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: