French Week 42 – Commencer à parler!

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Very exciting times… I have started to speak French! LingQ tells me that I have read over 800,000 words and listened to over 300 hours of French since I started my French adventure at the beginning of the year. Now I am very fortunate to have the opportunity of free french classes where I am currently living in New York, so I am taking my first tentative steps into the world of speaking French. Its early days, and I am taking baby steps, but it feels great to start using the language after many months of absorbing more and more French material. Watch this space!

Two observations about starting to flex those productive language muscles: (1) It can be very frustrating to get going! The part of my brain that recognises words feels miles ahead of the part of my brain that can find the right word. So pretty basic vocabulary that I understand passively I am pretty hopeless at coming up with on the spot. And that is before we even start to talk about the challenges of pronunciation! (2) There is suddenly so much interference coming from Spanish. This makes so much sense given how similar the two languages are, but also it is so much easier for my brain to find the Spanish word, I guess because those neural pathways are so well established now. I’m sure this will become less of a problem as we start laying down some proper French neural highways inside my noggin!

However I am confident that, as with my experience with Spanish, all that reading and listening is going to pay massive dividends when I start to speak a lot – and that passive vocabulary gradually starts to work its way into my productive skills.

In other news I have finished Harry Potter et la Chambre des Secrets, my third full length book in French, and I am now ploughing into Le Prisonnier d’Azkaban. And I am dividing my listening time between News in Slow FrenchFrançais Authentique and L’avis de Marie. I have also started to write a little using Lang-8, but I haven’t really had enough time to get into writing. Writing is my skill focus for weeks 51-75, and for now I am focusing primarily on listening comprehension.

Bye for now, et bonne chance avec votre apprentissage de la langue!

 

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