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emk
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 Message 513 of 1317
07 April 2013 at 6:02pm | IP Logged 
Bakunin wrote:
Wow, thanks for the recommendation! I've just read the first volume on IZNEO and really enjoyed it, almost couldn't put the book down (or rather close the browser window). I also like the drawings, they are simple and clear, and quite expressive.

Edit: Ooops, I've read volumes 2-4 already, and will probably read volume 5 later today. I wish there were books like this in Thai... emk, do you know any other SF books (or series) you could recommend?

I'm glad you liked it! You'll be happy to know that there are two more series in the same story: Bételgeuse (5 books) and Antarès (4 books). And there seem to be several other series by the same authors.

Here are some more French science fiction recommendations:

- L'incal, BD, 6 books. This was the BD that indirectly inspired the movie The Fifth Element. Much like that film, it has a certain ridiculous "over the top" quality that you're either going to love or hate. It's currently being republished as three volumes each containing two books.

- Ab Irato, BD, unfinished, 2 books so far. This is a fun one from Quebec, with excellent art and solid storying-telling. Too bad it's not finished yet.

- Anything by Jules Verne. These classics are still lots of fun today, and they're all available as free ebooks. So if you have access to an ebook reader with a popup dictionary, they're worth a look.

- Ulysse 31, DVD. This animated series was really popular in the early 80s among French kids, and for very good reasons. It was made by a joint French/Japanese team, and it combines the story of Ulysses with really cool spaceships.

- Captain Flam, DVD. Another 80s TV classic (also in Germany, I think?). I've heard references to this series in everything from rap songs to the French version of Angel. Worth checking out an episode or two to see if you like it.

- Les Fourmis by Bernard Werber, book. Werber is one of the most famous science fiction authors in France today. Frankly, a lot of his work feels fairly cliché, as if he were borrowing stories from English-language pulp magazines in the 1940s. But Les Fourmis has a certain original quality that really makes it stand out. (I've only read the first half, and will get around to finishing it at some point.)

- Le vieil homme et la guerre by John Scalzi, book (translated from English). This is a quick, fun read in English, and the French translation is quite good. As a bonus, you can learn how to swear like a drill sergeant. In general, quite a few English classics have been translated into French, and the translations from L'Atalante tend to be quite good.

Anyway, I hope that's enough to give you one or two good ideas!

Expugnator wrote:
emk, I've reached about 20 hours of French with no subtitles. I know it's not much, but it was enough to "wake me up" when it comes to understanding spoken French. Do you have an idea of how progress works regarding listening comprehension, when you start watching movies/TV series in French? Are there any different levels/phases of comprehension you have been able to map?

My experience is a little bit unusual, because during the two years that I spent at A2 (not really studying), I heard about 1000 hours of French spoken to toddlers. This gave me very solid—but extremely narrow—B1 passive listening skills. Basically, I could understand almost 100% of what my wife said to the kids, but I still couldn't understand French radio at all (except for a few fragments), and I could only sort-of follow conversations between my wife and her family.

Last spring, I spent a lot of time reading Le Monde online and listening to French news radio on the Internet. This was pretty inefficient, but it boosted me to partial comprehension of news radio, because I was already familiar with the major stories of the day.

The real breakthrough was Buffy and these transcripts. I went through the first four episodes intensively (watching multiple times while reading along) and I finished the season extensively (no subs, occasionally using rewind). By the end of the season, I could watch the episodes for fun and generally follow 80+% of the plot. By the end of the fifth season (and half a season of Angel), there were episodes where I understood 90% of the dialogue without any problems.

After that, I parked myself in front of VoilaTV and spent maybe 15 hours channel surfing and watching all kinds of strange stuff. At the same time, I was nearing maybe 4000 or 5000 pages of French read. Sometime around then, my listening comprehension started to "broaden out"—I could enjoy more and more shows with only modest warmup. For example, it only took me about 3 hours to reach 90+% comprehension of Ulysse 31. And these days, I can even enjoy Harry Potter audiobooks in the car.

I still have huge gaps in my listening skills, but I'm over the hump. Give me a TV, or a stack of DVDs with no subs, and I can find something and understand most of it within a half hour or so. For certain full-speed native materials, I still sometimes need to pay attention for 5 minutes before I fully "tune in". The biggest obstacles are French films and a few series like Engrenages that involve subtle plots, tons of actors, and lots of fast, slangy speech. I could probably tune into Engrenages, but I suspect it would take the better part of a season and some intensive work.

For each of my skills in French, there has been a tipping point where I went from thinking, "Will I ever be able to do this? Is it even possible?" to thinking, "I can obviously get as good as I want to get—provided that I actually put in the hours."
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Bakunin
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 Message 514 of 1317
08 April 2013 at 8:16pm | IP Logged 
Thanks a lot for those many recommendations. I'll check them out once I'm finished with Bételgeuse and Antarès :))

Ah, and Captain Flam doesn't ring a bell, even though I'm German. I grew up without a TV at home, though, so I just simply might have missed it. But there was a cool book series I loved as a teenager: Mark Brandis - Weltraumpartisanen. We even played Mark Brandis stories on the attic of a friend of mine...
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Teango
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 Message 515 of 1317
11 April 2013 at 7:20am | IP Logged 
I'm interested in watching replays of French series and dramas online, but am coming up against the same brick wall every time I find an interesting series...

I'm talking about that belligerent cyber-bouncer who heartlessly lures language learners in with the promise of exciting free drama, all for the price of a 30-second advert or two, but then reneges on the deal as you try to enter the club. I think I've lost count now of the number of times he's barricaded my way to a fun series with ape-like arms and that all-too-dreaded empty apology: "sorry, this video is not available from your country".

I wonder if you could point me in the right direction and suggest some good websites where I can watch French series for free from the US?

Edited by Teango on 11 April 2013 at 7:20am

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emk
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 Message 516 of 1317
13 April 2013 at 4:59am | IP Logged 
Teango wrote:
I wonder if you could point me in the right direction and suggest some good websites where I can watch French series for free from the US?


Sadly, most digital content in French is artificially restricted to France. Most TV sites only work for French IP addresses, Kindle purchases get flagged by Amazon unless you use a French credit card, and most other eBook vendors refuse to serve North American customers. This is doubly irritating because we have 6 million French speakers in Canada, plus another 1.6 million people in the US who speak French at home. When you combine this with the scandalous lack of subtitles on French TV and films (which has only recently started changing), I think somebody's missing a lot of opportunities to help promote French overseas.

Here's my personal toolkit for TV, DVDs and books:

- A region-free DVD player from Bombay Electronics. This runs $50 to $100 including shipping.

- An Amazon.fr account. Just log in with the same email and password you use in your own country. Shipping to the US is a lot faster than it was a year ago, for the same price.

- An Izneo account, as recommended by Geoffw. They just sent me an email about a free BD. :-) I don't use this much yet, but everybody's saying good things.

- A VoilaTV subscription. This is pretty much useless for watching series (unless they someday add a DVR option and sign a deal with Canal+). But it provides endless news and more than a few documentaries. We pay $34/month for this and don't bother with English-language cable at all (which runs $100+/month around here). You can recreate most of this for free if you want to track down laptop software and channels on your own, but I like having a remote control!

- An ebook reader with a popup French dictionary, for the classics.

- Google's image search to find sample pages of new BDs, and YouTube to watch 5-minute excerpts from new TV shows.

If you go down this route, it's going to cost you maybe $50 for the region-free DVD player and a couple hundred bucks for a few hundred hours of cool series. Even if you throw in a copy of Assimil and a cheap grammar book, it's still a lot less expensive than Rosetta Stone!


Edited by emk on 14 April 2013 at 1:45pm

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patrickwilken
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Germany
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 Message 517 of 1317
13 April 2013 at 10:11am | IP Logged 
emk wrote:


Sadly, most digital content in French is artificially restricted to France. Most TV sites only work for French IP addresses, Kindle purchases get flagged by Amazon unless you use a French credit card, and most other eBook vendors refuse to serve North American customers.


I guess one option would be to get a French IP number via VPN. I have used that occasionally to watch Colbert from Europe, and I have heard people do this to generate a non-German account so they can watch Youtube from within Germany without the hated GEMA blocking the video for copyright reasons. I don't know a good service for France, but the total cost would be something like $10-$15/month. Note: you don't necessarily need a company that is primarily based in France, just one which has some French servers with IP numbers there; my German company provides servers in USA, UK, NL, Egypt, Hong Kong etc.

As far as I can tell all the German ebooks are also available on the UK site, so there is no need to use the German site, unless you want to buy hardbacks or videos. I am not sure if the same is true for French ebooks on Amazon. Even if it isn't, there are a number of German ebook providers apart from Amazon, and these are not restricted to German only CCs in the same way. I am assuming that's may also be true for French ebooks (there may well be a French Canadian ebook seller that covers everything as well - Amazon Canada?). The excellent free software Calibre will automatically convert different ebook formats into a format your e-reader can use (though I have heard that the very latest Kindles are locked down, makes an argument for non-Kindles, or the type I have - e-ink Kindle+keyboard).

Edited by patrickwilken on 13 April 2013 at 10:23am

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kanewai
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 Message 518 of 1317
13 April 2013 at 10:28am | IP Logged 
Teango wrote:
I'm interested in watching replays of French series and dramas online,
but am coming up against the same brick wall every time I find an interesting series...


I found three seasons of Engrenage, with subtitles, on Netflix streaming, and I think
the first season was also on Hulu. The transcripts are also available at
hypnoweb.

You can order Kaamelott on eBay for Region 1, with English subs, and the French
transcripts are also available at hypnoweb. I keep meaning to try EMK's "Buffy method"
with one of these!

Otherwise, I'm with you: I can't find good French tv online. Though I have friends who
insist that's because the French don't make good tb.
1 person has voted this message useful



geoffw
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 Message 519 of 1317
14 April 2013 at 2:30am | IP Logged 
patrickwilken wrote:

Even if it isn't, there are a number of German ebook providers apart from Amazon, and these are not restricted to
German only CCs in the same way.


Link? I've tried about a half-dozen sites looking for German ebooks, and every single one said I couldn't access
their content from the USA. Perhaps they're open to Europe only?
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geoffw
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 Message 520 of 1317
14 April 2013 at 2:33am | IP Logged 
emk wrote:

Sadly, most digital content in French is artificially restricted to France. Most TV sites only work for French IP
addresses, Kindle purchases get flagged by Amazon unless you use a French credit card, and most other eBook
vendors refuse to serve North American customers.


I've had no problems buying a few eBooks from ePagine.fr, BTW. There also are some places hosted in CA that I
didn't try (because the prices tended to be much higher at those sites).


2 persons have voted this message useful



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