Seven-and-a-half months into my French Fluency Recovery Project, I feel that I am on the right track.
Last week I spent a few hours talking to a near-native French speaker while in the United States. I am not yet fluent, but I am conversational, unlike last December. I probably invented words derived from my stronger languages (English, Portuguese, and Spanish) more often than I realized, and her native Italian and intermediate English allowed her to understand them. But the subjective experience was quite dissimilar from my single conversation class in January, when I hesitated and stuttered while trying to get my meaning across.
I have devoted an average of 8.3 minutes per day to French, totaling over 31 hours. The majority of that time has been spent listening to newscasts on Radio France Internationale (RFI), which I enjoy tremendously, even if it limits the variety of my exposure, especially in terms of breadth of vocabulary. In fact, I find it amusing that I have become rather addicted to listening to RFI as a way to fall asleep. The news in French interests me enough to entirely quiet other thoughts and worries from the day, but the extremely straightforward and no-bullshit style of reporting calms me and—assuming I am already quite tired—invariably puts me to sleep.
Here are the statistics: 23.7 hours devoted to listening (nearly all of which RFI), 5.5 hours to speaking (mostly last week), 1.4 hours to writing, and 0.8 to reading.
I believe I am on track to recover solid fluency by the end of 2016 and hope to someday attain near-native mastery, even if that takes a decade or two. Of course, I’ll have to make the sacrifice and take an occasional trip to France.