So, the wrinkles have been smoothed out, and it turns out I only CLEP tested out of Spanish 1. Considering that test is geared towards people who are fluent in Spanish, and I haven't spoken or written Spanish in 6 years, I'm totally ok with that. It's a bummer that I have to take a class that I've already taken and know almost all the material in, but life could be a lot worse right now. So I enrolled for Spanish 2 in the Fall, and now have 13 credit hours of a-w-f-u-l classes to take during that semester. But if I can stay focused, and keep studying my head off for the next 5 months, I'll have my AA, and hopefully a spot in the Linguistics Dept. at UF. Now I get to sit around and royally stress over actually getting into the school. Until September.
Oh! And I'm very excited to announce that I get to fly up and see my bestest friend ever at the end of July...Shay. That's right, I'll be flying toward Chicago-land the last week in July, and am hoping to get to meet my fellow Spire peeps as well.
ANYWAY, so back to French. I can now study my French in peace, without having a nasty, looming deadline over my head. My textbook has been extremely helpful, and I'm learning more than I ever did with Fluenz. I'm greatly enjoying this language, even with it's quirks and impossible inefficiencies. That being said, I have some big news. I'm changing my goal. I know, I KNOW, but I really am realizing that there's not a snowball's chance in Hell that I'm going to be conversational enough to have a full-blown, 15-minute conversation with a French professor. If I had found the textbook earlier, sure--but I didn't. If I had 8 hours of free time a day to study, sure--but I don't. Therefore, I am taking new submissions for goals. Any suggestions you have, that I can reasonably complete by October, I want to hear them. I am still determined to accomplish *something,* in my time as a Spire-er (really, we need a better name. Spirian?), but it's difficult to quantify learning a new skill that's completely intellectual. So, let's hear it! You can either comment, get a hold of me, of Shay, whichever's easier for you. I suppose you can consider this my "audience lifeline..." Write a reply...please!-----------------------------------To read more of Kaylynn's previous posts, click here.
Trying to learn a language to a certain level within a restrictive time has proven extremely stressful, and I've already had a few mini-breakdowns over it. As I mentioned last week, I've bailed on Fluenz temporarily, and picked up an ancient textbook (circa 1994) instead, which has incredibly quickened my learning pace. This makes me simultaneously grateful and frustrated. Grateful that I'm learning so much more quickly, frustrated that I DIDN'T FIGURE THAT OUT EARLIER. I'm genuinely upset with myself that it took me 8 out of 12 months to figure out a functional system of learning that allows me to learn at a quick pace that I like. Grr.
Thanks to a recommendation from a good friend, I've been researching and looking into joining the Alliance Francaise in Greater Orlando. I'm considering raising/dishing out the money for private or semi-private lessons in order to meet my deadline. That's still to be decided, but most certainly is an option.
I've also been writing letters to a new-found friend who resides in France, who has been ridiculously helpful in correcting my minimal French. I've recently started sending him small paragraphs in French, and he has sent me back any corrections that needed to be made in my writing. Additionally, he's sent me portions of his return letters in French as well, which helps me immensely with the reading portion of things. I can't thank him enough, and I'm having a blast speaking with him about all kinds of things.
In short, it's crunch time. Massively. And I'm trying to stay as motivated as possible.--------------------------To follow Kaylynn's journey into learning French, click here.
Looks like things are settling into a rhythm again! The good news is, I'm making tremendous progress again. The bad news is, I had to ditch Fluenz. I will still aim to finish the Fluenz program, because I really do like it and it is helpful, but it's just too slow for what I need. SO, I went out to an old family bookstore (picture the bookstore from the Neverending Story...) and went hunting through the worn, poorly organized shelves. I figured from the get-go that anything foreign would be shoved in the back, and I was absolutely correct. In the very back, covered with dust, was the foreign languages section, and HOLY COW. There was Greek and Spanish and Russian and Italian and finally, the last section was FRENCH. I got a huge French verb book that was recommended to me by a friend, an old French textbook and my precious little pink pocket dictionary all for $27. I'm. So. Excited. I've had them for a few days now and just the experience of reading whole sentences and paragraphs in French, rather than having every stupid word broken down, has been amazing. I've learned, however, that I can't study French at night. I get too excited, and then I can't sleep, ha.
I'm also having a lot of fun writing back and forth with a guy who lives in France. We've had quite the conversation going over the last few weeks, and it's really fun to get his take on life. At my request, he's been writing at least on paragraph of his letters in French, and then providing a translation below it, which is more awesome than Kung-Fu Panda 2.
Overall, I'm excited to be back on track, but I'm still royally stressed over this CLEP test that's looming over my head. My mom suggested going to take the test in a week or two to see how I did, and if I failed it, at least I would know what I'm up against and could take it again with better knowledge. I may do that...but I'm nervous. We'll see.
To hear more about Kaylynn and her French journey, click here.
So, French has been metaphorically thrown against the wall this past week. My spirits were so high from my discovery that doing 2 or 3 lessons in a day actually helps me learn more than the recommended 2 or 3 times a week…aaaand then school started. I’m taking 3 courses this summer, all of which are online, all of which are royally kicking my butt. They are concentrated courses, which means that 16 weeks of material is crammed into 6 weeks of “OMG, that’s due TOMORROW?!” I have not managed to do a single French lesson in the last week which makes me feel a number of different things, frustration and failure being the top two. I am sitting down after I write this blog to crank out some French, but it’s difficult to internalize things when in the back of my head, I can hear myself thinking, “you have 19 more quizzes to do for Comparative Government,” or, “You have 40 pages to read and a paper due in Cultural Geography.”
I’m sure I will find a way to balance things out and continue slogging through the swamp of material that I’m trying to forcefully pound into my brain, but for right now, I’m tired. I’m having a catch-up phone call with Shay this evening, so that we can dish about our lives and our projects and make each other laugh, and I’m certain that I’ll feel rejuvenated after I hang up the phone (for those of you that don’t know, Shay and I have been friends for somewhere around a decade). This week has been a struggle, but I’m certain that I will find a way to keep on keepin’ on. Here’s to hoping for a better week.----------------------------To read more from Kaylynn about her adventures with French, click here.
Well, I finished Fluenz French Level 1! I’ve already started with Level 2 and am SO happy that it’s moving much faster than the previous session. I was starting to go a little stir crazy with just how simple they made the breakdowns of conversations. In Level 2, really the only thing the break down is the new vocabulary or grammar structure, and count on you to remember the rest.
I’m starting to dip into the past tense of the language which…makes veritably *no* sense, but thankfully isn’t overly complicated—at least not yet. I’m still a little anxious at the lack of vocabulary that I’ve learned so far, however. While I’m learning a lot, I’m only internalizing a few words a day with the Fluenz program, and they are all conversations for the businessman who is traveling to France. If I want to pass my CLEP test, I need to be familiar with all the material in a French text book, so I may end up buying one specifically for study purposes. I’m also searching high and low for some way that will help me develop more sentences that I can practice with. It’s getting difficult to just sit down with a pad of paper and make up as many random sentences as I can, mixing up the vocabulary as best I can. I’ve been looking for “practice sentences” online have found all of absolutely nothing.
So for now, I will continue forth with my ever faithful Fluenz and hope that the vocabulary expands to some different areas of the language. I’m doing very well with doing at least 2 or 3 lessons a day, and only 1 on the days that I have a packed schedule. I anticipate that I’ll be into Fluenz 3 before June is over, and potentially into Fluenz 4 before the end of July. WHICH MEANS, I’ll be finished with the program about a month before my SpireSpire deadline, and one month after I’m supposed to take the CLEP test. Once the end of July starts creeping up on me, I know it’s going to be crunch time, so I’m trying to prepare myself as much as possible. If anyone has any suggestions for additional learning devices, supplemental websites, etc., I’d love to hear them. This thing is very much becoming a reality.
Still clicking along with my studies, but at a much faster pace than normal. I've committed to finishing not one, but *three* French lessons, four days a week. The other days I'm still shooting to complete one lesson. I've found that I'm perfectly able to retain the information, even while tossing aside Fluenz's recommendation of no more than one lesson per day. Additionally, it keeps my brain in "French mode" for longer, and I find myself practicing more even after I've left the computer. I've also had a good friend offer to talk to me/text me in French, which I intend to take advantage of as soon as I can carve out the time.
I've also been looking into much more in-depth/long term studying options. Even after the completion of SpireSpire in October, whether I reach my goal or not, I still intend to continue honing my language skills. SpireSpire has opened a very interesting door for me, providing me with great direction for where I want to be in 5 years and what I want to be doing. Not getting accepted into my college of choice right away has also opened several new avenues that are up for discussion. It's now plausible that I may be able to finish my B.A. and even my M.A. in Linguistics, with a concentration in French and Francophone Culture. I'm also toying with the idea of pursuing more languages, including German and potentially Mandarin Chinese. I'm certain that I would be able to successfully learn multiple new languages at one time, although I don't think I would push it past 2 or *maybe* 3 foreign languages simultaneously.
There are many new options and ideas floating around in my head as of late, and I'm excited to see where the possibilites might lead. =)-------------------To follow Kaylynn and her foray into French, click here.
I have 9 more days until school starts, and then I'll be cramming for the next 6-7 months. It was really nice to take the Spring semester off, but I'm ready to jump back into things. My only worry is that I won't be able to devote as much time to my French studies as I need to, especially since the CLEP test is still looming over my head. The latest I can take that test would be in August, and depending on how well I comprehend the material for the test, I may have to wait all the way until the last minute. I went out and purchased a big, fast study book that covers the overall French test and I was fairly discouraged after going over it the other night. While Fluenz is giving me a great understanding of the language, I don't have *nearly* the vocabulary necessary to kick ass on the test. Almost all the knowledge I have from Fluenz is travel-related. So, I'm on the hunt for a few more supplemental items to help me expand my vocabulary and understanding of verb conjugation. So far, Google has been tremendously helpful in finding word lists for me, but I'm skeptical to start studying with them. The accuracy of the internet is questionable, and there were even a few reviews of the CLEP test study books that claim there are errors in them.
I suppose my only option at this point is to continue forward, doing my daily Fluenz lesson, creating sentences with the vocabulary I find and burying myself in CLEP material. The next few months should turn out to be an adventure, indeed. It's a good thing I like studying...-------------------To hear more from Kaylynn about her adventures in French, click here.
The last 36 hours have proven to be very interesting and significant for the U.S. of A. I feel like it's given me a good opportunity to discuss why I have such an interest in foreign language.
I've had a large number of people ask me, "why a foreign language, what's wrong with English?" Obviously the answer to this is nothing--absolutely nothing is wrong with my native language. But I'm sure that behind the initial face of that question, many people are viewing me as "less patriotic," for wanting to concentrate on the culture and language of a country that's not my own. I dated a guy who was passive-aggressively resistant to traveling out of the country, particularly to France. He always said it was because he was afraid of flying. Then through a conversation about cultural differences, the truth came out: "I hate French people, they're so rude." Several things ran through my head all at once, most of it being shock and disbelief that the boy I was dating could be so harsh and closed-minded to an entire group of people who just didn't happen to do things the same way that he did. My response to his (in my opinion) judgemental statement: "Uh...have you been to New York?"
My point in all of this is to encourage anyone out there who is unsure of foreign things (defined as, things outside of the American norm) to just give it a fair chance. It does not make you less of an American for wanting to travel and experience other people and cultures--in fact, every time I've been out of the country, I'm very proud and excited to tell people that I'm an American. What it does do, is greatly increase the potential for you to meet amazing new people and broadens your personal view of the world you live in.
While I don't agree with many customs and norms of different cultures, it does not deter me from listening to different opinions and learning more about who I am and what I believe through the experiences of others.
Why French? Because it's a beautiful language, and will allow me to better relate to hundreds of thousands of new people of whom I may never have had the opportunity to speak to. It will open the door for new friends, new job opportunities and new ideas. That's why. ------------------------------To read more of Kaylynn's story, click here.
Oooook, so there have been some recent developments in my education status that have put a good bit of pressure on my SpireSpire goal. Y'all remember when I said I was making a side-goal of CLEP-ing out of French 1 and possibly 2? Yeah, that's now almost mandatory.
My big news I've been raving about is now big and disappointing news. I didn't get into the French program at UCF like I was expecting, apparently due to the sheer volume of transfer students flooding into that school. So, I'm stuck at the school I've been attending, but should be ready to re-apply for next Fall. However, now that I'm not attending UCF, I *have* to CLEP out of at least French 1 or I'll have to pay for almost all of my additional French classes out of pocket. Possible, but not much fun. So, I'll be taking the CLEP sometime in August, it seems, so I need to seriously get my butt in gear. Additionally, I'm taking 3 accelerated courses this summer, so there will be almost no room to breathe. The ride's about to get a little bumpier, so we'll see if I get bucked or not... ----------------------------------To hear more from Kaylynn, click here.
I've been waiting for a particular letter to come in the mail for about a week now, and IT'S STILL NOT HERE. I'm trying to be as patient as I can, but I don't happen to be a very patient person. I'm hoping that by next week I'll be able to reveal the "big news" that I'm so excited about. There are several pretty major changes going on in my life, and they are all related to my French studies in one way or another.
One significant change is that I'm going to be leaving my current job in June. For those of you that don't know, I'm a dog trainer. While I absolutely adore my job, I feel really burnt out (I work for a large, corporate pet store which shall remain nameless) with the "legalities" of the curriculum I'm supposed to teach, and I'm constantly disappointed by people who bring their puppies to me for obedience training and very clearly don't care one iota about that dog's health and well-being. Just this past week, I had a dog come to my class with a fresh, deep puncture wound in his face. I was told that the dog chewed it's crate and squeezed out of the opening it had created. Uh...squeezing through small spaces does not create puncture wounds. Lacerations, cuts or scrapes, yes, but not holes the approximate size and shape of a tooth. I also had a dog come in that smelled so strongly of urine that I almost couldn't breathe, but the owners are not willing to take my advice on how to potty train the puppy--they are convinced my method will not work because "the dog is just stupid." I feel defeated. And very much saddened by people's actions towards such animals that would be so willing to be a constant companion. I think it's time for me to move on, and find something that I still enjoy, but that will not encourage this massive frustration I have with the general public. Therefore, I'm acquiring a new job: Zumba.
For those of you unfamiliar with Zumba, it is a fitness/dance/workout class that has people all over the world grooving their way to better health. I have attended Zumba classes for several years and absolutely adore it. Therefore, on May 12th, I go to my training class to become a professional Zumba instructor. What does this have to do with French? My long term goal in life (and I mean *really* long term) is to one day own a house in France. Preferably in Colmar, which I think may be the cutest little town in the whole country. If I'm successful in my Zumba-ing, this is a job that I can take world-wide, and has been consistently in demand for quite some time. I'm very excited about it and I think it could really open up several international doors for me. I'm so looking forward to getting things started with it! Anywho, that's the news for now. Until next week, au revoir! ----------------------To read more of Kaylynn's story, click here.