I seem to be a day behind on my updates for these, so can we just take as a given from now on?😀
Listening To French
This was the most important skill I had to develop, so I’d timetabled myself to do this earlier in the day when I had more energy and ability to concentrate on something difficult. As we haven’t moved to France yet I don’t have the interaction with people to practise my skills so I’d chosen to play a programme I’m familiar with, in this case Desperate Housewives.
I’d chosen something I new rather than an actual French series as I had an idea of the dialogue and so therefore I wasn’t going into it completely blind; you can use your previous knowledge of the situation as a jog to identify what’s being said in French.
When I put the DVD in the player I had that feeling I always get before I do a workout at home; you know, that dread? ‘Oh God, this is going to be bad!’
It’s never as bad as you think though is it? I could understand what was happening – admittedly knowing the plot line helps, it means your not completely lost so to keep going is easier. More importantly though I’d say I could identify about 1/3 of what was said not from context, but picking out the words. On a second viewing of the same episode I could even make out whole sentences, having only picked up the odd words before.
These were the basic conversations though, or were the plot line meant the vocabulary was being spoken at a reasonable pace. When a character was talking quickly, at a moment of drama, I didn’t really stand a chance! However, I’m hoping there aren’t that many moments of high drama when I go to France, at least at first 🙏🏻.
It’s interesting because my first night on the French challenge I was too tired to do this, so watched a French film (Elle L’Adore) with subtitles instead thinking some practise was better than nothing. I certainly could understand some of the vocabulary, but it’s actually more difficult to a certain extent as you can’t unsee the subtitles, so you don’t rely on yourself as much. On streaming sites like Netflix you don’t have the option to turn them off though.
Reading In French
For the same reason I’ve opted for a book that I know the plot line generally; Le Miroir Brisé, an Agatha Christie novel.
When reading I can identify about half of the sentences meanings and seldom can’t understand a paragraph. It’s also great for practising verb endings as you clarify what tense the sentence is in (I always think of them in the Michel Thomas wasing, wouldhave, would categories). I also try and read slowly enough that, in my head or out loud, I’m pronouncing the words as correctly as possible. I just read about a chapter a night, which is enough before I start to lose my concentration due to tiredness.
At the moment I’m working on the final two CDs of the Michel Thomas vocabulary course which is challenging, but has lots of opportunities to develop advanced verb skills. I’ll write this up in more detail in my review though.
I haven’t done any written French practise so far, but feel this is an area that I’ll be trying next.