French: Fresh, fun native media at my fingertips

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emk
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Re: French: Fresh, fun & effortless media

Postby emk » Sat Jul 25, 2015 8:49 pm

astromule wrote:Thank you for the link! I didn't know about it. Would it be possible to do a list for other languages? I can contribute with Swedish.

Yup! Just go to the wiki, create an account, and then create a new page. It takes five minutes to figure it all out, but after that, it's no harder than editing things using Word. :-)

arthaey wrote:Because I'd really love to have a list of the most "sub2rss-ready" Spanish TV shows, for instance, without having to wade through a bunch of bad subtitles/captions to find one worth the effort... :)

I can provide you with very clean, Subs2SRS-ready subtitles for Avatar. If you've never seen it, it's one of the best-written children's cartoons ever made, and it has very good French and Spanish dubs. Plus, the vocabulary is all great basic stuff: meeting people, travelling, shopping for supplies, conversation, eating, growing up and—of course—summoning the elements to do impressively cool things. And I've scrupulously re-aligned either 4 or 6 episodes.

sctroyenne wrote:I find it helps a lot if you're not watching a show and/or actors that you already know and love. It's a good opportunity to watch that show you've always meant to but never got around to watching. Once you get very attached to certain actors' voices and acting it can be really hard to accept anything else.

For me, it varies a lot by show. I can't watch Buffy in English now; it's just too high-pitched and southern Californian, whereas French Buffy sounds a bit more kickass. And clearly Cordelia was always destined to be snarky in French. Giles actually uses the passé simple a couple of time in early episodes when talking about the history of the supernatural, which is also totally perfect.

On the other hand, I can switch between the French and English versions of Castle and Miss Fisher with no problem at all. They're both fine French series with solid dubbing—maybe not for somebody's first series, but once you've done a couple and you don't care about subs, they should be great intermediate material.

I also watched some half a French film of Miss Marple. Not bad, but the dubbing on most of the old stuff isn't up to modern standards.

Hopefully now that the forum has calmed down, I'm going to make more progress on my Autre Monde audio book.
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Re: French: Fresh, fun & effortless media

Postby arthaey » Sat Jul 25, 2015 10:18 pm

emk wrote:I can provide you with very clean, Subs2SRS-ready subtitles for Avatar. If you've never seen it, it's one of the best-written children's cartoons ever made, and it has very good French and Spanish dubs. Plus, the vocabulary is all great basic stuff: meeting people, travelling, shopping for supplies, conversation, eating, growing up and—of course—summoning the elements to do impressively cool things. And I've scrupulously re-aligned either 4 or 6 episodes.

Okay, fine, twist my arm... ;) My email address is my username at Gmail. Or if you prefer some other way of sharing the files, just let me know. :)
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Bob Morane

Postby emk » Sun Jul 26, 2015 2:48 pm

Warning! Old school adventure pulp ahead. If you can't stand this sort of thing, then skip this post. :-)

Part 1: Discovering French music

Several weeks ago, I bought a bunch of classic French rock albums from the iTunes music store. (Yes! You can easily buy French music in the US.)

One of these songs caught my attention: L'Aventurier by Indochine. This song seemed to about the adventures of a pulp hero named Bob Morane:



...En pleine terreur à Manicouagan
Isolé dans la jungle birmane
Emprisonnant les flibustiers
L'ennemi est démasqué
On a volé le collier de Civa
Le maharaja en répondra

Et soudain surgit face au vent
Le vrai héros de tous les temps
Bob Morane contre tout chacal
L'aventurier contre tout guerrier
Bob Morane contre tout chacal
L'aventurier contre tout guerrier...

(more, will play a video)


Let me try my hand at translating the refrain:

In utter terror at Manicouagan
Isolated in the Burmese jungle
Imprisoning the pirates
The enemy is unmasked
The necklace of Civa was stolen
The maharaja will respond

And suddenly there, face to the wind,
The true hero of all time
Bob Morane versus every jackal
The adventurer against every warrior (repeat)

There may be an error or two here, and the translation doesn't scan. Sometimes I have trouble translating lyrics! But it should give the idea.

Part 2: Wait, what? These are real books?

A week or two later, I'm browsing on Amazon (US), and I stumble across a book of Bob Morane stories for the Kindle. And a little searching reveals that there are many more volumes available for US Kindles! Here's a short excerpt:

Lorsqu'il reprit connaissance, le professeur se garda bien d'ouvrir les yeux. Il resta étendu sur le sol glacé du laboratoire, à l'endroit même où il s'était écroulé lorsque Sergio l’avait assommé. Sans faire le moindre mouvement. Les nerfs tendus et tous les sens aux aguets. La première chose qui le frappa, tandis que son esprit revenait à la conscience, ce fut l'odeur. Une odeur forte insistante, presque suffocante et qui prenait à la gorge Une odeur qui était aussi un signal d'alarme. Et ce signal d'alarme hurlait: « Danger! »

Of course, the problem with old school pulp adventure is that it's often gripping and fun, but sometimes the author will want to suddenly stop and share their creepy antisemitic theories or whatever. You take your chances, certainly.

I think old-school pulp is mostly a dead art today: You just don't see magazine racks full of Thrilling Wonder Stories and Weird Tales, you know? OK, Astounding Stories lives on 85 years later as Analog Science Fiction and Fact, and I saw a beautiful hardbound reprint of Carnacki the Ghost Hunter a few years ago. The whole point of these stories is visible right there in the magazine titles: They want to be Thrilling! Weird! Astounding! The authors strive shamelessly to grab your attention. One the most famous pulp stories is Conan the Barbarian. Sure, there's Indiana Jones, which tries hard, but which sometimes feels more like a modern homage to classic pulp.

If you're into old pulp, you have a US Kindle, and you're studying French, here you go. :-)
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Re: French: Fresh, fun & effortless media

Postby zenmonkey » Mon Jul 27, 2015 7:34 am

emk, I alway thought that your log was interesting and you had strong sense of learning methodology but since my hiatus from HTLAL either my memory is faulty or you've significantly grown. This log is brilliant.

I'm excited by some of the things you are doing here with anki and video. Going to look into it.

I do have to say - I have a very small reserve for the word 'cheating' - not because I'm particularly attached to political correctness - but because I do not see it as cheating - using either the source language or target language descriptors to create context is essential part of the learning process and should be used, as necessary. Also, teaching younger kids about language learning I'm not going to tell them to "cheat" - not from a moral position - but because I do not want to build a false negative connotation on the practice of 'contextualizing' a word.

Anyway, thanks for the brilliant log. Food for thought and practice!

PS: I love Indochine. If you need the names of groups or songs, let me know, I have a vast French song collection.
Last edited by zenmonkey on Mon Jul 27, 2015 9:35 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: French: Fresh, fun & effortless media

Postby lorinth » Mon Jul 27, 2015 9:05 am

I stumble across a book of Bob Morane stories for the Kindle


Ah, emk! You bring to my mind very fond memories of devouring episodes upon episodes of Bob Morane when I was a teenager: travels and adventures, monsters, tomb raiding, implacable villains, a femme fatale here and there, a dash of sci-fi and martial art thrown in - endless fun until late in the night.

When I was looking for something enthralling and not too difficult to read in Mandarin, I thought that teenager pulp fiction might fit the bill, if it existed. Luckily for me, it does exist and that's why I've been reading a lot of tomb raiding pulp fiction in Chinese recently: it's fun, it's (relatively) easy and it's captivating - so, when the language is a bit hard, you want to go on anyway, because you just need to know what happens next. There's an unexpected difference though between Bob Morane and Chinese Pulp: with the latter, you learn *a lot* about Chinese geography, history, customs, etc.

Pulp is a good choice for any serious language learner :-)
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Re: French: Fresh, fun & effortless media

Postby emk » Mon Jul 27, 2015 10:49 am

zenmonkey wrote:I do have to say - I have a very small reserve for the word 'cheating' - not because I'm particularly attached to political correctness - but because I do not see it as cheating - using either the source language or target language descriptors to create context is essential part of the learning process and should be used, as necessary. Also, teaching younger kids about language learning I'm not going to tell them to "cheat" - not from a moral position - but because I do not want to build a false negative connotation on the practice of 'contextualizing' a word.

Thank you for your kind words! And, yes, if I were a teacher in school, I would probably choose different terminology. :-) I was mostly addressing older self-learners who've successfully made it through the A1/A2 stages.

"Cheating" was deliberately provocative, and I used it for two reasons:

  1. I remember back when I was A2/B1 for the first time. Language learning was an unknown and mysterious process, and I tended to be a bit obsessed with the "right" way to use Assimil, to use native media, etc. And I've seen lots of other A2/B1 people in the Advice Center who were really struggling with perfectionism regarding methods, and it was holding many of them back from making the leap to B2. I wanted to encourage people to take a ruthlessly and creatively pragmatic approach to the B1->B2 transition: Don't worry about following another textbook step-by-step, just do whatever works.
  2. As I mentioned in the original post, "cheating and consolidating" is essentially just Krashen's "i+1 input" theory, but with a minor twist. Krashen suggests finding material that's just slightly above the student's level. My claim is that it's highly useful to create "artificial" i+1 input via various underhanded strategies. For example, Avatar is definitely not i+1 input for somebody who has never studied Spanish. But by using bilingual subtitles and a memory tool that was optimized for "earworm" creation, I was able to create an enormous "fake" comprehension boost and then consolidate that directly into automatic knowledge. And in a ridiculously short time, I was able to watch the easiest and most familiar episodes of Avatar without subtitles, and actually sort-of follow the plot. Granted, my French helped a lot, but Sprachprofi pulled the same thing off with Japanese. (OK, she's an amazing polyglot—do not expect to get her results. I didn't.)
So, for example, if somebody says, "You know, I find it a lot easier to read graphic novels than real books, because the pictures help," my response is, "Good! Have fun!" Similarly, if somebody says, "I've read Harry Potter a hundred times in English, and that makes it easy for me to understand in French, but shouldn't I be reading real French books instead of indulging myself with an old favorite?" My response would be, "Nah, use an old favorite if you want. It will just speed things up a bit!" My hypotheses, if you will, is that if you use underhanded and sneaky methods to boost your comprehension, and if you expose yourself to enough volume, then you'll be able to "lock in" that artificial comprehension boost via sheer exposure.

My claim here is stronger than Krashen's, in one minor way. But it's weaker in others: I believe that many students will need more than just comprehensible input to round out their skills. But a solid base of input will certainly make everything else far easier in my experience, and even today, most students get far less than the optimal amount of L2 input, IMO.

A totally inefficient but amusing way to add some more French to your day

Magicka is a very silly phone/tablet game where you play a wizard and zap your enemies with the elements. The audio uses a fake babble "language", with subtitles provided underneath in whatever language you've configured your phone to use. There's not a lot of text, but the French text is moderately challenging and really funny. So if you need to blow off language learning for a while, but you don't want to leave your French "bubble", take a look. It's a time waster, but a fun one, and only one or two major cut-scenes use English audio.
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Re: French: Fresh, fun & effortless media

Postby zenmonkey » Mon Jul 27, 2015 1:50 pm

Thoughtful response, as always. How is it that a few years later, I find you have the same well thought-out voice here?

I agree with your method and find it useful - the little nagging at the back of my head is that it isn't necessarily an "underhanded an sneaky method" (but I'm perfectly fine if that is how it feels for you) but a "resonant" system - whether it is a book that you know, the pleasure of movies, or the 'cheats' that one uses to creates an additional comprehension boost or mental hook or stickiness in this way.

I've use something similar for French when I was moving to an advanced level - using poetry, street slang, perverted children's rhymes as hooks or cheats, at a point where L1 is no longer needed or useful but advanced vocabulary or complex grammar is still being built.

I've decided, thanks to you and this discussion, to go back to something I think we discussed in the past - the use of Audacity to make short sound clips - except the 'cheat'/'resonance' effect I'm going to try for German is music / poetry / rap to push me a bit further. I'll write about it on a specific thread.

BTW - If you enjoy comedy and are at a point where word play (turnure de phrase) are of interest for your French, check out Chevalier et Laspales as comics of repetition and words play - there are hundreds of youtube videos of their skits.
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Re: French: Fresh, fun & effortless media

Postby Cavesa » Mon Jul 27, 2015 11:09 pm

emk wrote:
[list=1]
[*]...And I've seen lots of other A2/B1 people in the Advice Center who were really struggling with perfectionism regarding methods, and it was holding many of them back from making the leap to B2. I wanted to encourage people to take a ruthlessly and creatively pragmatic approach to the B1->B2 transition: Don't worry about following another textbook step-by-step, just do whatever works.
[*]...Krashen suggests finding material that's just slightly above the student's level. My claim is that it's highly useful to create "artificial" i+1 input via various underhanded strategies. ...
...but shouldn't I be reading real French books instead of indulging myself with an old favorite?" My response would be, "Nah, use an old favorite if you want. It will just speed things up a bit!" My hypotheses, if you will, is that if you use underhanded and sneaky methods to boost your comprehension, and if you expose yourself to enough volume, then you'll be able to "lock in" that artificial comprehension boost via sheer exposure.


My neck nearly hurts from all the nodding while reading this post of yours, great as always ;-)

I think people in general underestimate the amount of activities and time spent on them that is necessary in order to learn a langauge. And as a consequence, they overestimate the need for awesome methods, courses, techniques etc. Quite anything you can keep doing is going to help. For example, there is no need to feel so hard pressed about choosing the best resource available, you are likely to need more than one anyways.

That applies to the books to read as well. Firstly, I blame teachers for many of the misconceptions about what should the learners read. I've heard it far too many times: "my teacher recommended I read classics/children books/whatever but I find it so boring/hard/etc." You are gonna need dozens of books anyways, so there is actually a spot for quite anything on that list :-)

What I don't like that much about Krashen is that i+1, approach, the need to use only something just slightly above your level and refusal of more difficult things without taking too much into account other relevant factors, such as fun or individual preference of steeper/less steap learning curve. I am convinced i+10 can work as well, if you are passionate about the book and that fascination will keep you going. First hand experience. But of course, it might be different for very difficult languages, such as Japanese, I guess. Given enough passion, even i+10 becomes immediately subjective i+4 or even less.

But I love those "cheating" strategies, thanks for writing about them. I might need to try some of the tips soon on German books. Those are definitely gonna be harder than i+1 :-)
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Re: French: Fresh, fun & effortless media

Postby zenmonkey » Tue Jul 28, 2015 6:03 pm

Cavesa wrote:
emk wrote:
[list=1]
[*]...And I've seen lots of other A2/B1 people in the Advice Center who were really struggling with perfectionism regarding methods, and it was holding many of them back from making the leap to B2. I wanted to encourage people to take a ruthlessly and creatively pragmatic approach to the B1->B2 transition: Don't worry about following another textbook step-by-step, just do whatever works.
[*]...Krashen suggests finding material that's just slightly above the student's level. My claim is that it's highly useful to create "artificial" i+1 input via various underhanded strategies. ...
...but shouldn't I be reading real French books instead of indulging myself with an old favorite?" My response would be, "Nah, use an old favorite if you want. It will just speed things up a bit!" My hypotheses, if you will, is that if you use underhanded and sneaky methods to boost your comprehension, and if you expose yourself to enough volume, then you'll be able to "lock in" that artificial comprehension boost via sheer exposure.


My neck nearly hurts from all the nodding while reading this post of yours, great as always ;-)

I think people in general underestimate the amount of activities and time spent on them that is necessary in order to learn a langauge. And as a consequence, they overestimate the need for awesome methods, courses, techniques etc. Quite anything you can keep doing is going to help. For example, there is no need to feel so hard pressed about choosing the best resource available, you are likely to need more than one anyways.

That applies to the books to read as well. Firstly, I blame teachers for many of the misconceptions about what should the learners read. I've heard it far too many times: "my teacher recommended I read classics/children books/whatever but I find it so boring/hard/etc." You are gonna need dozens of books anyways, so there is actually a spot for quite anything on that list :-)

What I don't like that much about Krashen is that i+1, approach, the need to use only something just slightly above your level and refusal of more difficult things without taking too much into account other relevant factors, such as fun or individual preference of steeper/less steap learning curve. I am convinced i+10 can work as well, if you are passionate about the book and that fascination will keep you going. First hand experience. But of course, it might be different for very difficult languages, such as Japanese, I guess. Given enough passion, even i+10 becomes immediately subjective i+4 or even less.

But I love those "cheating" strategies, thanks for writing about them. I might need to try some of the tips soon on German books. Those are definitely gonna be harder than i+1 :-)


I don't think that with Krashen it is a question of hardness. If you understand and it is above your current knowledge base - if it is somehow contextualized then it is i+1.

if a learner is at a stage 'i', then acquisition takes place when he/she is exposed to 'Comprehensible Input' that belongs to level 'i + 1'. We can then define 'Comprehensible Input' as the target language that the learner would not be able to produce but can still understand. It goes beyond the choice of words and involves presentation of context, explanation, rewording of unclear parts, the use of visual cues and meaning negotiation. The meaning successfully conveyed constitutes the learning experience.


So 'cheats' are part of that meaning negotiation. Often we think it might me a simple word that is contextualized in a conversation but it can be as much as something for which we have no hooks, no way of understanding but by a long explanation in L1(or L2) to create context. It is still 'i+1'.

An interesting example, and relevant to emk, for me was when I taught a word to my ex-wife in her native language, French. We were working on my thesis in French (my French was very weak back then) and I regularly used the word 'le voile' (not 'la') in the lab and she did not know what this was - something women wore (a veil) ... a fog (my thesis was a bit of a fog)? The closest explanation was that this was the cellular tissue spread, a film, if you will surrounding the cells as they spread across a surface. A three minute explanation was required for her - a department head of French Literature at a university, to acquire this new word in this new and strange context. It was still 'i+1' with a slightly longer meaning negotiation.

Anyway, came here to tell em that his video sub2srs is brilliant - I just created a series of cards for "Run Lola Run" in about 30 minutes including all the steps.

Brilliant, em, just brilliant. It is like watching the film in tiny checks for understanding!
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Re: French: Fresh, fun & effortless media

Postby emk » Tue Jul 28, 2015 6:37 pm

zenmonkey wrote:I don't think that with Krashen it is a question of hardness. If you understand and it is above your current knowledge base - if it is somehow contextualized then it is i+1.

if a learner is at a stage 'i', then acquisition takes place when he/she is exposed to 'Comprehensible Input' that belongs to level 'i + 1'. We can then define 'Comprehensible Input' as the target language that the learner would not be able to produce but can still understand. It goes beyond the choice of words and involves presentation of context, explanation, rewording of unclear parts, the use of visual cues and meaning negotiation. The meaning successfully conveyed constitutes the learning experience.

Yes. The key insight that I tried to convey in "Cheating and Consolidating" was that this Krashen quote, as far as I can tell, describes a language-learning loophole big enough to drive a truck through. If the meaning is conveyed, and if you understand what you hear, it's good enough.

  • Do you only understand the movie because you turned in into earworms one line at time using sub2srs and bilingual subs? No problem.
  • Do you only understand the book because you've read it twenty times in English? It's going to work anyway.
  • Do you only understand the graphic novel because it has pictures? That's still totally legit.
  • Do you only understand the lecture because it's about one of your favorite subjects? Again, no problem.
Once you can decipher the meaning, all you need to do is add sheer volume. That volume can come from lots of places: repeating Assimil lessons, doing more lessons, watching another episode, reviewing SRS sentence&audio cards, or picking up another book.

Or to put it another way, at B1, don't worry about using the "right" materials in the "right" way. Optimize for understanding (even if it's mostly artificial) and fun (so that you keep doing it and get consolidation). Then mix in bits of whatever else seems helpful: a grammar book, or some vocab study, or whatever. And if you want to produce output, then put yourself in situations where you need to communicate, and hang in there until some of that passive understanding activates.
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