FRENCH CONFUSIONHi 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 Yahoo.fr 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.