Thursday, May 19, 2011

French Update

Since I have some free time at the moment, I figure I will free write a post on my progress as of late. 

Currently I am sitting in the library listening to France Bleu Isere out of Lyon and they are currently playing a French version of the Frank Sinatra hit "My Way."  It actually sounds very nice in French, although lacks a certain swagger that Frank had when singing this.  In listening to the radio I have noticed that I am understanding quite a bit of the words, although they are not necessarily completely making sense in my brain (natural listening) and the pace is still a little fast for me.  I have to research some exercise to improve my listening to a more natural level.  A large part of this I think needs to be approached by simple immersion (i.e. listening to French radio, watching French TV and movies, etc.).  I find that the most annoying and challenging thing about immersion for me is that the only way I can access French radio when driving, which admittedly is how I spend most of my waking hours, is through my Palm Pre which has horrible battery life, especially when using streaming apps.  I suppose that my solution to this will have to be podcasts.  In keeping with the immersion concept, I have changed much of my computer, internet and GPS to French in recent weeks.  Truthfully, I don't even notice that most of them are in French, which I take as being a good thing. 

I have been working my way through Assimil and Michel Thomas during my studies and have been keeping  a pretty steady pace throughout the last month and a half or so.  I only recently started the MT and only do one track a day, so I am only at about lesson eleven or twelve and ultimately the amount of material covered is relatively small.  For the most part, however, I am using MT as a reinforcement so I am okay with the slow pace I am taking on it.  At my current rate it will take me about three months to get through the course and then I will move on to the vocabulary booster and then the advanced course.  In Assimil I am currently on about lesson 33, so nearly one-third of the way through the Passive Wave.  I find that I am learning quite a bit from the Passive Wave without necessarily doing a whole lot.  The book recommends spending between twenty and thirty minutes per lesson in the Passive Wave, but I find that I am under this number daily (maybe 15 minutes or so per lesson).  The program has been helping my listening and in general I have noticed that I am gaining between 2 and 5 new words per lesson at this point.  This may not seem like a whole lot, but percentage wise 5 words over the course of about a one and a half minute segment is rather significant.  There are also other words in the course of the lessons that I do not know and do not necessarily pick up through just the Passive Wave, but I am sure that I will pick these up during the course of the Active Wave.  More importantly than the vocabulary, arguably, is that I pick up new grammatical rules, structures and some colloquialisms as I am going through these lessons and am finding myself retaining some of the work on tenses that they present during the course of my listening and reading. 

I do not necessarily have a great measure of how well I can speak the language at this point, although I seem to have an easier time staying in French when talking with my friend and I generally have a certain level of comfort in my conversation that I did not necessarily have a couple of months ago.  I think I mentioned earlier that I have changed my learning plan for my languages.  I have progressed to a more realistic plan of spending all of my time with one language until I have learned it to a level that I consider fluent, which I will describe eventually to the public, and then move on.  I believe that I can reach this level in most languages I am working on in a year and thus I still will be well within my goal of ten languages by the time I am forty.  My progression through languages has also changed based on my needs for my intended profession.  The order is thus:
  1. French
  2. German
  3. Italian
  4. Spanish
  5. Russian
  6. Czech
  7. Swedish
  8. Portuguese
  9. Arabic
The tenth language here is English, obviously and the reason that Italian is third on the list is because I need to take my French and German farther than I do my Italian which is already at a decent level, although not completely fluent.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Been awhile

Since moving back to French I have felt less inclined to write posts.  My French is increasing daily and I find that the language is getting easier and easier every week.  By the same token I am also progressing vocally.  I have found a renewed fire for working on my technique and languages which I have been reveling in for the last couple of weeks.

I have a good thought in mind for a methodology minute, but it is going to have to wait until another post as I do not have it fully formed in my brain yet.