Tag Archives: French

My Current French Reading

As promised, today I wanted to look at the things I’m reading in French. 🙂

My French is a fair bit more advanced than my Ukrainian, so I’m able to read short stories for French learners fairly well. I’m a big fan of the books by Olly Richards (the first French book I finished was his Short Stories in French for Beginners). I’ve attempted to read French Short Stories for Beginners by Lingo Mastery a couple of times since last summer. The first time I had a hard time with the first story, so I put it aside in favour of the Olly Richards book. I’ve since made it through the first story and have attempted the second story a couple of times, but I still can’t really follow it. So I’ve put it aside once again and gone back to books by Olly Richards.

I ordered a copy of Short Stories in French for Intermediate Learners, as well as 101 Conversations in Intermediate French. 101 Conversations in Intermediate French came first, so I gave it a try. I was a little skeptical about the book because I thought the conversations were going to be just random conversations between random characters. But I was pleasantly surprised – the 101 conversations in the book are all conversations within a larger story! The book is basically a novel with all the description removed (there’s just a paragraph at the beginning of every conversation to give some context). I absolutely love it! I made it through the first three conversations with little trouble, able to follow the just of what’s going on, which was really exciting because it’s a book for intermediate learners, not beginners. I had a harder time with conversation 4 though because it deals with a lot of vocabulary I’m not familiar with (revolving around art crimes). I’ve read it a few times, and am following it a bit better, but I’ll still need to work on it a bit before moving on.

It was at this point that I decided to get the book 101 Conversations in Simple French. Some of the characters from the Intermediate book appear in the beginner book, and it sounded like conversation 4 revolves around what happened in the first book. So I decided to grab the first book on my Kindle to give it a quick read. That way I’ll know exactly what happened in the story (and hopefully pick up some of the words that are giving me trouble in the Intermediate book!) 101 Conversations in Simple French has been a super easy read for me – I’m on conversation 63 already, and have only needed to reread maybe two of the conversations so far to better understand them (everything else I just read once and moved on). It’s been a lot of fun because it really does feel like I’m just reading for pleasure and not having to work at it. 🙂

The other thing I did was purchase the audiobook versions of a lot of these books (the only one I haven’t bought is 101 Conversations in Simple French because I was planning on just reading it quickly). I’ve heard that if you read and listen at the same time, it will greatly help your listening comprehension in another language. I even bought the audiobook version of Short Stories in French for Beginners and started working my way back through that book while listening to it. I’ve made it about halfway through the book reading and listening, then started listening to some of the stories on my iPod while walking to work (I was super excited to discover that the file on my iPod had chapter selections! The file on my computer looked like one big 4 hour file with no chapter breaks). I wasn’t expecting to enjoy the audiobook version so much, so a big thank you to the narrator, Louis Bernard, for making them so engaging!

And that’s where I’m at with French. I’m hoping in the next week or two I’ll finish reading 101 Conversations in Simple French so I can get back to 101 Conversations in Intermediate French. I’ll probably work my way through that book before starting Short Stories in French for Intermediate Learners.

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One Year French Video!!!

Here it is: my one year of French video!

I shot the video 3 weeks ago (so I’ve now been learning on Duolingo for 387 days!), and managed to shoot the whole thing in one take. There are some places where I pause to try to come up with the word I’m looking for (and most of the time find it). I thought about cutting those pauses out, but thought this would be a good benchmark so I can see how badly I’m still doing that in the future. 🙂

The video almost got delayed AGAIN because of technical difficulties. My computer kept crashing when I tried to export the video from Movavi Video Editor, but thankfully restarting fixed the problem. 🙂

In the video, I ended up saying “Je ne connais pas” for “I don’t know,” rather than “Je ne sais pas.” I’m not sure if I used the verb “connaître” correctly, or if some of those instances I should have used “savoir” (although I do believe I got it right in terms of “I don’t know this word”). I tried to annotate the video where I used it, but I’m really not sure if I got those right, either.

This was hands down the longest video I have made speaking in another language though, so it’s pretty exciting that I was able to make this, even with all the pauses (and the couple of times I speak in English because I don’t know the word). 🙂

Other French updates: over the weekend, I actually did start reading French Short Stories for Beginners by LingoMastery (that’s the book I mention wanting to start in the video). I got the audiobook version of it as well on iTunes because I need to work on my listening comprehension. I also had another French lesson on iTalki on Sunday, which I really enjoyed. I’ll be booking more. 🙂

Finally, I took a French listening test online last Thursday as well. I need to score at a certain level to enroll in a local French program. There’s both a written and oral comprehension test; I tried them both back at the end of May and scored really well on the written comprehension test, but not high enough on the listening comprehension test. When I took the listening test again, I scored better (but still not quite high enough to enroll in the program). It was nice to see that progress though – the test itself seemed a bit easier after a few more months of working on French. 🙂

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One Year French Video Still Coming…

Hey everyone, how’s it going? I’m still plugging away at putting the subtitles onto the one year French video. I’ve got less than one minute left to go, so I *should* have it posted before this time next week!

In the meantime, I realized that I never did share this video from work. It was put together for this year’s International Mother Language Day, which is February 21st. As I’d been learning Ukrainian, which is the language of my forebears, I was invited to participate as well. It was a lot of fun filming this (although it was brutally cold that week – we had to shoot outside because of covid restrictions).

I just wish more people had participated. We have many people who speak different Mother Tongues at the library, including Finnish (which would have been great to hear – Thunder Bay has a large Finn population), Polish, and French.

But that being said, I still love watching this video. It’s super fun hearing the phrase “we hear you” in all of these languages! 🙂

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One Year French Video Delayed :(

Hey everyone, how’s it going? I just wanted to let you know that the one year French video is coming, but it’s going to take me a bit longer to get it posted to YouTube. The video is a bit longer (after a few tries, I managed to do it all in one take! I think it’s over 9 minutes long, and most of it is in French!), so it’s taking me a bit longer than I’d hoped to add the subtitles to it! I’m hoping to have it posted before next week, but this is going to be a busy week, so we’ll see how it goes.

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A Language Learning Weekend :)

Over the weekend I decided to try out the iTalki French language test. It took about 30 minutes, assessing my French speaking and grammar levels. The test is an “automated adaptive language test,” which means it gives you harder questions if you get the answer right, and easier ones if you get the answer wrong. I messed up pretty badly in the speaking portion, accidentally giving an answer in English when I should have been speaking in French (I thought it was a sample question that wouldn’t count, but nope, it was a real question). Despite that, I still somehow managed to score at an intermediate level for both speaking and grammar, which was pretty exciting! My results came in a little higher than I expected. I also really liked that, at the end of the test, it gave me some suggestions on how to improve. One of those suggestions was to read more, so that’s definitely the plan!

Thinking of reading, I finally finished the collection of French Robert Munsch books I’ve had out from the library. I really enjoyed it – his stories were really silly, fun reads that were fairly easy to understand for the most part without having to look stuff up. I think next I’m going to read French Short Stories for Beginners by Lingo Mastery. That was the first French book that I bought for myself; I had to put it down though because I had a hard time understanding the first story. Hopefully things will go better now!

I’d love to try an iTalki test for Ukrainian too, just to see where I’m at, but unfortunately it’s only available in limited languages (currently English, French, Spanish, German, Japanese, Portuguese, and Italian). Hopefully they’ll add more languages soon!

But I did end up testing my Ukrainian this weekend too. I booked a lesson on iTalki with a new Ukrainian teacher. So far I’ve just been meeting with one teacher, but she was busy this weekend (it was the Orthodox Church’s Easter 🙂 ), so I decided to meet someone new and see how I do. I was super excited and quite nervous because I’ve only really spoken to my regular teacher and my dad (but just a tiny bit with him – instead we send each other Ukrainian letters in the mail, which is good practice for my reading and writing!) I was pleasantly surprised with how much I was able to understand and say!

So how was your weekend? Any fun plans for the coming week? 🙂

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Plugging Along :)

Hey everyone, how’s it going? I’m not entirely sure where the month of April has gone! I’ve been feeling super busy lately, but also feeling like I haven’t done anything, and it’s all a little overwhelming. I suspect that’s partially because after I finished Karin Dimitrova’s Reset program, I didn’t have anything else to take its place. I need to make a dedicated effort to try adding more meditation and yoga back into my days!

Otherwise, I’m still working on my language learning and on the big editing project I was contracted for. The editing project has become much bigger than expected, so it’s still going to be ongoing for awhile (quite possibly through the rest of the year).

I’ve also cut back a little bit on the language learning lately (I won’t be finishing reading 100 Ukrainian Texts by the end of the month like I had planned). 😦 In its place I’ve been trying to fit in reading for fun a little more, which I think has been a good thing. For the last few years I haven’t been reading as much as I would like to, especially since I seem to have a really hard time putting a book down once I get started. Now that I’m fitting it in a little more, I found I was able to actually stop reading at a reasonable time and get some sleep over the last few nights, so I’m quite excited about that. 🙂

In terms of language learning itself though, I’m still doing a little bit of work on each language pretty much every day. So even if it isn’t as much as before, I’m still keeping both languages fresh in my mind, and strengthening them a little bit. With French, I’ve really been focusing on earlier lessons on Duolingo, which has made me feel like I have a pretty good grasp of the basics. I’m considering booking a lesson or two on iTalki in the near future to see how well I do speaking French with a French tutor.

With Ukrainian, while it’s still somewhat slow going, I’m really finding I’m able to understand more and more now. I read a message on a Ukrainian learners group on Facebook the other day in Ukrainian and understood it completely, which was really exciting! (It was almost like I didn’t realize I was reading the message in Ukrainian, even though I knew objectively that I was reading Slavic text). I’m still working with the same teacher on iTalki, which is going really well. I’ve got some homework I need to get through over the next few weeks though, where I’ll hopefully learn some new words and phrases. Hopefully that will go well. I’m also considering booking a lesson or two with some new Ukrainian speakers on iTalki just to see how well that goes….but I’ll probably hold off on that for a bit yet (until I feel a little more confident).

So yeah, that’s what’s been happening with me lately. I’m mostly just doing my best to plug along. How about you, what’s new? How have you been through April? 🙂

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Happy Easter!

Happy Easter everyone!  How’s it going?  Last week ended up a super busy week (sorry that I didn’t post) so I was quite happy to have a weekend without many plans.  I took some time to do some stuff around the house, and ended up reading a whole book on dolphins (To Touch a Wild Dolphin by Rachel Smolker, a book I’ve had for years that I found in my basement the other day).  I had intended to read Undermajordomo Minor by Patrick deWitt, but was distracted by the dolphin book because it fit into some worldbuilding I wanted to do. I didn’t actually work on the worldbuilding though until yesterday, when I finally sat down and opened my world documents to start making some changes! I meant to all weekend, but just didn’t – lol that seemed to be how a lot of my weekend went.  I don’t mind though, because just relaxing and doing “nothing” felt good (I binged a few episodes of a show I like, and started going through a stack of magazines I have).

Otherwise, over the last few weeks I’ve mostly been busy working on book editing.  I feel like I really got back into the swing of things, so it’s been going well.  🙂

I’m also really excited because I found season 2 of Les Revenants, a French show I really liked at the library last week!  I watched the first season last fall but had a hard time finding the second season (I was hoping to have it brought in through interlibrary loans, but no luck).  I guess in the meantime, the library ordered a copy of it!  So I’m very excited to get to finish the show. 🙂

So how’s everything going for you?  Have you been up to anything exciting lately?

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Finished Another French Book!

Hey everyone, how’s it going?  I feel like this has been a really good week for French.  I finished reading French Short Stories for Beginners and Intermediate Learners: Engaging Short Stories to Learn French and Build Your Vocabulary by Language Guru (sorry, no video of me talking about it), and got through another chapter from Barron’s Painless French.  The one thing I was hoping to do that I didn’t get to was pick a new French show to watch on Netflix.  I was watching one a few weeks ago but lost interest in it (it really wasn’t my kind of show, but I did like that the episodes were shorter).  I’ve saved a bunch of French shows on my list though, so I’ll have to pick through and find something new!

While French was good, I don’t feel like I did as well with Ukrainian this week.  I did read a few stories from 100 Easy Ukrainian Texts, but not as many as I was hoping to.  I also didn’t listen to any episodes of Ukrainian Lessons Podcast (but I did listen to a lot of Ukrainian music – I’m getting to the point where I can mostly sing along to my favourite Ukrainian song!)

That’s about all I’ve got to report right now.  For this week I have to fit more Ukrainian reading in.  I also get to start a new French book – that’s going to be French Short Stories for Beginners: 20 Captivating Short Stories to Learn French and Grow Your Vocabulary the Fun Way! by Lingo Mastery.  This was the first French book of short stories that I got; I attempted to read it when I got it during the summer, but I was really struggling to understand a lot of the first story so I put it aside.  Hopefully I’ll have more luck this time!

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Ukrainian Books!!!

Hey Everyone, how’s it going?  Things are alright for me right now – I’m in a much better mental space, so that’s great!  I was worried I was going to be dead today after the time change on the weekend (I barely slept between Saturday and Sunday, then woke up a bunch of times between Sunday and Monday, and was worried I’d be a zombie trying to get to work yesterday), but thankfully I was alright!  I didn’t quite meet all of the goals I set for myself last week, but I’m not stressing out about it; the main thing was that I still made some progress!

Also, all of my Ukrainian books have arrived!!!!

the 8 Ukrainian books I ordered

The book of fairy tales is on the right (“казки” is Ukrainian for “fairy tales” or “tales”). There are a few books of short stories, and the Arthur series by Luc Besson which I thought would be fun.  I even bought a colouring book that I hope to one day colour with my niece! 🙂

I did fall behind slightly with Karin Dimitrova’s Reset program over the weekend.  I was thinking of trying to catch back up, but ended up deciding to just continue from here, rather than stress about it (lol, that seems to be my mantra right now!)

I was also very happy to finish a book I started back in February over the weekend (Life of Pi).  I thought I was going to just abandon it (I put it down for a few weeks), but ended up sticking with it to the end.  I’m looking forward to reading something new now though!

So for this week I’m going to set a few more goals for reading in French and Ukrainian, but otherwise now much more so I don’t start feeling overwhelmed again! 🙂

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A Mental Health Update

Hey everyone, how’s it going?  Sorry for not posting anything last week – I was having a rough time and wasn’t in a good mental space.  Last week was just super stressful and I just wasn’t able to do much more than work and make dinner.  I did some language learning as well, but basically just the bare minimum to keep my skills up.  Thankfully by Sunday my head was in a better space, and yesterday I was feeling relatively back to normal mentally, so that’s great news.

I’m also very thankful that I signed myself up for Karin Dimitrova’s new Reset program.  When it was first announced, I decided to sign up thinking any tools she could teach me to help with mental health during this pandemic were a good thing.  But the timing ended up perfect, with the course starting right around when my mental health was taking the worst hits.  The course definitely helped me get through last week without my mental state deteriorating further.

Over the weekend I also spent a lot of time reading Atomic Habits by James Clear.  I wasn’t expecting to connect with the book as much as I did, but I found his writing very engaging.  I also liked the idea of striving to be just 1% better each day, and how over time, that compounds and leads to great improvements.  Atomic Habits is definitely worth checking out if you’re interested in that sort of thing. 🙂

So with my mental state improving, I set myself a few goals for the week around reading books in French and Ukrainian.  Ever since revisiting my October goals, I’ve been flying through 100 Easy Texts in Ukrainian (I read over 25 stories in it in February!) and want to keep up that momentum.  I’ve also read two chapters in French: Short Stories for Beginners and Intermediate Learners by Language Guru, and discovered that the chapters are self contained stories that all deal with the same character, which is an interesting approach.  So far I’ve found the book to be alright, but I wish it had more dialogue.

Oh, I’m also really excited: I ordered myself some books in Ukrainian, including a book of Ukrainian Fairy Tales!  I love fairy tales, and I’m looking forward to reading them.  A lot of the books I bought are beyond the level I’m currently at, but I think I have a good range of things that I can build to as I continue to learn the language. 🙂

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