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Allons-y: Anna Learns French!

  Tags: French
 Language Learning Forum : Language Learning Log Post Reply
51 messages over 7 pages: 1 2 3 4 5 6 7  Next >>
Senior Member
Joined 2301 days ago

134 posts - 40 votes
Speaks: English*
Studies: Italian, French

 Message 1 of 51
06 April 2012 at 10:33am | IP Logged 
I love the French language. Ever since I first read the Madeline books and saw the cartoon I longed to speak
French. When I first heard my relitives speaking the language I wanted to be able to communicate with them.
Ever since I saw the film Amelie I wanted to ignore the subtitles and focus on the words. You get the

I travelled to France 5 years or so ago when I was 15 and my dad did most of the communication, with the
limited French he knew and his Italian (his first language) plus English. I remember English being easy to
communicate in but want to be prepared. Plus, there is no time like the present.

I began learning about 2 years ago, but with no focus. Last year I bought some second hand readers and
started learning grammar and vocabulary, but life got in the way.

Well not anymore. I'm planning a trip to Europe later this year and I am determined to have some language
skills. While we do not have a travel plan, my heart is set on French and as I see it, it can only help.

So I decided to start a log. If nothing else, it will keep me accountable and serve to be a reminder of my

Where am I now?
I started with the most common French words (500 I believe) last year but I made the flash cards without
articles and used a bad list. I also found it difficult.

As my immediate need is travel, I am starting with travel-orientated language. I have made flash cards for
those sorts of things, and will be making word lists for these. Of course, I am not traveling for another 9
months, but I figure if I start by learning those things, there will be no hesitation when I have the need to ask
someone if they speak English.

I am a few discs into Michel Thomas and will continue with that. I did 4 discs 2 years ago and still remember
much of what I learnt with little to no reinforcement, so it does work for me.

Once I have got the travel and 'essential' vocabulary down pat, I am unsure of where to go. I may go back
with the most common words or I may get targeted word lists and make flash cards for those. I have dietary
issues so I may learn food words first so it will be easy in restaurants.

I am a big fan of reading so hope to use books to learn a fair bit. I'm also a fan of French music so can't wait
to get into lyrics training.

Any advice is greatly appreciated!

Senior Member
Czech Republic
Joined 2686 days ago

3277 posts - 3511 votes 
Speaks: Czech*, FrenchC2, EnglishC1
Studies: Spanish, German, Italian

 Message 2 of 51
06 April 2012 at 11:52am | IP Logged 
Welcome to the forums, Anna!

French is a wonderful language, I wish you a lot of success.

Pieces of advice:

You may want to try some digital flash card application. Anki is very popular around
here but I love

Michel Thomas seems to suit you well but as you said, you will need some continuing.
Popular and good choices of members of the forums are Assimil French with Ease or FSI
(FSI is free online). You can find a lot of information on both around here.

A good thing to use is a grammar book. There are many on the market. The best, in my
opinion, are those with a lot of exemples and exercises. You'll surely find many in a
bookshop to have a look at and decide.

Just my two cents (not more so I don't make you feel overwhelmed :-D ). Feel free to
ask, if you have any questions.

I'm looking forward to reading your log :-)
1 person has voted this message useful

Senior Member
Joined 2301 days ago

134 posts - 40 votes
Speaks: English*
Studies: Italian, French

 Message 3 of 51
06 April 2012 at 12:29pm | IP Logged 
Thanks Cavesa!

I have tried anki previously so I will give memrise a try. I have a real thing with real flash cards, but I think it
maybe best to stick with digital. I have an iPad now and it is just begging to be used for flash cards!

I'm definitely on the lookout for a good grammar book. In fact, I think it is where I have struggled in the last. I
did buy a grammar book recently, but I haven't started using it because I haven't had a good chance to lookat
it yet.

I've never used word lists in my French attempts or back in my schooldays of Japanese but I plan to make
them, if for no other reason than to help make flash cards and to have a hard copy of what I am learning.

For both word lists and flash cards, should I include more than the word in French and then in English?
Should I include a sentence for context?

Oh and I meant to write in my initial entry that one source of inspiration and incentive to go on is that in my
babbling the other day I managed to get the r sound in 'tre' etc sounding right out of the blue on more than
one occasion. It's now at the point that in the week since the sound magically came out of my mouth I have
got it wrong less than 5 times. This has really made me feel good about my efforts as I know I've made

Joined 2380 days ago

28 posts - 17 votes
Speaks: French*, English
Studies: Portuguese, Thai, German, Dutch

 Message 4 of 51
07 April 2012 at 3:48am | IP Logged 
Salut Anna !

Like Cavesa, I recommend you to study French with Assimil : this is, in my opinion, the
best tool to go from the beginner level to the intermediate level in French in a little
bit more than 3 months.
For this, only 1 lesson per day (about 20-40 minutes, depending on the complexity of
the lesson) is required !
The dialogues in Assimil are very natural and pleasing : this makes a huge difference
with other methods that I know (Teach Yourself, F.S.I., etc ...)

Anki is a wonderful tool but, unlike most of the other forumers here, I would not
recommend to use it to learn basic vocabulary.
In my opinion, you learn the basic vocabulary by exposure while reading texts for
beginners/intermediate, so there is no need to review again these words on Anki !
On the other hand, to learn specific words to order food in a restaurant (for exemple),
I think Anki will be your best friend !

Michel Thomas is good, but this is just a first step.
You will have to find other ressources.

Everybody is different and has a different "method" to learn a foreign language.
But if I were you, I would do like this :
1. Michel Thomas (to get some familiarity with French)
2. Assimil (to acquire an intermediate level)
3. Reading and listening native materials (articles of Wikipedia, French TV/radio, etc

Bonne chance !!!   :-)
2 persons have voted this message useful

Senior Member
Joined 2318 days ago

163 posts - 52 votes 
Speaks: French*, English
Studies: Spanish, Russian, Norwegian, Latin, Persian, Biblical Hebrew, Arabic (classical), German

 Message 5 of 51
07 April 2012 at 5:46pm | IP Logged 
Anna I hope to read new posts of you.

The flashcards is a good method to learn new vocabulary.

Good luck or Bonne chance.
1 person has voted this message useful

Senior Member
Joined 2301 days ago

134 posts - 40 votes
Speaks: English*
Studies: Italian, French

 Message 6 of 51
12 April 2012 at 3:08pm | IP Logged 
Thanks everyone for the advice. I have a tendency to go hardcore for a few days, abandoning my actual studies
for university, and then going hardcore again. It is an inevitability, as I have so many commitments, but at least
this time I have kept french in mind.

Last year I bought a book on my kindle called Il fait Beau (
ebook/dp/B0057P30CS). It's basically designed so you can start reading early and get a good grasp of the
language structure. As I was away with no way of accessing the internet or any dictionaries or other books that I
had, I started looking at the book. I've really been enjoying it and, although I didn't know all the words, I could
work out almost everything. There are 'footnote' links to some more complicated words/phrases as well, which
helps. Also helpful are the questions at the end of each chapter.

So not a great deal of progress. A positive note is that I now have my french dictionary again, so that's bound to
be helpful. Aside from that, nothing new to report.

Senior Member
Joined 2501 days ago

314 posts - 94 votes 
Speaks: French*, English
Studies: Polish, Mandarin

 Message 7 of 51
12 April 2012 at 4:19pm | IP Logged 
I think any kind of progress is worthwhile. I don't agree with people who say "you HAVE to study every day for a
LEAST an hour if you want to make any progress at all in any language, if you don't do one hour EVERY day, you
might as well not learn it, not even try!!!!!", etc. I think that's bollocks. That's just not how life is and the brain
responds to a variety of stimuluses and in various contexts. You found a way to make the most of a situation, good
for you. And good luck with your process!
1 person has voted this message useful

Senior Member
Joined 2301 days ago

134 posts - 40 votes
Speaks: English*
Studies: Italian, French

 Message 8 of 51
13 April 2012 at 12:27am | IP Logged 
Thanks homogenik. I'm starting to appreciate the little things, like the othe day when I got the r sound right, I
had just decided I could make do without for now; surely I'd be understood without it.

As I took my kindle to bed last night I realized how far I had gotten in the book while on the plane. The trip
was an hour or so and I got through a couple of chapters, with no access to a dictionary or Internet to look
words up. In fact, I didn't spend The whole trip on the book as I changed to the hunger games when the
French tired me.

I've Also found myself reading outloud. Whether it is helpful, I'm enjoying it.

Once I finish the book I am reading I may move onto the other two. I have found another similar series on the
kindle store, of easy readers designed for adults. The current one I am reading is comedy-action while the
other one is more comedy-romance. At some point, perhaps sooner rather than later, I will star on Harry
potter one. I have the PDFs but have ordered the book and when it arrives, which should be any day now, I
will start work on it. I know it is well above my level, but it can be a good exercise.

I'm watching the first episode of Buffy right now in French with English subtitles. As a fairly low level learner,
it's a bit of a futile exercise, especially as it is really for nothing more than listening to the language. I suspect
watching the news in French could be better for just listening. I mean, I can't understand either.

id love to get my hands on Disney films in French. I suspect the DVDs I get in Australia have French, but I will
check at some point. Must hit up my Uni library at some point too. I know there are a good deal of DVDs
there, not so sure about French books.

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