|Question:||Neverending French vocabulary|
For me the hardest part of French, no doubt about it, has been the listening-comprehension part, mainly when it comes to hear native french people speaking. Sometimes they speak, pronounce, and use grammatical structures in a really really different way from what is taught in the books and courses (or in standard written/spoken French) which can result really confusing or frustrating; and sometimes the speed they talk in can result incredibly fast. I know that happens in every language but I find the above situations specially marked in the French language.
When I listen to the news and TV documentaries I have no much problem, I think because hosts and narrators try to speak with a not so fast speach and trying to stick the more possible to the "standard" language (I mean the one is taught in the books), the same when speaking with a person who have learned French as a foreign language, not much problem there, I suppose because he/she sticks to what he/she has learned in books, standard pronuntiation, grammar etc. so we both, so to say "are speaking the same language".
At the end of the day I think it all comes to pratice, practice and more practice.
I'm not trying to generalize, this is just my personal experience.
i.e. French from books: "Je ne suis pas français" changing "Je ne suis" for "Shhh" results in real life French "Shhh pas français"
And here is a link to a lesson from the library that exemplifies this point. When I listened to this lesson it was really difficult to understand but isolated words and phrases especially from the second part of the conversation; when I read it, I realized that I already knew all the words and expressions! (except for "périf" which is an abbreviation of "périphérique"):
You wrote " I'm still basically unable to understand all but the most basic of dialogues". Examples?
But have a good night first...
After less than two years of German I already have a feeling that it has quite a moderate width of vocabulary and words that are new to me are really something that I wouldn't expect myself to know. However, with English, having some exposure to it from a really young age, I am meeting new synonyms for the simplest lexicon all the time.
But that was surely because I was only working hard at reading. The three other skills seemed to me then unattainable, seeing as I had no interlocutor nor any recordings beyond the most basic ba-bu-be pronunciation sort of thing (which were extremely useful, nevertheless).
What will happen when I at last attempt to listen and to master active French, who knows? My suspicion is that it will be just as tough as you describe, especially considering how much harder for me is understanding spoken Russian, my current project, than is reading it (which I also worked on first, w/o interlocutor or recordings).
Good luck! Keep plugging. When I finally get around to listening to a lot of French, I'll let you know how it works out.
Does it mean that we must learn X amount of words (we can find in dictionaries) to understand X% of the language in French?
I think that there are much more conjugated verbs and declined adjectives, l'+Xs, d'+Xs, etc in French than in English.
And there are the other issues about multi-sense words, idioms, liasons, collocations, changed sounds when speaking fast, etc. compared with a mother tongue.
> With issues like multiple meanings and idioms in mind, I'm still struggling greatly with French vocabulary.
Can you find a group or series of lessons by one person, at a level where _reading_ you know 80-90% of the words, and listen to them / study them over and over, so that you become comfortable with _hearing_ and understanding the French? It sounds like you may want to limit new vocabulary for awhile and work on recognizing by ear the French you can read, rather than keep adding more and more unknown words to those that you can't recognize already.
Also, the speaker makes a difference. If you find someone who is pretty easy to understand, listen to everything you can find that's recorded by him or her, for a while.
Concentrating on what is fairly understandable so that it becomes _very_understandable really helps with all your listening, even with that which at this point seems impossible.
I had the same trouble in German. I found anything past the early lessons very difficult for quite a while. I think that it depends on your previous history, as you wrote to Al3 from Mexico. Straight off, I have little trouble listening to intermediate French (picking a couple of lessons at random and quickly glancing through using LingQ for a few words) because I learned French at school and have reached a C1 to C2 level in Spanish quite recently.
With German, I now understand a lot more than I did a year ago (I have been learning German since January 2011), and am enjoying many of the lessons at all levels. I can read a whole novel (if it is not too 'literary' in style) with the use of a dictionary only for about one word every twenty pages. However I still come across many podcasts without written text, that I cannot understand very well. It depends on the topic. With speech, you do not have much time to process what you are hearing.
Continued exposure is the key, I am sure. As you have encouraged me, I encourage you. If you read and listen at the same time, you may be able to use this lesson, http://www.lingq.com/learn/fr/store/24869/27506 may be one you could tackle, mixed in with your beginner lessons, because the speech is very clear. I know you do mix up the levels, as I do also. I believe that this is a very sound strategy.
From your stats, it seems to me that you have been learning for about 6 months and that you have done lots of work on French in that time. Well done! I am sure you will report back with very good news in a few more months.
Then try a novel simplified for learners and drag yourself through it w/ a dictionary. There are available, used, novels of this sort from about a century ago, and there look to be new series of these out now from France. After one or two you would be ready to read unaltered French (slowly!) with the aid of a dictionary.
This is definitely NOT the Lingq way, and for these texts there would be no recordings, so I won't go into detail. If you're interested in trying this, "wall" me, and I'll list what I used. It worked well for me, and after several months of study on my own I could read Jules Verne and Dumas w/ a dictionary. Gaining the ability to read freely w/o a dictionary of course took longer.
Good luck! Just keep slogging. You'll get through this bit, and French, w/o mentioning its other virtues, has a marvelous literature that is extremely enjoyable to read. Very good science fiction, for instance.
Imyirtseshem is already using the Assimil French With Ease book which teaches everything from level A1 to B2, and which is similar to an "old fashioned grammar-translation kind of book".
I worked myself through the more than 100 lessons of Assimil French, and I learned a lot from it. When near the end of the Assimil book, I read "Le Voyage d'Hector ou la recherche du bonheur" by F. Lelord (ISBN 2738113974), "Monsieur Ibrahim et les fleurs du Coran" by E. E. Schmitt (ISBN 2226126260), and "Le Petit Nicolas" by Sempé/Goscinny (ISBN 2070612767), all three very easy to read and enjoyable, and "L'Étranger" by A. Camus (ISBN 2070360024), which was more difficult, but very rewarding.