And that’s another one off the reading pile…
About 3 years ago, I started a website called My French Vow. When my wife & I got married, one of my (self-imposed) wedding vows was that I’d learn French since it was an integral part of her upbringing (she spent part of her youth in Côte d’Ivoire and has a baccalauréat). I had great intentions, but… 15 years had passed & I hadn’t learned to do much more than imitate Hercule Poirot.
So the time seemed right to embark upon a repeat of Path to the CFA, but this time it would be the Path to the DALF (a widely accepted certification of high proficiency in French). While you’re not required to take the intermediate level exams like with the CFA (level 1, then 2, then 3) I planned to do it anyway with the French exams: levels A1, A2, B1, B2, C1, and…maybe, but probably not, C2 (by C1 you’ve pretty much demonstrated your proficiency – it’s the rare soul who attempts C2) .
A few months into that project – making good headway and deliberating over whether to take the A1 exam in Miami or Atlanta – we found out my wife had cancer – stage 4 – with “intimidating” (as the doctor put it) survival statistics – even with treatment. The desire to master French of course took on a new sense of urgency, but any hope of scheduling an exam and keeping regular study times in the midst of surgeries, chemo infusions, and work just wasn’t realistic.
So the French Vow website and formal study came to a halt. Except…
Except… I did manage to keep doing my French vocabulary flash cards. I’d found a digital version of the 5000 most commonly used French words and went through them on the iPhone whenever I was walking the dog, waiting in line, waiting in a waiting room, etc. Pretty soon I found, to my amazement, that while I couldn’t at all speak or even pronounce French words correctly, I could read French. Somewhat well.
Later, I came across a post on reddit from someone who claimed that reading was a huge part of their strategy in passing the DALF C1. So I ordered a couple of books in French. They of course ended up sitting in my reading stack along with all the English books I also wasn’t reading.
But as I now have a daily reading methodology that’s seen me finally reading, and actually finishing books, I decided to try one of the French ones this time around. It had been a while since I’d done the flash cards so the first few pages I was literally reading with the book in one hand with the Google Translate app set to real-time translation through the iPhone camera in the other. But as the pages went on, Google Translate came out less and less.
The material of the book, as the title hints, is all about buying dividend-paying stocks and having those become your salary (which, if done right, will grow faster than inflation). Most of it wasn’t new for me but I found some interesting nuggets – such as selecting stocks based on dividend growth apparently works better than buying based on high yield or low valuation. The only part that was a tough slog was the section on the French tax system (so complicated the author wrote his own software program to be able to figure them out).
If you’re interested but not yet sure you want to buy, check out Bertrand’s website. The articles read just like the book. And – thanks for asking – now, almost 3 years later, my wife is actually doing very well! As the doctor said, immunotherapy usually doesn’t work, but when it does work, it’s like magic.