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PMs TAC 2015 crazy? French course mission

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luke
Diglot
Senior Member
United States
Joined 5514 days ago

3133 posts - 4350 votes 
Speaks: English*, Spanish
Studies: Esperanto, French

 
 Message 193 of 451
09 September 2014 at 1:10pm | IP Logged 
Congratulations on accomplishing another goal. Thanks for the write-up. Those are always helpful   It's nice
to get a heads up so us course aficionados don't fall in a trap with Essential French.

As a disclaimer, I've got three Assimils going at the moment, courses I've been working with for almost two
years, plus FSI Basic French; I was looking at
Lessons Learned from fifty years at the FSI
, and thought about lesson 4, time on task and intensity
appear crucial
, and I wondered if I needed more intensity. Besides the four Assimils, I have about ten
books I've read more than once that are in my steady rotation.

Last night I was wondering when it's time to branch off and begin a steady diet of new, previously unknown
material. Something said, "year after next". I don't know if that's an angel on my shoulder or the other guy.

Anyway, I hope you are enjoying your trek. It's good to see your regular posts.

Edited by luke on 09 September 2014 at 3:21pm

2 persons have voted this message useful



PeterMollenburg
Senior Member
AustraliaRegistered users can see my Skype Name
Joined 3785 days ago

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

 
 Message 194 of 451
12 September 2014 at 1:05pm | IP Logged 
luke wrote:
Congratulations on accomplishing another goal. Thanks for the write-up. Those are always
helpful   It's nice
to get a heads up so us course aficionados don't fall in a trap with Essential French.

As a disclaimer, I've got three Assimils going at the moment, courses I've been working with for almost two
years, plus FSI Basic French; I was looking at
Lessons Learned from fifty years at the FSI
, and thought about lesson 4, time on task and intensity
appear crucial
, and I wondered if I needed more intensity. Besides the four Assimils, I have about ten
books I've read more than once that are in my steady rotation.

Last night I was wondering when it's time to branch off and begin a steady diet of new, previously unknown
material. Something said, "year after next". I don't know if that's an angel on my shoulder or the other guy.

Anyway, I hope you are enjoying your trek. It's good to see your regular posts.


Hi Luke,

Normally I'd have responded a lot sooner however I became rather unwell quite suddenly. After throwing
everything at it that I could of natural derivation it seems I could be out of the woods. Mind you i'm in a field
walking uphill and I'm not sure what's on the other side... is it more woods or more fields? I assumed fields
but I am continuing to breathe a strong scent of forest even while in this field. Tomorrow will tell.

So after the dramatisation... Cheers for the comments. Yeah Essential French isn't recommended by me for
prob all on our French team, but for others not every learned any French it would be ok if they want to begin
with something straightforward and simple.

You're right I'm certain time on task and intensity are crucial and perhaps, actually probably likely i sometimes
use materials that are far too easy, whilst other times I perhaps read things that a little too beyond me (altho
the first I'd commit more than the 2nd). I think I get what you're hinting at, or maybe that's my guilt of doing
such overly simply courses... or perhaps you're just providing some useful reading to ponder. Either way... I
haven't read it yet but i will soon, tnx again Luke

PM

...edit...
ok now I have read all the article..

I found this seciton particularly interesting:

"Lesson 7. The importance of “automaticity” in building learner skill and confidence in speaking and reading
a language is more important than has been recognized by the SLA field over the last two decades.
Successful lan- guage learning requires “stretching” learners some of the time through “i 􏰀1”- type tasks. Yet
it is also important to build up processing skills by varying the pace and giving learners some tasks that they
can perform easily. This is particu- larly important in intensive programs, where students are constantly
confronted with new structures and vocabulary to learn. Although techniques associated with audiolingual
methodology have been in disrepute since the 1960s and early 1970s, the fact remains that many of our
students desire occasional pattern prac- tice. Pattern practice—drill—is a technique that continues to be
useful for FSI learners, when used in concert with the various communicative, experiential, and task-based
approaches. It is valued not only at the early stages of our students’ learning, but at the more advanced as
well, as review. In training programs with time-specified outcomes, such as at FSI, the automatization of basic
grammatical structures and communicative routines is essential for efficient learning. McLaughlin argued this
point nearly twenty years ago. As he explains in a more recent work, “[t]he acquisition of a cognitive skill
[results] from the automatiza- tion of routines or units of activity. Initially, the execution of these routines re-
quires the allocation of large amounts of mental effort (controlled processing), but repeated performance of
the activity leads to the availability of automatized rou- tines in long term memory. The result of this process is
that less and less effort is required for automated routines and the learner can devote more effort to acquir-
ing other sub-skills that are not yet automated” (McLaughlin 1987:149). In order to perform higher order
communicative skills—such as participating in social conversations (see lesson 10) and other such job-
related uses of the target lan- guage—our students must produce spontaneously and accurately the relevant
grammatical structures and routines of the language. The importance of promoting automaticity is true for
reading as well as speaking. Adults need to read considerable amounts of “easy” material in order to build up
stamina and to automatize processing skills. Segalowitz and his collabo- rators have shown us that iteration
of relatively easy processing tasks is crucial to developing reading skill. Red (this volume) has also shown
that, for an adult, learning to process a completely foreign writing system automatically enough to focus on
comprehension appears to take much more time and effort than many reading researchers had once thought
(see also Everson, Harada, and Bernhardt 1988 and Bernhardt 1991). Without some degree of automatic
processing capa- bility, reading becomes a painful decoding process, leaving the reader with little cognitive
energy available for understanding and interpretation.
"

A few remarks on these section above:

Automaticity.
The mention of 'automaticity' reminds me of Jeffers comments with regard to my concerns of writing
flashcards with English translations. He stated that with time and practise words become automatic and thus
translations will stop interferring so much anyway. Perhaps the discussion on automaticity, although doesn't
exactly mention flashcards and translation but does in part draw attention to the concept of automaticity and
its importance. Mind you the FSI paper goes on to later discuss the importance of immersion too.

Some easy learning among the harder stuff.
So it mentions that some easier material can be important when studying intensively. Perhaps I'm looking for
validation of my easier studies but there is an element that feels like I do get something out of my easier
studies that I fly through in contrast to my more tricker studies/learning activities. It might be good for me!


Don't underestimate the importance of reading
With the discussion on reading in the above FSI paper they claim that it has in fact been underestimated how
long it takes to develop decent reading skills, that one must begin reading simplified texts and that it's likely to
be slow in the beginning as the learner 'deconstructs' the language. I think we probably all experience this
when we begin reading. I know I do. You become familiar with a grammatical structure after breaking it down
and when you come across it again and again your speed of reading over such grammatical structures
indeed improves.

Additional notes re the FSI paper:
After reading on further (not pasted here) the FSI paper discusses how courses can be a shortcut to
decoding language structure which would otherwise take much longer to 'realise' through natural methods
such as reading. So it seems there's certainly a place for courses. I know I know, it doesn't mean do them till
you go insane! FSI also promote multi-facctorial learning, conversation, classroom settings and in fact that
everyone learns differently. All fairly obvious remarks but nonetheless worth stating.

They also express that contrary to some beliefs they found that social conversation is one of the hardest
things to master, particularly when it's in a noisy environment with multiple speakers jumping from speaker to
speaker as the conversation flows on. This part isn't a surprise so much but that social conversations even
with single speakers can be rather difficult to master makes me feel at ease a little. They stated meany
learners felt more comfortable with a formal speech or conducting an interview than being plonked into a
social environment in which one must listen effectively and develop quick timely responses on the fly in an
environment that might include challenging background noise.

An interesting comment in the conclusion basically draws on the belief that the higher level you attain in your
foreign language the more likely it won't atrophy (I think they mean when you stop intensive studies), they talk
about a critical mass. I've often thought about this. I've often thought i'll be right when I reach the point in
which i'm confortably involved in books, media etc and it no longer feels like active intensive learning. I totally
underestimated the time/effort to get to that point, but i'm still aiming for it!

PM

Edited by PeterMollenburg on 12 September 2014 at 2:34pm

3 persons have voted this message useful



Jeffers
Senior Member
United Kingdom
Joined 3218 days ago

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

 
 Message 195 of 451
12 September 2014 at 2:25pm | IP Logged 
luke wrote:
Congratulations on accomplishing another goal. Thanks for the write-up. Those are always helpful   It's nice
to get a heads up so us course aficionados don't fall in a trap with Essential French.

As a disclaimer, I've got three Assimils going at the moment, courses I've been working with for almost two
years, plus FSI Basic French; I was looking at
Lessons Learned from fifty years at the FSI
, and thought about lesson 4, time on task and intensity
appear crucial
, and I wondered if I needed more intensity. Besides the four Assimils, I have about ten
books I've read more than once that are in my steady rotation.

Last night I was wondering when it's time to branch off and begin a steady diet of new, previously unknown
material. Something said, "year after next". I don't know if that's an angel on my shoulder or the other guy.

Anyway, I hope you are enjoying your trek. It's good to see your regular posts.


I've been meaning to reply to this one also. I think that article is great, but you also have to take into account their circumstances. They are trying to get people to B2 or so in about a year, so intensity is what their courses are all about. Of course, the people on their courses are doing the course full time, so they can bear it. But for those of us working or studying other things, then that level of intensity would cause serious problems. Luckily for those of us not in FSI courses, we can take a bit longer than a year to get where we want to go.

Stephen Krashen wrote an interesting article, The case for narrow reading. One suggestion he makes is that readers should lower their standards, in other words read things which are easy and fun, and not worry too much about "pushing ahead".

Both ways are effective, I am sure. But since I don't have a time limit for my learning, and since I still want to "have a life", I prefer meandering through my language learning rather than rushing. I do have periods of intensity in my learning, but I try to avoid burnout.
3 persons have voted this message useful



PeterMollenburg
Senior Member
AustraliaRegistered users can see my Skype Name
Joined 3785 days ago

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

 
 Message 196 of 451
12 September 2014 at 2:40pm | IP Logged 
Jeffers wrote:

I've been meaning to reply to this one also. I think that article is great, but you also have to take into account
their circumstances. They are trying to get people to B2 or so in about a year, so intensity is what their
courses are all about. Of course, the people on their courses are doing the course full time, so they can bear
it. But for those of us working or studying other things, then that level of intensity would cause serious
problems. Luckily for those of us not in FSI courses, we can take a bit longer than a year to get where we
want to go.

Stephen Krashen wrote an interesting article,
The case for narrow reading. One
suggestion he makes is that readers should lower their standards, in other words read things which are easy
and fun, and not worry too much about "pushing ahead".

Both ways are effective, I am sure. But since I don't have a time limit for my learning, and since I still want to
"have a life", I prefer meandering through my language learning rather than rushing. I do have periods of
intensity in my learning, but I try to avoid burnout.


The Stephen Krashen article based on your summary seems pretty similar to one point I made (edit: that I
drew attention to, it was written in the FSI paper) in my edited
post above regarding reading easier material...

As for your taking your time, i'm actually moving towards this more and more myself. I think now that I'm
comfortable I've stopped procrastinating and that I'm moving forwards, I'm happy to just study each day, the
number of hours is becoming less important although I'm still trying to get a decent amount done. Exercise,
family and health have perhaps suffered a bit lately because I've been a little too determined. Slow and
steady wins the race! I'm in agreeance /agʀeɑ̃s/ nf, it's a French word - look it up! Okay total BS it's not, but it
might be soon if you're an occasional pessimist like me on the English invasion... can't help it can i? Okay so
yeah I agree je suis d'accord Jeffers! Maintenant je dois me coucher ! À bientôt !

Edit: Je ne me suis pas encore endormi, évidemment, à moins que je ne puisse écrire pendant que je dors ?
J'ai lu l'article de Stephen Krashen et il me semble intéressant et très logique. Merci pour le lien Jeffers !
Maintenant pour acheter plus de livres !

Edited by PeterMollenburg on 12 September 2014 at 3:42pm

1 person has voted this message useful



luke
Diglot
Senior Member
United States
Joined 5514 days ago

3133 posts - 4350 votes 
Speaks: English*, Spanish
Studies: Esperanto, French

 
 Message 197 of 451
12 September 2014 at 6:16pm | IP Logged 
Jeffers wrote:
luke wrote:
I've got three Assimils going at the moment, courses I've been working with for almost two years, plus FSI Basic French; I was looking at Lessons Learned from fifty years at the FSI, and thought about lesson 4, time on task and intensity
appear crucial
, and I wondered if I needed more intensity. Besides the four Assimils, I have about ten books I've read more than once that are in my steady rotation.

Last night I was wondering when it's time to branch off and begin a steady diet of new, previously unknown material. Something said, "year after next". I don't know if that's an angel on my shoulder or the other guy.


I've been meaning to reply to this one also. I think that article is great, but you also have to take into account their circumstances. They are trying to get people to B2 or so in about a year, so intensity is what their courses are all about. Of course, the people on their courses are doing the course full time, so they can bear it. But for those of us working or studying other things, then that level of intensity would cause serious problems.

Stephen Krashen wrote an interesting article, The case for narrow reading. One suggestion he makes is that readers should lower their standards, in other words read things which are easy and fun, and not worry too much about "pushing ahead".

Both ways are effective, I am sure. But since I don't have a time limit for my learning, and since I still want to "have a life", I prefer meandering through my language learning rather than rushing. I do have periods of intensity in my learning, but I try to avoid burnout.


I really like the Krashen article too. I have found certain topics very easy; self-help, for instance. It could be the level those books are written at, or it could be that in my formative years I read a bunch of them, but for whatever reason, to me, they are easy understand.

So, this is a good opportunity for me to make a mental decision to do more narrow reading. I'm not giving up on Assimil, but, John Stuart Mill is another writer I've found not so challenging, probably because of personal interest and background. So, I will make an effort to start accumulating easy reading, easy listening experiences.

Merci bien monsieur!
1 person has voted this message useful



PeterMollenburg
Senior Member
AustraliaRegistered users can see my Skype Name
Joined 3785 days ago

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

 
 Message 198 of 451
24 September 2014 at 2:23am | IP Logged 
emk wrote:
I posted this in the language.com/forum/forum_posts.asp?TID=39213&PN=1&TPN=1">epi c vocabulary thread,
but I thought I would repost it here, in case anybody reads this log from beginning to
end, and wants to see how far I've come since my Assimil + 1 non-fiction book days:

emk wrote:
patrickwilken wrote:
The tests can be found here: leipzig.de/static/startseiteeng.html">http://www.itt-
leipzig.de/static/startseiteeng.html

That was a fun test! I only took the passive test, and I had to stop a few minutes
early for a plumber, so I couldn't go back and check my answers. But aside from some
weird mistakes in the 2,000 band, I did OK:



I liked this test because it really tried to measure what I think of as "automatic" or
"consolidated" vocabulary. It didn't just test me on vaguely understanding the words
in context. Instead, it felt almost like a crossword: I had to match up clues with
words, and some of them were a little tricky. Oh, and it felt like whoever designed
the test made an effort to defeat English users who were relying heavily on cognates.

Unfortunately, I'm still scoring 29/30, 30/30 and 29/30 in the top three bands, so I
can't estimate my passive vocabulary size with any accuracy. It's another ceiling
effect, just like with Milton's vocabulary studies.

Apparently, you need to score at least 27/30 on each section, so I passed all five
sections. This means that I know the most frequent 5,000 words of French quite
solidly, including some fairly idiomatic usages.

If we take a much looser definition of "known", roughly equivalent to "I'm quite sure
this is an actual French word, I'm pretty sure I know the rough definition, and it
wouldn't bother me in context when reading," there used to be a site called
Mesmots
(hp">Internet archive here) that placed my passive vocabulary at about 22,000
words. This uses the Lexique data set, which is
wonderful, but which counts aimer and aimé as separate words, because
they're different parts of speech. So we can conclude that my passive vocabulary is
very solid at the 5,000 word mark, and gradually fades out somewhere about 15,000
words. This is enough that I can pick up a French novel in a familiar genre, start
reading, and soon find my self going for several pages at a time without needing to
actually use the pop-up dictionary. I'm weakest with things like Baudelaire (poetry
from the 1800s) and the occasional Madmoizelle
article
(casual slang), that are simply far outside of my typical reading.


I decided to take this test myself after reading emk's log above...

I'm pretty ordinary on the computer skills so I'm not sure how to paste a screenshot
but I can type using a keyboard so here are my results of the receptive French test:

Les 1000 mots les plus fréquents du français: 29/30
Les 2000 mots les plus fréquents du français: 25/30
Les 3000 mots les plus fréquents du français: 27/30
Les 4000 mots les plus fréquents du français: 25/30
Les 5000 mots les plus fréquents du français: 22/30

On the whole a pretty ordinary result. I did take too long on the first level and was
running out of time more and more towards the end of the test. I must admit that in
the 5000 range I was a little lost at times and guessed a bit, so 22/30 is probably
more than I deserved.
1 person has voted this message useful



PeterMollenburg
Senior Member
AustraliaRegistered users can see my Skype Name
Joined 3785 days ago

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

 
 Message 199 of 451
01 October 2014 at 6:40am | IP Logged 
September French summary:

Total amount of French learning time = 80hrs,18min
Average amount of French/day = 2hrs,40min

Breakdown of those hours:
Course use: 23hrs,34min
Audio only via audio courses or podcasts: 21hrs,40min
Flashcard drills: 17hrs,7min
Watching (films,Yabla clips,news): 9hrs,56min
Reading time: 8hrs16min
Conversations/meetups = ZERO!

Super Challenge stats:
Minutes of films = 202
Pages of books = 120

Further notes: Out of the 9 serious months of study so far with French this month is
right in the middle in terms of hours studied. It's been my second best month in terms
of super challenge numbers.

Materials:
Courses
I completed Colloquial French and Living Language essential French (see further back in
log if wanting to refer to reviews). I've moved back to using Assimil New French with
Ease which I'm mainly reviewing lessons i've completed earlier in the year while I wade
slowly into new lessons simultaneously. I've also begun to use the cd-rom program
French Tell Me More which for the most part I tolerate, hoping it will get better as
the difficulty increases.

Listening:
Rocket French Premium Plus
I'm nearing the later stages of this audio program and have found it very useful
indeed, since there has been a lot of new vocab. At the start of each 25 min lesson or
thereabouts there is a dialogue from the previous episode, then the new dialogue at
normal pace, then 20 minutes of mixed pace repitition and explanations (breakdown of
the dialogue) followed by a short quiz near the end the new dialogue repeated at normal
pace. Once I can speak every bit of the dialogue along with the dialogue while it plays
without pausing and comprehending everything (akin to shadowing I guess), then I'm
ready for the next lesson. Many lessons I've had to spend some time analyzing the PDFs
doc's at my desk to break down the dialogue further in terms of creating flashcards and
ensuring 100% comprehension of all vocab. All in all a very good audio program. I'm
using this program during any driving i'm doing, which is usually to and from work. I
think I'll try Pimsleur IV next, but first a complete rerun through these trickier
Rocket French Premium Plus lessons (after I complete it).

News in Slow French tends to feature during walks with our dog. I try to add a new word
to my FC deck after each 'session'.

Reading
Current book : Same one i've been reading for a long time now- "Vivre sans vaccins". It
ties in two fields of interest: health and controversies/conspiracies (more controversy
here tho than conspiracy). I'm reading most pages 4 times in total, hence the slow
progress. I'm finding it more and more enjoyable (reading) as I progress. The book is
not a difficult read as I understand the topic in English rather well, thus inferring
meaning of some strange words isn't overly difficult on the whole. To add to that it's
not really a scientific expose as such but more a collection of anecdotal stories. Thus
the language is not complicated. To read a more scientific analysis on the same topic
would require considerably more brain power. At least one of 'those books' is resting
on the bookshelf.

In some moments throughout many days i'll often use Feedly to read mindless French
articles on everyday stuff from new technology news to the news. Plus I've used the
electronic French language audio learning magazine Think French here and there. I'm
using the internet quite a bit in French (prob 90% of the time I will force myself to
find things in French and although I use the word force, once I find something of
interest there's no 'forcing' required as I enjoy reading in French more and more).

Watching
Nothing special here- usually Yabla or the news on France 2 or BFMTV online, plus maybe
one movie during the month. I've not really found the opportunity to watch any of the
series I had started as I'm working most evening and watching such things during the
day doesn't really work for me.

Conversations/meetups
Clearly an area for much needed improvement. I am getting a sense more and more that no
matter how well I can read, watch, write or use courses, i'm lacking perhaps the one
MAJOR fundamental thing here- production/speaking! As I live a little way from the city
where most meetups occur and I didn't take to the skype sessions too well, i keep
putting this aside. However I'm well aware that I really need to get this section of my
studies up and running as part of my regular routine if I"m to solidify all that
rediculous methodical study that I do.

Word.
PM (Prime Minister Peter Mollenburg)
1 person has voted this message useful



Jeffers
Senior Member
United Kingdom
Joined 3218 days ago

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

 
 Message 200 of 451
01 October 2014 at 8:19am | IP Logged 
I have a similar lack of conversation practice, but I've decided that it is okay, and it's actually "all part of the plan". First of all, I don't like small talk even in English, and problems I have had in my foreign languages have been that I have wanted to express things above my level. So my little plan is to start writing regularly, probably posting things on lang-8 or something. I've been thinking of this as my 2015 French project. My writing topic will be things about my life, family, work, hobbies, etc., so that I can start making language islands for speech purposes. When I have written a language island I'm happy with, I'll memorize it, and practice speaking it out loud. Once I have a set of good islands, I'll be happy to seek out conversation partners to try them out on, and see how the conversation develops.

King Jeffers


2 persons have voted this message useful



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