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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hello everyone,

In the event that my husband's visa is approved, I've been madly trying to bring my French up to speed. I am using a combination of Rosetta Stone (I only have levels 1-3) and some old french text books I have from college. I also try to watch the few French films I have without subtitles so that I can focus on trying to pick out the words (I have a hard time understanding people who aren't speaking unnaturally slow.)

I feel like my biggest hurdle of all is pronunciation. I like that Rosetta Stone lets you speak, but I feel like I need even more speaking practice. Is there any other software that has voice technology? Aside from pronunciation, is there a self-study course that any of you have used and really found helpful in real life situations?

I'm not all together unhappy with my plan-I just want to make myself aware of all the options. :) Thanks in advance everyone! Cheers!
 

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Don't torture yourself. You will never "really" learn French (as she is spoken) until you're in place and struggling to deal with butchers, bakers and getting and giving directions from strangers in the street. It's pretty daunting at first, but you may want to learn the "magic words" proposed by Polly Platt in her book, "French or Foe":

"Excusez-moi de vous déranger, mais pouvez-vous m'aider?"

It usually works like a charm. But it will still take a couple months of struggle to be able to understand and respond to "real French." In the meantime, just remind yourself that the French find an American accent "charming."
Cheers,
Bev
 

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Try downloading Byki Language software for french which is free software I downloaded off the internet - this is really great as they show you the words and also pronounce it for you and you can repeat as many times as you want!! I am not sure how advanced you are on the french though as it might only be for beginners though.
 
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It might also be worth trying to track down some French people in Houston - there must be some! - to talk to. Nothing beats a real conversation and even if you are not fluent yet, it all helps. And what you talk about is up to you.

If you could find a student, they might be glad to earn a bit of cash in return for an hour's chat now and again.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Thank you, Bev! That does make me feel better. I know I can only do so much before we go (if we get approved that is!) I just feel paranoid about being one of those people (aka "dumb Americans") who moves somewhere without a good command of the language. I know I will work my arse off on learning when I get there, so I guess I should give myself a break. I have studied french off and on for the past 15 years but I never get past a certain level and my pronunciation hasn't improved much at all.

I do know quite a few vocabulary words and usually after a few glasses of wine in France my acquaintances there are usually shocked to see how much I do know. I am definitely inhibited by my own self consciousness especially in regards to my pronunciation. I hope it will come to me eventually. I know when I first moved to London I couldn't say anything like a Brit-when I tried I sounded like I was doing an impression. By the time I left 2 years later I could say quite a few things naturally like a Brit-but still as myself (if that makes sense!) It really paid off-when I first said "excuse me" trying to get off of the tube at rush hour, no one moved-I think because they didn't know what the heck I was saying/doing. Finally, I mastered a very British "sorry" and from then on, the waters parted so to speak. ;)
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
Try downloading Byki Language software for french which is free software I downloaded off the internet - this is really great as they show you the words and also pronounce it for you and you can repeat as many times as you want!! I am not sure how advanced you are on the french though as it might only be for beginners though.
Thank you for the recommendation! I had never heard of it! It sounds like a great thing. My level is somewhere between Beginner and Intermediate. Anytime I've been given a French placement test I'm always classified Intermediate. I don't really feel like I am though-I still struggle with future tense and often forget really obvious things. Just yesterday I completed level 1 on Rosetta Stone. I'm about 1/2 through a beginner French text book. Most that I've studied so far I know (or knew at one point.) I just want to give myself as strong of a foundation as I can. Again, thanks for the tip! :)
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
It might also be worth trying to track down some French people in Houston - there must be some! - to talk to. Nothing beats a real conversation and even if you are not fluent yet, it all helps. And what you talk about is up to you.

If you could find a student, they might be glad to earn a bit of cash in return for an hour's chat now and again.
Your recommendation is right on. Actually my husband and I started doing that just this week. We have made some friends at the consulate and hope to expand our relationship with other French speakers through them. I've been debating whether or not to hire a French tutor. One of the girls I met at the consulate teaches at the Alliance and might give private lessons. At this point though I'm running out of time and trying to be mind full of my expenses. That would be ideal though!

And Jennifer, thank you so much for responding to my Nice or Toulouse thread. I'm sorry I didn't get back to you on that. We've actually decided (if accepted) that we will move to Nice. The biggest "winning" consideration ended up being that Nice has the international airport. Since my husband will be commuting often from the US we thought it would be the easier choice. Also, one of our good friends in Toulouse is moving to Cap d'Ail this summer. She told my husband that rents in Toulouse have really gone up the past few years and that she would recommend Nice. I think we'll initially move to Nice and see how it goes once we get to know the realities a bit better.

I do REALLY love Toulouse though-well what I know of it! I think they have the best food ever-I'm crazy about all things duck and Gaillac wine and I love Cassoulet (even the kind out of a glass jar.) ;) I think they have the best variety of Salons de The--I'm in love with Flower's Cafe (Place Roger Salengro.) Thanks for letting me reminisce! :love:
 

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One of the things that really helped me was watching French language films with the subtitles on in French. That way you follow the plot, can see the shapes and structures of the sentences and hear how they are pronounced at the same time. You will find after a few films certain lines, words and phrases get stuck in your head and you start to recognise them when they crop up again.

Best of luck!
 

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We're still at the stage of French audio and English subtitles as my husband is not so far on with his French as I am. Tuning in your ear to the language is really important so that you don't have to ask for everything to be repeated or, worse still, in a way, that those who are willing to speak in English do to help you out. It's very kind of them but in the end you have to be able to pick up what's being said in French and respond.

I did the quiz of the day on about.com this morning. It was all idiomatic expressions. Some I knew, some I was able to figure out and others would leave me puzzled if I heard them.

I like the idea of spending time with French speakers before one moves. Will make contact with some.

R&J
 

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One of the best we've come across is Paul Noble's French course. It is published by Collins and it is claimed in 13 hours intensive study, following his rationale, you would learn more than a whole year of traditional method study and teaching.

For us, it worked. Hope that's helpful.
 

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I have two thoughts for you:

  1. The French Consolate in Houston: The Boston Consulate offers information about classes and groups of folks with whom you can practice speaking French. Perhaps your Consulate does the same. Learning on your feet is the best practice you can get.
  2. French In Action: This television series originated on Public Television in Boston in the late 1970s if I remember correctly. I find it more effective than Rosetta Stone which we own all 5 levels of (would you care to buy it?). French in Action trains you to listen and comprehend in 30 minute stories. It's available for Free on Rhode Island Public TV's website at Resource: French in Action or you can purchase the whole set of DVDs for about $80 on Amazon.

I was surprised how much of my 2 years of high school French was available after 45 years when we bought our house in a small village in the Dordogne. We didn't meet anyone in our village who spoke English for a couple of months. Nevertheless, we began having our neighbors, now our friends, over for aperatifs almost immediately, eventually for dinner. Conversations were simple at first, and slow.

Our neighbors have been very generous and patient. And so are strangers. Everyone seems to love their language and to appreciate someone taking the time to learn and to overcome whatever fears they have about speaking.

Best of luck.

Ray
 

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One of the best we've come across is Paul Noble's French course. It is published by Collins and it is claimed in 13 hours intensive study, following his rationale, you would learn more than a whole year of traditional method study and teaching.

For us, it worked. Hope that's helpful.
Thanks for that. Will check it out.

R&J
 

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If there is a French immersion school in your area, many times they can set you up with tutors. May want to try that. Also, in my area (Minnesota), Concordia runs Language Camps over the summer: concordialanguagevillages.org
 

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French TV on the background while doing something else might help your ear get accustomed, in spite of not understanding "everything".

Live BFMTV
i>TELE - Le direct

I think that TV will be much better than radio, as TV has picture that shows you "context" and it also has headlines/titles, etc.

Good luck!

jacques.
 

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See if your cable or satellite provider has TV5, the international French channel, available.

The advantage with TV5 is that they subtitle anything that is from outside France proper and having the subtitles along with the video can help you pick up new words and expressions.

But once again, no matter how long and hard you study French (or any other language) before you arrive, you are going to be a bit overwhelmed at first. The natives speak much more quickly that any language learning program, and there are local and current expressions you'll just have to learn when you get there.
Cheers,
Bev
 
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