March 10, 2011 | French
Flashcards Are Awesome
I am cramming.
Regarding the title of this entry: I don’t normally say “awesome.” I just felt like it.
I have been doing flashcards for the past couple of days. I love flashcards. There are 1,000 study cards in this SparkNotes box, and I just keep going through the cards I don’t know over and over until I get them right. The first time through the box I knew/remembered only about 40%, but the number keeps going up.
Flashcards: You Can Use These on the Subway (Métro)
It is impossible to speak a language well with a minuscule vocabulary. I realized earlier this week that I could not remember “knife,” “fork,” or “spoon”—all critical to basic functioning in society. In fact, I still can’t remember “knife” and “spoon,” but at least I can now ask for a fork (fourchette).
As of tonight, I am several lessons into Level III of Pimsleur, so I have finished 30-something lessons so far and have about 45 lessons left. My French strategy is to get through my grammar books, flashcards, and Pimsleur lessons as quickly as possible, then roam New York with some reanimated French skills.
I am at my best with sentences with very few r’s. Trying to pronounce words like pour and arbre is doing me in.
One thing that has been fun is that I can enjoy Pimsleur lessons and flashcards with Brandt. Before we met, he had a romantic relationship in French, and although he is rusty, he is definitely more advanced than I am. But just you wait, husband, is what I say.
Large numbers in French have always confused me. Although “million” in English translates into million in French, “billion” is milliard and “trillion” is billion. How did that happen?
I forgot to say previously how I did on my French tests, administered through a company called Alta. I took an oral test (via telephone) on March 1 and a written test on March 2, and I received 7’s on both. This is considered an “intermediate plus”; the maximum one can get is a 12. As I expected, the score was noticeably lower than my initial Spanish and German scores.
On my writing test, accompanying my score was the following (maybe not perfectly written) explanation:
- Comprehension: The candidate is able to understand all of the questions prompts and render most forms and styles of writing.
- Mechanics: 5 - 10% of the written texts contain errors in grammar and spelling.
- Expression: The candidate’s vocabulary is good in areas of frequent usage but cannot use language structures to effectively express his/her ideas.
- Overall: The candidate writes using basic language structures to convey meaning but almost no advanced or formal structures used correctly. Understands basic grammar, spelling, and vocabulary but mistakes are present in advanced areas.
Harsh! On the oral exam, my scores were explained in this way:
- Comprehension: The candidate understands the main ideas and some details of common subjects; repeating and rephrasing are often needed.
- Communication: The candidate can participate in social conversations and express general ideas; hesitates often.
- Grammar: The candidate uses the language’s basic structures with control, but demonstrates weaknesses with common structures, word order, and subject-verb agreement.
- Vocabulary: The candidate’s vocabulary is strong in areas of frequent usage, but limited in more advanced areas.
I am in a competition with myself to see how much better I can do on April 30 when I retest. I am shooting for at least 9’s, though secretly I have more ambitious dreams.