I have forgotten my brain – week 1 of The Ten Week Journey in French

Posted by Cat Ramos

In the week 1 email of The Ten Week Journey, Aaron introduced Livemocha and advised to use it. Um, but I didn’t. I read a few reviews about it and what made me decide against it was Benny the Irish Polyglot’s review. I am not about to waste money on high-tech

I browsed through several blogs and forums and found out that most users recommend Assimil so I checked out some sample pages and audio clips. I was impressed so I ordered the book + CD package from National Bookstore.

It took about a month to get my New French Assimil with Ease. That’s OK. I didn’t want to order online and pay for EMS shipping AND pay even more on customs duties and taxes.

(If you only knew how much I paid for my Fukuyama Masaharu DVDs. Tsk. More on that in a later post.)


Anyway, I placed my order at National Bookstore Market Market. I always get my special orders from National because they have excellent customer service. Sometimes, my order will arrive in less than a month and they will text AND call me to inform me that I can pick up my items anytime.

The book and CD package cost me P4,035. That is way cheaper than the P8,000+ I paid for the Living Language Italian Platinum course that I bought last year. Quickly comparing the actual learning material in each course, I can say that Assimil will teach you so much more than the LL Platinum course.

“Assimil” is a funky name, isn’t it. Apparently, Assimil is the reason why so many French people are fluent in English. But don’t take my word for it; I just read that in Amazon 🙂 Anyway, it stands for “assimilate”, which was how we learned our native languages.

When we were little, we learned how to speak by imitating, listening, and imitating again until the words and sentences made sense in our tiny brains. Assimil works in the same way.

The New French with Ease is a course geared towards absolute beginners and “false” beginners (liars, haha) like me — I knew a little French so I am not exactly a complete noob. This course is perfect for me.


It’s got “new” in the title because the lessons have been updated to take into account more recent developments in words and grammatical usage. I saw a sample page of Italian with Ease — hey, it still uses lira! So there is no New Italian with Ease yet 🙂

The book and CD box contains 1 book and 4 CDs. There are a total of 113 lessons of useful daily conversations — many of them hilarious. 🙂 These are dialogues that you will encounter in everyday life. I even learned the word “zut”, which is a mild, non-offensive expletive like “damn”. Each 7th lesson is a revision chapter where the previous grammar points are summarized for your review. Seven, assuming you did one lesson a day for 6 days and the 7th day is for reviewing 😛

The courses are divided into 2 waves (of zombies): the passive wave and the active wave.

In the passive wave, you simply need to read and listen to the lesson. You keep on doing it until you understand it and you can comfortably repeat the sentences. This takes me 30 minutes ir less per day.

The active wave (of zombies) starts at lesson 50. You still do each new lesson as in the passive phase: read, listen, absorb. Then you will need to go back to a prior lesson to review its contents by translating the dialogue. For example, after finishing lesson 50 passively, you will be instructed to review lesson 1.

Wow, that’s so far back 🙂 Will I still remember “A Paris” after lesson 50? Ack, haha. I hope when that time comes, I won’t have to use “j’ai oublié…” (I have forgotten…)

Ooh, there’s the answer to my most pressing need — the toilet!

It was a pretty exciting first week so far with my self-study French. I managed to finish the tenth lesson. I’ve been through stuff like asking for directions, ordering at a restaurant or shop and asking for someone over the phone.

Still very basic, and as I move to a new lesson, some grammar points keep appearing. I love that, because it reinforces what I already learned in past lessons. At this point, I’ve become a master of “est-ce que”, haha. I also noticed that the audio gets SLIGHTLY faster. Not very nosebleed-inducing fast, like the way the French converse in real life. But it is a comfortable speed for me. I can still make out the words and I do not have to lose blood over it.

There is just a little error I noticed:

The boxed text in the page above says to read the numbers at the top of each page. That was for the old Assimil version. In the new one, the page number is at the bottom, as you can see.

Every time I finish a lesson, I add the audio file to an iPhone playlist that I would listen to while working. It’s just for a bit of background noise. Still very much passive wave (of zombies). While my colleagues listen to music, I listen to my lessons. Nerdvana all over again.

I really, really love this course. I still would love to enrol in a course at Alliance. But my schedule is a bit hectic and Assimil is just perfect for me. I’d like to be able to finish all 113 lessons – or leçon, haha. Then I will take a test at Alliance so I can have a proper “diagnosis” of my French ability.

Until next week. I am off to practice my Zut!

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