This is how much I enjoy learning French...
… I'm seriously excited about my new grammar textbook arriving in a few days, and actually intending to read large chunks of it. Who would have thought?!
Some context for this astounding statement: I studied French for 5 years at school (including 3 weeks abroad in immersion when I was 15). I did not enjoy it. I found it difficult and annoying and heavens know that even when I tried my heart wasn't in it. The day I could drop French as a class was a happy day indeed.
In retrospect this was of course very silly, but as you all know you can lead a horse to water but you can't make it drink. At this time I wasn't perceptive to the knowledge offered (and I still think the curriculum left much to be desired). Nevertheless I did briefly speak and understand some modicum of French.
Fast forward to last summer (8 years later). I apply to a new job which will involve some travel to France. I decide it's time to get it together and stop avoiding brushing up on my French. I find Duolingo! It's going well, but whenever there is a grammar related topic I feel like I die a little bit. Some times I get stuck on grammar topics for days without even starting them, because I don't want to. I remember grammar with horror from school. I don't understand the terms or explanations for it, but left to my own devices I will figure it out eventually.
It turns out that Duolingo is perfect for this. I slowly start to conquer the more technical topics. I don't avoid them as much. I start to just do them without procrastination. And then I realise that it's probably good to re-do them, not just regilding, but actually work through several more times because hey, extrapolating rules from context takes a lot of work.
Just after this I start to really utilise the discussion topic where people explain in succinct ways why things work the way they do. It makes sense. I start lurking around french.about.com and suddenly I'm on Amazon buying a copy of Schaum's Outline of French Grammar!
I would never have thought it, but I'm properly excited about learning French now, every aspect! I even signed up for a conversation class at my local community college to get more confidence and get comfortable speaking in business situations (right now I only speak French outside of work).
If you read all of this, well done. I just wanted to share my joy and say, if you have doubts right now, to stick it out! You will find a way!
This is very nicely written and I think your story would gratify Luis who really doesn't believe in forcing grammar down language students' throats. Our language learning brains are actually very good at 'extrapolating rules from context' as you well describe it. Grammar books work best at clearly describing the rules that we already sense.
Haha This is so me :) I was the first person in my year to drop from honours to pass when given the option. I don't regret it at all. Now though, if 16yr old me could see me now, she would crack up. I have a separate copy for vocab and for the rules. I have charts on my wall on how to conjugate the verbs. I made myself flashcards of all the verbs and words I don't know or don't know how to spell. And I am soo proud of myself :D Bonne chance :)
This sounds ever so familiar. I had French at school too and was crap and hated it and got rid of it as soon as I could. 26 (!) years later/almost 3 years ago, when preparing for a holiday in France (I always try to lean at least hello/good bye/yes/no/please/thank you/numbers 1-10 for the countries I travel to) I tried to revitalise it, and - surprise - fell in love with French!
Ever since, I spend every free minute on French. Even in that first summer I started reading (childrens') books. At first just to get some real experience with real verbs out in the wild but then got hooked on the story. I listen to the radio a lot. Even if I didn't understand much at first, it helped with the pronunciation. Now I can actually roughly follow the topic.
I was surprised how much French there still was hidden away in my subconscious and could be reactivated. I was also surprised how much having learnt English well (my mother tongue is German) helped me with French. Not only vocabulary. With a lot of idioms I think: Ah, so that's where the English got that from!
The learning as such I do outside of duolingo, but duolingo is great for practice: for the spelling, for getting the conjugation right, for applying the grammar actively.
So yes, I can fully understand your excitement about the grammar book. I'd be the same. In fact I have three grammar books by now. :-)
You have fantastic English for a second language speaker. I hope my French gets at least close to that before I leave Québec.
Nicely said! I also am having a lot of fun learning French on Duolingo! It's a great site!
vous allez-y, ma fille! (Do thé French have a phrase for you go, girl!?) Nice work!
Merci pour ta belle histoire; n'hésite pas à me poser des questions sur le français si t'en as.
OMG guys! Reading all your nice comments make me feel really good and inspired. Sometimes when I read comments on youtube for example, i am disgusted by the hate spreading around. But this is a different world, most of ppl here try to help others out. I still cannot believe Duolingo is for free, it is the best app ever! I cannot express how greateful I am for this app. Learning Italian by myself 8 months and want to dust off my french in future. Thumbs up!
i have a similar story and have just begun revitalizing my French on duolingo! I hope to duplicate your success. Best of luck to you!
Keep at it, I was really pleasantly surprised to find i actually had a lot of knowledge just waiting to be coaxed out in the open.
That's excellent! When you get the book, I'd love to hear your thoughts on it - I've been looking for a way to improve my grammar :)
tbh i hate learning french lol, none of it is sticking too well haha, weirdly thats why I like it haha. Too stubborn to lose a challenge ^^
I agree 100% with you. I like how you said "extrapolating rules from context". For me, going over the lessons, learning, thinking, looking things up on-line and reading the comments are so much fun. I really get the feel for the language this way. I'm in no hurry and am loving the process.