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kanewai
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United States
justpaste.it/kanewai
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Speaks: English*, French, Marshallese
Studies: Italian, Spanish

 
 Message 289 of 766
19 May 2014 at 5:05am | IP Logged 
VivianJ5 wrote:
I was very turned off by the books we had to read in university
French classes (Balzac, Sartre, Stendhal among others), since it took me ages to feel
like I was actually reading a STORY. Especially Balzac: he can spend the first 20 - 30
pages just describing the "milieu" of the society he's talking about...talk about a
turn-off.


The thought of reading Balzac again makes me shudder ... I see him referred to in so
many other works (e.g. Balzac and the Little Chinese Seamstress, a couple French New
Wave movies, etc), and I think: have they actually read him? Or are they just
using "Balzac" as a way to signify that the main character is smart?

In general, though, I'm pro-classics, even early on. I lost a lot of ground slowly
working my way through some big novels, but when I went back to the fun stuff it was a
breeze. I think it's good to alternate the two!

Just not with Balzac. Or Stendhal.
1 person has voted this message useful



VivianJ5
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 Message 290 of 766
19 May 2014 at 10:40am | IP Logged 
I still have bad memories from trying to read "Pere Goriot" in my second-year French class...I actually ended up
reading the book in an English translation I found in our university library, reading next to the French. Little did I
know I was doing my own parallel translation.

I find parallel translations incredibly helpful, and will prepare my own if I can find a decently translated copy of an
English novel. Of course, translations are hit-or-miss: sometimes whole paragraphs are left out, and it's not always
clear why; you have to understand enough of the L2 to realize that things are not quite lining up.

But, you'll laugh kanewai, but I actually enjoy reading Balzac now that I've finally reached a level where I can
appreciate the story, and am not struggling with the language. Looking up every other word is not conducive to
understanding plot, in my opinion. I think that's where language teachers miss the boat, and something I tried to
avoid in the classroom: don't be forcing classic literature on to unsuspecting language learners if the vocabulary
level is going to get in the way of the story. As sfuqua mentioned, Hemingway works because his language uses
simple words and uncomplicated sentences, but the impact is immense.

And there is no shame in reading Nancy Drew, or the Hardy boys, or Mary Higgins Clark (my personal favorite!), if
the story pulls you in enough that you forget the language is a challenge. The exposure is everything. I wish more
language teachers understand that...
2 persons have voted this message useful



Solfrid Cristin
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Winner TAC 2011 & 2012
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Norway
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 Message 291 of 766
19 May 2014 at 11:06am | IP Logged 
VivianJ5 wrote:
I still have bad memories from trying to read "Pere Goriot" in my second-year French class...I actually ended up
reading the book in an English translation I found in our university library, reading next to the French. Little did I
know I was doing my own parallel translation.

I find parallel translations incredibly helpful, and will prepare my own if I can find a decently translated copy of an
English novel. Of course, translations are hit-or-miss: sometimes whole paragraphs are left out, and it's not always
clear why; you have to understand enough of the L2 to realize that things are not quite lining up.

But, you'll laugh kanewai, but I actually enjoy reading Balzac now that I've finally reached a level where I can
appreciate the story, and am not struggling with the language. Looking up every other word is not conducive to
understanding plot, in my opinion. I think that's where language teachers miss the boat, and something I tried to
avoid in the classroom: don't be forcing classic literature on to unsuspecting language learners if the vocabulary
level is going to get in the way of the story. As sfuqua mentioned, Hemingway works because his language uses
simple words and uncomplicated sentences, but the impact is immense.

And there is no shame in reading Nancy Drew, or the Hardy boys, or Mary Higgins Clark (my personal favorite!), if
the story pulls you in enough that you forget the language is a challenge. The exposure is everything. I wish more
language teachers understand that...


Ok. I grew up on Nancy Drew (I must have 50 of those books) and the Hardy boys, but what is Mary Higgins Clark?
1 person has voted this message useful



Serpent
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Senior Member
Russian Federation
serpent-849.livejour
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 Message 292 of 766
19 May 2014 at 3:20pm | IP Logged 
VivianJ5 wrote:
But, you'll laugh kanewai, but I actually enjoy reading Balzac now that I've finally reached a level where I can appreciate the story, and am not struggling with the language. Looking up every other word is not conducive to understanding plot, in my opinion. I think that's where language teachers miss the boat, and something I tried to avoid in the classroom: don't be forcing classic literature on to unsuspecting language learners if the vocabulary level is going to get in the way of the story. As sfuqua mentioned, Hemingway works because his language uses simple words and uncomplicated sentences, but the impact is immense.

One more problem is that beginners generally need to read intensively, ie look up everything and make sure they understand every little detail, but while it might be useful to read a page of text like that, the natural progression *seems to be* textbooks/articles, short stories, novels. But it doesn't work like that. It's well-known that a novel gets easier as you continue reading (and on a micro-level it's true about shorter texts too), so if you read short stuff you miss out on these moments when you've got used to the language and can read with ease.

I suppose the most successful classroom learners develop their own strategies and in many cases reinvent the wheel. They learn what to look up and where to be naughty and skip the word :-)

Edited by Serpent on 19 May 2014 at 3:28pm

3 persons have voted this message useful



Solfrid Cristin
Heptaglot
Winner TAC 2011 & 2012
Senior Member
Norway
Joined 3503 days ago

4143 posts - 8862 votes 
Speaks: Norwegian*, Spanish, Swedish, French, English, German, Italian
Studies: Russian

 
 Message 293 of 766
19 May 2014 at 3:37pm | IP Logged 
There was a reason why I spoke about books when I created the Super Challenge. I have allowed shorter texts, but personally I stick to books only, which I read without looking up too much. Not beacause I understand everything, but because I want the flow.
5 persons have voted this message useful



VivianJ5
Diglot
Senior Member
United States
Joined 2431 days ago

81 posts - 133 votes 
Speaks: English*, French

 
 Message 294 of 766
19 May 2014 at 3:44pm | IP Logged 
Solfrid, Mary Higgins Clark is an author known for her mysteries, sometimes involving murder, usually with a woman
who gets into trouble somehow because someone is stalking her, or something from the the past hasn't been
resolved...I haven't read all her books (and the ones I have read have been French translations), but the story line is
predictable, and the language is not too difficult. Once you've read one, you find all the rest get easier and easier,
because the plots are similar and the vocabulary is pretty much the same. A lot like the Nancy Drews, but for adults!

And I agree for the most part with your "books only," even if I don't always follow it - sometimes the news is a nice
break. But once you understand one author's use of language, reading other works of the same author just becomes
easier, and you can get into a flow not possible with shorter texts.
1 person has voted this message useful



sctroyenne
Diglot
Senior Member
United StatesRegistered users can see my Skype Name
Joined 3560 days ago

739 posts - 1312 votes 
Speaks: English*, French
Studies: Spanish, Irish

 
 Message 295 of 766
19 May 2014 at 7:14pm | IP Logged 
VivianJ5 wrote:
I still have bad memories from trying to read "Pere Goriot" in my
second-year French class...I actually ended up
reading the book in an English translation I found in our university library, reading
next to the French. Little did I
know I was doing my own parallel translation.

I find parallel translations incredibly helpful, and will prepare my own if I can find
a decently translated copy of an
English novel. Of course, translations are hit-or-miss: sometimes whole paragraphs are
left out, and it's not always
clear why; you have to understand enough of the L2 to realize that things are not quite
lining up.

But, you'll laugh kanewai, but I actually enjoy reading Balzac now that I've finally
reached a level where I can
appreciate the story, and am not struggling with the language. Looking up every other
word is not conducive to
understanding plot, in my opinion. I think that's where language teachers miss the
boat, and something I tried to
avoid in the classroom: don't be forcing classic literature on to unsuspecting language
learners if the vocabulary
level is going to get in the way of the story. As sfuqua mentioned, Hemingway works
because his language uses
simple words and uncomplicated sentences, but the impact is immense.

And there is no shame in reading Nancy Drew, or the Hardy boys, or Mary Higgins Clark
(my personal favorite!), if
the story pulls you in enough that you forget the language is a challenge. The exposure
is everything. I wish more
language teachers understand that...


I, too, find parallel texts very useful. There's a lot of vocabulary that just doesn't
need to be retained/looked up so it helps to have a copy to glance over at to find out
that "cocher" means "coachman" for example. I read through Harry Potter in Spanish
using parallel texts and it was good for getting down basic patterns and some common
vocabulary. Later, I started working more intensively with some of my favorite excerpts
looking up words/phrases and working with the audio book. I was pretty happy with this
process and plan on doing the same with the Irish translation (if only I could get an
audio version...).

And I, too, enjoyed Balzac :)
1 person has voted this message useful



kanewai
Triglot
Senior Member
United States
justpaste.it/kanewai
Joined 3058 days ago

1386 posts - 3054 votes 
Speaks: English*, French, Marshallese
Studies: Italian, Spanish

 
 Message 296 of 766
19 May 2014 at 9:03pm | IP Logged 
It's strange that in college we were told that using parallel texts would hurt our
French, and that we should not ever use them. In retrospect, it was perhaps the worst
language-learning advice I've ever heard.

Flaubert on Balzac wrote:
What a man he would have been had he known how to write. But
that was the only thing he lacked. After all an artist would never have accomplished so
much nor had such breadth   


I'm still looking for the original French source for that. And one day I'll tackle
more Balzac - I think the man himself is fascinating, and I actually am interested to
see what happens to some of the characters, especially the super villain Vautrin. And I
have his complete works ($1.99 on kindle!).

I'm curious to hear what people's experiences with podcasts were in the last SC. I've
been listening to a lot this past week, and I find that my comprehension is really
erratic; usually I'm just below having complete comprehension, and I can follow
the general thread but miss the details. Sometime I wonder if it's useful ... but I am
inspired by posts like this:

druckfehler wrote:
I used to listen to 30 minute-long Korean podcasts and radio shows
every night before sleep for a couple of months. You would be surprised how much my
listening comprehension improved. At the beginning, I couldn't focus on more than 10
minutes, but after 2-3 months of regularly doing that listening it became much easier.
Nowadays I have no trouble with those 30 minutes and I understand about 70-80% of it.
You have to start somewhere and a steady habit of something like 10-30 minutes does add
up (and can be a great method for falling asleep :D).




1 person has voted this message useful



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