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tastyonions
Triglot
Senior Member
United States
goo.gl/UIdChYRegistered users can see my Skype Name
Joined 2768 days ago

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

 
 Message 1089 of 1317
25 July 2014 at 1:58am | IP Logged 
The only 100% reliable way for me to keep it at the highest level is to have extended conversations at least every other day or so.

Good comic. I think speaking mostly to north Africans in the beginning probably led me to be less intimidated about speaking French. Although there are some that are simply amazing (on probably a dozen occasions on Verbling one Moroccan acquaintance who studied some years in France was simply assumed to be French, by French people).
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emk
Diglot
Moderator
United States
Joined 3635 days ago

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

 
 Message 1090 of 1317
25 July 2014 at 4:22am | IP Logged 
tastyonions wrote:
The only 100% reliable way for me to keep it at the highest level is to have extended conversations at least every other day or so.

I'm glad I'm not the only one. :-)

emk wrote:
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.

Yup. My French got quite a bit better this evening: My error rate dropped, my awkward pauses transformed into effective dramatic pauses, and complicated topics got a lot easier. It's really fun when my French works like this.

The easiest ways to pull this off are either lots of TV (I don't even have to pay full attention), several hours of reading, or—with luck—an intense conversation. Sometimes my French can fully activate in minutes. Sometimes it takes a couple days of serious reading.

But the common factor is obvious: An environment overflowing with French, and lots of chances to use it, are the biggest predictors of my speaking ability. The next item on the list is probably sufficient sleep. :-)
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PeterMollenburg
Senior Member
AustraliaRegistered users can see my Skype Name
Joined 3579 days ago

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

 
 Message 1091 of 1317
25 July 2014 at 3:30pm | IP Logged 
Hey emk I stumbled across this un a drunken stupor (not really) and thought it might be sth you'd check out

Grand Papier
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emk
Diglot
Moderator
United States
Joined 3635 days ago

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

 
 Message 1092 of 1317
26 July 2014 at 12:54am | IP Logged 
PeterMollenburg wrote:
Hey emk I stumbled across this un a drunken stupor (not really) and thought it might be sth you'd check out

Grand Papier

Excellent! I just subscribed to that site in Feedly.

For those who aren't familiar with Feedly, it's a pretty nice RSS reader. For those who don't know about RSS, well, it's basically a really convenient way to gather all the latest posts on your favorite sites into one place. It's an evil time-suck if you fill it up with L1 content, but I love it for L2 content. With a little bit of tweaking, I find that both the Android app and the website are convenient ways to read.

As usually, reading enough is largely a function of actually having a long list of interesting things in French to read.

Anki confession time

I've been neglecting Anki for over a month. Here's what my backlog looks like:

French, reviews: 178 cards (trivial)
Egyptian, reviews: 221 cards (maybe three days of intense reviewing)
Egyptian, new: 74 cards (15 days of backlog if I learn 5/day, like usual)

This has basically no effect on my French at all, because all these cards have been maturing for over 6 months, and I use my French constantly. So at this point, it's actually feasible to do all my French Anki reviews in a couple of days per month. I haven't been learning any new cards, because my French vocabulary is not a priority right now, and I'm busy. But I like learning new French vocabulary, even if it's only words like "tuning fork", and I'll probably get around to learning 5 new cards per day at some point.

The situation with Egyptian is a bit trickier, and a bit more interesting. This is not the first time I've slacked off on my Egyptian reviews for a month or so. When I drop from ~10 or ~15 reviews per day to nothing, my Egyptian gets dusty, and it takes a couple of days to reactivate it.

Thoughts about Anki

One thing that this makes me realize is exactly how nice it is to learn new stuff using Anki. I create a bunch of easy cards (often using half-word clozes), I review them for a month or so without failing more than a handful, and by the end of the month, everything on those cards is pretty much obvious and easy, without ever my ever having spent any time stressing about it. This works equally well with listening comprehension cards using tools like subs2srs: I can get 98% comprehension of even ridiculously quick rap music with no particular effort, and very little time spent on card reviews. This gives me better results for less effort than almost any other intensive activity I've tried. Basically, it's pretty much the same process as memorizing annoying pop songs: It requires repeated exposure over a certain amount of time, but other than that, the learning seems to happen automatically, or nearly so.

But when I neglect Anki for a month, Egyptian transforms itself from an easy, agreeable language to a rather intimidating challenge.

Mind you, you could produce pretty much the same effect with extensive activities: If you read and listen constantly, you'll get massive, ongoing reinforcement of anything that's important.
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PeterMollenburg
Senior Member
AustraliaRegistered users can see my Skype Name
Joined 3579 days ago

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

 
 Message 1093 of 1317
26 July 2014 at 11:48am | IP Logged 
emk wrote:

Excellent! I just subscribed to that site in Feedly.

For those who aren't familiar with Feedly, it's a pretty nice RSS reader. For those who don't know about RSS,
well, it's basically a really convenient way to gather all the latest posts on your favorite sites into one place.
It's an evil time-suck if you fill it up with L1 content, but I love it for L2 content. With a little bit of tweaking, I
find that both the Android app and the website are convenient ways to read.

As usually, reading enough is largely a function of actually having a long list of interesting things in French to
read.

Taking a look at Feedly it seems to keep wanting a sign in via google or Twitter or Facebook for ex. Is this
absolutely necessary to run the RSS effectively emk? I couldn't seem to work it out very intuitively without
signing in with some kind of account (which I didn't). So, I guess I'm asking if you know whether I can get a
decent level if functionality from Feedly without signing in?

Edit:
Nevermind I bit the bullet, let go of my paranoia & signed up. Adding some sites it seems pretty decent.
Cheers :)

Edited by PeterMollenburg on 26 July 2014 at 1:18pm

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emk
Diglot
Moderator
United States
Joined 3635 days ago

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

 
 Message 1094 of 1317
28 July 2014 at 5:56pm | IP Logged 
PeterMollenburg: If Feedly doesn't work out for you, there are lots of other RSS readers on the market. But I like Feedly because I can organize things into folders, and then click on "Home", which will only show the most popular articles in each folder. The usual problem with RSS readers is that you don't want to read everything (except when you do), and with a bit of tweaking, Feedly provides ways to adjust how much you read.

Anki

My Egyptian backlog is down from 221 cards to 93, and reviews are getting easier, because by brain has gotten used to Egyptian again, and I often see multiple cloze cards made from the same underlying text.

I just fixed some corrupted review times in my Anki deck, allowing me to once again get accurate Anki statistics. Here's what French looks like:



And here's Egyptian:



As you can see, I've only spent about 90 hours reviewing French cards over the last two-and-a-half years, and I take long breaks where I don't add any new cards. Even so, I've learned a lot of French vocabulary quite painlessly.

An extensive reading report

I'm reading Les Pierres couchées, a self-published supernatural thriller. It's pretty long, and it's by no means a classic, but it's perfectly acceptable "beach reading" and it has lots of action. And it's available for Kindles in the US, which is very nice.

Right now, I'm on page 384, and I've marked 84 passages that contain an unknown vocabulary word. There were perhaps another 20 unknown words that I left unmarked, generally because they were obviously useless—a local Caribbean word for "hill", a kind of African dance, a noun derived from a brand of shipboard deck chair. There were also other unfamiliar words whose meanings were clear from cognates and context, most of which I left unmarked, because those generally take care of themselves.

Anyway, if you assume 250–350 words per page, this suggests that I have close to 99.9% comprehension of French fiction, assuming I'm reading in a familiar genre. There are a few things that throw me off a bit: the occasional editorial in a intellectual newspaper, conversational articles aimed at college students, or whatever.

Edited by emk on 28 July 2014 at 10:34pm

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Jeffers
Senior Member
United Kingdom
Joined 3012 days ago

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

 
 Message 1095 of 1317
28 July 2014 at 9:00pm | IP Logged 
Thanks for mentioning Les Pierres couchées. "Perfectly acceptable 'beach reading'" is just fine for me. And it would be almost 12 books for the SC, which is pretty good too. I'll be putting it on my list. Congratulations on your excellent comprehension!
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PeterMollenburg
Senior Member
AustraliaRegistered users can see my Skype Name
Joined 3579 days ago

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

 
 Message 1096 of 1317
29 July 2014 at 3:55am | IP Logged 
Hi emk,

I'm finding my way around feedly and it seems quite nice. I refuse to add L1 content as I want to deliberately
make it slightly harder for me to access English content while encouraging ease of access to L2 content-
which I have added quite a few sites so far. Tnx for pointing out the selling points of Feedly, as I figured other
RSS apps/sites would exist and it's good to know what Feedly has going for it (I've already made use of the
folders and appreciate such organisational aspects in a program).

I can't praise you enough on your French progression. Your comprehension of common vocabulary seems
well and truly 'solid'. Excellent work emk! You're motivating me as you pave an encouraging path of regular
consistent learning providing excellent results. Don't slow down I'm right behind you ...ok by perhaps some
years ;)


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