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Old 08-29-2010, 10:59 PM   #1
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Online language course

Anyone have luck with an online language course? I took seven years of French, spent 1 year of school there.... 25 years ago. I am taking my family to France for 2 weeks next year, and would like a refresher.
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Old 08-30-2010, 10:04 AM   #2
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Our local library has free on line language courses as part of their extended services. DW is brushing up on her Spanish there and seems to like it.
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Old 08-30-2010, 11:15 AM   #3
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Lightspeed,

My wife was in a similar position - 6 years of school French, but never lived there. She picked things up again very quickly by just talking to a few native speakers. Now when we travel to France, Italy, Tahiti, and elsewhere she is undeniably fluent and often engages in long, detailed conversations with locals over several hours (dinner, lunch, etc). We've been invited to people's homes or out to dinner on several occasions because they find it so unusual to find an American who has made the effort to learn French and speak to them that way. We have never encountered the snobbery we've heard about getting if your French is not absolutely perfect. She is often mistaken for being Swiss because of her accent (rather than a native English speaker). This makes sense because her French teachers were both for northern Italy and the French/Italian border area.

My point is, while I can't suggest any online courses for French, I suspect if you ask around for native speakers on this board or elsewhere you'll find someone willing to have a few in-person or phone conversations with you that will get you up to speed in no time. You might consider placing an ad in a local college newspaper for tutoring. Most colleges will have international students that would be happy to make a few extra $ talking to you in their native language.

Good luck!
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Old 08-30-2010, 12:25 PM   #4
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Check out iTunes - there are several free courses available.
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Old 08-30-2010, 11:16 PM   #5
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DoingHomework, I agree, it seems like in any foreign country people are much more receptive if you make an effort at their language. Your wife must be pretty fluent-- I would take being mistaken for Swiss is a compliment to your spouse. Better than being told you have a Chicago accent while speaking French

I'll check out the library and itunes-- those are good free suggestions. I can't find any native speakers where I am.
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Old 08-30-2010, 11:19 PM   #6
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The BBC website has a series on foreign languages. I checked out Spanish and Chinese. It was pretty fun. Not sure how much I learned but it kept me engaged, which was a good start.

Our local library has all kinds of CD sets on languages. I find them to be very good quality. The series I like best is "Learn (insert language) the Fast and Easy Way." I tried both Italian and Spanish and thought the materials were interesting.

Livemocha.com has been recommended to me, but I haven't spent much time on it.

Of course, Rosetta Stone. We can access it for free from our local library's website.

Our local Barnes & Noble has a weekly French conversation group. Not sure about your area but may be worth checking out.

Good luck, mon ami(e)!
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Old 09-01-2010, 02:40 PM   #7
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DoingHomework, I agree, it seems like in any foreign country people are much more receptive if you make an effort at their language. Your wife must be pretty fluent-- I would take being mistaken for Swiss is a compliment to your spouse. Better than being told you have a Chicago accent while speaking French
Yes, it's a compliment (we think!) She was where you were but it came back quickly and she is now quite fluent. I speak another, more obscure language. When we go to that country I am at a loss to understand much of anything for a couple of days but after about 3 days my brain starts working in that language again and I am almost fluent. This is for a country I lived in 30 years ago.

I think you might be surprised how it all starts to come back like a flood in your head. Very hard to explain though.
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Old 09-01-2010, 05:43 PM   #8
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I would have to say beware of putting much faith in any online course.

FWIW, here's my story that may give you some insight.
I took 4 years of French in high school, and 3 more in college. Did extremely well in all the courses. But at the end of it, I realized that while I could hold my own in a cocktail party conversation about 17th or 18th century French literature (seriously), I would be hard pressed to handle everyday small talk.
This was despite the fact that I bought a French newspaper every week and read it cover to cover (this was easy in NYC).

Fast forward 15 years. Due to my extremely high score on a language aptitude test, I was sent to a total immersion course to learn Portuguese. Spent six months at it and finished top of my class. Had great confidence in my ability.
Got down to Rio and turned on the TV in my hotel room, and found that I understood less than half of what I heard. I lived in Brazil for nearly a year before I considered my self truly fluent.

Bottom line: Instruction and practice are great, but there is absolutely no way to really become fluent without daily exposure to the people of the country. My tuppence, anyway.
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Old 09-01-2010, 08:00 PM   #9
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My wife's German relatives are coming to visit next week and since they don't speak much English, I am trying to brush up on my German. I find most online / bookstore / iTunes resources pretty useless for people with an advanced knowledge of the language and who are simply seeking a refresher.

I am a native French speaker, don't know if I can help. Immersion is the only true way to learn a language IMO.
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Old 09-01-2010, 08:11 PM   #10
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My wife's German relatives are coming to visit next week and since they don't speak much English, I am trying to brush up on my German.
Here's a word of caution...

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Old 09-02-2010, 07:56 AM   #11
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Bottom line: Instruction and practice are great, but there is absolutely no way to really become fluent without daily exposure to the people of the country. My tuppence, anyway.
I have found that to be largely true for me, but I have met so many Scandianvians and Germans and Swiss who have only fleetingly spent time in an English speaking country, but nevertheless often speak English very, very well.

Ha
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Old 09-02-2010, 09:00 AM   #12
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I have found that to be largely true for me, but I have met so many Scandianvians and Germans and Swiss who have only fleetingly spent time in an English speaking country, but nevertheless often speak English very, very well.

Ha
True but many of them get exposure from TV and from working/talking on the phone with other Europeans.
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Old 09-02-2010, 11:40 AM   #13
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I totally agree with Brau and Doing.

In my case reading American English novels for almost 40 years. Must have read nearly 800. Listened to more than 200 hundred English courses tapes. listened to more than 100 audiobooks (unabridged). More than 700 posts in this forum. Got the Advanced Cambridge Certificate. More than 100 hours of one on one converstion with English natives. Been twice to the USA and UK (just for a few days).

Bottom line: Im not confident of my English if confronted with a movie or a fast, ordinary street conversation. Nothing really compares to living for some time in the country, living an ordinary day to day life.

My wife is constantly begging me to take her to the States in the misconcept that I would show her around fluently. If only she knew of my misgivings.

And after reading so many posts about smoking, Im afraid to be arrested, shot or whatever
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Old 09-02-2010, 03:56 PM   #14
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I totally agree with Brau and Doing.

In my case reading American English novels for almost 40 years. Must have read nearly 800. Listened to more than 200 hundred English courses tapes. listened to more than 100 audiobooks (unabridged). More than 700 posts in this forum. Got the Advanced Cambridge Certificate. More than 100 hours of one on one converstion with English natives. Been twice to the USA and UK (just for a few days).

Bottom line: Im not confident of my English if confronted with a movie or a fast, ordinary street conversation. Nothing really compares to living for some time in the country, living an ordinary day to day life.

My wife is constantly begging me to take her to the States in the misconcept that I would show her around fluently. If only she knew of my misgivings.

And after reading so many posts about smoking, Im afraid to be arrested, shot or whatever
Come visit california. we have lots of spanish speakers. Lot's of smokers too. (just not tobacco)
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Old 09-06-2010, 07:17 PM   #15
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I know firsthand immersion is the best way to go-- I took 7 years with straight A's, then went to France for my junior year in college. When I first got there, I was not even sure what language I was listening to. When watching the news, I remember if I concentrated with all my neurons, I could understand about half of it but had no conversational skills. I took about 3 months of immersion before I felt reasonably good at conversation. I am hoping, though, a good online course will speed up the time to re-acquanitance when I go back next year.
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Old 09-06-2010, 07:35 PM   #16
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I bet a lot of it is buried and will come back.

Do you have access to any French TV programming or such?

I would think something like "Learn in your Car French" would be more effective at refresher and waking up that buried experience than an on-line course that is not audio oriented.

Maybe you should just spend time on French sites on the web - watching French news video, reading French websites, conversing in French with French speakers, etc.

Audrey
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Old 09-06-2010, 09:22 PM   #17
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There is a pretty good selection of French movies on Netflix (French language with English subtitles).
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