Mairo French Diary

I started this thread on French LingQ Forum, but will continue it here.


I finished “Le pouvoir de linguiste” some days ago and I am almost finishing “Eating Out” [chapter 9 now]. I have 830 known words and 530 LingQs. I noticed that the French LingQ podcasts have now 40-50% unknown words for me [someones have 41%!], so I will work in order to reach about 1000 known words and start working on LingQ French Podcasts.

I think I am in which Steve call “stage one”. I am still getting familiar with the French language, learning the basic words and structures.

The curious thing is that I am studing only about 30 minutes a day. Somedays I study more, but usually I just read some texts, save some words, revise the words of the day and stop when I am tired. And I am improving!

Hi, Mairo,
I’m in a similar experience and stage, but I haven’t finished “le pouvoir” yet. I started to write privately something similar to this diary, but then I just stopped to write after some weeks.
The first weeks were very difficult to me, because I started REALLY from scratch, and got stuck several times. In a number of occasions I thought about going to a more traditional method, attending at least to something like a “book one” class, but I was stubborn and just went on. After some (maybe somewhat silly) “debates” with Steve, I suddenly realized that I was still very fixed on the idea of getting everything, memorizing every word and verb form, as if I was going to make some exam nearly. Then I started to just listen and read in a much more relaxed way, and since then it has been much more enjoying, and I’m not willing traditional methods anymore!!
I would like to know if you also had this begining phase of temptation for a more traditional approach and how you dealt with it.

Well, not so much. At the beginning I was afraid of making pronunciation mistakes, I wanted to read every word correctly and it took me a long time looking for phonetic transcriptions at Centre National de Ressources Textuelles et Lexicales. I realized it was too much work, so I stopped doing it very often. Now I still looking for transcriptions sometimes, but not that much. Listening can also help a lot. I noticed that even tough I dont know how to read some words properly, on the other hand I still can pronounce the words I already have heard very well, better than people who attend French schools and learn that “this vowel plus that vowel sound like X” or “vowel plus consonant sound like Y”. I just let me aquire the sounds naturally, mainly listening. Have you ever tried listening to the radio? It is kind of “get used to French - the hard way”, hahaha. You can check here - Listen and Live your dreams! Life is short!, I listen to French Culture or French Inter.

About the words I dont know, I just save and skip it. If I cannot know the meaning using the dictionary I put a tag “???” and forget it. I know it will make sense someday. There are some “t” and “y” that I just cannot understand, for instance. Verbs I guess, all the time. I dont care about conjugations, I just care if I understand the meaning or not, and as I said, if I dont know, I skip it.

My plan now is learn enough words to read and listen to the French LingQ Podcasts. Maybe I will need 1000-1200 words. Once I can read/listen to it, I will do a kind of intensive listening/reading, using probably podcasts and blogs, since both have casual easygoing conversations. Also because I cannot do intensive listening with “Le Pouvoir de Linguiste”, it is too artificial for me.

ps: I also did a diary and stopped after some days, hehe.

Thanks for your response. It’s a great encouragement exchange some ideas with people in a similar situation.
About the pronunciation, I couldn’t even read those nasty explanations about how to pronounce this or that, so I hope and believe that I can get it only by listening.
I’ve already discovered something about those crazy t and y. My information is probably incomplete, but here is what I know about them right now:
Y - appears often in this expression “il y a”, which is equivalent to “there to be” or “haver” in Portuguese. Sometimes it sounds like our “lá”, which we also use in somewhat strange ways (Isso é lá com o diretor. rss…)
t - it appears when the first word ends in a vowel and the following one starts with a vowel, just to ease the pronunciaton, I suppose. But I’m not sure if this happens only with verb+pronoun or if it happens only with some persons.
I don’t know which path I’m going to follow in terms of content yet. By now, I’m trying to get rid of bad habits learned in years of traditional study, and focus more on the most enjoyable and easy activities.

Il y a = There is or there are. Y means “there” = Hay in Spanish
Il y en a = There are some en means “some of it” = Hay in Spanish
Il en a = He has some = (ya) tiene in Spanish
On en a = We have some = (ya) tenemos

Portuguese up to you guys.

Re pronunciation, there is not explanation for a sound that does not exist in your language, in my view. You have to listen. You will find the French are not consistent, as is often the case.

Two key sound types to help you sound French

e = euh…Je , le, and at the end of words comme, pomme, femme, (famme): pronounce the “e” as “euh”, and not “e” like in other Latin languages.

French nasals are different from Portuguese. Forget Portuguese and listen to the French. There are three, possibly four

en, quand, prend, temps, grand , an,

on, bon, ton

in, sain, main,pain, brin, fin, (and for some people) un, Lundi

un Lundi, (for others)

Note that many people do not distinguish between un and in.

Listen for it, practice it, do not listen to yourself for a while. Just imagine that you are doing it right. I hope that helps.

Thank you for the French tips Steve! I already have understood “Il y a”, but some times I see some "y"s or "Il"s in different contexts and get confused… fortunately it doesn’t happen so often.


After finish “Le pouvoir de Linguiste” and “Eating Out” I got a bit more than 800 known words. I must confess that for me this beginner stage is just soooo boring. Ok, at the very beginning it is cool, everything is new, Michel Tomas was very confortable, I learned how to say some things, learned some words and then jumped into LingQ’s beginners content. After a while a noticed how difficult is listening to the same pre-made text/audio over and over. So I just pushed myself and tried to do at least one item per day. Usually I would do 2-3 items, some days more, maybe 4-5 items. I always did it fast, reading and listening at the same time and saving all the unkwon words and expressions. And what I don’t know, I save and forgot it! I was thinking of doing more beginner content until I accumulate about 1000 words, but since beginner content is too boring for me I decided to start French LingQ podcasts, even tought there are lots of unkwon words. The podcast number one had 41% unknown words. I already have listenned to it sometimes and knew a bit about what Steve and Henry were talking. So today I started reading and listening while saving words until I get tired. I went through about 40% of the podcast. Maybe tomorrow I can finish. THe great thing is that by checking my Workdesk, I can see that the number of unknown words already decreased, now I have only 36% unknown words. The content of LingQ Podcasts is much more enjoyable than beginners content so that I think I can do it easily and maybe faster than I did the beginner’s.

I will keep my diary up to date, let’s see how I am going to do with the real content.


To each his own path. I think that I would have trouble doing the beginner content in Portuguese, since it is so similar to Spanish or other Romance languages. French for you is a little more difficult but only a little, once you get the feel for it. By all means jump into content that interests you. The key is the interest. For me, as you know, Ruben Alves was a great discovery.

Still it is a good idea to do the first items at LingQ for people who are not familiar with the system, or for people doing languages which are more different than French from Portuguese.

Y can be “of it” just as “en” can be “of it”.
Do you think of it often? Est-ce que tu y pense souvent?
What do yo think of it? "Qu’est-ce que tu en pense?

In any case I cannot anticipate which usages are easier or more difficult for you. That is why rather than explanations, it is exposure that matters. Undoubtedly there will be usages in French that will be a little unclear for a while, but with enough exposure they will clear up. The same for me in Portuguese, like the usage of “fica”.

And when you are stuck, ask on the Forum. Marianne will answer. It is when the learner has a problem and asks, that the explanation is more likely to stick.


Mairo French Diary!
Today I finished saving the words for FrenchLingQ Podcast #1. I took a screen shoot, you can see it here> It added 129 new words to my list, now I have 992 known words and 632 saved words. I will continue with the FrenchLingQ Podcasts, trying to low the unknown words percentage as much as I can. Right now the following three episodes give me:

#1 What is difficult? 34% unknown
#2 Kosovo and Beyond 42% unknown
#3 Le Monde Virtuel I 36% unknown

I wonder why #2 give me more unknown words. Perhaps because it is a conversation between Marienne and Steve, whereas #0 [the one I did], #1 and 2# are between Steve and Henry. It sounds like Marienne use different words. The podcasts as I said before are the second stage of my French Studies. I want to know if after finish all the podcasts I can understand any given casual conversation at first. Let’s wait and see.

Note about speaking/writing [output activities]

I believe in what Steve always say: Speak when you feel like speaking. At this moment I absolutely do not feel like speaking! My comprehension is improving, of course, but French still too fog for me, and speaking just seems impossible. I still have no idea about how the verbs work, where I should put the pronouns, etc. Not that I want to understand the grammar very well, but it means even though I understand,my comprehension stills only partial. I need to keep listening until I get it, until it becomes natural, logical for me, so I will be speaking. I believe that after listening a lot, you naturally start speaking without noticing it. I was able to speak English maybe one year before I started speaking for real. I mean, it is not like “ok, today I will start speaking”. It is more like “ohh, I can speak French and I didn’t know about it!”. That’s it for today.


Today I woke up 7 am and had a cappuccino while listening to the French Radio. Then I start studying French LingQ Podcast #1 What is difficult?. It took me about 40 minutes to save all the words and update the text. It added 93 words to my total known words number. Now I have 1088 known words.

Te great thing is that over this 40 minutes I was directly in contact with the French language, reading, listening and looking for unknown words. Even though I’m nor sure about many things, even though the language stills fog, I can feel that I am learning a lot. If I spent 40 minutes in a class room I will learn much less. Sometimes I think I’m not studying enough [always do about 30min-1h per day], but I can see that my regularity is key. In the last 30 days I listened to French every day, even it was just for 15 minute. Gradually I get used to the language and the things start to make sense. On the other hand, many things still make no sense. But I don’t care :slight_smile:

Now I am listening to French Radio while writing this post. The language already became something very familiar to me and the full comprehension seems a matter of time.