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It has been years since I abandoned French. French was my first love when it came to language learning (then I fell for Spanish).
But something was calling me back…
For several months I had been toying with the idea of reigniting the flames with French. I began to check out some of the many free online French resources.
There were so many options I soon became overwhelmed. I didn’t know where to start. I knew I felt attracted to learning French, I just couldn’t find the motivation to get going with it once and for all.
I kept making excuses, putting off study dates with French…until I noticed FrenchPod101 from Innovative Language. FrenchPod101 offers a free “Word of the Day” directly to email, so I signed up straight away, just to get me started…nothing to lose!
Who doesn’t want to hear from an old love in their inbox?
The Word of the Day from FrenchPod101
Directly into my inbox arrived the first “Word of the Day”: Arriver. I must admit I was a little disappointed as I thought this was going to be too easy. Everyone knows that arriver means “to arrive” (well, not everyone but I certainly did).
I didn’t even bother to click on the link encouraging me to listen to a native speaker say arriver. I remembered arriver from my school-day French and I thought I was too smart to even bother.
This wasn’t exactly lighting up my flames of passion for French!
It took me four days of “Word of the Day” before I bothered to hit the link to listen to the word voiture (“car”), which I also knew but thought I should try and practise that tricky …ure pronunciation in French. Quelle surprise when I saw eight different phrases using voiture. The sentences were interesting, and used several different tenses, with lots of different vocabulary.
I went quickly back to the previous “Word of the Day” emails and found that each one had a whole lot of sentences, phrases and expressions that I could listen to and repeat as many times as I wished. It was great.
I started to get a real feel for the pronunciation and began to get used to the sensation of speaking a little French again.
But that was just the beginning…
I wouldn’t have noticed if I hadn’t scrolled down to the end of the page of “Word of the Day” on Thursday, and read:
One month’s free trial of FrenchPod101 Premium level.
Yes, too good to be true…so being the cynical, smart person I like to think I am, I scrutinised the not very small print, and discovered it wasn’t actually ‘free’ but required the modest sum of…. $1 to be paid (Normal price: $25/month).
Note: You can access this offer here. Enter your email, click “Join Now”, then select “Yes, I want to receive the Word of the Day email”
From the amount of material I was already accessing with the really free “Word of the Day”, I thought I might give this a go. Only $1 for 30 days’ access, and then I could decide if I wanted to continue with the course at a cost of $25/month.
Added to the deal was the “Fast track to Fluency” pack; Normal price $9.99 but completely free to me with my 30 day trial of FrenchPod101.
By now I’m getting a bit confused by it all. However, I calmed myself by realising I had actually only paid one dollar so far, but I wasn’t exactly sure what for.
Here’s what happened when I delved inside my purchase…
FrenchPod101: My 30 Day Journal
Day 1: A Slow Start
The lesson today is on the theme of ‘self-introductions’ which makes me have visions of Je m’appelle Marie so I didn’t go into it. I learned so much of that topic at school 20 years ago, that I don’t think I can bear going through it again.
I was hoping for a better a start! I’ll see what tomorrow brings.
Day 2: The Inflection Chart
Lesson two came straight into my inbox, so I couldn’t ignore it. It’s entitled “How to Apologise in French”. Now this sounded a little more interesting but once I clicked on to the interesting dialogue spoken by a native French speaker, I realised I had a whole host of activities at my disposition.
As I listened to ‘How to Apologise’ I could click on each sentence and repeat, slowly, faster and again and again.
One of the best features was to listen to a native French person’s recording of the sentence or phrase, and see the graph of the inflection of voice. Then underneath you can record yourself repeating the sentence or phrase and you watch your own inflection and see how they compare with the native speaker.
I must have stuck on that strategy for ten minutes, mesmerised by the graph in front of my eyes. I haven’t ever come across that feature before in a language-learning method. I really thought it helped my pronunciation, my speed and most of all my confidence, as I could verify that my French was slowly, after practice, approximating a native French-speaker’s speech!
Day 4: Mind Your Manners!
Yesterday’s and today’s FrenchPod101 lessons were about “The Weather” and “How to Mind your Manners in French”.
“The Weather” item was interesting, but I loved reading about manners in French. Manners can be different in some countries and I really appreciated the nuances that were explained in a fun way in the lesson.
Day 8: Fast Track to Fluency
I have to admit that I have actually missed 4 days of FrenchPod101. I’m so annoyed with myself as I was really enjoying it and keeping up, but then “life got in the way” as they say. It really did.
I was looking back at the previous emails and was about to give up, thinking that all of this material was mounting up and I really haven’t got time at the moment to get back into French anyway …when I realised I hadn’t even opened up “Fast Track to Fluency”, which had come as part of the signing-up deal.
Rather than wade through all the past lessons, I went straight to see what this was about.
It couldn’t have been better timed. Motivational, inspirational, but most of all …practical. Just what I needed to get back on track. (No pun intended, well actually yes there is…Fast Track to Fluency…back on track.)
I downloaded and printed the ‘Fast Track to Fluency Lesson Checklist’ and the ‘Fast track to Fluency Weekly Schedule’ which I’m hoping is going to help me to focus my learning, and make a solid, daily commitment to my French learning. I really want to do this.
Day 12: Sticking with It
I’m so happy that I’ve been able to get back to the lessons and stick to the schedule. The checklist has really made me aware of the purpose of each lesson and has even served as a reminder for the previous lessons, so I’ve even had some revision without really noticing it was actually revision.
Only one thing I’m not sure about the ‘Fast Track to Fluency’ pack, was why it was spread over seven days, when the most useful part was the printable sheets. They didn’t appear till day three or four. I might have to go back to it and see if I missed something. There was a lot of advice and encouragement over a seven-day period, which is of great value, but for me the best part was the Checklist and the Schedule I was able to print out and actually use.
Day 18: Too Much English?
All going well and I’m very happy playing around with the different speeds I can listen to each sentence in the dialogue. The Premium lesson today was: “How to Describe your Significant Other”. I just love how there is a lot of humour in the ‘banter’ after the lesson.
The ‘banter’ is in English between a native French speaker and an English-speaking learner. The French speaker is explaining in a funny conversational manner to the English speaker about the dialogue I’ve just listened to. Sometimes I think there’s a bit too much English going on in this section, but it’s all in such good humour, it’s quite entertaining.
Day 23: Keeping Up
The last few days have been hectic, but I’ve really tried to keep up with my ‘Fast Track to Fluency’ schedule. “Where shall we go for dinner in France” and “Let’s Celebrate Your Birthday in French” were two of the lessons I really enjoyed.
I love listening to the native French and recording my own rendition of those same sentences. I really believe I’m making real progress with even just this one strategy.
Day 27: Let’s Hang Out
Word of the day: Café = Coffee Shop.
You’d think that would be too easy to even worry about, but oh no. I clicked onto it, and lo and behold, I learned how to say, “Let’s meet at the coffee shop.” Even more interesting was: “My friends are hanging out at the coffee shop today”!
I never expected such interesting sentences or phrases in a beginner’s French course.
I’ve got so much French floating around in my head, I’m going dizzy and am even ready to book a weekend in Paris!
I’m sorry to have come to the end of my free 30-day trial-period of FrenchPod101.
I know I’ve only touched the tip of the iceberg as far as recuperating my school-day French, but I’ve had such fun that I’m seriously contemplating joining up for at least another month (updater: I’ve actually done so). It’s an excellent course.
Want to give it a try yourself? You can join FrenchPod101 here. I recommend it!
Pod101 podcasts are available for 30+ languages. You can read our full review (with screenshots) of the Pod101 system here.