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emk
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 Message 1081 of 1317
23 July 2014 at 12:55pm | IP Logged 
Lots and lots and lots of conversations in French this week. Sometimes my brain is willing, sometimes it isn't, but increasingly, it doesn't make much difference: I can speak quickly, say what I want to say, and follow the conversation wherever it goes. My English conversational style is not especially easy to replicate in another language—I speak quickly, I read a lot, and I tend to get really involved in the subject. But this week, I finally feel like myself when speaking French, and not some kind of stripped-down imitation. (Of course, the really high-end stuff that I can do in English is still difficult for me in French. But that's not essential for day-to-day communication.)

So, yay.

I've also just noticed that my listening has gotten better. Nine months ago, I could turn on VoilaTV, surf to a random channel (mostly the "France" channels and news channels, but not modern TV dramas or movies) and have a 50% chance of being able to follow whatever was on TV. A while later, I could understand at least 80% of 80% of the shows on TV. But yesterday, I could understand 80% of pretty much everything, and even more of most shows.

I'm not even sure what I did to pull any of this off. Aside from my conference preparation, a few house guests and a couple of TV series, I've been neglecting my French a bit this year, without a Super Challenge to keep me busy.

And this brings me back to the usual paradox: My French is good enough that I really can live in French. It's fun, it's a nice challenge, but I can do it. But at the same time, my French is good enough that it's hard to see big gains without spending big chunks of my life in French. And when I do immerse myself, my French comes to life quickly, like a plant that was looking wilted but which has just been watered.

I still have plenty of work to do, of course: Fixing up minor grammatical errors, using a more precise and expressive vocabulary, reducing the remaining hesitations, and so on.
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Jeffers
Senior Member
United Kingdom
Joined 3069 days ago

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

 
 Message 1082 of 1317
23 July 2014 at 1:06pm | IP Logged 
Am I right that even when you're neglecting French, you probably do something with French almost every day? "Aside from my conference preparation, a few house guests and a couple of TV series"... what you call "neglect" is what a lot of people call studying hard.

I obviously have too much time on my hands this week, so I'm making too many suggestions. But here's another: I would guess as a programmer you already know a bit of Python (or at least know what it's about). But have you seen this instructional website in French?
Cercles informatiques
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emk
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 Message 1083 of 1317
23 July 2014 at 4:32pm | IP Logged 
Jeffers wrote:
Am I right that even when you're neglecting French, you probably do something with French almost every day? "Aside from my conference preparation, a few house guests and a couple of TV series"... what you call "neglect" is what a lot of people call studying hard.

Well, I do live in a French speaking household, and that keeps my French from going dormant. On the other hand, it's not a magic solution, either: As many heritage learners can attest, one household is just too small a community for somebody to master a language, and it's easy to get stuck at lower levels. Marital telepathy, two-way adaptation, shared experiences—all these things make it easy to get stuck in a rut. However, there is one big advantage that nobody ever mentions: I can hog the television with French series, and nobody will object too strenuously. :-)

But all that aside, for the last couple of years, the only way for me to make noticeable progress has been to imbibe a huge amount of French in a short period of time: To read 1,500+ pages in a month, or to watch 60 hours of television, or to do something crazy and concentrated like that. And I haven't really done much like that this year. But somehow, now that I have an opportunity to use my French heavily day after day, I can definitely see real improvements since the last time I made a major effort.
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patrickwilken
Senior Member
Germany
radiant-flux.net
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 Message 1084 of 1317
23 July 2014 at 7:33pm | IP Logged 
I think time for mastery for languages goes something like this:

|<-A1->|
|<--A2-->|
|<----B1---->|
|<--------B2-------->|
|<----------------C1---------------->|

So I suspect you are making lots of progress, it's just that it takes much longer to get anywhere now.

Edited by patrickwilken on 23 July 2014 at 7:36pm

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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 1085 of 1317
24 July 2014 at 1:29pm | IP Logged 
emk wrote:

I do some whitewater, when I get the chance, and a fair number of flatwater and easy down-river runs. Oh,
and if any students of French would like a good kayaking book, I recommend
techniques/dp/291019714X">this French translation of Nealy's classic highly.


Merci emk pour ayant partagé ces informations avec moi. J'ai décidé d'essayer de te répondre en français
cette fois puisque je dois le pratiquer un peu plus je crois. N'hésite pas de me dire si je fais des fautes si tu
veux. C'est intéressant que tu fais du kayak. C'est un sport que je pratiquais beaucoup avec mon père. Tous
les jours après l'école et pour mon père après qu'il a fini au travail, nous allions faire du kayak ensemble sur
la rivière ou le lac municipal au coin de chez nous. Maintenant on fait du vélo beaucoup plus souvent qu'on
fait du kayak. Mais dans le passé mon père a représenté l'Australie dans le kayak, au marathon. J'ai toujours
un K1 dans mon garage et depuis décembre dernier quand ma femme et moi avions emménagé ici je n'ai
qu'une fois l'utilisé.

emk wrote:

Here's another v=ZRL1b9MIvZg&list=PL441F67D66C7114D3&index=2">fun Middlebury video, this one with a student
who knew "very little" French when he arrived, and who appears to be a fairly conversational A2 (or maybe a
weak B1) in an interview at the 5-week mark. He makes some obvious errors, but he can actually talk and
communicate.


Merci encore :)

emk wrote:

Personally, I find that language is all about imitation and communication. If I hear somebody else say
something frequently, it's easy and natural to repeat it. And when I need to communicate in French, my brain
churns endlessly in the background trying to put things in order. I find that "training wheels" are an excellent
way to jumpstart this process, as are parallel texts, audio with transcripts, and so on. But sooner or later, the
big gains seem to come from diving in and actually using the language.

Even today, if I need to boost my level of spoken French, I read, listen and speak to people, after which the
words tend to flow quickly and easily. I don't review my grammar books—in fact, reviewing grammar actually
makes me stumble and hesitate, because it raises the unconscious language-learning process up to the
conscious level. This can be very useful, in moderation, for correcting problems and mastering details.
But as for actual fast, fluid speech production, well, that comes from a different source: from being
surrounded by the language and from needing to actually use it.


Tu peux toujours me dire des choses comme ça, puisque c'est toujours utile pour moi de les lire, de les
comprendre, où même de les laisser peu à peu pénétrer mon esprit. Merci encore pour m'aider emk.
1 person has voted this message useful





emk
Diglot
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United States
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Speaks: English*, FrenchB2
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 Message 1086 of 1317
24 July 2014 at 2:43pm | IP Logged 
PeterMollenburg wrote:
Merci emk d'avoir partagé ces informations avec moi.

De rien!

En anglais, on utilise le gérondif presque partout. Mais en français, on préfère l'infinitif. Et donc « thank you for having shared » se traduit par « merci d'avoir partagé ».

On utilise les verbes avec « -ant » dans deux contextes principaux :

Quote:
Le Consulat Général de France à Tel-Aviv rappelle que toute personne ayant travaillé en France (quelle que soit sa nationalité) peut faire valoir ses droits à pension.

Quote:
Nous ne tombons pas en amour en trouvant la personne parfaite, nous tombons en amour en regardant parfaitement la personne imparfaite.

Comment décrocher un job en ayant peu d'expérience.

Ou même :

Quote:
Ma rentrée, ou comment chercher du travail tout en en ayant déjà !
(My return from the summer holidays, or how to look for work all while having some already!)

Mais en dehors de ces cas, il vaut mieux éviter les verbes qui se terminent en « -ant ».

Pour plus de corrections, je te conseille d'aller sur lang-8. J'ai écrit une introduction à lang-8 qui pourrait être utile.
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PeterMollenburg
Senior Member
AustraliaRegistered users can see my Skype Name
Joined 3636 days ago

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

 
 Message 1087 of 1317
24 July 2014 at 3:39pm | IP Logged 
Merci beaucoup pour avoir corrigé mes fautes, emk,

Je me suis déjà inscrit à Lang-8 en effet, mais je n'ai pas encore utilisé ce site qu'une ou deux fois.
Néanmoins merci aussi pour m'avoir rappelé au site emk :)
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emk
Diglot
Moderator
United States
Joined 3692 days ago

2615 posts - 8805 votes 
Speaks: English*, FrenchB2
Studies: Spanish, Ancient Egyptian
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 Message 1088 of 1317
24 July 2014 at 9:48pm | IP Logged 
I tried a little experiment this morning.

Yesterday, after several days of French conversation that went wonderfully, my French fell apart. I could still talk, but it stopped being fun to discuss anything complicated. This came as no surprise whatsoever; this random and unwanted suckage is a normal part of language learning (fr). And this morning, my French wasn't any better.

So I tried a little experiment. I turned on France 5, and I left some documentaries playing on the television while working. I didn't even pay any particular attention. And a few hours later, I can once again do things like talk about freelancing, marketing and clothes shopping (just to pick a few random examples).

Now, it's still a bit clunky compared to Tuesday. I'm making a more errors, I pause a bit more, and I still have some trouble wrapping my mouth around the words. But now I have actual momentum, and I can tackle complicated topics. All that simply because I left the television on in the background.

With any luck, my French will finish its recovery shortly. But I wanted to try and capture how it feels. Apparently, rapid, interesting speech requires several different subsystems to be online at the same time (physical articulation, vocabulary lookup, sentence generation, etc.), and if one or more subsystems is responding slowly, speech falls apart.

Part of the reason that this bugs me so much is that my standards are high: I want to be able to use French in much the same way that I can use English. Now, it's not going to be exactly the same, not without a ridiculous number of years in immersion, and probably not even then, but I'd settle for a workable approximation.

I'm not convinced that everybody actually struggles with this. Maybe most people hit a reasonably high level, and can mostly talk without irritating dips in their ability, and without needing to leave the TV on all morning. I certainly get that impression from quite a few polyglots: they study a language for a while, and they seem to be happy with it, and maybe they even pass some high-level CEFR exams. I never hear them saying, "Oh yeah, on a good day my German is pretty reasonable, but I usually need to warm it up first if I want to bullshit about politics, and even then it sometimes falls apart for no obvious reason." (Well, Itchy Feet knows all about trying to keep up with natives. But Itchy Feet is awesome.)

Still, I really love these weeks where I can use my French constantly with more than just one person. I very much want to do more of this.


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