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Yet another study schedule, comments?

  Tags: Study Plan
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PeterMollenburg
Senior Member
AustraliaRegistered users can see my Skype Name
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Speaks: English*
Studies: FrenchB1

 
 Message 1 of 46
11 October 2013 at 8:16am | IP Logged 
Okay for those of you that have come across me before... i suffer with a common affliction that I seem to have
perfected: procrastination. This isn't another poor me help me post, but just some feedback on my proposed
study schedule. I'm hoping to do 5 hours a day of study, but honestly i'll probably average more like 3 hours. I
think it was emk that said 'just stop stopping' when it comes to succeeding in learning a language, that's
something i'm still trying to get right. I'm wanting to reach c2, but seeing how others have illustrated the tough
journey to b2 and c1, c2 could be unrealistic. Nevertheless this is my current study régime. Any thoughts
anyone?

1st hour: French in Action (I have all the materials).
2nd hour: Assimil NFWE (will follow with UF, then Business French)
3rd hour: FSI Mastering French Level 1 (then 2)
4th hour: Fluenz French (DVD-ROM progarm, currently nearing end of level 2, have all 5 levels)
5th hour: Review of Hugo French in 3 Months (I completed this course around 7 yrs ago)
After Hugo Fr in 3 Mths my 5th hour will be Colloquial French (also completed this around 7 yrs ago)

I will also be using Flashcards Deluxe (like Anki) to fill in some gaps throughout the day as well as Yabla to
watch Video and I have the whole Pimsleur (finished MT), Rocket French, Collins Paul Someone Audio
program all for listening in car while commuting.

Any thoughts on how far I can get with this by May (now it's nearing mid October)... I really want to get to C1
at least, I have a child on the way in late May am looking to buy a house (and thus commute further to work)
and time will be difficult to find. I'm a good example of how not to waste your time and how not to study
(procrastinate for years on end at times claiming I could speak French, what BS I had no idea how much
further I had to go).

Steve aka PM

1 person has 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 2 of 46
11 October 2013 at 11:08am | IP Logged 
If you are a procrastinator, you might like some of what I have tried during the last few years:

-task based approach instead of an hour on this and hour on that. smaller pieces like "one lesson of assimil" or "fifty flashcard reviews" or "writing ten sentences on the topic" with no time limit
OR the opposite
-something like the pomodoro technique, which is based on 25 minutes of work and 5-10 minutes break. shorter times of full concentration.

-rewarding yourself for the less fun things
-spending as much time as possible with fun learning activities. extensive reading or listening does bring fruits and your brain shouldn't have the need to postpone them. If you are already basically speaking, than watching a tv show or reading an easier book could do miracles for you.
-don't hesitate to leave out material that doesn't give anything to you. things you have already covered in Assimil and FSI don't need that much time in Hugo. Or exercises that are badly designed (such as those teaching about grammar instead of the grammar itself or any other kind of exercise that you don't find helpful)

The material you have listed will give you excellent foundation. But not level C1 by far. Assimil ends around B1, FSI something like that as well (perhaps more grammar but less vocabulary etc.), Fluenz is probably awesome for beginners but the level 5 doesn't even touch the subjunctive and other very common things (therefore it's like A2), Hugo is like B1?, something like that. All of them are great things but nowhere near C1.

You will need some good intermediate material and lots of input. You will need to practice and leave your comfort zone.

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 3 of 46
11 October 2013 at 11:48am | IP Logged 
Where are the native materials? While I think that language-learning programs are fine for beginners, once I
reached the intermediate stage I found that I learned a lot more from TV shows, music and books. And what
about less rigid output - conversation practice, writing (without being prompted by a grammar book).

Honestly, I don't think that your study schedule sounds like much fun. And - while you'll learn the basics - I don't
think it will take you to C1. What's your level right now?

If I were you, I'd stick with French in Action (a fun program with lots of input), choose Assimil OR FSI, spend 30ish
minutes studying grammar (including applying grammar rules orally and in writing), and use the rest of the time
in some combination of:

- conversation. Either a free language exchange or paid tutoring. I'd aim for a bare minimum of 2-3 hours per
week of conversation. You can find language partners on sites like conversationexchange.com or italki.com. If
you live in a big city, then you can probably find face-to-face language partners and meet for coffee.

- writing. Write a paragraph and post it to Lang-8 or italki for feedback from natives. (But don't forget that you'll
also have to return the favour and help English-learners from time-to-time). Or find a native speaker who's
willing to correspond with you via email or chat. You write in French, s/he responds in English, and that way you
both get some practice.

- listening/watching. Not just dialogues from language programs, but native materials as well. TV shows or
movies (with or without subtitles) are great because they include multi-person conversations (one of the toughest
things to master) and also give insight to body language and culture. Podcasts and radio shows are also a great
tool for intermediate learners. And music! You'll be surprised at how much you can learn from music.

- reading. Real stuff. Articles, books, how-to manuals - whatever interests you in your own language. Choose
something that you can actually read, since it's frustrating and counterproductive to push your way through
dense text that's too difficult for you.

In the end, you have to do whatever you enjoy! So if you enjoy language programs, then maybe that's what you
should do right now. But eventually you're going to have to branch out into real communication if you ever want
to be able to actually function in a French-speaking area.

Good luck!

Edited by Stelle on 11 October 2013 at 11:52am

5 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 4 of 46
11 October 2013 at 11:58am | IP Logged 
Cavesa wrote:
If you are a procrastinator, you might like some of what I have tried during the last few
years:

-task based approach instead of an hour on this and hour on that. smaller pieces like "one lesson of assimil"
or "fifty flashcard reviews" or "writing ten sentences on the topic" with no time limit
OR the opposite
-something like the pomodoro technique, which is based on 25 minutes of work and 5-10 minutes break.
shorter times of full concentration.

-rewarding yourself for the less fun things
-spending as much time as possible with fun learning activities. extensive reading or listening does bring
fruits and your brain shouldn't have the need to postpone them. If you are already basically speaking, than
watching a tv show or reading an easier book could do miracles for you.
-don't hesitate to leave out material that doesn't give anything to you. things you have already covered in
Assimil and FSI don't need that much time in Hugo. Or exercises that are badly designed (such as those
teaching about grammar instead of the grammar itself or any other kind of exercise that you don't find helpful)

The material you have listed will give you excellent foundation. But not level C1 by far. Assimil ends around
B1, FSI something like that as well (perhaps more grammar but less vocabulary etc.), Fluenz is probably
awesome for beginners but the level 5 doesn't even touch the subjunctive and other very common things
(therefore it's like A2), Hugo is like B1?, something like that. All of them are great things but nowhere near
C1.

You will need some good intermediate material and lots of input. You will need to practice and leave your
comfort zone.


Hi Cavesa,

Thanks for your reply. Actually not simply to contradict what you might be suggesting (that I'm finding the
courses perhaps boring or dry or something of the sort), I actually get a buzz out of these courses. The 'task
orientated approach' is a good suggestion, but I think not a good idea for me. I don't know, i seem to feel that
the hourly approach works well for me. When I pick up my books/courses I do really stick to the hour format,
so a task approach would detract from this. The problem is life distracts me, or I distract me with other
interests.

I will keep persisting on with these courses, but as suspected I guess to a degree, these courses won't get
me where I want to be as you have made clearer, but I may as well do them first (I know you're not telling me
not to). After that I have material to continue with. I have about 3 years worth of 'Think French' magazine as
well as a 2 yr subscription of issues of Bien-dire. I'm sure these well help a lot to 'transition' to a more
advanced level. However if you don't agree then please by all means do say so. I also own French Ultimate
Verb Review and Practice. As well As Vis-à-vis (i suspect that is only max B1/B2 as well as Ultimate French
Review and Practice, Hugo Advanced and Colloquial 2. Plus to add to the French magazines, I have a lot of
audio books and non-audio French books.

At the end of the day i've just got to 'push through' and DO IT. I keep telling myself this only to have prolonged
breaks all the time. I'm going to make a post on this website every so often whenever I make some milestone
such as finishing all Fluenz, finishing FIA etc. Just to give me some sense of accomplishment.

I am going to my first 'meet up' next week. This I must do more of, I think it will give me the incentive I need to
remain motivated or to at least push myself when motivation wanes. Thanks for your comments, the most
useful is your opinion on the levels these courses will take you to. That advice is much appreciated in
particular, cheers again,
Steve.
1 person has 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 5 of 46
11 October 2013 at 12:09pm | IP Logged 
Stelle wrote:
Where are the native materials? While I think that language-learning programs are fine for
beginners, once I
reached the intermediate stage I found that I learned a lot more from TV shows, music and books. And what
about less rigid output - conversation practice, writing (without being prompted by a grammar book).

Honestly, I don't think that your study schedule sounds like much fun. And - while you'll learn the basics - I
don't
think it will take you to C1. What's your level right now?

If I were you, I'd stick with French in Action (a fun program with lots of input), choose Assimil OR FSI, spend
30ish
minutes studying grammar (including applying grammar rules orally and in writing), and use the rest of the
time
in some combination of:

- conversation. Either a free language exchange or paid tutoring. I'd aim for a bare minimum of 2-3 hours per
week of conversation. You can find language partners on sites like conversationexchange.com or italki.com. If
you live in a big city, then you can probably find face-to-face language partners and meet for coffee.

- writing. Write a paragraph and post it to Lang-8 or italki for feedback from natives. (But don't forget that
you'll
also have to return the favour and help English-learners from time-to-time). Or find a native speaker who's
willing to correspond with you via email or chat. You write in French, s/he responds in English, and that way
you
both get some practice.

- listening/watching. Not just dialogues from language programs, but native materials as well. TV shows or
movies (with or without subtitles) are great because they include multi-person conversations (one of the
toughest
things to master) and also give insight to body language and culture. Podcasts and radio shows are also a
great
tool for intermediate learners. And music! You'll be surprised at how much you can learn from music.

- reading. Real stuff. Articles, books, how-to manuals - whatever interests you in your own language. Choose
something that you can actually read, since it's frustrating and counterproductive to push your way through
dense text that's too difficult for you.

In the end, you have to do whatever you enjoy! So if you enjoy language programs, then maybe that's what
you
should do right now. But eventually you're going to have to branch out into real communication if you ever
want
to be able to actually function in a French-speaking area.

Good luck!


Hey Stelle,

I think I pretty much summed up a lot of my reply to Cavesa. I do have native materials to follow these
courses up with: Think French, Bien-dire (okay not entirely native really, but perhaps an improvement?),
Yabla. I'm actually thinking in around a few months of signing up to French television via satellite (canal sat)
has 40 channels in French. That will go a long way I think. In the end i'm stubborn, I'll pursue with these
methods and then move onto the more native materials (as each course is completed i'll replace them with
other courses ;) then native material). I'm certainly getting a clearer picture that these courses are not the be
all and end all.

Steve.

Edit: My level at the moment is somewhere between b1 and b2. AF here in Melbourne said i'm at least
B1.2/B1.3 sth like that when they did a 5-10 min quick oral/aural test over the phone. Mind you some of my
grammar had slipped some since my peak a number of years ago, (i've been getting back on the horse, so to
speak for the last year)... so although i'm seemingly taking my sweet time, I shouldn't really take too long to
progress a couple more levels in the B1 spectrum. Since then i've done more study i'd assume i've
progressed, but realistically not that much, perhaps i'm B1.5 at a guess, and could go a 'point' or 2 above that
in the next month or so provided i do what I've stated. How many 'points' there are between B1 & B2 i'm not
sure exactly. Of course this involves calculated guess work.

Edited by PeterMollenburg on 11 October 2013 at 1:44pm

1 person has voted this message useful



tarvos
Super Polyglot
Winner TAC 2012
Senior Member
China
likeapolyglot.wordpr
Joined 3013 days ago

5310 posts - 9398 votes 
Speaks: Dutch*, English, Swedish, French, Russian, German, Italian, Norwegian, Mandarin, Romanian, Afrikaans
Studies: Greek, Modern Hebrew, Spanish, Portuguese, Czech, Korean, Esperanto, Finnish

 
 Message 6 of 46
11 October 2013 at 12:39pm | IP Logged 
5 hours a day of study would personally lead me to burn out in two weeks, unless it
would be a fulltime diplomatic job I would get paid for or something. I generally take
out half an hour to an hour a day to deal with any new language in the beginning. I use
it for practical purposes more later on though.

I don't have advice on the best set of French textbooks because I used French textbooks
years ago when I was in high school (I stopped when I was 14), and I didn't like what
we used at the Alliance Française. French is the language I am best at excluding
languages I grew up speaking, and I haven't used textbooks for French in ages - I am
between B2 and C1 here. Or at least I'm doing C1 level exercises. I would say that once
you hit B2 you just need to stop textbooks at all, only use a grammar and a dictionary
for reference and expose expose expose. Do lots of talking, lots of reading, lots of
listening.

To me the litmus test is not whether you can complete a coursebook. It's whether you
can talk to people and read their literature. I understand that the hurdle to move into
native materials is much bigger for more unfamiliar languages (I have trouble with
doing this for Hebrew or Korean, and I waited too long with Russian). I would combine a
healthy amount of grammar study (because you do have to do it eventually) with lots of
exposure. The ratio should be something like 30/70 over the course of your lifetime,
but I have managed with varying distributions. I tend to do more grammar when I'm
advanced beginner or intermediate, because then you have enough context. Although you
can't escape some at the beginning.

Edited by tarvos on 11 October 2013 at 12:41pm

6 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 46
11 October 2013 at 1:39pm | IP Logged 
Well, there are some textbooks that are useful at the advanced levels for some skills (such as writing papers for exams or if you want to pursuit some kind of education in French). But the native material (books, tv shows, people) should take most of your attention, in my opinion.

If the hours suit you, great. But as you mentioned the need for achievement feeling, you should probably learn to set smaller short term goals. Mini achievements to keep you going. And you can start a log to get a lot of encouragement on the way. :-)

If you enjoy textbook work, good for you. But in that case, and assuming from your posts you are a rusty intermediate, I would follow this course of action if I were you:

Unlike Stelle, I would throw away French in Action. Get real tv shows instead. Some of the dubbed ones are really not that hard, especially if you start with a transcript.

Review Hugo, because going through a previously known material could ring a lot of bells in your memory.

Keep Fluenz, it is probably a great thing for the real basics and speaking. And it probably cost you a lot.

Instead of FSI, get a real grammar only thing. Grammaire Progressive is great and the four volumes cover the grammar up to C1. They is Vocabulaire as well, with three volumes up to B1+ or so. And if you need grammar drills, you can as well make a lot of your own based on the example sentences you meet. And a huge part of the fsi is just the substitution. But with audio.

Get real reading material. If it feels to you like too little study, use it for intensive reading (=slowly through and picking every little piece that might come in handy with a dictionary and notebook instead of letting the immersion work)

If you want intermediate/advanced courses because you are sure they will help you, than among the best are Édito (new version does have a B1 level and a B2 level) and Alter Ego (up to level 5- C1). They can help but they won't work by themselves, not even if you learnt them by heart. I'm afraid Hugo and Colloquial advanced won't get you even as far as these I mentioned.

For active skills, there are sites like Italki or lang8 and so on. And of course, speak whenever an opportunity arises. If it doesn't arise, use repeating after audio and self talk to the fullest.

This list means tossing out most of the beginner courses you have mentioned. But if you want to make as much progress as possible before May comes, than I think you need to review things and continue. Not to dwell on the same things over and over.

And a small question. Why had you abandonned French in first place? There may be a reason you might want to avoid this time.
2 persons have voted this message useful





emk
Diglot
Moderator
United States
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Speaks: English*, FrenchB2
Studies: Spanish, Ancient Egyptian
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 Message 8 of 46
11 October 2013 at 1:54pm | IP Logged 
I'm not sure about your current level, so it's a little hard to give advice. But as Cavesa points out, your courses mostly go up to B1, except for the FSI grammar which should get you to B2 without any trouble, provided you pick up all the other necessary skills elsewhere.

So you'll need something more to get near C1. Since you like courses, you could look into Assimil's Business French, which covers B2-level material, but only on a single subject. The Grammaire Progressive series goes up to about C1, and I really like their Niveau perfectionnement. I also hear good things about Alter Ego, and you can find some advanced listening exercises at Fluent French Now. But even for French, good upper-level courses are rare, and in any case, they won't be enough.

And I know you've already heard this, but I want to reiterate the importance of native material. To reach a solid C1, you'll need to get used to dealing with real French in the wild: books, TV, fast conversations between natives, and expressing your own viewpoints in both social and professional contexts. Canalsat is an excellent idea, as are lang-8 and going to Meetups (especially if you find a Meetup with lots of native speakers or B2+ students). Also look into Verbling.

Also, there's no way I could do courses for 5 hours per day for more than just a few weeks without burning out. I also need "lazy" ways to study French, that work even when my brain is fried or my motivation sucks. Reading and TV fill this niche admirably for me, and at least some people seem to benefit quite a bit from them. The real trick is turn French into one your default procrastination choices, which is especially easy if you have an addictive TV series to follow. :-) Once French becomes your favorite means of procrastination, reaching solid B2 comprehension is just a matter of time.


3 persons have voted this message useful



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