learning French

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canada french language-learning

Here I’m going to document my efforts to learn French. I speak Spanish pretty well, which together with English gives me a strong base for comprehension.

  • 2021-08-01: I started using Duolingo every day, and got into the XP challenges to the point where I was getting like hundreds of points most days. I’ve currently (2022-06-01) got 15821 XP and 103 lesson crowns in the French course, and most of that came from Fall 2021. That really gave me a good sense for basic grammar and function words.

  • 2021-08-18: I moved to Québec and started experiencing the French language multiple times a week.

  • 2021-09-01: The fall semester started at UdeM, so the number of emails (in French) from the university increased dramatically.

  • 2021-10-06: I was assigned a speaking partner by the programme de jumelage interlinguistique, and we started meeting weekly to practice speaking (her English and me French). This was the first time I was actually producing output, which was scary but fun.

  • 2022-01-15: I stopped using Duolingo as often because it feels repetitive and this semester I’m planning to write an app to study vocab more directly.

  • 2022-02-01: My French speaking partner finished her program and moved back to France, so we stopped meeting (although we do plan to continue calling once she’s done traveling).

  • 2022-04-27: I finished the alpha version of the WordBurner app and gave it to friends and family to test. I used it myself for about a week, and it felt like a very time-efficient way to increase vocabulary especially at the beginning. It’s rough around the edges in terms of the example sentences and the card recurrence was off, so I stopped using it after the semester project was over.

  • 2022-05-03: I started attending a weekly French conversation workshop at the local community center.

  • 2022-05-29: We listened to the first episode of the Duolingo French podcast, and really enjoyed it. We understood like probably 40% of what the French speaker was saying, thanks to the context provided by the English-speaking host. This seems like a great way to get interesting input at a level we can understand.

  • 2022-05-31: The session for the French conversation workshop ended. I’d like to continue when it picks up again in the fall.

  • 2022-07-18: I started a government-sponsored French course. It’s 3 hours of class time per day, 4 days per week. So far it’s been very useful for me! I think what I most need to provide for myself outside of class is vocabulary memorization and more time listening and speaking. I need to get back in the habit of using my flashcard app. Even though it’s still rough around the edges, it will help my vocabulary keep up with and go beyond the class. I would feel more like doing that if I spent one work day fixing the issues I had with it during the trial run in April. I should do a 5 minute sprint where I write down exactly what I want to change about the app before I am willing to start using it.

    As far as comprehension and production goes, I’m planning on speaking more on the phone with my speaking partner from last year. I should also start consuming more content in French, like news and things like that. Maybe change some of my devices to French?

  • 2022-07-23: I changed my phone’s language to French, and that’s actually been really good. I’m noticing more French language YouTube videos popping up, and some videos that are in English now come with French titles? Not sure how that works. Anyway, I’m finding on the whole that the combination of the class and the phone are making me think about French a whole lot more throughout the day.

  • 2023-02-06: I haven’t done much studying of French, but I feel like my conversation ability has continued to slowly improve. I’m missing a lot of useful vocab because of this, so I often find myself stopping to come up with a way to say what I want with the words I know.

  • 2023-10-12: Since stopping the French courses, I’ve been doing two group conversation workshops per week. I feel my speaking ability has improved despite not putting any other effort in, which is nice. For the fall session I decided to trade one of those workshops for a one-on-one weekly session at the same community center. I’ve done that for three weeks now and I find it immensely helpful. I actually had my first job interview entirely in French last week, which I was super proud of!