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Rapid Language Learning July 8, 2007

Posted by Edwin in French, Learning Tips.

A while ago, I came across an article written by Konstantin who claimed to have learned the French language in just 10 months. Although he didn’t claim to reach fluency, he managed to pass the TEF with high scores. The article was a write-up of his experiences and methods.

I was amazed at first when I found out that someone was actually using a methodology very similar to mine, only that it was much intense. Even the online tools we used (Bable Fish and WordReference) happened to be the same. There are also similarities between our backgrounds, such as our jobs, both learned French many years ago at school, being non-English native speakers, and our common enemy – the lack of time.

There are, however, some major differences between our approaches. Konstantin concentrated on extensive reading at the beginning. After attaining competency in reading, he moved onto listening, speaking, and writing simultaneously. On the other hand, I have adopted more-or-less Steve‘s approach, in which I work on reading and listening at the same time, then move onto speaking and writing.

Reading this article does give me a lot of encouragement. He also gave out many advises, some I happened to discover by myself in the hard way. I only wish I had come across this article from the beginning. It could have saved me a lot of time.



1. frenchninja - July 8, 2007

Interesting technique. It also baffled me as I bought that same Harry Potter novel in French and also the grammar book by Schaum that is mentioned!

Having taught myself the French (that of it that I know) from a dictionary, and then recently having gone to France, I’ve discovered it was entirely a mistake for me to first learn reading/writing followed by speaking. The problem I faced was that I could speak almost fluently, but I was hopeless at recognising French words being spoken back to me, as I had never actually learnt how to listen to French. Now I wish I had learnt to hear French before even learning how to speak it (I guess this is the ‘natural’ way of learning, like how infants do). Reading and writing is easy enough if your French activity is entirely solitairy (or web-based) 🙂

Here in Australia, I’ve found books at my foreign-language bookshop where the left page will be in French, and the right page will be in English. It’s more convenient than having two copies of the same book as Konstantin describes, as long as you have the discipline to not lazily read the right page more than the left 🙂

I’m starting Italian in a few months – this time my focus will be on listening first, speaking second, and the rest can follow once I’ve nailed those. Hopefully I’m onto something.

2. edwinlaw - July 8, 2007

Your case is quite interesting as it kind of goes against the natural flow.

I do believe that listening and reading can go together, and it probably makes sense to do it this way.

Have you checked out the podcast I mentioned a few posts back? They have Italian too.

3. frenchninja - July 8, 2007

I did check out the podcasts you mentioned – with interest, as most of the content specifically refers to my home town (shared with the speakers). In fact I’d say my French listening has improved a great deal from those podcasts – whether its the slightly slowed down conversations or the fact that I have a vested interest in what is being said because it relates to me. Haven’t looked at the Italian ones yet but I believe it’s the same case.

Certainly learning to understand a spoken language doesn’t have to be the first thing to master – for me I think this would’ve been best with French. My own father learnt English entirely from reading English books and an English-French dictionary. It’s interesting to see how others do it and what the results are!

4. Dominique - December 27, 2009

I’m surprised by your support of multiculturalism mate.
As linguists/applied linguists we should all recognize the damage that multiculturalism has on cultural and linguistic identity. Policies that maintain segregation are crucial to the survival of world languages – multiculturalism will only speed up the dominance of English and the extinction of minority languages.

5. fatma gomaa - July 5, 2010

im fatma i want to learnhng english

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