For a while now I’ve been thinking “without feedback, there ain’t no learning”.
As you know, I’ve been learning French. I started this year taking a more self-directed approach to the language before realising that I can’t escape the fact that I need to speak it – and by speaking I mean having someone – preferably a French teacher – to correct you every time you said a phrase incorrectly so that you can repeat it again a few times.
(Without feedback, you’ll never learn to say it correctly. You’re only setting yourself up for failure – or ridicule).
Now, to French people, correcting others in their language comes natural to them. There’s TONNES of YouTube videos telling us why they do this.
It’s even in some of their entertainment…if you already haven’t seen Emily in Paris – the boulangerie scene.
I mean just watch this segment of a Netflix show I’ve been watching called A Secret Service. Although not shown in this clip, a little time after this clip ends, the French were more concerned with how the Americans pronounced their words than worrying about the theme about male politicians getting into awkward positions with the ladies. To the French, the former was far worse than the latter.
and Gad (a French comedian) also explains some of the differences.
That aside, amusingly I start to think that this is where I need a French person to keep correcting me. Part of me is also shy to talk for fear of butchering their language but another part of me also wants to get their feedback because it’s the only way I’ll ever pick up the language quickly – and be more comfortable speaking it.
Recently I completed two conversation classes with the Alliance Francaise and even though they were enjoyable in an online group setting, there were times when we were in breakout rooms chatting away in French with our classmates. However, we could have been nattering away in broken French – with syntax and grammar structure all wrong but we would have not been none the wiser. This made me think that even though the immersion program way of learning has its benefits, it also has lots of weaknesses. One of which is if the teacher is unable to be present in all online interactions with all their students, they have limited time to make oral corrections. If this happens, the student has no idea if they said anything correctly – they assume they do – and as a result, mistakes are then perpetuated.
So I guess this is why many French people used to say, “if you want to learn French, get yourself a French boyfriend.” Well, that’s not an option for me but I take their point now – many years later – that you really do need someone who is a French speaker and most of all, has the patience to explain the whys and wherefores of the language.
So you can do as many different classes but unless you’re speaking one on one to someone to receive feedback for improvement, then your fluency will take some time. It’s going to take a lot longer.
As I have a few weeks to go yet on my A2.6 Alliance Francaise course, I’m now thinking of the next steps.
Do I register for the next 10 week program (I’m thinking of going backwards and completing 2.5 instead of B1.1) OR do I simply register for one-on-one chats with French teachers on a site called iTalki?
A 10 week course at the Alliance is $440.
Would that money be better placed to have 9 or 10 personal coaching sessions with a French Teacher on iTalki?
Or more lessons with a Community Coach (they go for cheaper).
You can see some examples here.
Also I’ve been really lucky to have some French people in my network on Twitter and LinkedIn also volunteer to help out here (however I’m always mindful of commitment and HATE to think that I’m wasting their time) so there needs to be some kind of exchange. For example, they’ll help me with French and in return, I help with their English. I’m looking forward to meeting a couple of new people in my LinkedIn network who will help me with their beautiful language.
So that’s it for now. I will keep considering my 2021 plans for the language and it’s beginning to look like more to do with less structured lessons and more 1-1 conversations with actual French speakers. At the same time though, I do enjoy the classes at the Alliance (despite having MASSIVE problems in the beginning trying to grapple with the multiple focus areas but now that I’ve established some cadence with my work, it’s not so bad).
So I’m finding this official Cosmopolite text books & exercise books for French language training one of the worst examples of training material I’ve ever seen in my life. Confusing; illogically ordered and answers not provided for many exercises so you don’t even know progress.
— Helen Blunden #AlwaysBeLearning 🤔🧠🦉📚🥇 (@ActivateLearn) October 17, 2020
My previous post about Learning French from Different Resources
— Helen Blunden #AlwaysBeLearning 🤔🧠🦉📚🥇 (@ActivateLearn) October 16, 2020
So for those English speakers out there who like to correct people…yes, I wrote AIN’T NO… in the title. It’s a joke. Get it??