samedi 15 mai 2010

Edited response to "Words, words and more words.", plus more unedited ramblings

Steve Kaufmann had a post on how language learning is vocabulary acquisition and mentioned a comment I had posted to his blog helping out another reader with her French.

As usual, I posted a fairly stream-of-consciousness, rambling response, as opposed to the tightly edited literary masterpieces that normally grace the pages of this blog.

Here's an tighter version of the interesting parts of that comment:


I stayed on learner-level materials so long (as opposed to moving to native-level ones) because I was driven by the goal of understanding _everything_ before moving on. "Understanding", for me, was the test: "Could I have produced this sentence?" If not, I kept studying it. Simple recognition of meaning wasn't sufficient. Like my beliefs on grammar study, this stemmed from my math/cs background. I was quite uncomfortable with input I couldn't successfully "decode" 100%. So, I stuck with learning materials longer than necessary. They allowed me to completely understand what I was hearing: the structures, the grammar, the vocab, and the pronunciation. Being that comfortable with the materials made my little brain happy. But yes, it was boring. And sometimes excruciatingly so. Much of my time with French was also spent trying different approaches to figure out which ones worked. I probably wasted too much time on ones that didn't but that I felt should.

The other thing that was holding me back from native audio input was the Quebec accent. All the course materials I had access to were for Standard French. It took me a while before I could understand the QC accent, and almost all of that came from an increased knowledge of Frech grammar and vocabulary to the point where I could figure out "Ah, _that's_ what they must have said" The lack of transcripts for what I wanted to listen to really prevented my advancement in understanding QC French since I couldn't match what I heard with what it meant.

And now back to your irregularly scheduled mumblings.

I found an English<->French conversation partner. We're doing 30m in French, followed by 30m in English the next day. The first two exchanges went well, so I'm hoping we can keep it up.

I had a really hard time finding language exchange partners in Montreal. First, there seemed to be very few Quebecois on the language exchange sites. Second, the 6h time difference between Montreal-Paris made scheduling exchanges hard. And as for random speakers, you end up with the same superficial conversations: Where are you from, how did you learn, where do you go to school, etc. I think also many language sites (and books) underestimate the difficulty of finding a language partner. At least this is true for guys. I've heard from my female language learning friends that finding people to talk with was perhaps _too_ easy. The challenge there was finding non-creepy ones.

1 commentaire:

Vincent a dit...

Damian, I've seen you commenting on Steve's blog for some time now, but I had no idea you had your own blog! I took a quick look at a few posts, and added to my RSS feed. I look forward to reading!

Vincent
Street-Smart Language Learning