French Language

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Re: Hopeless!

 5-element wrote:
Great, great post Betty. If only all those who need it, could and would read and apply it... (not referring to people on this forum, but to some of the non-French speakers I know personally)

Thanks, 5-E. I do think, if people only learned those four basic verbs, they'd have such a solid start...but my experience is that so many don't even bother to do that, yet it's not a huge ask. I remember not long ago teaching a bloke who spent at least a quarter of every lesson telling me (in English) how absolutely serious he was about learning French, and I asked him to learn those 4 verbs, then a week or so later I asked him what the past participle of avoir was and after a minute of thinking he replied "Err....aller?"

Another trick which is useful, IMO, is to employ strategies for learning numbers randomly, mainly because I can't honestly think of many occasions in life where anyone is going to expect you to understand or say numbers in numerical order. If you're learning alone, take a pack of cards and shuffle them, imagining that the ace is 1 and the face cards have a value of 10. then deal them out one by one, or get a friend or partner to deal them out to you. Say the number out loud each time...initially that'll just get you from 1 to 10. For some inexplicable reason, 90% of my students seem to confuse 4 and 5, 14 and 15 etc. Anyway, once you can shout out 1 to 10 quite fast, start dealing the cards one by one but adding the sum of each card as you go along. You can, with bigger numbers, also try reading out car number plates as you are driving along (not so interesting now, with the newer format!) and also reading the numbers on a page of the phone book...remembering that French phone numbers are conveniently carved up into groups of two numbers, so that takes you up to 99...

Don't want to end up a cartoon in a cartoon graveyard.
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Re: Hopeless!

 Mary W wrote:
I have been trying very very hard to learn French over the past 8 years or so with little success. 

Whilst we were still in the UK my OH tried very hard to learn some French. He is one of these people for whom learning French at school really did not work so, whilst his efforts aged 50+ were genuine, the results were minimal. He tried Michel Thomas, amongst others - and loved the course.
Fast forward to our first year fulltime in France and I had to do everything associated with using French from phone calls, filling in forms to deciphering what we needed in the DIY dept. Now - 8 years on - and OH chatters away. He still makes dreadful bloomers and fairly frequently gets the wrong end of the stick when he is told something but he manages very well overall. The difference is that he has friends who do not speak English, or who speak/understand a minimum at most, so he has had to listen to what they are saying. His biggest fear was asking them to repeat something or explain something ... as he was not sure he would understand the explanation. But that, I feel, is the key; not being afraid to ask.
As Betty says go with the flow and get the gist of what is being said. When you hear it often enough it will sink in and, eventually, stick.


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Re: Hopeless!

 nomoss wrote:

You can also buy DVDs of French films with English subtitles, which, even though the subtitles are not literal translations, give the sense of what is being said.

You can rewind and listen to bits you didn't understand, or just watch the same film repeatedly if it is a good one.

If you look for older films they are not expensive. For example we just bought a double pack of "Jean de Florette" and "Manon des Sources" for £9.42, including postage, from Amazon.

We bought it from Amazon UK, but it was posted from France, and arrived the following day!

I take a slightly different approach as I watch French films (and TV programs) with French subtitles.  The simultaneous hearing and reading works for me.  I'm especially pleased when I detect that the speech and written words do not exactly agree and have been known to exclaim 'that's not what they said !!'

Do not believe anything until it has been officially denied
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Re: Hopeless!

Years ago I bought a book by one Colin Corder: "Some of My Best Friends are French: How to Get by in the Language and on with the Natives".
It witty yet sensible, and brilliant in reassuring you that you know more French than you think you do. Corder encourages you to get confident with a few conversational phrases -about the weather, say - and then use them to talk to many different individuals rather than try to sustain a lengthy conversation with one person.
I always thought it would be an excellent way to gain confidence in speaking the language.
Sadly Corder died soon after the book's publication, and it is now out of print, but I see it is still available second-hand if you search on Amazon.

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Re: Hopeless!

You have made me smile Betty, as some english speaking adults I came across in France spoke far worse french than they would suggest, in fact they would say that they spoke good french and I know that they didn't. Me, not being very talented at languages either, y compris english.

And re learning the main four verbs.

Being of little brain, it took me a week to learn 'etre' in the present. I had no idea what all those other things on the page of my bescherel were, obviously nothing to do with meWhistles [Www]. And for some reason, even though I was quite a young woman at the time, I had imagined that learning 'je suis' et al was some sort of magic key which would unlock 'french' and once I had learnt 'etre' in the present, I'd suddenly be able to speak french.

And once I had mastered 'etre' in the present, I remember well, my husband picking up the bescherel and putting his thumb on the pages and letting them flip very quickly and, I must not add, not unkindly, said that I only had the rest to learn now. I never did ofcourse, and still would not know how to use half the conjugaisons on the 'etre' page.

So to the OP. I would say yes, the radio, BUT,  if you have Sky or Virgin, watch TV5 Monde on tv. All in french and there are some good programs on it. In some ways it is better than the radio, because you can often see what is happening too, and I found it helped.

As you know, one soon masters, un petit-batard or deux tranches de jambon blanc SVP. Then just keep on trying, always remembering that you'll make some big horrible mistakes and eventually learn from them. Simply just keep talking. I was always forgiven my butchering of the french language and still amBlush [:$]

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Re: Hopeless!

Just to let you know. You are not the only one.

We have lived here for over 7 years and I still have a lot to learn. My other half is better as she attends weekly lessons with a mix of French and English people. My excuse is spending the past 5 years working in the UK and only getting to France once every 3rd weekend.

My daughter however, despite her having Cerebral Palsy and Autism, became so fluent in French after just 6 months that the French don't realise that she is English. Clever girl if I say so myself. The odd thing is though that she has the two languages running parallel. She can speak either but doesn't have to translate in her head.

You will get there in time and may be surprised at how much English the French secretly know.

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Re: Hopeless!

My "best friend" was just talking to me about this yesterday. She's lived here since 1990 and worries that she still can't carry on a decent conversation with the locals.
She's a very sociable person, and the locals like her and trust her, so I say not to worry. She can communicate.
I don't think she could ever sit down and learn a french verb, she doesn't have the educational background (ie what's a verb? what's 1st 2nd 3rd person?)
With someone like her, I think the main thing to learn is vocabulary, rather than grammar.

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Re: Hopeless!

 Guile wrote:
Y ou will get there in time and may be surprised at how much English the French secretly know. 

... though they can often be reluctant to display their knowledge, in that they are terrified of making an error. Perhaps a hangover from their schooldays when the rule was ' only answer if you are 100% sure you know the correct answer. ' Which meant that most of the time the pupils were too scared to put up their hand, not being the requisite 100% positive about their response .


Computing - it's another world
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