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Slow Learning: FR, HI, ancGR TAC 2015

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Jeffers
Senior Member
United Kingdom
Joined 3014 days ago

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

 
 Message 1 of 164
16 January 2014 at 8:28pm | IP Logged 
I'm starting my first language log thanks to the 2014 TAC challenge. I'm on the 2nd French team, formed by Songlines.

My focus this year is going to be French, but I plan to spend significant time on Hindi as well. At some point in the near future I want to tackle Assimil Sanskrit, so ironically, for learning Sanskrit I will need to spend more time on French than on Hindi!

I started studying French seriously in the summer of 2011. Here's a summary of some of the resources I have used (sort of in order of when I used them):

  • Frenchpod 101. I started with this, but got to about the 10th beginner lesson before getting tired of it. It has its use, but there's just too much banter and chat (which I felt was a misguided attempt to make it seem approachable and fun).
  • Assimil New French with Ease. I started this a month or two after I started learning French, and I have been working on it in fits and starts. Despite my pace with it, I think it is a great course, especially for the quantity of quality audio. I make a habit of listening a lot to the audio for review and preview. Formally, I am on lesson 89 of the passive wave.
  • Michel Thomas. I have only used the Foundation. I found it easy, but don't like the fact that he encourages you to fudge gender.
  • Pimsleur. I have worked through Pimsleur I & II, and am now on IIIa (up to about unit 6). I usually use Pimsleur while commuting, and usually work though a unit several times until I can produce the phrases without thinking. For me, Pimsleur is about developing fluency of tongue. When I don't know something, or make a mistake, I usually rewind a bit and try again until I get it right. So the first time through a Pimsleur lesson takes a while. After that I try to do it all in one go before going on to the next unit. I hope to finish Pimsleur III this year. My libraries don't have Pimsleur IV, so I doubt I'll ever do it.
  • Barron's French Grammar. During my first 3-4 months of French learning, I read Barron's French Grammar by Kendris and Kendris. I wanted a quick overview of the Grammar, but I don't recommend this one. Too many rules, not enough examples of usage.
  • Fast French. A book in the Teach Yourself line, by Elisabeth Smith. When I started, my son and I were using this book together. It is actually pretty good for a quick introduction, but we only finished about half of it.
  • Vocabulearn. This obviously has mixed reviews. I got it used for about £10, so I bought it. I have really only worked on the first 3 discs of 12, but it is good for a long commute. I prefer to break it into 5 minute segments and listen and repeat that section until I get it nearly perfect.
  • FSI. Last summer I started working on FSI when I realized it works very well on a commute or on a walk/bike ride. I previously thought that you had to use the audio in conjunction with the text, but when I use it I only consult the text after listening a few times, to double check some of the words I couldn't quite catch. I worked pretty thoroughly through half of French I. I hope to finish at least the rest of French I this year, because I think the drills are really useful.
  • Anki. When I started learning French, I did some vocab cards with my son (from Fast French), but I was planning to pick up most vocab by osmosis. But when I tried to read some simple A1 readers, I realized I needed to strengthen my vocabulary. I bought the Routledge Frequency Dictionary of French, and have been inputting them into Anki as simple L1->L2 and reverse cards. Very traditional. I agree with those who worry that doing this you will associate the words with their translation, but as this is a small part of my total French arsenal, I find the simple way works well for me. I have so far learned about 2400 cards (1200 vocab items), but my vocabulary is actually a lot bigger than that. Anki vocab is just a support operation for me.
  • French in Action. I bought the DVD's and the textbook. During the first few months of the recent Super Challenge I watched all of the videos. They are fun and interesting, but the story which you expect to be the main part only really gets going towards the end, and then it's all over. Definitely worth watching, and I plan to rewatch them again this year. The textbook is handy because it has a nearly-accurate transcript of the story dialogues.
  • Earworms. I almost forgot this, which at the beginning of my French studies was an almost constant presence in my car. It is pretty good for helping you remember a lot of basic touristy requests. I have French 1 and 2.
  • Hugo Complete French (French in 3 Months + Advanced French). I recently purchased a like-new pack with the CDs for just £6, and am planning to work through it to fill in grammatical gaps, etc.


From a couple months into my studies I began to try to listen to and watch authentic French materials. For a while I was often listening to Rfi's Journal en Francais Facile. At first it sounded like a smear of incomprehensible mess, but as I listened I soon got used to how French sounds. I think the thing a lot of newcomers have a problem with is that French words smear into each other, and if there's a break to be had, it is as often in the middle of a word rather than between words.

So alongside all of the courses I mentioned above, I have read, listened and watched a lot.

Reading
I started with a few easy readers from CLE and Hachette. My favourite has been a book called Enquete Capitale, in the Hachette series. I like the fact that it is very clear, but with an interesting story. It also takes the reader around many of the points of interest around Paris. I also enjoyed two Maigret books published by CLE: Maigret et la jeune morte and Maigret et la grande perche.

Thanks to Songline's recommendations, I bought Le Petit Nicolas and the audiobook of the same. I then repurchased the book when it came on Kindle, so I could use the pop-up dictionary. This is the first "real" French book I read, and I read it 3 times (and have listened to the audio at least 12). I plan on reading some of the other books in the series for the Super Challenge.

I recently purchased a kindle book called Pas d'Oscar pour l'assassin. When you buy the book you can download the audio for free (it asks you what the x word from the end of x chapter is, as a password). The publisher http://www.mondesenvf.fr/ has a series of easy books by regular authors, so in a way it feels more authentic than reading easy versions of classics, etc. I have listened to the audio 3 times, gaining a bit more each time. I'll start to read the text soon.

The books (and TV) I have enjoyed most have been policiers, so I think I will use the genre as a kind of narrow reading method. Books by Goscinny and by Grimpari will also feature in the upcoming Super Challenge.

Watching
I watched over 100 films in the recent Super Challenge (some of which was French in Action). The highlights have been:
*Amelie
*Le Diner de cons (soooo funny)
*Tell no one (gripping)
*Policier series I have discovered on TV5 Monde (which I get for free on Sky). My favourite has been Un Flic, about a commisaire in Paris, and Cain, about a police detective in a wheelchair.

I also tried to watch as many of the "greats" and "classics" as I was able. Some I thought were pretty good, such as A bout de souffle, Tirer sur la pianiste, Les 400 coups, and Bob le flambeur. Others, such as Le mephris just left me cold. Still, I think it's worth being familiar with the classics, and they are all good for learning.

Music
French music has been a constant background noise in my life for the past two years. Sometimes I study the music carefully (following the lyrics, etc). My favourite artists have been:
*BB Brunes
*Raphael
*Françoise Hardy
*Guillaume Grand
*Jean-Louis Aubert
*Tanger

I also bought a great mp3 collection from Amazon called Cafe De Paris- 50 Grands Succes Francais.

So that summarizes my efforts to date. I'll soon post about my future plans.

EDIT: I forgot to mention the cartoons of Les P'tits Diables! I watched some of them on TV5, and then bought the DVD of season 1, part 1 from Amazon.fr. They are funny, and not too difficult to follow, and the price isn't too bad for about 5 hours of cartoons. This is the only thing I regularly watch without subtitles.

Edited by Jeffers on 03 January 2015 at 6:10pm

7 persons have voted this message useful



Jeffers
Senior Member
United Kingdom
Joined 3014 days ago

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

 
 Message 2 of 164
16 January 2014 at 8:29pm | IP Logged 
This year's plans for French (first draft-subject to editing).

Courses

Assimil. I plan to finish NFWE this year! Really!
FSI. I plan to do the second half of French 1 at some point this year.
Hugo. I'd like to work through French in 3 Months, just for a textual review of grammar. If it goes well I'll move on the Advanced French.
Pimsleur. I plan to finish French III.
Anki- French frequency vocab. I have learned about 1200 vocab words so far (2400 cards). I currently have it set to give me 10 new cards per day (in other words, 5 words a day). I would be happy get up to about 2500 words this year. I don't know if I'll continue to add frequency vocab after that, or simply focus on things that come up while reading. Obviously the benefits of frequency vocab decreases the more words you add.

I want to make as much progress as possible on these courses before the Super Challenge begins, and then my focus will be on reading and watching.

Reading

I didn't hit my goal of 50 books for the last Super Challenge. I will try again, with the goal of 50 books again. This time I'm quite sure I can beat it!

I am an big believer in the value of re-reading materials for language learning. I really don't understand when people say they've gotten all they can out of a book. Once you've understood all of the vocabulary and grammar, that's when you can just enjoy reading, and get into the rhythm of the language.

Le Petit Nicolas I expect to reread this at least twice this year, and then probably get some of the other books in the series.
Pierre Gripari I have his book, La sorcière de la rue Mouffetard, and the CD. If I enjoy the stories enough, I'll buy another of his books. They seem quite engaging and simple. The CD is read by the author, but only covers half of the stories. There is another CD which seems to cover the rest, but read by someone else. I might get this as well.
Georges Simenon I enjoyed a couple of CLE readers with his books, and borrowed one of his books from my school library, Le Client le plus obstiné du monde. Nicely, it is not much longer than the CLE books (about 55 pages). Once I finish this one, I'll probably read another, then another, and so on. I like Maigret's style: he is less about examining clues as examining people.
Vincent Remède I have his short novel Pas d'oscar pour l'assassin (about 80 pages and billed as A2) plus the audio. Once I've read the book a couple of times, I'll probably buy his other book, Jus de chaussettes (which is about 120 pages long).
Harry Potter. I've had the idea of starting this series, but I don't know.
Camus. I have L'étranger in paperback, and the audiobook. I definitely would like to read this sometime during this year.
BDs I read the first Aldebaran book this week, and enjoyed it. I also have:
-Tintin et les Picaros. We have all the Tintin books in English. I will eventually read all of them in French because they deserve to be read in their own language!
-Tintin au pays de l'or noir. Once I finish this one, I'll look into buying another one or two.
-Le tour de Gaule d'Astérix. I have read most of the Asterix comics in English; again they deserve to be read in their native language!
-SAM 1 About kids in a terminator-like future where robots hunt down humans. One geeky kid revives a shut down robot and they become friends.
-L'Histoire de France en BD pour les nuls. History + comic and for dummies!
-Marsupilami tome 1. My son wanted this because we saw the cartoons.
I plan on reading all of these and more.
Easy readers I have 6-10 easy readers, most of which I will read or re-read for the Super Challenge.
The Bible I know the Bible pretty well in English (and have read about a quarter of the NT in Greek). I really should try some of it in French this year. Anyone have any suggestions about the best translation from the point of view of smooth reading?

Watching

TV5 Monde. I have several unwatched episodes of Un Flic and of La Commanderie (EDIT: La Commanderie is a medieval historical drama) recorded on my sky box. Any other good policiers I notice get recorded. I also have several episodes of Les villages de France, which is just delightful to watch. All three series have subs.
Francoit Truffault. I have a box set containing 6 films, of which I have watched 3.
Amélie. I have watched this about 6 times in the last year. I'd like to carefully read through the script, and get to know it really well, as well as re-watching it a few more times!
Le Peuple des océans + Océans I have both of these documentaries on DVD, but have only watched one episode so far. I will watch them for the Super Challenge with French subs on.
French in Action. I'll probably re-watch the series this year.

Skype

I am a bit of an introvert, but I know that if I want to be able to speak French, I have to practice by speaking French. I have been putting it off as long as I've been studying French, but this year I will at least try speaking with a language exchange partner or something. Maybe it will work out well and become a part of my regular study. Maybe it will be awful and I won't try it again for a while. But I plan to definitely give it a go! I guess the main problem for me is knowing what to actually talk about, so a structured exchange would be most useful.

Edited by Jeffers on 17 January 2014 at 3:05pm

4 persons have voted this message useful



Jeffers
Senior Member
United Kingdom
Joined 3014 days ago

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

 
 Message 3 of 164
16 January 2014 at 8:30pm | IP Logged 
Plans for this year's Hindi studies (first draft- subject to editing).

I have been studying Hindi on and off since I took it as my language in high school. I went to school in India for 6 years, and later worked at the same school for 6 years. There is a slim possibility that I might start working there again this summer!

Teach Yourself Hindi. I plan to finally finish it this year! I've only been working on it for 12 years or so! I think I'm on chapter 12 of 18. I have also been using the free audio resources the author has made.
The Routledge Intermediate Hindi Reader. Just came out in December 2013. I read the first two chapters, and it is very good. But I wish there was more text and fewer exercises. I counted only 44 pages of actual text.
Children's books. I have at least 50 children's books and comics in Hindi. For the Super Challenge I plan to try to read most (all????) of them.
Other books. I have Harry Potter 1 and Neeli Chatari (The Blue Umbrella) in Hindi. If I move to India, I'll definitely up my Hindi load to read these.
Watching. I'm a fan of Bollywood, and have already watched Dhoom 3 (last Saturday night), and some of Rang de Basanti. I'll continue my Bollywood habit this year.

Edited by Jeffers on 16 January 2014 at 11:23pm

1 person has voted this message useful



Jeffers
Senior Member
United Kingdom
Joined 3014 days ago

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

 
 Message 4 of 164
16 January 2014 at 8:34pm | IP Logged 
One more reserve, just in case. :P
1 person has voted this message useful



Mohave
Senior Member
United States
justpaste.it/Mohave1
Joined 2112 days ago

291 posts - 444 votes 
Speaks: English*
Studies: French

 
 Message 5 of 164
17 January 2014 at 12:36am | IP Logged 
Jeffers,

What wonderful detail in resources you've provided! I plan to take advantage of many of these. I am on
Team Triomphe, but plan to follow your log this year. I am also planning on doing the SupperChallenge. Best
of luck on reaching your TAC 14 goals!
2 persons have voted this message useful



luke
Diglot
Senior Member
United States
Joined 5310 days ago

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

 
 Message 6 of 164
17 January 2014 at 1:22am | IP Logged 
I also appreciate the recap of where you've been and where you think you might be going!

Bonne chance!
2 persons have voted this message useful



PeterMollenburg
Senior Member
AustraliaRegistered users can see my Skype Name
Joined 3581 days ago

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

 
 Message 7 of 164
17 January 2014 at 9:11am | IP Logged 
Here be another follower to add to your list of fans :) You're right Jeffers we are quite similar in our use if
courses... will be in touch

PM

edit:
Jeffers wrote:

Skype

I am a bit of an introvert, but I know that if I want to be able to speak French, I have to practice by speaking
French. I have been putting it off as long as I've been studying French, but this year I will at least try
speaking with a language exchange partner or something. Maybe it will work out well and become a part of
my regular study. Maybe it will be awful and I won't try it again for a while. But I plan to definitely give it a go!
I guess the main problem for me is knowing what to actually talk about, so a structured exchange would be
most useful.


This is very similar to me also... putting off actual speech

Edited by PeterMollenburg on 17 January 2014 at 10:14am

1 person has voted this message useful



Sizen
Diglot
Senior Member
Canada
Joined 2444 days ago

165 posts - 347 votes 
Speaks: English*, French
Studies: Catalan, Spanish, Japanese, Ukrainian, German

 
 Message 8 of 164
17 January 2014 at 11:05am | IP Logged 
Hey Jeffers, looks like you've got an exciting year planned out!

Last year I only managed to read 45 books total, divided through 4 languages, English included. I'm very
happy with this result because I probably only read 4 books the year before, but I definitely want to try
someone like 50 books in French this year. I'm already off to a good start as I'll be finishing my 4th French
novel within the next 2 days!

I'm also really excited to check out all of the series and music that you've mentioned! Even though French is
by far the foreign language that I'm most competent in, I've only ever watched 3 series and my music library
consists of 80 tunes, which is really quite disappointing compared to the 100 or so series I've watched in
Japanese and my 756 Japanese songs.

Looking forward to following your log this year!


2 persons have voted this message useful



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