So it’s been roughly 3 months of studying French and as with studies and everything, there have been ups and down. Thankfully I can more confidently say that I am getting better and more confident in my French and slowly becoming less shy in speaking. I think a lot of it has to do with adjusting. I’m feeling more and more settled in by the day and more comfortable with the French language as I learn more. I’ve also finally created a solid study to-do list which is what I’m supposed to be practicing every day and weekly. I make tons of sentences in my head and certain concepts are starting to click for me. I’ve divided this progress report into the 4 main categories of language learning (in my opinion) and will be talking about what I’m doing in regards to each, and how I am progressing.
I’m getting pretty good at this! I still haven’t tried Harry Potter yet, but I’ve been reading and borrowing kids books from the library, which are fairly easy to read and come with a lot of pictures. I’m trying to read these aloud with Augustin to practice my speaking skills and get good feedback from him about my pronunciation. I feel like a child again! It’s kind of fun actually because it’s exciting to learn and improve and get good pronunciation practice. Yes eventually I will get into Harry Potter (recently just watched the movies for years 5-7), but I’m really trying to start slow and not overwhelm myself. I’ve also been using this website to read classic fairytales that include an audio recording and English translation, The Fable Cottage. I’ve seen audiobooks at the library, but still have no way to play CDs, so I’ll have to try and find audiobooks of kids books online. For now, I’ve just been bothering Augustin until he reads aloud what I put in front of his face. It helps with listening too!
I’ve continued to practice writing paragraphs and useful scripts to help me when speaking and let me tell you, having a preplanned script for common phrases is great. The most common example script? Who are you and what do you do? Together with Augustin we also outlined what a job interview for babysitting would be like. In French, we talked about experience, expectations, and desires. It was a good practice and together enacted the scenes out several times and in several ways.
Every day is a listening exercise as I attempt to understand things people say. I am always really appreciative when someone speaks slowly and clearly. The other day at the library, the librarian was explaining to me how to use the online library portal and she used slow enunciated words, along with pointing to things on the computer. She was extremely kind. Every day I also have to figure out what the kids I work with are saying. They don’t understand how to speak slowly and clearly (except with Google Home and Alexa) and so many things sound like gibberish, which well probably some of what they say is. Recently though, it’s been easier to decode their desires. Maybe I’m just used to their voices and the way they talk, or maybe I’m actually improving, though it’s probably a bit of both. In regards to traditional methods of listening practice, I listen and read along to books and watch some French TV and films. I’ll sometimes watch Netflix with the girls I babysit and they hate subtitles and will only put them if I ask repeatedly (or blackmail them). I’ve stopped asking for them to be put on because it’s good listening practice (even if the dub is annoying) and I can understand the premise without reading along.
This is another daily exercise but is a lot easier to avoid than listening. It’s also a lot harder than listening. Speaking is probably what I lack most, but overall it’s still improving. Recently, I went to Bordeaux with Augustin to see his family and already I was speaking more French than this summer and I was much less shy about it. I could feel the difference in confidence and feeling that, I felt like it gave me more confidence. An upwards cycle. Other than that, reading aloud has also helped a lot in that it’s great pronunciation practice and if I can say things confidently I can speak confidently.
The overall pattern seems to be that each exercise helps another form of learning and expression. Reading aloud helps with both reading and speaking, and hearing it aloud helps with listening. Writing obviously helps with reading, but also helps with listening and speaking when used as a script. Things I need to do include implementing and staying on a strict study schedule. I’ve recently configured one and I’ll include it at the end of the post. Not sure how well it will work, but having a to-do list is a necessity for me, so I hope to see good results.
In the end, I believe it really comes down to motivation and useful practice. I sometimes like to think that watching Netflix with French subtitles is “practice”, though it’s really not. It’s better than nothing but doesn’t really contribute to improving. I must keep my chin up and my brain focused if I want to improve. You can do it!
-Go through Quizlet lists for at least 10-15 mins
-Choose 5 verbs and practice conjugating them (use sentence too!)
-Grammar lessons, be looking up concepts you don’t understand and writing notes using the grammar book (at least 15 mins a day)
-Work on the Methode du Français book and get sections done! At least 2 a week
-Create “subway exercises” with writing prompts you can complete on the subway
-Read aloud easy books with Augustin