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 YCCMB

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Just read an ad. on Facebook for all French teachers announcing that they're putting together a worldwide directory of French teachers.

The last sentence reads..

"Entrez en contact avec nous pour que nous puissions vous connectez " (sic)

Well, if a French teacher can't get it right...?
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And that from someone that got an unclassified in O level French in 1975, back in the days when we were allowed to fail.

Unclassified being I actually turned up for that exam but there was nothing that they could award me any marks for, the oral exam all I replied to every question with "je ne comprends pas" the only words I had learned in a few years of the worst of 70's progressive education.

At least I turned up for that exam, I was a typical useless unorganised teenager and I missed most of them including the important maths one, I had recently lost my mother and there was no parenting from my father, I now realise that he just couldnt cope.

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Chapeau.

My parents got called in to a showdown with my French teacher because at a certain point I had a mental block on certain aspects of French and she thought I was doing it on purpose. As I had no excuses, other than that it genuinely WAS a mental block, I just got a b****cking and went on to pass my exams right up to degree...but you have managed to do a fab job of conquering the language and credit to you!
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My, problems, in fact that of all the class started on day one when the French teacher started explaining the grammar using trems like verbs, nouns, adjectives which were unknown to us, I said to her "but miss, what is a verb?" and she thought I was being cheeky, refused to accept from the others that indeed in English lessons we were taught nothing at all other than to "express ourselves" and my expressing myself to the French teacher put me in detention, in the English lessons they did not even correct our spelling mistakes,  teach us or test our spelling

 

With 2 thousand pupils the teachers did not even know each other, they would smoke in class in front of the pupils many of them smoking weed, the joys of a 70's comprehensive education at a school labelled in the press as a training ground for Borstal, I left at 15 by which time my class was down to less than half numbers, the boys had been sentenced to Borstal or approved schools, the girls having been knocked up, others just playig truant which is what I meant by leaving at 15, I went to work in a garage where at least I was taught something just returning for my exams, the ones I remembered that is.

 

It was not until Learning French in my 40's that I became aware what grammar was and even what a verb meant, by that time I had risen to company director level albeit with a very competent secretary and had run my own businesses for a decade without any secretarial help.

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I'm struggling with grammar as I've just started a new class and been told to study conjugation of verbs in present, passe compose, futur, imparfait and conditionnel - mmm. I know what a verb is, and I'm know what present and futur means (but not too hot at conjugating them!), but the other two I just have to keep looking them up!

I scraped French O level at grade 6 a long, long time ago and have muddled along since arriving in France, murdering the language although being generally understood.
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I've said it before and I'll say it again...

If you put in the time learning, by heart and until you can do it in your sleep, just four verbs: être, avoir, aller and faire, then you will have broken the back of the passé composé, the futur simple and taken a lot of the pain out of the present. The imperfect lives up to its name, but there you go.
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Buy yourself a Bescherel, study the verbs that Betty has highlighted, try and work out what all the other tenses and compound tenses might be, have a guess and ask on here, I still have handwritten guesses written in mine from back when there was no-one to ask.

 

I would add, pouvoir, vouloir, devoir and falloir to the list, and of  course it just gets longer but I reckon the preceding are the most important ones, the order is definitely as Betty has said mine follow in no particular order plus I will have missed some major ones.

 

what ones have i missed or would you add?

 

how many tenses are you competent with in speech and comprehension?

 

I learnt the past historic when I read my first or maybe second French book, at first it was a nightmare and I was constantly using a dictionary and Bescherel, trouble was many didnt resemble the verb infinitive but eventually I got to recognise them all, the understanding part was easy, I never get to use them myself though not being a writer.

 

Il y a une fois............................

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Ah Betty would that it were so easy...... for some of you it will be, but for me it is not.

I had to get my head around me being useless at languages and just dive in and accept that when I make all the mistakes I make, then it is OK. Because what sort of life would I have had if I had been worried about what people thought of me. Timid and not knowing anyone....... just awful really, and doesn't bear thinking about.

Don't get me wrong, I'd love to be able to conjugate properly, but it isn't going to happen.

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Oh, Idun, I've seen/heard it all. One bloke I taught used to spend the first five minutes of every lesson banging on about how committed he was to learning French, how he was going to stick with it, how he already spoke German so he knew he could master French, blah, blah, blah.

A few weeks in, and after I'd tasked him with learning the 4 verbs I mentioned, I asked him to tell me what the first person singular of "aller" was, and, after careful consideration, he replied (with a great deal of conviction) "avoir" .

I know not everyone finds learning a language easy. Lucky for me, really, as if they did I would be unemployed. I've tried to make it as simple as possible for the people I've taught, which is why I try to get them to memorise just 4 verbs. For some, that's difficult enough, but achievable with time. It's certainly less daunting than saying "go away and learn 4 tenses" encompassing everything but the kitchen sink!
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I am like Idun in that I can't learn languages even my own. I have not used a pen since I left uni. Well apart from signing my name and doing the Loto. My name never looks the same and I often struggle doing a cross. There is a medical reason for that and such people tend to be very gifted in other areas although called lazy and thick by languages teachers.

It sounds like Idun came here at an early age like myself but it seems not being able to speak the language to a high level has not impacted on their success of living in France. Why is that I wonder ?

I wonder Betty if language teachers can spot those people who suffer such conditions (recognised or not) and adjust their method of teaching accordingly.

I could teach phrasial French, French that is spoken on a day to day basis in a couple of hours. There is no real need to understand what is the first person singular, the meaning of a tense or what a verb is.
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I can conjugate aller in all the tenses but would not be able to answer your question because I still do not understand the grammar terms, yes I now know what a verb and a noun is, an adjective or pronoun would have me scratching my head and guessing but the first person singular? - You might as well have asked the question in Russian.

 

It actually summarises why I have found it so hard to learn the language formally although I did stick at it, I can now conjugate most verbs in most tenses, its more likely that I wont know a verb than know how to conjugate it.

 

First person singular, can you explain what it means, I think it is je so my answer would be je vais but please explain. I'm guessing singular means it cant be a group, ils, elles eux vous although the latter can be one or more than one person as can on but first person? Ca me dit rien.

 

Editted, the above was not a pop at those engaged in teaching languages, I am not of the same opinion as ALBF, its difficult for me because the 70's education system failed me and all my peers, I think now that I would actually have a gift for Learning languages, I am a natural mimic and sounds, words and phrases stay with me for décades even if I didnt know what they meant, my problem is not being able to understand structured pédagogique Learning because I dont understand the language of Learning languages (grammar). 

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Idun, don't be so hard on yourself. You seem to have a good grasp of English grammar in practical usage even if you don't know the names of the tenses and other technical terms. I am sure the same applies to your French. Anyone who listens to French TV and conversed so much with their French neighbours for as long as you did must have a pretty good grasp of the language. After all that is the way we all learn our mother tongue.
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Nope, teachers are generally pretty rubbish at diagnosing medical conditions. That's why they're teachers and not doctors.

I have two dyslexic sons. Both of them self-diagnosed initially, neither having been identified at school. My youngest son took himself off to be tested in his final year at University, and only then, having been diagnosed, did he get any support or help.

Meanwhile, I as one half of their parents, had despaired at both my sons' inability to spell, lack of interest in reading and general disinterest in anything to do with language. As it turns out, most undiagnosed dyslexics develop coping strategies to enable them to get round the fact that they have difficulty with certain things. It is thus that Mr Betty has come to terms with the fact that he's probably dyslexic too ( and, indeed, he does show many of the signs) but there was no such thing as dyslexia when he was a boy, and now he has developed all the strategies he will ever need to get by.

I came to language teaching relatively recently in my chequered career. I don't think I have ever considered or described a language student of mine as "thick", nor as a general rule have I ever heard any other teacher use that description. Although I can understand that people who have a bad time at school would naturally want to pin most of the blame on teachers, and that sometimes, despite the teachers' best efforts, they can be at fault. I don't think it can ever be expected that a teacher diagnose an underlying medical problem, though. As personal experience has taught me, sometimes even a parent misses the signs...
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To be honest, Chancer, whether you know the grammatical term for something is irrelevant in many ways. As you yourself have underlined by your previous comments, you speak and write fluent English without ever having understood what any of those terms mean.

Here's a thing. When I was training to teach English as a foreign language, my class was made up of people of many different ages and backgrounds. As part of the training, we often had to observe experienced teachers taking a lesson. On one occasion, we all sat in the back row watching, whilst the teacher asked the class "OK, who can give me an example of a phrasal verb?" At the front of the class, the foreign students' hands were shooting up right and left. On the back row, ALL the native speakers were looking quizzically at one another and whispering "What's a phrasal verb?"

Yet, as I now know, phrasal verbs are so important to the English language that whole dictionaries are dedicated to them, and they stare all of us in the face all the time.

But grammatical things, parts of speech etc., or at least their names, are nothing more than the tools of my trade. It's no different from you talking about capacitors or resistors or placo or whatever. I have not a clue what you're talking about because the names mean nothing, but if I see one "in action" I probably know what it is and what it does.

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Yes, it's getting the grammatical terms straight in my head that's part of the trouble. I understand present, but passe compose vs imparfait?

Part of this weeks homework was this: 'Maintenant, conjuguez les verbes suivants au présent,passé composé,futur,imparfait,conditionnel avec JE , NOUS , ILS

TO GO/TO GO AWAY/TO REMIND/TO REMEMBER/TO OCCUPY/TO LOOK AFTER/TOWAIT FOR/TO EXPECT / TO ASK/TO WONDER

Aaaaaaaaaaargg!
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Trouble with passé composé vs imparfait is that it's hard to reconcile them with the English way of using the equivalent tenses and, as a consequence, if you ARE trying to relate them back ( and most people do, it's natural) then you come unstuck.

One logical (although not infallible) way of looking at it, is that the PC is used generally to describe events, whereas the imp describes circumstances.

For example "It was raining when I went to the supermarket"

Becomes "Il pleuvait quand je suis allé(e) au supermarché"

The event (well, for some people it's an event!) is that I was going to the supermarket, and the circumstances are that it was raining.

There's a lot more to it, of course (isn't there always?) but that's a basic rule of thumb. The difficulty, of course, is that, as in my example, you have to be able to understand and separate the event from the circumstances!?
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It depends upon context but I would say 'I was doing' in a phrase such as

"je faisais la vaiselle"

I was doing the washing up....WHEN ..something else happened and that second thing might well be in the passé composé..

"quelqu'un a frappé à la porte..."

somebody knocked at the door

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I agree..... 'ais' (or the pronunciation of) at the end of a verb means 'was'...in simplistic terms. Very easy French if you ignore the theory.

J'y vais.

Learning or understanding why 'J'y vais' is 'J'y vais' written or otherwise is no use to man or beast learning French above the age of 8. However, just learning the phrase (two minutes work) and using it in in mainstream conversation it is quite useful.
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You have just made up your own invalid rule in order to say it is no use [:P]

Nobody would ever teach that 'ais' indicates 'was'

In the present that would half work for 'je' and 'tu' but even then it should indicate'was ....ing' not simply 'was'.

But anyway such a rule would be misleading in that it would ignore the conditionnel ..'I would'.

Grammar is only a way of recording not a prescription, but for moderately intelligent and educated people it can be a very quick way to short-circuit the need to experience every  verb form in every day use.

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