speaks: English*
Studies: Hindi, Ancient Greek, French, Sanskrit, German

 
 Message 1061 of 1317
19 July 2014 at 1:15pm | IP Logged 
Arnaud25 wrote:
emk wrote:
(Also, a note to myself: la mode "fashion", le mode "mode".)
:o) It's always a problem, even for natives. Here's an exemple I discovered a few weeks ago. Une espace / Un espace.
"Une espace" is a blank space used in typography, between words.
"Un espace" is a space (any space except a space between words).
Craziness...:)


That's a tough one, and I had to look it up on Wikipédia. I think it's specialized enough that if you had to use it (like if you worked in typography) you would know it. I know there's an English equivalent, but I can't think of what it is.
Espace (typographie)

Le mode and la mode, on the other hand, are both very common, and that makes them more "dangerous" for the learner. There are loads of examples like that in French: la mémoire (memory) and le mémoire (memorandum), for example.

Edited by Jeffers on 19 July 2014 at 1:18pm

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garyb
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ScotlandRegistered users can see my Skype Name
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 Message 1062 of 1317
21 July 2014 at 11:19am | IP Logged 
I've also confused le mode / la mode before... it's the sort of thing that in theory is a
fairly basic and simple distinction yet when you're speaking it's easy to mix up!
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emk
Diglot
Moderator
United States
Joined 3581 days ago

2615 posts - 8805 votes 
Speaks: English*, FrenchB2
Studies: Spanish, Ancient Egyptian
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 Message 1063 of 1317
21 July 2014 at 4:34pm | IP Logged 
French-speaking guests: How it goes

As I mentioned earlier, I was exhausted Friday evening, but somehow managed to rally and speak pretty decent French when our guests arrived. Among other things, we talked a bunch about the recent startup conference I attended, and about several pretty impressive French companies. This went quite well—I had to occasionally stop to remember a word, and I made some minor mistakes here and there, but I had no problems saying what I wanted to say. And I spoke quite fast, which has been happening fairly often lately.

I spent most of Saturday kayaking.

Yesterday started out rough: I could speak, but anything more complicated than social pleasantries and day-to-day living was tough. But we had a nice long conversation at lunch and my French warmed up enough to talk about recent US Supreme Court decisions, precedent and common law. So again, not bad at all. This time I wound up butchering the language a bit more, because I'd never discussed these subjects before in French, and I was caught up in the discussion—sometimes it's better to plow ahead and live with the mistakes.

So as usual, my level varies considerably, depending on fatigue, warmup, and what languages I've been using recently. It's hard to describe what it feels like, but I think this pretty amusing video will help:

Oops, I forgot my English! (Bloopers video)

This is a young woman who studied Chinese at Middlebury's expensive immersion program, which absolutely forbids English on pain of expulsion. I'm guessing that when the video was taken, she had probably just finished 9 weeks of Chinese immersion. And you can see in the video, her Chinese is pretty fluent, but she keeps stopping to search for words in English. So merely by neglecting her English for a couple of months, she found herself at a loss for words. Of course, a few hours of English, or at worst a day or two, might be enough to bring everything back.

Ah, yup, here's another video of other students, taken about 20 minutes after they finished their immersion program. You can see the same thing: they're thinking in Portuguese, and translating back to English. This will happen to me if I spend several days in French, too—I'll translate from French to English in my head for 5 to 30 minutes after re-entering the English-speaking world.

In end, this is the major limiting factor for my spoken French on any given day: I work in English, I do lots of reading in English, and even though I speak French at home, interacting with a single native speaker isn't quite the same as being part of a larger society. So my French doesn't get pushed as hard as I'd like, and it suffers from the same sorts of problems you see with the Middlebury's students English after prolonged immersion (except more so, because it doesn't have 20 years of non-stop practice behind it).

Of course, I can always give my French a quick boost—sometimes adrenaline or an interesting conversation will activate it very quickly; other times I need to stagger through a couple of hours of conversation.

So, by the standards of an anglophone in the US who just happens to speak French, my French is done. Seriously, I've actually had very nice non-native French teachers ask me speak slowly and explain the vocabulary I'm using. But I don't judge myself by the standards of an anglophone who just happens to speak French—I judge myself by the standards of the native speakers I know, even though it's not fair.

But of course, I still live an English speaking environment, work with English-speaking colleagues, and—unless I fool around with VPNs and gift cards—I can only buy English-language ebooks. And under these conditions, as the Middlebury videos suggest, even native speakers will sometimes have problems speaking quickly and intelligently. So I'm going to face real challenges, too.

Still, everyone tells me that my French is improving from year to year. It's just that I've reached the point where the gains from lots of sleep and several days of intensive immersion are now roughly as large as my entire annual progress. But I plan to keep on reading French books, watching French TV and talking to French speakers, so we'll see what happens.

Edited by emk on 21 July 2014 at 4:41pm

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patrickwilken
Senior Member
Germany
radiant-flux.net
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1546 posts - 3200 votes 
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 Message 1064 of 1317
21 July 2014 at 5:33pm | IP Logged 
Quote:
Still, everyone tells me that my French is improving from year to year. It's just that I've reached the point where the gains from lots of sleep and several days of intensive immersion are now roughly as large as my entire annual progress. But I plan to keep on reading French books, watching French TV and talking to French speakers, so we'll see what happens.


I recently read a comment by a professional translator that it would take about 4-5 years to get to a reasonably fluent stage in German, which made me feel much more relaxed about my progress. I just can't expect to get better as fast as I would like, but so long as progress is being made I am pretty happy.

I wonder if language progress, rather than being a linear relationship to the time we spent, is more like a square-root relationship to time spent: so that we have to spend increasing amounts of time to get the same noticeable forwards progress.


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