Adventures Beyond the French Tree

After completing my French tree, I was a bit at loose ends for a while. Still finishing up the Duolingo stories, but have given up on practice. Perhaps more intermediate material will be added in the future.

My main goal has always been to read French. I'm making slow progress translating L'Étranger and the occasional simple French Wiki article on a familiar concrete subject (birds or horses). Maybe I'll enroll in a French for reading course at some point--the support and interaction of a class might be nice.

My secondary goal is to be able to understand spoken French in film and TV, so I've signed up for six months of Yabala French: Each video is graded Beginner-to-Advanced, has a transcript, and associated activities. I'm surprised how much the dictation exercises (something that I use to dread in High School French class) have improved my listening comprehension.

I've also signed up for another round of "News in Slow French" There are transcripts but as not as many structured listening exercises. The content, however, is more interesting (and relevant). Both sites are great for intermediate learners.

I wasn't interested in doing a reverse French-English tree, but decided on a whim to give the German from French tree a try (many years ago I took six months of conversational German). Perhaps this would force me to think in French.

After working on this (extremely painful) tree for a week I switched to the English-to-German tree. So much easier...the linguistic equivalent of coasting downhill. Not sure if I have the stamina to finish the French-German tree.

August 10, 2019


There are dozens off good discussion of "What to do next" on Duo. Take a look around, as many of them have great suggestions.

For a way to make good progress reading, see 01LearnFrench01's comment and the discussion of it in various places in the thread, here. What I did years ago was to bull my way, using a dictionary, through classics such as favorites by Jules Verne and other authors whose works are in the public domain, such as are on ebooks gratuits. That method works, but reading lots of easy material and gradually increasing the difficulty works much better. For a ginormous selections of French audiobooks with links to texts, see litteratureaudio, for instance. You also may want to check out LingQ, which has its problems but does offer a good selection of easier text and audio.

August 11, 2019

Great resources there. I'll have to check them out. I'm still SO far from completing the French tree.

August 10, 2019

Merci! I am going to bookmark (follow) this for the future.

August 11, 2019

I'm making slow progress translating L'Étranger

haha. I read that about a year ago. It took a looooong time because I kept having to look up words. I managed to finish it. I started the Count of Monte Cristo but I didn't finish it before the due date. I decided to return it rather than renew it because it was taking too long.

I know how you feel. I had my French tree "golden" (all skills at five crowns) at one point and then I felt rudderless. I had watched all the stories multiple times and was getting the timed practice sets correct almost always. Later they "updated" the tree and it has new skills so mine isn't golden any more, which is good.

I started reading Le Monde on line. It's a major daily newspaper. I try to read at least one article every day. I also try to watch at least 20 minutes of French news on France24 three or four times per week. Usually on a stationary bicycle. I'd recommend that. I also watched the Nathalie FLE blog (Nathalie Porte is her name, I think.) She speaks clearly, always in French. I gather that she also speaks English and Spanish, because she answers questions from those langues, but her answers are always in French. There are about 30 or so 10-minute videos. Français avec Pierre is pretty good as well, for 10-minute videos in intermediate French. I gather he also speaks some English and Spanish, but again he only answers in French, which is good.

I still have trouble with French movies. I can't really watch them without subtitles, either English or French. I can get around in France well enough. Last summer we rented a condo from a French woman who doesn't speak English and I was able to communicate with her, as well as order food in restaurants, etc. But eventually I need to be able to understand movies and such because that's how people talk. For now, if I'm in a situation where either my passport or conversation (in English) with my family identifies me as a foreigner, and the vendor, waiter, or public servant says "Parlez-vous français?" I always say, "Assez bien. Si vous parlez lentement je peux le comprendre suffisamment." That always elicits a smile and broad cooperation.

Sometimes I pick up a book from the children's section of the public library and read it while I'm there. Yesterday I read Madeleine. A few months ago I read Le Petit Prince. That one took about four days. I'd recommend that before trying to tackle L'Étranger.

I've also started the German from French tree but I haven't completed it. That is slow going because I'm weaker in German than in French. Like you said, stamina. I have completed the Spanish from French and French from Spanish trees. I got through those pretty quickly. (I'm fairly proficient in Spanish as well and visit Mexico often. Although Spanish movies are still hard to watch.) It was very helpful to have to similar languages laid out side by side.

Bonne chance et bon courage.

August 11, 2019

Thank you for your encouraging comment! Listening to the news on France 24, RFI Français Facile, and News in Slow French is very helpful along with the Yabala dictation. I'll check out Le Monde.

Someday I WILL be able to listen to French New Wave Cinema in the original but don't think that this is going to happen anytime soon.

L'Étrangler is the typical (bleak) read for intermediate French because the language and grammar is very pared down. Certainly Le Petit Prince is a bit more life-affirming and might be a welcome break for a re-read.

Enjoy your language travels and adventures.

August 11, 2019
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