I want to learn French.

yetanotherdave

macrumors 68000
Original poster
Apr 27, 2007
1,767
3
Bristol, England
I am terrible at French. I barely scraped a pass at CGSE, after 6 years of French lessons, I managed to get "My name is David" WRONG in the speaking test.
When in France, even if I practise first, make sure it's absolutely right, and run it past my fluent wife first I am not understood. I'll say my practised line, and not be understood. What happens next is that I start removing non essential words until I am down to the nouns only, at which point I sink to slow loud English.
My wife is a complete Francophile, as well as being fluent in French, German, and can get by in Italien, Spanish, Polish, Russian, Danish, Norweigen, some more I can't remember, plus ancient languages like Latin and Greek. While it's obviously very usefl, I'd like to not be reliant on her for basic communication.

Why don't I ask for her help? For the same reason I wont teach her to how drive. I want to surprise her, not divorce her.

Later this year we are going to Paris. I've got about 6 months, give or take. Does anyone have any advice or suggestions? I've looked at a few pocasts and apps, but there's nothing like advice from people who have done this before.
 

Zombie Acorn

macrumors 65816
Feb 2, 2009
1,301
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Toronto, Ontario
If you've already taken 6 years I don't think Rosetta stone is going to help you. You should try finding a language exchange site and get together with some french people in skype who want to learn English also (usually they are better at english than you are at your language from my experience and just want help with casual english).
 

juanm

macrumors 68000
May 1, 2006
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Fury 161
Si les français ont autant de mal à te comprendre, c'est peut-être simplement parce qu'ils ne sont pas très doués...

When in doubt, blame the French. ;)
 

yetanotherdave

macrumors 68000
Original poster
Apr 27, 2007
1,767
3
Bristol, England
Wow that's expensive! Thanks for the suggestion, but way out of budget!

If you've already taken 6 years I don't think Rosetta stone is going to help you. You should try finding a language exchange site and get together with some french people in skype who want to learn English also (usually they are better at english than you are at your language from my experience and just want help with casual english).
To be fair those 6 years ended over 10 years ago. My attitude, motivation and willingness to learn are very different to how they were back then, and honestly, I don't think the teaching methods back then were that great for me. That's a good idea though, I'll look into that.

can you find a native speaker and tudor for a while or live in France somewhere?
Ultimately I would like to live in France, but needing work means I need to be able to speak French before I get there.

Si les français ont autant de mal à te comprendre, c'est peut-être simplement parce qu'ils ne sont pas très doués...

When in doubt, blame the French. ;)
I'm having trouble with that... I thought I had the jist of it, but then babelfish disagreed with me entirely and now I'm very confused :)

babelfish said:
If French has as much evil to include/understand you, c' is perhaps simply parce qu' they are not very gifted
 

Jaro65

macrumors 68040
Mar 27, 2009
3,703
563
Seattle, WA
Rosetta s/w, as suggested by MacDawg, is really great. See if you can get a used one. You can sell it again once you don't need it, so it is not necessarily going to be that expensive.
 

lewis82

macrumors 68000
In my view the quickest way to fluency is immersion.
This is true, I've seen this last year with a mexican foreign exchange student...

He spoke no french before, and was pretty good after 10 months...

The only problem is, you really have to speak french before unless you want to spend 2 months without understanding much of what people say...
 

Ti_Poussin

macrumors regular
May 6, 2005
210
0
The French from France have hard time to understand French Canadian, so I would not mind to much about perfect speaking. Again, there's the Parisian and the the rest of France, Parisian seem more picky about the language.

Anyway, I would suggest you listen to french tv shows, it's the best way to adapt your ears to the language.

Comme on dit, c'est souvent l'effort qui compte, si les gens ne le reconnaissent pas, y mérite pas d'être parlés!
 

lewis82

macrumors 68000
Watching french TV would be helpful. I don't know if you can get in in England though.

But in my case, watching American TV has been really helpful. It's the only way to hear colloquialisms, for example. And since people speak really fast compared to high school english teachers in Québec it's perfect for developping oral comprehension.

Try listening to "Question pour un Champion" if you can. The host speaks real fast when asking questions, so it may help...

And you get the bonus of general culture.
 

yetanotherdave

macrumors 68000
Original poster
Apr 27, 2007
1,767
3
Bristol, England
In my view the quickest way to fluency is immersion.
Absolutely. But not always practical, I have a wife, two kids and a mortgage that collectively wouldn't appreciate me disapearing for a few months.

uh, isn't that the answer ? speak only french at home with her
As I said, for the same reason I don't want to teach her how to drive :) Plus it wouldn't be a surprise then.

Watching french TV would be helpful. I don't know if you can get in in England though.

But in my case, watching American TV has been really helpful. It's the only way to hear colloquialisms, for example. And since people speak really fast compared to high school english teachers in Québec it's perfect for developping oral comprehension.

Try listening to "Question pour un Champion" if you can. The host speaks real fast when asking questions, so it may help...

And you get the bonus of general culture.
That's not a bad idea, being in DVD region 2, most of my DVD's have a french dub, or at least subtitles.
 

Dify

macrumors member
Apr 9, 2008
93
0
Si les français ont autant de mal à te comprendre, c'est peut-être simplement parce qu'ils ne sont pas très doués...

When in doubt, blame the French. ;)
Traduction aprox: "if the french have so much trouble understanding you, maybe it is simply because they aren't very good at it (speaking of english).

:) any way I strongly recomend you to watch a french movie every night, no subtitles, just brute movie (there are a lot of good movie around and it could be very help full for you for your french but to understand the french culture wich is let's be honnest here...special :).


If you have any more questions, I'm pleased to help.
 

Signal-11

macrumors 65816
Mar 23, 2008
1,475
2
2nd Star to the Right
Absolutely. But not always practical, I have a wife, two kids and a mortgage that collectively wouldn't appreciate me disapearing for a few months.
Dude, what you said was:

Ultimately I would like to live in France, but needing work means I need to be able to speak French before I get there.
If you're not able to put in the time and effort now, then you're going to have to do it when you get there. Trust me, I've been forced to learn several languages in adulthood and little else is worth the effort. Prep yourself up for immersion, then do it. It's the best way by a long mile.

You don't need to speak [fluent] French before you get there. You just need a background on the basics of grammar to hit the ground running. Then take a few weeks to a couple months while you're there to actually learn to speak and understand.

As I said, for the same reason I don't want to teach her how to drive :) Plus it wouldn't be a surprise then.
I'd consider re-evaluating this whole "surprise factor" thing. Your single best language learning resource will be your foreign language speaking wife/gf/significant other. Period, full stop. You're hamstringing yourself otherwise.

That's not a bad idea, being in DVD region 2, most of my DVD's have a french dub, or at least subtitles.
Playing mix and match with audio and subtitle tracks is a good way to do it. I disagree with Dify - listening with no subtitles when the characters are speaking 100mph in Metro French isn't going to help you. At least having the French subtitles on will help you understand what is being spoken, even if you didn't hear it.
 

Queso

Suspended
Mar 4, 2006
11,832
7
Listen to French radio through headphones whilst you're on your Mac. Start with a station that plays lots of adverts. The repetition is very useful when you're struggling with sentence structure and pronunciation. Then build from there.

And one thing about speaking French when you don't have much confidence. Stay away from Paris!! The people there are absolutely no help to those that are not fluent in the language. Other areas are far more willing to aid your attempts.
 

Ish

macrumors 68020
Nov 30, 2004
2,055
463
UK
Some suggestions:

1. Do the Michel Thomas French course. You won't learn reams of vocabulary, and he's not a native speaker, but he has an amazing ability to teach the structure of a language step by step so that you remember (most of it anyway!) Purely an oral course.

2. Pimsleur French. Another oral course, this time using native speakers. Starts out with a small conversation and builds up, gradually lengthening the time between re-use of the words. Don't take any notice if Amazon say some people buy the Level 1 course with the French Conversation and/or the Basic French course. These last two are just the first few lessons of Level 1.

I borrowed these ^^ courses from the library. If your local library doesn't have them, ask them about the inter-library loan system. You can rent them for 3 weeks for a nominal fee. They may be older editions but that won't matter, they're still the same.

3. These courses assume that you want to learn French in general. For more holiday-type vocabulary, try Language Revolution Beginner French

4. The Open University do a Level 1 French course. This course takes you on a journey around Avignon doing various things. It's pretty intensive, but as you've done 6 years already you should be at an advantage. The course isn't cheap, but if you shop at Tescos the OU accept Tesco clubcard vouchers for new registrations which brings the cost down to a quarter.


I haven't used Rosetta Stone myself, I just have a demo CD of theirs. I have heard people say that when you get to the part where you have to type in answers, RS uses the foreign keyboard layout and just supply a diagram of where the keys are, rather than adapting it for the keyboard of the country in which it is sold. Maybe someone that owns one would like to comment. If that's so, and given the cost of RS, I'd pass over it.


I don't think there's any way you're going to spend the amount of time you need without someone at home noticing. May as well just surprise her with the fact you're determined to do it and take advantage of her expertise!

Bonne chance!
 

paolo-

macrumors 6502a
Aug 24, 2008
831
1
I'm a French speaker and learned English at a fairly young age.

As much as learning basics will be essential to you. I think what is complex about the French language is that it's very contextual and figurative. Lots of words mean essentially the same thing but change meaning depending on their context and the rest of the sentence. That might be a bit hard to grasp. But that's farther down the road. As others have mentioned, immersing yourself with French media will be very beneficial to your understanding.

If I may suggest, browsing the Web in French, especially forums. I learned a whole lot on English through forums because not only did I have to understand others, I had to communicate. It might be a bit harder with French as the grammar and spelling is more complicated. But ultimately you have as much time as you want to think of how to express yourself instead of just rushing what ever would come to your head to get the other person to comprehend if you were talking to them. That might help you not to get to the slow loud English part :p .

In my experience of French noobs, they understand fairly easily what you're saying but have a harder time giving you a response.

Anyways, I wish you luck.
 

Ish

macrumors 68020
Nov 30, 2004
2,055
463
UK
Now that this thread's back from the dead, it's made me wonder whether you learned any more French! :)