Completed my French tree & a story of several attempts to learn français
A story of several attempts to learn français
Took three years of French in high school and learned a few hundred words. Took 101, 102, and 201 in college before transferring to a new university in January 2007. Was placed in 301 due to a misinterpretation of my coursework and credits, struggled, became discouraged, was unable to study abroad (this was a time when I thought study abroad was necessary), and stopped studying French for five years. Stumbled upon scientific and high frequency language learning in 2012, curiosity piqued, started attending a French conversation group (via Meetup) in December 2013, started using Duolingo in March of this year, and I am proud to share with the community that I completed my French tree this evening.
What is my level of French after Duolingo?
A self-assessment per the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages (CEFR):
Understanding: B2/C1 · Speaking: B2/C1 · Reading: B1 · Writing: B1
As of this post I have attended 54 Meetups, for 54 hours of practice listening and conversing - I can understand and say much more in French than I can read and write. Duolingo has been particularly helpful for learning and reinforcing vocabulary. I would often recognize a word from conversation group and think to myself, “Oh, that’s the exact meaning (or spelling)!”
I am able to read the news on France 24 (Le Monde is still a bit tough) and get some laughs from Buzzfeed in French (really, really fun).
A pitfall to avoid when learning languages
The biggest pitfall I encountered when learning French was the whole grammar method, which is the method most often used in university classrooms. Students spend four semesters learning the entirety of a language’s grammar. In the case of French: Tenses. By the time you’re on chapter three, you’ve forgotten chapter one. Chapter four? Oops, there goes chapter two. There is minimal conversation in French as classmates speak English. Very little of the language sticks in your brain. My suggestion for EN to FR learners is to put down the grammar book, use Duolingo through the third checkpoint, find a conversation group for beginners led by a native speaker, and immerse yourself for an hour or so each week while you finish the remainder of your tree. You will learn more and faster, and can always come back to that grammar book later when you have more context for the concepts contained in its pages.
On to the reverse tree!
Félicitations ! Both on learning French and on learning what is a good way for you to learn.
Don't forget that different people learn differently, though. I learned German as a child in school "the old school way": grammar, exercices, and plenty of reading. For grammar-heavy languages such as French, this remains my best way of learning things. If I just hear words, without having seen them written out and understanding their structure, they don't stick in my mind.
Everyone has to find out what works for them!
Merci beaucoup! Agreed, different people learn languages differently. And the same person can learn different languages differently. For example, when it comes to Chinese, grammar has been much more important for me. In either case, I consistently find myself learning more if I converse as soon as possible. :)
Merci beaucoup! J'dore le français!
It is a real encouragement to hear your story! Thanks for posting!
> I encountered when learning French was the whole grammar method, which is the method most often used in university classrooms.
While there is debate surround evidence concerning individual learning styles, there is plenty of evidence to suggest that you do not necessarily need early grammar instruction for second language acquisition. Keep in mind @gdaniels1987, many linguists and polyglots agree with you. Here's a quick analogy that makes perfect sense to me.
While I understand the compulsion to pick up a grammar book, to understand the rules of a language it doesn't necessarily help you achieve fluency efficiently. Learning rules and engaging or immersing yourself in a language are two different things.
When kids learn to play basketball/baseball they don't sit down and read all the rules. They just play. After hours of experience having fun, they comfortably pick up the rules from coaches, professional games, etc. Most great musicians don't sit down and study music sheets. Some and many are illiterate but they can still produce beautiful music. Many famous recording artists don't sit down with a vocal coach, learn the rules when they begin. They just . . . play. When they learn the rules, they get it . . . they really own the information.
Why treat an endeavor like learning a language any differently? That's why I plan to learn French sin gramática.
Félicitations ! I am happy to say, that I have a French conversation group nearby that I can practice what I'm learning in Duo; one of our members says that I have learned much since we last met almost two years ago. (thank you, Duolingo!) I am almost finished my tree too, and I look forward to working on the reverse tree after I finish! For those who may not have a French language group nearby, google Alliance Française to see if they know of a group near you, or perhaps there is a college or university that offers French classes or other language opportunities you can attend. Bonne Chance!
Félicitations! Votre message est très utile ! Comment avez-vous l'auto-évaluation du CECR ?
Merci! J'ai deviné mes niveaux basé sur les avis de mes amis qui parlent français couramment. Malheureusement, je crois qu'il n'y a pas d'auto-évaluation de CEFR. Mais, tu peux essayer un examen et deviner ton niveau utilisé le site web «Appredre Le Français Avec TV5MONDE»: http://apprendre.tv5monde.com/fr/apprendre-francais/accueil-tcf
Congratulations! I am getting pretty close myself...it's an awesome feeling!
My thoughts on the method for learning: what has served me best (found through a process of trial and error) is to find patient, articulate speakers of your target language, and speak with them while heading through the Duolingo tree. When you reach a concept that baffles you (for me, it was the past tenses and conditionals), then do some more in depth study of them when you need them. And then refresh these as needed.
And also, it is always better to go a little slower than push things too fast. I've had numerous points where I have burned out from being overzealous in my study. But I agree with annika_a, it will be different for everyone!
Merci! I agree with you and annika_a. And what you wrote about pace of study is true for me too. I try for about 100 XP per day. When I do significantly more than this, I am burned out the next day and sometimes skip. Moderation and consistency has been key.
Wow what an adventure, I have heard many times how people have studied French for example 6-7 years and still they say they can't speak it.
Wow thats an amazing story, I enjoy Duolingo for the consistency (day streaks) its helps to stay involved I would really like to skype with Native speaker though I think it helps immesly