Back in the day, when I started my french training, I struggled with the five main verb tenses as many new students do. While the present tense is always considered the easiest, I confess that I always found it a bit abrupt. For example, “je mange” which translates simply as “I eat”. It isn’t the normal “voice” we would use in English, at least not most of the time. We CAN use it, in context, such as where someone might be talking about avoiding unhealthy snacks, and they might say, “If I get hungry during the day, I eat an apple instead.” However, in general, we would more likely say, “I’ll eat an apple”, or, out of that context, simply “I am eating an apple” to describe it in the present. A slightly more passive voice which describes the action rather than takes the action.
With passé composé vs. imparfait, I struggled not necessarily with the rules but with the actual usage – I tend to speak in a passive voice in English, and in my view, that requires the imparfait for the past. » Read the rest
Okay, so I know WHAT the tests look like and what I have to practice. I spent a lot of time tonight that seemed almost wasted, although mostly it was identifying certain phrases that I need to simply memorize the structure of, and to recognize them when they show up in the test.
K. Written Exam, Part 1
The first part is a “fill in the blank” option … there is a gap in a phrase where I have 4 choices of a word to place in the sentence. Other times it is a long phrase. The farther I go in the test, the harder the practice questions become. I don’t know if that happens in the actual test. While there are no “tricks”, there are certain small elements to watch for such as concordance of verbs, verb tenses, prepositions, vocabulary, or sometimes, “faux amis” (false friends where a word in English is used, as an anglicism, rather than the real french word).
I was finally able to get the one-on-one french training started last week (some long delays due to administrative inertia followed by a few weeks of figuring it out with the new approach to delivery followed by a mixup that delayed me two more weeks), and the first week went about as I expected. I’m pretty rusty, my pronunciation is off (too anglo-sounding for some of the words), and I’m not using enough “mots liens” (linking words) to give myself a good structure. I have confirmed however that my three strengths remain — large vocabulary (with good retention), good flow (“mon debit”) and willingness to speak / elaborate. Lots of people trying for their “C” levels in government have blocks to their progression — some speak in stutter-steps i.e. start and stop, start and stop, start and stop as they search for words and structure; some have limited vocabulary specific to a work area, for example, and have trouble going beyond to talk about stories from their past; or some have both of the first two and combine it with a general inability or unwillingness to elaborate to say anything other than short answers. » Read the rest
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?
For my last update, I finished with “I’m going to blog my way through my re-certification process, from low-level beginner back to moderately fluent. Wish me luck…”. Fast-forward 8 months, and not much changed. I pushed for training, and ran into massive administrative inertia as to what I was supposed to do for training. They’ve been working to update the policy, and in the meantime, my training request went nowhere.
I was initially assessed back in August or September and they recommended 52 weeks of training, 6 hours per week of self-study and 3 hours of practice. Not exactly the speed I was looking for. Plus I was supposed to be a priority. Try again, different process, okay, now they say 3 weeks full-time one on one initially, just need the paperwork. Five weeks later, I was still waiting for the paperwork, and when we pushed yet again, they said, “Oh, right, well we don’t do it that way any more, now it has to be a 12 week course.” » Read the rest