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Language Challenge #2 – Thoughts

So this week’s language challenge was a little bit different. I really want to improve my listening as it’s still my weakest of the 4 skills: reading, writing, speaking, and listening. It’s the most frustrating because much of your improvement is down to time. It will come but it’s less in your control than the others. I find anyway.

Cue a listening language challenge. Check out the video at the top of the page or here on YouTube to see a summary of some of the cool phrases and expressions I took from the song! This week I chose La Nuit Porte Conseil by Black M, a French rapper. The title is an interesting expression in itself! The French equivalent of to sleep on it as it to reflect on something.

Was it a success?

In a word: yes because it got me listening a French song regularly. Simple, but still way more than I usually do. To measure success with your goals you need to make them measurable before you start. This week I wanted to listen to it for half and hour every day, which I didn’t do. So that’s obviously a sign I either need to modify how I set my goals or just simply make more time. Looking at it this way, I didn’t achieve what I set out to, but it’s important to see any positives no matter how small.

The underlying point that I want to highlight here is that improving oral comprehension (listening) can not be done in a huge way in a week. I’m doing ok at the moment, and I think to level-up in a big way is to start consuming more French audio, through films, TV or songs and podcasts. I let myself down by not doing that. So if anything, this week was a kick up the bum to do that.

What went right?

It helped my digest a piece of realia in the confines of defined boundaries i.e. the start and end of the song. When reading a newspaper or watching an episode of a TV series there’s so much more content and it’s up to you to choose how much you use to study with. A song like this was perfect: quite repetitive and uses real-life French.

I would have to say that my comprehension improved, if only for this one track. I’m sure it will have unforeseen knock-on effects later because simply by consuming more vocabulary I am ready to hear it somewhere else in the future.

Would I do it again?

I will of course be setting more goals to improve my listening skills but I will be carrying them out in a different, as yet undecided way.

What did I learn?

The most fun part from me apart from being happy when I understood lines in this fast-paced track is looking up definitions of expressions and phrases in the song. Most of these came from looking into the lyrics properly after several listens. I mistook a few of them for something else! Again, the following list is what I discuss in the video :).

  1. Je dois tout donner dans mon présent – I have to give everything in my present. I like this as a mantra for language learners! Don’t worry about the past or the future too much, live in the present.
  2. Le feu de l’action – the heat of the moment. I like finding expressions with an equivalent in English that aren’t just direct translations. This one literally translates to the fire of the action.
  3. Je suis déboussolé(e) – I’m confused/disorientated/in a mess. As a learner, I get lost in conversations because I’ve got the wrong end of the stick halfway through. When it gets clarified, I feel like saying “ah I was confused”. Now I’m going to use this!
  4. Avoir les yeux rivés (sur/vers qqch) – To have one’s eyes riveted/glued/fixed on/towards something. To be staring. Nice way to add some variety and not just say je regarde.
  5. Avoir beau…mais… – A tricky one to explain, and I’ve chosen to take one structure of this because it’s what’s used in the song but mais is not always needed. Avoir beau here means I may as in “I may be stupid but I’m cleverer than you”. Take a look on reverso for some more examples.
  6. Flou(e) – A cute/funny sounding adjective than can also be used as a noun means blurry or fuzzy.
  7. Toutes sortes de choses – Nothing fancy here, but I find myself wanting to say things like all sorts of things and now I know!
  8. Foncer tête baissée – An idiomatic expression that means to dive in head first, to rush in without thinking. I also learned foncer which can mean to darken, in terms of colour, or to dash as in I’m going to dash to the bakery.

Oh and I finally learned what it’s like for non-native English speakers to absolutely love a tune despite the lyrics being quite negative. I could have listened to this 1000 times without paying much attention.

So there you have it, my first experience of a weekly goal based around a song. Definitely a challenge but it brought much to reflect on as well as some cool new vocabulary. What do you think? Tell me what you think in the comments!

Bonne journée à tous et à toutes !

Published inFrenchLanguage ChallengesLanguage Learning