How an introvert can master an entire season of Frenchpod101.com in two days

 

Master a Season of French in Two Days

It sounds bold, but it’s true: you really can master an entire season of Frenchpod101.com in just one or two days, using this method.

How does it work so well? One reason is focus: you’ll focus only on direct French listening and responding. (No writing, no reading, no grammar-parsing, no listening to perfect explanations.)

A second reason, and the most powerful: The power of using spaced repetition flash card programs.

You’ll use them not only for vocabulary.

You’ll use them for listening, responding as well.  The spaced repetition practice works with your brain as your brain really is. Spaced repetition study computer applications literally program your brain with skill and knowledge.

You’ll use two spaced repetition computer applications.

You’ll use the one at Frenchpod101.com for vocabulary.

You’ll use the more flexible one, Anki, for actual listening and responding practice.

You’ll master 192 newbie vocabulary terms in one day. (You’ll review them to retain them in the coming days and weeks.)

You’ll also become fluent in all the key listening / response patterns in Season 1 (25 lessons) in just one or two days. (You’ll review these in the coming days and weeks to move them into long-term memory.)

The heavy lifting will be done in one to two days. You’ll know it all. You will review in the coming days and weeks, to make sure  you don’t forget. But the heavy lifting will be finished in just one or two days.

You really will master an incredible amount of material rapidly. It’s the power of spaced repetition. See this post for an exploration of why spaced repetition is such a powerful and little-known method for learning languages.

The big picture:

  1. Subscribe to Frenchpod101.com (or any language at Languagepod101.com)
  2. Get Anki, the spaced repetition flash card program
  3. Follow my specific recommendations in practicing French using these two tools.

How to master the entire Newbie Season 1 of Frenchpod101.com in just one day.

Step 1: Subscribe to Frenchpod101.com if you haven’t already.

Step 2: Download and install Anki if you haven’t already.

Step 3: Add all 192 vocabulary words from Newbie Season 1 to a single Frenchpod101.com flash card deck. (Not to an Anki flash card deck.)

Step 4: Add key phrases from Frenchpod101.com lessons to your Anki flash card deck.

To some degree, what you add will depend on your preferences. But add a lot. Frenchpod101.com is an immensely valuable resource. The line-by-line audio sets  your pronunciation correctly right from the beginning. The lessons are focused and natural. They cover what you need to know. The amount of material, the number of lessons, is reassuringly staggering.

First, make sure you have Anki installed and know how to use it. I won’t cover that in detail here. However, at the Anki manual, you’ll find everything you need to know. They provide some good video tutorials there too to get you started fast. Of course google is your friend in this as well. Anki is widely used and blogged about by millions of people.

Second, make sure you install the Awesome TTS plugin for Anki. It allows you to paste in a French phrase, then to create a computerized (very good these days) audio rendition of the phrase. You’ll see me using it in the video below.

Then — using the examples in Frenchpod101.com, create dozens (covering the whole season) of three kinds of flash cards: 

  1. English front-of-card and French translation back-of-card. For example:
    1. Side one: I’d like some water, please.
    2. Side two: Je voudrais d’eau, s’il vous plaît.
  2. Front-of-card: situation in which you need some French, and you must begin the conversation. Back-of-card: a way to begin the conversation. Example:
    1. Side one: You are looking for some location but you can’t find it.
    2. Side two: Pardon, savez-vous où je peux trouver un bar , s’il vous plaît ?
  3. Front-of-card: French prompt. Back-of-card: French natural response. These help you practice fluent responses to random pieces of French conversation.
    1. Side one, the French prompt: Bonsoir! Comment-allez vous?
    2. Side two: the French response: Très bien, merci. Et vous?
  4. Do NOT create simple vocabulary flash cards. You already have much better ones at Frenchpod1o1.com.

 

Learning to use Anki will take a little time and experiment. But don’t give up.

It’s the world’s best open-source software for spaced repetition flash cards. In fact, no commercial program is better. There’s no real alternative. No alternative is needed, quite frankly. It’s very powerful. It’s so effective in programming your memory, you will imagine your IQ has jumped 30 points. It hasn’t. You’ve only found a much more effective way to study.

The video showing you how easy it is to create the flash cards:

 

Step 4: Study / Practice speaking aloud the key phrases and responses you added to your Anki flash card deck until Anki says you know them. Also study / Practice speaking aloud the 192 vocabulary words in the Frenchpod101.com flash card deck until it says you know them.

Why use an Anki flash card deck instead of just listening at the Frenchpod101.com site? Listening and practicing at the Frenchpod101.com site is necessary. It’s an excellent site, with excellent and extensive content, and a good community. It’s well worth buying and maintaining a subscription.

But there’s one thing it needs. It’s the same thing all other language-learning applications need. None of them have it. You have to make it yourself:

It needs, like all others, a randomized, spaced-repetition application which will randomly, but rationally, pepper you with situations and French prompts, and “test” you on your answers. That’s what we’re doing with Anki.

This is not vocabulary practice with spaced repetition. (You do have that with Frenchpod101.com. Their vocabulary flash card system is so powerful, so well done, that you don’t need anything else in order to quickly master a 2,000 word French vocabulary.

This is, rather, fluency practice with spaced repetition. Follow me, and you’ll set up an Anki spaced repetition flash card deck with content that will simulate a random French-speaking environment at your level.

Step 6: In the days and weeks ahead, continue to review your new Anki flashcards and your Frenchpod101.com flash cards. Do them as they schedule it. The reviews will be short and effective. You’ve already done the heavy lifting.

Wait, didn’t I say you’d master it in two days? What’s this about reviewing in the days and weeks ahead?

You will have mastered it in two days. The problem is, your memory will immediately begin to fade slightly. So you just have to skip through the content and fluencies you’ve acquired. It will take very little time. Anki will keep track of when you need to review each item. It’s a brilliantly efficient way to maintain a foreign language fluency at a particular level.

Step 7: Go to iTalki.com and find as many partners as you can to practice with these specific phrases and situations.

There’s no fun like real fun. If you can find native French speakers in your city at a meetup.com meetup, or French-English club, all the better. But iTalki can introduce to people just as real, and you can Skype with them, as you like. As with anyone you meet online, use common sense. iTalki doesn’t background check anyone, of course. If you’re a minor, get your parents’ permission and guidance.

 

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