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  1. #1
    Secondary Hivemind Nexus Skalpadda's Avatar
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    Amphibian communications

    I've got it into my head that I'd like to learn a bit of French. I have no grand goal in mind and I'm not aiming to be a fluent speaker, but ideally I'd like the ability to get through books or other texts with only the occasional rummage through a dictionary. I have no budget for this, so going to France is out of the question, I'm too lazy to sign up for actual classes and I'm not sure how to arrange being bitten by a radioactive Frenchman. I'm willing to buy some books, or croissants.

    Please share your sage advice on how to accomplish this.

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    1: Read the first sentence of every book Proust has ever written.
    2: You are now a french intellectual.

  3. #3
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    You can start with duolingo.

    If you want to read a books - I've once heard that good way to do that is to grab a french book (something simple that you know well in your native language would be probably the best) then start reading with dictionary.

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    ^ That sounds like it could work quite well.

    I don't think watching foreign films or TV shows with subtitles is a very effective way of learning the language, but it has to be amongst the most interesting (that don't involve buying a plane ticket).

    I did a couple years of French in high school. Recently, while watching the French TV series Les Revenants (suffers from Lost syndrome: wonderful atmosphere, intriguing characters, goes nowhere), I was surprised to find I could usually grasp the gist of what was being said even without subtitles. Course that probably has just as much to do with the fairly close relation between French and English...

    The most handy tip I can dredge from my memory is that negation is done "ne ... pas" with the thing negated in the middle, e.g.

    "Parlez-vous Francis?" [Do you speak French?]

    "Non, je ne parle pas Francais." [No, I do not speak French.]
    Last edited by Lethe; 21-04-2015 at 04:04 AM.
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  5. #5
    Secondary Hivemind Nexus Lukasz's Avatar
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    I was wondering if playing games in other language would help one to learn it if the game had already been played before.


    Might do an experiment and play witcher or broken sword fully in French myself...

  6. #6
    Network Hub Ethelred's Avatar
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    As a big head Linguistics expert, I can tell you that the most important factors in learning a language are motivation and practice.

    Learning languages as an adult is hard! Swedish and French are very different grammatically and with pronunciation and obviously most of the vocab is different too.

    But, you have learned English which is probably the best "halfway house" language between Germanic and Romance languages, so that'll help (with vocab more than grammar I'm afraid)

    To learn a language is to be able to produce it, so listening/reading to French in whatever format is good - practising writing or speaking is better.

    If you live in a university town you could offer French for Swedish lessons, or the best way would be to get a French boy/girl friend.

    Bonne Chance!

  7. #7
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    I was wondering if playing games in other language would help one to learn it if the game had already been played before.
    Could help. Until high school I've had only 2 years of formal English lessons (I've had German instead...) and didn't had any problems with classes there.
    I think that beating Final Fantasy 9 several times using a written walkthrough (remeber these old fashioned things printed on paper that some folks called "gaming magazines"?) in my native language helped a lot. I've had some idea what's going on from visuals and that walkthrough, so I was able to translate words and phrases from context.

  8. #8
    Secondary Hivemind Nexus Skalpadda's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by GameCat View Post
    You can start with duolingo.

    If you want to read a books - I've once heard that good way to do that is to grab a french book (something simple that you know well in your native language would be probably the best) then start reading with dictionary.
    Thanks, I had a quick look and it looks like a place to start, and a bit of structure won't hurt. :)


    Quote Originally Posted by Lethe View Post
    The most handy tip I can dredge from my memory is that negation is done "ne ... pas" with the thing negated in the middle, e.g.
    Yes, I ran into the sentence "Vous ne nous mangerez pas!", and it illustrates the big problem with just reading with a dictionary - you still have to make sense of the silly grammar and weird conventions.


    Quote Originally Posted by Ethelred View Post
    As a big head Linguistics expert, I can tell you that the most important factors in learning a language are motivation and practice.

    Learning languages as an adult is hard! Swedish and French are very different grammatically and with pronunciation and obviously most of the vocab is different too.

    But, you have learned English which is probably the best "halfway house" language between Germanic and Romance languages, so that'll help (with vocab more than grammar I'm afraid)

    To learn a language is to be able to produce it, so listening/reading to French in whatever format is good - practising writing or speaking is better.

    If you live in a university town you could offer French for Swedish lessons, or the best way would be to get a French boy/girl friend.

    Bonne Chance!
    The only language I've learned as an adult is Danish (via a girlfriend and her family) but of course that's fairly close to my native Swedish, once you get past the ludicrous pronunciation. English, well, you can't help but learn English here since, besides being mandatory study from ages 9-15 (and continuing for a year or two more for most), it's absolutely *everywhere* in everyday life. Part of why I picked French is that it's different from languages I already know but still common enough that it might be useful, or at least it won't be difficult to seek out uses for it.

    I do live in a university town, but I'm afraid I'm far too shy to go out hunting for some sort of teacher/teacher relationship with a stranger.

    Quote Originally Posted by GameCat View Post
    I think that beating Final Fantasy 9 several times using a written walkthrough (remeber these old fashioned things printed on paper that some folks called "gaming magazines"?) in my native language helped a lot. I've had some idea what's going on from visuals and that walkthrough, so I was able to translate words and phrases from context.
    Playing games (and reading and talking about them) did something 9 years of English studies never managed - it forced me to use the language regularly, in writing and conversation. It's almost gone too far now though - I often catch myself having internal monologues in English and in conversation I often find myself wanting to use English words and phrases that I can't quite find a Swedish equivalent of.


    Thanks everyone, I'll do a thorough trawl of the internet for some reference and reading material and I got myself a small stack of French comic books, because that seemed a good place to start, just a couple of sentences at a time, with a story and pictures for context. :)
    Last edited by Skalpadda; 21-04-2015 at 08:34 PM.

  9. #9
    Secondary Hivemind Nexus L_No's Avatar
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    What might help is finding a (news) website in French about a subject you enjoy that doesn't feature very difficult articles and regularly reading it. It's any easy way to get used to the language and will improve your reading ability immensily.
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    Network Hub Dubbill's Avatar
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    Radio is good to have chattering away in the background while you're doing something that doesn't require much concentration, like cooking or playing a mindless game. Tune in for the le journal on the hour and the headlines will often be global news that you're already familiar with which helps with picking out words. I use France Inter, which is news and talk radio with a few terrible French pop songs mixed in.

    Watch TV and learn by reading subtitles. Engrenages (Spiral) is a great cop show. I've heard good things about Les Revenants (The Returned). It's on Netflix, along with a bunch of French language movies.

    Memrise has a range of courses for French so you should be able to find something for your level. I used it for some basic German vocab in preparation for a holiday in Austria and it gave a helpful foundation. Pair it with pronunciations from Forvo for the tricky words.
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  11. #11
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    Radio is good to have chattering away in the background while you're doing something that doesn't require much concentration, like cooking or playing a mindless game. Tune in for the le journal on the hour and the headlines will often be global news that you're already familiar with which helps with picking out words. I use France Inter, which is news and talk radio with a few terrible French pop songs mixed in.
    For better immersion play them while riding through France in Euro Truck Simulator 2.

  12. #12
    Secondary Hivemind Nexus Skalpadda's Avatar
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    A week in, and here are some things I've found fun/helpful so far.

    Duolingo has been very helpful for acquiring some basic grammar and vocabulary and the option to check comments on specific things you got wrong and (usually) get helpful explanations from the community is great. The phone app is also good for quickly drilling some specific concepts and killing time while on the bus or train.

    Reverso.net is a very helpful online translator which gives lots of usage examples and variations of words and phrases instead of just a translation.

    Podcasts are a neat way to just get exposure to the language. I don't know enough yet to follow a radio program very well, but just listening and picking up stray words and phrases is helpful, and it's very low effort to just have a podcast running in the background while doing other stuff.

    I've been watching some Ulysse31 in the original French and that's a lot of fun. It was one of my favourite animated shows (in subtitled English) when I was little (hence my avatar), so it's sort of nostalgia-driven learning.

    The French Experiment has some nice stuff. I like the recorded children's stories with transcripts and optional translation.

    Comme une Franšaise has videos on specific subjects. I haven't watched much yet but it seems pretty useful and she covers a lot of informal spoken usage rather than just formal writing.

    Probably enough to keep me occupied for a month or two at least. Thanks for the replies and advice everyone. :)

  13. #13
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    Just practice practice practice. I'm a Swedish national, but my stay on the US for 5 years pushed me to learn the English language. If you don't understand a word, ask someone on what it means, heck, ask Google on what it means.







    Video games and woodwork are two similar things, they make you scream during certain conditions.

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