It’s fair to say that I have spent HOURS on learning this language over the last 18 months but I figure that I can’t stop now. It’s a skill that I need to work on consistently and continually.
Use it or lose it. Utilisez ou perdez.
As such, this last ten weeks, I deliberately didn’t register for an Alliance Francaise Course because I had a crisis of confidence. I don’t feel that my language skills were good enough to warrant registering for B1.1 and I had been thinking of going backwards and repeating classes A2.5 and A2.6. That was, until I was pulled aside by two French teachers who said that I should be progressing classes – not going backwards – and if I wanted to get confident, I simply had to speak more.
With this, I found a Meetup group called French Conversation and Fun for Bayside run by Nathalie and meets at a nearby cafe every Thursday and Friday (my days off) during the week. Every week Nathalie emails us some material that will be the topic of conversation at the catchup and we simply talk about it. She asks us questions and gets us talking and correcting our pronunciation.
Also in the last ten or so weeks, I have been meeting up online with my friend R who is French but lives in Spain. We met initially on iTalki and then moved the conversation over to LinkedIn and now, every week on Thursday 5pm-6pm my time, we meet online. We do 30 minutes of French conversation where she corrects me with the language and then we swap and speak 30 minutes of English, where I help her with her English skills. Over this time, speaking with her, she’s done an immense job to help me with my confidence level. It also helps that we have similar interests and past-times that we can chat about.
I’d say speaking with her and Nathalie has been exactly what I needed to boost the confidence level so last week, I registered to complete B1.1 at the Alliance (2 hours every week for 10 weeks plus homework as well as a Conversational Course (6 hours in one week).
(I have also started using an app called Hello Talk which has also helped immensely as there’s HEAPS of people I chat to who want to learn English in return for me learning French from them. I will do a post on Hello Talk once I use it more often because at the moment, it’s helping me with writing skills. I haven’t had the courage to actually SPEAK to strangers through audio messages).
I am also in Week 2 of the Etudier en France MOOC on Coursera (of which I will write about soon).
As I haven’t been doing any formal education (except the MOOC) per se for the last 10 weeks, instead I have been focussing on the following:
- Talking (as mentioned above).
I have been reading A LOT MORE than I usually did in the past as I bought a few books that I’m now slowly going through, reading out loud and translating. My favourite is Petit Nicholas by Sempé-Goscinny as well as re-reading Olly Richards Short Stories in French.
I’ve also slowly being going through a couple of other books such as Colette and New Penguin’s Parallel Text Short Stories in French which have the French on one side of the page and the English on the other.
I have to admit that I should have started reading French from earlier on. As I’m reading the stories now, I realise that they’re a great way to pick up new vocabulary.
However, the other thing I’ve been doing is listening to A LOT of podcasts as well as watching A LOT of different YouTube channels so I thought I’d share my additional resources that I have been exploring here if you’re interested.
Olly Richards (he’s big into learning language through stories and indeed, wrote the book above)
Francais Avec Pierre
Piece of French
Podcasts on iTunes
- Coffee Break French
- DuoLingo French Podcasts (these stories are excellent)
- Little Talk in Slow French
- Talk in French Podcast (learn about the culture; mixed in with vocab and grammar).
French Shows I’ve Watched on Netflix
If you’re into watching good looking blokes who are dressed immaculately trying to sell rich French people stunningly beautiful homes around Paris and surrounds, then this show is for you. I’m more interested in how they all dress. Watch L’Agence.
Other French YouTube Shows to Get into the Spirit
Now here are some extra videos that I’ve enjoyed and just get into the French spirit!