Refresh my french fast online - Grammar/verb tenses/conjugations mostly
January 10, 2020 6:54 AM   Subscribe

After many years of not taking or using french, I will be taking a french course to refresh my French. My french was pretty decent once upon a time. I feel like when I get back into it, I will remember A LOT in just a 2-5 hours of instruction. So I'd like to get those 2-5 hours done BEFORE the placement test. Where can I do this online?

Let's say my french was at it's peak a level 10 (not meaning it was fluent/perfect, but just to put a nice even number on it). I feel like with just some quick reminders I could get up to a 6-8 very quickly. But if I take the assessment test cold it will put me in a course suited to level 3-4, I'll find it useful for 5 hours or so and then be stuck below my level for the rest of the semester. If I can get myself to 6 now, I can go into the 6 course and actually (re)learn the stuff that will actually be harder to learn/remember.

To give you any idea where I am, I've done a placement test for courses somewhere else (and decided not to take courses there) that put me at a 3rd year university level (in Canada -- note that even 1st year french here assumes some knowledge of french...there are separate course sequences for people with no previous knowledge). Lots of the stuff I feel like I couldn't answer, I KNOW I would have once known

The place I will take the course will do the placement test the first class. So I have maybe a week to prep. From the placement test I did, I think I mainly need to remember
1. verb conjugations that are not just present-tense. That includes other tenses (conditionals, past perfect, etc.) and also maybe some irregular verbs (irregular verbs I actually did fine one, but it was multiple choice, and obviously producing the conjugation, if I'm called upon to do that, is harder than recognizing it).

2. Some of the grammar rules on agreement -- like I remember the past participle agrees with the direct object that precedes the verb, but not for the life of me could I decide if some of these examples were direct objects.

3. Some of the irregular ways of making words feminine/masculine and plural/singular.

Please point me to an online french refresher, or even a book, if it's likely I can get it STAT from the library.

Note: I'm not looking to "cheat" and get into a course above my level. I realize that would be counter-productive. What I would like to do is legit bring myself to a higher level, as quickly as I think it would happen in class, but before the class. I'm not sure I'm being clear enough on this point.
posted by If only I had a penguin... to Education (10 answers total) 14 users marked this as a favorite
Duolingo is a free app that even gives you a placement test to see how much French (or other language) you know. Then you can do previous and subsequent quick lessons to refresh.
posted by jillithd at 7:23 AM on January 10, 2020 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Mango Languages is perfect for this. Where I am in Canada, I can access it for free when I log in through the library system, as they have links to this. You'd only need an up to date public library card number and PIN, and then you should be able to link in to Mango, and create a profile with them. If you don't have a library card, you can still use it, but at a cost (not sure how much). My partner has been using this for the last few years to learn Spanish (and before that also French). It's great for giving more context and comprehension than Duolingo - although both used together is also helpful. Unfortunately, you still have to be self-motivated enough to look up all the verb tenses and conjugations on your own, as it never goes into that - except to slowly keep adding a few new forms of the verbs as you go along.
posted by itsflyable at 7:51 AM on January 10, 2020 [1 favorite]

I highly recommend the French verb drills from Camille at French today. They are audio-based, which I'm not sure is what you're looking for, but they are excellent at getting you to get into the flow of conjugating verbs and have a ton of tenses. I believe there are 4, with 4 verbs each, and cost ~$40 each (for a lifetime of access) but are on sale right now. It is focused more on speaking, and conjugating without "thinking" or translating in your head, but the drills are also written down and if you go through each while reading it after doing it audio-only, I've found it very helpful for writing too, especially if you are already familiar with spelling.
posted by sillysally at 7:58 AM on January 10, 2020

You could hire an online teacher or tutor on iTalki.
posted by carrioncomfort at 8:31 AM on January 10, 2020

Best answer: I use the site which has some quizzing software called Kwizik underlying it. It requires a subscription to use the progressive quizzes, but the grammar lessons are free to read. I really like it much better than the more natural learning models like DuoLingo, since it actually teaches you the grammar and then tests you on the rules you've learned. Once you do the original placement test for this site, you can click around through all the grammar lessons to find ones that cover things you're interested in.
posted by jacquilynne at 9:31 AM on January 10, 2020 [2 favorites]

You want Duolingo. I used it when I was going to be in France for a month on a work assignment. I'd taken French all the way through college then hadn't used to for about 8 years, so was really rusty on exactly the things you mention. I did maybe 20-30 minutes of Duolingo a day for the weeks leading up to my trip.

It went off without a hitch, to the point where the woman at the fnac store I visited a few days into the trip was surprised to learn I did not, in fact, live in France.

Note that Duolingo is geared to Parisian/Metropolitan French; not sure if there is a Quebec setting.
posted by basalganglia at 2:31 PM on January 10, 2020

Check out U. of Texas' free online French course. They have a grammar organized by topic, lots of audio files and a verb conjugation practice tool. You may have to browse around the site a bit to understand what they offer, but it's pretty comprehensive.

I'm a big fan of the Foreign Service Institute's free audio-based courses. Their main course takes months to work through, so is not suitable for your purpose. But you might find it helpful to work some with the recorded dialogues from their shorter practical French Fast course, as a refresher.

A book your local library might have and that covers the basics well enough is The Ultimate French Review and Practice.
posted by bertran at 3:14 PM on January 10, 2020

Response by poster: Thanks, I've created accounts and will look more deeply at Mango and LawlessFrench tonight. I did duolingo a while back and felt like it was very vocabulary-based instead of grammar and (maybe it's changed since then), but that I'd often get stuck at Grade 2 level french because I couldn't remember the word for for some random thing.
posted by If only I had a penguin... at 3:21 PM on January 10, 2020

Response by poster: OK, having now tried both LawlessFrench is definitely what i want. Just straight up grammar lessons. Here's the rule. Here are some examples. Here are some exceptions. Mango is more Grade 7 style "Let's learn about the past tense and beach-related vocabulary by talking about what we did on our summer vacation." That may be better for initial language learning, but for refresher I just wanted to be reminded what the rules are.
posted by If only I had a penguin... at 7:34 PM on January 10, 2020 [2 favorites]

Ooh! Good to know! I might have to personally check out LawlessFrench myself.
posted by itsflyable at 11:53 AM on January 11, 2020

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