Time from B2 to C1/C2? (frustrated somewhat- seeking some feedback pls)

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Re: Time from B2 to C1/C2? (frustrated somewhat- seeking some feedback pls)

Postby Serpent » Wed Dec 07, 2016 5:23 pm

The SC was started with this goal in mind, yes.
Cristina herself reported that she felt she had gone from B2 to C2 in French thanks to it. But she started learning French at about the same age as her daughters are now, she's been in immesion situations many times and read a lot of books too.

For me the best thing about the SC-scale quantity of input is that it makes you *want* to use the language. I'm not actually against speaking or writing, I just want output to come naturally. Shadowing, scriptorium, lyricstraining, LR or just listening and reading separately help a lot with that.

However, as for C1/C2, according to Cavesa the latter is actually easier. If you can pass C1 with targeted preparation, you may be able to pass C2 too. The main question is still how far you are from C1/C2. It's often recommended to have a session with an experienced tutor who can tell you which exam you can reasonably expect to pass.
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Re: Time from B2 to C1/C2? (frustrated somewhat- seeking some feedback pls)

Postby tarvos » Wed Dec 07, 2016 5:38 pm

In my experience, getting to a high level in a language requires consistent practice and usage. Even now, I'll still occasionally slip in languages that I know extremely well. For example, my Russian is very good, but it's taken me five years to get to that point. And still, if people delve too deeply into slang, ancient terminology, some synonym for a word I've never heard, or just plain slur, they can lose me. And nobody in their right mind doubts I'm a good speaker of Russian (and I'm even better in speech than writing). Learning how to get to the level where you are truly comfortable in every situation takes years and years of practice, something many people don't have or aren't willing to put the effort in to achieve. Honestly, getting to a B2-C1-ish level is so useful in and of itself that I often don't really go further than that in the majority of my target languages. There are very few languages that I'd claim to speak at such a high level of detail. Be aware you're going to have to set aside a part of your life to the degree where you won't have time for much else. Most of the languages I am very good at also imply that I spent time in the target country or spoke lots to native speakers.

Recently I've been teaching a Slovenian student of mine Dutch and the one thing where you notice that he is slower is not his vocabulary or usage (his vocabulary and grammar are extremely impressive, to the degree he can watch stand-up comedy in Dutch: no mean feat!) - it's the fact he hesitates more when he has to search for exactly the right expression, or the fact he's using a slight circumlocution for something I'd say a little faster. Or he might at random make a grammar slip where I wouldn't.

Keep that in mind. Often the people who are so good at a foreign language as to be almost indistuiguishable from natives have good personal reasons to have such a level, and often carry a whole range of experiences with them that most of us could only dream of. Keep in mind that for a well-rounded level, it's not just about daily conversation.

Keep in mind that when I say I speak Spanish, I say so because:
- I've done therapy sessions in Spanish and handled extremely difficult personal situations in that language. (Have you ever tried to come out as transgender in a foreign country in a small village? And had to do it in a language NOT YOUR OWN?)
- I've handled medical appointments in that language, including situations that involved probable diagnoses of rare diseases (stuff I'd never even heard about in Dutch).
- I've handled banking issues, payments and so on in Spanish. I handled my rent in Spanish.
- I've handled complicated staff and personal issues in Spanish. Including having to explain being trans to superiors.
- I've gone out and partied in that language even in situations where hearing becomes difficult due to loud music.
- I've negotiated all sorts of things in Spanish.
- I've taught other people foreign languages using Spanish as an aid (and having people seek me out on the basis of my knowledge).
- I've read complicated novels, history magazines and other such things in Spanish without issue. I've watched movies in Spanish in various dialects. I've consumed all sorts of media in Spanish.
- I've translated business e-mails from Spanish to English for the use of my school.

Doing all that and negotiating these situations with ease is what C2 sort of implies, plus being able to use your language in a very academic register and without circumlocutions. And I don't even think I've hit C2 in Spanish - I'm working on C1 material which contains mostly unknown expressions (but rather little unknown grammar).

There's hardly a need to go to that sort of in-depth knowledge, unless you happen to be forced into circumstances where that is necessary. Ask yourself: is that really what I need? How do I get there? And how do I think I can achieve this from the comfort of my bedroom? You're still in Australia, and you don't have, as far as I can tell, a deadline looming over your head. The sword of Damocles itself, come to threaten you with imminent failure unless you buck up and learn the language.

That's what mastery is. All of these things. Everyone of us will have a differently distributed skillset, but everyone I've ever known that learned Spanish to a good level would be able to do all of these things and do them well.

Are you ready to take on a new part of your life where you are willing to make those sacrifices? Is it necessary for your survival? Or is it a pipe dream? Something you consider an ideal, but don't have the courage to follow through on? That's a decision you need to take, and there's absolutely no harm in saying no.

And that's not even arguing about your actual level.
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Re: Time from B2 to C1/C2? (frustrated somewhat- seeking some feedback pls)

Postby Cavesa » Wed Dec 07, 2016 7:52 pm

I took both DELF B2 and DALF C2, as Serpent said.

If you passed B1 two years ago, and kept working, it is not unlikely you are beyond B2 now, at least in some skills. It would be worth further consideration. The "can do" self-assessment grid (which is not the short wikipedia cefr definition) is helpful in such situations, so are curricula of coursebooks of the level (sometimes more than the content of these :-D). And you can have get approximate speaking testing for free or cheap at many langauge schools or testing centers. Testing centers are better, or people who trully have experience with the exams. Usual teachers and tutors are only little better than self-assessment.

Assuming you are overall B2 (theory now), you can surely get to C2 reading and listening skills in those several months, if you put in enough time. You could get the active skills there, but that is much more risky, and I'd count with November rather than March.And don't forget that passing the exams requires as well a specific skillset, which is a fact that may be and advantage of yours, or the opposite. It depends on your study style.

A French exam specific note: DALF C1 and C2 are a bit different from other testing systems, as far as I know, in two aspects:

I.you choose humanities or science variant beforehand, I don't know about any other exam with this feature. Most people choose humanities, which I think is not a wise choise, as the science option is much more predictable and the difficulty level of individual tasks in exams, mock exams, preparatory books is much more balanced and similar. When it comes to humanities, you can easily face a task worthy of a philosophy student at university, or one in which you don't know what to write as the dossier is totally stupid and without substance. Science, which includes as well topics like ethics and a other humanities, is not such a problem for someone with highschool education who reads popular science magazines or websites. (And the French ones are great and can prepare you well).

II.In some ways, the C2 exam is easier than the C1 exam. You've got two skills instead of four, so proven stronger comprehension can probably balance out some of the formal faults of the production skills. And the C2 writing tasks, while formally hard and based on the style of French lycée education, seemed to make more sense to me than the C1 tasks I had seen. But this might be subjective a bit, but in that case, it is not just my opinion.

To your question number 3:
I can tell you about my experience from B2 to C2, but I thought I have already flooded the forum too much with this :-D

Overall time: 5 years. March 2010 barely passed B2 (but I wrote about it a few times, some points were lost on the examinators breaking the rules, but fortunately I made it through nonetheless). March 2015 passed C2 with good score. Average score in writing, very good score in speaking. But take into account that those were not 5 years of intensive studies. At first, I was doing almost nothing for a year or two. Than I was mostly having fun with the langauge, which was the largest part of my progress. I was putting in a lot of time but over an extended period, I wasn't in a hurry, and progress wasn't my priority. Than I got to somewhat more intensive studying, with more grammar review and practice and writing and paying a tutor. This last phase wasn't intensively ideal either, as my medicine studies(and a bit of lazyness) interfered. And actually, till a week or two before signing up, I had been planning DALF C1, not C2.

Summed up: I think a highly disciplined learner could make the same progress in two or three years.

Reading: I could actually look these numbers up, if I had a bit more time now. But I had read approximately one original SC (10000 pages) of books between my B2 and C2 exams. How many hours is that? Not sure. At first I was a bit slower, later I got to my standard speed of approximately 40 pages per hour (talking about A5 normal font, or the poche format).

Writing: this is what I should have been doing much more! Even without any feedback, the practice is highly important. I had writen like 20 exam-like tasks and hadn't been spending enough time on them (due to microbiology mostly). That was a huge waste. I could have prepared myself better.

What I struggled with (briefly, as I had described it before):
-time. Both the absolute amount and my organisation. Give yourself the time to reread your tasks.
-information. The French are probably not aware of the fact that writing in general is taught differently in each country. Writing an essay means something different in France, in UK, in the Czech Republic, it is not just a matter of the langauge skills. And getting resources explaining the writing genres and formal expectations in enough detail is very hard. There is one not bad book by PUG, one book on writing by CLE (which I didn't get my hands on), some notes in Alter Ego courses (the B2 were quite useful for the exam, the later not as much as I had hoped), a few websites, and a tutor who had studied in France. This kind of information and writing feedback was the main reason why I had paid a tutor. But still I should have probably found someone with more experience with the DALF preparation, but those are extremely rare. Some of the aspects are pretty crazy too, especially the need to balance between "copying too much" and "getting too far from the dossier" differently for each genre.
-time 2: practice writing at your pace at first, aiming for quality and nitpicking. Than faster. Do not prepare detailled bruillons during the exam. The time limit is very tight. I hadn't practice writing with a stopwatch, I should have.

Listening: extremely important and the base of speaking (as I have writen before): approximately 1-1,5 SC. So, something between 150 and 225 hours. Perhaps more? I'd need to look it up but I think it could have been actually more lie 250 hours This was the key to my high oral comprehension and production score.. Huge amount of listening were not only a way to make me understand perfectly the audio task (I think the amount of details and their logical order got me some points too). But this is how I learnt to speak. With the tutor, I improved during the first half an hour as I got rid of rust. But after that, it was maintenance. I was making mistakes (and having them corrected) like once or twice per lesson, more only at 7pm after a long day at university. I made a few mistakes during the exam too, but I still got a high score, I think my ability to correct them and to not crumble due to the mistakes saved my face a bit. And I must say a part of the problem were sometimes too easy speaking tasks from the tutor. But as a maintanance, it was very good, I went to the exam without rust. But those 250 hours of listening were the learning part of speaking. The assimilation and immersion changed my barely B2 speaking. During those 5 years, I had actively spoken French only during a few holidays and even that not so much.

Grammar: This is again something I could have done better. I did some grammar review, I went briefly through the Gr. Prog. Perfectionnement book. It was published a bit late for me, unfortunately. But I am to blame the most. Spend the hours on grammar review and practice to avoid losing poinsts stupidly. Yes, it is hard to write naturally, especially those crazy compte-rendus and such stuff. It is hard to acquire those phrase construction habits and "idiomatic" ways. But it is totally possible and within your power to get your grammar to shape.

This is actually something that applies to all three higher levels. Up to B1, it is about getting a message across in more and more situations and with a bit more detail at each step. From B2 on, you are expected to know the base well. And with each level, mistakes look more and more stupid.

The test format: this is important too. Yes, you can in general pass langauge exams without having opened any preparatory book. I passed my DELF B2 and CAE like that. But I don't recommend it. It is not a matter of "cheating" or "faking a higher level", as some langauge learners decribe it. It is a matter of being prepared and not risking losing the exam on formalities or specific requirements you won't normally encounter in other resources.

To your question 4: If you are puting four hours a day to French, than giving up one hour for Dutch may not mean any difference. But if you are talking about one hour out of two, I woudln't do that, were I in your place. Learning another langauge on top of this phase of French is definitely ok, but it is up to your consideration to divide your time well.

I hope my answers will be useful a bit. Feel free to ask anything more.

And yeah, I haven't read majority of the discussion so far, I will do so. The above post is based just on my personal experience and your questions.
Last edited by Cavesa on Wed Dec 07, 2016 8:32 pm, edited 2 times in total.
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Re: Time from B2 to C1/C2? (frustrated somewhat- seeking some feedback pls)

Postby LadyGrey1986 » Wed Dec 07, 2016 8:08 pm

Cavesa, do you have any tips on how to approach colloquial/informal French, slang and verlan?
I have no problem with Le Journal en Français Facile, but a Fais pas ci fais pas ça episode bedevils me. :shock:
Last edited by LadyGrey1986 on Wed Dec 07, 2016 8:18 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Time from B2 to C1/C2? (frustrated somewhat- seeking some feedback pls)

Postby sillygoose1 » Wed Dec 07, 2016 8:17 pm

I'm going to go against the grain a bit here. I don't think a C1 or a C2 takes as long as some people make it out to. Then again, I've had some different circumstances. I've stuck to French for three years before I started another language, about six years total now; I'm a young guy with no real responsibilities yet; and I continue to only focus on French a lot.

I could have achieved a higher level earlier. How? By not being afraid of failure early on and just diving right into it. One reason why it took me so long was because if I couldn't understand a dialogue in a show, I'd get frustrated and leave French for a few weeks. I babied myself way too much and didn't want to leave my comfort zone. I was scared that I was wasting time listening to material that I couldn't even understand. One day, I said the hell with this and just decided to marathon a few series because I wanted to see them and there were no subs available in English. After about 50 episodes, everything was clear to me. I caught on and did the same with novels. 500 pages didn't scare me anymore and I learned a lot of vocab. Then I just started to get bored and watch movies. Now I can understand like 90-95% of what I watch in French from shows like Engrenages and Braquo to standup comedy to movies. The marathon of movies, books, and series took me about 6 months. But as I said, I was out of school and work for medical reasons and had literally nothing else to do. I probably reached a higher level in less than 6 months but I didn't notice because it was fun.

Basically, you need to stop "studying." It's time to bust out of your shell and get into it. Pick up some classic literature, watch an easy sitcom then progress onto harder material. I'd recommend H and Nos chers voisins.
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Re: Time from B2 to C1/C2? (frustrated somewhat- seeking some feedback pls)

Postby DaveBee » Wed Dec 07, 2016 8:30 pm

Cavesa wrote: ... popular science magazines or websites. (And the French ones are great and can prepare you well).
Can you suggest some titles?
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Re: Time from B2 to C1/C2? (frustrated somewhat- seeking some feedback pls)

Postby tarvos » Wed Dec 07, 2016 9:04 pm

The best French pop-sci magazine for my money is "Science & Vie" which I used to read religiously for months in 2012/2013.

I would like to add that Iversen has a few copies of this magazine lying around somewhere probably - and he's the fount of all knowledge when it comes to popular science magazines. If he endorses it, you're good.
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That all the world
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And pay no worship to the garish sun

Preferred pronouns: feminine.

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Re: Time from B2 to C1/C2? (frustrated somewhat- seeking some feedback pls)

Postby Cavesa » Wed Dec 07, 2016 9:32 pm

Now I've read the rest of the thread.

First some answers, second something iguanamnon as just inspired me to (and don't believe what he tells you about me! :-D )

Colloquial speech and informal French. To lesser extent slang (I still can't remember what verlan is, I have googled it a dozen times already and I'm giving up):
-tv series, especially stuff like Kaamelott, Engrenages, Hero Corp. It is a matter of immersion. Should you struggle too much, there are complete transcriptions of Kaamelott on the internet, and you can buy the original script in form of books. The original script (I've recently read the introduction) is in correct French, the real final version was made while filming. So, it made me think that Kaamelott TVseries+actual transcripts+the original script may actually be the ultimate course of colloquial French :-D And some easier and even dubbed tv series consist of normal French too. Eureka or Lost Girl are good steps towards the hard stuff mentioned above. But Kaamelott is as close as you can get to in vivo French without leaving your room. Learn to understand Kaamelott, and vast majority of real natives will seem easy :-)
-some books. People often disregard them. But they are easier at start, as you see the things writen down. Sure, they don't include all the informal things (especially those typical of only some group of speakers), but they can give you a good base. Trilogy Le Livre des étoiles by Erik L'Homme is a great intermediate learner friendly reading, which uses quite natural language. Translated Sookie Stackhouse novels were awesome for colloquial French learning.

I am a bit careful about this whole colloquial French issue and the bubble around it. It is nothing to be that scared of. Yes, you will probably sound a bit formal, unless you spend a long time in the country, and that is ok. It is usually better to be a bit too formal than a bit too informal, from my experience. The stuff I mention is not exact transcription of real life dialogues, but it is awesome preparation for it. About slang. Sure, there are harder things. There will be new stuff to learn till the end of my life. But in general, the gap between formal and normal French is not that huge. And it is not such a gap either, it is more of a spectrum, ranging from people speaking very formally to the least educated and caring group in a small village in the middle of nowhere.
..................................
The post by Tarvos is very informative and good as usual. I would just like to point out that while her list of Spanish achievements definitely falls into the C2 and beyond level, you don't have to be able do all this, let alone perfectly, to get to C2. C2 starts at some point, and continues and continues. The fact Tarvos is C2 (and gives us such an example that seems impossible to ever match) is caused by only one thing: there is no C3, C4, and so on. If there were such levels, she would be there. C2 is still not perfection, perfection doesn't exist. The level needed to acquire 50/100 points in DALF C2 is the gateway to a whole universe of tiny(or larger) skills to acquire, challenges to deal with, gaps to cover, details to work on, vocab to learn, registers to get comfortable in. I think anyone seeing C2 as the final goal and perfection is gonna be disappointed in the end.
..............................
The science language resources suggestions:
-Science et Avenir and similar magazines. Awesome, interesting, available in some libraries. This is more or less the stuff your dossier will consist of. The longer articles from there,longer articles from LeMonde are great too (but I dislike leFigaro, but that might be just me). This is the science terminology and understanding level expected from you. The rest are your langauge skills. There is no reason to be scared of it. Really, you can get a subject for a medieval linguist in the humanities variant, I don't think you can get anything more difficult :-D . After all, it is highly probable your topics will come from the evergreen trias: DNA, the internet ethics or dangers, ecology. :-D (joking now. but these trully are recurring themes, but don't focus only on this and than blame me :-D )
-coursebooks for natives. If you can borrow or find books for highschoolers, or popular science books, enjoy them. My medical studies with some French resources had helped too, but not so much as my topics were the internet dangers and ecology :-D
-I had a link to a webpage for highschoolers, but it will take me time to recover it. But it looked really good. And these days, youtube is full of science videos. But I'll try, it was nice.
-Sci-fi!!!! The most underated resource in this area! The good authors, however, use real language, real terminology, real science ideas and motives, they just create new things from them. And some of them will get you well prepared as well for talking and writing about ethics of science (extremely popular stuff at the exams), philosophy, and such. I can recommend for example Maurice Dantec (his books are not easy. I've read one so far and can't wait to read more. Technology, biology, philosophy, tons of useful language there). Or Fabien Clavel could serve. Or many others, I will give you more recommendations soon. As soon as I can spend some more money in a bookshop. Or the already mentioned Eureka dubbed tv series was awesome! Perhaps Stargate could serve, but I haven't watched it in French, or series like House MD (there is something French too) or the CSI clones enjoying the scientific stuff could probably serve, despite the inacuracies :-D But I cannot give direct and precise recommendations on these.
.................................................................
Now, Iguanamnon inspired me to think of the issue in context of your learning, and I hope you won't mind, PM.

I think there are two awesome things in this community, that could help you.

1. The Super Challenge. You are highly unlikely to get to the C levels without having digested lots and lots of native media. Counting it can make the path more structured and less daunting. I would dare to guess you cannot NOT arrive to at least passive C2 (with big progress in the active skills too) with the double challenge.

2. The Course Completion Challenge.
Some courses and grammars can be very helpful. But not when you spread yourself extremely thin and don't get too far in any of them.

3.Get rid of low level resources. I know, it feels like "I should do the low levels of this series too, if I am gonna use the fourth book". Nope, it is not necessary. In most cases. You are not gonna be missing more than a few words, most probably not even that. Yes, intermediate Progressive books are still valuable, if you get through them quite fast and continue to the further two levels. But other than that, leave behind everything with labels like A1-B2, B1, intermediate, conversational, basic, and other creative variations on the same theme.

There are relatively few high level learner aimed resources for French learners, compared to English, Spanish, or German.
-the Progressive books.
-Alter Ego 4 and 5. Édito has a good B2 level course too, but no C1. A few older courses are now officially C1 (that's what google says), but I wouldn't go for too old stuff, if you want to pass the exams. But remember than all courses are just tools and a part of the larger puzzle. I bet you can pass a B1 exam having done only stuff from one course series A1-B1 without ever reaching out, if you are not particularily bad. But that is impossible from B2 on.
-Skill specific books, usually published by CLE or PUG. The rest of the publishers pretends there is nothing but lions beyond the beginner gold and intermediate silver mines. Production écrite 4 looked very good but I couldn't get everything. PUG has published B2-C1 books on writing, including Resume,Compte-Rendu, Synthese book, which is probably the best resource of this kind.
-Exam preparation books. When it comes to these, the publishers suddenly wake up. Some are more like mock test collections (the big red books is what I mainly used), some are more like normal courses, some are hybrids in between. These are trying to fill the gap normal courses leave, I'd say.

Apart from that, there is the real world. And language resources for native speakers, which can be useful too.
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Re: Time from B2 to C1/C2? (frustrated somewhat- seeking some feedback pls)

Postby tarvos » Wed Dec 07, 2016 10:06 pm

The post by Tarvos is very informative and good as usual. I would just like to point out that while her list of Spanish achievements definitely falls into the C2 and beyond level, you don't have to be able do all this, let alone perfectly, to get to C2. C2 starts at some point, and continues and continues. The fact Tarvos is C2 (and gives us such an example that seems impossible to ever match) is caused by only one thing: there is no C3, C4, and so on. If there were such levels, she would be there. C2 is still not perfection, perfection doesn't exist. The level needed to acquire 50/100 points in DALF C2 is the gateway to a whole universe of tiny(or larger) skills to acquire, challenges to deal with, gaps to cover, details to work on, vocab to learn, registers to get comfortable in. I think anyone seeing C2 as the final goal and perfection is gonna be disappointed in the end.


I agree with you, except for one part; I'm definitely not C2 in Spanish :p
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“And when he shall die
Take him and cut him out in little stars
And he will make the face of heaven so fine
That all the world
Will be in love with the night
And pay no worship to the garish sun

Preferred pronouns: feminine.

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Re: Time from B2 to C1/C2? (frustrated somewhat- seeking some feedback pls)

Postby DaveBee » Wed Dec 07, 2016 10:08 pm

Cavesa wrote:The science language resources suggestions:
-Science et Avenir and similar magazines. Awesome, interesting, available in some libraries. This is more or less the stuff your dossier will consist of. The longer articles from there,longer articles from LeMonde are great too (but I dislike leFigaro, but that might be just me). This is the science terminology and understanding level expected from you. The rest are your langauge skills. There is no reason to be scared of it. Really, you can get a subject for a medieval linguist in the humanities variant, I don't think you can get anything more difficult :-D . After all, it is highly probable your topics will come from the evergreen trias: DNA, the internet ethics or dangers, ecology. :-D (joking now. but these trully are recurring themes, but don't focus only on this and than blame me :-D )
-coursebooks for natives. If you can borrow or find books for highschoolers, or popular science books, enjoy them. My medical studies with some French resources had helped too, but not so much as my topics were the internet dangers and ecology :-D
-I had a link to a webpage for highschoolers, but it will take me time to recover it. But it looked really good. And these days, youtube is full of science videos. But I'll try, it was nice.
-Sci-fi!!!! The most underated resource in this area! The good authors, however, use real language, real terminology, real science ideas and motives, they just create new things from them. And some of them will get you well prepared as well for talking and writing about ethics of science (extremely popular stuff at the exams), philosophy, and such. I can recommend for example Maurice Dantec (his books are not easy. I've read one so far and can't wait to read more. Technology, biology, philosophy, tons of useful language there). Or Fabien Clavel could serve. Or many others, I will give you more recommendations soon. As soon as I can spend some more money in a bookshop. Or the already mentioned Eureka dubbed tv series was awesome! Perhaps Stargate could serve, but I haven't watched it in French, or series like House MD (there is something French too) or the CSI clones enjoying the scientific stuff could probably serve, despite the inacuracies :-D But I cannot give direct and precise recommendations on these.
I've learned the phrase "crise cardiac!" from watching a french hospital drama called Nina. :-)
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