The best way to use OffQc and the downloadable books is in conjunction with lots of listening — TV, radio, films, etc., and, of course, speaking with francophones. OffQc isn’t meant to replace any of this — there aren’t any language courses or learning materials in the world that can do that. Everything here is meant to complement your listening and speaking practice.
If you aren’t already listening to French every day, it’s important to establish the habit. You don’t need to start listening to an hour of French every day right off the bat because you’ll probably find that frustrating.
Instead, start with just one minute of listening to French per day.
Really — one minute, and commit to it for a week.
The next week, double it and listen for two minutes. The third week, double it again and listen for four. If you keep doubling like this, you be listening to an hour of French a day at week seven. You can increase the time as you see fit, of course, but do start small. It’s a big change and you don’t want to get frustrated and give up. The most important thing at this stage is to just establish the habit.
When you start listening, you’re going to realise just how much French you don’t understand. It’s a pretty uncomfortable feeling. It’s enough to make you want to stop listening and find an easier activity like, you know, reading a post on OffQc and calling it a day. Please don’t do that. 🙂
Instead, decide right now that it doesn’t matter that you don’t understand what you hear.
Just listen to it anyway. Besides, it’s almost certainly not true that you understand nothing. If you listen to French for two minutes, maybe you’ll miss most of what’s said, but I’m pretty sure there’ll be at least a few words in there that you do understand. You don’t need to understand everything to make listening worthwhile. And even if you really do understand nothing, again, it’s okay. You’re supposed to not understand! That’s why you’re learning French to begin with.
Just let everything you don’t understand go. Really, just forget about it entirely. If you can allow yourself to not worry about understanding, you’ll find listening to French a lot less frustrating (maybe even fun). It only becomes frustrating when we force ourselves to try to understand, or when we beat ourselves up for not understanding. So just listen and forget about it.
When you’ve established the habit of listening every day, that’s when you’re going to start to noticing things come up over and over again in French. This is a good sign. You still don’t understand what it means maybe, but you’re recognising that you’ve heard it before. You can take this as a clear signal that you’re learning. Keep listening every day. You’ll keep hearing more stuff that you know you’ve heard before, and it’ll still be a complete mystery to you. But then, one day as you’re listening, one of those mysterious expressions or words will suddenly make sense to you. And then another.
And then another, and another, and another…