Learning French in Togo West Africa
My name is Andy Graham, I speak,“Sufficient to travel French.”
I will never be a proper speaker of French, “Hell,” I cannot speak English properly, therefore to speak perfect French is impossible. But, I can learn to speak French great, enough French to blab away the day with native speakers, to watch TV, and understand jokes. I can become fluent, must not perfectly fluent, a number 8 on a scale of 1 to 10, with 10 being perfect.
Often the Togo people believe I am from France, that tells you how good their French is, not really that good.
For the most part, I taught myself French, with the help of a free computer software program called: BYNI, Before You Know It,And, using macros I programmed the learn a language software to repeat the French words 50 times myself. The BYNI language software drilled the French words into my brain. (Macro helped.)
Studying French at Indiana Univesity
I took 10 hours of French at Indiana University, Bloomington, and 14 hour of Spanish, and none of that mattered much. The ridiculous amount of time I spent at University learning French did not give me the power to speak French. Or, maybe more correctly, I could speak a little French; just enough to have the person reply and have absolutely no idea what they said, just feeling stupid.
I did not learn French at Indiana University, I just got an overall idea on how the language worked. But if I would have travel to France or any Francophone country immediately after the class, then the 10 hours would have been of value. (Spending one month in country.)
There was a 25 years gap between studying, and my first trip to France, then to Niger, West Africa, it was almost a waste of time studying 10 hours of French at University, except it was required for school of Arts and Science, and I had zero choice, I needed 18 hours of language, I did 14 of Spanish and 10 of French.
I did learn at University how the way the language worked, and now I am 100 percent sure, that 99 perecne of French Teachers do not know how to teach French. It is better to find a girlfriend, or boyfriend, a sleeping dictionary and immerse yourself. Immersion is when you have no choice, English is of no value, you cannot find an English speaker for a month or two. (Note, if I needed to learn Russian or any language in 10 days, it would be best to find a boom boom girl.)
Natural French learners make horrible French Teachers.
This site you are now on, it called:MyLanguageResearch.comhttp://www.mylanguageresearch.com/
This site is where I take notes, ponder, and speculate, and hopefully out the back end this will come a sure fire strategy for people to learn languages. This is my language research site, and I need to learn languages as a perpetual world traveler. who has visited 90 countries, and perpetually traveled for 15 years. This means, I can say “Hello,” in many languages, and know the feelings of inadequacy, of feeling stupid, of entering a country like China, and not being able to ask for the toilet.
Today, again, I am going to write some of my opinions of the pros and cons of learning a language, the language du jour is French. And the reason is simple, I am in Togo, West Africa, I am in French learning pain, I am in one of the many Francophone countries in Africa, and need to speak French, I have no choice if I want to freely move around in this country, then Benin, Cameroon, Gabon, Angola, etc.
Is Togo, West Africa a good place to learn French?
Yes, maybe one of the best on the planet, but only if you live in Lome, Togo for a month, but it is better for three or more months. It is cheap enough to spend enough time, and pay people to talk long enough to learn.
You need an English speaker to explain the language, and a French native to correct the small problems.
Lome is good because you can find both English speakers and native French speakers from France. The English speakers can be American Peace Corps youth, about 20-25 year old, who can help you in by explaining French in English to you. Most Peace Corps people speak French OK, and, when you rise above their ability to explain, then you could have a native French speaker from France help you. There is a large community of French in Lome, they are stable, and live in Lome, hard to find another community this large in West Africa, or Africa…
The best way to learn a language is to live with it, to have a girlfriend or boyfriend who speaks French. Note though, the locals in Togo do not speak French as their first language; they speak Ewe, and can really arrogantly believe they speak French well. Only when you learn enough French, will you realize one day, they could not speak French, this is really bore.
And, the best part of learning in Lome, Togo is this, because the minimum salary in Togo is about 80 dollars a month, paying these people more than 5 dollars per hour would be ludicrous, many would take 2 dollars or less per hour, you the student are in the drivers seats, because it is not possible to get a job in Togo. The foreigners that work in Togo, normally own a business. Or work for a project that allows them to collect money, and not work, one of the volunteer to not work projects called ONG or NGO’s.
You can hire a Togolese person to work all day for 2-4 dollars per day, and talk with this person all day, while you have them clean, or prepared your meals, doing something, and you can learn.
The best way to learn French or any language is the mission of this website; I want to help find the best way to learn any language, which is why I call this “My Language Research.”
What is the best way to learn French?
I am assuming all English speaking persons speak rather good French, and really have no idea how to teach French. You need to be extremely arrogant in your learning, and do not accept their belief they can teach. 99 percent of people who learned French are naturals, they did not need to study, they picked up the language like a genius language child, they have no idea how they learned, it was easy to them. The did not study, they heard the words one time, and it stuck in their brain, this is truly an annoying teacher, they expect you to do the same. And only 1 in maybe a 100 is this person, the rest of us need to study, we avoid foreign speaking countries, which is also not needed. Generally, people bounce off French, get embarrassed, are made to feel stupid by the teacher, and give up, and avoid the Francophone countries.
How I would teach French?
Unless you are going to a French speaking country I am not sure why you are learning, other than to better understand English by learning French, nothing teaches Engligh grammar better than learning a foreign language.
TWO HOURS OF CLASS WITH AN ENGLISH PERSON
1. Have an English speaking person, sit you down, and explain the concept of conjugation of verbs. All you need to know is the “I” form, and the “You” form, and all the future, etc. is bunk, not really needed unless you are going to be a translator. This should take less than one-two hours. Also learn about masculine and feminine words, 99 percent of the people reading this have already learned French, and are naturals, just thinking too much. I do not expect the person who has no knowledge of French to understand this, but you could print this page, and tell the English speaker, who speaks French to teach you the idea of conjugation and masculine, feminine, then ignore all the rest they tell you. WARNING!
10 hour of French in University could have been replaced by two hours of talking with a French speaking American…. This is sad.
NOW, FIVE DAYS OF STUDYING RULES OF PRONUNCIATION
2. This page explains how to learn French Pronunciation, trust me, none of this is fun, learning language is one word at a time.http://www.mylanguageresearch.com/french-language/french-alphabet-pronunciation-guide-for-english-speakers.php
NOW, 50 DAYS OF STUDY10 words per day, for 50 days, and you have a 500 word vocabulary or do different math, and study more or less.
3. You cannot not hear, speak or function in the French language until you OWN a big enough vocabulary to have a conversation. You need to hear 500 words, and remember 500 words, and own them; this means if you study 10 words per day, for 50 days, you can have 500 words at the end of this time.
I use the BYNI program, and click on the word 50 times, or I write it 20, both options work, 20 or 50, you have to hear that French sounding words until your brain recognizes it from the mouth of people who speak bad French. (Does a person from the deep south speak good English?)
REPEAT and I REPEATI click on the word 50 times
REMEMBER THIS, I SAY THIS AGAINI click on the word 50 times, personally I programmed a macro to do this automatically, and I hear the word, and then I say the word, I hear the word, and I say the word, I do this 50 times per word, it is annoying, but 100 percent needed for my brain to own a word.
This all is torture, that is why we call it studying French, and if your brain is the same as mine, this will work for sure, if not, you need to do 100 times, or more if very old.
Remember though, you are going to be surrounded by people who learn French naturally, they came to Togo because they knew they could speak French, they did not need to study the same as you.
But in the end, you will learn better French, and can learn more French than them, just because they are a naturals does not mean they can study and learn more complicated French concepts.
Learn one word at a time, repeat it 20 times, or listen to it 50 times, and own the word. Then use it, when you use the word, it will be yours, but you will need a refresher when you do not use French words for a few years.
Maybe this link works? Download the express of free program, and do not forget, you need to click on that play button 50 times.
If broken, then start here:http://www.byki.com/
It is amazing how many stupid webmaster break links, that is why I gave you both.
Note: It is simple to find a French speaking Togo girlfriend, for a man or woman of any age, they want the money... the cadeau.
Thanks, Andy Graham in Kara, Togo West AfricaJanuary 31, 2013
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Some people have an easier time learning a language than others. I have taken lessons in various languages over the years and finally realized I did not have the necessary brain cells to really learn one. Im still learning English many, many years later. But I did manage to learn what many travelers and people who are fortunate enough to work and live in other countries but also just cannot or will not learn a local language.
We learn menu language. The basics of knowing how to order food, money (cost of things), medical emergencies, transportation, meeting people, customs, etc.
I was able to do this with 4 languages over the years. Unfortunately if you dont keep using them you forget.
As of now I was fully immersed in 2 of them by having married into them yet as I say I never learned either more than enough to get by. One good thing though both my kids learned German fluently as they went to German schools.
Part of the problem is in all the advanced, developed countries English has become their 2nd language, financial language and they dont bother trying to listen to you stumble around with theirs. They just start speaking English.
France has been one of the few who generally will make you try their language then after a bit they will also speak English. Its a game with them.
I was surprised when I first visited China how many people spoke or were learning English. Most anyone under the age of 40 (approx) speaks or is learning and they want you to speak English with them.
They will see you are an American and a stranger will walk up to you and ask if you have some time to sit down and let them practice their English with you. In many of their schools its become a requirement.
I guess Africa in general is one area where they dont do this everywhere.
But regardless of my lack of language skills I still go where the locals go when I travel and always meet people and have a good time and laugh a lot at my saying something stupid in their language.
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