Katharine on listening in French

This makes perfect sense:

I’ve often wondered how the level of French mastery you need to make sense of oral French compares with that for other languages. French is my best language, but, when it comes to rapid speech, I often find it easier to follow oral German.

One area where things that sound the same in French–and complicate things for native and nonnative speakers alike–are verb endings. All of the following endings, for example, share the same “close e” sound: -er, -é, -ée, –ai, -ais, -ait, -aient. So the following forms of the verb “to walk” all sound the same:

marcher: infinitive of “walk”
marché: past participle of “walk”
marchée: feminine singular of the past participle of “walk”
marchai: first-person singular past historic of “walk”
marchais: first and second person singular imperfect indicative of “walk”
marchait: third person singular imperfect indicative of “walk”
marchaient: third person plural imperfect indicative of “walk”

Because of this, the French dictée is as much an exercise in grammar as it is in spelling.

I often drop in on Camille Chevalier’s French Today website. (I’ve also bought her first book).

I recall her saying that French parents “are always teaching their children grammar” or words to that effect.

I wonder if this is what she was talking about ?

btw, she has a fabulous post about teaching French to a woman with memory problems that I’ll link to as soon as I get to it. Very interesting.

And see:
Adventures in Listening Comprehension
Katharine on listening in French
Google Master on le dictée

Adventures in listening comprehension

UPDATE 6/17/108 re: le dictée

It’s really hard to understand spoken French.

I don’t understand spoken Spanish at all well, either, but still.  With Spanish, it seems like I could understand a person speaking Spanish if I put my mind to it. Which I intend to do the minute I get back to the U.S. All these years studying Spanish, off and on, and still not fluent — arrgghh. 

French is a different kettle of fish.

Continue reading

Laurel, meet Yanny

In case you’re wondering, I heard “Laurel.”

Then I walked across the room and heard Yanny.

Which reminds me: I need to spend some time at Phonetique. I haven’t done so because, unfortunately, they’ve got their exercises set up wrong for implicit learning

Implicit learning (“information integration” learning) requires immediate feedback. You can’t do 10 items then find out which ones you got wrong. You have to do one at a time. 

Speaking of immediate feedback, this is the most important research on learning I’ve ever read.

Duolingo is very fun

Doug S recommended trying Duolingo, and I love it.

I don’t know whether it’s the best or the most efficient way to learn a foreign language. John McWhorter likes Glossika, which I assume means he likes Glossika better than Duolingo. It’s possible Duolingo involves too much translating from English to French and back again. I don’t know.

I wish I knew the literature on L2 learning.

In any event, I feel as if I’ve finally found an incontrovertible, absolute argument for the Wonders of Education Technology, a subject on which I have heretofore cast a No Vote: using a language app, you can hear what the words you’re learning sound like.

Plus the supposed convenience of education apps actually is convenient where Duolingo is concerned, and in a way that matters. I’ve never managed to stick with a MOOC, or watch more than one lecture from The Great Courses (which actually are great, as far as I can tell), but I’ve found it easy to return to Duolingo 25 days in a row. Duolingo is so compelling that it was one of my few daily habits that did not crash during the blackout.

Speaking of which, C. just talked to his co-teacher in Mt. Vernon … her electricity is off, and her brother, who works for Con Ed, says it will be days before it’s back on.

Days.

She has two young children.

Meanwhile, the lights just flickered off, then flickered back on.

The suspense is killing me.

And see:
The Westchester bomb cyclone and the achievement gap 

Doug S on Duolingo and YouTube

This is helpful:

FWIW, I’ve been working on my German again for some months now and have been pretty happy with Duolingo. It has the virtue of being free and has been reported to me by people who have used both as being about as good as Rosetta Stone.

Which is all very well for the usual sort of classroom language learning (with all its many limitations). For actual conversational language, I’ve found YouTube videos on subjects that I’m already interested in and uploaded by native speakers of the language I’m working on to be quite valuable. The cadences, slang, and vocabulary are similar to those I’ve run into on the streets in a way that more formal products (like newscasts and translated scholarly works) are not.

I’ve always wondered about Duolingo & haven’t quite had the wherewithal to form an opinion.

And I’d never thought of using YouTube videos!

Brilliant!

How to hear

I’m trying to remember the line C. came up with, when he was little, re: Jimmy, his autistic brother.

It was something like “He can’t listen.”

That’s me with Spanish and French.

I can’t listen.

I’m hoping Gabriel Wyner can give me a shortcut. (Wish I could remember which box his book is stored in . . . . )

Many language textbooks begin with a list of hard-to-hear words—the rocks and locks you can expect to encounter along the way to fluency. With a handful of recordings of those words (freely accessible through Web sites such as Rhinospike.com and Forvo.com) and with testing software such as Anki (ankisrs.net), you can build powerful ear-training tools for yourself. These are tools that, after just a few hours of use, will make foreign words easier to hear and easier to remember, and they may give you the edge you need to finally learn the languages you’ve always wanted to learn.

How to Teach Old Ears New Tricks