French Fluency Recovery Project

Today, December 20, 2014, I began my second-ever deliberate language acquisition project, which I intend to carefully track and regularly report on. I will not attempt to propose nuanced hypotheses or lay out a detailed methodology like I did with my Mandarin experiment—at least not at the outset.

My preliminary plan is to dedicate an average of at least ten minutes per day to practicing my French, using any methodology—but likely limited to the communicative approach advocated by The Natural Language Institute. I expect most of my time will be spent listening to Radio France Internationale and watching an occasional French language movie. However, I also expect to do a little reading and writing (mostly for this blog) and have a French conversation class at Français Naturel from time to time. Due to my severe time constraints, I do not expect to devote much more than the minimum ten minutes per day, or five hours per month. Thus, if I have a one-hour French class, watch a two-hour movie, and spend two hours writing a blog post in French, I will have “used up” the time corresponding to an entire month. This example reveals how very little I will be dedicating to French overall.

My vague expectation is that I will regain full fluency in French in about two years using this approach. I define full fluency rather subjectively in this case: the ability to feel at ease in communicating orally and in writing, expressing my ideas successfully, in full detail, and committing no serious mistakes that compromise understanding. Perhaps in five or ten years I will achieve better fluency than I have ever had—at least ILR 4, with native-like fluency and pronunciation, but not native-level vocabulary. However, I expect that will only happen if during certain periods I intensify my contact with the language, putting in far greater hours, such as several vacations or one extended stay in France.

Today I spent exactly 30 minutes on French, which is the time I allotted to a self-designed and self-administered proficiency test. The purpose of this test is to record my current level and then be able to accurately compare it to my fluency in the future. I have described the test and posted my raw answers here.

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