Learning French at home

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Manx Cat
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Learning French at home

Postby Manx Cat » 6 Sep 2012, 7:20am

I want to learn some French.

Currently I have none, other than a couple of words. I cant find a course locally this winter, German and Spanish are the fashionable languages this year it seems.

Can anyone recommend an 'At Home' package for this? Preferably one with books and CD's and not too pricy.


With thanks


M

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7_lives_left
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Re: Learning French at home

Postby 7_lives_left » 6 Sep 2012, 7:39am

If you can afford the time, why not try attending a night school. They will be starting a new year around about now. If you buy a text book immediately, sod's law says the night school will be using a different one. I am useless at French and still am after attending night classes for a year and a half but I found the classes much less intimidating than I did at school.

Gearoidmuar
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Re: Learning French at home

Postby Gearoidmuar » 6 Sep 2012, 7:54am

Well, I can speak French reasonably well. I learnt it for three years in school and was very interested in it so studied a lot by myself, a long time ago.
What I'm going to say now, though, will surprise you.

Forget about the French. Do Spanish. It's more useful nowadays. I've learnt quite a bit by myself and can get by with the simple stuff. It's actually harder than French because of the complexity of the verbs.

byegad
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Re: Learning French at home

Postby byegad » 6 Sep 2012, 8:18am

I failed 'O' level 3 times at progressively worse grades. I took a three week holiday in France looking at the Normandy Campaign of WWII from the beaches to the final breakout. I was on my own, so I came back able to speak French. Not perfectly but well enough.

For home learning there are a number of programs available to immerse you in the language. If you are looking for conversation this is ideal. My French spelling is lousy, but I can camp, motor, eat, go the the doctors, take my son to hospital with a badly cut finger and chat to French people on the bus. I take a battered pocket dictionary with me and have a larger one for seldom used words. Does anyone know of the top of their head the French for Tonsils? Neither did I but after looking it up I managed to speak to the GP I consulted over my throat infection!

You can do this all you need is the right program and a couple of dictionaries.
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eileithyia
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Re: Learning French at home

Postby eileithyia » 6 Sep 2012, 8:54am

Have a look on ebay for cd's but be careful, we have a couple. 1 is great esp to play when moving around ie in the car or when downloaded to an mp3 player... as there are english explanations. The other is pure spanish and you need the accompanying booklet to read it simultaneously in order to understand it..... so you can't absorb it on the go.

we too want to learn a language and being shift workers all classes are a nightmare!

rosetta stone seems to be the advertised cd system but is not cheap... hence look out for it on ebay.
do you still work at the college... why not ask the french tutors for some chats at break time... to talk some basic french to you?
I stand and rejoice everytime I see a woman ride by on a wheel the picture of free, untrammeled womanhood. HG Wells

Mark1978
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Re: Learning French at home

Postby Mark1978 » 6 Sep 2012, 9:02am

If you are starting from scratch then I can't recommend Michel Thomas foundation course highly enough. It doesn't give you a lot of vocab but it does give you some basic structure which will help immensely with your later learning.

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horizon
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Re: Learning French at home

Postby horizon » 6 Sep 2012, 9:04am

7_lives_left wrote:If you can afford the time, why not try attending a night school. I am useless at French and still am after attending night classes for a year and a half.


And you still recommend night classes? :wink:
The experience of travel is something that you have to pay for but can never buy. Ho Ri Zon Chinese philosopher

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patricktaylor
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Re: Learning French at home

Postby patricktaylor » 6 Sep 2012, 9:07am

Linguaphone (self-study language learning) might be worth a try - see Linguaphone French

Linguaphone has been around for a long time. My dad learned a reasonable standard of Greek and Russian with it (in the 60s and 70s).

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meic
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Re: Learning French at home

Postby meic » 6 Sep 2012, 9:11am

The problem is that if you attend a 2 hour course once a week, it will never get adequately reinforced.

One way or the other you need more frequent sessions within the week to keep it in your head.
It doesnt have to be more lessons but in practice many people forget about the language until the next lesson comes along.
Yma o Hyd

groberts
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Re: Learning French at home

Postby groberts » 6 Sep 2012, 9:29am

+1 for evening classes. Whilst books and CD's are useful, classes provide the opportunity to use the langauge and iron out problems. Your local library should be able to provide details of your nearest class. The BBC French online pages are also very useful. After that it is, of course, essential to use your new found skill!

http://www.bbc.co.uk/languages/french/

Bon chance!

eileithyia
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Re: Learning French at home

Postby eileithyia » 6 Sep 2012, 9:39am

I thought Manx Cat had said there were no suitably available classes, so I presume she has already explored that option?
I stand and rejoice everytime I see a woman ride by on a wheel the picture of free, untrammeled womanhood. HG Wells

AndyB
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Re: Learning French at home

Postby AndyB » 6 Sep 2012, 9:48am

I liked the Coffee Break French podcasts, which were (and probably still are) available free on iTunes. They take you from very basic (although I had a little French still in my memory from school, some 25 years ago), up to different tenses in 100 15 minute episodes, and I thought the teaching style was very good. I didn't pay for the enhancements, but I suspect they're worth it.

Mark1978
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Re: Learning French at home

Postby Mark1978 » 6 Sep 2012, 9:53am

I did French classes at work (I worked at a University!) for a year and a half but gave up after I'd missed two classes in a row due to work commitments. Problem was the entire time I'd been learning I didn't visit France and still have no plans to do so, so there was little point anyway :(

thirdcrank
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Re: Learning French at home

Postby thirdcrank » 6 Sep 2012, 10:01am

+1 for the system employed by Rosetta Stone - I think it's as near as you will get to the methods of a language lab at home. I've not used it myself, but my younger son had me buying (it is pricey) the Flemish version for his Thai wife when they lived in The Netherlands. He says it worked, and he improved his Flemish too.

My own doubts would be these:

First, the language lab system isn't for everybody, although I believe it's accepted as the best way to become fluent in a language PDQ. (I think it was originally devised for training spies and the like.) I learned Russian that way nearly 50 years ago. (Not for spying. :D ) I found the process very unpleasant - it's almost a form of brain washing.

Then, in just the same way as people sign up for expensive gym membership or buy an expensive bike then think about getting fit, I think it's easy to shell out for something like this and assume that all the £££ avoids the hours of hard work. In real life, there isn't a magic pill for this. Doing it at home means you can work at your own speed but the motivation is still needed. I'd be interested to know how many people complete these courses. I suspect it's not many.

Incidentally, by language lab ststem, I mean that the system plays the sounds and the student copies them and can then listen to a recording of their own efforts for comparison. In the traditional language lab, a native speaker listens to the students and can break in to offer advice. With the computerised Rosetta Stone-type system, the student's efforts are assessed by the computer and accepted or rejected. There's no human help or support.

DevonDamo
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Re: Learning French at home

Postby DevonDamo » 6 Sep 2012, 10:03am

The Michel Thomas CD courses are excellent. He's an annoying man to listen to, but you will quickly end up with a simple technique for cobbling sentences together that will be understood. As the entire thing is done via listening and repeating, you will get a decent grasp of pronunciation, which can otherwise be a real problem.

I've done French, German and Spanish, in preparation for trips abroad, and it's amazing how well they've prepared me for everyday interaction. His courses give you only a basic, but functional, grammar and very limited vocabulary, but enough for you to get by. If you wanted to improve your grammar and vocabulary, you'd then be set up for doing a residential language course or just going over there and immersing yourself.