There is a language technique that has been dubbed “echoing” by its creator, David Tolman, and I am currently experimenting with his sample offering.
The idea is to repeat a real-life conversation that native French speakers are having, while having ready access to the translation, grammar and such (in PDF form). To me, this is a great time-saver because I do not have to run around and try to find an idiom, word translation, grammar rule and experience the “noise” of self-studying. Those with a language mentor or expert partner do not experience this time wasting confusion, and I believe it is why their learning experience is superior. It may also explain why podcast posts on this blog are becoming so popular. I’ve often read comments and posts on Duolingo, where the person is proud of finishing their language tree, but wonders, now what?
This idea of echoing is one of those….whats. Coupled with podcasts and translations, your language skills and fundamentals can continue to improve through the use of “echoing”.
Update: I’ve adopted the idea of echoing to my daily “L’avis de Marie” podcast ritual, and I like it a great deal. I am no longer intimidated by the thought of reading a story aloud in French, and I feel that this may be the step before I begin thinking in unscripted French phrases. I’ve also experimented with revisiting the German I learned in College for two years, using Duolingo and other Internet websites, and so far it has not caused the problems that Spanish had. Since I learned Spanish in High School, and it is so close to French (in my mind at least), I began choosing the easier-to-recall Spanish word while working in French. It may also be that I attended a language immersion program in German, during a summer between College semesters, and have previously developed pronunciation and listening skills in that language, that stand alone.
French was, as Yelle would say, “le grand saut” por moi, and I put a lot of time into the project. At times I thought I was crazy for even attempting it. No one I know speaks the language, and I have had very few people to practice with (due to time zone differences and my shift-work schedule). One of my early language partners in France was a guy about my age, who was newly divorced in his 50’s, and I believe, used Language Skyping for companionship. His English was non-existent, so he would sit back and squint at the screen, chain smoking, while I babbled in French. After one particular session, in which I spoke for almost an hour, I was so exhausted that I thought I would give up. Since that experience, I have improved my pronunciation through countless hours of video and podcast listening (and now “echoing”) and feel that I have overcome the language learning “hump” through sheer effort and will power.