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emk
Diglot
Moderator
United States
Joined 3643 days ago

2615 posts - 8805 votes 
Speaks: English*, FrenchB2
Studies: Spanish, Ancient Egyptian
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 Message 65 of 1317
18 April 2012 at 5:58pm | IP Logged 
sctroyenne: Thank you for the pointers to the Buffy transcripts! I think that I'm going
to go ahead and order that box set ASAP.

When I was in Montreal, I managed to find the issue of Canard enchaîné that
you've been reading. Even though a lot of it was way over my head, I've been following
the election pretty closely, and I had enough context to get a few of the jokes.

There's a cartoon with Sarkozy and Guéant, where Sarko says: "Guéant, vous avez
réapprovisioné votre stock de salafists ? ...faut tenir jusqu'au 6 mai !"

Ouch. A wee bit cynical about Sarko, there. Thank you very much for the recommendation!

...

I'm getting better at news radio. Increasingly, I expect to understand 75% of a
radio documentary or a discussion between two people with standard accents and good
sound quality, even if I don't have much context. But if somebody dials in from a
cellphone somewhere in Africa, then I'm happy with whatever I can get.

...

I spoke this morning with a very professional French tutor whom I found through Verbal
Planet. She spent about 50 minutes assessing my skills, entirely in French, and
proposed a (very intensive) plan of attack on the DELF B2. She has a degree in FLE,
lots of experience with DELF prep, and a professionally clean accent. Understandably,
she's also fairly expensive.

She's also the second DELF teacher to assess me at B1, which suggests that I'm only a
little bit delusional in my self-assessment. But this does confirm that B1 is a
pretty substantial level. I think that "conversational" really starts somewhere down
around A2 for people who actively try to speak.

When you think about it, trying to reach B2 or C1 as an adult is actually a pretty
ambitious goal—you're trying to compress years of schooling, reading and casual
conversation into about 1,000 hours of very intensive work. Kids get conversational
very quickly, but nobody expects them to write high-school book reports or earn a GED
at age 9. Under the right circumstances, adults learn much faster than kids.
Native speakers get 20 years of round-the-clock practice before anybody expects them to
sound like educated adults.

...and there's nothing like an accelerated DELF syllabus to make you really feel that
in your gut. :-/
6 persons have voted this message useful



geoffw
Triglot
Senior Member
United States
Joined 2799 days ago

1134 posts - 1865 votes 
Speaks: English*, German, Yiddish
Studies: Modern Hebrew, French, Dutch, Italian, Russian

 
 Message 66 of 1317
18 April 2012 at 6:22pm | IP Logged 
My rough estimate had been that if you could reasonably put your reading and speaking at a solid B1 you meet the minimum HTLAL standards for Basic Fluency, and advanced fluency is somewhere around C2.
1 person has voted this message useful



dbag
Senior Member
United Kingdom
Joined 3133 days ago

605 posts - 1046 votes 
Speaks: English*
Studies: Spanish

 
 Message 67 of 1317
18 April 2012 at 8:33pm | IP Logged 
I'm really enjoying this log, as I think it offers a realistic perspective on just how
much work one Really needs to put in to reach a genuine B2, or even a B1. Those are
actually pretty respectable levels, and I reckon a lot of adult learners give up before
reaching them. I also think a lot of people grossly overestimate their own level.

Must say, I'm very impressed with the hard work you've been putting in. What kind of
suggestions did your teacher have to help you prepare for the exam?
1 person has voted this message useful





emk
Diglot
Moderator
United States
Joined 3643 days ago

2615 posts - 8805 votes 
Speaks: English*, FrenchB2
Studies: Spanish, Ancient Egyptian
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 Message 68 of 1317
18 April 2012 at 10:17pm | IP Logged 
dbag wrote:
I'm really enjoying this log, as I think it offers a realistic perspective
on just how much work one Really needs to put in to reach a genuine B2, or even a B1.
Those are actually pretty respectable levels, and I reckon a lot of adult learners give
up before reaching them.


Thank you! But even if the road to B2 is long and occasionally exhausting, it's OK if
some people only go part way. :-) Anybody who spends 20 to 60 minutes a day on Assimil
for 6 months will have a hugely rewarding new skill, especially if they're studying a
Romance language. As the linguist McWhorter put it, "You will be talking like, roughly,
an unusually cosmopolitan three-year-old." If you can have fun speaking like a toddler,
and infect others with your enthusiasm, then the world's your oyster.

dbag wrote:
Must say, I'm very impressed with the hard work you've been putting in.
What kind of suggestions did your teacher have to help you prepare for the exam?


That's a great question! Let me translate and summarize her lesson plan. First of all,
oral comprehension is my responsibility. I get to spend hours listening to RFI,
watching TV shows with a rewind button, and all that good stuff.

She wants to spend one lesson per week on each of the other 3 skills, with lots of
outside homework. She says this is a very intensive pace, and she only recommends it
because I have ambitious goals. Here's her proposed schedule for next week:

Quote:
Homework 1: Reading comprehension, sent by email, and corrected
before the lesson.

Lesson 1: Discussion about the homework corrections, reading work, and phonetic
correction.

Homework 2: Online grammar and conjugation exercises, plus selected readings from a
grammar book, based on my mistakes.

Lesson 2: Speaking about a DELF topic.

Homework 3: A writing exercise, corrected before the lesson.

Lesson 3: Discussing corrections to the writing exercise, and more grammar/conjugation
practice.


Basically, this is the same stuff that I've been doing on LingQ and lang-8, but she's
going to push me out of my comfort zone and point me firmly in the direction of the B2
syllabus. Depending on my consulting schedule, her assignments and lessons would
probably make up 10–30% of my French study time.

Normally, I'm a very self-directed learner. But B2 skills, pretty much by definition,
include typical high school homework. Plus, I get to spend several hours a week
discussing semi-abstract topics with a patient and helpful native speaker, one who
could probably give elocution lessons to radio announcers.

After a week or two, I imagine that we can mix things up and figure out how to
integrate them better with my self-study. I'll definitely write more about what works
and what doesn't.

Edited by emk on 18 April 2012 at 10:25pm

5 persons have voted this message useful





emk
Diglot
Moderator
United States
Joined 3643 days ago

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

 
 Message 69 of 1317
19 April 2012 at 2:19pm | IP Logged 
I don't think I dream in French.

But went to bed around 9pm last night, and I woke up at 12:30am, 2ish, and shortly
after 4. Each time, I was half asleep, and my brain was chugging along at a mile a
minute in French. There's some miraculous and stubborn machinery somewhere deep in my
brain, and it's assembling and reassembling sentences as fast as it can. This isn't the
first night when this has happened, either.

Each and every one of us was a bloody amazing language learner, once upon a
time. We all learned to speak our mother tongue better than Garry Kasparov plays chess.
Sure, some of that language-learning machinery may have gotten rusty. Sure, we're
trying to run it at 7,000 RPM because we're squashing years of full-time immersion into
a thousand hours.

But when we really need it, all that machinery is still there. We need to oil it, and
fix it, and push it along, and maybe replace some parts that were broken when our brain
started pruning neural connections around 5th grade. But once that machinery is up and
running, it's amazing stuff, part of our human birthright—we learn languages. It's who
we are.

To change metaphors, learning a language is like tending a garden. We plant the seeds,
cull the weeds, and stake the tomatoes. We make sure the plants get plenty of water and
sun. But all our efforts, no matter how necessary, pale before the miracle of the
plants themselves: Intricate chemical factories, with billions of parts, following
ancient programs that even the wisest of us grasp but dimly.

So give your brain a chance to do its stuff today. Listen. Read. Talk.
8 persons have voted this message useful





emk
Diglot
Moderator
United States
Joined 3643 days ago

2615 posts - 8805 votes 
Speaks: English*, FrenchB2
Studies: Spanish, Ancient Egyptian
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 Message 70 of 1317
22 April 2012 at 3:49pm | IP Logged 
We drove down to the French Consulate yesterday so my wife could vote in the first
round. We had an usually high-speed conversation all the way there. I blame it on her
coffee, and my attempt to keep up!

When we walked into the voting room, we were speaking French (of course). My wife took
the ballot, and I sat down in a chair with the kids. The very nice poll-worker looked
over at me and asked, "Are you voting today, too?" Whoo! Apparently, my French is no
longer an automatic giveaway.

There was also an exit poll by a young woman who wanted to know how closely overseas
voters were following the election. She interviewed my wife, and I followed the entire
conversation without any problems.

Some other conversations gave me trouble. I'm still very sensitive to unfamiliar
accents.

...

And now for an interesting exercise from VDM:

Quote:
Aujourd'hui, j'entends sur une radio qui fait un point route qu'un radar flashe
devant une maison en ruine. Il y a en effet une voiture banalisée avec un radar à
l'arrière devant chez moi. VDM

Today, I hear on a radio that's giving a traffic update that a radar is taking pictures
in front of a house in ruin. It is, in fact, an unmarked police car with a radar at the
back in front of my house.


I like the way that sctroyenne defines interesting vocabulary in his log, so I'll go
ahead and copy him. :-)

un point route: A traffic update.

un radar flashe: A radar is taking pictures, so that tickets could be mailed to
drivers.

une voiture banalisée: An unmarked police car.

The ultra-short stories on VDM are often packed full of day-to-day vocabulary and
useful cultural details, such as how French speed traps work. Plus, they make great SRS
cards.

Edited by emk on 22 April 2012 at 3:57pm

3 persons have voted this message useful



sctroyenne
Diglot
Senior Member
United StatesRegistered users can see my Skype Name
Joined 3502 days ago

739 posts - 1312 votes 
Speaks: English*, French
Studies: Spanish, Irish

 
 Message 71 of 1317
22 April 2012 at 7:05pm | IP Logged 
Up until this year it would take me some time to get used to each individual speaker I encountered. Not
so much an accent thing but each person's style of talking - some would speak more out of the front of
their mouths or even nasaly while others would speak from deep in their throats and it took me some
time to get used to. Teenagers who mumble are still hard.

Downloaded the vdm app so I can check it out whenever I'm bored. It's better than Twitter I find as
people tend to refer a lot to various internet "memes" on Twitter (and in shorthand) which makes
comprehension difficult. Oh and thanks - good to know someone appreciates my vocab work. I'm a she
BTW :)
2 persons have voted this message useful





emk
Diglot
Moderator
United States
Joined 3643 days ago

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

 
 Message 72 of 1317
24 April 2012 at 8:07pm | IP Logged 
sctroyenne wrote:
I'm a she BTW :)


Désolé ! Je ferais une plaisanterie sur les fautes de genre (qui me sont souvent un
problème), mais je pense qu'elle serait un peu lourde. :-) Merci de m'avoir corrigé.

...

My intensive French study has begun! Last week, I wrapped up some consulting projects,
and I cut my hours back to half-time, or less, for the 50 days between now and the DELF
exams. So basically I get to spend several days a week indulging shamelessly in French.
It feels really great, in fact, despite the occasional case of brain-fry.

On Sunday evening I worked on a DELF B2 reading exercise while my wife was watching
Engrenages. I took about twice as long as I would on the real exam, but I scored
9 out of 14 points. My DELF tutor told me which answers were wrong, and I managed to go
back raise my score to 12.5 out of 14 before checking a dictionary. Given that the
minimum passing score is only 50% and that this was my first try, I may actually have a
shot at this.

Monday morning took a turn for the worse, thanks to a sudden muscle spam in my jaw. For
the next 3 hours, I could barely swallow, and speaking was physically painful. I told
this to my tutor, and she worked with me to adjust the lesson plan. And during our
lesson, I learned two things: (1) Although my tutor is indeed very good at teaching
French, it's her people skills that are right off the charts. (2) Even when I'm in
physical pain, I can still function in French. This represents an unpleasant but
important milestone.

I spent the afternoon watching Engrenages with and without French subtitles,
rewinding whenever the mood struck me. Sometimes it's OK to just soak in French and
take it easy.

This morning, I spent 30 minutes preparing a DELF oral presentation on violent
television and its effects on children. This is way, way out of my linguistic
comfort zone, but I managed to throw together some notes and talk about the subject
extemporaneously for about 5 minutes, followed by a Q&A session with my tutor where she
pushed me to defend my ideas. I actually survived this, somehow, and I didn't sound
like a complete idiot. Once again, I'm not really at B2 yet, but I may stand a
chance. Of course, when I'm pushed that far out of my comfort zone, I tend to use a lot
of unfortunate anglicisms.

We also did a pronunciation exercise, which involved reading from a passage. This
actually went quite well, aside from the fact that I still don't have a real French R.
I've been instructed to work on my R some every day.

After that, I did a short linguistic exchange with a friendly guy that I found on
SharedTalk. I've discovered that I prefer either minimal corrections, or corrections
typed into Skype as I speak, because that allows me to reach a decent level of fluency
(in the technical sense of speaking smoothly, despite the presence of errors). Given a
choice between fluent speech with errors, or halting-but-correct speech, I'll take the
former any day, on either side of the conversation.

This afternoon, I'm going to find my book of French connector phrases, and make a
zillion Anki cards. Or maybe I'll spend some more time on LingQ. You know, I'm really
having a surprising amount of fun with this.

Edited by emk on 27 April 2012 at 12:10am



1 person has voted this message useful



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