Well a few weeks ago I posted that I thought I was going to start learning Japanese. But after a week or so trial run of it I realized that even though I was learning some basic Japanese, I was forgetting all my French! I decided this over the Thanksgiving holiday and decided that upon my return to college I would continue to devote myself only to French. Today during French class it really hit me with how much I’ve forgotten and I’m hoping that another break of living alone and intensely studying French will help me get back up to my level.
I have been studying a lot everyday in order to improve my French. My current language learning goal is to be CEFR B2 in French by the end of 2017. The good news here is that I think that I am already there based off of my experiences with my university’s French professor and my italki professor (plus other things like the fact that I just finished the Duolingo French course the other day and I can understand more and more of the TV show that I’m watching through).
So the question now is, where do I go from here?
The end of 2017 would mark 8 months of intensive French learning, and that would leave 8 months until I would start law school (which I’ve been accepted to 2 by the way, another post). [That doesn’t count the extra month that I’d give myself if I started now].
My choice would be Japanese.
But now that leaves the question of do I learn Japanese for 8 (9) months for the hope of getting to that B2 level or do I give myself another 8 months of intensive French in the hopes of getting to the C1 level?
Additionally, if I go for Japanese, how do I maintain this level of French?
Well I just realized the other night that my goal to increase my French to at least a B2 level on the CEFR Scale by the end of 2017 is approaching rather quickly, with only 2 months and a day to go at the time of writing this. I decided that I should share with my readers the list of everything I do on a daily basis to try and improve my French.
On My Phone
My phone is where most of my learning comes from, all from free apps.
- Duolingo– I do 5 lessons of Duolingo a day because I find that it incorporates the main 4 parts of learning a language very nicely. They have a nice language selection and it’s entirely free.
- Memrise– I do roughly 2 lessons of Memrise per day. Their language selection is a lot nicer than Duolingos but their free content isn’t as resounding as Duolingos.
- Tinycards– Tinycards is actually made by Duolingo and serves as flashcards to help you remember the main lessons on the main app. They’re a bit slow to get through but it helps with the memorization, at least at the beginning.
- YouTube– YouTube is a great help when it comes to immersing myself because I use it to look up songs that I already know, but now in French. I listen to one Disney song and one cover of a pop song per day.
- Wikipedia– Reading at least part of one article a day has helped me continue my goal of learning one new thing a day, as well as improving my reading comprehension, and speaking (because yes, I read it out loud on my way to work and get very strange looks).
- TuneIn– I listen to at least 5 minutes of a French podcast everyday, entirely for free thanks to TuneIn. It allows you to search radio stations by language.
- LingQ– This is another one where the free service is just as nice without having to pay. I can listen to a French speaker from a variety of choices (right now I’m going through some TED Talks) and it has the script so that you can read along.
- Anki– This is the phone version of Anki. I’ll talk about the computer version later. With the phone version (which is free on Android) I made flashcards consisting of all the conversational connectors given to me by being a part of the Fluent in 3 Months Program, as well as creating one for any word that I didn’t know or couldn’t remember while trying to think in that language this past July (when I tried to use only French for a month, no, I didn’t write about it, it went well but we’ll come back to that another time).
- France 24– This is the news station that I chose, but it’s essentially to attempt to read a news article every morning in that language, out loud.
On My Computer
- Anki- With the computer version (also free), I downloaded a pack of premade flashcards called “5,000 Most Common French Words” and I work through about 25 each day.
- Rosetta Stone– Yes, I bought Rosetta Stone, awhile ago, but no, I don’t think it’s worth it for the price, but it’s already bought, so I do a lesson a day.
I have two ‘types’ of books that I read per day to help with my French. The first is a book in French (currently Le Tour du monde en quatre-vingts jours) in which I read a few paragraphs and then I read those same paragraphs again, but in my English edition of the same book (Around the World in 80 Days). The other type of book is an instructional book, one that will actually help me improve my knowledge of the language. I read a chapter a day and currently that book is Language Hacking: French by Benny Lewis.
Thanks to a Google Chrome extension called Hola! I can watch Netflix from any region (restrictions apply), but I use this mostly to watch a show that I already know in my target language. Currently I watch Friends.
Now, I have to do some things on the weekly basis instead of daily because they require a time commitment and coordination of schedules (and sometimes payment).
- College French Professor- Since I’ve made it clear by now that I am a college student, it makes sense that I live in a college town. Thankfully this means that I have access to the friendly French professor (it probably helps that I’m in her French 3 class twice a week). Her and I meet for about 30 minutes a week to talk in French.
- italki– I love italki’s services and have been using them to talk with a French lady (in France) about once a week for 30 minutes. I started out paying $8 for these lessons but after so many months the teacher reduced my cost to $5.
Now with my busy lifestyle I’m not able to do every French language related thing that I’d like every week/day. So whenever possible, I throw a little extra practice in.
- Make a YouTube video- not long, maybe 30 seconds to a minute, but you’d be surprised how much talking that is
- Watch a children’s movie- language wouldn’t be that advanced and if I have them on DVD anyways, why not?
- Write social media posts- Easier said then done. I don’t do much actual written posting on Facebook anymore (unless I’m traveling) and Twitter is already hard with the character limit but it’s enjoyable once you get the hang of it.
- Think- I try to think in French in the shower or when I’m walking to work, just to add that extra dedication to language learning.
As very few people know, I try to upload a video of me speaking in French to my YouTube channel once a week. Now not only does this not happen every week but they’re also very short and about random things that I think about ahead of time. However, today’s video I did not write a script for and I think I did pretty okay.
All of my pauses or incorrect pronunciations here would be the same of that as somebody who speaks English and isn’t good at last minute speeches (or whatever other factor makes us natives pause and say things like um or uh) and I am only speaking about a simple subject, my French lessons this week, but it is enough that I could hold a conversation which means that my goal of being conversationally fluent (B2) by the end of 2017 is looking more and more attainable everyday.
I realize (after watching it) that a decent amount of mistakes were made. Just something to work on.
Aujourd’hui était mon première privé leçon de français face à face. C’était super! J’ai fais des erreurs bleus, mais ‘oh well’. en jeudi, j’ai un leçon de français sur Skype. Avec deux leçons par semaine, je vais être couramment bientôt!
This upcoming week I have scheduled my first in-person one-on-one conversation practice for my French. My French professor (with whom I’m Facebook friends with) saw that my goal was to reach a B2 level by the end of 2017, and as a result, has agreed to meet with me at least once a week for 30 minute sessions. In her response, she highlighted that she would also see if any of her francophone friends would Skype with me to help with this process. It was also pointed out that she will have me focus on a lot of listening because that was her struggle when she was learning English.
In addition to that, I got some more credits on italki, which means whenever I finalize my schedule I will be able to schedule some Skype French lessons. Finally, after writing this post I am going to the study abroad office to see if there are any francophone students that would like to have conversations with me.
All this practice with people is exactly how Benny Lewis says that languages are learned.
So why am I so nervous to actually talk to people instead of just burying myself in my phone or computer to use some software or TV show?
I consider myself an interesting person.
So why am I so nervous that I have no idea what I’ll talk about in most of these situations. Normally when I’m nervous I don’t shut up but since I’ll be using French I’m not sure what the reaction will be.
No more putting it off though, this is the perfect opportunity and if I pass it up then I have been lying to myself about actually wanting to learn a language.
I know that I have been slacking on keeping this blog updated and I apologize for that. Now that school and work have begin it’s just a matter of trying to figure out a schedule and time for everything. Having band all the time doesn’t help with that either.
So far I am highly enjoying this semester. My classes are all going well, my schedule is working itself out and my hobbies are coming along nicely. I do spend a lot of time at marching band though, but that will end at the end of October and I’m supposedly doing it this year for the fun of it.
My goal for the past few and a half or so has been to dedicate as much of my time as I can to preparing myself to take the LSAT this past Saturday. I think it went well, I won’t find out for about 3 weeks and it also means that I’m able to take on a new goal.
Over the Summer I made a lot of progress in my French and while I was living alone I even had days where I used mostly French. Now since I haven’t made it my focus and my recent use of French has been just in the classroom, I have dropped on my level. This however, is my new goal.
In the 3 Summer months I was able to get to an A2 (or B1 on a good day) level in French. Which is great progress. Now I plan on getting to at least a B2 level by the end of 2017. My French teacher has already agreed to meet and talk with me in French after class to assist with this goal. Additionally, I have postponed my blue belt test in jiu-jitsu until April so that my focus will be entirely on improving my knowledge of French.
My Summer will end in exactly one week thanks to band camp and then college starting back up. I figured that I should give an update on how everything ended up going over the past three and a half months.
Writing this post in English doesn’t really prove that I’ve made much progress in French, however I wanted to write it in English so that I could articulate better.
Learning a language comes down to your ability in five different parts of that language: reading, writing, speaking (pronunciation), listening, and thinking.
C’est à peu près à mi-chemin mon “un mois san anglais”, maintenant qui s’appelle “un mois avec beaucoup de français” parce que j’ai été utiliser beaucoup l’anglais quand même, mais j’ai fait bon progrès. Le prochain deux semaines vont bien avec espoir.