French Week 8 - Intensity and the Turkish Astronomer

New blog post here:

Week 8 target: 6955 known words.
Week 8 result: 7579 known words.

So three bits of good news: I met my target this week, I finished Steve Kaufmann’s book on language learning, and - most importantly - my LingQ avatar is now fully clothed!

This week I’ve been thinking about intensity. We all know that intensity in language learning is good: but there is intensity and intensity. One day, before I discovered LingQ, I spent an entire day on Duolingo. It was intense, but I don’t think it was the best use of my language learning time. I have just read my first book in French, rather intensely over two weeks. On the one hand this is great: getting immersed in a book, exposing yourself to the writing style of one person so you get repeated exposure to the same words and expressions. And of course, the amazing feeling of having finished your first book in a new language.

However there were a couple of downsides. My reading far outpaced my listening, and when it came to listening to the book I couldn’t really find the enthusiasm to listen to hours of the same voice on the same topic. Reading was one thing, but listen was quite another. So I listened, but I wasn’t really listening intensively.

So for the next part of my adventure I want to try something a little different: I will limit myself to one lesson a day from each of a variety of different courses. That way I will have a variety of voices, topics and styles to listen to and hopefully I will get more out of listening - and start to really mine those audios for words, expressions and pronunciation. And if I want to read more?.. I’ll go hunting for more content, or maybe content without audio so as not to pile up too much audio.

So here are my courses at the moment:

The French LingQ Podcast. There are 94 podcasts, averaging 10 minutes in length, on a wide variety of topics. Steve’s in there, and his non-native French is obviously that bit easier to understand. But there are plenty of other native speakers - and it is a conversation, so that is great practice for following French conversation.

Le Petit Prince. I said last week I wasn’t going to read this, but I changed my mind after listening to the audio on LingQ, which is quite good. And the clear narration in very short bite sized episodes counterbalances the rambling conversational French from the podcast.

Together these two courses should meet my daily word targets. If not, I am also reading/listening to:

One Thing In A French Day. Very short diary like podcast. I may tire of the repetition in these podcasts, but we’ll see…

Kilimanjaro. Serge has provided a huge amount of interesting content to LingQ, of which this is one.

So there we go, that’s what my French adventure looks like at the end of week 8.

Oh and one more thing… I’m in Turkey at the moment so I was interested to read this passage in Le Petit Prince where the Turkish astronomer is not taken seriously because of his traditional dress:

“Heureusement pour la réputation de l’astéroïde B 612 un dictateur turc imposa à son peuple, sous peine de mort, de s’habiller à l’européenne.”

And I thought, did Antoine de Saint-Exupéry just refer to Atatürk as “un dictateur”? Yesterday, on leaving the supermarket, I noticed a Turkish version of The Little Prince, and that got me thinking, how is The Little Prince translated into Turkish, given that there are laws here against insulting the founder of modern Turkey. Sure enough, this has been an issue. My interest piqued, I searched a bit further and found an interesting article in French on the issue, which relates the Turkish craze for The Little Prince, and the many translations in recent years. By far the most controversial, rendered the above quote as:

“un horrible tyran était le dirigeant des Turcs. Il a fait passer une loi pour les forcer à s’habiller comme des Occidentaux (Européens et Américains). Il a tué tous ceux qui lui opposaient résistance. Il a torturé tous ceux qui refusaient de porter des chapeaux de feutre. Les étudiants qui ne portaient pas de cravate étaient chassés, les fonctionnaires sans cravate étaient licenciés. Les voiles des femmes, jeunes comme âgées, étaient arrachés brutalement par la police et les gendarmes.”

Wow! Not what you’d expect to find in The Little Prince! This is one of the things I love about this method of language learning. When it is going good, you’re engaging with the world and ideas through another language - and you forget that you’re actually learning, because you’re more interested in the ideas, the content, and communication.

Week 9 target: 8279 known words.


It is very interesting to follow your French language learning journey. I am looking forward to the next update.

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Absolutely Fantastic.

Could you tell me how to do the same with french ? I want to start from scratch and record my progress.

Not sure what to recommend Lucas, I’ve just been working through material at LingQ. You can look back through my first 8 weeks on my blog to see what I’ve been doing ( but it’s nothing surprising. Read and listen to things you find interesting, make lots of LingQs and notice patterns.

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