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How I make parles Francais?

Kate of LokysKate of Lokys Registered User
edited February 2011 in Help / Advice Forum
Like all good Ontario schoolchildren, I had mandatory instruction in French from grade 6 through grade 9, because Canada is a bilingual country and it was important for us to be taught how to say "pumpkin" and "werewolf" and "please may I go to the bathroom" in our second official language, because who knows, someday we might be stuck in Quebec at Halloween talking to a furry about the raging case of the trots we got from eating too much pie.

I didn't learn much French during those years, partly because of the retarded curriculum that focused on "fun" seasonal vocabulary instead of actually speaking the goddamned language, but mostly because I didn't care.

Now, though, many years later, I *do* care. Once I finish my second MA, I'm going to be looking for a job in some branch of the Canadian government - data analysis, StatsCan, census, policy research, whatever I can talk my way into - and being able to demonstrate at least some proficiency in French will be a huge advantage. So, I want to learn me some French.

My available resources for this undertaking consist of a battered French-English dictionary from grade school, a lot of free time, the internet, a cat, and about $20 in quarters. Unless the cat starts leaving solid gold nuggets in her litterbox instead of the standard squishy brown variety, I can sadly rule out picking up something like Rosetta Stone, and taking a university or college class is similarly out of the question. (Especially since I'm in the US as an international student, paying through the nose for tuition).

So, what's available on the internet as far as free French instruction, aside from pulling a 13th Warrior and staring intently into the flames of a fire on my desk while streaming Première Chaîne through my headphones for 72 hours straight? Anyone have any first-hand experience with learning languages online? What communities are out there for this sort of thing? I'm specifically interested in learning Quebecois French, but if that's just not an option, the European version would still be better than nothing.

Thanks in advance. Or, uh, merci, I guess.

Kate of Lokys on
I'm here to tell you about voting. Imagine you're locked in a huge underground nightclub filled with sinners, whores, freaks and unnameable things that rape pit bulls for fun. And you ain't allowed out until you all vote on what you're going to do tonight [. . .] So you vote for television, and everyone else, as far as your eye can see, votes to fuck you with switchblades. That's voting. You're welcome.

Posts

  • adytumadytum Registered User regular
    edited February 2011
    livemocha.com
    rfi.fr
    Coffee Break French

    You live in Canada, I bet you can find conversation groups. Speaking the language is more useful than any internet service.

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  • Kate of LokysKate of Lokys Registered User
    edited February 2011
    I'm in the US as an international student
    adytum wrote: »
    You live in Canada, I bet you can find conversation groups. Speaking the language is more useful than any internet service.
    Unfortunately, the American Midwest isn't exactly a hotbed of francophone culture. Like, there's a town nearby named Creve Coeur, which was actually named by French explorers and fur traders 'way back in the day. The locals don't pronounce it as Creve Coeur, though, and they laughed at me when I did. In the Midwest, it's CREEVE CORE, goddamnit, because folks 'round here speak AMERICAN.

    Levity aside, there is one solitary French language group listed on Meetup.com within 100 miles of here. Judging by their history, it looks like about 4-8 of them get together every week to talk about the Renaissance. Wooo. I'll probably make the drive to check it out a little while down the line, because yeah, doing something is the best way to learn it, but right now I don't even remember how to introduce myself in French, so a crash course on the internet would be very helpful.

    I'm here to tell you about voting. Imagine you're locked in a huge underground nightclub filled with sinners, whores, freaks and unnameable things that rape pit bulls for fun. And you ain't allowed out until you all vote on what you're going to do tonight [. . .] So you vote for television, and everyone else, as far as your eye can see, votes to fuck you with switchblades. That's voting. You're welcome.
  • EshEsh Sunshine! Kittens! Rainbows! Smiles! Portland, ORRegistered User regular
    edited February 2011
    Is there a local college you can take classes at? Without other people to speak with you're never going to attain any real level of proficiency.

    Livemocha is probably going to be your best bet. That or picking up Rosetta Stone. I wouldn't recommend either for becoming fluent by any means, but if it's all you've got...

    Funnily enough, I just met a girl from Quebec who is helping me with my French (I minor in it at college). Unfortunately I'm in Portland and that doesn't help you.

    "At first he thought it might be a natural occurrence - maybe a rabbit. But upon closer inspection, it was clear a knife had been used. And rabbits don't carry knives."
  • ImprovoloneImprovolone Registered User regular
    edited February 2011
    You can't afford to take classes at a local college, but I'll bet there is a French study group you can crash.

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  • adytumadytum Registered User regular
    edited February 2011
    Wait, so where are you exactly?

    Don't rely on meetup.com for this. Look for French-themed cafes, etc. There are multiple French-language conversation groups around me, none are listed on meetup.com.

    Is there a local Alliance Francaise near you? Check with them.

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  • UsagiUsagi Feminazgul Registered User regular
    edited February 2011
    I'm sure there are free Learn French podcasts

    Also, try your local library. Often times they'll have books and software that you can check out, I've even seen Rosetta Stone in at least one

    Jormungandr? Damn near killed 'er!
  • adytumadytum Registered User regular
    edited February 2011
    Going off Creve Coeur..

    Alliance Française de St. Louis
    8505 Delmar Blvd., Suite G
    St. Louis, MO 63124

    My local AF has all kinds of events, lectures, classes, etc. in addition to a well-stocked French library. I'd suggest you stop by and see what pointers they can give you.

    Do you have Netflix? There is all kinds of French cinema available for streaming.

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  • Gilbert0Gilbert0 VictoriaRegistered User regular
    edited February 2011
    Immersion is the best. Listen to podcasts, talk with groups, watch movies.

    My fiance tried Rosetta stone for a while and she thought it was a good refresher and if she kept with it, thought she would learn a lot.

    Also, see if you can go to your library and get any materials from there.

  • brain operatorbrain operator Registered User
    edited February 2011
    Gilbert0 wrote: »
    Also, see if you can go to your library and get any materials from there.
    +1

    Find yourself a good basic vocabulary book and one for grammar (I like the Bescherelles) and add some kind of audio/video course. Start cracking. You can get quite a lot done that way if you apply yourself. Get the basics down. Don't get fancy, basics first. If you keep making the same basic mistakes without realizing it, you'll have it that much harder to get rid of them after a while.

    I'd suggest reading a French newspaper as well, but beware written French - it's a very different language especially when it comes to verbs.

  • The_Glad_HatterThe_Glad_Hatter Rogue Jpeg Jockey Registered User regular
    edited February 2011
    I greatly improved my daily commute by listening to Learn French by Podcast.
    I was surprised by how professional it sounded.

    They do lil' dialogs and then break them down and give some additional explanation. caters to both beginners and. uhm.. not-so-beginners.

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  • MichaelLCMichaelLC In what furnace was thy brain? ChicagoRegistered User regular
    edited February 2011
    Usagi wrote: »
    Also, try your local library. Often times they'll have books and software that you can check out, I've even seen Rosetta Stone in at least one

    Their Website might even have some stuff you can do at home.

    fake edit: Or maybe not. I just went to crevecoeurpubliclibrary.com (note it's .com), and yeah...GeoCities would have been an improvement. Maybe try whatever the next big city is near you, as most libraries share resources with other patrons.

    Excision wrote: »
    My girlfriend is going down tonight!

    Steam:MichaelLC
  • shutzshutz Registered User regular
    edited February 2011
    I'm from Québec, and English is my second language. The best way I found for learning English was to watch cartoons in English, so you could easily do the same, in reverse.

    The reason cartoons are great for this is that they're usually written more simply than normal TV or movies, so they make it easier to understand, and get the context of things.

    Also, ask your friends, family, neighbors, etc. and find out who has better knowledge and understanding of French. When you get confused about a word or a phrase, ask one of those people.

    Also, since you're in Canada, you probably have some DVDs which contain french-language tracks. Listen to those (especially if you're already familiar with the English version). And again, if you're confused by anything, ask someone who understands French better to clarify for you.

    Watch the French version of the CBC (Radio-Canada.) The news are a good source of learning, if you're already aware of current events: you'll already be aware of the context, and can concentrate on the language.

    Once you start getting a feel for spoken French, I recommend getting some books to read (comic books, even).

    I more or less became fully-bilingual when I read through The Lord of the Rings (not the best book to read to learn English, but it's what interested me at the time.) Before, my spoken english was maybe at 70%, and my written English at 50 or 60%. After reading through that, I was practically at 100% for both -- it's like it all fell into place.

    But the main thing is forcing yourself to get exposed to French, and then forcing yourself to figure things out.

    Creativity begets criticism.
    Check out my new blog: http://50wordstories.ca
    Also check out my old game design blog: http://stealmygamedesigns.blogspot.com
  • Kate of LokysKate of Lokys Registered User
    edited February 2011
    There has been some good advice in this thread, thank you! Livemocha looks pretty cool, and I will definitely check out those podcasts - I try to spend a fair bit of time at the gym, so having something to do on the treadmill *other* than watching the Food Network will be nice.

    Cartoons are a neat idea. Are there any you could recommend, shutz? I do have a couple of DVDs kicking around with dual audio/subtitle tracks, but only a couple, so I might have to just look for some foreign films.

    I actually hadn't realized how much exposure I had to the language in Canada - I *miss* seeing it on cereal boxes down here.

    I'm here to tell you about voting. Imagine you're locked in a huge underground nightclub filled with sinners, whores, freaks and unnameable things that rape pit bulls for fun. And you ain't allowed out until you all vote on what you're going to do tonight [. . .] So you vote for television, and everyone else, as far as your eye can see, votes to fuck you with switchblades. That's voting. You're welcome.
  • EshEsh Sunshine! Kittens! Rainbows! Smiles! Portland, ORRegistered User regular
    edited February 2011
    There has been some good advice in this thread, thank you! Livemocha looks pretty cool, and I will definitely check out those podcasts - I try to spend a fair bit of time at the gym, so having something to do on the treadmill *other* than watching the Food Network will be nice.

    Cartoons are a neat idea. Are there any you could recommend, shutz? I do have a couple of DVDs kicking around with dual audio/subtitle tracks, but only a couple, so I might have to just look for some foreign films.

    I actually hadn't realized how much exposure I had to the language in Canada - I *miss* seeing it on cereal boxes down here.

    One of the big things to realize about French movies subtitled in English or English movie subtitled in French is that they are generally not very accurate. French to French is the only way to go.

    If you have Comcast, I'd recommend subscribing to TV5. It's an extra few bucks a month, but it's nice to learn to and there's quite a bit of it subtitled.

    "At first he thought it might be a natural occurrence - maybe a rabbit. But upon closer inspection, it was clear a knife had been used. And rabbits don't carry knives."
  • adytumadytum Registered User regular
    edited February 2011
    I just realized I jacked up my link in my first post, it should have been rfi.fr, not what I had originally put.

    Specifically, you want to start by following the link on the left that says "Journal en francais facile."

    I would also highly encourage you to check out the Alliance Francaise like I suggested!

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  • shutzshutz Registered User regular
    edited February 2011
    I missed the bit where you were now in the US.

    As for cartoons, I can't make specific recommendations, simply because I learned English, using this process, instead of French.

    My best recommendation would be to look for cartoons you already like. For instance, if you're a TMNT fan, try to find DVDs of the animated shows which include French-language audio.

    I wouldn't recommend listening to an English-language DVD with the French subtitles on -- you'll just end up listening to the English, and the subs will just end up as visual noise, and you won't learn much.

    Creativity begets criticism.
    Check out my new blog: http://50wordstories.ca
    Also check out my old game design blog: http://stealmygamedesigns.blogspot.com
  • RikushixRikushix Registered User regular
    edited February 2011
    Question for the OP: Did they make you watch Telefrancais in middle school in Ontario?

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  • AsiinaAsiina Registered User regular
    edited February 2011
    We never had to in Ottawa. We watched various bad French movies like The Dog who Stopped the War which is the saddest movie ever.

    I can't offer much in the way of French advice, but I can offer some advice as to government work and what is needed. I worked for StatsCan for 3 years. It is much, much, much easier to get a better job once you are already inside. Once you have your employee number (PRI) you can basically apply to any public service job and any agency/department you work for will have far more internal competitions than external competitions.

    Most entry level jobs are terrible but also monolingual. They will be things like data entry. However, you can take French classes through the department to get you up to BBB/BBB. So while being billingual will help you get your foot in the door, if you get any job whatsoever in the government you will be able to learn French very quickly and get a better job. In two years I went from a CR-03 to an EC-03, if you know government job categories. I went from literally sorting papers in the basement during the night shift, to being a senior analyst on a major survey. Upward mobility is quite easy if you're looking to climb the ladder.

  • EshEsh Sunshine! Kittens! Rainbows! Smiles! Portland, ORRegistered User regular
    edited February 2011
    Asiina wrote: »
    We never had to in Ottawa. We watched various bad French movies like The Dog who Stopped the War which is the saddest movie ever.

    I saw that here in the states when it came out. Completely forgot about it.

    "At first he thought it might be a natural occurrence - maybe a rabbit. But upon closer inspection, it was clear a knife had been used. And rabbits don't carry knives."
  • LewieP's MummyLewieP's Mummy Registered User regular
    edited February 2011
    I don't even remember how to introduce myself in French, so a crash course on the internet would be very helpful.

    Bonjour, Je m'appelle Kate de Lokys, comment-vous appellez-vous?

    I have "O" level French, that I stopped studying when I was 16, many, many years ago. I will try speaking French with any French person I meet, cos I love the language. My accent is rubbish now, but the people I speak to don't seem to care, they're just pleased I'm trying. I even found a Quebecoise at PAX 08 to talk to!

    Practice at any opportunity, talk out loud to yourself, read stuff, listen to French - it comes back quite quickly - each time we go to France, I'm hopeless for the first few days, but my vocab comes back as I get used to hearing French, and although I can't do business French, I can hold my own in conversation.

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  • ZombiemamboZombiemambo Registered User regular
    edited February 2011
    I took a whooooole semester of French, I'm practically an expert! :P No but seriously, if you have some questions I will do my best to answer them. I still have my French textbook, too.

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