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Expugnator
Hexaglot
Senior Member
Brazil
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3335 posts - 4349 votes 
Speaks: Portuguese*, Norwegian, French, English, Italian, Papiamento
Studies: Mandarin, Georgian, Russian

 
 Message 321 of 1317
12 December 2012 at 7:46pm | IP Logged 
emk, merci beaucoup de vos conseils. J'ai pris ma décision et j'ai écri quelque chose sur mon log, pour ne pas remplir le tien avec mes divagations =D
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emk
Diglot
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United States
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Speaks: English*, FrenchB2
Studies: Spanish, Ancient Egyptian
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 Message 322 of 1317
12 December 2012 at 7:59pm | IP Logged 
geoffw wrote:
And yet, I started studying Italian just 2 weeks ago, and already I feel like I can understand the football announcers in Italian about as well as the ones in French!!! I think it's just objectively harder, especially as an English-speaker,
to translate reading skills in French into listening skills, compared to other languages (e.g., Spanish, Italian, German).


There might be some truth to this. Thanks to liaison and enchaînement, French syllable boundaries require some different parsing strategies than those in English and Italian. There's also those front rounded vowels and nasal vowels that English speakers don't expect, and they do a lot of work in distinguishing words in fast speech. In comparison, there aren't many sounds in Italian that are unfamiliar to English speakers. So I wouldn't be surprised if it takes a bit longer to reprogram our brains for French listening.

French spelling is of course another headache. It's too comfortably familiar for English speakers, and it's so different from how French is pronounced that we get lazy—we sight-read words without ever fully hearing them in our heads. When those words include lots of nasal vowels and silent consonants, then our reading skills won't always transfer to our listening skills.

I think the fix is some combination of listening/reading (to help link the sounds to the printed word), and sheer volume. If you follow my log, you can see that I've made a lot of progress since February, but that I still have quite a ways to do. And I never hesitate to cheat by looking for long series, familiar subjects, or things I can watch with subtitles and then without.
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emk
Diglot
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United States
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 Message 323 of 1317
15 December 2012 at 4:45am | IP Logged 
Random updates!

French: I spent the first half of this week feeling sick and yucky and braindead, and reading French was a horrible slog. I took a nap after work yesterday and was feeling better in the evening—and reading French was pleasant and easy. I'm continually surprised by how much my skills vary from day to day.

I also am considering a secret (and very geeky) project to give my French a good workout.

Egyptian: It's been a while since I paused Assimil L'Égyptien hiéroglyphique at lesson 30. Since then, I've averaged about 10 Anki reviews per day (out of 536 cards). In another 3 weeks or so, that will drop as most of the cards reach a 5-month interval.

The cards got steadily easier for the first 20 or so days after the corresponding lesson. (This corresponds to what Anki calls a "mature" card.) Since then, the easy cards remain easy, and the difficult cards remain difficult. I'm pretty sure that I could pick up lesson 31 whenever I wanted, and be a bit ahead of where I would have been on day 31. The major obstacle is that typing hieroglyphics is time-consuming, and I'd rather work on my French right now.

If I can hold on to most of my Egyptian across the upcoming 5-month interval on most of the cards, this may be a very practical way to study a secondary language over the course of several years without having to start from scratch each time. Let's see.
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emk
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 Message 324 of 1317
16 December 2012 at 8:52pm | IP Logged 
Today: What it feels like when I read French, and some examples of unusual French
grammar.

Have you ever heard the following passage from the book of Matthew?

Quote:
Then were there brought unto him little children, that he should put his hands
on them, and pray: and the disciples rebuked them. But Jesus said, Suffer little
children, and forbid them not, to come unto me: for of such is the kingdom of heaven.


This is usually quoted as, "Suffer the little children to come unto me." It's a weird
phrase, because this sense of "suffer" is extraordinarily rare in the modern language.
But you can figure it out from context: It means something like "let" or "permit", and
it's translated that way in newer bibles.

When I read French, it often feels much the same as reading this passage. The text
makes sense, but the grammar is unfamiliar ("come unto me?" "for of such
is..."?). And as with this passage, it sometimes takes me two tries to figure out
what's being said.

Three odd bits of French grammer greatly loved by Le Mondre

If you're an intemediate French student, each of these three examples will probably
strike you as odd:

Quote:
1. Une fois la porte fermée, je suis parti.
Once the door was closed, I left.

2. Dix étaient blessés, dont trois français.
Ten were wounded, including three French people.

3. C'est le vélo qu'a gagné Aija.

It's the bike that Aija won.


Example 1 is missing a verb. Example 2 appears to read "of which three French". Example
3 puts the subject after the verb, which is fairly unusual in French. I had my
wife proofread the examples; they should all be actual French.

The first time I saw each of these constructions in a book, I was really confused. But
after reading 2500+ pages of French, I've seen each them so many times that they're
practically old friends. ("Oh, it's that thing that Le Monde loves to do with
dont.") This is why extensive input is so important: Even strange little turns
of phrase will eventually drill their way into my head by sheer repetition, provided I
pay attention and look for things I don't expect.

Edited by emk on 16 December 2012 at 8:53pm

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tastyonions
Triglot
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Speaks: English*, French, Spanish
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 Message 325 of 1317
16 December 2012 at 9:01pm | IP Logged 
Interesting constructions. I think I may have read the "dont" construction in Le Monde before and didn't know what to make of it. I don't believe I've encountered the others before, though.

I kind of like that first one. It strikes me as elegant.

Edited by tastyonions on 16 December 2012 at 9:02pm

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Quique
Diglot
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Spain
cronopios.net/Registered users can see my Skype Name
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Speaks: Spanish*, English
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 Message 326 of 1317
16 December 2012 at 9:25pm | IP Logged 
emk wrote:
I also am considering a secret (and very geeky) project to give my French a
good workout.

Oooh, I can't wait to know about it! Tell us more, tell us more!
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Quique
Diglot
Senior Member
Spain
cronopios.net/Registered users can see my Skype Name
Joined 2845 days ago

183 posts - 313 votes 
Speaks: Spanish*, English
Studies: French, German

 
 Message 327 of 1317
16 December 2012 at 9:31pm | IP Logged 

Quote:
1. Une fois la porte fermée, je suis parti.
Once the door was closed, I left.

2. Dix étaient blessés, dont trois français.
Ten were wounded, including three French people.

3. C'est le vélo qu'a gagné Aija.

It's the bike that Aija won.


They don't strike me ass odd, because we have simmilar constructions in Spanish:

  1. Una vez cerrada la puerta, me fui.

  2. Hubo diez heridos, entre ellos tres franceses.

  3. Es la bici que ha ganado Aija.


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emk
Diglot
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 Message 328 of 1317
17 December 2012 at 3:47pm | IP Logged 
Secret project

Quique wrote:
emk wrote:
I also am considering a secret (and very geeky) project to give my French a good workout.

Oooh, I can't wait to know about it! Tell us more, tell us more!


If I tell you more, it won't be a secret. :-) OK, OK, I'll elaborate a bit. I want to take an esoteric topic that I have trouble explaining in English, and try explaining it in French.

How to keep Anki from ruining your life

I'm going to quote a bit of tastyonion's log and discuss it here, because it's an interesting topic.

Quote:
I'm not quite sure how I want to use Anki yet. Right now I have a big deck full of sentences, mostly from Assimil, and another with somewhat random idioms / constructions I have picked up everywhere. This morning I made a "grammar" deck, which I think I may use specifically for reviewing things like preposition use, verb conjugations, etc.


Anki, like other SRS software, is a fantastic tool. It can allow you to internalize a huge amount of data with minimal effort. It can also make your life completely unbearable.

First, the dangers of Anki:

1. Anki turns language learning in concrete, measurable, daily goals. Can you learn 10 new cards? Can you review 70 old cards? On a scale of 1 to 4, how well did you answer the last card? This is helpful, up to a point, but it can also make you miserable. It can consume all your language learning time with mechanical goals, and leave you no time to slack off and read bandes dessinées or silly web sites.

2. Anki shows you difficult cards more often than easy cards. This includes cards that are difficult because they're just plain lousy cards. So given a deck of 1000 cards and 3 months, you'll eventually spend most of your time reviewing the worst cards in the deck. And every morning, Anki will happily announce that you're obliged to torture yourself with 60 more crummy cards today.

So Anki is both powerful and dangerous, and that's why when you start using it, everybody wants to give you a whole bunch of advice. :-) Here's my advice, for whatever it might be worth:

1. Don't try to learn more than 10 to 20 cards per day for the first two weeks. Sure, you could learn 50, but look how the reviews stack up: assume 6 sets of reviews per day * 50 cards = 300 reviews per day. Don't worry, if you learn 10 cards a day, you'll have 60 to review before you know it. Learning way too many cards per day is the most popular way to drive yourself insane with Anki.

2. Any given card is expendable. So what it you delete the card for foirer? Seriously, if the word really matters, you'll have another dozen opportunities to learn it. Deletion feels really good, and it rapidly eliminates those same lousy 50 cards that you see every week. If you have trouble letting go, try to re-read these two essays by Khatz every so often. Or just try to delete at least one card every day.

3. If you do lots of L1<->L2 cards with single words, you will eventually have lots of trouble with synonyms. If the L1 says, "to fail, to miss", does the L2 say échouer, rater, foirer, louper or something else? My favorite way to handle near-synonyms is to make a sentence card, boldface the interesting word, and test myself on understanding the word in context. Really, it's way more fun to have a card like this:

Quote:
Aujourd'hui, j'avais rendez-vous chez le médecin à 10 heures pour des problèmes d'insomnie qui me gâchent la vie. J'ai loupé ce rendez-vous pour une raison simple : je ne me suis pas réveillé. VDM


Note that an MCD card wouldn't work here: Even taking into account the colloquial context, this could just as easily be raté (as far as I know). And if you spend your Anki time agonizing over which synonym you're supposed to use on a particular card, it's time to back up and get some perspective.

4. Set your leech threshold really low. When using Anki 2, I like to set it to 4: If I miss a card 4 times, Anki will automatically suspend it. Anki 2 won't count any misses that happen when you're first learning the card.

5. Experiment a lot. Try new card formats, new approaches to deletion, whatever. Just don't get trapped in one dodgy behavior pattern.

6. Don't get stressed out trying to follow my advice, either. :-)


Edited by emk on 17 December 2012 at 5:09pm



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