Finished my French Tree!
About eight months ago, I decided that I wanted to go to France for ten days through my dad's company exchange program. There was just one problem: I couldn't speak any French.
Not wanting to be the stereotypical American that only spoke English, I decided that I wanted to learn some French. After looking at several language learning programs, I decided to use duolingo. At first, I felt like I wasn't going anywhere with the basic "je suis un homme" and "C'est une pomme" sentences. However, as I made my way through the various topics, I found myself conjugating verbs, writing sentences, and speaking the target language.
Eight months later, I finally completed the French tree. Looking back on my experience, all of the spent lingots, start-overs on the last problem (those are the worst), and frustration was worth it. I'm going to France in August of 2015 and I'm super excited! My goal now is to improve my listening comprehension, so if anyone has an tips on how to do so, that would be awesome! Merci, et good luck with your language-learning journey!
Find some things that will keep you engaged as you watch/listen to them. There are a lot of French youtubers - Cyprien, NormanFaitDesVideos are two to the biggest and I love them. They both also have Instagram and Vine accounts, so if you follow them you can get short bursts of listening practice, and well as some reading in! Something else I like to do is if there is a celebrity I like, I try to find interviews that they've done and type their name + interview into Youtube. Or even do a word search for things that you are interested in and see what kind of media pops up.
And just some "general" tips: Reading regularly will also help your comprehension, so be sure to find publications. I've been trying to keep up with Le Figaro, Madmoizelle, and Radio Canada. Madmoizelle is mostly blogs and Buzzfeed-esque posts, but the other two are news outlets, so on their sites you can find news but they also have other sections like style, arts + culture, and blogs.
Keep playing on duo for sure, but supplement it with other resources. Cliffsnotes & About both have great notes on grammar. If you use tumblr at all, there is a great polyglot/language learning community there that is always opening to helping one another with whatever they're learning. Just check out the "polyglot" or "learning french" tags or something on those lines. Some great tumblrs to follow would be jaimetalangue, awesomefrench, hardlyfluent, and there def a handful of others I'm sure.
Bonne chance! :)
Just watched Cyprien. I have no idea what he's saying but he's entertaining either way! Can't wait till I'm fluent enough to follow. Thanks!
Tout d'abord, mes félicitations ! :) Partant de rien pour arriver à une noble fin, le graal ! Bravo ! :)
In my opinion, besides, it is what I do every day, I prefer to "live" in the language you learn than to learn it. I explain. I know it is "same ol' same ol'" what I am going to tell you. :) I learn English and it is the language that I want to be fluent one day :); to improve it, I read English novels by Dan Brown, Harlen Coben, English newspapers like BBC News, France 24 Anglais, sometimes The New Yort Time, and I watch TV in English like BBC News and CNN etc...
And the rest of the time, I am in Immersion, working together with a team, and surrounded by nice people who are ready to help me. It is simply GREAT ! :) Sorry, I am talking about me. If I can give you an advice, the best French newspaper for me is Le monde : http://www.lemonde.fr. The first thing I do every day before starting to work, during my coffee time, is reading Le Monde. Maybe this may give you an idea of my username ? :)
Obviously, it is not the same thing as living in the country of the language itsefl, but doing all these above, you don't have the sentiment to learn the language, so it is less boring, I think. :) And I can tell you. This method works fine. The proof ! Here are the results of my English reading and writing. Of course, this is not complete, I know, because I miss one thing: speaking. But for the moment, I don't need to speak English with someone, because I am in France ! :)
Your English writing is very good! :) cela aide beaucoup (sorry if my French is wrong) merci!
Regarding this idea of "living the language" , if you truly think that you're ready to go in France or in whichever french-speaking country you wanted to go, there is a "Way far from being exhautive" list of well known french media:
Informations/News: I>tele (TV channel): http://www.itele.fr/direct BFM TV (TV channel): http://www.bfmtv.com/mediaplayer/live-video/ Ouest-France (a regional newspaper): www.ouest-france.fr/ Le monde (paper): www.lemonde.fr/ Le parisien (another regional paper): www.leparisien.fr/ Le figaro (Yup, one more paper) : www.lefigaro.fr/
Main TV Channel: TF1: www.tf1.fr France Télévisions (made by the public services and includes France 2, France 3, France 4, France 5 and the DOM-TOM channels; France Ô and La 1ère): www.francetelevisions.fr/ M6 : www.m6.fr/
Plus my little addon, which is a web site that inventories every MP3 saga (MP3 then audio; for you who wants to improve your listening comprehension): forum.netophonix.com/sagaslist.php?sid=f8e1a116e915c0d6860a9b5b33f7628f Oh, and by the way, if you want to know if you've correctely understood the story just check on the website; type the name of the saga; go on the wikia page and check the "synopsis" section!
Hope that helps! Titip, native speaker.
I agree with the others who suggest reading. Also probably watch some television (kids' programmes are great!)
Another thing that I do, which might sound a bit odd but works is to rehearse different scenerios in my head while I'm walking around. For instance I might think about going for a glass of wine and lunch/tapas/snack. So some of the things I'm going to need to know how to say are:
"Is there table service?" "You you mind if I sit here at the bar?" "I'd just like to drink something for now." "Mind if I look at the menu?" (after being at the bar for a bit)
These are just examples. If you can try to think of some more. Then listen listen listen. When people really talk to each other in these situations they fall back on formulas, and especially in a busy restaurant (it's Paris!) they'll economise words, so figure out how to say. These are really hard to prepare for so that's why you'll need some listening material.
As for what to listen to the others have offered some great advice, but I'd like to add that children's series are great. Titeuf, Famille Pirate, Martin Matin, and SamSam, are great just to name a few. You can find them all on YouTube.
A lot of example dialogs you see are really stiff and not the way people really speak... But this is kind of fun: look what I found when trying to find real restaurant dialogs:
It's an exposé on restaurants using pre-made industrial dishes! But the diners in the restaurant scenes speak real every-day restaurant French, as do the waiters. Also it's cool, because it will give you an idea of what to look for on menus. Avoid the same thing that every restaurant has!
I rehearse scenarios in my head all the time! I thought I was weird for doing it, but I'm glad I'm not the only one. Thank you so much for your suggestions!
If you like those I should add a couple: Barbapapa - it's a classic and the dialog is very slow and easy to understand, and La Manege Enchanté, which features a dog speaking French with a pronouced English accent. It's good for accents because it also has characters with other accents, north, south, Italian, etc.
Other ways to say "excited" as "excité" has more of a sexual connotation. http://forum.wordreference.com/showthread.php?t=1203147
I'm currently working on Spanish in school, but I wouldn't mind doing Italian as well, seeing that they are from the same root and therefor very similar. Dutch would be fun to learn as well, because English and Dutch are "sister languages."
I am also learning French, and, like you, some days I feel like I'm going nowhere but when I look back at where I started (zero knowledge) then I realize I have actually learned quite a lot!
To aid your listening, subscribe to the "News in Slow French" podcast on iTunes. You can also pay money and get transcripts, flashcards, and learning aids in addition to the free podcast. They have a website you can explore to see if how much they charge and if it's worth it to you.
To aid your listening AND speaking, start talking with others. You can join a group chat at http://www.verbling.com/community. They have chat groups at beginner, intermediate, and advanced levels for many languages. If you don't see a French Beginner (or French Intermediate, if you are at that level) chat group already listed, it's easy to create one and wait for others to join you.
You can also use ConversationExchange and WeSpeke to find partners to practice with via Skype or other video chat applications.
Oh, and of course check any movie DVDs you have at home to see which ones have French soundtracks, and watch them.
It's also helpful to listen to talk radio. I don't know any good French stations offhand (not to that level yet) but this page should be a good starting point.
It occurs to me that if you're going to go to Paris and try to speak French, especially in August when a lot of regular Parisiens and Parisiennes will be away then you are likely to run into the phenominon of switching. What happens is that if you hesitate a bit and the person you're talking with knows a little English then they'll switch. Usually it's to show off their English, or to improve it, but sometimes it's out of frustration. It's good to try to head it off in that case.
One trick is to use French hesitation words. After all everybody hesitates when they talk, including native speakers. In English we tend to say "uh", and draw it out as necessary "uhhhhhh". In French it's "Eu", and gets drawn out too "Euuuuuuuuu". The vowel is pretty much the long "u" but a little rounder as it goes on.
In Switzerland and the South of France they are more likely to use "ben" as a hesitation word, and so I've adopted it which makes people in Paris think I'm Swiss. "Ah, ben, non, effectivement, j'suis American. Mais, j'habite là bas."
Another good French hesitation word is "Alors", which you can draw out for 15 or 20 seconds as necessary as you think of what you want to say. "Alooorrrrrrruhhhhhhhhhh", ....
Then there are exclaimations (I'm not talking about swearing, don't worry). You usually produce these automatically, like "ouch" or whatever. The French sai "Ai!", not "Ouch!", so it might pay to get yourself into the habit of saying "Ai!" pron. "eye!", but quicker.
Then there's "oops", that's "oh, là là" but it's pronounced "oh" not "ooo", that's a common misconception. The number of là indicate the degree of oops:
Oh là là - I forgot the cream for my coffee
Oh là là là là - I've spilled my coffee
Oh là là là là là là là là - I've spilled a full back of groceries
You'll probably see this elsewhere, but the important one is that you don't say just "bonjour". I think it's Balzac's fault because he wrote once "Bonjour à qui? Bonjour mon chien?" Instead you have to address it to a person: "Bonjour, Madame", "Bonjour, Monsieur", "Bonjour, monsieur-dame". The last one might be a Swiss-ism, I'm not sure.
Paris is a big busy city, and while it's not as busy in August many places are closed so the open ones are busy anyway. So people economise words (while being polite). If somebody is scurrying the most polite thing is to be quick. Like so:
Instead of - "J'aimerais un table pour deux s'il vous plait." - hold up your thumb and forefinger and say: "Pour manger, s'il vous plait."
Instead of - "Je ne voudrais que boîre un verre pour l'instant" - say, "Pour boîre un verre?" they might wave you in or the might wave you away. At least everybody knows what they're getting into.
There are dozens of these. Maybe we should start a thread for them.
The formal vous is about distance, use it to be polite with strangers, especially older strangers or somebody your about to bother (directions, pushing past in a crowded restaurant). For young people default to "tu", but there are some exeptions in both cases. You have to get a feel for it but in general remember it's about distance so for example if a bartender comps you a drink or a coffee then he's "tu" but if he gets the wrong idea and starts getting too freindly emphatically switching back to "vous" should put him in his place. Toss in a "monsieur" or two and the intention is clear. See how it can be used to actually be less polite? Neat huh?
There's lots more. I think I'm going to cut-and-paste this and give it its own thread if other people find it useful.
You have no idea how incredibly helpful this was! You should definitely post a thread! Thank you so much! :)
Mes congratulations d'abord! Si tu veux t'améliorer en compréhension de l'orale tu peux premièrement regarder la télé française ou bien comme c'était déjà dit regarder de vidéos youtube des youtuber français. Comme ces gens-là parlent assez vite et utilisent la language familier cela peut être difficile. Mais tu peux consulter cette site-là http://www.bonjourdefrance.com pour voir si tu a bien compris.
First my congratulations!! As other already told you French television or youtube channels could be a possibility. However those people use a fast and a colloquial language, so it could be hard for you at the beginning to understand whole sentences. For what I know the site, link is above, offers you free excerices which are similar to the delf and dalf exams. So they are adapted on your level. I'd suggest you practice with those exercises and hear as much radio etc. as you can and you will succeed hopefully!
Hi Congratulations! I'm still in the first part. Any idea what level you are when you finished? Have you done any of the free online DELF tests? I'm hoping to get to a B2 in 6 months. (3 hours a day starting october) just wondering how much duo lingo will help. Any advice is appreciated!
When I finished, I finished on level 16, and I haven't taken the DELF test, but I'll definitely look into it! As for the Duolingo hours, I try to squeeze in practice whenever I can. I always work on my language skills in study hall, after I complete my homework, or when I'm out and about with a couple minutes to spare! If you want to make it through all of the topics, though, don't get caught up on keeping your skills golden. However, if you are having trouble with a new subject, retouching on your weak skills is a good way to get XP points. Hope this helped! Bonne chance!
It feels good doesn't it? Listen to some Paul Noble or Michel Thomas too.
Wow. Eight months??!! The WHOLE thing??? (I'm only at lesson 3 ;D) Good for you! :D
Merci! It takes a lot of dedication and you can get incredibly frustrated, but it's so worth it in the end!
As for advice: go for massive language input. Watch TV and movies, listen to French music, find French audiobooks, read French books. Rfi has a daily 10-minute news, called Journal en français facile (just Google it); you can listen to the podcast while reading along with the text. Google "French in Action", and watch the videos of this wonderful course (sadly, only available to watch online for free in the USA and Canada).
After I completed some basic French studies, I started reading a lot. Easy readers which come with a CD are a good place to start. But my favourite French book is Le Petit Nicolas. I bought the CD as well as the book, and they are both marvellous. The French is difficult at times, but the stories are funny enough that I didn't mind if I didn't understand everything. I listened to the CDs a few times while taking walks, and although I didn't catch a lot of the words (it's very fast), I listened carefully to try to get the gist of the stories. Some stories were funny enough that they made be laugh out loud (for real!) while I was listening. After a couple of listens I then read the book. Again, there were a lot of words I didn't get at first, but I tried to just enjoy the story. This sort of thing is tough at first, but it will prepare you for hearing quickly spoken real-life French, and train you in the skill of picking out the meaning even if you don't catch every word.
I've heard of Le Petit Nicolas. My friend watched the movie in French class. :) Have you noticed improvement in your listening comprehension?
I've made a lot of progress thanks to audiobooks. I also watch a lot of TV in French and French films. I really enjoyed the film Amélie, so I found the text online and read it a few times, and I was able to watch without subs (although I still couldn't catch every word). Strangely enough, I still haven't watched the film of Le Petit Nicolas, but I do intend to.
By the way, have you got a Kindle or other e-reader? If you get a French popup dictionary it makes reading a lot easier!
Wow, it's a good thing I came across this! I just recently finished strengthening a skill after trying about a million times today and I was literally so frustrated, I was murdering my keyboard as I typed. I realized that sometimes I lose my purpose and just do a skill or strengthen something just to keep it golden or to keep my streaks going. It makes me sad that sometimes I feel like I've come so far (well, not exactly SO far :)) on my French tree yet I feel like I haven't learned much. I forget so many words and it frustrates me to no extent. If you could, would you mind giving me tips on how to stay focused and remember most of the words? I'm also pretty crappy when it comes to grammar, like, wow it's unbelievable. Especially when it comes to what form of the word you should use like, I get confused because I forget the "Tu" forms or the "Plural" forms and whatnot. So I'd really, really, REALLY appreciate your help :)
Oh, and bonne chance on your trip to France! It's my dream to go there one day and eventually live there, and I'll make sure that I do :) Do update us on how the trip goes when you're back, it'd be great to hear about your experience there!
Thanks in advance for any tips and (possible) future updates! <3
I feel the exact same way sometimes! It can be really frustrating, but (I know I've said this already) remember your goals and hopefully that will give you some type of motivation! As for remembering words, strengthening them often is said to be helpful. I should take my own advice- I plowed through the lessons without keeping the items gold and I forgot a lottt of stuff. And, I don't focus too much on grammar because, over time, the constant repetition of subject pronouns and verbs makes it so you don't need to think about conjugating. However, if you need any help, you can always message me! :) Thank you for your encouragement! Hope I helped a little bit. :)
Thank you so much! I'll keep all of that in mind! I'll make sure to message you for any help :)
Hi, I have the same problem) but i found here in discussions a website that will help solving your problems. And remember never give up. You have reached lvl 10 and im only 6 so you learned way more than i am. Hope it will help you)
Congrats! Have a nice days there in France. I am really jealous)))))). And I have a question. If I finish the French Tree will I able to speak French like You, or u had other lessons? Thanks for helping :)
Congratulations! That actually inspired me and I started to Franch tree today:D Anyway, glad about you:)
Aw, thank you! I'm so glad you decided to learn French! I hope you have fun and are able to put the things you learn to use!
- Watch French movies (perhaps via Netflix)
- Find French ---> English Duolingists who would like to practice using Skype, Google Hangouts etc...
Congratulations!!! So IT IS possible to finish a tree... I had some doubts untill now, haha. Just kidding. I am looking forward to finish my Italian tree :) Enjoy your trip!!
If each month has about 30 days on average, and she completed it in 8 months, then multiply 30 by 8, which is 240. She completed it in two-thirds of a year.
Have a great trip in France! Where are you going in France?
I love when I see 'finished my tree posts.' I haven't had the honor of being able to do one yet. I hope it is soon, though. It is also nice to see a finished my tree post that doesn't just say it was all fun and games. It is frustrating sometimes- failing lessons, trying to grasp topics, strengthening skills. And it is all worth it.
Bonne chance with working on your listening comprehension. Can't think of anything good right now but hope you find something.
I haven't decided where I am going to visit yet! I'm looking into Saint Étienne at the moment, but it could change at any time. Thank you so much for your encouragement! If you keep working hard, you will be able to achieve tree-completion as well!
Saint Etienne! Never been there, but I hope it's beautiful! You're welcome! And thank you! :-)
congratulations jdawg943 for ur sucsess..you give me new hope and inspiration to learn new languages....my name is Rohan ,i also wanna learn French....talking with persons and listening is always help to learn new language...i know English,Hindi and Punjabi....although i also want to improve my english speaking...I want some friends with whom i can talk in french and english...my skype id is rohan5758.....skype is also a very good meduim to learn langauges...friends you can send me friend request..and i only want to learn langauge on skype,nothing else.....i will wait for ur messgae...thanks..
I just started learning French! I'm very excited and hope that I might be able to stick with it. I do have a recommendation though. Currently I'm listening to French Cafe on the Pandora app. Even though I don't get hardly anything they say, I do tend to pick up on a few words that I have learned now and then. (English is my first and only language but I'm hoping to learn French and later expand to Spanish.)
I'm so happy that you decided to learn a new language! I will definitely keep your suggestion in mind. When learning a new language, it definitely takes a lot of self-motivation, and even though I slacked off at times, if I reminded myself of my goals, I got right back on track. Hopefully you will be able to do the same! Good luck!
I'm doing Spanish in school! After I improve my French skills, I would like to learn Italian as well. It's such a beautiful language!
Actually, now that I've started doing this it occurs to me that YouTube is an incredible resource! Just type random things you think of in French into the YouTube search and watch stuff! I wish we'd had this when I started learning French 15 years ago!
Google helps to because I wanted to learn the word butler (I have no clue why) and now I know the word majordome
I'm so happy for you even thou I don't know you. I'm working on my tree to and vais bien for now. BTW how long did it take you to finish?
wow! at my rate I am probably going to finish in, like, years. why don't you go to my discussion called loving French!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! yay!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Congratulations on finishing the French tree!
Some suggestions for listening practice. The first is: get the Assimil courses and follow the shadowing technique with them (just google "Assimil shadowing" for some ideas). The beginners Assimil course starts off pretty basic but you get really listening practice with parallel translations. It drops you off at about a B1 - (early)B2 listening comprehension stage. The advanced course "Using French" teaches more about French history and culture.
In the same vein, but cheaper (although Assimil is definitely worth the modest price!) is to find websites of real French audio content that includes transcriptions. Then you make your own parallel translation into English. Just doing this will force a lot of the French vocab into your head, but you've always got it to refer to if you find yourself getting a little lost whilst listening. I started off (for German, but similar idea) with slowly read news podcasts and thought I would never understand it at full speed, but quickly worked up to the 5 minute bulletins at full-speed with pretty good comprehension.
Similarly, you can try it with snippets from your favourite movies. Find these on youtube and use one of the free youtube clip to mp3 converter website to grab the audio. Then find the subtitle file somewhere (unless you want to do the transcription for yourself, which is intense practice, but hard to do at first) and listen to the audio and correct the subtitles as much as possible as they often contain mistakes. Then do a parallel translation of this. It's important to do a short snippet (3-5 mins max) at a time because this is a size that allows you to remember all the vocab and the translation where necessary. There's a bit of work in producing these parallel texts, but each one will be much more rewarding for the time spent compared to many other activities you could choose.
And finally, I agree with the other posters who suggested looking for French meetups (meetup.com) in your local area. I've been to German ones and they're a great chance to immerse yourself in the language outside of the country.
Thank you so much! I'll definitely consider the Assimil program. How is your listening comprehension now compared to when you first started using these resources?
I did it with German mainly. I haven't fully followed the French courses though I have them. I haven't found the time yet, and my history with French is quite different. Did the first 8 levels at Alliance Francaise, for example, but my listening comprehension was never very good. When I get the time to improve it, I will start by dedicating time to Assimil first. I will probably fly through them at first from every perspective except listening comprehension.
With German, the comparison is with the results from previous methods of learning and it was just incomparably better. Right from the early days I could understand much better than with any previous attempts at language learning (especially French!). I quickly surpassed by listening ability in French. Using shadowing also helped enormously in overcoming the inevitable nerves you experience when using it in the real world :-)
I think the basic idea of a parallel text with accompanying native audio of a reasonably short length can really help you familiarise with language patterns and sounds better. It's something I always mean to do more of when I find more time! Also, shadow the audio if you like, especially for movies. It can be great fun and give you a better feel for the language at high speed!
Congrats on your progress and completing the French language tree. In addition to suggestions recommended by others you can also find language learning partners to practice via skype on sites like italki, polyglotclub, and conversation exchange. Bonne Chance
By the way, you just inspired me to complete my French Tree. Can you offer some insight on your schedule in order to complete the French Tree in 8 months? How many hours a day, how many days per week. Did you break up your sessions throughout the day or just plow through for hours at a time? Merci!
It depends on the day. Some days, I only practiced for 10 minutes. Other days, I practiced for 2 hours! I try to practice everyday, even if it's only for two minutes (I recommend 20-30 minutes a day, though!). One thing I wish I would've done in reviewed old words and kept my items gold, because I noticed that I forgot a bunch of stuff. There was no method to my learning; I just kind of... "did it." I also put my words into everyday use. When I wanted to get something from the fridge, I pretended that I was asking someone for a glass of milk in French. It helps if you have a language learning buddy that speaks your target language, too. My friend lived in Quebec when she was younger, so her family speaks French to each other. When I need help with something or simply just want to talk, I go to her. If you don't have anyone to practice with, talk to yourself! It might sound really stupid, but it helps you find what skills you're lacking in. Hopefully this helped someone! Good luck on your tree!