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Aprendo December 01, 2015 12:45 AM

Studying French
This may sound like rant because of the length. Apologies in advance.

I hope all board member are well.

As I've noted here in the past on the forum, I studied Spanish for 2 years in high school many years ago, attended Spanish Academies in Guatemala (only like 4-6 weeks, two separate times. Not long enough).

I also worked in Ecuador 2 years ago for about 3 months and studied a couple times a week at a Spanish school, read the newspaper every day and of course heard Spanish every day and spoke it.

I studied Spanish again on my own and with a private teacher from Spain here in Vietnam, where I live.

Now, every day, I'm doing Krashen FVR (free voluntary reading) of Spanish BBC and other Spanish newspapers. FVR does help with my reading comprehension skill and I usually write down 1, only one, new word that is not rare/esoteric.

22 months ago in February 2014, I decided to study French at the French Institute. Very good prices (value) and great French and VNese teachers. Good resources also with a library and film and cultural events. The French government sponsors it so the prices are good and the amenities modern.

I have studied on and off b/c of my work schedule. Now, I'm in the fourth class of French. Each course is 9 weeks. We started the past tense (passe compose) and some other intermediate functions. My listening is improving, and I also read newspaper in French and can easily understand the topic/title and recognize many verbs.

IME, my French study, in comparison to Spanish is:

French is more difficult, IMO. Spanish is phonemic. When you read and see Spanish the sound is the same. French has many pronunciation rules that need to be learned.

French Grammar is more difficult for me and I have to work hard at it.

As we kmow many verbs and nouns are similar or the same as in English and Spanish, so absorbing the vocabulary is indeed the easiest part.

I will continue my French study as long at I live in VN. This could be more months or many more years.

But French is a hobby and for my mind, and not for use, basically.

For practical use in the future, Spanish would/could benefit my most as I'm from the US.

(I want to study Spanish for a lengthy period in Nicaragua when my jobs ends, whenever that is.)

Question: have any board members formally studied French?

What was your experience?

Did Spanish interfere? Or, did it help?

JPablo March 31, 2016 06:05 PM

I studied French for about 6-7 years when I was 12... (from 12 to 18), and I was able to talk and be understood when I had a stage in Paris, in 1988 or so...,

On my first week was a bit shaky, but by the end of the month, some French speakers commented, rather asked if I was "from the South of France" (due to my accent), and of course... "Mais oui!" (I am from the South-South of France, namely, Barcelona!)

I agree on your appreciations, but pronunciations become easier as you go. To me the most difficult is French grammar (I think French people may argue about the correctness of some constructions...) and the "super-difficult" irregular verbs...

However, if you use French and if you like it, learning and mastering French is an excellent indoor sport..., well, I guess you can also do it outdoors... ;-)

Since 1988-89 I haven't practiced it myself, so to say that it's a bit "rusty" it's an understatement. But I can understand it pretty well, even if my ability to speak it has been undermined by my lack of practice...

At any rate, being natively Spanish, learning French was an interesting and enriching experience... and I will like to recover my fluency and continue learning.

If you understand and practice, learning another Romance language, be French, be Italian or Catalonian, as long as you can keep differentiating terms I think it will always help you...

My two cents.

Hope it helps.

Aprendo May 03, 2016 08:51 PM

Cheers, Pablo

I still studying French with French teachers and continuing the classes.

Obviously, there are so many words similar to Spanish and other Romance languages and English.

The listening is still a task for me at this point.

JPablo May 04, 2016 12:55 PM

All right!

Well, I would recommend you to get some good "classic" singers, like Brassens, Moustaki, Edit Piaf (end of 60s and 70s have excellent lyrics for their songs...) and listen to some of these (or any others you may like, I mean, some current ones, that I don't know myself...)

That is a very good way to get the phonetics, specially if you hear some songs on an on...

There is a very good one by Charles Aznavour, who sing a song in English and in French... "You are for me, for me..., formidable..."

(Y love that song...)

AngelicaDeAlquezar May 04, 2016 03:40 PM

If you like Hollywood action or horror movies, there are many of them dubbed in French available on iTunes. If you have already seen them in English, you already know the context, so comprehension will be easier. ;)

aleCcowaN May 04, 2016 06:29 PM

Aprendo, I think you have followed many Spanish courses in different moments of your life, so its learning has been like painting with many thin and slightly different coats, so to speak, then it looks strong, even and deep. Your French course seems to be a thick one coat that looks a little coarse, but that's not a defect of the course but of the only-one-course, no matter how good it is -I don't doubt it's really good-. We have a saying "cada maestrito con su librito", meaning every teacher considers a different thing to be the important one and highlights different elements of the course.

I agree French is difficult to pronounce. It's like English, but different, so you can imagine now what we suffer, specially those of us not ear-gifted when we have to learn any of them. And the spelling of both is a nightmare, a common defect originated by using the wrong alphabet and not having each one an adapted alphabet of its own -like the Cyrillic in Russian- which in time would have standardized spelling and pronunciation, like it happened with Spanish and vero italiano.

As a side note, I studied French following the course French in Action, by the late Pierre Capretz, a genius in language pedagogy. Maybe you would be able to get just the tapes of it and follow it -there are 52 lessons-. I can assure you it complements any formal course and it'd make you hate those courses, though they are quite fine and it would be like hating the meat because you like the dessert, both needed for both a nutritive and satisfying diet.

Aprendo August 14, 2016 11:47 PM

Nice post, AleC

Good points and I will look for Piere Capretz and his lessons.


Valeria August 20, 2016 10:31 AM

Voy escribir en espanol, a pesar de que todos los demás escriban en ingles, porque necesito la practica :)

Tema interesante!

Si, tuve la misma problema en frances. una de las razones que estoy aprendiendo espanol ahora y ne frances es porque frances escrito y hablado diferentemente. Tambien quiero un día empezar aprender frances, pero no creo que sera pronto.

Aprendo October 09, 2016 06:23 AM

I just signed up for another class in French.

I truly believe (sadly) that I don't like French from a learner standpoint.

JPablo October 10, 2016 04:47 PM

Pourquoi pas?

Je me demande.

Probably you need to start at the lowest level... ?

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