Thursday, November 12, 2009

Which method is best?

Here's a message that I received on YouTube from Didi aka. Scout4Me

Hi Remy,

I am taking French lessons from you and I like it and have learned much, but I have also physically bought the entire Pimsleur set of CDs to becoming 80% fluent in French (their numbers) if I strictly follow the directions by Pimsleur. I am getting flooded in the mail with all these Pimsleur CDs, and woa, I am not that fast a learner. Pimsleur does not allow us to take notes nor use any books, not even to look up the spelling of a French word, though I have cheated a little and have looked up the spelling of some French words, in fact, a lot of French words and I think it has helped not hindered me even if Pimsleur has said that is a no-no. So, I don`t know which is the best method of learning French short of living in France, and I don`t know if I started on the wrong footing with Pimsleur. Looking up the spelling of French words has helped me in pronunciation and understanding the LINKS between words, but I must admit I have not been able to rattle off sentences as quickly as I would like in an easy converstional manner. I think the trouble is I am MEMORIZING the order of French words in a sentence in my mind`s eye, exactly what Pimsleur tells us not to do. A child can be fluent in a language without knowing grammer, so does Pimsleur have a point here? Also, you are teaching us grammer and it helps me understand French also. What is right and what is your opinion of Pimsleur?

Here is my answer:

In the absence of total immersion I actually recommend a variety of methods: The Michel Thomas Method, The Rosetta Stone Method, The Pimsleur Method, The Basic French Lessons Method, watching French videos on YouTube, reading news headlines at etc...
The major obstacle to learning a new language is the acquired language you're using to do so because it acts as both a filter and a barrier.Those did not exist when you acquired your native language because obviously you had no language as a infant.
I am for example learning Spanish using my English and to a lesser extent my native French so the process goes through two different filters. This mechanism is both a help and a hindrance.
I favor building a strong grammatical foundation first on which to build the base for being conversant. I do not favor what I call the "Perrot Method" based on memorizing entire pre-packaged sentences. I prefer to learn how to build sentences using building blocks so that I can then make news sentences using the blocks I'm already familiar with.I use both the Michel Thomas method and the Rosetta Stone for Spanish Learning.
I learned English in High School and College then by moving to the United States and actually speaking with people. Remember that a language is meant to be spoken to other human beings :) I also watched quite a bit of television and movies when I no one else was around. Those were pre-internet days :)
The key to all this is to keep at it over many days, weeks, months, years, decades and a lifetime. It takes an average of 10,000 hours to master most skills and language learning is no exceptions. The good news is that you have already mastered one language and you did it as a child.
I conclusion, I can only recommend that you try various methods and see what works best for you. Just keep going. Slowly yes but surely.


Carlos said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Carlos said...

Bonjour Rémy, je suis Carlos.
J'habite à San Jose en Californie.

I have just subscribed to your video lessons on Youtube, and I found them extremely interesting. Good job!

BTW, I work for Goodwill in California and I teach English as a Second Language to the Spanish speaking population. What I wanted to tell you, is that I agree completely with you as far as combining learning methods. For example, somebody offered us an ESL (English as a Second Language) method that was based just on phrases. However, I don't think people can just learn phrases like that. Everyone needs to have a good grammar foundation before throwing phrases at them...

Anyway, Congratulations! You do an awesome job!

Je tiens à vous remercier pour tout ce que vous avez fait.

A revior mon ami

Carlos said...

à propos, j'ai 43 ans aussi, je suis née le premier Mai 1966 ... Nous sommes sur le même âge. :-)

à plus tard, et félicitations encore pour votre grand online langue française programme. J'aime la culture française ... En particulier la langue, les gens et sa cuisine.

à bientôt

Rémy said...

Hola Carlos,
Muchas gracias por su mensaje. Hago las lecciones para gente como usted :)
Aprendo español. Es dificil pero me gusta el idioma :)

Anonymous said...

I hate it when you respond in a language I don't understand and I wonder why my toddler-brain was so much better at learning a new language than my 40-yr old brain.

clickstock said...

Remy il est plus facile à traduire espagnol en utilisant les français que les anglais.

Carlos said...

Thanks a lot Remy, I really appreciate it a lot! I know you're a super busy person and you still take the time to respond to our messages. I just wanted to let you know that I'm very surprised with your videos, they are very interesting. I know they only last 10 minutes each one of them (Approximately), but in reality it takes you a long time to record them, edit them, add the subtitles, etc.... You're my hero!
I have seen that there are other people trying to do the same thing, but nahhhh! I like yours better. By the way, I only got to your video # 17 (I know you've probably heard this a lot), but.... Are there any other videos of yours? I would like to continue. BTW, Yes, I speak Spanish too, I was born in Mexico, but I've lived in the US for 30 something years! And again... I love the French culture... very very much! oh, one last question! What do you do for a living? Kind of curious!

Hasta la vista!
If you want to practice your Spanish, I don't have any problem with that... or

You can send me something in Spanish and I can correct it. Although I know you have lots of friends who speak Spanish in Texas.

A Bientot!

-- Carlos Rodriguez

Fábio Pina, MV, MSc, ISVO said...

Hi Rémy
I'm from Brazil and I love your French lessons at the youtube. I got an intermidiate level in English I guess (sorry about that). Now I'm studying French at the biginner level cause I've decided to move to Canada. My question is... when do you recommend starting to watch videos or movies in French? Is it early doing it now?
Recife - Brazil

Kary said...

I saw your videos on youtube and I must say it is a great job!! I am an advanced beginner and found your videos very useful.I was wondering if you have any tips for the DELF A2 French exam? :-)
I am taking it up and currently brushing up my French

Anonymous said...

Great job with your videos! Tu es vraiment le meilleur!
Keep on the good work!


justin said...

Bonjour Rémy,
ca va?
I have been following your videos these past few weeks and found that your method is really good one and have learnt great amount of things. I am so thankful for your good job. However, I couldn`t find your Lesson from 18. could you pls tell me where I can get your lesson 18. I`m tring to find your lessons on internet and couldn`t. If could possible write me an email to, because I really want talk to you regarding french.
Au revoir!

Anonymous said...

Bonjour Remy,
Je suis Zoe...
that's about as far as I have got so far but want to say how grateful I am to have discovered your lessons on youtube-- thank you for your generosity. They are very helpful- more so than anything else I have seen. I enjoy seeing your creativity and humour in them as well.

Many thanks and kind regards,


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