I have completed reading 3 books in French now and I know 7996 words in French now as the badge on the right shows. I completed my first French book at the end of 6 months and though I could understand the content of the book, it felt unnatural and uncomfortable. The second book I read was the The Linguist by Steve Kaufmann who runs the LingQ website. In this book, he describes his travel around the world and the insights he has gained into effective ways to learn a language. I agree with most of his insights and I have used many of his suggestions to learn French. When I finished this lengthy book, I felt far more comfortable with French and my reading speed has increased a lot.
The third book was a very famous little book – ‘Le petit prince’ (The Little Prince) – a French classic which I was planning to read for a long time. It feels so good to be able to read a French classic directly without the translation. The book resonated with me – I do not take the approach that most grown-ups take to life – taking it very seriously. I enjoyed the sarcasm that is generously littered throughout the book about the ways of the grown-ups. There are some chapters I do not fully comprehend, though I knew the meanings of most of the words. I have started reading the English translation to check whether I have understood the book correctly :).
Tip 1 – Minimize the Ribbon quickly
When Microsoft introduced the Ribbon interface in their Office 2007 version, lot of users were unhappy that it takes up so much screen real-estate away. I hated the Ribbon interface and over time, I have gotten used to it. When you are editing a document whether it is Excel, Word or Powerpoint, it is helpful to have the Ribbon fully displayed. However, when you are presenting a document or just reading it, it is good to have more screen real-estate by getting rid of the Ribbon temporarily.
In a lot of meetings I attend, I see people scrolling up and down to see a few more lines whereas minimizing the Ribbon could have helped them to avoid scrolling. If you are sitting with a group of people of review any Excel, Word or Powerpoint, you should consider minimizing the Ribbon.
It is actually quite easy to do and there are 3 ways to do this:
If you use Adobe Acrobat Reader to read PDF documents, one of its annoying features is that it does not remember the last page read. If you are reading a long document like a book and close the document, you will be welcomed with the first page of the document the next time you open the document. One day when wading through the options available in Adobe Reader, I found a setting hidden deep inside the settings page that would allow us to reopen a document to the last viewed page. I have been using this setting for a very long time and found it to be very useful for long PDFs. Continue reading
I have just returned from a trip to Paris last week, which was the culmination of my attempt to practice my French. When we started learning French, I and my wife decided that we will visit Paris when we finish the French courses that we have bought and we are at a reasonable level of fluency. We are nowhere near to completing all the courses that we bought. Anyway, we took the trip to see how much we have really learnt.
It felt so good to be able to talk to people in Paris in French, to ask for directions and to understand what they were saying. To my surprise, a lot of people in Paris spoke English. I was expecting that everyone would talk only French. So, I was a bit disappointed :). My listening comprehension has improved a lot, especially when it comes to listening to answers that pertain to situations in everyday life. I could read most of the materials that were available for travelers in French and to understand them.
The last month was the most rewarding month in my French learning. Though I could spend very little time in studying any of the courses that I have purchased, I was able to use what I have learnt in a lot of practical situations while I was in France. I have traveled to France a few times in the last month and I am so happy that I could manage moving around in France using French. Now, I am able to understand more and more of what the natives are talking back to me when I ask them a question and it feels so good. Continue reading
This month, I have been able to spend very little time in learning French compared to previous months, due to other priorities taking over. I am well on my way into reading my second full-length French book – The Linguist by Steve Kaufmann who started the LingQ service. I have read about 10 chapters so far and I understand most of what I am reading and my confidence in understanding written French is increasing. LingQ website provides a facility to mark unknown words in every passage I read and then it calculates a statistic of how many words I know based on the texts I read and the unknown words I mark – as of now, it says that I know 3213 words in French.
I have completed reading my first full-length book in French and it feels so good. Based on the advice given by Aaron of Everyday Language Learner in his Guide to Sustaining, I have picked up a book on a topic that I am very interested in reading about. Though there was lot of new vocabulary and there were parts that I could not fully make sense of, I understood most of the contents. Continue reading