Goals and Commitment to fluency through practice (6-month plan)

My plan starting from January 1, 2020 (Originally wrote this on Jan 16th)

As of the end of March I will be 3 months into the 6 month plan & at day #48 of LingQ with 3 months remaining on this schedule. Doing about 300 LingQs and 800 words per day at this point.

  1. Fluent reading in French within 3 months (by April 1st)

  2. Fluent listening to live news, most (French) TV series and movies, native French language YouTube (e.g., TedTalks) within 4.5 months. (May 15th.)

  3. Fluent speaking on general topics by 6 months with native speakers. (July 1st.)

  4. I don’t have a commitment to writing. If speaking is reasonable I’ll just use Word/Open-Office spell and grammary checking along with Google translate to clean up my mess.

Feel free to tell me where you think I am not doing this optimally and to kick my butt if I don’t post regularly with additional progress.


Fluent reading is reading as well as the 75th percentile of (American) high school students, preferable above 50th percentile of 1st year freshmen at a major university. Somewhat subjective but I understand it pretty well, and I was already close at 1.5 months.

Fluent speaking: Able to carry on a French conversation of indefinite length (30 minutes plus) comfortably and without “translating” most ideas while having almost no desire to revert to English – certainly no necessity to revert.

Also, being able to give a 5-10 minute (prepared) talk in front of a group of native French speakers while holding their attention and having them enjoy the experience.
(I am a public speaker, coach and trainer so I think this is realistice but a very optimistic goal.)

What I am doing:

  1. Anki Deck (currently closing out 5000 most frequent words at 99% of “marture cards” after about 1 month.
    Also, Forever Fluent (Gabe’s) pronunciation etc. decks/app. (Update: 84% at about 2 months into it.)
    I will NOT stick with these decks as they just provide ammunition or raw material for everything else.
    Update: 2020-02-21 Time to find new flashcard decks, phrases and conjugations probable.
    About 150-700 reviews a day. (2020-02-21 down to 200 reviews per day.) Now down to 50 reviews per day. Just idling, need a new SRS goal.

  2. Rosetta Stone – do all 5 levels by July 1st or Sep 1st at latest. Doing about 40 minutes (3-5) drills per day which puts a Unit about 10 days and a Level at 40-45 days. I am current on Level 2, Unit 1 (half way) after a month.
    Not everyone has as high an opinion of RS as I do, but it works for me and I most use it for to do things:
    a. Improve Pronunciation (I have the difficulty cranked to max and wish it would go higher – I hold myself to “no weak” words in the visual feedback.
    b. “Think in French” by refusing to translate when I answer or select a response.
    Getting all 5 levels done by July 1st is not a certainty. CORRECTED: This thing takes time to do right and my prediction is 155 days from my current level, if I am very aggressive. Technically doable but it is right at 135 days remaining so I’m behind already. (Doing it by Sep or Oct is very reasonable with the extra 30-60 days.)

  3. Listending to audiobooks – quite a bit. Germinal is good, and now I am listening to “Sapiens – Une Breve Histoire d’Humanitie” repeatedly and reading it on LingQ.
    Update 2020-02-21: Sapiens is about 95% understandable now and I enjoy listening finally though I am only on Chapter 12 ‘officially’ I have heard most of this several times and I am trying to get through ALL of the vocabulary for the book.
    Sapiens had 9300 unique ‘words’ containing more than 3 letters and not-capitalized when I extracted and loaded them to LingQ. A high percentage which were theoretically unknown (75% perhaps) so that is what ran my word count up when I passed the "J"s alphabetically. knowing almost all of them. At this point most of French is just cognates for an English speaker.

  4. Listening to various French podcasts, TedTalks, live news, and TV/films daily instead of English. (My wife and I love TV and she is studying French too.)
    My favorite so far: “Au Service de la France” (NetFlix) funny even if you don’t speak French. We’ve gone through twice with subtitles and will probably watch soon without.
    Also excellent:
    “The Chalet” (NetFlix) but be warned it is intended to be confusing even for a native speaker.
    “Une Village Francais” – We’ve actually finished all 7 seasons, 72 episodes.
    (more and I’ll update soon.)

Harlin Coban’s “The Stranger” (NOT Camu.) has good dubbing.
5. LingQ – supporting all of the above and goal set to 50 LingQs per day, but realistically I try to double this at least. I have only been here 7 days as of today and it will probably sound like bragging to say that today (day #7) I passed 10,000 words, 2000 LingQs (200 learned but only because I haven’t gone back to marked many of them) and 90k coins.
Update 2020-02-18: streak day #9 here 2500+ LingQs, 12000+ words.
Update 2020-02-19 streak day #10 here 2700+ LingQs, 15300+ words.
Down to about 200 Anki reviews per day since I am closing on “all mature” at 83%.
Trying to catch up Rosetta Stone even though I have added significant LingQ work.
(Seriously I am reading a ton of stuff and my biggest problem is wanting to read everything in LingQ)
Update 2020-02-21 streak day #12 finished with 20,400 words & 3700 LingQs.
I went a little crazy adding another 300 LingQ for the day.
I bought a year and I believe the ‘90 day warranty’ offer is entirely safe for LingQ.

2020-03-28 – 40,000 words and 13,800 LingQs. I’ve read 500,000 words according to LinqQ not including outside reading.

  1. 2-3 Audio chat sessions with native French speakers per week, including a tutor lesson ever week or so.

  2. Daily “text chats” with native French speakers – how I find audio partners and helps me figure out “what I know” and can say. I’m moving most of the casual chat to the Discord French channel.

  3. Use French Wikipedia & Wictionaire Francais (and other web sites) for my general purpose information & definitions,; these would normally be researched in English – also learning a new programming language using a French language text.

  4. Update: 2020-02-21 Probably going to add BrainScape membership. It’s cheap and they have a lot of good flashcards. Considering buying the FrenchToDay 3 verb, pronunciation, and conversation packs.

  5. Glossika x2 lessons per day while doing my doctor mandated exercise on the stationary bike. On 66+ of 312 lessons at the end of March.)

What I need:

  1. Better pronunciation, especially from and for Reading. Unlearning and relearning things I have learned incorrectly. The only real method I have is careful study, listening (including to myself) and Rosetta Stone pronunciation tools cranked to max difficulty.

  2. More “structural phrases” than raw vocabulary – most of my LingQs are now phrases rather than words. Glossika is helping with this – and of course LingQ.

  3. I am just below the ability to hear normal spoken French without looking at subtitles or missing a lot. With subtitles I am pretty close.

  4. Reading, I need a bit more to be “high school fluent” but it’s jumped even in the last 2 weeks. (More below in update/followup.)

  5. More speaking – need to seriously adopt a “conversation audio set” and work through all the levels on a daily basis. – I adopted Glossika at about 2 months and I am now “65 days into it at 2 months of practice.”

  6. Grammer (Not my focus but I have a plan for this) – doing audio verb drilling now.

  7. More speaking, more often. Hard for even someone with my lack of shame and my full commitment to initiate as often as I would like. Speaking and sounding foolish is not trivial, even though making those mistakes are a prerequisite to success. Oddly speaking which I though would be the hardest seems to be the most “on track” skill.

To the extent that the above (unfortunately) sounds like whining or discouragement I apologize and assure you that I don’t really need more encouragement but simply trying to realistically convey that despite progress it’s not always easy and I am really conscious of having used up (over) half of my scheduled 6 months. July is starting to look really close.

(I’ll keep going but realistically I am not going to let this drag out for years.)

What I need is (even) better methods and a more focused and effective way to study.

The alternative is to simply grind it out like we must do when learning our first 1000 words and trying to read mostly childish or simple texts to get started.


2020-03-28 Update on LInqQ day #48

Today I hit 40,000 known words and reach nearly 14,000 links (almost all manual and mostly phrases I want to acquire.)

Words come less frequently now that my vocabulary has grown but I reading more so that accounts for some it.

Glossika is at “Lesson 66” today. Rosetta Stone is approaching Level 3 Unit 1 completion (3 Units and then 2 more levels to do.)

Reading & listending primarily to Deuil Interdit (Harry Bosch) by Michael Connelly but also some from “Sapien: Une brève histoire de l’humanité” (Yuval Noah Harari). Typically this means listening then reading, then listening again (sometimes listening many more times.)

Sapien is the single best book anyone could read, if you could only ever read one book and one has any interest in the subject at all) if the text and audio book are available in both a fluent and the target language. (If you can find a better one then let me know.

I now have “Homo Deus: Une brève histoire de l’avenir” (also by Sapien author Harari) and the audio for both as well and dipped into that just a bit out of curiosity.

In addition to “La Carte et le Territoire” (Oue:lbecq) Found a new interest for a “hard” book.
Adopting some audio/vocal “verb drills” too but haven’t worked out the exact details – this is in lieu of studying grammar.

Anki 5000 deck is at almost 99% mature, and I am still dawdling about dumping it and finding new material
to replace the SRS flashcard work. Trying to decide if $130 for BrainScape lifetime is worth the expense of time and money.

I still need a good “computerized” methof of voice analysis for accept improvement – something that would give more feedback with more flexibility than Rosetta Stone (which is good but leaves me wanting more.

The keys to learning a physical skill are immediate feedback and high intensity practice on the difficult parts (Deep Learning as per Coyle in “The Talent Code”) so having a program that just told us where we were mising a pronunciation, and better how to fix it, would be invaluable.

Feel free to tell me where you think I am not doing this optimally and to kick my butt if I don’t post regularly with additional progress.

94 days to go on my plan 6-month plan. (Though that isn’t a cutoff.)


Sounds like you’re killing it! Looking forward to hearing about the rest of your progress when the plan is complete (but not “complete” as language never is). I plan to do something similar!

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Wow, this is a full on plan! I’m glad to hear you found “Le Chalet” confusing. I thought it was going to be my show after “Zone Blanche”, but I watched the first episode and felt lost. Started “Le Mante” instead, great show. I recommend it if you’re into crime thrillers.

Best of luck and keep us updated!

Thanks for the kind words and encouragement.

If you are able, watch Le Chalet – it’s pretty good.

However, it is definitely DESIGNED to be confusing, or at best mysterious even if you are a native francophone and lover of mysteries and thrillers.

They are hiding not only the big events but most of the small details and only releasing or clarifying them iteratively as the story progresses.

Part of the problem is the names (harder for non-francophones since we don’t immediately realize a name from a word we don’t know) but even that is magnified greatly by the “time flipping” which avoids clarifying “who is who” except at a measured pace.

It’s really a puzzle or conundrum more than a mystery. Designed to unravel and be revealed in steady but tantalyzingly slow detail.

I don’t think it is cheating to read the FIRST part of the Wikipedia (try French) article to begin to know which name goes with which character.

La Mante was quite good, and it shares a little bit of the “we’re not going to tell you what is really happening but let you figure it out slowly” that is in The Chalet but not nearly to such an egregious degree.

We went through “La Foret” pretty quickly which is another show in this same vein. I enjoyed it but it is the shortest.

Also, “Frozen Dead” (I think that is the title) about a detective who investages bizarre events and murders in the Pyrennees.

I wonder if this is a “sub genre” the French recognize. Sort of like Murder She Wrote but far more sophisticated, better written, and much less trite or simply “tricky” to hide the murderer. (BTW, I never enjoyed “Murder She Wrote” but I really liked all of the above.)

And most of them are worth watching twice if you are learning French.

The very best thing we’ve see is “Au Service de la France” (aka A Very Secret Service) which is extremely funny and interesting for other reasons. It’s not quite as funny as the original MASH series but it’s not that far away.

We’ve already watch Au Service de la France 2 times simply because we enjoyed it that much.

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3 month update into 6 month plan – 51 days on LingQ

Goals and current status

  1. Fluent reading in French within 3 months (by April 1st)

3 months in and time is up but this one is hard to score so I am going to say in summary: Near success but not quite

I can probably claim that I read better than the 50% of US high school students do in English and maybe better than the 50% for college graduates but that is partially because I am a really advance reader in general.

My French still has holes it it and I really need a dictionary to “get everything” and sometimes I don’t understand the venacular even if I know every word in the sentence.

This is taking longer than I expected based on my experience in Spanish – turns out French is a much bigger and more complicated language. (Also pronunciation is much much easier which isn’t a small thing even for reading comprehension.)

I am still reading SLOWLY.

Good news: I am certain I will be reading completely fluently within 1-3 months at or beyond a college graduate level though there is more work to do.

Also I am going to start adding Speed Reading in French for about half my reading time. Depending on how well that works (I am already an English speed reader) then I will increase or descrease the percentage spent speed reading.

  1. Fluent listening to live news, most (French) TV series and movies, native French language YouTube (e.g., TedTalks) within 4.5 months. (May 15th.)

1.5 months remaining and I am still optimistic though less than a month ago I was wondering if fluent listening would ever start happening (so I changed some things too.)

As of today, I follow several all French “teaching videos” where the instructors speak clearly and a bit slowly without missing anything essentials. I still need to pay pretty close attention.

I can almost follow the news or fast native speakers who are speaking clearly such as audio books. Once I read the text for the audio book following it is pretty easy.

  1. Fluent speaking on general topics by 6 months with native speakers. (July 1st.)

I believe this one is a fairly safe bet with 3 months to go. My study plan is much more enriched especially in regards to speaking every day.

So far, I have had 4 sessions with my tutor where I basically just talked all in French for 45 minutes so from that point of view I could pretend success. It’s pretty comfortable now but far too awful for me to claim to have met the criteria.

My recent adoption of Glossika (2+ lessons per day for 50 minutes) is making a real difference and I have been very reliable about doing Rosetta Stone each day.

This week I bought and adopted several new methods to improve my verbal ability with verbs (speaking not studying grammar) and with pronunciation. My pronunciation doesn’t stink when I am going slow but it deteriorates when I am trying to speak freely and have to think about what to say.

Though I really don’t know how bad my pronunciation is.

LingQ Stats day #51 all streak, almost all at double or quaduple goal:
LingQs – 14,300 Words known = 41,000

Anki 5000 deck is at 98.6% mature.
I have been intending to just retire it but haven’t replace it so didn’t bother.

Rosetta Stone:
Level 3 Unit 1 completed today. 3 more units and 2 more levels to go (5 levels --20 units total)
Have the “pronunciation difficulty” turned all the way up so I try to get every word to “highlight” as correct in addition to just “passing” and to do it one the first try (of 2).

Glossika – Lesson 73 of 312 – I won’t finish by July 1 but maybe by August or September

Reading and Audio Books – listed elsewhere, but basically I am reading on LingQ and listening on my phone every day for significant time.

Verb and Grammer Drills – stepping these up as audio drills like Glossika but also as verb focused drills (French Today or a package I bought on all major tenses for the 12 or so most important verbs.)

Discord French server – Haven’t done much there (fear factor even for me) but I am going to start talking more on their open and private chats. This is easier than scheduling chat time or tutor sessions.

Pronunciation: I bougt a Udemy French pronunciation course all in French (Anne Le Grand I believe) and it is suprisingly good, especially for the $13 sale price. Doing that along with reviewing LRC Michigan phonetics and other YouTube phonetics.

I haven’t found anything better than Rosetta Stone for measurement and immediate feedback so I am (just) starting to use the following:

  • Audacity (free, open source) to play reference words and phrases (mostly Glossika right now) and record my own voice shadowing. Better than nothing and this tells me Rosetta Stone isn’t completely wrong when it tells me my French sounds Ok.
  • Praat – voice analysis software (also free) – since there is nothing automatic available, I have just started learning to read a Spectragram and analyze the voice for vowel placement etc.

Seems this isn’t as hard as I expected and though I am no where near competent I can probably find the vowel vs. the consonants and maybe have a rough idea of where in the mouth the vowel was formed – still not sure how practical this idea is, so maybe I’ll just use it with the audio shadowing to “match my spectragram” to a native speaker reference.

My first try at this has my voice matching pretty well – at least to my poorly trained eye.a

Bottom line: qualified success and optimist for listening in 4.5 months and speaking in 6 months with reasonable fluency – I like the word “fluidity” better.

Thanks for all the support. I hope this helps others to “do one more drill and to do…”

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I’ve been on the fence with whether or not to get Glossika. I preferred their previous format. Do you believe it played an integral part in your progress? Do you feel it’s worth it?

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Hello Herbm

I am mightily impressed with your progress and the way you have constructed such a impressive pack of targets and objectives for your French learning. I too am an old guy in his 60s with plenty of time to concentrate on French…that is about 2 - 3 hours a day. After that I tend to reach a point of diminishing returns where less starts going in. This is probably due to the fact that, unlike yourself, I do not have a large variety of learning activity, that is simply importing YouTube videos into LingQ, speaking to myself whilst walking the dog and 30 minutes writing about my experiences in French language. I cannot abide doing exercises or flash cards as it all seems so boring when I can read and listen to an interesting video.

I would be interested in knowing how long you actually take each day with your activities …and, if applicable, how you deal with someone else in the household who does not share your enthusiasm with language learning from constantly suggesting that you should be doing something else with your time!

Glossika audio program. Get it on ebay or Amazon. The web version is completely borked in my opinion and I had a polite conversation with them, through including the inventer of the program, and they don’t think there is a problem and I don’t think there web program is worth time or money.

No, Glossika wasn’t absolutely essential – only the Anki deck, reading, and listening were absolutly essential, but some form of speaking essential. No way around that: We cannot develop muscle or new brain structures without significant training and work. The tongue is a muscle and coordinating though and speaking through that muscle is as much (more really) a skill requiring actual work than any physical sport like ice skating, gymnastics, the violin, martial arts, etc.

Is Glossik highly important? Absolutely, Glossika is the best thing that I am currently doing for actually speaking. It could be Pimsleur, Michel Thomas, or something similar but my current opinion is that Glossika done intensively is the best bang for the buck and the effort. I do about 50 minutes per day to finish it in about 6 months. There are 312 “Days” in the full 3 levels which will take almost a year at 1 day per lesson.

This is the most difficult thing that I do – it is the most intensive. It requires the most commitment and perserverance. It can’t be done casually or during all “dead time” – you can do it while driving or exercising (I do stationary bike at my doctor’s order). You can’t really do it effectively in bits and pieces – it needs roughly an entire lesson (18-28 minutes) done as a unit with full concentration.

In contrast I do flashcards off and on all day – also I do much of my LingQ that way.

Right now, if forced to choose, I would keep Glossika and give up either Rosetta Stone or LingQ first – though I would only be able to give up LingQ by continuing to read on my own. I could now give up my Anki or flashcards safely but that work was needed to get quickly and efficiently to the point that everything else works.

“Massive input in context” requires a minimal level of being able to understand that context – 2000-5000 words of real vocabulary, not inflected variants, enables reading real material at various levels of adult interest.

My only question for you about Glossika being worth it is this: Do you have the discipline and commitment to do at least one 25 minute session, at least every other day, for 6 months to 2 years?

If yes, the money for the audio program is almost trivial. The effort is great.

I am at about 1 month of Glossika and on Lesson 75. I won’t quite finish by June 30th (my size month plan) since I started only in late February.

It is making a difference that is perceptible every week.
(Today’s practice doesn’t make today better – it makes for improvement one to two weeks in the future.)

Unlike reading and watching interesting video or hearing audio Glossika is NOT fun in and of itself. (Unless you can bend your brain around it and somehow reframe it as fun to try to keep up.)

It is almost purely like weight lifting or running – some people can find bliss in a long run or heavy weight session but mostly our “fun” comes from the knowledge that we are getting better and the “game mechanics” of running one more mile, or lifting a bit more weight, or doing more reps, or getting to the gym 3+ days a week etc.

This pleasure for most people is a version of “Game Mechanics” psychologically similar to the Game Mechanics of “streaks”, “LingQs”, “Known Words”, lessons completed, words read, etc.

Game Mechanics aren’t nothing even though we know they are NOT the real goal.

“Learn in Your Car” is also good but not even in the same league for intensity, effect, and depth of the program. (I use it as a supplement if driving which I don’t do much and Glossika is now taking precedence.)


I am pretty sure that I am ‘studying’ less than 3 hours per day – I work and my wife is recuperating so I am helping her frequently and doing all of the chores the last 3 weeks.

My wife is however learning French also, but not as intensively. We watch much TV together. I do most of my speaking and pure audio somewhere else or with headphones as does she.

To specify:

  • Glossika almost one hour
  • Rosetta Stone – about 30 minutes, maybe a bit more seldom less
  • LingQ – focused activity about 45 minutes (but I might doodle with it while watching TV)
  • Anki 5000 deck – about 15 minutes – this was about an hour spread out in mostly dead time until the majority of the deck became.

That’s 2 hours of true study and never all at once.

I listen to French YouTube etc for the news and other things in the morning while eating breakfast. Maybe 30 minutes tops.

Listening to audio books: about 30 minute of focused listening when I go to bed but I let it play all night while sleeping – I have finally found the near perfect headset – soft earhooks, truly minimalist with the hook really being only a very slightly stiffened section of the wire. They don’t fall out and they don’t hurt when I sleep on my side against the pillow. My phone has a great battery and easily make it though the day and night but I do have to remember to charge it since it no longer spends all night on the charger.

If you count both of those it’s about 3 hours total with the studying.

TV and movies or fun YouTube stuff. Maybe 2+ hours in the evening and we are watching about 75% french. One could argue this is 5 hours total but it doesn’t feel that way since only 2 hours are actually “work” and only an hour of that (Glossika) is intense.

The books and articles I’m reading with LingQ are things I would want to read in any case (no Petite Prince or Little Nicolas for me).

The audio book, TV, and movies are also things that really interest me in any language – as is the news and most of the YouTube stuff we watch. Mostly it’s not “French grammar” but rather interesting podcasts that happen to be in French or which talk about the language in French in an interesting way: Hugo’s InnerFrench, Johan’s FrancaisAuthentique, Francais avec Pierre (& Noemi), French with Fred, Parlez-vous French with Anne Le Grande etc.

I seldom if ever listen on LingQ since the time I am looking at a screen is devoted to using the marking lIngQs or swapping out videos. I “listen or watch” on TV or phone.

Thank you so much for your thorough reply! I definitely can commit the time and effort needed so I think I’ll give it a try for a month and then go from there. Thanks again!

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Buy the 2016 audio program on ebay or amazon for about 1/2 price. And you can probably send it back to Amazon if you hate it.

You want to do the version that has “semi-random” repetitions of a set for each day. They introduce a new subset each day.

After they get the program up to 20 minutes or so (5 days or so) they start dropping older sentences as they add more at the end of each Day/Lesson.

Each phrase is prompted in English:

You get enough time to repeat, they say it, and if you hurry you can repeat it again after it’s given in French.

Ideally, I say it BEFORE the response is given, with the speaker, and one again after. before the next English prompt is spoken.

For longer or newer phrases I can’t reach this ideal and may not even be able to say it once through. I simply do my best, say what I can, listen to the answer if needed, and try to say something each time.

After a bit, I can at least stumble through each one – expect this to be HARD.

Not ever phrase is hard, they through in an easy one very now and then, and some are monstruous. Just keep going.

The result comes from doing a little better each time – one more rep, adding a few pounds to the bar, being a little more perfect in form.

Some days I stumble all over myself, even on the older phrases, and sometimes even the very next day, the hard ones come fluidly – but overall the progression is obvious.

Each week it’s easier to do the longer and more complex phrases and the shorter ones least are are becoming part of my “vocabulary”, not so much as words but as whole thoughts and ideas.

Remember, for the vast majority of speech, we do not speak in “words” but rather in phrases, sometimes filling in a “blank” with a custom word but within a well known phrasal structure.

I think the randomness is a necessity – they idea is you can’t predict what the next one will be (they follow a bit of order on newer phrases) so you must be able to “find” that phrase without thinking – at least one some level it moves the phrase to automaticity.

3000 automatic phrases is nothing to scoff at – even if you only end up with 1500 that are fully automated it will increase our speaking an enormous amount.

There is NO grammar – they don’t tell you than you are using the present tense, of the future, or the passe compose, or the imparfait, much less that you are correctly using two or more in the same sentence or phrase.

Presumably that will continue into the use of the subjunctive and all of the other tenses that are common in speech.

They don’t mention gender or anything about all this – you just learn to DO IT.

I’ve done Pimsleur deeplly in other languages and other audio programs as well and though and audio program was always an important part of “my method” but my early estimate is that Glossika Audio 2016 is far better but admittedly far more work.

(Michel Thomas, Pimsleur, Rosetta Stone’s audio, Learn In Your Car, Vocabulearn, Penton/Immersion all have value and over the years I’ve given each of them more than a fair chance.)

If anyone has a better audio program I want to know about it.

I’ll give Le Chalet another try after La Mante then, thanks. It’s true, the French do this genre well it seems. I’m really enjoying these shows. I was a huge Murder She Wrote fan as a kid though! I’ve seen La Foret when scrolling and thought it looked worth checking out. Thanks for the recommendations :slight_smile:

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Do you happen to have a link to Glossika Audio 2016 on ebay or Amazon? I’ve only come across kindle & paperbacks, but the audio files.

I got mine used (eBay) and I’m not sure you can find it there all of the time.

Here’s 1 (of 3) 2014 edition on Amazon but it’s too expensive at $99 per level unless you are really serious:

Send me a private email HerbMartin Gmail

I’ll see if I can help you more.

This post is intended to help others – not to seek help though I’ll take it if offered.

The last few days have not be encouraging even though I continue to follow the plan and do the work, and to be clear still enjoy most of it.

The idea is to allow other people to see that no matter how hard we work or how committed we are to success there may still be days – only a few I hope – when we don’t see the progress or know precisely how we can continue to improve.

Glossika is working though it is hard to do – it’s real work and the analogy with weight lifting is almost exact: It feels like doing something really difficult without purpose in the moment.

Probably I would have just skipped it the last few nights despite the improvements it’s offering me except that having posted this accountability thread it felt like I had to keep going. In any case, Glossika lesson 85 (of 304) is done and it doesn’t seem to get any harder week to week even though the phrases are much more complex and technically more complicated now.

Working right at the edge is where practice is most efficient, but it’s also where it is most trying.
(This is straight out of “The Talent Code” by Daniel Coyle and other similar books though Coyle’s is so far the best single book on the subject, see also, “Bounce” by Saed (sp?) and similar.)

My Anki 5000 deck passed 99% today but it feels like I am just spinning my wheels on that and the only reason I don’t quit is because it needs to be replaced with something better not dropped.

Listening seems to get better sometimes, especially if I have read the passage. Reading is Ok, but truthfully LingQ feels almost like marking time or playing a video game in terms of productivity.

Gradually, I am converting some of my French to ordinary “fast reading” and pushing to speed read some of it which I think may help.

The problem is not the words, the raw vocabulary, whether reading or listening but rather the phrases and the smearing (beyond liason) where fast French leave out whole syllables or even whole words and where knowing a word (slowly) by sight is not nearly the same as being able to hear it, must less being able to understand it without translating so as to keep up with the rest of the sentence and the one after that.

There’s a YouTube channel “French Pronunciation Dictionary” by David Tolman at French Pronunciation Dictionary - YouTube (ignore the name it doesn’t really have that much to do with his real value) who has ideas on this, a way to analyze the transcript and then improve the ability to hear the audio verson as a native would.
Also at: https://fluentlistener.com

I can’t testify this is the right way but it’s reasonably certain he understands the problem and that he has a plausible method to directly address it – and that he believes in and uses explicit methods not just hand waving or “do more listening” type advice. He has real exercises and I am starting to do those.

They are a more formal version of what I was doing and starting to suspect would work so I have some faith, just no proof yet.

In any case, for rapid progress we needs explicit methods to invoke “Deep Practice” (also called “Deliberate Practice” but even though this is the original name it is subtly incorrect.)

The methods of Deep Practice have been producing olympic and world champions for decades (if not longer) whether they were done deliberately or by chance and circumstance (Brazil’s world cup soccer rise to fame was an accident of circumstance while the training of the first 3 Female chess grandmasters was a deliberate experiment by their father and mother.)

I’m well into Rosetta Stone Level 3 (of 5) and about to finish Unit 2 of 4 in the level or 10 of 20 for the whole set which will be HALF WAY. I would probably stop this if it weren’t giving me the chance to do pronunciation with feedback from the voice analyzer though I remain very dissatified with the amount of this exercise and the level fo feedback – it’s basically Pass/Fail with no indication of what was incorrect much less how to fix it.

You must just LISTEN to yourself and judge that IF it was wrong then you must have not pushed the U all the way to the front, or fully rounded your lips for OE (eu) or opened your mouth enough to change OE to the sound of soeur and fleur etc.

The “sound analysis lab” in Rosetta Stone is only a bit better than nothing – you can only get into it when you are already on a “speaking” exercise, and if you get the pronuciation right you can’t go back (easily) to re-do it if you don’t feel like it was good enough.

Inside the RS speaking lab, the spectrogram is so small that it is useless (for me) to read – now that I know how to read a spectrogram a bit it’s disappointing to see that graphic and yet know it is totally worthless for actually diagnosing anything. The only real use is being able to say the phrase over and over while having it “scored” for correctness.

Oddly I am getting dinged partially (not missing just not getting a full light up when succeeding) on things like “que” which should be easy for me. U’s and the infamous Rs are actually pretty easy for me and they sound right to me as best I have come to understand and appreciate the sound.

The odd issues are probably the places that WERE easy and I didn’t focus on them since it wasn’t initially necessary so I am hopefully cleaning up my originally terrible pronunciation.

So as a side project I continue to work on learning how to read the spectrograms and developing a work flow that will be reasonably efficient to choose, cut, match and record, then analyze myself and correct.

It’s looks like I have exhausted the (easily found) video resources on reading spectrograms and using them specifically for language acquistion and pronunciation improvement – especially for French.

So I think the way forward is:

  • More (and more) reading – and doing it faster not more carefully at least 50% of the time
  • More and more listening – and doing this with more reading and repeating the same thing
  • More Glossika – try to keep going for another 115 days or whatever it takes to finish Level 3 (312 lessons) – actually 115 days sounds better than I thought but it’s still 16 weeks of daily grind though I need the exercise anyway (doing the bike at the same time on doctor’s orders)
  • Learning to do voice matching with spectrograms and actually doing a LOT of them every day.
  • Grammar oriented audio drills – not “studying grammar” very much, just doing drills that require repeating or using the correct tenses, sentence patterns etc.
  • Maybe doing BrainScape “verb conjugation flashcards” (to replace the 5000 word deck)
  • More phrases and more vocabulary through LingQ and reading.
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Wow, you have one hell of a study plan! All the best, I’ve enjoyed reading your progress updates today. It’s motivating me as I’m also learning French but not nearly as intensely as you are :slight_smile:


Thanks for the kind words of support and it helps to know that there are people like you and the others in the thread who enjoy or in some way benefit from my post.

Anything to keep us moving forward, not matter what our goals or how much time and effort we intend to apply, staying with any plan is never trivial over the long term.

For me, if I didn’t have a goal with time commitments, then I wouldn’t be motivated to study each day – at least not every day. Making it explicit means I have a check list of things that are getting done every day and things that I can add if there is extra time.

I am not sure I could have committed to any plan much over a year – who knows that 2021 or 2022 will be like (and I’m getting older.)

So figuring that 1 year was about my maximum CERTAIN determination, I decided to aim for half of that. If I don’t succeed then I’ll be miles ahead of where I would have been in a year or two if that were the actual plan.

Also, if I were not going to succeed then I would like to find that out sooner than later and move onto studying something else. (I am always studying something, but right now it is primarily human languages, French first.)

Next year it might be Spanish or some other language, or I might fall back to programming languages or operating systems and network services. (My work.)

The main difference between studying French intensively now and studying something in the background is that I am studying with a purpose and a schedule. Sometimes I do that with programming languages and sometimes I just write programs in a new language.

Human languages are harder – there’s no syntax checker built-in and no tool tip bubbles over people’s head. You have to produce in near real time and don’t have time to google even if you are reading and there are more than a few words unknown.

By comparison, I can be comfortable in a new programming language in about 2 weeks IF I am actually WRITING programs that I care about – we’ve never met anyone who learned to program without actually writing programs that mattered (to themselves.)

Thanks again. It’s been a flat week. I am going to surge again “real soon now”…


I’ve posted this before, but Awesome work my friend. I am happy to see you are working as hard as you are. I love seeing your progress. Keep it up bud. I can’t wait to hear when you have reached a state in the language that you feel comfortable conversing in most subjects.

-Cody C.

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Thank you so much.

Hearing people respond helps keep me going.

Heck even if people were critical and told me I am doing it wrong or ineffectively that would encourage me too. It would actually be a benefit to hear opposing opinions.

Though I can talk about anything now it won’t be pretty and I am still reticent about starting conversations (so I pay a tutor to listen to me and make corrections for 45 minutes.)

I was not really discourage the last week or so but my optimism wasn’t high either – I began to wonder if 6 months would be even close to enough. I am definitely going to find out and this just prompted me to find more and better methods, time permitting.

The dealine in 83 days is looming much closer than I would prefer.

If I can fix the hearing and understanding issue, I’ll probably make it – reading will be pretty much a done deal from here.

Today a very kind gentleman who teaches French actually called me from France in response to one of my (long) emails thanking him for all the resource he posts on YouTube and his website and asking technical questions about his methods for learning to hear French (or other languages.)

It seems he is on to something as real and as important to hearing as Steve and LingQ are to reading efficiently.

It would be really great if he and Steve could figure out a way to work together and if I knew Steve it would be an introduction I’d try to make.

In any case he was very gracious and very interested in my side of this problem. He is the closest thing I’ve found to someone directly addressing the “learn to hear and understand” efficiently issue with real techniques.

Tonight I finished Rossetta Stone: 2nd Unit of Level 3

Big milestone: That’s exactly half of the Units in all 5 levels of the full course.

Whoooo-Hooooo. Oooh Laa Laa

And with ‘only’ 10 Units to go, I have a chance of finishing them in the 83 days remaining.

Glossika is at 90-91 tonight and I have to go do that now.

Argh. Another hour on the bike and non-stop talking. :slight_smile: :slight_smile: :slight_smile:

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