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Relearning French


Graye

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Can anyone give me some advice for a course etc (online or book perhaps) which I can use to brush up my very much forgotten French?

I did A level French at school and used French for quite some years on visits etc. We then didn't visit for many years and my French fell into total disuse.  For the last five years we have lived in Spain and I have had to learn this by immersion.  My husband speaks Spanish fluently so it has helped being able to listen to friends and neighbours speaking to him.  My Spanish is now good at a basic conversational level although I would struggle to spell some words I know as I have never seen them written or do anything complex like conjugate a verb etc. without some serious thought.

Everytime we have driven through France I have done fine with the written word and can understand what people say to me but whenever I try to speak nothing but Spanish comes out!  The only time I amazed myself was when a clumsy employee in Lidl's in Bayonne managed to push a whole tower of wine bottles over onto me with her stacker truck. My sudden command of French surprised even me!! 

As we will now be living in France for 4 months I really would like to do something pretty intensive to persuade my brain to rediscover the French it has hidden away in there.  We have the full Michel Thomas course which sounds as if it may help but is there anything else anyone could recommend please?  I have from now until mid September to come up with something and as we are leaving Spain next Thursday I will not be distracted by hearing Spanish all day long.

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I  have the impression that Michel Thomas is really for people who haven't learnt languages in a formal manner and/or aren't overly concerned with understanding grammar etc.  If you already have a decent training in French, I would try something more academic or  structured.  You might as well build on what you have - it's amazing how much does come back!

Radio France International has a language section, where you can listen to news broadcasts, answer questions and then get the acutal transcription.  A great way to improve your french and learn a bit about French current affairs at the same time. http://www.rfi.fr/lffr/statiques/accueil_apprendre.asp

If you want books, I found the Cle International series (Grammaire Progressive, Communication Progressive with CD) really well laid out and easily explained,  I've been recommended this by separate sets of native French language teachers.  You can also buy the answer books for the grammar exercises and the Communication Progressive has lots of everyday scenarios in it.  If you've done A level, I'd go for the intermediate level at least.

 

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I agree with Pangur re the CLE international series. The vocabulary ones (Vocabulaire Progressive, unsurprisingly..) are also very good.I'd go straight for the advanced level vocab one, as each level builds on the previous one and there's a fair bit of repetition. I use them in my teaching and without exception, students find them well set out and easy to understand. As they're all in French, including explanations of grammar points, they'll stretch your understanding of written French too. There's some fantastic online stuff (Google francais FLE, it'll keep you busy for weeks!) and these include listening and speaking activities as well as online tests where you can check your progress.

There's now a Michel Thomas advanced course, which may be of more use to you, but I haven't had the oppportunity to listen to it so I can't vouch for it.

Good Luck!

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The Michel Thomas courses are for a certain type of learner - people who have not learned languages before, and wh may regard themselves as poor at learning languages. The approach would suit Ron, on 'Excuse My French', for example.This is not to put down Ron or Mchel Thomas - it's just that they progress in a certain way, for a certain type of learner. (By the way, they do provide some grammatical instruction, although not as explicitly as your A level will have provided).

With your A level in French you'll probably find Michel and his actor-students really annoying, especially the 'slower' one! You don't need to 'relearn' your French as such; you already possess your learnings from before, it's just that your brain has put them in moth-balls, so to speak, because you are not using those skills at the moment, and your brain likes to work as efficiently as possible for you. All you need to do is dust them off, and put n a bit of mental elbow-grease to bring them to their original shine.

You could think of it as a railway track through a forest. When you laid the tracks, it was hard work, but once the tracks were finsihed, they were there to stay. As you used your French, your little trains of memory belted up and down those tracks, keeping them in use, and shiny. But when you stopped using your French, the trains stopped too, and the tracks became overgrown and obscured by the mental undergrowth. So now the trains can't run down the tracks again.

Your relearning is just review - a way of clearing the tracks so your memory trains can run a they did before. You don't need to build new tracks, for you already have them - you just need to clear away that mental undergrowth. Sounds twee, I know, but that's what's happening.

A focussed session for 1 to 3 months will easily clear the way for your French to become as fluent as it was, and if you use the course I am about to suggest you use, maybe even more fluent as such. I recommend 'Living Language Ultimate French' - it's a beginner to intermediate course that focuses on conversational dialogues, but that doesn't neglect the grammar. It has 2 sets of audios, one to be used with the text book, and a further, all audio set to reinforce what you have learned but out-of-class when you can't use your text-book, i.e. while driving. You also get he option to progress on to the advanced course which follows a similar dialogue-based format.

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[quote user="Croixblanches"]

There's now a Michel Thomas advanced course, which may be of more use to you, but I haven't had the oppportunity to listen to it so I can't vouch for it.

Good Luck!

[/quote]

The Michel Thomas advanced courses are advanced, but only in relation to the courses for beginners, which don't teach an awful lot. 

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Came across this by accident.  Log on to BBC.co.uk and in the search box type in Excuse my French.  This leads to a language game using the subjects of the recent TV programmes.  BUT there is also a link to 'Ma France' and voila, a whole french course on video and it is free.  You need to have some French already but you appear to have. 

Also I bought a course for £45 called A l'écoute de la langue Française, found it whilst searching Google for french classes.

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I've mentioned before in this forum a number of sites where there are free grammar courses but I have found a few more since then. You should find something helpful among the following:

www.polarfle.fr is a site where you will find a murder mystery to solve. The clues are found in the grammar exercises. There is also comprehension work. There are four different levels from debutant to avancé.

www.fle.fr is a site which links to a number of specialist providers of french language teaching for foreigners but in addition, in the ressources section you will find grammar exercises.

www.bonjourdefrance.com has various grammar exercises as does www.xtec.es/~sgirona/fle/ .

If you would like the grammar to be explained in English you should take a look at www.laits.utexes.edu/tex/. This is a free course from the University of Texas. From London Metropolitan University there’s www.city.londonmet.ac.uk/langstud/call/french/French/

A good Canadian site iswww.ccdmd.qc.ca/fr/franc/accfranc.html

www.didieraccord.com/ is another site which comes up with the correct replies when you check your responses.

Hope that helps

Jan Laury

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