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emk
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 Message 225 of 1317
22 September 2012 at 8:57pm | IP Logged 
Aujourd'hui, je suis en train de faire beaucoup de cartes sur(?) Anki à partir des
paroles des chansons de MC Solaar. Je les ai écoutées assez souvent, mais le vocabulaire
est parfois difficile.

Heureusement, j'ai trouvé un site Internet un peu comme Urban Dictionary en français:

Dictionnaire de la zone

1 person has voted this message useful





emk
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 Message 226 of 1317
27 September 2012 at 4:16pm | IP Logged 
Super Challenge Update

Reading: 15% (and another book in progress)
Films/TV: 36%
List of books, films and TV shows

I'm currently reading Le vieil homme et la guerre, which is the French version of Scalzi's Old Man's War (review in French). It's a fun, fast read in English, and the French translator understood at least 90% of the jokes (which is, sadly, better than average). I'm currently reading about 30 pages per hour, which is between 1/3 and 1/2 of my speed in English. Amusingly, the book uses the first person of the passé simple.

I'm spending a lot of time reading French translations of books that I know very well in English. This has several positive effects: (1) I can pick up quite a lot of vocabulary from context, (2) I know that the book will be worth 10 or 15 hours of my life, and (3) I get to see the differences between the two versions. It's really startling how much is lost even in a good translation: The prose is curiously flat, the translator will misunderstand jokes that could be easily translated, and either the words or the artistic effect will be different. A good translation is an ingenious compromise that makes only smaller, moderately painful sacrifices.

Despite the limitations of translations, I'm going to keep using them. It's just too easy to make progress working with a text that I know well.

On the television front, Buffy goes well. I'm a third of the way through season 4, and I'm starting to get greedy: I don't just want to understand the plot—I want to understand everything. So I'm rewinding a lot, and asking my wife to repeat or explain the parts that I couldn't figure out. As always, she's unbelievably patient with my French studies. And of course, I'm still not getting everything, but I'm getting more and more with each season.

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emk
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 Message 227 of 1317
03 October 2012 at 6:08am | IP Logged 
I read the last 110 pages of Le vieil homme et la guerre this evening, using Google Translate to look up some words here and there. I managed to read 80 of those pages in two hours, with pretty solid comprehension. Some pages had a sentence or two which didn't make much sense.

Currently I'm trying to read at least 10 pages per day. As usual, this kind of consistent focus on one skill really helps.

All those months of Anki reps are really paying off in a big way. I probably hit 100 or more words this evening that I learned from my sentence cards, as well as a large number of idioms.

The last 10 words I looked up were:

Quote:
peinard: cushy
caduc: obsolete
obus: shell (military)
butin: booty
remise:
brancard: stretcher
foulées: strides
débouler: hurtle
à découvert: uncovered (military)
escouades: squads


These are all pretty specialized or rare words, which I haven't necessarily had many opportunities to learn. Of course, specialized and rare words are everywhere, which is part of the challenge in reaching C1. But you can really get by quite well if you know the specialized words for your favorite subjects.

At this point, I would say that I read fairly fluently, at least when I already know the story well. I'm rock solid on a good portion of the text. Another large chunk makes sense but the phrasing is new to me. There's a small amount where I have to guess a bit, and a few sentences that are still beyond me, unless I actually make an effort.

Of course, this is still highly dependent on the text. This was an easy book (at least at my level) and I've read it half-dozen times in English over the years. So even though I'm feeling pretty happy right now, I'm sure the next book will give me some nasty surprises.

Still, I try to capture the feeling of each moment in this journal, because language learning has remarkable ups and downs, and I hope that my experiences might help somebody else through a low point. And today was a great day. Just don't be surprised if my next diary begins, "Argh! I'm a total fraud and my French is horrible!"
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emk
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 Message 228 of 1317
04 October 2012 at 10:17pm | IP Logged 
A while back, I was using TranscriberAG and some custom scripts to make listening comprehension cards for Anki. These cards were really effective: I could take a really fast, idiomatic MC Solaar song and get solid on it within a week, or do the same with a tricky conversation in Buffy. But making the cards was a drag, even with my custom tools.

What I want is a way to make huge numbers of listening comprehension cards with minimal effort.

This brings us to subs2srs and Amélie. Subs2srs is a great program which takes DVD video and subtitle files (which you can sometimes find on opensubtitles), and turns them into Anki decks with pictures, sounds and optionally translations. Of course, to use these decks effectively, you need to delete cards aggressively—many will be too easy, too hard, or just plain broken.

I've just fed the first 20 minutes of Amélie into subs2srs, and I'm going to do the same with the first 10 minutes of Taxi (which has no French subs, to my vast annoyance). And I'm going to temporarily increase my pace to 15 new cards per day. This will be my new intensive listening exercise. (Buffy will remain my extensive listening exercise for now.)

If anybody wants to try an Amélie deck, please feel free to send me a PM.
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sctroyenne
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 Message 229 of 1317
05 October 2012 at 6:37am | IP Logged 
That sounds awesome (and wouldn't mind the deck myself). It'd be so much easier if
subtitle files were just text files on the DVD then I'd have access to a bunch of stuff
but alas no. I ought to do something similar with Kaamelott, Camera Cafe or the like. I'm
also wondering if there isn't an easier way for me to input Madrigal's Magical Key to
Spanish into SRS. So far I've been typing up pages and chapters I've marked but this
obviously takes a while.
1 person has voted this message useful





emk
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 Message 230 of 1317
05 October 2012 at 1:54pm | IP Logged 
sctroyenne wrote:
That sounds awesome (and wouldn't mind the deck myself). It'd be so much easier if
subtitle files were just text files on the DVD then I'd have access to a bunch of stuff
but alas no. I ought to do something similar with Kaamelott, Camera Cafe or the like. I'm
also wondering if there isn't an easier way for me to input Madrigal's Magical Key to
Spanish into SRS. So far I've been typing up pages and chapters I've marked but this
obviously takes a while.


If you want to get a feel for subs2srs, you can find two Anki 2 decks on Dropbox. Here are some notes for anybody else who's interested:

Amélie. French audio, French and English subtitles. This covers the first 20 minutes of the movie.

Taxi. French audio, English subtitles. This covers the first 10 minutes of the movie, and if you can't puzzle out some slang, there's no way to look it up, except maybe guessing with Dictionaire de la zone and getting a lucky hit. Still, for upper intermediate and advanced students, it's a nice challenge. EDIT: I uploaded a fixed deck 20 minutes after making this post. If yours has messed up subtitles, delete the cards and download it again.

These decks are the high-tech equivalent of using Rewind very aggressively with subtitles until you understand as much as humanly possible, all without wasting time on car chases or easy scenes. And it's a surprisingly pleasant way to watch a movie. But as always, please use Delete, Suspend and Very Easy aggressively, and set your leech threshold to about 4. I think that khatzumoto's advice is particularly relevant here:

khatzumoto wrote:
An SRS deck that doesn’t get cards deleted is like a house that doesn’t get the trash taken out. It doesn’t matter how nice the furniture is — how nice the stuff you add is. Sooner or later, if you don’t take out the trash, the trash takes over. And then it’s all trash. When trash is not removed, everything becomes trash.


Anyway, this should be enough to give you an idea of what it's like to use Anki and subs2srs for listening comprehension. If you like it, then you can make your own from any movie with decent subs.

If you want to set up subs2srs, you can look for subtitles at Open Subtitles and find a DVD ripper for your computer. I find that it's a little tricky to get everything to work: you usually need to adjust the start time of the subtitles, and you may need to process the movie in 10-minute batches. And the interface is a little complicated, too. On the other hand, once you get the kinks out, you can make 1,000 fun listening comprehension cards in an hour.

Oh, for extra bonus points, attempt to repeat each card aloud after hearing it. It's a bit of an eye-opener.

Edited by emk on 05 October 2012 at 2:29pm

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emk
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 Message 231 of 1317
06 October 2012 at 4:42pm | IP Logged 
Wow, subs2srs really is working well.

The results

Let me give you an idea of the kind of results I'm getting. This is based on both subs2srs and my earlier work with TranscriberAG.

1) If I have a movie with accurate French subs, like Amélie, I can eventually get rock-solid on 80+% of the dialog, which means understanding every little detail automatically. And I can understand another 15% if I pay attention, bringing the total to at least 95%. (Note that this may involve repeatedly listening to MP3s of the movie after doing a bunch of SRS reviews. Or at least that really helped with MC Solaar.)

2) If I have a movie like Taxi with fairly literal English subs, then I can double or triple my understanding of each individual line.

3) I can pick up lots of weird little reductions, like the way that the ce in ce que attaches to the final vowel of the preceding word.

Half the results show up in a day or two, and the other half show up after the cards become "mature" in Anki (about 20 or 30 days).

Tips and tricks

I've configured AnkiDroid so that I can delete a card by swiping left, and suspend a card by swiping right. If I understand a card the first time through, I just go ahead and delete it. My goal is to delete a large fraction of the cards I see. As khatzumoto wrote:

Quote:
Sometimes I’ve been on the fence about deleting a card. But when I choose to delete it, I’ve never regretted it. I’ve never said to myself, Gee, I wish I could have that card back with the kanji compound I kept reading wrong again and again. Those were the good ole days! … Hahahahaha no. Every time I’ve deleted a card, I’ve felt free and invigorated, like I’ve finally thrown off a heavy burden.


With subs2srs, interesting cards are cheap—you can always make another 1000 with an hour's work.

Basically, subs2srs and Anki slow everything down, cut out the parts which are too easy or difficult, and allow me to see the rest over and over again until it's solid. Once that's done, I plan to rip the whole film to an MP3 and listen to it several times.

How to get started

If you want to try out subs2srs, here's what you need:

1) French DVDs that you're happy to watch a half-dozen times or more, preferably with accurate subs.

2) A Windows system, or at least a virtual machine running Windows.

3) A day of free time to figure out how to rip DVDs to disk, to set up subs2srs, and to work out all the kinks. A lot of little things will go wrong, and you'll need to figure out workarounds.

4) Roughly an hour per movie. This will typically yield about 1000 SRS cards.

If you just want to get a taste, you can try my premade decks for Anki 2. In practice, using these deck should feel like doing a mix of Assimil and SRS on native-speed conversation.
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emk
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 Message 232 of 1317
07 October 2012 at 4:18pm | IP Logged 
I've updated my premade decks and added cards for the rest of Amélie. If you downloaded the old version, you may find several cards with no audio. If this is the case, there's also a zip file with replacement audio that you can throw into collection.media to patch things up (with any luck).

The line-by-line decipherment of Taxi is proving very interesting. There's a lot of strange reductions and dialog features that I haven't heard before, including:

- 'nant, for maintenant.
- Infinitives ending in -ier when they should end in -er.
- Stuff that's so weird that—when I play it to my wife—she just says "delete it".

Some of these are probably characteristic of certain speech registers in certain parts of France. Others are just one-off reductions.

And the funny thing is that I actually understand about half of Taxi at full speed. But when I slow it down, it quickly becomes clear why the other half of the dialog is opaque. There's a ton of subtly complicated stuff going on—non-standard dialects, unfamiliar reductions, slang, and an incredible amount of slurring.

I guess this is why intermediate listening is so variable: One minute, somebody's using vocabulary you know in a language you speak, and actually pronouncing all the sounds. A minute later, they're using different vowels, different conjugation tables, unfamiliar words, and only two-thirds of the sounds you expect to be there. And of course, native speakers barely notice it, except maybe as a mild regional accent.

At B2, your language model is robust enough to decode most clear, well-articulated speech, provided it's actually there (and the words are reasonably common). Natives (and C2 speakers) have the magical ability to decode what isn't there, using nothing more than hints.

Take the classic English example:

"What do you want to do?"
"Whatchya wanna do?"

…except native speakers don't just use well-known reductions like "want to" -> "wanna". They also invent new reductions on the spot, reducing two words to, say, a palatized consonant and vowel. And natives know the language well enough to fill in what's missing.

Edited by emk on 07 October 2012 at 4:19pm



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