French Week 16

New blog post here:

Known Words: 14104
Hours of Listening: 124

I haven’t updated my French adventure for a few weeks, so here is a post to say “I’m still here” and pushing ahead with my 100 weeks of French. In my last update I was reading Dune and listening to the French podcasts at LingQ. There are about 90 podcasts, and I have listened to the first 30. I decided to take a break from them and re-listened to some of The Linguist again. Going back to the older material was good for my confidence: I was noticing a lot more than the first time around, and bits that were difficult in February are now much easier.

I am over half way through Dune and I am now on the home straight. It would be painfully difficult to read such an advanced book in French without reading it using LingQ. LingQ makes reading so much easier and enjoyable. Nevertheless, for my second book in French I want to try and read something easier that I can attempt away from the computer screen. That might be a young readers novel. I had a great time with The Hunger Games in Spanish, and I think something at that level would be good. Any suggestions welcome.

Finding interesting high quality listening content with transcripts remains the biggest challenge. Last week I decided to bite the bullet and take out a subscription for News in Slow French. This is pricey, but when you think about the amount of high quality audio with transcripts you get, it is definitely worth considering. Even if you just sign up for one month at $20.90 you can download over 100 hours of episodes with transcripts. I found News in Slow Spanish useful in pre-LingQ days, but importing the transcripts into LingQ really turbo-boosts them to another level.

I like NSF because they put a lot of emphasis on making the content interesting and make it as unlike “learner material” as possible. OK it is scripted and read slowly, but I find this really useful not just for comprehension but focusing in on pronunciation. It mixes dialogue with monologues, covers a very wide range of topics and vocabulary, and is not handicapped by long and repetitive introductions or incidental music. I also like the emphasis on news and current events, because I am a news geek.

So all in all, things are going well. My main goal at the moment is to get up to 20,000 known words by the end of June, and then move my focus from reading onto listening. Oh and I think I’ll start a little bit of writing. Onwards with the adventure!


Thanks for an interesting update

Hey Simon,
As low level/confidence booster books I used Le Petit Nicholas and the first books from Harry Potter. Both of them were OK. After them I read The Hunger Games but needed LingQ from time to time. Now that was interesting!! Not sure if you’ll enjoy it as much the second time though as the suspense will be missing…

Yeah, I’m not sure I’d want to re-read The Hunger Games. And I’m not a fan of Harry Potter (criminal I know!), but will check out Le Petit Nicholas. I was thinking about Philip Pullman’s His Dark Materials, as I really enjoyed them in English but it is over 10 years since I read them.

I should of said that I will be reading with a kindle and a built in French dictionary, which is a lot easier than reading a paper book. And I always come back to LingQ to “process” the book (ie not read it in LingQ but check the blue and yellow words). I guess its about finding something with 10%-15% unknown words rather than 15%-30%, or something like that.

Impressive Simon! Enjoyed the update! I’m surprised you don’t read on LingQ. It’s just so efficient. I subscribed to and then basically look through their Italian books until I can find one I’m interested in that I can also find the ebook for. Then I convert the ebook into txt file using Calibre and import it into LingQ. It’s automatically split into parts and off I go. To listen I just the Audible iphone app.

I always think to myself we have to figure out how to bundle the audio and text on LingQ for popular books so users can just start reading the books on LingQ without all the preparation required. We should talk with Audible or the publishers. The only question is how many of our users would use these books, which would have to be some kind of extra cost.

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Hey Mark. But I do read in LingQ. I’m currently reading Dune entirely through LingQ, and it is only because I am using the platform that it is possible for me to take on such a difficult book. My issue is that I don’t always want to be dependent upon LingQ. I’ll go away to India next month and I won’t have access to LingQ… so that’s why I am thinking about easier books that I can tackle without LingQ.

I also use Calibre and import to LingQ. I agree, it would be amazing if these things were automated, but I’ve got used to importing from ebooks into LingQ over the years.

PS actually you know what I think the killer feature would be for LingQ: offline mode. I can import a book and read on the go, but I can’t interact with LingQs without an internet connection. If there was a way that a LingQ app could interact with a downloaded dictionary, and then sync your LingQs when you go online…well… I think that would change everything.

I’ve always thought “LingQ is only ever as good as my internet connection”. When I’m in a hotel with a bad connection or at my parents’ home in rural Wales…LingQ slows down because it is always searching online dictionaries. If it could access a local dictionary (like kindles do), it would speed things up a great deal.


Yeah, that would be great. You never know…! We have talked about this.

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Well I’ve just found Les royaumes du Nord (Northern Lights) on audible. I think that might have decided it for me. Just got to finish Dune now…

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I subscribed to News in Slow French for a year and it was great resource, but after awhile I found the format a bit repetitive and the “enthusiasm” of the male host a bit campy and tiresome. I let my subscription expire once I discovered RFI’s “Journal en français facile.” You may want to check it out at some point:

This is a daily 10-minute news podcast and the transcript is available, though not always 100% accurate. One also needs to convert the MP3 from 48000 Hz to 44100 Hz before uploading it to LingQ.

Congratulations on your progress in French. Cheers!

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That is great, thanks I’ll check it out!

Yes, no resource is perfect and each resource has a specific role at a specific point in your learning. I hope that within 6 months my listening comprehension means that I find NSF too slow and repetitive, as by then I hope I’ll be listening to more real world podcasts. These sort of resources are great for bridging the gap between beginner content and real world content.

Love reading your updates! To think I was excited because I ordered a Japanese Star Wars sticker book and some Grade 1 science books from Amazon Japan today! Oh yeh, and a few Naruto manga:)~.

Amazing how you acquired over 14,000 words in 16 weeks!

Exciting! There’s nothing quite like the thrill of new content, a new resource - everything is fresh and exciting, and that seems to be when you do the best learning. Plus, I hear from other Japanese learners that manga is a great way to go. I have infinite respect for anyone taking on a non-latin based language, I really do!

Yeh I have to share with my 13 year old daughter who has the Japanese language bug now:)~ I could get 1,000 French words in 2 weeks before on LingQ (or was it 1 week, can’t remember), but Japanese feels more natural to me than any European language, go figure.

What held me up in the last 3 years on LingQ particularly were the damn characters, but now I seem to be absorbing them in the past few weeks just by lots of reading and listening, reading and listening… and Gold Listing ‘Remembering the Kanji’ casually on the side - but not really putting any deliberate effort into the characters. Looking forward to the manga.

I’m thinking of starting 80/20 Jap/Fr next month, because I find it hard to stick to one thing. I might also add occasional intense study days for Japanese to change things up.

I’ll be barracking you on for your 20,000 words!

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