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French: Fresh, fun & effortless media

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emk
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 Message 449 of 1317
14 February 2013 at 3:26pm | IP Logged 
kujichagulia: I'm glad you found the posts encouraging!

The other night was "French club", and we had a great discussion between 5 people, including two French teachers (one of whom is an extremely advanced non-native speaker) and a woman from Quebec. I always enjoy this group, because the majority of people speak very fast and idiomatically. I was off my game, but that manifested in a new way: There were times when things sort of fell apart when I was speaking (which has been happening in English, too, the last few days). But I also had some great fast discussions.

Several other people dropped by later on, one of whom made some gender errors. I'm pleased to say that certain gender errors are starting to sound seriously weird to my ears, at least for really common words. I'm hoping this is a good sign.

I also watched a bunch of Buffy and Angel. Comprehension was nice and solid, so I decided it was time to go back and try Engrenages again. I actually understood quite a bit this time around—at least 50% of the first 30 minutes. But Engrenages is still a pretty challenging series, because there's so many different characters, and because the plot is so tangled and implicit. I think that if I watched the first season twice, I could probably boost that 50% pretty quickly.

All this reminds me of a classic Krashen video, where he gives two great examples of German: an incomprehensible lecture, and a perfectly comprehensible interaction. When I was around A2, I had way too much stuff like the first example, and not enough like the second. It's really tricky finding good listening exercises at A2 and B1—news radio is just sort of comprehensible if you listen to enough, but TV and movies are still far out of reach. I think a lot of people would benefit enormously if they could find, say, 50 hours of easy and interesting materials where they understood at least 75%. This is one of the reasons I think documentaries are seriously underused by language learners: They're some of the easiest native media out there, combining slow, clear speech with very strong visuals and long pauses.
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tastyonions
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 Message 450 of 1317
14 February 2013 at 3:37pm | IP Logged 
I have a habit of listening to native media over and over and over again, which I find helps my comprehension quite a lot. I used to find repetition nauseating, but that was because I was doing it the wrong way (for me): I was gutting it out and trying to force myself to listen to things like five or ten times straight in a row, rather than limiting myself to once per day (or maybe twice spaced out by some hours). I find that clips less than ten minutes are best for me, personally, because it's very easy to keep full attention for such a short period, but I can see the virtues in tackling a longer form, too: vocabulary, characters, styles of speaking all become more familiar. It's just that I tend to zone out on long stuff unless it's something *really* compelling.

I also had a French meetup recently (last night) and had my first conversation with a guy from Quebec. It was great!

Edited by tastyonions on 14 February 2013 at 3:42pm

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Expugnator
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 Message 451 of 1317
14 February 2013 at 4:01pm | IP Logged 
I'm in need of having conversations in French myself, but in Brazil you can't that free of charge, even though I live in a big city.
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emk
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 Message 452 of 1317
14 February 2013 at 4:30pm | IP Logged 
tastyonions wrote:
I was gutting it out and trying to force myself to listen to things like five or ten times straight in a row, rather than limiting myself to once per day (or maybe twice spaced out by some hours).


Spacing the repetitions out over several days is a really interesting idea.

Another great strategy, which becomes feasible as you're nearing B2, is to find a TV series on DVD and plow through a couple of seasons. Of course, every episode has different dialog, but it's always the same few people and subjects, so you get tons of repetition.

Once you can watch TV for fun, the possibilities just explode: You have almost unlimited access to native dialog, and you can "study" by vegetating in front of the TV and following a favorite series. And TV is designed to be addictive and interesting.

tastyonions wrote:
It's just that I tend to zone out on long stuff unless it's something *really* compelling.


Yeah, it's enormously useful to have a big supply of stuff you just can't put down. You can watch it 10 times, or make Anki cards, or obsessively watch 50 DVDs of a television series, or stay up reading way past bed time. I understand why Khatzumoto tells his "Silver Spoon" students to have such an insane media budget, and spends so much time teaching them how to search for things they like.

If my only French resources were public domain classics and artsy French movies, I'd never make any progress at all. Fortunately, I've mastered the most important French skill, which is using Amazon.fr and Google to turn up all sorts of good stuff. :-)

tastyonions wrote:
I also had a French meetup recently (last night) and had my first conversation with a guy from Quebec. It was great!


Yeah, over the last month or two, I've suddenly started finding most Quebec accents surprisingly easy, at least in public and professional contexts. I still can't understand full-tilt joual, though.

EDIT: Just for fun, try searching for Louis-José Houde on Non-Stop Tube. Even native speakers from France may have the occasional problem here. :-)

Edited by emk on 14 February 2013 at 4:49pm

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tastyonions
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 Message 453 of 1317
14 February 2013 at 4:48pm | IP Logged 
Yeah, the guy I spoke with had a Quebec accent, but (and he actually mentioned this) he deliberately spoke a more "international" French at the gathering, since everybody else was non-Quebecois. He also complimented my French! :-)

I wish I could find a native TV series that was interesting, had plenty of dialogue, but that was significantly easier than Engrenages. That would be ideal. Not sure if something like that exists...

Edited by tastyonions on 14 February 2013 at 5:00pm

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emk
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 Message 454 of 1317
14 February 2013 at 5:27pm | IP Logged 
tastyonions wrote:
Yeah, he had a Quebec accent, but (and he actually mentioned this) he deliberately spoke a more "international" French at the gathering, since everybody else was non-Quebecois.


This is pretty normal. Quebec French is highly diglossic, and most people prefer to use a more international dialect in professional contexts, or when speaking to outsiders.

tastyonions wrote:
I wish I could find a native TV series that was interesting, had plenty of dialogue, but that was significantly easier than Engrenages. That would be ideal. Not sure if something like that exists...


I'm sure it does. But keep in mind that your average native French speaker watches a lots of dubbed television. Look at something like Generiques des séries de mon enfance and count up the sheer number of US (and Japanese) shows on the list. That's what one native speaker's "authentic" input actually looked like. (Actually, I'm halfway tempted to buy a box set of Ulysse 31. That looks really fun in a "cheesy 80s" sort of way.)

So if you can find a high-quality dub, with natural-sounding language, there's no reason to avoid using it. This is one place I really agree with Khatzumoto: If native speakers willingly pay money for it, it's fair game. And I guarantee that if you can work through l'integrale of two other series, dubbed or not, Engrenages will be massively easier. :-)

EDIT: Also, as always, French series with accurate subs.

Edited by emk on 14 February 2013 at 5:40pm

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sans-serif
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 Message 455 of 1317
15 February 2013 at 7:53am | IP Logged 
Oh wow. That was a pretty sweet theme song! Now I really want to watch Cobra in French.

Edited by sans-serif on 15 February 2013 at 8:14am

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emk
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 Message 456 of 1317
15 February 2013 at 5:42pm | IP Logged 
sans-serif: Also check out these marvelous French theme songs for Starsky and Hutch and Dallas, with translations. French TV in the 80s was apparently all about good theme songs.

Quote:
Starsky et Hutch, Starsky et Hutch
Deux flics un peu rêveurs et rieurs
Mais qui gagnent toujours à la fin


Here's some more French children's TV from the 80s, all of which my wife remembers fondly. I've provided Amazon.fr links, but if search Youtube, you can find some pretty substantial clips that should give you an idea of each series.

Ulysse 31
Buy on Amazon.fr

The story of Ulysses, but in space. This was apparently a joint French-Japanese production, and it's actually pretty decent by the standards of 80s kid's television. I easily get 80+% of the dialog after 10 minutes.

Captaine Flam
Buy on Amazon.fr

I first heard of this kid's TV show in an MC Solaar song. Actually, the whole song is completely stuffed with French pop culture:

Quote:
Carpe Diem, MC Solaar (lyrics)

Des noms me reviennent : Pierre Juquin, Anicet Le Pors
Desmond Toutou, Françoise Claustre et l'agence Tass
Henry Kissinger Benito Crâxi
Dulcie September en quête de démocratie
Anne Marie Pesson pour une minute pour les femmes
Jacquou le Croquant, Cheri Bibi, Capitaine Flam
Le temps passe, des pyramides aux mange-disques
Bande Revox, cassettes et vinyls, Compact Discs


Ahem. Anyway, Captaine Flam is marginally less stupid than most of what I was watching in the 80s. The voices in episode 1 aren't too bad, but later on, they really fall in love with heavy vocal distortion. This was originally a Japanese series based on American pulp science fiction from the 40s. I guess this just goes to show how much French pop culture is imported. :-)

For more 80s fun, search for "generiques de mon enfance" on Google.fr, and you can find quite a few more lists of what native speakers grew up watching. Or fix your Google.com language settings so it gives you real results in your target languages.



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