My first completed novel in French

The first book I successfully read in French.

Jean-Paul et ses bons amis

(Available for purchase through TPRS Books)

Reading is one of the fundamental sources of comprehensible input (CI). Th more you read, the more chances you give yourself to acquire the language. Listening is also key, but I think that reading and listening go hand-in-hand for adult learners. Doing a lot of both leads to the best results.

I tried to read this book a long time ago (Fall 2017?). It was too difficult for me. Then, after watching about 10 episodes of French in Action while following along in the accompanying text, I was finally ready to read this book.

I read it a little bit at a time over a week. As I read, it helped me better understand the videos in French in Action and vice versa. I was actually surprised at how much the reading helped me understand the listening in the videos. I’m still many, many hours of listening away from being an advanced speaker (my goal), but I’m well on my way.  Reading is truly amazing for language acquisition.

How Did I Pick This Book?

I met the author of Jean-Paul et ses bons amis when I attended a language teaching workshop in Vancouver, BC in 2013. J’ai bu une bière ave lui et j’ai appris qu’il sait beaucoup sur l’adquisition du language. I know he has a handle on how languages are learned, and after a little exposure to French, I wanted to try to read some more. Out of all the books for beginners, why not pick one from someone I know?

Brief Review of Jean-Paul et ses bons amis

Jean-Paul et ses bons amis is highly repetitive (that’s good) and uses lots of short, comprehensible sentences and “text messages” in a lot of the dialogue situations. There is a complete glossary at the end of the book for ease of lookup – essential if you want to avoid distractions (e.g. your phone).

The plot is perhaps better suited for a younger audience, but I really don’t mind at this stage of the game. Right now I only care about ease of understanding.

I’ll repeat this from above: Even though this is a book for true beginners, at first it was too difficult for me. I was looking up a lot of words, too many for it to be at my level. But after watching roughly 10 episodes of French in Action, this book became much more accessible and, thus, more valuable for language acquisition.

Rating: 4.5 / 5

Disclosure: Please note that some of the links above are affiliate links, and at no additional cost to you, I will earn a commission if you decide to make a purchase after clicking through the link. Please understand that I have experienced all of these books/products and I recommend them because they are helpful and useful, not because of the small commissions I make if you decide to buy something through my links. Please do not spend any money on these products unless you feel you need them or that they will help you achieve your goals.

Thinking in “French in Action”

You know you are on the right path when the language starts to invade your thoughts.

I’ve now watched two episodes of French in Action while following along with the accompanying text, and my goal is to finish the 50+ episode series by the end of 2018. I’ve noticed several things:

  1. Reading along with the text for the first half of the program is beneficial. It improves comprehension and lets me see how words are pronounced in French.
  2. So far, the dialogue in the text stops around halfway through the episode. This is good design. By the time I get to the second half I am already thinking in French, so I can focus all my attention on listening to the language. Listening comprehension is key when acquiring a new language.
  3. I was thinking in French for hours after watching episode II. Nous allons apprendre le français. Vous allez écouter. Je vais proposer une histoire et vous allez discuter. This is a good sign. My brain is starting to assimilate the language.
  4. The language is repetitive enough to pick up high frequency vocabulary, yet varied enough to keep my mind focused. Great balance, but maybe a bit too difficult for a true beginner.
  5. A half-hour (really only ~25 minutes if you ignore the intro/outro) lesson is perfect. My working memory is fried after that. 
  6. The professor is happy all the time. I need to be happier. Fortunately, learning languages makes me happy.

Disclosure: Please note that some of the links above are affiliate links, and at no additional cost to you, I will earn a commission if you decide to make a purchase after clicking through the link. Please understand that I have experienced all of these books/products and I recommend them because they are helpful and useful, not because of the small commissions I make if you decide to buy something through my links. Please do not spend any money on these products unless you feel you need them or that they will help you achieve your goals.

O Alquimista

O meu livro favorito é O Alquimista (affiliate link), do escritor brasileiro Paulo Coelho. Eu adoro os personagens e a história pelo general.

Cada ano eu leio este livro. Eu posso me imaginar ser Santiago, ou o homem que vende cristais, ou o pipoqueiro, ou mesmo alquimista. Santiago é um herói,  e inspira me tentar alcançar os meus sonhos.

Também eu leio este livro porque ajuda me melhorar o meu português. A gente sabe que ler é uma das formas mais fácies de conseguir “input compreensível”, o ingrediente mais importante na adquirição de idiomas. Se você ler sete livros num idioma, então vai aprender uma multidão de vocabulário e gramática de maneira natural.

Eu sei que o meu português não é perfeito. Não, tem erros e também  influência dos outros idiomas que falo com fluidez, principalmente o inglês e o espanhol.  Se eu escrever este post um ano no futuro, estou seguro que seria totalmente diferente e muito melhor escrito. Mas com o passar do tempo e cada vez mais input compreensível, eu vou melhorando. Aprender falar um idioma é um processo de por toda a vida.

Cada vez que eu leio este livro aprendo mais português, sem ter que estudar listas de palavras novas ou memorizar regras de gramática. É assim que eu gosto de aprender novas línguas.

Até mais,

Andrew

Disclosure: Please note that some of the links above are affiliate links, and at no additional cost to you, I will earn a commission if you decide to make a purchase after clicking through the link. Please understand that I have experienced all of these books/products and I recommend them because they are helpful and useful, not because of the small commissions I make if you decide to buy something through my links. Please do not spend any money on these products unless you feel you need them or that they will help you achieve your goals.

French in Action

I’ve decided that my next course of action for French acquisition is a course called, perhaps ironically, French in Action. You can watch this video course for free on Learner.org.

I’ve tried to get through this program before as a true beginner, but I found it too incomprehensible.

We know that Comprehensible Input (CI), language that is easily understood, is the main ingredient for language acquisition. The key to learning any language is to get as much CI as you can. French in Action is available for free, so I wanted to find a way to make it easier for me to understand.

Then chance came. I found this old version of the French in Action workbook at a thrift store for super cheap:

This text gives you a written version of the spoken video. Exactly what I was looking for, since written French is easier for me to follow. This is especially true when I get both audio and the written text.

There is a 3rd edition workbook for French in Action on Amazon for roughly $35 (affiliate link).

My goal is now to complete this video and textbook course by the end of 2018.

Feel free to join me or follow me as I go through myself.

I’ll be sure to update as I go through the course.

Update: I have gone through the first of more than 50 lessons in this course. It’s definitively an 80’s production, but I find that endearing. The professor seems genuinely happy to teach French and the acting is predictably bad. Not a problem, as long as I can understand the language.

The textbook I found at the thrift store (see above) is absolutely necessary. French has many unique ways to spell words, and being able to see the dialogue as well as hear it makes it even more comprehensible. Remember, comprehensible input is the key to acquiring any language. The more understandable language you hear and read, the more chances you give yourself to acquire new words and phrases.

Disclosure: Please note that some of the links above are affiliate links, and at no additional cost to you, I will earn a commission if you decide to make a purchase after clicking through the link. Please understand that I have experienced all of these books/products and I recommend them because they are helpful and useful, not because of the small commissions I make if you decide to buy something through my links. Please do not spend any money on these products unless you feel you need them or that they will help you achieve your goals.

Oi, Ciao, Bonjour, Hola, Hey

Hallo!

This is my first post on this old-fangled blog thing. I’ve had blogs before, but none that I’m more excited about. This blog is about my own journey on learning languages. Here is my quick language profile:

Native Language: English
Near-Native: Spanish (I teach college Spanish)
Pretty fluent: Brazilian Portuguese
I know some phrases that I memorized 10 years ago: German
I have about 3 hours from a language-teaching conference: French
Total n00b: Italian (Except I know Spanish, so maybe not? We’ll see.)
Below “Total n00b”: Everything else

Where I’m Going

I want to share my language learning experiences. Sometimes you’ll see me in true beginner mode and how I deal with that (I’ve learned some good tricks over the years). Other times you’ll see me do OK or better. And sometimes you’ll see me rock the language like it weren’t foreign to me at all. With any luck, you’ll see the progression from “Total n00b” to pretty dang fluent. I love

For now, my two target languages are French and Italian. That said, you’ll also see Portuguese, German, and perhaps even Spanish.

I hope you enjoy the journey as much as me!

Até mais!