Enfin! J'ai fini mon arbre! Il est d'or!
One of my ancestors was from the Guyon family from Quebec and moved to Louisiana in the early 1700's. Because of my French ancestry, I always wanted to learn the French Language. I waited a long time to start! I'm 57 years old. Admittedly, I sometimes bought into the idea that older people must struggle learning languages. It could be true but ultimately that didn't make a difference. It took me a long time, but I finally completed my tree.
When they came up, I really struggled with pronouns and prepositions and became quite bogged down. For awhile, I was just going through the motions doing a beginning lesson every day just to keep my streak alive. After the changes made to Duolingo where each lesson lasted until completed, I was again quite motivated and moved right along. This was really helpful for me. I'm still having difficulties with the past and future tenses but that doesn't matter. I intend to keep practicing. Hopefully, I might offer some small hope to other older learners. You can learn – just don't give up.
I've met lots of people here who are older than you and still studying. I'm a mere youngster at 40. ;)
As I say to people, we're going to get older anyway, so why not spend that time studying languages, rather than just complaining that you're too old. There is a man in my nearest town who is in the local paper regularly, because every school semester he takes a new adult education class. Last year he enrolled to study computers - at 89 years old!
I wish I had started languages 30+ years ago, because if I had I would be fluent in quite a few by now.
If you haven't run across it yet, one of my favourite French resources is Coffee Break French. Here's the link to the very first lessons: https://radiolingua.com/tag/cbf-season-1/page/3/ but there are four seasons (click on the 'Free lessons' tab at the top), from complete beginner to advanced. The extras are not cheap, but you can listen to the actual lessons for free.
Well done on finishing your tree, and keep practicing the tough parts. Eventually it will sink in. If you have access to a Kindle you may also want to consider reading in French. I certainly found it helped my Italian more than constantly repeating Duolingo sentences. This post here will tell you all you need to know: How to read a foreign novel on a Kindle: http://gregreflects.blogspot.co.nz/2014/09/how-to-read-foreign-novel-on-kindle.html
Any plans on what to do next (like your reverse tree), or are you going to sit back and enjoy the glory for a while? :)
Moomingirl, Thanks for the very nice response and the very helpful links. I too sometimes wish I had begun years ago. I'm not exactly sure of what's next with my French. I do plan to start watching more French films and television. I've ordered several novels geared toward adolescents and teens. I really need actual speaking practice. I've had none! Again, thanks for your suggestions and encouragement.
My best advice for reading is that you don't try to stop and understand every single word (unless you really enjoy doing that). I found it punishing and demoralising.
Try to read and get the gist of as much as you can without stopping. At the very least read a sentence, or a paragraph, before stopping to look things up.
It was really hard at first, where most sentences seemed to be "he went toward the xxxxxxx and realised that it was xxxxxx around the xxxxx but he xxxxxxx anyway". That is to be expected, because of course authors don't just use the nearest word, they try to use a wide range of vocabulary, so you are likely to meet a lot of words that you don't know.
I use Memrise (anki is also very good) to make flashcards of all the new words I look up. In one recent book, the antagonist went for a drive, and I learned the words for car door, windscreen, windscreen wipers, bonnet, horn, and so on. I put them into a private course on Memrise, and they come back at regular intervals until I have learned them well.
Starting with adolescent books is a good idea, since the language is usually simpler. Another recommendation is to read books by the same author for a while, or at least of the same genre. I read a lot of mystery / crime, so once I learned the words for investigation, suspect, clue, kidnap etc, subsequent books became that much easier.
Let me know how it goes, and I will be very interested to hear your book recommendations, as I am hoping to start reading in French soon. :)
Edited to add: if you didn't see my comment on the stream, I highly recommend www.mylanguageexchange.com to find a language exchange partner. You can start off by writing until you feel comfortable, then you can swap details and email or skype them.
Sometimes it takes a couple of tries before you find someone you click with, but I have found some really good friends through there. There also seem to be a few more people of a decent age on there. I checked out italki once and it seemed to be full of teenagers.
Haha! Your comment reminded me of the time I tried (and succeeded, albeit with difficulty) to read The Lord of the Rings in its original English (I'm a French native, as you already know). I thought I was pretty good at English, but there was an average of 4 words I didn't understand by sentence! I guessed correctly maybe one or two of those four. When I stumbled upon the same unknown word a few times, I took a note of it and checked it up when I had access to a dictionary (yes, that was before electronic readers were a thing).
I've heard that fantasy and science fiction are about the worst genres to start reading in a foreign language. There are so many words you would never come across in normal life, and words or names that are completely made up as part of the imagined worlds those genres are set in. Reading in your native language you would realise those are part of the creation, but it would make it really hard in a foreign language. I'm not surprised you struggled. ;)
Can't you find some people speaking French in Louisiana? Granted they would probably speak with the Cajun accent (weird enough that it's almost a dialect), but it's still way better than anything you could ever find online. Maybe check on Meetup to see if there is a French speaking group gathering once in a while near you.
Congratulations on reaching your goal! Now you have a solid background in reading, writing and listening! You may be interested in a link to warmnoodle's well-known children's stories translated into French and spoken by a native French speaker. http://www.thefrenchexperiment.com/stories/ If you have Netflix, there are a lot of french movies that you can see! Don't believe the rumors that older people struggle to learn languages! I'm learning and I'm eight years older than you are!
Nancy, thank you for the link. The narrators have such beautiful voices.
That is good to know about Netflix. I have Amazon Prime and they also have French films and television programs. They have English subtitles. I wish there was a way to change them to French subtitles. That would be much more helpful to me. Conversational speed can be difficult to follow sometimes. Again thanks.
Thanks for the lingot, jddar! There are so many helpful people on Duolingo! I bookmarked a page recommended by Teenage_Ployglot of french films with french subtitles. I haven't had time to watch any of the films but you may be interested in this link! http://www.filmfra.com/ I don't have Amazon Prime but with Netflix you can change the audio and subtitles. You may want to watch childrens movies like "Frozen" or "Bridge to Terabithia" or "Beauty and the Beast" with french audio and subtitles.
I'm very glad you posted this. I sometimes wonder if age making learning harder is a real thing or if it's only psychological : we've been told so often that it would be hard that we stop at the first difficulty, when someone of any age would have found the same difficulty, but would have been told to hang on and persevere if they were younger.
Learning a foreign language when older also has unforeseen benefits : I read a few articles saying it can push back the symptoms of Alzheimer and senior senility, and keep your brain active (brains are like muscles : they get stronger with usage, not the opposite). And I think the best benefit of all is the confidence boost you get from this : if you managed to learn a foreign language (at any age really), what can't you do if you put some effort to it?
Sébastien, I definitely think my memorization skills were better when I was younger but memory quickly fades at every age without repetition. I've read similar articles to the ones you've read. The science behind learning is fascinating. It would be fun to delve deeper – its too bad there aren't more hours in a day. Thanks for your reply.
Thanks for your inspiring post! I can't wait to say : "Enfin! J'ai fini mon arbre! Il est d'or!" aussi! I am all gold to the subjunctive so in the higher levels now! Yes it has been a big help with the new duolingo as the way it was before, it was a bit disheartening (excuse the pun!) To get better with the spoken part of french i recommend pimsleur. do 1 2 3 but not 4 as that does not teach you words you need apparently. I have found a youtube video on the subject. he is a little annoying but everything he says is true and it is the best programme for helping you to actually speak and pronounce things well. Try to buy it off ebay or get it from your library as on teh actual website there is lots of hidden sales conditions which is also mentioned in the video. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mSjG0nFaC_M