Monday, 22 February 2016

Using TV as a learning medium

A simple explanation of the approach we're taking to learning is as follows:

take a unit of language (word, phrase, 'utterance') and present it over and over. Little variations in the presentations won't matter, what you end up with is a mental representation of a 'prototype' of that presentation.

(One of these days I'll dig out the laymans introduction to connectionist approaches I wrote for my MSc, which will explain this better.)

The key to this is, as I've said before, repeated presentation. The more language you can be exposed to the better you will learn. As part of that, we've taken to watching French TV programmes. Handily, French TV is going through a bit of an export drive at the moment, and lots of good, engaging stuff is appearing.

To start with, we watched 'Engrenages' in French, but with English subtitles. I found that I wasn't really attending the spoken language, because my mind was engaged with the written subtitles. This tallies with the findings of 'split attention' tasks - if your speech centres are engaged with reading, they can't simultaneously process verbal input.

Next, we switched to French audio, French subtitles. That's much better - my French is good enough now to follow the subtitles (and my partner's has been for a long time - I've been at this for about 3 years, she's been learning on and off for more like ten). Some of the time I hear the spoken words, some of the time I just read. It's good for speed of reading as well as listening.

Last week, I ordered series 4 of 'Engrenages' and series 1 of 'Les Revenants'. I've been ordering from, because if you get the UK editions, they only come with English subtitles.

Friday, I slotted series 1 of 'Les Revenants' into the dvd player and hit 'play'.

"now, how do you get this disc to play subtitles? Can't find it anywhere"

Looks at the box: "sous-titres: sans".

Merde. The next step is now forced on us. We're managing ok, but it's challenging.

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