Great Literature = Better Listening Skills?

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Montmorency
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Re: Great Literature = Better Listening Skills?

Postby Montmorency » Wed Oct 07, 2015 12:47 am

Takra jenai wrote:
tastyonions wrote:Sentences like "One can see clearly only with the heart, what is essential is invisible to the eyes" sound like little engineered slogans and that puts me off.

Exactly my feeling. But on the other hand, there must be something to it.
Malala Yousafzai was asked in an interview,
'What inner qualities made it possible for you to exibit such courage and self-confidence?'
She replied,
'I think I'm just listening to my heart and my heart is just listening to people.'
Malala is the only preacher I'm inclined to listen to as she practices what she preaches and her values can be described in two words: human rights.

Another question
What are some simple books that are 'great literature' and not 'preachie'?
I've read about *Winnie-the-Pooh' and 'Alice in Wonderland', but haven't tried them yet.


Another one you might think about is "The Wind in the Willows". A children's book, and it actually has a dubious social sub-text, but you can ignore that, and just enjoy the story and the language, which is of a high quality, or is usually said to be.
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Re: Great Literature = Better Listening Skills?

Postby snowflake » Wed Oct 07, 2015 11:36 pm

Children's English books....put together a list and lost the post so here's the short version
Newbery Medal books, either nominated or won the award
Beverly Cleary books
popular, don't think they're classic but the Percy Jackson and Kane Chronicle books
popular, don't think they're classic but A Series of Unfortunate Event books
"James and the Giant Peach" and other books by the same author
Chronicle of Narnia books
Wizard of OZ books, there's a whole series
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emk
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Re: Great Literature = Better Listening Skills?

Postby emk » Mon Oct 12, 2015 12:32 pm

Montmorency wrote:But looking around in general, I do wonder if many people are reading books nowadays. What I see all the time is people on their smart phones, and yes. some of them might be reading books on them (I don't envy them frankly, on even the best of phones), I think most are on Facebook or Twitter or some other relatively trivial thing.

I read a lot on my smartphone, but it has a large screen and a very high-resolution display. The text on my phone is actually sharper than what I find in some paperbacks, and most importantly, I can control the font size. It's not for everyone, certainly! But I really can't buy any more paper books anyways, because my wife says that 10 large floor-to-ceiling bookcases with books double-shelved uses up enough of our limited wall space (which is true and very fair), and therefore if I want more paper books, I need to get rid of some of the existing ones. Except I've already done that plenty of times, and the remaining books are pretty good, and I don't want to get rid of them. :-( So, yay for books on smartphones, because they can easily hold several lifetimes worth of books.

Montmorency wrote:But back to what someone upthread was saying, or quoting: I realised quite a while ago, that you got much more bang per buck with the combination of book+audiobook than you could from any movie or TV series. Whether it helps you with using language "out in the wild", I'm really not sure about.

Well, maybe French is a bit of a special case, at least for me. As an English-speaker, I've always found written French to be relatively easy, thanks to the transparent grammar vocabulary. But idiomatic spoken French is trickier, and in my experience, books are a surprisingly inefficient source of dialog, because so much of the text is actually narration. What's worse—from the perspective of somebody looking for sources of spoken French—is that French narration uses verb forms that are never used in speech.

Oh, and when French speakers write casually online, their spelling is usually terrible. So at least in the beginning, I couldn't use Internet discussions as a source of "spoken" French, either.

So if I want good sources for spoken French, my best choices are BDs (but only if I can buy them really cheaply, as via Izneo) and TV series. French books are wonderful, but they mostly help with the formal, written register.
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issemiyaki
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Re: Great Literature = Better Listening Skills?

Postby issemiyaki » Wed Jan 06, 2016 12:30 am

@emk ... sorry about the delay, thanks for getting me back on track.

There are some books (graded readers) that tell 1st-person stories in a "dialog-y" type fashion. They don't use tenses that are found in traditional French literature.

The series is called Alex. Click here on following link for a sample preview of the series. You can also listen to the audio. http://www.emdl.fr/fle/collection/lectu ... c/general/

But, in general, I hear where you're coming from.

Good thing is I've been making great strides in my oral comprehension and it's coming along nicely. I'm clearly understanding people I speak with over the phone and through Skype lessons.
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Re: Great Literature = Better Listening Skills?

Postby Serpent » Wed Jan 06, 2016 1:13 am

Montmorency wrote:Maybe all it does is make you better at reading "great books", which is not a bad thing in itself,
Generally it also improves the writing skills :) Of course not to the point of being able to write a great book yourself, but still.
If you also do enough listening, you can dive straight into speaking from there.
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Re: Great Literature = Better Listening Skills?

Postby issemiyaki » Wed Jan 06, 2016 1:37 am

@Serpent - agree
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Montmorency
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Re: Great Literature = Better Listening Skills?

Postby Montmorency » Wed Jan 06, 2016 9:37 pm

emk wrote:I read a lot on my smartphone, but it has a large screen and a very high-resolution display. The text on my phone is actually sharper than what I find in some paperbacks, and most importantly, I can control the font size. It's not for everyone, certainly! But I really can't buy any more paper books anyways, because my wife says that 10 large floor-to-ceiling bookcases with books double-shelved uses up enough of our limited wall space (which is true and very fair), and therefore if I want more paper books, I need to get rid of some of the existing ones. Except I've already done that plenty of times, and the remaining books are pretty good, and I don't want to get rid of them. :-( So, yay for books on smartphones, because they can easily hold several lifetimes worth of books.


Well, I have finally joined the 21st century and got myself a smartphone (Android). It's only a relatively inexpensive one, so I wonder if it will be up to sustained book-reading, but we will have to see! One of the first things I did on it was to download the dict.cc app, which is superb for English-German and works offline. (It has a growing range of other language pairs, but generally not as well supported), and also the Ap Geiriaduron English-Welsh dictionary (from Bangor University). This also works offline.

Montmorency wrote:But back to what someone upthread was saying, or quoting: I realised quite a while ago, that you got much more bang per buck with the combination of book+audiobook than you could from any movie or TV series. Whether it helps you with using language "out in the wild", I'm really not sure about.

Well, maybe French is a bit of a special case, at least for me. As an English-speaker, I've always found written French to be relatively easy, thanks to the transparent grammar vocabulary. But idiomatic spoken French is trickier, and in my experience, books are a surprisingly inefficient source of dialog, because so much of the text is actually narration. What's worse—from the perspective of somebody looking for sources of spoken French—is that French narration uses verb forms that are never used in speech.

Oh, and when French speakers write casually online, their spelling is usually terrible. So at least in the beginning, I couldn't use Internet discussions as a source of "spoken" French, either.

So if I want good sources for spoken French, my best choices are BDs (but only if I can buy them really cheaply, as via Izneo) and TV series. French books are wonderful, but they mostly help with the formal, written register.


Interesting points, and no doubt true at least to some extent of other languages as well.
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Re: Great Literature = Better Listening Skills?

Postby issemiyaki » Wed Jan 06, 2016 10:46 pm

Great discussion, everyone.

And speaking of reading ... I just came across a website (I'll be posting about it soon) that says people, generally at the highest levels of fluency tend to speak in paragraph form. So, reading clearly helps that.
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Re: Great Literature = Better Listening Skills?

Postby reineke » Wed Jan 06, 2016 11:02 pm

issemiyaki wrote:Is there a connection between what we read and what we can understand during a spoken conversation?


Given the digital age that we're living in, one gets the impression that old-fashioned reading is looked down on when it comes to learning a language. Everyone is rushing to download the latest app or gimmicky program that promises fluency with no effort.

According to this wonderful blog post on Brainscape, however, READING could blow some of these apps out of the water.
https://www.brainscape.com/blog/2010/09 ... n-langage/

The blogger makes a great case. He says: "Reading at even a slow pace also exposes us to more sentences per minute than the average movie or TV show."

My questions now is: After extracting all those great phrases, expressions and vocabulary from these literary treasures, how can we be sure that we'll be able to "catch" them when they're used during spoken conversation?

With Spanish, this is not that much of a problem because pronunciation is directly linked to spelling. That's not the case with French, given, as we know, the excessive shortening of words, and the infamous elisions. Germanic and Slavic languages may not have to deal with this so much because of the wonderful staccato cadences in their speech patterns.

So, I'm all ready to run to the bookshelf and pull out my French novels, poetry and start going to town, mining these works for great phrases. But, it would be heartbreaking to go through all that work and end up NOT recognizing the phrase or idiom when it is used in spoken language.

Or do you think as one becomes more familiar with the language, these issues will work themselves out?


In short, yes. While I'm too lazy to discuss why since it will all boil down to anecdotal evidence anyway you can have the best of both worlds and avoid the potential pitfalls of early exposure to the written word by listening to audiobooks. For French check out litteratureaudio.com. I would normally hesitate to recommend a non-professional site after bad experiences with librivox but the guys read like the pros.
Last edited by reineke on Thu Jan 07, 2016 9:59 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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tastyonions
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Re: Great Literature = Better Listening Skills?

Postby tastyonions » Thu Jan 07, 2016 9:34 pm

reineke wrote:For French check out litteratureaudio.com. I would normally hesitate to recommend a non-professional site after bad experiences with librivox but the guys read like the pros.
Waouh! Merci infiniment.
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