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PMs TAC 2015 crazy? French course mission

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rlnv
Senior Member
United States
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126 posts - 233 votes 
Speaks: English*
Studies: French

 
 Message 57 of 451
23 April 2014 at 6:14am | IP Logged 
Peter, I'm wondering if you could talk a little bit about your preparation for the B1 exam with regard to oral production. Do you have internet language partners, or perhaps a friend or family member that you talk to in French on a regular basis? How much talking time do you figure you had before the test?
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PeterMollenburg
Senior Member
AustraliaRegistered users can see my Skype Name
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821 posts - 1273 votes 
Speaks: English*
Studies: FrenchB1

 
 Message 58 of 451
23 April 2014 at 8:52am | IP Logged 
rlnv wrote:
Peter, I'm wondering if you could talk a little bit about your preparation for the B1 exam with
regard to oral production. Do you have internet language partners, or perhaps a friend or family member that
you talk to in French on a regular basis? How much talking time do you figure you had before the test?


Short answer

Hmmm I would guess that I've had the equivalent of a few months worth of skype sessions on a daily or 2nd
daily basis? But that is a total absolute guess

Long answer
It's very difficult for me to give a clear answer on this question.

Well I don't have any friends or family that speak French. I know one person at work that I see once every
few weeks and speak very very basic phrases with, as it's work and it's busy and most of the vocab
necessary while at work isn't exactly conducive to making general conversation. French is not her first
language (she's Vietnamese).

I have been to 2 meetups in total- one with native speakers, the other with advanced learners. I have never
done a language exchange online yet, even tho i've created a skype account for that purpose, and have
joined several other sites and collected some exchange partnerts even, with the intention to converse but I
am yet to actually proceed.

I did a B1 language course at the Alliance Française de Melbourne late 2013 but only went to two thirds of
the classes as I became frustated with commuting and the pace of study didn't suit me (I don't take to
language classes very enthusiastically, topics I felt were covered too fast, I felt like I would not grasp
something properly before attempting to use it increasing the likelihood of errors). However i did get some
language speaking practice within those classes for only a couple of months (once a week if I showed up)
with other learners and with the teacher.

In 2011 I was in France for a total of 6 weeks. For 2 of those 6 I did a farmstay with a farmer that only spoke
French. Unfortunately tho, our conversations were very rudimentary as my French at that point had fallen into
touristy garbage pulled together from a then distant past foray into French study. Occasionally during the
other travelling around France tho (in a campervan) I did manage to have some half decent conversations at
caravan parks with other travellers, which might suggest then that my French wasn't as bad as I thought back
when the farmer attempted to speak to me.

All in all my speaking practice has been rather limited. I commend myself for being able to do what I can do in
the language despite less than ideal oral practise. Although I do not recommend it. It's not the most sensible
way to approach language learning and nor do I intend to stick to this method indefinitely. And although I
might commend myself I could also be very easily critical of my methods.

However, I do not necessarily feel that speaking from day one, or speaking very early on (with other French
speakers) is a good idea. Making mistakes can help yes, and conversing definitely helps immensely with
reinforcing vocabularly for example. But if you're making too many mistakes i think it's a bad idea (for me) to
converse too early. I don''t want to reinforce errors. BUT I'm a perfectionist and I definitely have been
hindered by this approach. Because I wasn't getting enough practise with the language could very well be the
reason I dropped French SO many times and then started again. Now that I have confirmation of B1 level
however, and feel very comfortable with the phonetics of the language there's absolutely no reason not to
converse as much as possible now. ie I think once one is beyond A2 with a sizeable vocabulary, is very
comfortable with the sound of the language, and understands the grammar (ie can correct their own errors
through the example of others in context) then it's safe to converse, converse and converse some more.

So I learned by using courses . I speak out load everything that I come across when I study or read (unless
I'm not at home where speaking out loud would be odd and intrusive to others). I use phonetics so much so
that every single flashcard that I enter I know how to pronounce and if I don't when I come across the word in
its context (Assimil course for ex.) I will enter the phonetic transcript on the 3rd side of the flashcard to
reinforce correct pronunciation. I mimmick all conversations with courses such as Hugo and Assimil so that
after I've learned all vocab I make sure I can speak exactly as the speakers on the recordings do at the same
pace and tone and stress and know what is being said. This I guess is shadowing. Sometimes I pause and
replay lines, other times I translate from English back to French while reading off the English dialogue
speaking in French and pausing and playing after each sentence for confirmation followed by repetition to
reinforce any error in my own reproduction, and once ready to move on I speak over the top of the
conversations without pausing so that I can speak at the same pace. I always keep an open mind that my
pronunciation could be slightly off and if I discover it myself I aim to correct it. Pimsleur I have found is
excellent for clearly spoken French.

It's tedious but i enjoy it in some weird way. Perhaps had I not stopped and started French so many times
over the years I would not be confortable speaking. In other words, perhaps it would be unfair to simply allude
to the possibility that my perfectionism has made me some kind of special agent grand master flash ninja
language learner, and that in fact my very flaws have helped via a rediculous amount of over exposure to the
same exercises and conversations multiple times but stringed out over years. This method is robotic, and
tedious (when viewed from an outsider). For me it's linear, but I kept interrupting the line so to speak and
would begin again at square one. But yes robotic and unnatural. It's got me to B1 but unlikely to get me
much further in the oral stages of such exams. I know I need to converse, and do intend to, but i'm still happy
plodding along a little while longer yet before really throwing myself headlong into that pool.

Of course I could be wrong, maybe I sound a lot worse than I care to admit.
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rlnv
Senior Member
United States
Joined 2260 days ago

126 posts - 233 votes 
Speaks: English*
Studies: French

 
 Message 59 of 451
24 April 2014 at 4:41am | IP Logged 
Thank you Peter for the thoughtful and insightful response.

I too am learning in an environment without an immediate language partner, so I'll have to be very resourceful in getting conversation practice, especially at first. I tend to be very introverted and probably too self conscious, and given that, it's important for me to try and find the best time to find a language partner. Not too early so I make many mistakes and struggle, and not too late as to hold myself back. For now I'm also talking out most of what I study, and lots of conversations in my head which gives me time to find the words and mistakes. I'm supposed to schedule a tutor for my commitment for the April Learning Challenge but I don't really feel ready. I might just wait another month or two and let the French swirl around a bit in my head, and progress in my methods a bit further.

Your passing the B1 given the amount of practice you had is a good accomplishment, and it gives me a sense of what can be done. It also certainly indicates that you are doing something right.    



    


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

 
 Message 60 of 451
24 April 2014 at 6:21am | IP Logged 
rlnv wrote:
Thank you Peter for the thoughtful and insightful response.

I too am learning in an environment without an immediate language partner, so I'll have to be very resourceful
in getting conversation practice, especially at first. I tend to be very introverted and probably too self
conscious, and given that, it's important for me to try and find the best time to find a language partner. Not
too early so I make many mistakes and struggle, and not too late as to hold myself back. For now I'm also
talking out most of what I study, and lots of conversations in my head which gives me time to find the words
and mistakes. I'm supposed to schedule a tutor for my commitment for the April Learning Challenge but I
don't really feel ready. I might just wait another month or two and let the French swirl around a bit in my
head, and progress in my methods a bit further.

Your passing the B1 given the amount of practice you had is a good accomplishment, and it gives me a
sense of what can be done. It also certainly indicates that you are doing something right.    


Hi Ron,

Thanks for sharing the reasoning behind your question. You sound a lot like me in terms of the way i've
studied up to this point. It is encouraged to share with others your journey to obtaining language certificates,
passing exams and so on in one's profile on HTLAL. For that reason I wrote quite an extensive explanation
on my background in French up to the B1 exam for the purpose of sharing with others my background and
what to do and what not to do in my opinion. However it would not save to my HTLAL profile even with
multiple attempts over various days. I suspect that I simply wrote too much. Anyway thanks for asking, and
I'm glad I can now share and provide some insight.

Do know that speaking was not my worst section of the exam. My worst was the first section which involved
Listening to some short-ish audio segments and then answering written questions on them. So if you are like
me indeed, then I would encourage continued exposure to audio spoken at natural pace that you can get the
gist of. Movies, the news and the like help for that. I'm only doing it in my spare time, so it still is not my main
focus, as understanding those things better also comes with increased vocab and understanding of the
language through all other methods. Anyway doing such listening trains you to sourcing out key elements of
audio excerpts in order to get the main points and be able to answer questions related to the main points. My
apologies if I'm getting off track, suggesting sth you're not keen on, or am coming across all-encompassing
know-it-all. Just some thoughts really.

I never studied for the exam either. I just kept doing what I was doing. In fact I even said I would go to a meet-
up the evening before but in the end couldn't be bothered driving an hour away to participate (i'm not that
social either). I didn't want to find short-cuts to how to ace the exam while actually being much worse in the
language than the certified result would suggest. What I mean is there are books and so on that aim to help
and prepare one for such exams (and past exams too), but I didn't want to do it this time around as I wanted
the 'truth' from my efforts. I wanted to be put on the spot. I knew roughly how the exam went but didn't do any
practice exams etc. I do have books now aimed at ppl wanting to pass B2 and C1 exams which I might use in
the lead up to those exams, as they become trickier and more specific and i'm satisfied I now know where I
stand with my level of French.

I guess I"m saying that as I think the idea of a B1 exam is scary, but it's not that bad. If I could pass it with
little conversational practice and no specific exam practise, then I think you'll do ok Ron, and maybe better
than I did. Just keep studying is the main thing. Use the methods that you're most comfortable with and when
the time comes that you take the exam, use it as an opportunity to discover your weaker points so that you
can develop those for the next level.

As for speaking, your plan seems fine to me, another month or 2 or more even of delayed speaking with (a)
French speaker(s) in my opinion won't hurt. I know that those like Benny the Irish Polyglot say speak from
day one, but only just the other day I listened to him speaking French at an apparent C1 level and was not
that impressed. It's certainly commendable what he can do, and it is fast and effective it seems, and his
method is fine if you don't care if you have an accent (which he doesn't so much). However if you want to
sound authentic I believe delaying interaction is not such a bad thing. To be a little fair on Benny I did notice
from the background that he was in Amsterdam, thus French was probably not exactly at the forefront of his
mind, and he was on camera, which can really affect one's performance if not used to it. An accent as close
to authentic as possible can improve impressions that you
speak well. An obvious accent may give the impression that one is not as good as may actually be the case.
Those points however don't matter much when it comes to the AF exams as they are trained to look beyond
accent, and they don't matter in the everyday world either, as most meaningful conversations will go beyond
just a few sentences, thereby rendering accent unimportant.

Sorry to waffle on again Ron, I guess I'm a little too self centred it seems :)

Edited by PeterMollenburg on 24 April 2014 at 6:28am

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Jeffers
Senior Member
United Kingdom
Joined 3218 days ago

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

 
 Message 61 of 451
24 April 2014 at 9:43am | IP Logged 
rlnv wrote:
I'm supposed to schedule a tutor for my commitment for the April Learning Challenge but I don't really feel ready. I might just wait another month or two and let the French swirl around a bit in my head, and progress in my methods a bit further.


You know the saying, tomorrow never comes? From what I've read in your language log, you are as ready now as you will be tomorrow. What real difference will another month make? Whatever level you make it to, you will realize there is much more to learn. If signing up for a public challenge isn't enough push, what will be enough push in a month or two?

On the other hand, I know exactly how you feel. Signing up for a language partner is one of my goals for this year, but frankly I'm mainly concerned about what to say. I'm not that social either. If nothing else, I would like to encourage you to sign up so I can hear about how it goes, LOL.

And Peter, I definitely appreciated your waffle.

Edited by Jeffers on 24 April 2014 at 9:45am

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

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

 
 Message 62 of 451
29 April 2014 at 12:17am | IP Logged 
Here's a link to another topic that I started that seems fitting to be added in here and
any discussion on it continued here also. It's centres around my use of flashcards and
progressing on doing away with translations into English

TID=38630&PN=1">Progressing from L2-L1/L1-L2 Flashcards



Edited by PeterMollenburg on 29 April 2014 at 12:45am

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

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

 
 Message 63 of 451
29 April 2014 at 12:43am | IP Logged 
Sunja wrote:
PeterMollenburg wrote:
However cards in isolation, words in isolation
are tricky to describe in L2, right?


You can do Anki cards using pictures (front) and L2 (back).

If this sounds interesting then what Gabriel Wyrner wrote for
heres-how">at Lifehacker is worth reading.

I tried the "no English" approach he describes in his blog and was doing 400 words
using only pictures for Italian. I was also working on French idioms using only
pictures. I'd type the idiom in Google (example: appuyer sur le champignon) and then
"picture". The visual aid is really quite effective!

I've never tried using pictures beyond intermediate. The logic is, if you make it to
intermediate without the use of English then you're able to start forming your own
sentences and simple definitions of the more advanced vocabulary.


I have read that article before, but it certainly doesn't hurt to read it over again as
it's been a while, and insights from other ppl's learning methods (like HTLAL) are
always worth reflection. I'm gently arriving at the conclusion that it's time for me to
do away with the clutch of English, at least with my flashcards from here on. I have
over 7000 cards in my French deck, I would assume I'm far beyond the need for
translation, I might even be beyond flashcards altogether but i'm not quite ready to do
that. Thanks for your input Sunja
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PeterMollenburg
Senior Member
AustraliaRegistered users can see my Skype Name
Joined 3785 days ago

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

 
 Message 64 of 451
29 April 2014 at 1:10am | IP Logged 
emk I'm going to quote your whole post in response to what I wrote just so others can
refer to it here in it's entirety. Thanks for your extensive assistance btw, much
appreciated



emk wrote:
PeterMollenburg wrote:
I'm not desperate here, i'm just looking for some
light hearted advice as I feel my reliance on L1 (English) is
slowing progression/focus/immersion/flow. It's not dramatic but noticeable and I know
many learners would
vouch for extensive reading. But I do ok with flashcards and don't require mnemonics to
learn word lists.
Isolation is okay for me, but not something I want to do all the time.... sorry guys
I'm waffling again,

Thoughts on L2-L2 flashcards? perhaps example sentences with gaps?

I found that extensive reading was an amazing and invaluable tool when it came to
getting my reading skills from A2 to wherever they are now. (I'm far better at reading
now than when I passed my B2 exam.) Speaking entirely from personal experience,
I could never have done it using nothing but courses and word lists. There came a point
where the easiest way to learn to read really well was to read a lot!

Anyway, when I feel the need to use some flash cards, I have a personal tool that
converts Kindle (or Moon+ Reader) highlights into Anki cards:



The workflow goes something like this:

1. Read a cool book, web page, etc.
2. Highlight interesting sentences with unknown vocabulary, strange grammar, etc. (I
have a Chrome plugin for web pages. I almost never type stuff by hand.)
3. Look up the words later using my tool, and add definitions, pictures, fill-in-the-
blank exercises or whatever seems appropriate.
4. Import everything into Anki using a custom add-on.

I only do this when the mood strikes me: I also do lots of extensive reading with no
dictionary whatsoever.

I've found that well-designed fill-in-the-blank cards (or "MCDs", as Khatzumoto calls
them) are a surprisingly nice way to pick up weird vocabulary efficiently. One of my
favorite personal tricks is to cloze each half of a word separately, making two cards.
Let me grab some text from the New York Times and Wikipedia to demonstrate:

Quote:
Front 1: While the city’s new tech firms continue to attract plenty of
<..>ture capital, Silicon Alley has a long way to go before it
rivals Silicon Valley.

Front 2: While the city’s new tech firms continue to attract plenty of ven
<..>
capital, Silicon Alley has a long way to go before it rivals Silicon
Valley.

Back: While the city’s new tech firms continue to attract plenty of
venture capital, Silicon Alley has a long way to go before it
rivals Silicon Valley.

Venture capital (VC) is financial capital provided to early-stage, high-potential,
high risk, growth startup companies.

Anyway, I would never suggest that you stop using any technique that's actually working
for you, because what do I know? But if reading is one of your goals, I think that
actually reading a lot can be a huge help, especially at B1 and up.



Now to comment on your comments :)

emk wrote:

I found that extensive reading was an amazing and invaluable tool when it came to
getting my reading skills from A2 to wherever they are now. (I'm far better at reading
now than when I passed my B2 exam.)

Speaking entirely from personal experience, I could never have done it using
nothing but courses and word lists. There came a point where the easiest way to learn
to read really well was to read a lot!


I should clarify here that I don't only use courses and word lists, that I have done
some reading up to this point, although I wouldn't really class it as extensive. I am
hearing you and others that reading is required (perhaps some can get away with not
doing it) and I'm not an exception to that. So, soon I want to change that, I was using
5 courses, one of which i've recenlty completed. That leaves 4 courses, I should be
able to reduce that to 3 within a month, maybe even a week (not sure how much work
ahead of me in that particular course), then reduce even further to 2 courses after a
month or 2. Anyway once i've reduced the courses down to 2 only, I have an aim of 2 hrs
French study a day with one hour of a course and the other hour reading (same next day
with the other course and other reader, thereby having some variation).

My reading will entail using Bien-dire and Think French.

Think French

Bien-dire
sample


They both provide
translations of expressions and words in the columns next to the articles and have
audio for almost all the articles. I can use the translated words in the columns like a
built in dictionary of sorts that enables quick translation reference, BUT any of these
new terms discovered and perhaps even referred to in English for it's translation will
ONLY be added to my flashcards entirely in French by taking the French sentence from
the article, examples from a French only dictionary, using pictures as you've shown emk
, fill in the gaps and so on.

emk wrote:

Anyway, when I feel the need to use some flash cards, I have a personal tool that
converts Kindle (or Moon+ Reader) highlights into Anki cards:


Looking at the images of this tool, it looks rather handy. I have a few questions
regarding this emk. How speedy is it to use is my main question. I must mention that I
don't use Anki but prefer to use Flashcards Deluxe, I'm guessing you don't'know a lot
about this program but perhaps you do in fact know if it's compatible? At the very
least I know I can add images with Flashcards Deluxe, and i'm certainly able to explore
the options of this program but I just thought it wouldn't hurt to ask :) Currently
with my French-English deck of flashcards I can create a new single word front and back
card in a little over a few seconds. Given that I'm looking to take away the clutch of
English because it seems to be impeding my 'flow'.... (back to my main theme again) how
much, when you do use this tool, in terms of time does it take to create a card like in
the example image you have provided? How long does it take you when not using this
program to create an individual card?

PM

Edited by PeterMollenburg on 29 April 2014 at 1:38am



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