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Confessions of a procrastinator

  Tags: Personality
 Language Learning Forum : Advice Center Post Reply
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PeterMollenburg
Senior Member
AustraliaRegistered users can see my Skype Name
Joined 3782 days ago

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

 
 Message 1 of 20
21 August 2013 at 3:47pm | IP Logged 
I doubt there's many around as bad as me when it comes to learning a language,
inconsistently. This is my story....

I began learning French and Spanish in 1998 (21yrs old then). I completed close to a
year of study via correspondence through University studies of both languages and did
pretty well with them. The French program utilised French in Action and Spanish used
Destinos (with separte assigments developed by the Uni's for submmission). Both are
absolutely awesome programs. I evidently discovered that I could teach myself and
didn't need to enrol in Uni courses to further my studies. So I bought more materials
(the rest of FIA & Destinos to begin with) and embarked on a journey which resulted in
very little...

You see Benny the Irish polyglot hit the nail on the head when he wrote a piece about
perfectionists. I'm indeed a perfectionist. I often didn't study unless I could do the
certain specified hours i had set myself, wouldn't study until i'd bought such and such
a book, covered all my books, ripped all my CD's, converted them perfectly, named them
correctly, bought the new editions and so on and so on. In the end I have spent
thousands of dollars on courses and have not progressed through them very far
considering. Yes I did progress somewhat, but wow, have I stuffed around ;)

But let's be a little fair. I didn't 'really' realise i was soooo passionate about
languages for maybe another 10 years (not exactly, the passion was building more and
more) it simmered in the background and instead I would distract myself by becoming a
travel agent, trying to reach the NBA (yes I'm a BIG dreamer), imagining myself in the
Tour de France, becoming a nurse (feeling it was more realistic than doing something
with languages), getting married (not so time consuming, and definitely a good thing)..

Anyway at times many years would pass and I'd pick up the courses again. Not where I
left off, but back at the start as I wanted to learn EVERYTHING... and I did- I know
the early episodes of FIA and Destinos pretty much word for word. I think there's not
another language learner around that knows sooo much about language learning,
phonetics, dialects... well i don't know all but i know a fair amount and yet i'm still
a very basic Spanish speaker (I think A2), a B1 Dutch speaker (alough fading) - I
started Dutch once upon a time, and German too, my German is almost non-existent...
Well I struggled and struggled. I would study 1 hour a day, 4 hours a day... in fact
whenever studying my plan would change (and still does) daily. I often studied French,
Dutch, Spanish an hour of each within a day, would feel i wasn't getting anywhere, then
I would drop one or 2 languages and then pick them back up again later feeling I was
losing them. Then I'd scrap them all, then start 1 again.... add another... then back
to 3. I even attempted a move to the Netherlands and could only manage to get to B1
before calling it quits and moving back to Australia. Admittedly my wife wasn't so keen
on the weather over there, but had I studied properly before we left our trip might
have been more of a success (who cares now tho).

Right now i'm 36 nearly 37 and i'm (i think wisely considering my track record)
concentrating on ONE language: French. But i'm still barely a b2. I've managed to get
through Colloquial French and Hugo French in 3 months (while at Uni for Nursing back in
2007 or 08- the most French i ever studied was while i was doing a nursing degree apart
from back in the beginning). Now as a nurse, I often look at the packaging of medical
products so i can read the French on it, sometimes Spanish and Dutch, wishing I was
doing a job involving languages, yet know i'm not proficient enough anyway. My plan
this year was to study 3 to 5 hours a day of French. So far (due to all my breaks and
distractions) i'm averaging a little over an hour. As of yesterday i'm up to Lecon 4 of
FIA and Lecon 11 of Assimil as I've been stuffing around with other programs i've used
10 times already.

On a positive note, my accent I feel is excellent (being a perfectionist), my vocab
prob 7000 words at an estimate and maybe i'll actually make it this time as I feel i'm
actually approaching a B2 (albeit prob with 2000hrs of study due to the stopping and
re-starting with years and other languages in between, and honestly i'm not sure that's
an exaggeration).

This post feels uncomfortably self-centered and attention seeking, perhaps it is, but I
had a 'what the hell' moment and just had to share my monumental rediculous journey
with others. My word of advice for EVERYONE. Be realistic with your goals, slowly and
steady gets you there in the end, be consistent, and maybe i'll learn to finally take
my own advice too.

And to end it all nicely. I'm still on a mission to get to my goal of fluency in at
least one of my favoured languages (C2 in French is my aim). Wish me luck, and I'll try
to do the rest,

Cheers,
Steve
aka Petermollenburg
4 persons have voted this message useful



iguanamon
Tetraglot
Senior Member
Virgin Islands
Speaks: Ladino
Joined 3568 days ago

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

 
 Message 2 of 20
21 August 2013 at 4:24pm | IP Logged 
Welcome to the forum, PeterMollenburg! I think where you may be getting derailed is by focusing on courses and not on actually using the language. Try to get involved with French while you are doing your course(s). If you like music- there's Lyrics Training. Listening- Le journal en français facile. Children's books for reading. GLOSS for more intensive audio and reading study. In short, engage the language on many fronts, not just courses. A course should be one out of many tools you use to engage the language and engage the language you must or you'll just be really good at studying.

Regardless, good luck!
6 persons have voted this message useful



PeterMollenburg
Senior Member
AustraliaRegistered users can see my Skype Name
Joined 3782 days ago

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

 
 Message 3 of 20
21 August 2013 at 5:04pm | IP Logged 
iguanamon wrote:
Welcome to the forum, PeterMollenburg! I think where you may be
getting derailed is by focusing on courses and not on actually using the language. Try
to get involved with French while you are doing your course(s). If you like
music- there's Lyrics Training. Listening-
Le journal en français
facile
. Children's books for reading. GLOSS for more intensive audio and reading
study. In short, engage the language on many fronts, not just courses. A course should
be one out of many tools you use to engage the language and engage the language
you must or you'll just be really good at studying.

Regardless, good luck!


Thanks for the welcome. Sound advice you have given, I shall endeavour to take on board
your tips. I must say I have bought a lot of childrens books (predominantly audio-
which i haven't begun reading yet), I have subscribed to French learning mag Bien-dire
(not using yet), and I am attempting to read more and more online just on topics of
general interest that i'd usually read in EN (this I am actually doing). I have begun
buying FR music. So I'm working on it, but could do better. Guess I was on the right
track but prob still not really engaging enough. Thanks for the tips, I really
appreciate it.

What do you mean by GLOSS?
1 person has voted this message useful



Bao
Diglot
Senior Member
Germany
tinyurl.com/pe4kqe5
Joined 4072 days ago

2256 posts - 4045 votes 
Speaks: German*, English
Studies: French, Spanish, Japanese, Mandarin

 
 Message 4 of 20
21 August 2013 at 5:29pm | IP Logged 
GLOSS

As for racking up more time, it may help to use all the 'empty minutes' in a day, commercial breaks, waiting for the coffee machine etc.
I usually have flash cards, an mp3 player, a target language book or my smart phone to use those moments.

But, make sure to also have some free time every day.
4 persons have voted this message useful



Jeffers
Senior Member
United Kingdom
Joined 3215 days ago

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

 
 Message 5 of 20
22 August 2013 at 3:42am | IP Logged 
Steve, I know the feeling of being stuck in the beginning of a lot of courses: I like the beginning, it feels full of potential, but once you get underway that feeling fades more and more and it just becomes work.

For me, the solution was to make language learning fun. Watch movies, listen to music you like, read books and comics. If I could make one specific suggestion which has really made a big difference for my progress, it would be listening to and reading Le Petit Nicolas. I've listened to the audio book about 10 times, and I'm on my third reading of the book, and it still makes me laugh!

I imagine you enjoyed French at least in part because of the fun involved in the FIA videos. Find that fun again.

EDIT: by the way, what French music have you found? I listen to a lot, and my kids compain that I never listen to music in English anymore!

Edited by Jeffers on 22 August 2013 at 3:44am

7 persons have voted this message useful



Stelle
Bilingual Triglot
Senior Member
Canada
tobefluent.com
Joined 2450 days ago

949 posts - 1686 votes 
Speaks: French*, English*, Spanish
Studies: Tagalog

 
 Message 6 of 20
22 August 2013 at 4:17pm | IP Logged 
If it's not fun...then I won't do it.

Do you enjoy working your way through those programs? Or are you doing it because you feel like you should?

My favourite language-learning activities are:

- reading children's novels
- doing language exchanges on Skype
- listening to music (and singing along!)
- listening to podcasts

So that's what I mostly do! Sure, I also study grammar explicitly, and I did drag myself through the first 16
lessons of Pimsleur, but the cornerstone of my language learning is thinking about things that I love to do in
English or French, and then doing them in Spanish.

For French, depending on your level, there are lots of children's novels available - both written in French and
translated from the English. I really liked La quete de Despereaux (translated from the English novel by Kate
DiCamillo - I've read it in English, Spanish and French and loved it every single time!).

edited to add: Le petit Nicolas really is a great book!

I listed some French Canadian children's novels in another post, that I'm copying and pasting here:

Stelle wrote:
Le petit Nicolas and Le petit prince are both classics. Can't go wrong with either one
of those.

If you're interested in branching out and reading some entertaining present-day French-
Canadian authors, I can recommend:

Mélanie Watt for picture books
She's a writer/illustrator and her books are absolutely hilarious. I especially love
the Frisson l'écureuil series (translated by Mélanie to English as well, under the name
Scaredy Squirrel). Kids love them - but there's a lot there for adults too. I actually
use them in my adult French courses.

Danielle Simard for easy illustrated chapter books
My fourth- and fifth-graders (immersion students, so reading at a slightly lower level
than they would be in English) really loved her series that follows the days of the
week, about a little boy named Julien. The first one is called Le champion du lundi.
All of her books are very readable, though.

Alain Bergeron, also for easy illustrated chapter books
One of his books - Zzzut! - is about a little boy who can't do an oral presentation in
class because his zipper gets stuck in the bathroom. Ridiculous, right? Well, this book
made the rounds of my all-male adult French class. Everyone wanted to read it - and
everyone loved it, even the self-professed non-reader who hadn't read a book in any
language since high school 25 years earlier.

Dominique Demers
She writes all levels of children's books. I especially love her series that begins
with La nouvelle maîtresse - about a very unorthodox substitute teacher who takes over
a class. It's aimed at a slightly higher age group than the books I mentioned by
Bergeron and Simard. This series was very popular with the 'tween crowd in French
Canada. They made a movie out of the first book a few years ago.


Edited by Stelle on 22 August 2013 at 4:21pm

4 persons have voted this message useful



Cavesa
Triglot
Senior Member
Czech Republic
Joined 3315 days ago

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

 
 Message 7 of 20
22 August 2013 at 5:34pm | IP Logged 
I think you may be around the level at which I was a year or so ago with some similar issues. What helped me from there and what didn't, what I would advise myself a year or a two ago:

1.Get reading. Not children books, unless you enjoy them. BDs are an awesome beginning. Or translated books of easier genres. For example the French translation of the True Blood books is really good or Harry Potter is a popular choice. Or books for young readers tend to be easier, such as those by Erik L'Homme, while not being boring. Get through some and once you are at least a bit comfortable, get to things you really enjoy and start from there. Discover new authors and build your own French books taste. During that journey, you will get tons of input and it will move you forward. Use French wikipedia and similar non fiction sources.

2.Get listening. Watching TV shows in French made a world of difference for me. My listening comprehension went several levels up and so did my ability to think in the language. And surprisingly, it helped with speaking a lot! There are some tv shows with good quality dubbing and some original ones ideas both on the htlal wikia or in some logs, such as emk's or mine. And Stelle is totally right about the music

3.Don't stop learning grammar. I didn't have time for this and it is noticeable. Not that much in speaking I dare guess. But every time I have a second to think about it, for example when writing or when being asked a question on grammar (like which option is correct or how to say something well), I stumble. Don't make my mistake. But for that, you don't need to go through basic courses again. Get a good grammar book with exercises or something other and dense. If grammar learning is not your favourite activity, than make the time intense so it can be shorter.

And of course there is a lot more you can and should do, such as practice writing and speaking as often as possible and so on.

Points one and two can be as well seen as a step towards defeating the procrastination. When you read and watch things you enjoy, than there is no reason for your brain to defend itself by procrastination.
6 persons have voted this message useful



Stelle
Bilingual Triglot
Senior Member
Canada
tobefluent.com
Joined 2450 days ago

949 posts - 1686 votes 
Speaks: French*, English*, Spanish
Studies: Tagalog

 
 Message 8 of 20
22 August 2013 at 5:56pm | IP Logged 
Cavesa wrote:


1.Get reading. Not children books, unless you enjoy them. BDs are an awesome beginning.


This is very true. If you don't like children's books in your own language, then you probably won't love them in your
target language. BUT I think that a lot of adults don't realize how many good children's books there are out there!

For BDs, I grew up on Asterix!


2 persons have voted this message useful



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