Circumnavigation Complete!

I’ve been quiet on the blogging front but have had my head down diligently working away at my Anki slide deck of the 5000 most common French words.  Anki by default gives you 120 cards to review each day: 100 words you’ve seen and gotten right before and 20 brand new words. In that way you’re reinforcing what you’ve learned but also slowly expanding your vocabulary. 

This morning, a new milestone was reached! One year and one week after starting this website I finally got to the bottom of the deck. I’ve now seen (and correctly translated) all 5000 words at least once!

Below is a snapshot of where things currently stand. The part I highlighted in yellow says I’m mostly solid on 3700 words. Why mostly? Because the part I highlighted in blue says I only translate about 80% of these correctly on the first try. 3700 x 80% = roughly 3000 words I am quite solid on.

Side note: what’s with the “Buried + Suspended” cards? Read this. I’ve now disabled that feature (on by default).

What comes next? Well I could flip the deck and switch from translating French –> English to English –> French. But I don’t want to take another year (most probably!) to do that. Why? Because it’s never been more obvious that learning vocab still leaves you a loooong way from fluency. Apart from helping reading (which it REALLY does) my spoken French is still extremely limited. Like driving in the car and my wife mentions that someone we know is pregnant (I say enceinte! …and nothing else!) or that the clouds look pretty (me: nuage!).

If I look back on the trailing year, despite all my stabs at listening to RFI and reading French books, those 5000 word flash cards are really all I’ve done on a consistent basis.  I will continue to do them in hopes of reaching “maturity” in all 5000, but now it’s time to take it to the next level with some different daily practice.

The choices:

At this point, I think the biggest bang for the buck is the Pimsleur. It targets both speaking and listening, where I’m very weak. Each lesson is about 30 minutes and I can do them while walking the dog. The good thing about Pimseur is that my responses in French conversation will become quick – almost unconscious and automatic (I know from experience having learned a little Japanese, Chinese, and Swiss German that way long ago. And I still remember it!). The downside is that it’s all vous which will drive my wife nuts!

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