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Section 1

#14 Take the progress tests that accompany your lesson plans.

Those tests are not there to make you feel stupid if you don’t do well. They are there to help you figure out where you’ve fallen short of mastery, and what you can do to improve. Sometimes the answer to that last question isn’t as simple as “Try harder” or “Pay attention.” These tests may be telling you whether the study method or curriculum you’re using is actually working for you.

For example, suppose you’ve been using a program that is almost entirely auditory. (As I mentioned previously, you will find some highly-respected software programs that are.) You take the progress test and score abysmally. What is the problem? Upon further analysis, you discover that you’ve remembered almost none of the phrases you’ve diligently repeated a hundred times. This is telling you that you are almost certainly not an auditory learner, and some other type of learning program would probably work out better for you.

Suppose, on the other hand, you realize you’ve remembered many of the phrases you repeated aloud in the privacy of your room, but few of the ones you listened to on the bus using your mp3 player. Here it’s not the program that’s the problem – it’s the way you’ve chosen to study. With your particular learning style, you need to repeat the conversations aloud to lock them into your memory – just listening to them on the bus isn’t nearly as effective.

Much of the process of succeeding with French is discovering how to learn in a way that works for you. Without taking – and failing – the progress tests included with your language learning system, you wouldn’t understand the nature of your problem, so you’d have no idea how to fix it.

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