Forum Rocket French French Feedback and Comments Becoming Fluent in French with Rocket and other Means

Becoming Fluent in French with Rocket and other Means


 Started on Level 2 in October last year and so far I have completed four units. I am very pleased with Rocket. I find it well structured and demanding.  I certainly feel that my grasp of French is improving but I am a very long way off being fluent.

I understand the Rocket on its own cannot make one fluent and that we must add additional exposure to French as much as possible though podcasts, reading, TV etc.. However, fluency is pretty much impossible without speaking French a lot, preferably in France.  This is impracticable for most of us most of the time.

I would like to hear from people who have progressed all or most of the way to the end of Rocket level 3. 

1. Did your confidence progress in a straight line or were there periods of little progress with occasional very pleasing breakthroughs?
2. Do you have any tips in using Rocket?
3. Which types of additional learning did you find most useful.  Why was that?
4. Have you found any helpful ways to practice spoken French whilst not in France?

Hope I have not been too boring.



toru e

Hi Ragger! I finished RF Level 3 roughly five years ago in preparation for a trip to Brussels and Paris, and at the end of it, I was evaluated at B1. Just to frame context, this testing happened after I returned from my trip. I could get by as a tourist, but I had a hard time understanding and expressing myself solely in French. So after my trip, I found an online tutor who suggested two classes (1 hr. each) per week, where he would choose material to read and discuss, then would correct my errors and introduce vocabulary (usually something colloquial). I'm still doing this ritual, just for practice, in addition to going to cities in France every year. So, to answer your questions.

1. The confidence was not always a straight line for me. Every time I came back from France, there was always some little encounter or something that made me realize that I still had to work on the oral comprehension. That said, I'd say that I didn't feel confident until about three years ago (i.e. two years of "post Rocket" independent French study).

2. In addition to Rocket, I strongly suggesting working with a grammar books like Grammaire Progressive du Français alongside it because the Rocket series is more about getting you speaking from the onset, and the intricacies of grammar may need more explanation/context to grasp.

As an after thought, I think that working with a tutor right from the start along Rocket is a good idea (although I tried this method with Japanese, and found that I wasn't really using the application as much).

3. For additional learning, again, it depends on why you're learning French. For me, it was all about comprehension, so most of what I do now is how to improve it. The biggest obstacle for me is that people on the street don't always speak textbook French, so the hurdle for me is understanding colloquialisms, how people pronounce things in real life (like the 'e' and 'ne' that's jumped). I used to do dictées a lot with teachers. It's a good practice of comprehension and reinforcing that you understand your grammar tenses because even though they sound similar, they are written differently. Now, I do transcription exercises.

I also read a lot of books in French, but this is more of a personal thing because I like the precision of words, and I think reading is the best way to really expand and add nuance to your vocabulary.

4. Again, I would recommend an online tutor, or you can also do language exchanges. It's the best way to overcome that fear of speaking in another language.

C'est tout pour l'instant ! Bon courage !


Many thanks, Torusan

Sorry for delayed response but l have had to deal with the unexpected over the last week or so.

Your response was excellent in terms of structure and content.  I take a number of actions from your advice.

1.  Your 5 year initial timescale was longer than I expected but clearly if you are not living day in day out within another language then it is going to take a good while to feel seriously confident.  Your description of how you got on with your first post level 3 trip is very useful.

2. Your point about progressing with grammar as a separate strand is one that I will take up.  Thanks.

3. On line tutor. What a great idea. I will be on to that shortly.  Any recommendations would be welcome.

4. Reading French. Glad you reminded me of that because I had planned to do this but never got around to it so far.

5. Your point about colloquialism is very welcome.  Where do I find transcription exercises?

6. When i was last in France for a few days I found watching TV very helpful as it gives a sort of one way immersion and a few days ago I discovered, online, radio/TV Francinfo.  I love this because it is non stop verbal reporting at a variety of speeds. So far I have found my ability to actually separate out the spoken words has improved very well.  So quickly! Almost at a point where i recognise and understand half the words (ish) and it is the lack of vocab that is holding me back.  Very excited about this.  Plus I discovered today that I can stream this station on my iphone and listen in on earphones whenever. Driving, walking, golfing...

So, many thanks for you help and will post from time to time.

Best wishes

toru e

1. Your timescale could very well be shorter than mine, especially if you're forcused solely on French. I'm also trying to maintain fluency in Spanish, in addition to learning Japanese and Catalan, so I'm a bit more "casual". :)

3. For online tutors, I've used (or still do) several sites like verbal planet, iboux, italki and verbling. I've found that the most important things were the rapport and that they correct you. From my experience, a French speaker just listening to you without correcting you/suggesting more native ways to say things only helps with boosting confidence to speak in French, but doesn't really help you improve in the language.

5. One of my tutors gives me transcription exercises as homework. The excerpts from Plus belle la vie are always interesting because they tend to mix casual, formal/business, and generational conversations (I tend to understand the older characters who speak more "properly" than the teenagers).

Also, when you get the chance, consider buying DVDs and books from France (there was a ton of Louis de Funès on sale at FNAC when I was there). The DVDs will usually have close-captioning in French, so it's perfect for comprehension. And since there's usually no option for English subtitles, you won't get training wheels. :) I use VLC on my mac and haven't had an issue with region mismatch.

6. Watching French TV is great! I'll admit to being more than mildly addicted to Enquêtes criminelles, and I always tune into the Top Hits music video channel when I'm there. I've found a lot of contemporary music that way, and it gets you listening to something beyond the typically recommended fare.

I recently subscribed to Sling just to get TV5 Monde and I think it's a better deal than getting it as an add-on to your TV provider. You have the option to start watching things midstream and either finish at a later time or start from the beginning, without using a DVR.  You also get France 24, but you can stream this on YouTube also. Unlike the YouTube channel though, it's not as finicky and prone to disconnect.

Anyway, hope these help, and if I think of anything else, I'll pop in and post again as well.

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