Help me teach myself French
January 9, 2014 6:43 PM Subscribe
I have some very basic French language skills, and I would like to develop them to the level of working proficiency over the next few months (I am prepared to study hard). I am enrolled in a class and have a tutor. What are some other resources (preferably free ones) that I can work with my own time in order to accelerate my learning as much as possible?
posted by Scientist to Education (30 answers total) 52 users marked this as a favorite
I am a graduate student who does fieldwork in Francophone Africa. In May, I will be travelling to Cameroon and Gabon for a three-month field season. I would like to work very hard over the next few months to develop my French language skills to the point where I am basically proficient in the language – able to carry out a conversation, understand what people are telling me, present information, read and write simple documents, etc. I have one semester of college-level French under my belt and spent three months working in Gabon last summer, but my skills are still quite rudimentary.
This semester, I will be participating in a French course being taught online in conjunction with a field training seminar that I will be helping to run. I have also contacted the teacher and arranged for an hour of one-on-one tutoring each week. However, I would like to have additional resources for self-study so that I can make the absolute most out of my time and really get my French skills up to par. What are some (ideally free, though I am willing to pay if it's really worth it) strategies and resources that I can use to really supercharge my learning? I'm willing to put at least a few hours a day into this, every day.
Conversational French (rather than written) is the most important, and people in Francophone Africa speak what is basically Standard French – not too much slang, and the accents are easy. They do, of course, speak rather fast. A lot of what we talk about is scientific of course, but that actually makes it easier since scientific terms are generally the same across languages – and if I need a specific word, I know how to ask someone for it. I will have bilingual people around me most of the time that I am in the field, but not all of the time; I really want to be able to operate more independently than I did last summer, which means I need to dramatically improve my language skills.
I'm looking more for comprehensive programs of study than for little tips and tricks. I've tried Rosetta Stone but didn't care for it; I feel the same way about Memrise. I have a few French-language podcasts to listen to, a library of subtitled French movies, and some plugins for Chrome that allow me to switch back and forth between French and English on the page. However, I want something more intensive, more in-depth, and more comprehensive. I also want to be able to study mostly on my own – I realize that conversation takes two people, but I don't really have access to a French-speaking language partner and I'm not into the idea of finding a stranger to talk French with. I learn better "from the page" anyway, and am good at working out the correct pronunciation of a word – yes, even in French. And of course I'll be taking a class with some other students and working with a tutor one-on-one as well, so I'll have some opportunity to speak French.
What are some options that I might avail myself of? I'm especially interested in things that people have actually tried personally and had success with. I look forward to your advice; thank you as always for your time.