I've figured out a trick...six months of INTENSIVE courses
I've figured out how to look like a bada$$ on duolingo. Quit using duolingo almost completely for six months. Complete 22 weeks of intensive French immersion classes with wonderful Francophone teachers. Come back - test out of skills right and left!
However, I must say, even though my French has improved mightily in the last six months (I'm even looking for bilingual jobs, now, as bilingual is my only shot - no work for unilingual Anglophones here), duolingo IMMEDIATELY started teaching me new things, even as I was able to easily test out of some skills. Oh, verb accordance, I may never master you, but I shall continue to try.
I'm happy to find that duolingo is just as useful to me now that I've returned as a strong intermediate French speaker as it was when I first found it as a beginner. :)
I'm in a similar situation. Duolingo is still useful for me, and I was one of those French Immersion students in an Ontario school for most of my education (went to an English school for grades 11 and 12 only - English for University, too).
Duolingo is, for me, a way to rather intensely practice my grammar and review what I should already know. It's also useful for learning a more International French rather than the Canadian French I learned. (I realized I can follow French-language media with no issues at all when the speakers are from Canada, but I watched a France-French movie tonight and was rather grateful for the English subtitles).
Duolingo is simultaneously useful for beginners, as I am quite impressed with just how far I have come in Spanish over the past several weeks.
Once again, hurrah for free language education for the world!
I definitely understand Québécois French better than any European French at this point. I still need subtitles for movies, though, both Québécois and Frech. BUT, I can use French subtitles, at least.
And seriously, BIG HURRAH for this free resource!!!
Don't know about intensive courses, but I've always liked to learn languages by reading and translating things really far above my actual level. Which is very helpful when learning to understand a language, but I ended up with a few really consistent grammar problems in German despite being otherwise mostly fluent and I don't want to repeat that mistake in Spanish and French (both of which I understand on a basic level but can't speak at all)... so yeah, Duo seems like a treasure trove so far.
Hmm, with a pretty solid base in French now, I wonder if I should work on translating more. I try to read a good bit, but I mostly read things that challenge me but aren't "way above" my level. I may have to look up 4 or 5 words a page. I don't bother to translate at all, just read to understand. Thanks for sharing your experiences, Winterfield!
I don't think it's a particularly efficient learning method, just the one I can goad myself into using. I did get from elementary school English (it took us half a year to learn the letters) to... well... capable of reading a novel because I wanted to read Deathly Hallows so much, but well, people don't generally want to go through the first three chapters of something looking up every fourth word.
This is what I did when I started to learn French. I just started using Google Translate and Word Reference to translate the French version of the first Harry Potter book. I made it through the first few chapters before I decided it would be easier to remember words if I knew how to pronounce them, so then I moved on to Pimsleur. Now, I've read a short story by Voltaire, Le Petit Prince, and some other things. I've also played several games in French (French versions of games from Steam), as well as French/European DS games on an emulator.
So, I can read French much better now, but I am still astonished by how much I could learn by translating a text that was difficult for my level (complete beginner) within even just a day or two (I did it during one spring break). Within that short period of time, I pretty much already knew everything about the language that confused me.
I could maybe send you the files of at least the first several lessons. The first lesson is on YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9T-VT4W9_Ic
It's likely that others have uploaded the other lessons somewhere else for you to either stream or download for free. I just found this, for instance: http://mp3skull.com/mp3/pimsleur_french.html (Nothing happened when I hit "play", but then it started playing when I clicked "download.")
Pimsleur is pretty boring, but it did help my pronunciation and make me comfortable with sentence structures. If you're at the intermediate level, though, it probably won't be of much use to you. It's not good for vocabulary. It's useful for beginning learners, but I don't think it's worth the price. Assimil French is a much more comprehensive and interesting program, so definitely don't buy Pimsleur over Assimil.
You can buy/hear the first few audio lessons (the whole package includes a book with the text in French and English) here: http://fr.assimil.com/methodes/new-french-with-ease
You have to click the Livre + MP3 option on the right side bar to get the option to listen to the samples.
Yes, I tested out of so many things. I'm Belgian and grew up there until I was almost ten, then moved to the states. However, I'm from the Antwerp area, so we spoke Flemish/Dutch and the French I learned was in school. Later on, I went back to university and learned more (not to mention high school French but...) so Duolingo was a good way to revise the language and cement the rules but it definitely struck me as a course for people who already had been exposed to some degree of tuition in the language, at least a year of university level instruction. It's more like a recharge course, don't you think? Because it doesn't explain the rules of grammar, it just shoves stuff at you and you have to figure it out yourself or go to some other site that does. I just finished the entire program and all my little doohickies are gold. Now I'm ready to go to LiveMocha or just start reading some serious stuff. I enjoyed Duolingo for the most part but some of the sentences were too weird if not downright creepy, and some of them were so grammatically incorrect it drove me utterly bonkers. I'll keep coming back for a while, I think, just so I can be irritated by sentences like, Et sinon, pourquoi?
I feel like ANYTHING I've tried that isn't a class with a real-life Francophone instructor is good only only as a supplement for me. I found Rosetta Stone to be the same way; it just threw stuff at me for me to try to understand with no real help with the "WHY?" Not even verb conjugation. One thing that is excellent about duolingo is the discussion feature, in which people who have some of these answers help others. Resources like the dear member Sitesurf really take this resource to the next level.
I absolutely agree about Sitesurf. Saved me countless times. And for the discussions, also true, with the links to sites which explain that particular problem, so you don't have to hunt it down yourself. I gave Sitesurf a few lingots here and there but I began to wonder, based on the fact that her (I admit, I assume she is a woman because she is so humble and reasonable, lacking condescension and so on) level was somewhere like, oh, 24 or so, that she must have about, comment dit on...des centaines de lingots. Anyway, I also agree completely about the verb conjugation. It drove me nuts because sometimes in the imperfect it was inconsistent in its use of English past tenses. Also, live you said, it would not really explain why, and so you had to just keep ploughing through to try to understand why you would use this particular conjugation in this particular situation. French has some conjugations that are used only in literature and never really spoken, so if you know that, you are left wondering if this is one of those conjugations...Then don't even get me started on the double compound tenses like 'a eu donné'. I guess we can be thankful we didn't get something like the double compound past subjunctive (just found this in a grammar book...I'm not some scholar-whiz) like 'eût eu donné'...But I digress.
But the truth behind language learning, I think, in most cases, is that you have to go where the language is spoken and live there for a while. I speak Dutch (and the local dialect where I grew up outside of Antwerp) and I haven't lost that. I learned French in school as a kid but we didn't speak it outside of school, although there was plenty of French to be had and we went to Brussels or the south of France often enough, as well as Paris and Luxembourg (often forgotten as a place where French is spoken as well as their native tongue), so we used it quite a bit. I learned English at my house because my dad is American, so I obviously speak that and then we came to the states when I was almost ten so that cemented it. Then I learned Danish at uni, actually took it for two years but can't speak it because I haven't gone there but once and that for just a quick visit. So that's pretty much lost. I suppose if I put my nose to the grindstone I could get it back fairly quickly. I can read it sort of, but I can read German sort of just thanks to my knowledge of Dutch and English and French (plus I took Latin in high school as well as French but that doesn't connect much to German except to help in the overall understanding of really weird noun declension crap). I learned ASL because I lost my hearing about 15 years ago and am quite fluent in it now, since I use it a lot. However, I got a cochlear implant which has worked (actually the first three didn't work very well but this fourth one is a charmer) so I can finally hear pretty well again. I did almost the entire Duolingo program with the sound off, which may have actually been to my advantage because, in the comments, a lot of people complained about hearing the word wrong and I know from trying the first bit with the sound that they couldn't see the sentences and had to rely only on the sound. If you turn off the sound then you get the sentence written, which is better, and if you want to hear it you click on the speaker. This has actually, for me, been the big selling point for Duolingo. It is the only language program online that I am aware of that a deaf person can complete entirely (as in, do all the parts). Livemocha has a pretty good program but you have to listen to 3/5ths of it so that pretty much rules it out for me. This is because, although I can hear pretty well, a voice coming from a speaker on my computer is not easy for me to hear, much less in a foreign language. So where was I going with all this? I was essentially trying to agree with you that a live person was the way to go for language learning and also add that your best way of really 'imprinting' the language deep in your brain is spending a good deal of time in a place where they speak that language. I hope you can. Go to Montreal or one of the Caribbean islands if you can. The Parisian French is a bit of a shocker and will take some getting used to, but French outside of Paris is much more like what we have learned. Let me know what your thoughts are and what your experience is. I hope I haven't bored you or been too chatty.
Agreed that living in the language is a huge bonus, and perhaps even necessary to really get it down. I'm lucky like that. Fell in love with a Canadian military member. When he had to move back to Canada, we got posted to a VERY French area of Québec. I just had my first job interview in French. It's not like Montréal here. Operating in English isn't an option (Montréal is incredibly bilingual - I doubt you can get a job as a waitress or in a hotel there without speaking both languages).
Well, I can't think of anything more stressful than putting your language skills to the test in a job interview! Bon chance! Or is it Bonne chance? I didn't know that Montreal was like the Brussels of Canada. That's interesting. At any rate, where you now live, you are bound to find your French surpassing your wildest dreams. Imagine how well you will be speaking when you work in a French-only environment! The reason I took Danish was also for a guy, but that didn't work out once I was on his turf. It wasn't so much culture shock as not being liked by his family and vice-versa. The love wasn't strong enough. It wasn't a very sad story, actually. It was quite a relief. I felt a huge weight off my shoulders and trained down to my uncle's place in Belgium for a nice, long vacation with friends and family. That's better than forcing a bad situation. In your case, you are truly in love and that's what will keep you guys together. We both ended up in good places, don't you think? At this point, we are actually using Duolingo like a chat board. So I suppose we should probably wish each other the best and just keep contact in future as questions arise. Let me know what you think of that. I just don't want Duolingo to get ticked at us.
(Now it'll be all out of order, ha!)
I do wish duo had a messaging function. I get that it's not a social networking site, but I've met people that I'd like to stay in touch with.
C'est "bonne chance." :) And I don't think Duo minds us chatting away on threads like these. I think we're supposed to keep from cluttering up the discussion threads tied to exercises, but I know I'm guilty of conversing a bit on those from time to time, too.
Haha, my French has already surpassed my wildest dreams, because I never dreamed I'd learn French! Not until I found out I was moving here with the hubby. There was never any language barrier for us as he's an Anglophone, but he's fluently bilingual, which is why he got sent to this current posting - a need for bilingual people in his field. I really look forward to getting a job (if not the one I interviewed for, there will be another, SOME time). My main goal is not the money, it's the French all-day-every-day.
Culture shock one can deal with and be strong and hold on tight to love, and all of that other stuff. Huge family stress? That's a different matter. We just took a vacation to Spain with his family (Mom, Dad, and Bro). We all get along great. That helps a lot. I don't see them a lot, but more than I see my family now. I've definitely been in a relationship or two where we were trying too hard to make it work, and I'm happy you're in a better place now. :)
yes, duo's like a treasure. i learn 3 languages by the courses, and they cost a lot so we can't afford more. however, i had fallen in love with French since i knew how it sounds and my dream has always been to learn it. and it came true with duo, so i don't have to pay and can learn the lang i want!
I'm quite happy that you got that result as when I did a similar thing I almost forgot all my French at the 30b of the year
Duolingo, or intensive courses? I assume you mean intensive courses, as you're a level 10 in Spanish here, haha. I'm sure that intensive Spanish immersion courses exist. However, I don't have any information on them. The French courses I took are through Québec's immigration ministry, and they're offered to immigrants to aide them in integrating into Québécois society.
The thing about Spanish is that is very regional and also extremely rigid in Latin America based upon social class and education. Current courses in the US to teach Spanish cause no end of commotion and controversy. Some argue that Spanish should be spoken in accordance with current immigrants to this country, however there are loads of problems in this. First, well... if you want to 'parcar tu troca en el corner y comer lonche mientras que los chavos watchetean para los popos..." instead of "estacionar tu camioneta en la esquina mientras que los adolescentes vigilan la policia..." that's your thing.... it gets political and ugly very fast. Just realize, all Spanish is not the same. Duolingo does a really good job teaching "Univision" standardized Spanish, if such a thing exists.
French immersion does sound really good. I've heard of holidays to France where you can study instead of chill out. I'd be interested in that since they're only the other side of the channel.
That is pretty exciting and amazing. Both your achievement, and what Duolingo can still do for you. I don't plan to visit any French-speaking countries, but still it is a very good recommendation for DL.
I am very interested in getting opinions from Meg_in_Quebec, Jenga_Jane, and any others about the many criticisms of individual items in DL in the discussions of those items. That is, users who state that DL's use of words, translations, etc., are not correct. I am interested, because I want to know if the French I am learning is correct. Can you give a general opinion on this? I suppose in a way you already have, but I would like to know specifically what you think about these criticisms of DL often being "wrong."
Thanks! I'm actually on my way out the door to my very first job interview here. Freaking out a little, but excited.
I never really answered you (I was all shaky over the interview, lol). I'm in Québec, and kind of a unique region at that, so there are certainly some things that aren't quite perfectly aligned with the French spoken here. However, it's a very helpful tool, and in general quite accurate enough to rely on.
I think there are plenty of tiny areas where we can argue, "Is this the best word or way of saying something," but in general, it's pretty spot-on.
I think you don't have to worry too much about the French. It is good as far as that goes, although sometimes you will get weird sentences like, "I lost the key to the door so the prisoner will have to stay." and a lot of prison-related stuff, or things that confuse or confound so that you kind of wonder about the mental state of some of the crew...well, that's probably overboard, but the thing you want to focus on in those sentences is not what they are saying, exactly, but the way the French grammar works to put the sentence together. If you let yourself get bogged down in wondering who in the hell drives a car off a cliff under an umbrella (made that up) that won't help you learn how the French phrase the idea. Unlike a lot of programs that teach you how to say hello, nice to meet you, how many children do you have, and so on, this program uses fairly unusual sentences. However, I believe the French, per se, is correct. The main problem you will be faced with is that they will sometime not accept your English answers, even if they are 100% correct. I am under the impression that they don't have any native English speakers in their group. The most memorable faux-pas for me was when we were required to say 'a soup' to an answer...something like, "I would like a soup, please.". Since everyone's immediate reaction is to say, "I would like THE soup" or "I would like SOME soup" the comments for that particular answer were jammed with people who were a bit ticked off that their answer wasn't accepted. So just be aware that sometimes your English, as correct as it may be, will not be correct in their eyes. I do translating for a living, (not French) and I am pretty well versed in this area, and this is what I would say is Duolingo's major weakness, at least in the French section. However, for the money, it can't be beat. My advice would be to read the comments whenever you aren't sure of something, as they are extremely helpful, pay close attention to the moderator named Sitesurf as she/he is amazingly helpful, if you have trouble with the sound/voice, go to the options and turn off the speaker. This will give you the sentence written instead, and you can still hear it by clicking on the little speaker icon. And finally, if you start feeling like things are going too slowly, test out of skills. You'll be surprised how easy it is. Another way to kind of cheat the system, if you want and you feel your French is good enough to do this (I don't really recommend you do this too often) is to download the app to your phone or pad and then turn off all speakers. The majority of sentences are given to you with all the word choices shown below and you just have to pick them, rather than going straight from memory. It's not a great way to learn the language but if you are already advanced enough and just getting frustrated with the English corrections it gives, you can do this to progress and then come back to the section later to strengthen it. So the long and the short of it is that the French is pretty much correct, but the English, especially in the latter third of the program, is quite bad. So you just have to tolerate it and figure out what they are looking for. One final cheat is to type the entire sentence into google and add the word Duolingo, then search. If anyone has commented on that sentence, it will come up and show the answer. La voila. Now you know everything I know.
Well, I am from Germany so we learned French in my school for 4 years. This was 3 years ago, so I forgot most of it. Duolingo is a nice way to get back at it. I started at the bottom again and I'm learning something new every time. Very helpful ! :)