Think Language audio magazines (French, Spanish, Italian)

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Speakeasy
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Think Language audio magazines (French, Spanish, Italian)

Postby Speakeasy » Fri Oct 21, 2016 5:10 pm

Preamble
Many members of the this forum are already familiar with the “Think Language!” series of audio magazines that are available online for the study of French, Spanish, and Italian. Although I no longer subscribe to the these monthly magazines, I continue to receive the publisher’s newsletters. Having just received the most recent “Think Language!” sales promotion, it occurred to me that the numerous newer members to this forum might not yet know of this study aid, hence this post…

Think Language audio magazines (French, Spanish, Italian)
Second Language Publishing launched the “Think Language!” series of audio magazines in 2002. There are currently three editions of the magazines for students of French, Spanish, and Italian all of which are offered for annual subscription, for 12 monthly installments, as downloadable PDF documents . The magazines are approximately 25 pages in length. Downloadable MP3 audio recordings of the articles are included in the monthly installments (approximately 60 minutes in length). The magazines are designed to assist adult students expand their familiarity with the art, geography, history, food, and culture of the countries were these languages predominate and, in so doing, with the related vocabulary. A partial glossary is included within the articles to assist the students with items of vocabulary that are likely beyond the more general vocabulary acquired in most language courses. The articles are written in the narrative style. While the level of ability required for reading these magazines might begin in the neighborhood of the CEFR level A1, students who have already achieved a level of A2 would be more comfortable. The accompanying audio recordings are delivered by native speakers at a comfortable conversational cadence; neither rushed nor too slow.

Here is the LINK to the publisher's website:
http://www.thinklanguage.com/


Comments and Critiques
I subscribed to the Spanish and Italian editions of these magazines a few years ago and I was quite pleased with the product, most particularly because the articles represented a refreshing departure from the topics and vocabulary that most standard language courses offer. There has not been much discussion of these materials on the HTLAL; however, a couple of members pointed out that the magazines contained the occasional error; while I did not notice any, this might very well be the case. I drew this particular observation to the publisher’s attention and, in her reply, she expressed her sincerest regret for the presence of any errors, she confirmed that the authors of the articles were all university-educated native speakers of the target languages, and she offered to transmit any errors to the writers for review should I submit specific examples. In defence of the writers, she opined that they were “like the rest of us”; that is, they were making their best possible efforts at presenting interesting materials for the enjoyment and edification of the reader but that, (like the rest of us), they were not grammarians. In my own defence of this publisher and her writers, I shall “cast out the scorner, and contention shall go out; yea, strife and reproach shall cease.” (Proverbs 22:10)

Tips on Pricing
The publisher is presently offering a reduction of 100 $US off their regular annual subscription. In addition, they are including access to the previous monthly magazines for years 2015 and 2016. In my opinion, this offer represents a significant opportunity to acquire a large quantity of “low intermediate” native-language materials with accompany audio recordings for both study and enjoyment. Should anyone wish to take advantage of the offer subsequent to its withdrawal, I would recommend that they simply send the publisher an Email via the “Contact Us” portal requesting the sale pricing. You might also wish to sign up for their newsletter, particularly as it is distributed to announce other sales opportunities.

Tips on Downloading & Printing
First, please note carefully that your downloading privileges are valid ONLY for the period covered by your subscription. For this reason, you should download ALL of the materials that you have paid for! Second, while it might be tempting to print the very attractive, multi-colour PDF files on your colour printer, doing so would cost you a small fortune and, for this reason, I suggest that you download them onto your computer for your future enjoyment and, should you wanted printed versions, that you print them in BLACK ink only.

Related Products
Some members might be familiar with a series of "related products" published by McGraw-Hill:

Read and Think English
Read and Think French
Read and Think Italian
Read and Think Spanish


The above McGraw-Hill CD-book sets are related to the Think Language monthly magazines, but they are not the same product.

The articles appearing in the CD-book sets are partial extracts from about two-year's-worth of previously-published Think Language monthly audio magazines, regrouped by theme (art, geography, history, food, et cetera). However, the accompanying CDs contain only a small portion of the original audio recordings. That is, for an entire two-page section in the CD-book sets, which is comprised of perhaps a half-dozen extracts from the monthly magazines, frequently only the first extract in the entire section is accompanied by an audio recording. Quite a disappointment!

I queried Think Language about this apparent over-sight and the owner replied that she had supplied the entire set of printed and recorded materials to McGraw-Hill (and sold them the corresponding copyrights) in the anticipation that the latter would publish a CD/DVD-Rom containing all of the audio recordings to accompany whatever selection they chose to publish. She expressed her regret concerning McGraw-Hill's decision to include only a portion of the audio recordings; however, having sold the rights to the materials, she could not intervene in the matter.

I have included this additional note as some commentators erroneously believe that they can acquire the equivalent of the "Think Language" magazines through the purchase of the McGraw-Hill CD-book sets, at a lower price. I reiterate, they are not the same product! Buyer beware!

EDITED:
Subsequent addition of "Related Products".
Formatting.
Typos.
More Formatting and Tinkering.
Last edited by Speakeasy on Sat Aug 03, 2019 10:52 am, edited 4 times in total.
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limey75
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Re: Think Language audio magazines (French, Spanish, Italian)

Postby limey75 » Fri Oct 21, 2016 10:32 pm

What, no German? :(
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Re: Think Language audio magazines (French, Spanish, Italian)

Postby Speakeasy » Fri Oct 21, 2016 11:24 pm

limey75 wrote:What, no German? :(
Nein, wie schade! I have corresponded numerous times with the publisher concerning the possibility of a "Think German" edition and her view has consistently been that the market does not exist; that is, the demand for this type of publication has already been met by her European competitors.

With a view to testing the market, a couple of years ago, she developed enough material (articles and recordings) to support a "Read and Think German" book-CD package that she submitted to McGraw-Hill for publication ... apparently, their eyes glazed over; the package never saw the light of day.

Still, perhaps you could organize an "interest group" amongst the forum members who enjoy studying German and, once formed, we could all flood her "Contact Us" portal with requests for a German edition. I'm quite willing to participate!
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Re: Think Language audio magazines (French, Spanish, Italian)

Postby smallwhite » Sat Oct 22, 2016 1:55 am

Speakeasy wrote:Addendum: Related Products
... "Read and Think Spanish", "Read and Think Italian", "Read and Think French" and "Read and Think English" published by McGraw-Hill. I have a copy of the Spanish and Italian book-CD sets and I was rather surprised by the fact that, while the articles appearing therein are extracts from the monthly audio magazines, the CDs contain only a small portion of the related audio recordings; usually only the first paragraph of an entire two-page article!


1. "Read and Think French" contains 25 tracks, 2 min 44 sec each on average, each of complete articles.

2. There are far more than 25 articles in the book, meaning there is audio for only some of the articles.

3. In "Read and Think Italian", the partial glossary contains too many errors to be reliable. Sometimes, the translation would be "correct", but is not the meaning used in the article. Sometimes, difficult words are not defined (while much easier ones are). I ended up looking up words myself, which defeats the purpose of using this book.

4. "Read and Think Italian" seems unsure what level learners it wants to target. It uses easy to medium vocabulary, giving translations for the medium vocabulary, but uses medium to hard sentence structures and ways of expressing things. Sentences were often long and hard to read. Sentences were often incomprehensible even after knowing or looking up every word.

5. I studied "Read and Think French" from cover to cover in one go (over many days) and noticed significant improvement in my vocabulary. The vocabulary varies by topic (cuisine, art, sport) but not by too much (all about culture) so you get repetition. I started off finding the book challenging and full of useful words to learn. Towards the end, I was reading it more than comfortably.

6. "Read and Think Spanish" was very interesting to read. I don't remember whether I studied its vocabulary.

7. "Read and Think Italian" was awful and I read only a few articles. I read it again recently while at the library killing time, and it was still awful. And awkward to read, I don't know why.
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Speakeasy
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Re: Think Language audio magazines (French, Spanish, Italian)

Postby Speakeasy » Sat Oct 22, 2016 1:40 pm

Smallwhite, thank you very much for your informative review of the McGraw-Hill "Think and Read ..." series of book-CD packages.

As to the apparent awkwardness of the "Think and Read Italian" text, I suspect that this stems from the choices made by the individual who produced this particular edition. The publisher of the "Think Language" magazines submitted a complete set of archives to McGraw-Hill, whose editorial staff were charged with the responsibility of collating the monthly magazine articles by separate topic (art, food, sport, culture, etcetera) for the production of the "Think and Read" books. Whereas the texts of the magazine articles flow quite naturally, it is possible that the individual* who collated them for McGraw-Hill's "Think and Read Italian" book was not sensitive to the need for cohesiveness amongst the combined texts, thereby rendering a text that is "awkward" to read. This is mere speculation on my part.

As to influence that individuals* can have on a series of publications, in my experience, McGraw-Hill's "series editors" are quite capable of authorizing the publication of decidedly substandard texts as part of otherwise well-received series; so much so that I wonder what they do with their time!

A Distinction with a Difference:
Please note carefully that Smallwhite's excellent review above and my subsequent reply pertain to McGraw-Hill's "Think and Read" series of book-CD packages and NOT to the "Think Language" monthly audio magazines from which the texts were drawn.
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Re: Think Language audio magazines (French, Spanish, Italian)

Postby PeterMollenburg » Sun Oct 23, 2016 1:46 am

I have subscribed to Think French for a few years, but only utilised a fraction of the publications thus far. I believe I now own the entire Think French collection of magazines back to the first issue in March 2009. Each time I've re-subscribed I've done so when a special deal was on offer and ended up with the entire back catalogue. I extended this further by politely requesting that since I already have all issues of Think French could I be granted access to the back issues of Think Spanish instead while signing up for the current issues of Think French. This was granted, but I might have been lucky, as this is not something they publicly offer- I thought there is no harm in politely requesting to stillmake use if their special offer in a modified sense. Now I also own possibly all or close to at least, the entire back catalogue of Think Spanish for use at a future time.

I would rate their publications of use for those from levels A1 to C1. However at A1 and A2 I feel the learner would struggle, while a C1 language learner might find it too easy indeed. B1-B2 is the perfect range I believe for best enjoyment and efficient use of the content.

I have found written errors at times, on one occasion audio that differs from the written text (just a word or two), and questionable translations on occasion. This is why for French I much prefer Bien-dire, which I rate 5 out of 5 stars- no errors anywhere, absolutely beautiful presentation, graded articles (A1 through C2). Think Languages are more portable (Bien-dire is a 'real' magazine with a real CD for each issue- no digital versions yet that I'm aware of). I would rate my experience with Think French as 3.8 out of 5. Worth renewing my subscription a few times, and definitely good for those wanting (portable) intensive reading with audio or wanting something beyond language courses without using completely native content without any word lists.
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Re: Think Language audio magazines (French, Spanish, Italian)

Postby mercutio » Sun Oct 23, 2016 11:39 am

My thoughts:

1) shame non real useable and testable sample material on website

2) how do we use it? App? PDF? Online? Via laptop or iPad?

Confusing website
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Speakeasy
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Re: Think Language audio magazines (French, Spanish, Italian)

Postby Speakeasy » Sun Oct 23, 2016 1:23 pm

mercutio wrote:...how do we use it? App? PDF? Online? Via laptop or iPad?...
The audio magazines are published in PDF and MP3 format and can be opened by clicking on them. Users can download the files to their computers.
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Re: Think Language audio magazines (French, Spanish, Italian)

Postby lingua » Sun Oct 23, 2016 7:18 pm

PeterMollenburg wrote:This is why for French I much prefer Bien-dire, which I rate 5 out of 5 stars- no errors anywhere, absolutely beautiful presentation, graded articles (A1 through C2).


I have a couple of years of Tutto Italiano from the same publisher. I also rate it high though I have not been very good about reading and listening to it. It comes with a CD which has most of the articles on it.
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Re: Think Language audio magazines (French, Spanish, Italian)

Postby Eliza » Mon Oct 24, 2016 7:30 am

limey75 wrote:What, no German? :(


There is a German publisher who maintains a very similar approach for German, English, Business English, French, Spanish and Italian:

http://www.spotlight-verlag.de/

You can find the German magazine "Deutsch perfekt" here: http://www.deutsch-perfekt.com/

The main difference seems to be the limited accompanying audio files (only up to three articles for the Deutsch Plus subscription). Deutsch Perfekt does only contain monolingual explications for vocabulary etc., so it is suitable for anyone with at least a basic understanding. The other magazines contain vocab lists and grammar explications in German.

Hope that helps :)
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