Perdre son anglais :-(

QUESTION

Bonjour Fabien,

Je reçois tes mails depuis un moment déjà et je t'en remercie.

J'ai lu sur Facebook que tu as sorti en septembre/octobre un livre audio. Je n'en ai jamais entendu parler. Pourrais-tu m'en donner les coordonnées stp ?

Pour ce qui est de la pratique de l'anglais, je me réveille tous les matins avec BBC World et je me dis que je serai devenue bilingue le jour où je comprendrai ce que veut dire la présentatrice de la météo. Elle a un tel débit !!!

Je vais acheter ton livre de méthode (Comment devenir bilingue, le rouge) et je te dirai mes impressions. Comme le disait un internaute, il est très facile de nous piéger, nous, les "niveaux intermédiaires" et j'ai préféré attendre un peu. Maintenant, après avoir avalé la méthode Assimil intermédiaires (très bien faite, par ailleurs) je vais découvrir tes conseils.

Mes besoins en anglais concernent surtout le domaine professionnel. Mais je ne veux pas perdre mes acquis de la vie de tous les jours. Et je ne veux pas non plus vivre avec un dictionnaire sous le bras ! Je n'ai pas beaucoup de contacts avec qui parler anglais. De ce fait, lorsque l'occasion se présente, je suis bloquée. Dans le milieu professionnel, être bloquée à l'oral signifie très vite : ne pas savoir parler anglais. C'est très frustrant.

Sur ces paroles, je te laisse en te souhaitant un bon dimanche.

Cordialement,
Svetlana

MES COMMENTAIRES :

Hello Svetlana,

Tout d'abord, je suis désolé pour mon temps de réaction. Je viens d'emménager en Russie et ça n'a pas été facile de débloquer du temps pour les e-mails.

Le livre audio en question, c'est Réussir à l'oral en anglais. Tu peux le retrouver ici : bilingueanglais.com/reussir-a-l-oral-en-anglais/

La méthode Assimil est un bon compagnon, oui. Elle ne se suffit pas à elle-même mais c'est un super compagnon. Je suis en train de me servir d'Assimil Russe et je découvre que les dialogues sont dans l'ensemble très drôles (ce n'était pas le cas d'Assimil Hongrois et Espagnol, ouvrages plus anciens, qui faisaient sourire, mais sans plus). Pour t'aider côté expression, ne néglige pas ce qu'Assimil appelle la phase active, tu sais, où tu reprends tout le livre depuis le début mais en partant du français, pour trouver comment dire la même chose en anglais.

Ne t'inquiète pas pour ce qui est de perdre tes acquis de la vie de tous les jours. Si tu pratiques ton anglais professionnel à la place, cela va renforcer tes connaissances et ton maniement de l'anglais dans son ensemble. Au pire, si tu perds quelques mots en rapport avec le quotidien, au profit de dizaines ou centaines liés à ton métier, cela en vaut toujours la peine!

Note que quand tu connais bien quelque chose, le réviser un mois plus tard suffit à l'entretenir. (C'est le principe utilisé par les systèmes de répétition espacée, type MosaLingua ou Anki). Ainsi, regarder quelques épisodes de sitcoms te permet d'entretenir tes acquis.

Je ne connais pas ta profession mais de lire des ouvrages pro (de préférence sur Kindle) et d'en écouter (livres audio) est d'une aide précieuse. Les premiers t'aident à découvrir du vocabulaire tranquillement (prends soin de vérifier leur prononciation) et les seconds te permettent de penser en anglais : tu réfléchis à ce que tu apprends comme tu écoutes le livre, puis les mots te trottent en tête, puis tu repenseras à ce que tu as écouté et, sans t'en rendre compte, tu te retrouves à penser en anglais.

Si ce n'était pas clair : les livres audio sont LE moyen pour passé du stade intermédiaire-avancé au stade avancé-très avancé en anglais. (En somme, pour maîtriser le niveau C2 du cadre européen).

Bonne continuation!
Fabien


QUESTION

Hi Fabien,

I was reading your previous mail and I was thinking about the different problems that I encounter during my training. I had an English training a month ago and it was very good for my self-confidence. I work in Higher Education and in this world it's not enough to speak well, you need to be bilingual. So, I do my best to improve my English. My English level assessment is today between C2 and C1 according to the European scale. So that's a kind of good start for me but... sometimes I'm fed up because with all these efforts that I have done during several months, especially on my own, I realize that some books or articles are not understandable for me.

For example, I decided to read the book of J. K. Rowling "the Casual Vacancy" to take pleasure in learning in English. After 10 pages, I realized that I didn't understand a lot of things. It's so frustrating, a simple book, that any native kid could understand, that's not possible for me. So first I gave up and now I have an English dictionary but It's not a pleasure now because that's not practical in my bed before sleeping. I need to be front of a desk and WORK. Pffffff...

So I have a question: I wonder if I need to pay another training because during this last month I didn't have the opportunity to SPEAK in English, just listen (television, DVD,...) or read (this book). I'm frightened to lose the level in English that I have achieved (even if it's not enough yet). Because I haven’t spoken this last month, I feel that my self-confidence goes away.

In a few months, I need to have a very good level because my next job requires it. Am I going to lose my level in this way? Do I have to pay another training, in your opinion?

Thanks for your answers and tips.
(Now, I don't even know if there are lot of mistakes or not in my text... I'm not so sure anymore now... If it's the case, sorry.)
Gautier

MES COMMENTAIRES :

Hello Gautier,

Your e-mail is pretty interesting for a couple of reasons. The first one being that FEAR OF NOT UNDERSTANDING something. Of missing out. You mention that you really dislike the fact of not understanding everything you read, even in a simple novel. It's quite natural. However, this is kind of a "half-empty, half-full glass" kind of a situation. Here are some good reasons to keep reading even if you do not understand everything (this also applies to listening/watching something):

- If you do not understand everything but STICK WITH IT (and your current level is clearly high enough to do that) you will still get a lot out of your reading. You will be able to guess many words, even without the use of the dictionary. This ability to guess will then also come in handy when you are having a normal conversation and there is no way you could look up a word in the dictionary.

- When you read something, you do practice your English. Even if you do not understand everything. This means that what you DO understand is going to be stronger after the read than it used to be. You will recognize some words and expressions faster, for having seen them a few times. Some of your vocabulary that was kind of weak/short-term is going to get stronger and move to your longer term memory. You will better observe things, such as which words occur with which other words (also known as collocations) which, in turn, is going to make your English sound more natural.

- Last but not least, this is good for yourself-confidence. You read something and did not understand everything? And so what? No one died. You're still here. You've managed to pull through, you've prevailed! It's going to prove to you that you can handle a lot of English, in different situations.

Now, I don't mean this to say that you should never look up words in the dictionary. I must have spent DOZENS and dozens of hours on Dictionary.com, looking up words. This is something I encourage everyone to do a whole lot. But, that being said, you shouldn't look up every single unknown word either, when you're reading, else you're going to spoil your fun. And, again, you should develop your ability to guess words and deal with situations where you don't know everything -- I insist on that, this is a beautiful and most useful skill for language-learners.

A reminder: as a first read, I recommend reading a book we've already seen as a movie. There's a reason for that. It makes guessing words a whole deal easier. (I cover the matter in Devenir bilingue en anglais.)

Finally, let me give kudos to Amazon for the Kindle again (as a device, mobile app and computer program). It's a beautiful piece of technology and it's free to use on mobile and on your computer and... it comes with English dictionaries, for free also. It makes looking up words, when you need to, a whole lot easier. I suspect you'll want to invest in the device itself, to read before going to bed (I would then advise getting the black&white ones instead of a tablet, as it won't mess with your body's natural sleep mechanism, like reading on the comp does.)


Now, let's move on to the whole fear of losing your English thing. It's a natural concern. Languages take so much time and dedication, who wants to see that vanish into thin air? Well, the single best way I've found to maintain any language is to listen to audio books. They're not for everyone (for beginners they may prove too much of a challenge, at least if used for extended periods of time) but they're definitely something any serious language learners will want to go through, especially if they don't live in the country. Audio books keep you listening to the closest thing to natural language, next to a conversation, and have you think in the language. You can take them anywhere with you and they're much easier to use in public transportation than regular books.

One thing that is going to help also is intensive repetition. I've never lost my basic Hungarian, even after months out of the country, quite simply because what I'd learned I'd practiced SO MUCH while I was in the country. My point is that something you've repeated again and again and again becomes part of you and it would take years to lose. You might want to practice what's dearest to you that way (for example, for work, since that's your concern.) Another thing that helps is to think in the language throughout your day (remembering things in the language and doing your self-talk in the language.)

One last thing I use to maintain my 'weak' languages (Hungarian and Spanish) is to watch TV shows, just for the fun of it. I understand 95% in Spanish on the shows I'm used to. I do miss a lot on the Hungarian ones but it does let me review what I do know. It's far from being painful to do and it's effective.

So, to answer your question: I don't feel like you HAVE to take another training. If you feel like it, go for it. The value of a training might be in FORCING you to make a commitment... But there are other ways to commit yourself to practicing your English a lot, such as buying a plane or train ticket. You may indeed want to use the money for that training in order to, instead, spend some time in an English-speaking country (HostelWorld and CouchSurfing are your friends to help you do so on a budget) and/or use the time to practice lots of English on your own, over activities you enjoy a whole lot.

I hope this helps Gautier. Wishing you lots of success!
Sincerely -
Fabien




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Bons progrès en anglais !
Fabien Bilingue en anglais Snauwaert