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Advice needed on my french plan

  Tags: Study Plan | French
 Language Learning Forum : Advice Center Post Reply
kgoedert
Diglot
Newbie
Brazil
Joined 2486 days ago

20 posts - 25 votes
Speaks: Portuguese*, English
Studies: German, French

 
 Message 1 of 7
12 August 2015 at 4:13pm | IP Logged 
Hi,

since march this year I decided once again to try to learn another language. I have tried German before but ended up giving up for a lot of reasons. In the
beginning of the year I read a book called fluent forever, and decided to try again, this time I decided to try french.

I set a plan for about 6 hours/week to study. I picked up some resources, like a grammar book, assimil book and some other resources I found around the
internet. After two months I decided to drop some of the resources, and I kept, the grammar, one youtube channel and one other site.

So far, I am being able to keep this plan. When I can I try to post on lang-8 and get some corrections. I know I should write more, but sometimes I just don't
know what to write about.

Now, really comes the part where I need advice. Speaking. I tried to find some exchange partners, but had terrible experience so far. People don't show up on
skype, or sometimes I feel like I am the one making all the questions and try to keep the conversation going, when the other person just answers me yes or no.
Didn't have one good experience so far.

So, reading here on the forum, I found something about shadowing. I decided to try it using a movie or a tv series. I am trying it with one episode of a series
that I have a copy on English with french subtitles and a copy dubbed in french. So I listen the french part, try to repeat it, and also to write it down.
The problem sometimes is that, the dubbed version has not exactly the same phrase as the subtitles.

Is this too crazy? Can I get any improvement on my speaking this way? Or should I hire a teacher? (This is not a possibility at this very moment, but could be
in the future)

Thanks

Kelly
1 person has voted this message useful



chaotic_thought
Diglot
Senior Member
United States
Joined 1466 days ago

129 posts - 274 votes 
Speaks: English*, German
Studies: Dutch, French

 
 Message 2 of 7
12 August 2015 at 9:21pm | IP Logged 
kgoedert wrote:
I set a plan for about 6 hours/week to study. I picked up some resources, like a grammar book, assimil book and some other resources I found around the
internet. After two months I decided to drop some of the resources, and I kept, the grammar, one youtube channel and one other site.


I find it personally useful to measure my resources in terms of "native language hours". What I mean is this - if I listen to the news for 1 hours broadcast in the native language, that is "1 native language hour". If I listen to material where there is part material in the learning language, and part in another language (e.g. explanations), then I count it as only "1/2 native language hour". The goal is to maximize native language hours per week.

For learning a new language, I need the native language hours per week to be fairly high before the language "clicks" into my brain. 6 hours per week would be totally inadequate. And if I measured your 6 hours according to my "native language hours" measure, it would be even more inadequate. I would have 15-20 as a minimum goal.


1 person has voted this message useful



Cavesa
Triglot
Senior Member
Czech Republic
Joined 2933 days ago

3277 posts - 6777 votes 
Speaks: Czech*, FrenchC2, EnglishC1
Studies: Spanish, German, Italian

 
 Message 3 of 7
12 August 2015 at 9:21pm | IP Logged 
Hi, welcome to the forum (even though most people are on the new forum of the same address with .org ending).

A few thoughts:

Why did you give up German? I am not trying to convince you to take it back up, you just might want to avoid similar end of your French learning.

Which grammar, youtube channel and website are you using? It is a bit hard to give advice without any more precise information on your current learning methods.
Why did you drop Assimil? You didn't like it or found a better course?

Language exchanges can be hard. One way to get the most of all the speaking opportunities is to get ready for them on your own. Get the grammar and vocab down as much as you can, practice pronunciation on your own, repeat after audio, get your listening skills to high level (you may already have a good conversation using actively just the vocabulary from your courses, bu the native won't be that limited and is likely to speak fast. Understanding is a very important part of having a conversation and prerequisite for speaking well). Shadowing certainly belongs among these technics, so do drills like those in FSI courses.

TV series are an awesome resource but you are trying to do too much with them at once, in my opinion. Not all of them have got good quality subtitles, that is first problem. There is a list on this forum and the related wikia with a list of series with confirmed good quality subtitles, that could help.

I personally dislike Shadowing as I find it too dependant on basically memorising the whole sentences and dialogues. That can be done with a course like Assimil (and there have been very successful learners, like professor Arguelles, doing exactly that) but hardly with a movie or tv series. Try pausing and repeating instead, you might like it more. Or if you are a beginner, postpone the tv series a bit, if they are more of a stressor than help.

But you appear to be mixing a ton of resources of various levels together. How advanced are you?

It is not unusual for people to first learn on their own and wait with speaking to others until they can talk more comfortably. It works. And than there are people who speak from the very beginnings. That works too. The key is to choose what suits you and what does your situation allow.

Paying a tutor is an option but I am generally not that excited about them, I think you can do better on your own during vast majority of the process, but there are various opinions on that.

Edited by Cavesa on 12 August 2015 at 9:22pm

2 persons have voted this message useful



garyb
Triglot
Senior Member
ScotlandRegistered users can see my Skype Name
Joined 3131 days ago

1468 posts - 2411 votes 
Speaks: English*, Italian, French
Studies: Spanish

 
 Message 4 of 7
13 August 2015 at 12:43pm | IP Logged 
Finding a reliable language exchange partner for French is extremely difficult. I tried to do Skype and in-person exchanges for a while and my experiences were also mostly negative. Even the ones that went well didn't last. I think it's better to explore other options. For me the main advantage of paying a tutor is just for reliability: when money is involved, people are more likely to turn up at the agreed time and make some effort with the conversation. I considered that "time is money" and paying was "cheaper" than all the time I was wasting by attempting exchanges, although of course if you don't have the money in the first place that's a moot point.

I've also become less focused on speaking practice than I used to be. It's important, but other activities like those already suggested can also help with speaking, and all exposure to the language contributes a little bit. A lack of speaking opportunities might slow down your progress a little, but it won't stop it and it shouldn't cause you to lose motivation. That's a trap I fell into for a while.
3 persons have voted this message useful



kgoedert
Diglot
Newbie
Brazil
Joined 2486 days ago

20 posts - 25 votes
Speaks: Portuguese*, English
Studies: German, French

 
 Message 5 of 7
13 August 2015 at 1:12pm | IP Logged 
@Cavesa

I gave up German because I lot happened at work at the time and I had to start using the time I
was devoting to study German to study work related things. When I got the time back, since my
German was very very basic, I felt like I would have to start all over again. And also, maybe the
biggest factor was that I wasn't using the techniques in a way that were effective to me. One
example were my flashcards. They simple had the translation. After I read Fluent Forever, where
the author suggests to use pictures and sounds, they started to be a lot more effective to me.

And I will study German again, if I succeed in French (which I believe I will)

About my resources. The grammar book I am using is this one Makes-Perfect-All-One/dp/0071819541/ref=pd_sim_14_5?ie=UTF8& refRID=1JHES99JD58XX9EWZMKP">Complete
French Grammar
, the youtube channel is this
French from beginner to advanced and the podcast
this Coffee break french

I dropped assimil because the material did not appeal to me. I can't really give you one specific
thing.

I think I liked your idea of pause and repeat instead of shadowing. I will give it a try.
I am a beginner in french, I will give a try on trying to repeat the dialogs in the series, if it
doesn't work I will postpone it.

@garyb

I am affraid of falling in the same trap you pointed out. That not speaking frequently will cause
me to loose motivation
3 persons have voted this message useful



Cavesa
Triglot
Senior Member
Czech Republic
Joined 2933 days ago

3277 posts - 6777 votes 
Speaks: Czech*, FrenchC2, EnglishC1
Studies: Spanish, German, Italian

 
 Message 6 of 7
14 August 2015 at 4:36am | IP Logged 
That is a perfectly valid reason to drop Assimil. However, as you are a beginner, I still recommend you follow a course as a basic structure to build your learning plan around. While I find tv series extremely useful, I don't think they are best used right at the beginning. Or language exchanges. Why bother, before you have actually something to speak about and can react to various situations that naturally happen during a conversation?

I cannot recommend that much on French courses based on my direct beginner experience as I used different once years ago when I was at that point, but from what I have seen later, these are some good options:
Ultimate French
Teach Yourself or Colloquial or Hugo in three months
Alter Ego (this is actually a classroom aimed series but those are still usable with a dictionary and this one is better than most)

Perhaps there might be some good French beginner courses based in Portuguese, that would fully used the advantage of both being romance languages.

I have heard about these podcasts, they should be good.

As you are interested in the tv series, there is a tv series course called French in Action. It consists of a tv series for beginners and some writen material, workbooks etc. You might wanna have a look at that.

Practice makes perfect is not bad from what I've heard. It should be nice starting point
1 person has voted this message useful



garyb
Triglot
Senior Member
ScotlandRegistered users can see my Skype Name
Joined 3131 days ago

1468 posts - 2411 votes 
Speaks: English*, Italian, French
Studies: Spanish

 
 Message 7 of 7
14 August 2015 at 11:39am | IP Logged 
kgoedert wrote:

I am affraid of falling in the same trap you pointed out. That not speaking frequently will cause
me to loose motivation


In the end I did actually lose motivation and quit actively studying French because I didn't have enough opportunity to speak it. So maybe I'm not the best person to listen to! But it was more a question of utility than of speaking frequently: I had this slight paradox where I knew I could afford to work with a tutor in order to speak more frequently, but since I didn't have opportunities to speak frequently in the first place, what was the point in putting time/effort/money into improving my speaking ability?

That was just a personal decision though, based on my own situation and experience. My goal was to speak well, but I realised that I had no need to speak well because I just don't spend much time around French speakers. I think that potential French learners need to be aware that finding opportunities to speak it can be hard (unless you already have a partner or friends who speak it or live in the country) and it might cause you to lose motivation down the line. Not trying to discourage anybody of course, just saying it's something to consider especially if your long-term goal is an advanced speaking level.

I do agree with Cavesa that at the beginner stage you shouldn't worry too much about speaking. I don't think there's much point in trying to speak lots until you have a decent comprehension and grip on the basics, which you can get from self-study, but opinions on this do differ.


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