French Language

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Re: Hopeless!

 Ron Bolus wrote:

Hi----I appreciate your problem : I was hopeless at French A Level at school, my worst A level subject.

When we moved to France 4 years ago, all my old memories of the grammar and sentence structure came back ; and vocabulary came faster than I had imagined.

My wife spoke no French at all, not even at school.

The brief answer to your question , in our humble opinions , is  : move to France and if you mix with locals daily you'll be fluent within 6 months if you've had any A Level experience; and within 12 months if you've never learned any French previously.

The best way to master the language----the ONLY way-----is to live in France full-time.

And isn't it a beautiful language ? Smile [:)]

What is this utter nonsense RB. I was young when I moved to France, late 20's (which feels very young now, looking back), which one should imagine gave me an advantage, even though I had no french, it took me years to get any where near 'fluent'. And I use 'fluent' in a very  very fluid way, as I speak french like a vache espagnole and don't like using the word 'fluent' at all.

And A levels, well, I'll tell you, when I first moved to France I found myself in a city where there were lots of UK students, studying french and from UK universities and it was not their first year at uni. Were most of them anywhere near fluent???? not on your life they weren't. They had had good A levels and perhaps they could write well, but even with my lousy french at the time, I had to help them with everyday stuff.

 I do know people, non french, who are fluent, but they don't say it, they speak brilliant french. I have no idea what fluent means to be honest. My kids were born and brought up in France, and yet even the one who still lives in France still has 'holes' in his french. When someone says they are 'fluent' then I do wonder about their french. 

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Re: Hopeless!

I have had 8 years of total immersion and speak far better French than most that I know many of whom have been here far longer, but fluent? And as for fluent in 12 months, well words fail me Woot! [:-))]

I am nowhere near being fluent, I understand everything that is written or being said no matter how fast but I have nowhere near the capacity to respond with the same vocabulary, perhaps if people waited 5 minutes for me to think and construct the sentence,but around here you are lucky to get out 3 words before being interrupted.

For goodness sake I am no longer fluent in English, was I ever? I doubt it as I am still learning the language now but sadly losing far more vocabulary than I gain.

I hear the word fluent a lot, its always people who make no effort themselves to learn the language who say "Oh its alright for you, you are fluent", I am surprised and sceptical to read the comment from someone who claim to have learned the language.

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Re: Hopeless!

Here's a little anecdote which may illustrate one of the times when listening for gist (or even just listening!) won't help. It also illustrates that "fluency" is indeed a relative term.
I sat at lunch on Friday with six other English people and a Frenchman. The Frenchman speaks a bit of English. The English had, on average, lived full time in France for about 5 years, whether full time or on and off. The conversation turned to a concert that evening in the local church. The concert was jazz. What type of jazz, though? Well, the Frenchman started to explain. it was, he said, jazz in a style made internationally famous by the great Django Reinhardt. I don't know if you've ever heard anyone say "Django Reinhardt" in French, but there were a lot of blank expressions till I pronounced it for them in English! Fluent isn't just about what you can say, you know......
Don't want to end up a cartoon in a cartoon graveyard.
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Re: Hopeless!

Ha ha!
I remember similarly being flummoxed by the type of car a Frenchman was trying to boast about. Took me ages to realise he was saying "Alfa Romeo" !


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Re: Hopeless!

It is a great advantage to have good hearing - or rather a big disadvantage to have poor hearing.

My written French has improved no end - and often surprises French people - but I struggle to have proper conversations as my brain is still trying to work out what was said to me two sentences ago. This can be the case in English, so makes things doubly difficult in French.

My wife on the other hand, with more limited "training", can get into conversations quickly as she has excellent hearing and a very good ear for language.

I believe also that it helps to "think" in French when having a conversation with a French person, if that makes sense. The brain is an amazing instrument which will work better for you if you set it in the right mode. (I have an example of this in relation to driving on a skid pan, but for another thread perhaps.)
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Re: Hopeless!

I had the same problem with 'Mercedes' when I got to France, I could not 'get' what was being said, until someone actually pointed at the car in question.

Another is 'Donkey Shot', that took me ages and ages and ages to work out.

Chancer, after about 10 years in France, we started saying we were completely semi-lingual. Our french not as good as a french persons and never would be and our english was going down the toilet rapidly. And that I suppose was also because of where we lived. The only english we heard was basically one anothers and the consequence of that was our english not being stretched.

I'd find myself going round the houses using ten words in french because I didn't know 'the one' word that said it all and I would think, I used to know an english word, for what ever it was, but I'd forgotten it. Still the case, I have never got back my english vocabulary...... and ofcourse I am losing some of my french now too, because talking to TV5 monde and repeating what is said, is not sufficient.

And I do know brits who have the 'gift' and speak french like a francais and sometimes better. I have no gift for languages at all, english included.

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Re: Hopeless!


'It is simply a question of repetition and habit'



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Re: Hopeless!

As you say that you do not know what "fluent" means, idun, perhaps it's YOU who's talking ther nonsense-----worth thinking about perhaps, eh?

By fluent , I mean being able to understand everything said and being able to reply and being complertely understood---by French people.

That makes it simple for you, so perhaps you can understand now Big Smile [:D]

And, I repeat, we were fluent within 12 months.

I am now at the level of the teacher who taught me French A Level-----and she was good and got many of her students to Oxbridge ( my degree is in History so French was just a poor A level attempt for me---tho I passed).

I don't think there's anything wrong in sharing one's own experience on this Site ; nor on giving the original poster a bit of encouragement Beer [B]

You seem to have a problem with anyone who has mastered the language idun-----have you encountered problems : if so, I am happy to arrange correspondence course for a modest fee Big Smile [:D]

Wish we could have moved to La Belle France earlier in life. But better late than never.
Bon courage !
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