Author Topic: french advice  (Read 4641 times)

shaolin

  • Full Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 495
    • View Profile
french advice
« on: June 27, 2006, 12:10:15 PM »
I think I've mentioned that I'm back in Canada this summer to do a month long, intensive french course.  What I haven't mentioned is that I'm scared shitless.  I haven't taken any french in five years, and it has always been the one course I don't ace.  I start in just under two weeks and I'm hoping to remind myself of a few things before I leave.

I've got quite a good grammar workbook - I've been reading up on present tense verbs, definite/indefinite articles and reminding myself how to ask questions.  I don't know how much of it is sticking, but it's better than nothing.  I was wondering if anyone might have some tips or advice on where to start with this stuff.  Online resources?  I don't think I'm good enough to read french newspapers or anything.  Maybe some sort of french children's site...

I have a real mental block with not being able to translate things literally.  And the fact that I was never taught english grammar properly, doesn't help when it comes to french grammar.    

I'm feeling positive because for once I'm really motivated to learn, but I'm still scared shitless.  I'm spending a lot of time reminding myself that it's okay to make mistakes, and that I can't learn if don't speak to anyone (I clam up and won't talk if I'm afraid of making a mistake with my speech).

deBeauxOs

  • Guest
french advice
« Reply #1 on: June 27, 2006, 12:21:15 PM »
shaolin - do you watch television or listen to Radio-Canada?  That is, IMHO, the best way to reactivate your base of knowledge: to immerse yourself in the sound of the language and eventually overcome your anxiety.  Try not to grasp at the meaning of words as though they were buoys - just float in the delicious sound of the language.  Can you make your way over to Gatineau or perhaps rent some videos?  Watch the first time with English subtitles, then a second time without.

shaolin

  • Full Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 495
    • View Profile
french advice
« Reply #2 on: June 27, 2006, 01:01:03 PM »
I don't normally do tv, but I could watch some news in french.  And the movie idea is very good.  I really do need to hear more french, as it's the speaking (and hearing) that really gets to me.

Right now I'm in Oshawa (ugh), but I'll be in Ottawa as of tomorrow.  I have several francophone friends there, so maybe I'll make them speak veeeery slowly to me.   :oops:

deBeauxOs

  • Guest
french advice
« Reply #3 on: June 27, 2006, 01:22:00 PM »
Watch French kiddie TV - and perhaps sitcoms too, as though you were an anthropologist studying an "exotic" culture, gathering information about its unique customs and its folks' strange habits.  Then gradually, the actions and the words connect up in your brain.

Watching the news would force you to focus on the meaning of words and the content, which could be intellectually stressful and NO FUN at all.   :wink:   And request that your Francophone friends formulate their observations or questions to you as simply as possible.  In fact, when I chat to my daughter in French, we often address short sentences to her partner, to include him in the conversation, but also to acknowledge the limits of his vocabulary.

Mandos

  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 5759
    • View Profile
    • http://politblogo.typepad.com/
french advice
« Reply #4 on: June 27, 2006, 01:31:47 PM »
Your problem, shaolin, is very familiar to me.  I read French fairly well, and I can even understand it on TV.  However, I'm absolutely terrified of making the slightest mistake, so I rarely speak it.  Now I don't have much opportunity to either.  Same is true for the other languages I've learned.

I second the movie-watching suggestion.

brebis noire

  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 4707
    • View Profile
Re: french advice
« Reply #5 on: June 27, 2006, 01:50:18 PM »
Quote
I have a real mental block with not being able to translate things literally.  And the fact that I was never taught english grammar properly, doesn't help when it comes to french grammar.    

I'm feeling positive because for once I'm really motivated to learn, but I'm still scared shitless.  I'm spending a lot of time reminding myself that it's okay to make mistakes, and that I can't learn if don't speak to anyone (I clam up and won't talk if I'm afraid of making a mistake with my speech).


When I was first learning French, the ratio of listening:speaking time was really high, for a loooong time. The listening part is really important, and then using what you 'get' - parrotting, I guess you could say - is a useful strategy. It doesn't help you to say exactly what's on your mind, or pronounce original and illuminated thoughts, but you might get close. You might even end up having the language influence the way you think and speak, in small ways.

Nearly 20 years later, even though I'm very fluent and I can almost trick people into thinking I spoke French as a child, I'm still making mistakes - every single day (not pronunciation errors, I'm talking about real grammar/concordance mistakes, wrong choices of vocabulary, most of which I'd probably catch in writing.) So don't let the mistakes stop you, since you're not going to be a child again to go through a regular language acquisition process.

Just be yourself, and let the language infiltrate your consciousness and take hold of you (she said in a wise and mystical voice...) 8)   :wink:

  • Guest
french advice
« Reply #6 on: June 27, 2006, 04:18:11 PM »
I third the movie-watching. And sometimes it's useful to haul up the French subscripts, so you know precisely what they're saying, and how they say it.

Since my immersion was a rather brutal one - from high-school French to lecturing within a period of 3 months - I had to get over my embarrassment very quickly. I remember at one point saying quite firmly to myself that from now on, my accent is no longer my problem; it's everyone else's problem.

deBeauxOs

  • Guest
french advice
« Reply #7 on: June 27, 2006, 04:44:37 PM »
You could also try, if available on the DVDs you rent, setting the movie to the French dubbed version.  Although I would discourage anyone from using both the dubbed and subtitled settings simultaneously.  

I did that with "Don't Move" a recent film that featured Penelope Cruz.  The original version was in Italian, so when I checked out the settings, I saw that I could hear it in French, as well as read the subtitles too.  After 10 minutes it was evident that the people who wrote the dialogue for dubbing and those who wrote the subtitles did not work together.  Which on some level, makes sense.  When you're providing the script for dubbing, it has to be synchronized to the actors' lip movements, whereas the subtitles have to be clear and pithy.

Luke

  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 867
    • View Profile
Re: french advice
« Reply #8 on: August 29, 2006, 07:14:14 PM »
Quote from: shaolin
I have a real mental block with not being able to translate things literally.  


Shaolin, I know it is difficult to do but you should try to avoid this as much as you can.

As to watching movies to learn French: I don't fit into the mainstream as I have difficulties following the dialogue in French films, although I speak it fluently. (Gerald Godin, a PQiste, said that he learned English by watching English movies without subtitles.)

I had the fortune of having good and patient friends who knew how to speak French properly. One of the unforgettable things was when Micheline taught me the words (and meaning) of a Leo Ferre song. It doesn't have to be a French anarchist but appreciating songs in another language is an enriching part of learning one.

Somebody (who only spoke American) once called me a language dilletant. So take my advice with a grain (or a pound) of salt.

I don't know Ottawa, but if there are French "quarters" go there whenever you can and speak, speak, speak. Don't worry about mistakes. People who speak other languages will understand. Only those who only speak one might laugh at you.

ETA

I only realised after posting that this thread has been inactive for 2 months.

 :oops:

 

Return To TAT