I’ve been working on my structure for my review of French to support my next written test. Lots to review, but since a lot of it will be all over the place, with multiple tools, I need a structure to figure out what exactly I’m “reviewing”. It will also be the basis for future oral review too, so I’m trying keep some of those things in mind too.
Here are the categories I’m anticipating using for my note-taking:
- Standard conjugations — Avoir and Être of course, plus about five or six other common ones;
- Verb tenses — standard ones plus “linking” phrases for the past that require certain forms…I frequently have trouble with passé compose vs. imparfait, partly as I use a passive voice in English (including this sentence!), and as a result, often I would be using imparfait for a description. But the instructors kept telling me it had to be PC instead, yet the real problem was not verb tense but my tendency towards a passive voice in any language which requires imparfait to sound right to me…a simple solution? there are certain common phrases that when you use them to introduce a description, the rest of it HAS to be imparfait, so when I started using them in conversation, i.e. as my “linking” phrases, my PC vs IMP errors dropped to almost non-existent;
- Standard rules around masculine and feminine — I have no idea why, but back when I was taking my French training, multiple instructors said, essentially, there are no rules, you just have to memorize it for each word…which is nonsense, of course, I invented my own, basically matching what most schools teach but for some reason my instructors weren’t, and it solved 98% of my “errors”;
- Common verb usage — nothing unique here, just a quick reminder of some key verbs that I use regularly;
- Vocabulary — my overall vocabulary is usually pretty good (except there are gaps like not knowing the word “plante” even existed in French), so this is more about certain phrases or words that don’t automatically occur to me;
- Specialized vocabulary — this is more about government language, and more pointedly, GoC language and the formal translations that we have to use in test situations even if the Franglais spoken in Gatineau offices is a bit more lax (like using the word “Ministry” instead of “Department” to describe your organization, even though most francophones around you will accept and use department themselves);
- Linking words (Les mots liens) — this is partly a refresher to remember to use different structures rather than the same ones repeatedly, and just a bit of added “richness”;
- Persuasion words — these are the phrases I need for Level C oral, and not just to “know” them, but to be able to use them in conversation more readily to make an argument or to try to persuade someone for something…often a key failing element for people on situational tests or role plays;
- Complex structures — heavily linked to the persuasion words and the verb tenses, these cover both hypotheses formulations (“If I had known x when I started y, I would have done z instead”) and argument links that require the subjunctive formulation; and,
- Pronunciation tips — these are more about errors that I make, or unique challenges…such as words that the false friends that look like English words, but where I need to be sure to give them their French pronunciation, as well as other words that are just unique and I need to take more care with them (the “ille” words, or long words like alphabetisation (for literacy)).
Well, those are my headings as I start. I’m sure they’ll have to grow as I find things that don’t quite fit those headings but that I want to remember anyway.