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French: Fresh, fun & effortless media

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basica
Senior Member
Australia
Joined 1647 days ago

157 posts - 269 votes 
Studies: Serbian

 
 Message 1193 of 1317
01 June 2015 at 1:01am | IP Logged 
I'd also like to welcome you back, despite being a newbie on here I have read a lot of
your posts and of your experiences developing your language skills and have found it
immensely encouraging and motivating :)


1 person has voted this message useful



garyb
Triglot
Senior Member
ScotlandRegistered users can see my Skype Name
Joined 3318 days ago

1468 posts - 2411 votes 
Speaks: English*, Italian, French
Studies: Spanish

 
 Message 1194 of 1317
01 June 2015 at 10:16am | IP Logged 
Welcome back!

emk wrote:

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.


I have almost exactly the same French dilemma, but socially rather than professionally, and I've also been racking my brains about it for a long time. I could pay tutors in order to become better at conversations, but if I had more opportunities for conversations then I wouldn't need to pay tutors. It makes me ask myself whether I'm learning French because I want to speak with Francophones, or I'm trying to speak with Francophones because I'm learning French. I suppose it's a bit of both at the end of the day, but it's why I'm always questioning my motivations and can never quite make my mind up about how much time and effort to put into French compared to other languages and activities.
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patrickwilken
Senior Member
Germany
radiant-flux.net
Joined 2644 days ago

1546 posts - 3200 votes 
Studies: German

 
 Message 1195 of 1317
01 June 2015 at 1:12pm | IP Logged 
Thanks for the detailed reply. I have always found your progress interesting. I can see a certain affinity in our situations (somewhat similar professional backgrounds; partners that speak our L2 etc) while there are interesting differences (my wife and I speak predominately my L1; I live in a country that speaks my L2).

I was lucky to see my wife go from about C1 level (probably I think about your level) to C2 over the first five years of our marriage. So what did she do? We talked English all the time, but for most part she was speaking German with others. She loves (really loves) to read. At some point she started alternating between German and English novels, and over time read more and more English books (interestingly she never ever used a dictionary - just trying to guess meanings she didn't know). During that time we lived in Boston for a year and a half, but it's not the sort of immersion you think. She mostly worked at home and continued to talk English with me (but that's was the same as in Germany). She did get more practice speaking with others, but she could already speak (like you) when she arrived. One advantage was that she was living in English most of the time. What she did do was read the New York Times a lot (esp. the weekend edition cover-to-cover) and she continued to read novels. When we got back to Berlin she wrote up her doctorate in English (which was sort of unusual) and by the end of that she was functionally bilingual/C2.

Everyone is different, but I think the main things for Kristina were lots of reading, and a considerable amount of writing. Speaking wasn't so helpful, as once you get to a certain point the complexity of the language doesn't change very much.

If it's difficult buying ebooks, why not just mail-order some paper books? I am sure my level is considerably below yours, and I can read paperbacks fairly easily now without a dictionary. And while it's great to read original texts, you could also perhaps just read French translations of books you are reading now in English. I am happily working my way through Alastair Reynolds's scifi book House of the Suns now, as I like the author and can't find an equivalent German writer. You never have to say to your friends that you read a particular book by an English author in French if you don't want to.

Edited by patrickwilken on 01 June 2015 at 3:45pm

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Cavesa
Triglot
Senior Member
Czech Republic
Joined 3120 days ago

3277 posts - 6778 votes 
Speaks: Czech*, FrenchC2, EnglishC1
Studies: Spanish, German, Italian

 
 Message 1196 of 1317
01 June 2015 at 2:44pm | IP Logged 
I'm excited to see you back, Emk!!! You were trully missed!

If it's difficult buying ebooks, why not pirate them? There is no other way to make the industry change than to constantly remind them how much they are losing. I am so looking forward to those days when I'll pay a reasonable price for one view of a tv show a day after it's being aired in the US, France or Sweden, for an ebook without any restriction and so on. Or a day when a legally bought MS Office will be easier to install than pirated version. I really regret having bought it legally. Several hours of my life put into "installation" and I still haven't got it running. I am so scared of drowning more time into the "installation" that I do not use the paid product at all.

One of the legal options are the libraries of Alliance Francaise. As a part of membership, they have a digital system where you can download lots of things (surely music, some audiobooks, I think there should be ebooks as well but it's been some time since I last checked), I think you can login and download from your home as well but I am unsure again, and the file is usable for three weeks. Yeah, you need to redownload every few weeks, if you need more time, but it is still one of the better options.

I agree with patrick that it is sometimes easy just not to mention the language you enjoy the media in, even though I wouldn't restrict myself to original English works in translation. If I was to read only translations from English, there would be no point in learning another language, would it? But you cannot apply the "don't mention the language" method when it comes to things that are not being translated.

I totally understand your problem with discussing the SC with friends. Fortunately, my friends are already used to my weird tastes, so they at least try to look interested and excited for me. Even the people sitting near me at the university are already used to me reading Spanish/French books during boring lectures. Yeah, Assimil El Aleman got some curious looks and remarks. And a classmate was once reviewing German vocabulary with me and anki :-) Really, unless it's new people (in which case I try to appear somewhat normal), I found out it is the best to just let friends get used to me being weird. They are weird too, some spend half the summer on art movie festivals, some enjoy cooking too much, some waste three hours a day on sport, everybody's weird :-)
But I would love to be able to share the excitement with others more often, that's true. Thanks God for HTLAL!
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emk
Diglot
Moderator
United States
Joined 3643 days ago

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

 
 Message 1197 of 1317
01 June 2015 at 11:16pm | IP Logged 
garyb wrote:
It makes me ask myself whether I'm learning French because I want to speak with Francophones, or I'm trying to speak with Francophones because I'm learning French. I suppose it's a bit of both at the end of the day, but it's why I'm always questioning my motivations and can never quite make my mind up about how much time and effort to put into French compared to other languages and activities.

I'm learning French so that—among many other reasons—I might be able to work professionally in France some day. At this point, I know that:

1. I could actually do the work in French, with a short bumpy period at the beginning, and
2. Short of actually doing the work, there's not much left I can do to prepare.

I mean, I could pick up some more specialized vocabulary and polish up my speaking skills until they're in excellent shape. But that's a bit like getting in shape for a big race: It's not the sort of thing I can usefully do now, when I know that I'll run the race in 2 to 10 years. :-)

Maybe this is what victory looks like? I'm confident I can ramp up for a new challenge quickly, but it's hard to stay in tip-top shape for a challenge in the indefinite future. I was sort of hoping that victory looked like, "I am able to have intellectual and professional conversations in French effortlessly, with no advance warning, at any time." But instead it looks like, "I can sometimes have those conversations, especially if I've just finished reading a few hundred pages of French and gotten warmed up."

patrickwilken wrote:
Everyone is different, but I think the main things for Kristina were lots of reading, and a considerable amount of writing. Speaking wasn't so helpful, as once you get to a certain point the complexity of the language doesn't change very much.

For me, my central problem is that anything beyond my day-to-day household French is "just on the tip of my tongue." If I stop and think, I can recall it and use it correctly. But I say to my brain, "Hey, give me some words to talk about movies!" And my brain says, "Sure, just wait 3 to 5 seconds; I haven't talked about movies in French for two weeks."

This wrecks fluency, and forces me to use circumlocutions even when I know a more precise word. But if my brain hauls all that buried vocabulary up into the light of day, and if it's already generating phrase fragments in French by default, things get easier.

patrickwilken wrote:
If it's difficult buying ebooks, why not just mail-order some paper books?

I actually prefer digital books in English these days, and I love being able to browse through a huge store full of neat stuff, tap a title, read a few sample chapters, and then buy the book on the spot if I like it. And in French, digital books offer the added advantage of plugging into my spiffy flashcard tools, so I can hoover up any interesting vocabulary effortlessly.

So when I have a choice between downloading an English book and reading it now, and either messing with VPNs or waiting for books to be shipped across the Atlantic, it's too easy for the English-language book to win more often than it should. This wasn't a problem when I was actually doing the Super Challenge—but when I'm just living my life, making no special effort to focus on French, it cuts down the amount of French I consume.

It's about making a permanent place for French in my life, even when I'm not focusing on it obsessively. Sure, I'll get around to focusing on it obsessively again at some point. :-) But the trick is finding a way to keep my reading at least 10% French (and preferably more), even when I'm not working on French. And that would be a lot easier if I had access to the French Kindle bookstore or something like that.

This is why Khatzumoto always talks about putting English-language books in storage or selling them. The trick is to make L2 media easier than L1 media, so that you turn to it out of laziness.

Cavesa wrote:
I totally understand your problem with discussing the SC with friends. Fortunately, my friends are already used to my weird tastes, so they at least try to look interested and excited for me.
...
But I would love to be able to share the excitement with others more often, that's true. Thanks God for HTLAL!

Yeah, but I think French is sort of a special case, at least in the US. If I say, "Wow, the Eloquent Peasant feels surprisingly modern for something written in hieroglyphics," I mostly just sound geeky. But if I say, "Voltaire is actually a lot of fun," I suddenly start feeling like some kind of clichė wannabe intellectual. :-) Maybe this is just in my head!

...

So to summarize my thoughts, it's darn helpful being surrounded by peers who use a language, and by companies who are eager to sell me things in that language. This can be recreated artificially for a year or two (and that's often long enough to reach a very respectable level!), but what do I do now that I'm halfway decent at French?

Oh, my kingdom for Canal+, some other premium channels, a DVR, and access to a real French ebook store.
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garyb
Triglot
Senior Member
ScotlandRegistered users can see my Skype Name
Joined 3318 days ago

1468 posts - 2411 votes 
Speaks: English*, Italian, French
Studies: Spanish

 
 Message 1198 of 1317
02 June 2015 at 10:56am | IP Logged 
I've also toyed with the idea of living and working in France. No plans at the moment but it's a future possibility. I feel quite the same, there would be a bumpy period at the start and there's not much I could really do to prepare for it. Same for social usage: I might not be great at it now but I'm confident that if I were to start hanging out with French speakers I'd pick it up quickly enough. It worked for Italian.

I also get frustrated when I speak about a subject and it takes me a few seconds to find the appropriate language, but considering I don't practise speaking about that subject very often, it's to be expected. So you're probably right about victory, it's not being able to handle situations as much as knowing you could learn to handle them if you need to. That puts things in perspective a little: maybe I'm right to mostly focus on input for the moment, and cross the output bridge when/if I come to it. Of course our situations are a bit different and I'm just speaking for my own here.

When I was in France for a week I loved how easy it was to switch on the hotel TV and have twenty or so channels all in French. Watching series/films online is great but not quite the same thing.
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patrickwilken
Senior Member
Germany
radiant-flux.net
Joined 2644 days ago

1546 posts - 3200 votes 
Studies: German

 
 Message 1199 of 1317
02 June 2015 at 12:26pm | IP Logged 
emk wrote:

Maybe this is what victory looks like?


Then I salute your achievement! Well done, sir.

I hope you continue to hang around HTLAL. I have always found our thoughts on learning interesting to hear.
1 person has voted this message useful



James29
Diglot
Senior Member
United States
Joined 3486 days ago

1265 posts - 2113 votes 
Speaks: English*, Spanish
Studies: French

 
 Message 1200 of 1317
02 June 2015 at 2:27pm | IP Logged 
I've been following the last several days of posts here and am interested in furthering the discussion about this level you are talking about where you have basically succeeded... I'm in a similar situation (but lower level in Spanish) and am somewhat frustrated with what to do now. I took that self test you posted (thank you for the link) and can objectively do nearly all of the things on the B2 chart but almost none of the things on the C1 chart.

Eventually I'd like to use Spanish in my business and think if I ever get there I'll fill in the gaps pretty quick. All I think I'll need is to use Spanish on a regular basis in my business for a few months. I don't really feel like doing a super-human effort right now to get my Spanish up to that next level when I know I'll be able to get there pretty quick when I am able to immerse myself in the language at work. I'm starting to feel like I should more or less maintain my Spanish and enjoy it until I get the opportunity to immerse in it professionally. I certainly don't want to lose it as I think it will be a big asset.

So, when we are at this level what is sufficient to maintain the language at this level until you need it?

Also, is what we are feeling really true? I mean... we are assuming that we'd be up to that level we want with a few months of professional immersion. I'm wondering if that is a mistaken assumption. So often in the past I've felt like "all I need to do is ____ and that will get me to _____" and then to learn that I really needed to do more than finish Assimil or FSI or read a book. It just seems that the more I move on the more I realize that I really do need to work harder and more. So, when that professional immersion time comes am I then going to be saying "well, i can do my job, but I really don't understand the Puerto Ricans very well and I need to study some more idioms and practice with that accent..." or whatever.

Anyway, I am just half talking out loud because I ponder these questions a lot and appreciate reading everyone's thoughts.




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