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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
We will be moving to the Fontainebleau area sometime in Jan/Feb as part of a corporate move. DH's employer is paying for him to take 6 hours of private instruction/week with a tutor. They are not so generous with me and I will get some limited instruction after the relocation. So...I am trying to study on my own. Hiring a tutor is a bit cost prohibitive right now.

I've read lots of reviews but it seems that most people are using a program for travel or just personal enjoyment. No one ever follows up the reviews with how things worked once they were in France. I was hoping anyone here might have some real-life experience/suggestions.

I like the Michel Thomas CDs, but worry that what he's teaching will have me speaking poorly (with a bad accent). I like Fluenz's demo, but can't bring myself to plunk down the $$$$$ - but maybe that's what I need? Don't like Rosetta Stone's demo, which makes it even harder to justify the $$$$$. I've heard Pimsleur is good, but never tried? Any self-teaching high school courses? I've been doing LiveMocha online, but not regularly. (Maybe I need a kick-in-the-pants of motivation more than a good program!)
 

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Any language training program can only give you the basics. You don't really learn to use the language until you are on site and have to speak and be understood in order to buy your groceries, get your hair cut, visit the doctor, etc. etc.

You may want to take a look at a language program called Assimil. It's done by a French company, and it's a little less pricey than some of the others you've mentioned. But like all self-study programs, you need that kick in the pants to stay with it.
Cheers,
Bev
 

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I've been using Rosetta Stone V3. It's better than V2 and most other language programs I've ever used. I never tried a demo but it's certainly worth the price in my opinion. The method of teaching is very structured and builds upon basic layers of language acquisition. It teaches you a language in the way that a child learns language. Slow gradual steps with repetitive practice, once you have the foundations there's a vocabulary explosion where things start to make more sense and you find yourself making your own sentences instead of merely scripted text like most CD programs train. It also allows you to practice pronunciation, it tests you specifically on pronunciation, something a cd language course cannot do. I recommend trying at least Level 1 if you don't feel like buying all three levels up front. Honestly, it is the better choice.
 

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I learned French while living in France, without ever paying for lessons. It's not as hard as you might think as they are sister languages. Plenty of it was just common sense and astute listening. I'm constantly asked by friends here how I managed it and I came up with a few simple do's and don'ts which helped me loads.

Do - watch the French television. Even though you don't understand at first things like international news and sports will make sense just by looking at the pictures and listening carefully.

Don't - immediately get involved with an ex-pat group which speaks your language. You'll end up hanging out with them and it will slow down your progress. Try to make local friends who speak just a little English, but with whom you both haver to work a little. It's hard, but rewarding.

Do - listen to the French radio when you're driving. Their music is of dubious quality -in particular that which gets played on popular radio stations- but letting French vocabulary enter your mind while concentrating on other things can only help.

Don't - expect the French to speak English. They actually usually can, but it's insulting. How would you feel if foreign tourist showed up in your home town asking you to speak their language?

Do -go out have a few drinks, let your hair down, try to speak French and let your inhibitions about making a fool of yourself flow away.

Do - once you're ready, find a bonehead type job which makes you use French. The repetition will help make your accent more comprehensible. A friend of mine who paid for lessons here in the Alps took a job as a 'skiman' in a rental shop for a winter. It was ironic as he's actually a millionaire, but he said that it was far more helpful than the lessons he took.

Basicly, unless you're very talented, it's just a question of working at it and finding as many ways as possible to make that a fun thing to do. If you've listened to an instructional cd then you've already got more training than I had when I got here.

Best of luck,
Tony
 

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Hi,

It really is necessary to have some French classes. (Even native speakers can't help that much because they cannot explain a lot of the grammar that you need to understand). The universities are very inexpensive in France and most of them have intensive French programs for foreigners at many different levels. I did two of them, one in Grenoble and one in Montpellier. In Grenoble there was 20 hours a week of language class for 10 weeks and in Montpellier there was 12 hours a week of language class for one semester. Having this structure was extremely important. Otherwise, you will never speak French well. Its impossible. Yes, you will be able to communicate but you have to understand the grammar. Also, I made some wonderful and extremely interesting friends in these classes (there were usually about 10 students in a class). We were all in the same boat and we gave each other a lot of moral support. It was a lifesaver for me. Lucky you -- have fun with it.
 

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Dijid, you can't go wrong with Pimsleur! it blows away all those other methods. I studied French and now I'm moving onto Italian. Just bought level III. They are having a 50% holiday sale right now. I found the promo code on RetailmeNot's website. Can't remember exactly what it was. At that price it's a no brainer! :clap2:
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
Thanks for all the responses. I will be able to get some language instruction one-on-one with a tutor once we're all settled in. I'm mostly trying to learn as much as possible on my own before we arrive. My husband thinks he can get Rosetta Stone through work, and I've asked him to pursue that. I hear so many positive things about it, I do think I'm going to give it a try.
 

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Thanks for all the responses. I will be able to get some language instruction one-on-one with a tutor once we're all settled in. I'm mostly trying to learn as much as possible on my own before we arrive. My husband thinks he can get Rosetta Stone through work, and I've asked him to pursue that. I hear so many positive things about it, I do think I'm going to give it a try.
Rosetta Stone is nice, quite comprehensive and actually teaches you how to use the language instead of just repeating phrases over and over without any real understanding of grammatical structure. With RS, you can make your own sentences early on. The visual prompts are key.

Good luck.
:D
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
Despite repeated attempts I could not ever learn French ... I hope you will succeed more :clap2:
So do I! I can cobble together all sorts of sentences and try to get my point across, but I absolutely cannot understand spoken Frendh. I've been renting all the library's French films and I keep hoping it will help.

Zimbad - I did pick up Pimsleur's Conversational French through the library. I'm not liking it. The repetition is kinda mind-numbing and after 4 discs I'm actually tuning it out in the car. I also am losing confidence in my ability to speak the language by trying to imitate every little broken down part of speach like they do. Is there a different version that I should be looking at?
 

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To be honest you won't really start to understand French until you're immersed in it on arrival. I had something like 8 years of French in school and yet felt completely dumb (in all senses of the word) when I first got here. Same thing in German, BTW.

Once on site, you just have to push yourself to speak in public (and gracefully acknowledge, but ignore, the various "corrections" you'll get from the natives - they can't help themselves). It can help when you get here to make use of the closed captioning (actually just French subtitles) available on tv - even if you have the kind of cable or satellite service that allows you to watch certain series in VO (i.e. in the original language). It seems you can't turn off the French subtitles when watching in English, so you can use them to pick up new words and phrases.

You also can listen to Radio France Info (around Fountainbleau it should be 105,5 FM) especially in the mornings. It will be way too fast at first, but they repeat their stories and features several times during the morning - so if your interest in a story is piqued, just keep listening for the repeat to see if you can pick up a little more of it the next hour and repeat as necessary.

When you arrive, contact the AVF (Accueil des Villes Francaises) in Fontainbleau AVF -- Présentation
They usually have some sort of French for newcomers group - not a class, but a chance to practice your French with others. Or, you may find yourself besieged by French people anxious to practice their English with you - which is a lovely excuse to do a language exchange. You speak French for 45 minutes, then switch to English - all over a cup of tea and some cake or cookies. Best way to meet the natives, not to mention work on your French!
Cheers,
Bev
 
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