Lesson Transcript


Kyejin: Welcome to the inner circle.
Peter: This is the monthly, no-holds-barred newsletter giving you tried and tested learning methods to help you reach your language goals this year.
Kyejin: Hi, I'm Kyejin and I'm joined by my co-host, the founder of innovative language, Peter Galante.
Peter: So last time you learned about the power of changing your environment to help you learn better. And Kyejin, yours was very interesting.
Kyejin: Yes, I studied in the office after work.
Peter: And do you think that helped with your French instead of say learning at home?
Kyejin: Definitely, yes. At home, I feel a bit lazy. So I want to take a rest or sometimes I feel like my desk is dirty and I want to drink water. But, actually wait… I want to drink tea so I can't really focus on my studies. But in the office I focused on working for a full day. So everything is ready. I have clean shoes, desk, and I just need to open my book and study. So it was definitely much more easier.
Peter: Yeah, the environment is very, very important to success. In fact, I have some bad news.
Kyejin: Oh what happened?
Peter: I was fired by my teacher.
Kyejin: What? Sorry. Which teacher, your French teacher?
Peter: Correct. Yes.
Kyejin: What happened?
Peter: So Kyejin, do you know this expression? Your eyes are bigger than your stomach?
Kyejin: What does it mean?
Peter: So it means that you think you can eat many, many things? But in reality, your stomach can't hold all the things you see. So that's kind of like my daily day. It's like I can do this, I can do this. So I wound up the environment for my studying French was 10 pm Thursday night on the couch and… my teacher was very justified. She felt that that was not my best effort.
Kyejin: I see, she probably wanted some serious students.
Peter: Correct. Probably you are her ideal student.
Kyejin: Maybe. Yeah, everyone has a different learning style, maybe teachers too. They want some different kinds of students. So, Peter, are you going to look for another French teacher soon or are you going to change your learning method?
Peter: Well, I'm going to change my environment because the teacher was not wrong in her action. You know, it wasn't my best effort and the time and the environment and my sense of urgency were not there. So the first thing I will do is take a page from your book is… one, I will change the environment. Number two, I'll change the time. I cannot promise because daily life just has a way of getting in the way. But, by changing the time and environment that matters a lot and actually the goal - finding a teacher that is DELF centric. I think that matters.
Kyejin: So, what time are you going to study French from now on?
Peter: So I will move it to 3:30 in the afternoon.
Kyejin: I see. On what day?
Peter: Same day, Thursday,
Kyejin: I see.
Peter: The thing about the time is that again, you know, when you try to fit things into your daily life, it's a prioritization, right? So the family comes first. So I put the lessons late because then after the family was sleeping. But that's a bad strategy because you have limited energy and the teacher did me a favor. One day, I'll send her a thank you letter when I pass my DELF exam for saying “look, this is not the way to do it.” So the early afternoon before they come home and they have their after school activities is quite critical. But that's a very important time slot. So I have to make the most of it.
Kyejin: Indeed. So are you still aiming for the DELF B1?
Peter: Yes.
Kyejin: You know, I took the DELF test this month.
Peter: So Kyejin, let's talk about a few things. One how, how was the test?
Kyejin: I don't have the results yet. But to me, that was very hard.
Peter: So Kyejin, when I went to school, the people who always said “the test was hard,” got the highest grades and the people who said, "oh, it's so easy,” got the worst grades. So I'm expecting good results. What section do you think was hard?
Kyejin: Definitely the speaking part was hard because I have to discuss some things in French.
Peter: Like what?
Kyejin: There's not, there's not the discussion about daily food or is that like, something common? But it was about the environment, I mean, environment, talking about environment in Korean. My mother tongue is already so hard. But talking about that in French was even harder.
Peter: So what was the exact question? Do you think the environment is getting worse? Was it an open ended question? Meaning what do you think?
Kyejin: Yes. I'm not sure if I can say the exact question in this podcast because it's a DELF question but it was something like this: Tourism produces a lot of pollution. So, should we stop traveling or not? Stuff like that. So if it's a yes, then you have to give the reasons and why and if it's no, then you have to, yeah, say the reasons and why? So that was hard.
Peter: What was your answer and position?
Kyejin: I said I wouldn't stop traveling because of the pollution because reducing the number of travels won't decrease the pollution so much. I mean, maybe we will reduce a little bit but not so much. So, we should definitely find another scientific solution with the government. It's not normal, it's, it's not something that normal people should do just by decreasing the number of their trips.
Peter: Let's talk about the other sections that the speaking was difficult with the open ended question. What about the other sections?
Kyejin: Well, actually for the speaking, this is not all, you know, there is a kind of role play section too. So I have to kind of fight, not fight, but discuss with the examiner.
Peter: Interesting.
Kyejin: Yeah, so for example, yeah, I went to some place and I should not bring a dog but I did. So, yeah, the owner of the place is saying you should, you should not bring your dog and I'm convincing them in French, by the way.
Peter: So this was a seeing eye dog, right? Do you know that term, Kyejin? So sometimes people who cannot see, need the dog to help, right. So you told them that it was a seeing eye dog, right?
Kyejin: Oh, no, I didn't. I started a more friendly way first like, oh, the examiner said, “wait, what is it?” So I said, “oh, it's my dog, isn't he so cute?” And he said, “no dogs are not allowed it.” So I said, “oh, well, please. My dogs are, my dog is very quiet and well behaved and also. yeah, it's very good dog” and he still says no. So I said I have a friend living, near this place, so I'll call her and ask if she can take care of my dog instead.
Peter: I would have said I know the owner of the restaurant and I will call him. This is good. So Kyejin, so it seems like your mind is very focused on the speaking section. But OK, what other sections were there? And let's just talk about those.
Kyejin: The other section that I found difficult was writing. The writing is also not something so casual, but it was also something a little formal to me, which is like…
Peter: and when you say writing this is actual handwriting, correct?
Kyejin: Exactly. It's not the writing with keyboard. So you have to practice writing with your pen because recently I haven't used a pen for a while. So I had a pain in my arm when I’m writing.
Peter: So the two we just covered are the speaking and listening, the productive side of things. So before we get into
Kyejin: Writing, listening, you just said listening,
Peter: So the two we just spoke about are the speaking and the writing, the productive side of studying languages. So Kyejin, for the speaking and for the writing, what was very useful in practicing these skills while preparing for the test?
Kyejin: First for speaking, I memorized several phrases. and those helped a lot because when I'm nervous, I can't think of any new phrases. But by remembering those phrases and when my mind went blank, I could use those phrases.
Peter: Can you give me an example of what the phrase would be like?
Kyejin: So for example, for the third part, which is sharing your opinion of after reading an article about the environment, I always started like this. I'm going to present to you about the articles that I just read. Because when I have to say something, I don't know how to start. I need a few seconds. So I always start with this phrase. And the topic of this article is this and like that kind of phrases helped so much. So I would say this is kind of filler phrases for the exams. It's not filler words for daily life, but filler phrases for the exams helped so much.
Peter: And the way you acquire this language is similar though, like, so in my case, I would, as my kids say in the olden days when I first started, I would write them down, then I would record it on a tape recorder and then listen to it. How did you do this Now? Did you write the phrases down or translate them, write them down? Have its teacher or someone confirm it, then record them or have a native speaker record them. What, how did you from the blank sheet of paper all the way till how you memorized it? What was the technique you used?
Kyejin: I didn't memorize so many phrases, but I memorized probably something like five and I wrote them on my phone. And when I walk, I won both for the last few days right before the exam. Like walking, I was always speaking to myself.
Peter: It's a great strategy while listening to the podcast. I often do that especially to repeat the French. So what, what I used to do was I would first write it down, then I would record it myself. Then when I found a native speaker, I would ask them to record it for me. Then I would listen to their voice again and again while repeating it out loud.
Kyejin: Wow, that's an interesting tactic.
Peter: Yeah, it's quite easy now with Premium Plus because you can get something translated, practice it yourself, then send it to your teacher and then they can send it back. And if you or if you have a family member or a friend that can simply do the recording, then you actually get access to the native speaker with. That's really what you want to copy.
Kyejin: Indeed, actually, I'm sometimes struggling with some French sentences. Then teachers always record those lines and send it to me on my Premium Plus My Teacher messenger and those helped me so much.
Peter: Yeah. And I, I will not lie. Like, for me, French is actually one of the hardest languages to learn, way harder than, way harder than Chinese or, some of the other languages that I've tried to learn.
Kyejin: Oh.
Peter: Oh, do you find this surprising?
Kyejin: Yeah, because I found French is quite similar to English in terms of the word order and there are many similar words. So sometimes I come across some French words that I haven't learned. And I'm like, “oh, this is very similar to English and maybe it's this meaning” and sometimes it's correct. So I thought you have huge advantages.
Peter: So the reading, there is a very big advantage. When I look at French, it's quite easy to understand. But when I try to produce the speaking, it's like a different language. I mean, for me, the final letter of the word is often omitted. And so it's, it's so challenging for me to produce French when speaking it. And so I'm more of a reading or maybe a visual kind of learner where I like to understand how it's written. And so for Chinese or Japanese, like at least the patterns stay the same. But for the French, it's almost two languages are spoken and the written languages. So it's very, very challenging. the spoken part of it.
Kyejin: I see.
Peter: But we try again with a new teacher. So Kyejin, very quickly let's shift to the writing. So for the writing, what techniques or tactics did you use or just how did you get better at the writing
Kyejin: For writing? I memorized a lot of connectors such as therefore, for example, Moreover, furthermore, however. Those are very helpful too and for the other sentences, I found there are not so many topics for writing, so they are kind of limited. Sometimes it's about like work related or like the environment. So I already practiced all those topics myself. So I could use lots of vocabulary or sentences in my actual writing test, you know.
Peter: It's interesting. Maybe in the next podcast, we can talk about some test taking tactics, right? Like this one, we're trying, we're kind of blurring like the preparation plus the test taking and they're actually very different skills. So Kyejin, just let's stick to the preparation side of things so very quickly…. from what I see, there were a list of topics that you were told that might appear on the test or the test, anything can show up? Is it A: that there were a topic that you kind of should study for or B: anything could be possible?
Kyejin: Of course, anything is possible, but there are common ones I found French people love talking about environment, education, et cetera. So if you practice with those topics, I think that will be very helpful.
Peter: OK. So this is again, strategic that falls into this test taking strategy. Yeah, I think we're gonna need a separate podcast on it.
Kyejin: I have so much things, so many things to talk about then.
Peter: OK. So let's go to the receptive side of things. So, how about reading and listening? Let's start with the reading. How was the reading or the reading section? I guess reading grammar vocab, et cetera.
Kyejin: For reading sections. Honestly, I didn't prepare so much because before preparing for DELF, I practiced one test and it looks like my reading scores were pretty high. So I didn't spend so much time on reading section when I actually prepared for the DELF. But of course, I was taking lots of reading exercises from my book, but that's it. Yeah, I just take those and write down some words that I don't understand. Yeah, I don't have any other special skills.
Peter: Ok. So, this one is kind of putting in the time, right? And listening too, would that be a similar approach? Just listening to audio over and over?
Kyejin: Yes, listening is challenging to me. So, yeah, I always listen to the audio files from my book and when I walk or when I'm on the train, bus, I always listen to it.
Peter: So again, just putting in the time, many hours. But it's easier to put in the time on receptive because you're doing it. But, the 1st 10 minutes you could be very focused. Next 10 minutes, not so focused, maybe Kyejin in your case, you're always focused. But, so we tend to multitask or kind of do some other things.
Kyejin: Yes. And also I think it's very important to get used to the accent. So when I listen a lot, I get used to the accent. So I feel relatively easy to listen to other French audio files.
Peter: Interesting. So Kyejin, let's talk about the test, right? So when you registered for the test and it became real right in your mind, it's like it costs money, money out of your pocket. How much do you think it motivated helped you prepare? Or how much did it help your motivation?
Kyejin: Oh, wow. I think in the last year, that was the most nervous moment and that gives me huge motivation. So when I pay for the test, well, that was just nothing but as time goes by the exam date is coming soon, and I can focus on French much better. I mean, when I learn, for example, like 10 words, I forget like five words. But I think one week before the exam, when I learn something, I remember almost everything. Sometimes the teacher gives me some feedback like, oh Kyejin, this word should be pronounced this way. I always forgot. I make the same mistake over and over again. But 1-2 weeks before the exam I observed whatever teachers say. And that was an amazing experience.
Peter: Wow, that's really, really cool. So, this helped you tremendously.
Kyejin: Definitely. Yes. Yes. Yes. So I hope you will experience that too. But honestly that gives you some stress too. I'm like, I have to pass, I have to pass. That pressure gives you a huge motivation. So there's pros and cons.
Peter: Yeah, and it can also be overwhelming. So yeah, pros and cons. So one of the things about testing, it's called, of course, active recall, right? That you're forcing yourself to go into your brain and produce that information, right? It's like where is that where it's stored? So, this is one of the keys to learning a language or learning anything is testing yourself. And that's what is very, very powerful about testing in anything. You're, you're recalling it from somewhere in your brain. So I guess you're making those connections stronger. I'm not a neuroscientist, but I'm just kind of guessing that the pathways get stronger.
Kyejin: Yeah, I think I heard something like that.
Peter: So, wow Kyejin, it's quite remarkable that you were able to execute on your plan and here we are at the six month mark, you already took the test once and I was fired.
Kyejin: Well, I wouldn't say you're fired. It's just like you, it's time for you to find a different teacher. So for me, I personally prefer learning French with many different teachers. So each teacher has a different teaching style and I get used to one technique which is good. But I also want to experience the other techniques and also I want to get used to other people, other teachers' accents or their interesting way to teach. So for me, I've learned French.what I would say that over 10 teachers so far.
Peter: Wow.
Kyejin: So you need a different teacher now. That's it.
Peter: Yeah. No, it's you know, and it's also I often choose my teachers based on their personality and the way they like… because my goal is usually to talk with people, I'm very social. So for me, fun is chatting and joking, which makes it quite hard…. Some teachers again, are, are very focused on teaching, but this time I made one very big mistake and that's why I'm blaming myself more is that… this year, the goal is to pass an exam and I did not select my teacher based on that. I didn't orient my studying based on that. In fact, I don't even have a DELF textbook yet. So I was hoping to get yours when you're finished with it.
Kyejin: I have A2 book, by the way. So if you want A2 book, yes, because if possible. I want to take B1 again at the end of the year hoping to get higher scores than this one. So B1, I still need it. But A2 if you want, I'll give it to you.
Peter: Yeah, thank you so much. So again, we, we kind of joke about this now, but if we strip back and look at where you have progressed to and where have I progressed to? On my side, it was a failure to align my habits and routines with the goal because every year for the last eight years, I've picked a language to converse with and my goal was always to speak for a long time. So these are the tactics I brought and by talking to you, I learned a lot slowly and finally realized that in order to succeed at this, I really need to adjust my routines and goals to match the test that's coming in November.
Kyejin: Yeah. Yeah, definitely.
Peter: Because right now, one of my teachers is the exact teacher that I like. We have a good time. We laugh. I look forward to my French class. And, but that's because that's the way I like to study with the joke and using phrases or topics that I find interesting. It's very different than being able to clearly explain the directions where you want to go. And for my goal this year, I don't need the funny phrases or interesting conversations. I need to know how to pass that test, right?
Kyejin: You need to know the vocabulary about education and environment.
Peter: So Kyejin, I have an ask of you. Do you think you could help me create a plan to succeed?
Kyejin: Sure, I can try. But you should follow that if you want to pass.
Peter: Yeah, I think we're out of playtime. So I think I very much need to follow this clear regimen. I need to adjust my routines to match my goals.
Kyejin: Ok. So I will need a few things from you. First, how many hours you need. And also what are the weaknesses and strengths of your French skills? Maybe, you said, speaking is hard but reading is ok, like such things.
Peter: So, what I'll do is I'll take the assessment on our site and then I'll show you the results.
Kyejin: Ok. I'm looking forward to it.
Peter: Yeah. And, again, the problem is though, right? The results for those usually don't come back too bad because I'm not producing, right. I'm not writing. I'm not speaking, which are the two areas that I believe you said were the tough ones for you and they're kind of very, very tough for me.
Kyejin: Yeah. And I believe you will need a teacher who specializes in DELF. I practiced reading and writing part with my teacher who is actually an examiner of the DELF and I practiced a lot with her and as time goes by, I felt quite comfortable and could make longer and longer sentences. So, yeah, no more funny phrases but words and phrases about environment.
Peter: Yeah. It's a radical shift for me to study for an exam which I haven't done for a long time. So, yes. So why don't we do this? Perhaps in the PDF for this month, we could put how we organized the plan for me. And I can put the one that I started with in the beginning of the year or the one that I've used for the last eight years getting better at speaking. And even if last year, I focused on a more comprehensive approach to learning a language, it still was very, very different than actually having a clear measurable result. OK. So Kyejin, now that you've finished, what will your plan be? When do you get first, when do you get your results and how will that affect the second part of your plan? So you wanted to practice this time, you may or may not have passed? The results are coming next month?
Kyejin: I think so. It's supposed to be very soon. So based on the scores, I want to adjust my learning strategies. So if my writing was bad, then I focus on writing part or if something is bad, then I will change something. But, definitely I want to focus on speaking. Speaking was hard and I could make better sentences, but I was very nervous. So I used shorter sentences, so I regret that. So definitely I focus on speaking and also I think my other weakness is listening. So listening and speaking, probably because I've been focusing on speaking and writing in the last few months, but probably I need to change my strategies. But first I want to see the scores.
Peter: Ok. Smart. For me, my next goal will be to have a plan that Kyejin helps me with and a teacher approves… on how I can change things over the next 1, 2, 3… Still 4 months to go.
Kyejin: Yes. And you are going to study French in Switzerland very soon.
Peter: That's my goal by the end of this month is to get that new plan of attack.
Kyejin: And my goal is to adjust my learning strategy based on my DELF scores.
Peter: Wow, Kyejin, you're again, very inspirational here.
Kyejin: Thank you.
Peter: And I'm not. So we have to fix that, but it's more of a kind of a character or personality adjustment, right? Like kind of free doing what I want and now constrained. So it was a good wake up call. Ok. Listeners. What about you? Let us know what your goals or your monthly goal is, email us at inner dot circle at innovative language dot com and stay tuned for the next inner circle.


Kyejin: Bye everyone.
Peter: Thank you for listening and see you next time.