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Learning Languages Archive
Ever since I achieved my DELF B1 certificate more than a year ago, I’ve allowed my French to slip. I just haven’t used it. I’m trying to correct this sorry state of affairs. Here’s how.
First, as always for me, is listening practice. If you can’t understand what’s being said, there’s not much point. Living languages are all about conversing, gossipping and chatting. Only dead languages, such as Latin and Anglo-Saxon (which I also understand) centre on reading. I used to listen to a wide range of podcasts but I find, this time around, that I’ve limited myself to the […]
You may remember some months ago I posted enthusiastically about teaching myself Italian with the help of a couple of friends and some online resources. Here’s the result:
I studied. I tried. I failed.
I can’t teach myself Italian. Sure, I’ve picked up a few words and phrases – and probably enough to keep out of trouble when I finally make it to Italy – but I can’t say I’ve really learned or understood anything about the language.
I came across a number of specific difficulties. I may have been able to solve them if I’d put in more effort […]
The thing which annoys me most at the moment is that I’m losing my French. After approximately 10 years of off-and-on study and achieving a DELF B1 certificate, I speak it passably well. But French and Quebequois friends are still correcting me (thanks!) for making dumb mistakes.
The problem: I don’t think there’s much I can do about it. If you have any ideas, I’m desperate to hear them.
I reason it out like this:
In language acquisition, there comes a point of diminishing returns where the amount you learn from private study, attending classes, doing homework, etc falls well […]
Regardless of how often I encounter them, there are a bunch of commonly used French words that I can never quite manage to remember. Every time I hear them or read them I’ve got to look them up in a dictionary. They’re all in one place here.Prepositions and Conjuctions
Check out the Les Conjonctions lesson on french.about.com.
- autant : en même quantité, au même degré, egalement, as much, as many, in proportion (d’autant)
- cependant : pendant ce temps, il signifie plus fréquemment néanmoins ou toutefois, while, meanwhile, nevertheless
- d’ailleurs : d’autre part, en outre, more over, besides
- jadis :
English has definitely become the lingua franca of the world. I was appalled at the ability of the participants at this year’s Eurovision Song Contest to speak not only very good English but current everyday, infomal, even colloquial English. (Unlike like my still formal and rather stilted French.)
Gone was the dual English/French repetition of every statement by the the hosts (although the scoring remains bilingual). Most countries sang in English and those who did not sang in their native lingo. The only real clanger was Latvia whose entry only served to prove that Google translator is not foolproof:
Last Wednesday I sat my first French exam. It’s a first in that it’s the first time I’ve sat an exam in many, many years rather than it being the first of several. It’s also the first exam I’ve sat for a language which has been spoken anytime in the last 1000 years. And let me just say right now: it was tough, damed tough, and quite unlike any previous language exam I’ve sat for.
The exam is comprised of four parts: oral comprehension (listening, in other words), written comprehension (reading), written production (writing) and oral production (speaking and interacting […]
On 17 March, I’ll be sitting the DELF exam for level B1. Whether I pass or not, I reckon that this will mark the end of my formal studies of French. While I’ll not claim to speak the language well, I can be understood and I can understand others as long as they speak clearly. I’ll still read French history in French and watch french cinema. But the only way to become fluent from this point is to spend a significant amount of time in a French-speaking country — and I can’t see that happening in the near future.