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patrickwilken
Senior Member
Germany
radiant-flux.net
Joined 2725 days ago

1546 posts - 3200 votes 
Studies: German

 
 Message 1185 of 1317
31 May 2015 at 9:59am | IP Logged 
Yes, it's great to see you back.

It sounds to me that the level you are aiming for is more C2 than C1 at this point. Perhaps you should change the title of your blog?
3 persons have voted this message useful



rdearman
Senior Member
United Kingdom
rdearman.orgRegistered users can see my Skype Name
Joined 3428 days ago

881 posts - 1812 votes 
Speaks: English*
Studies: Italian, French, Mandarin

 
 Message 1186 of 1317
31 May 2015 at 11:36am | IP Logged 
Welcome back!
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PeterMollenburg
Senior Member
AustraliaRegistered users can see my Skype Name
Joined 3668 days ago

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

 
 Message 1187 of 1317
31 May 2015 at 11:41am | IP Logged 
Great to hear you're still out there learning languages, you were missed!
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emk
Diglot
Moderator
United States
Joined 3724 days ago

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

 
 Message 1188 of 1317
31 May 2015 at 12:31pm | IP Logged 
Thank you all for the kind welcome back!

patrickwilken wrote:
Yes, it's great to see you back.

It sounds to me that the level you are aiming for is more C2 than C1 at this point. Perhaps you should change the title of your blog?

I no longer have a good feeling for where I stand on the CEFR scale. I had a very good grasp of what B1 and B2 meant, thanks to working with a tutor who specialized in exams. I passed the DELF B2 with solid scores a long time ago, and my French has improved dramatically since then in most respects. But the DALF C1 requires some specialized skills I don't use every day. I could probably pass it with some focused study. A lot depends on how heavily I've been immersed lately—my skills are more limited by activation than by actual knowledge. And it's hard to come up with a study plan when my real problem is that I just need a good reason to use my French constantly.

But in any case, I have the skills I actually care about:

- I can socialize in French, and have routinely done so for years.

- I can do the technical part of my job in French, although I might need a bit of ramp up to learn the words for "device driver" and "regular expression" and "interrupt handler" and "syntax analysis" and "parser combinators", and all the rest. Again, a few months among people who actually talk about these things and I'd be fine.

- I can take university-level courses online, and although the workload is brutal, the language poses less difficulty than the content (except perhaps when there's a huge volume of reading and limited time).

- I have no fear of receiving even emergency medical care in French, assuming I'm not actually in shock (which I've heard tends to compromise even strong L2s). I've successfully navigated a bilingual ER in Montreal after a minor incident, and even the fully bilingual doctor spoke to me a fair bit in French, until she realized I was from the US. (Never let anyone from Montreal know you're from the US—they're lovely, kind people, and they tend to reflexively switch to English for US visitors, even if they've just had a good conversation with you in French.)

On some level, I've suspected for the last year or so that I've reached my "natural ceiling", given my current environment. There are things I still can't do, but mostly I'd welcome having a good reason to try.

Montreal

I'm planning to go to Montreal again in a few weeks, and I'm hoping to meet up with a fellow HTLALer to crawl la rue St-Denis and spend too much money on books. :-) I'm really looking forward to this.

Random links

For readers in the US, VoilaTV is closing its doors, but it will be replaced by FrancophoneTV. They tell me I might get more channels, and I'm supposed to get some kind of 5-day DVR functionality. I'd really love to some way to follow French TV series as easily as I do things on Amazon and Netflix. I'll report on this once I upgrade.

An introduction to Ruby programming, in French. Lots of useful basic vocabulary here.

Bilingual children with Down syndrome. Apparently, Down syndrome does not present any significant obstacles to childhood bilingualism, or even—within the expected limits—to biliteracy. No word on language acquisition in the teenage years or later, though.

Edited by emk on 31 May 2015 at 1:21pm

3 persons have voted this message useful



Jeffers
Senior Member
United Kingdom
Joined 3101 days ago

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

 
 Message 1189 of 1317
31 May 2015 at 1:18pm | IP Logged 
I'll add my voice to the chorus of "welcome back!" It's nice to read your successes with French.
1 person has voted this message useful



patrickwilken
Senior Member
Germany
radiant-flux.net
Joined 2725 days ago

1546 posts - 3200 votes 
Studies: German

 
 Message 1190 of 1317
31 May 2015 at 2:31pm | IP Logged 
emk wrote:
A lot depends on how heavily I've been immersed lately—my skills are more limited by activation than by actual knowledge.


Do you still speak 24/7 French with your wife? Are your children bilingual? Are you mostly consuming media (books/films) in English or French?

I think the biggest advantage I have here in Berlin is that I am surrounded by lots of high quality material (on the radio, Netflix.de, the library, the bookstore, the newspaper etc). It's actually not the speaking to people that really helps me very much, but the very low threshold to getting good quality stuff to consume.

From what you say it sounds like you are way more advanced than me. The only thing (strangely) that I wouldn't fear is the emergency room. But I guess I went through the whole process of emergency knee surgery years ago without even knowing the word for "pain". :)

Anyway I have no sense of having reached my natural limit. There are just so many gaps in my vocabulary (and grammar) yet to fill.

Edited by patrickwilken on 31 May 2015 at 3:51pm

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iguanamon
Tetraglot
Senior Member
Virgin Islands
Speaks: Ladino
Joined 3454 days ago

2224 posts - 6708 votes 
Speaks: English*, Spanish, Portuguese, Haitian Creole

 
 Message 1191 of 1317
31 May 2015 at 3:41pm | IP Logged 
Welcome back, emk! Mwen kontan anpil wè ou te retounen isit la ankò tou! Bonjou de Karayib la.


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emk
Diglot
Moderator
United States
Joined 3724 days ago

2615 posts - 8805 votes 
Speaks: English*, FrenchB2
Studies: Spanish, Ancient Egyptian
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 Message 1192 of 1317
31 May 2015 at 5:26pm | IP Logged 
Salut, iguanamon et Jeffers. Ça fait un bon bout de temps!

patrickwilken wrote:
emk wrote:
A lot depends on how heavily I've been immersed lately—my skills are more limited by activation than by actual knowledge.

Do you still speak 24/7 French with your wife? Are your children bilingual? Are you mostly consuming media (books/films) in English or French?

My wife and I still speak French 24/7. It would actually feel a bit weird to switch back to English at this point. The "switch" in our brains that controls what language we speak to each other has firmly flipped from English to French, and it's been there for years now.

My children are mostly passive bilinguals: They've heard French almost every day since they were born, and they can follow pretty complex instructions. If I ask them the word for something in French, they can usually give it to me, and they can repeat short phrases in French (with a better accent than mine). But they don't really speak it. Sometimes they express an interest in speaking French better, but neither of them has been willing to just dive in and plow through the awkwardness for a bit. Probably all they need is another kid their own age who doesn't speak English!

Most of my media intake is in English at the moment, because I've read most of my French ebooks, and I've been too lazy to do the gift card + VPN dance to buy more and remove the DRM so I can read them in the US. And my wife is watching several TV series in English at the moment, so my French media intake has been weak there, too. On the other hand, I've been listening heavily to Les Années Lumière lately while driving, and I've had the aforementioned technical conversations in French with a colleague. So even when I'm massively overloaded by life, I can still sneak in a fair bit of French.

patrickwilken wrote:
Anyway I have no sense of having reached my natural limit. There are just so many gaps in my vocabulary (and grammar) yet to fill.

To be precise, I don't feel like I've reached my natural limit per se, but only my natural limit relative to my current environment. From first hand experience, I feel confident that a typical 5-year-old living in the same environment would not speak French nearly as well as I do, if that makes any sense.

It's not that my French is amazing, or anything—I was tripping all over my tongue this morning trying to explain the Rust programming language to tastyonions, and I certainly don't always meet all the C1 criteria for conversational quality and ease. (I get a lot better after immersion.) But on the other hand, I've had actual, professional discussions with other programmers in the past. And if I hang out with French speakers and jack up my media intake, my performance gets better quickly. Once my brain is convinced that everybody else is going to use French, it rises to the task.

There's an awkward side to upping my French media intake, like I did during the Super Challenge: I can't talk to most of my friends about it. There's nothing that sounds more pretentious than saying, "The essays of Montaigne are actually pretty interesting, and they're surprisingly easy to read in the original pre-modern French. But the poet Baudelaire was basically the French equivalent of an angsty Tumblrite." Even if I speak of more recent books, it sounds scarcely better: "Stéphane Beauverger has written some really first-rate science fiction that would win All the Prizes if somebody did a top-notch English translation." I totally understand why Khatzumoto actually moved to Japan after doing AJATT—if nothing else, he could actually talk about the latest TV shows!

I do still run into students of French who speak it much better than I do. But most of them, when I ask, have spent a fair bit of time living in France, fully immersed among native French speakers. So that's where I am: I know a whole lot of French, and if you told me that I was starting a job at a French-speaking company in two weeks, I'm confident that I'd somehow manage to survive the first month or so, and that things would get rapidly better after that. But I'm not sure what else remains for me to do short of full professional and social immersion.

The dilemma

Here's the dilemma I've been wrestling with for a while now:

1. Sure, I could pay specialized tutors to talk about work stuff with me, but
2. If I had an opportunity to use French with a team at work, I wouldn't really need tutors.

The same dilemma appears in several forms: For example, I could keep my spoken French in better shape by constantly immersing myself in French media. But if I actually needed to use my spoken French constantly, I'd have no problem keeping it fully active, even without the media. I think that these are common dilemmas for people who are "basically C1", but who don't get enough real-world opportunities to use their skills to naturally advance to a near-native level.

Anyway, I hope this isn't too depressing for HTLAL! The good news is that these are all pretty wonderful problems to have.

Edited by emk on 31 May 2015 at 5:35pm



9 persons have voted this message useful



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