French Immersion Class: Fun, Frustration, and Results

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In summary, the speakers discussed their experiences with immersion classes in foreign languages, particularly French. They shared that immersion classes can be more effective in language acquisition, but it can also be embarrassing to speak and ask questions in front of others. They also discussed the differences between French Canadian and Parisian French, with one person mentioning that the dialect in Louisiana is more similar to Acadian French. Overall, they found immersion classes to be a fun and bonding experience.
  • #1
Math Is Hard
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I started a French class tonight. I was really hesitant about it because it's an immersion class - no English. It was so much fun, though! I was surprised that I was able to follow the instructor so well.
I think this immersion technique might be the best way to learn a language - though I have to say - it was embarrassing having to respond and ask questions in French in front of the class when I know so little. I'm sure my face was completely red the whole time. :redface:
Have any of you done immersion classes in foreign languages? Did you prefer them to traditional instruction?
 
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  • #2
Math Is Hard said:
Have any of you done immersion classes in foreign languages? Did you prefer them to traditional instruction?
I don't know how many Yanks are aware that Canada is officially bilingual. French is a mandatory subject (except perhaps in the Catholic School System; I don't know about that), and immersion is the most common if not universal method of teaching it. It certainly seems to be far more effective than 'book learning'. It was introduced as an option when I was in high school, but I never took it. I sort of regret that now, because the language-acquisition part of the brain starts to atrophy in the late teens-early twenties. At my age, it's almost impossible to pick up a new language. :frown:
Incidentally, French Canadian (Quebecois) French compared to Parisienne French is roughly equivalent to the difference in Spanish between Mexico and Spain. Which sort are you taking?
 
  • #3
Math Is Hard said:
Have any of you done immersion classes in foreign languages?

Aside from time spent in East L.A., no, but my German Professor did this the first day of my 101 class. He went around the class and asked each person all sorts of questions and waited for a response, while we all just sat there looking completely stupid and lost. At least he seemed to be having a really good time. I started getting really worried though when other people started talking back and I had no idea what the heck anyone was talking about! :mad: :rolleyes: As it turned out, several people were already speaking at a conversational level but they never formerly learned High German. Anyway, he used this technique often and I think it really helped. It was embarrassing at first but you'll get used to it.
 
  • #4
Hi Danger, I am pretty sure we are learning Parisian French, but I could be mistaken. I am glad that you mentioned that Canada is officially bilingual. My mom forced my sister to take Spanish (she wanted to take French) but Mom put her foot down and said "no one speaks French anymore and Spanish will be more useful to you since you live in Texas".
I don't agree. I think she should have let her take French. There are plently of French-speaking places in the world.

Ivan - y'know the thing that I thought was interesting about the class is that since we're all embarrassed and all making asses of ourselves, it seemed that we all kind of bonded instantly. I made friends with everyone in class tonight. It was really a lot of fun and we had a good time laughing at ourselves. It's so much different than the harsh competitive atmosphere of my science and math classes.
 
  • #5
Math Is Hard said:
It was really a lot of fun and we had a good time laughing at ourselves.

I agree. You're all in the same boat, and it is fun, so it becomes a much more friendly environment.

One other thing that I found amusing. I wasn't quite getting the rhythm until I started cutting loose; almost as if I was making a bit of fun of someone or trying to be comical. When I started really exaggerating the German "sound", Dr. Krauss suddenly smiled; "Ja, Ja. Sehr gut!" And here I thought I was being a smart a$$. :smile:
 
  • #6
Math Is Hard said:
Mom put her foot down and said "no one speaks French anymore and Spanish will be more useful to you since you live in Texas".
It should help you out to some extent in Louisianna too. Cajun is the remnant of the Quebecois French spoken by the Canadians who moved down there. I don't know if it might have changed too much to be recognizable, though.
 
  • #7
Danger said:
Incidentally, French Canadian (Quebecois) French compared to Parisienne French is roughly equivalent to the difference in Spanish between Mexico and Spain. Which sort are you taking?


So it canuck french sounds corrupted, bastardized, and just generally less aurally please than parisian french?

After a long day at work I'm thanking all the gods ever thought of when i get a call from someone actually speaking castellano and not the local...thing...that passes for spanish.
 
  • #8
Danger said:
It should help you out to some extent in Louisianna too. Cajun is the remnant of the Quebecois French spoken by the Canadians who moved down there. I don't know if it might have changed too much to be recognizable, though.

She lives in LA, spanish is more useful. THough as i said, if you can even call what is spoken there spanish...
 
  • #9
Danger said:
It should help you out to some extent in Louisianna too. Cajun is the remnant of the Quebecois French spoken by the Canadians who moved down there. I don't know if it might have changed too much to be recognizable, though.

Actually, Lousiana french is more of a derivative of the Acadian french rather than quebec french. It is people living in Acadia (New-Brunswick/Nova-Scotia) that were deported.

As far as Quebec french, the accent is more closely related to the french found in Brittany (Bretagne). Quebec french is also more 17th-18th century version and evolved in a different dialect because Quebec was cut out from France for about 150 years.

As far as french immersion goes, I know several people that were in french immersion at high school; however, they did not understand french and I could not have a conversation with them. The thing about language is that if you don't pratice you will lose it.

I personnaly find that learning a new language is easier when you fully immerse yourself inside a community. There is not way out. You only hear and express youself in one language.
 
  • #10
English was never spoken in our French lessons at school. Well, not by the teacher anyway. I got an A at GCSE, and am now, urm, fluent. Ahem.
 
  • #11
"French immersion?" Too...many...jokes...head...about...to...explode... :bugeye:
 
  • #12
Man, our teachers in secondary school spoke English quite a bit during French lessons. At A Level though, the lessons were all in French.
 
  • #13
Nylex said:
Man, our teachers in secondary school spoke English quite a bit during French lessons. At A Level though, the lessons were all in French.

Nope, no such joy. The first two weeks of Y7 involved Monsieur Deeks asking us things we just didn't understand. It was like he was speaking in another language. No wait, he was.

I don't know whether it was the idea of learning french in french which was hard, or just because we were distracted by thinking up 'Deeks' jokes all the time. Ah well, happy days.
 
  • #14
Math Is Hard said:
Have any of you done immersion classes in foreign languages? Did you prefer them to traditional instruction?

yes very much, i did two years of Italian in evening classes when i was in high school. then at college i lived with a few native-italian speakers. i can assure you, this way of teaching is the most efficient way of learning a foreign language. My Italian is much better then my French, though i studied it for many more years...

marlon
 
  • #15
Immersion is the standard in Belgium.
In a Dutch speaking school in Brussels (officially bilingual French/Dutch), children start out learning French by the age of 6, English by the age of 12, and optionally German by the age of 15. All of this in the language that is taught.
I always tought that this was a great system. Sure, it's ackward at the start, but it's the best way to learn.
Only the dead languages, like Latin & Greek, are taught in Dutch.
 
  • #16
Dimitri Terryn said:
Immersion is the standard in Belgium.
In a Dutch speaking school in Brussels (officially bilingual French/Dutch), children start out learning French by the age of 6, English by the age of 12, and optionally German by the age of 15. All of this in the language that is taught.
I always tought that this was a great system. Sure, it's ackward at the start, but it's the best way to learn.
Only the dead languages, like Latin & Greek, are taught in Dutch.

Correct, even in some high-schools you can chose to study Spanish as an extra curriculum.

regards
marlon
 
  • #17
iansmith said:
Actually, Lousiana french is more of a derivative of the Acadian french rather than quebec french.
Ontario school system again! I didn't realize that they were already separate dialects that far back. By 'Quebecois' I meant Canadian style as opposed to French style. :smile:
iansmith said:
It is people living in Acadia (New-Brunswick/Nova-Scotia) that were deported.
Seems they missed a couple... or did you sneak back in? :biggrin:



PS: You're pretty smart for a Bluenose 'tank'... :smile:

franznietzsche said:
So it canuck french sounds corrupted, bastardized, and just generally less aurally please than parisian french?
Absolutely. It's more gutteral and not as 'crisp?'. Think of French with a German accent... :rolleyes:
 
  • #18
russ_watters said:
"French immersion?" Too...many...jokes...head...about...to...explode... :bugeye:

Uh oh! We've even corrupted Russ! I expect this from SOS, Danger, hypatia, franz, myself, and a few others, but I thought you were the straight-laced one here! :rolleyes: :smile:

:-p

Okay, back on topic (it's really hard, but I'm trying)...

I think immersion is a great way to learn to be conversational in a language, if that's your goal. However, if you need to learn a written language (preparing technical or professional documents, translating, etc), then it's not as good because you don't get the rigor of the grammatical rules you'll need for that purpose.

Personally, I like a little primer in learning to pronounce common sounds, learn the alphabet used, see how the words are written, learn a few lists of vocabulary words to get me started, and then get more of the immersion experience.
 
  • #19
It seems that I've been missing out.. the only immersion I had was in learning Dutch, logically :-p, the mandatory English German and French were all taught from the book: we never spoke a word.

I remember one French examination: it was to test our ability to understand the spoken language while we were never exposed to that and ofcourse they tape the conversation on low-grade band recorder recorded at a railway station :rolleyes:

I think the immersion technique is good: if you want to learn a new language, start watching the tv programs. I can understand some Hindi just because of that :-p
 
  • #20
Danger said:
Seems they missed a couple... or did you sneak back in? :biggrin:

PS: You're pretty smart for a Bluenose 'tank'... :smile:

I'm not a bluenose I am quebecois. I am from montreal but I'm doing my PhD in Halifax.

As far the Acadian deportation goes, Acadian were allowed to stay as long as "they took an oath of loyality to George II of Great Britain".

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Great_Upheaval
 
  • #21
Moonbear said:
Uh oh! We've even corrupted Russ! I expect this from SOS, Danger, hypatia, franz, myself, and a few others, but I thought you were the straight-laced one here! :rolleyes: :smile:

This is PF, no one is straight laced anymore.
:-p

Okay, back on topic (it's really hard, but I'm trying)...

Liar, you are not.
 
  • #22
I like Monique's idea about the TV programs. But since I can't get French TV, who can recommend some French movies for me to watch?
 
  • #23
If you can always find DVD with a french version on it, that would be good enough. the french version is usually international french.

As far as TV and movie goes, I find it easier, when you are not too familiar with a language, to watch stuff aimed at a younger audience rather than a more marture audience. The action and the speech goes together and you can figure out the meaning of the words, most of the time, based on the action.

If you need to order french you can always look at this site. It is based in Montreal and will ship to the US.

http://www.archambault.ca/store/default.asp

And I recommend the following cartoon, it used to be my favorites when I was a kid.

Le petit castor (Translate: Little beaver)
http://www.archambault.ca/store/product.asp?sku=001634778&type=2
Les mystérieuse cités d'or (The myterious gold city). It has entertainment and educational stuff. At the end of each, show they would have a 3 minutes segment about south american native culture. I still watch this and when I was a kid I wanted to become an archeologist because of this cartoon.
http://www.archambault.ca/store/product.asp?sku=001167686&type=2
 
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  • #24
Math Is Hard said:
I like Monique's idea about the TV programs. But since I can't get French TV, who can recommend some French movies for me to watch?

I liked L'Auberge Espagnole. That was the last one I watched.

If you can't speak a single word in the new language, how will immersion do anything at all ? It's all basically self-study isn't it ? An easy way out for the teachers...I smell a rat here.
 
  • #25
Gokul43201 said:
If you can't speak a single word in the new language, how will immersion do anything at all ? It's all basically self-study isn't it ? An easy way out for the teachers...I smell a rat here.


Thats how i feel about it. Without some basic entry level instruction, i would just sit and get frustrated. Immersion is a better way over all, but tempered with some initial understanding. A semester in the traditional style followed by immersion.

My 4th/5th yesr of spanish were supposed to be immersion, but the teacher was so bad the 4th year, that it wasn't really. My 5th year teacher was awesome though. And of course, working in san fernando (which was 8 hours a day immersion, all the oter employees, well almost all, spoke spanish as their first language).
 
  • #26
iansmith said:
I'm not a bluenose I am quebecois. I am from montreal but I'm doing my PhD in Halifax.
As far the Acadian deportation goes, Acadian were allowed to stay as long as "they took an oath of loyality to George II of Great Britain".
I never looked at your bio until now. Guess because of your 'Supermentor' tag, I always figured you were one of the old guys. Alas, I appear to have wasted the deportation joke. :frown: And yeah, that 'oath of loyalty' was really likely to happen...:rolleyes:
Now what was that about getting back on topic? Oh yeah, the only drawback that I see to a lot of the immersion technique is that it doesn't extend beyond the classroom, and a single period of study isn't really enough to get 'immersed'. In Alberta (I don't know about other places), we have entire schools that are French Immersion, so you take your history, math, whatever in French as well. Even stuff like bulletin board announcements and sports are done in French.
 
  • #27
I learned most of my French from watching Pingu.
 
  • #28
brewnog said:
I learned most of my French from watching Pingu.
The bad guy in 'Batman'? He's not French.
 
  • #29
Danger said:
The bad guy in 'Batman'? He's not French.

Rats! That might be where I've been going wrong...
 
  • #30
brewnog said:
I learned most of my French from watching Pingu.
As much as I hate to be serious, I just thought of something that never occurred to me before. Given how closely situated European countries are, do you all get spill-over from each other's TV and radio? (Broadcast, I mean; I assume that cable is probably domestic.) It's only right along the border that we share stations with the Yanks, but our broadcast areas are bigger than some nations over there. :confused:
 
  • #31
russ_watters said:
"French immersion?" Too...many...jokes...head...about...to...explode... :bugeye:
Moonbear said:
Uh oh! We've even corrupted Russ! I expect this from SOS, Danger, hypatia, franz, myself, and a few others, but I thought you were the straight-laced one here! :rolleyes: :smile:
ARRGH, you know me so well so soon? I was reading along and was in shock that no one had made any "immersion comments," but Russ has been on a roll and has really been cracking me up. I think he's always been like this, and none of us are to blame -'k'?

Back to the topic - I studied French for a couple of years, and wish it had been "conversational" because I could only read French after all that time and effort. MIH, you go girl!
 
  • #32
Math Is Hard said:
I like Monique's idea about the TV programs. But since I can't get French TV, who can recommend some French movies for me to watch?
Amelie! :biggrin: You should be able to get that one with subtitles at your local video store.
 
  • #33
Monique said:
Amelie! :biggrin: You should be able to get that one with subtitles at your local video store.

[ot]
Which reminds me, that sheet music is swoonworthy! thank you thank you thank you thank you thank you!
[/ot]
 
  • #34
brewnog said:
[ot]
Which reminds me, that sheet music is swoonworthy! thank you thank you thank you thank you thank you!
[/ot]
I know, I love it :approve: :biggrin:

the sound track of the movie is used a lot on television and in other movies (good bye lenin for instance).
 
  • #35
SOS2008 said:
ARRGH, you know me so well so soon? I was reading along and was in shock that no one had made any "immersion comments," but Russ has been on a roll and has really been cracking me up. I think he's always been like this, and none of us are to blame -'k'?

I suspect you're right, but I don't think he often let's us see that side of him on PF. He's usually trying too hard to be the tough guy. :biggrin:
 

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