Strange Languages in Stranger Things

Like many people, the wife and I just finished up Stranger Things a few nights ago. I ended up absolutely loving it – great story, great acting, great 80s vibe. It was just lovely.

So I was very, very happy to see that Netflix actually lets you watch the show in all of the languages they produced it in; it doesn’t matter where you’re located in the world. You can watch it in English, Spanish, French, German, and Italian. There are also subtitles available for those languages, but a quick look shows that they sadly don’t match the audio all that well. Still, though – pretty nifty resource to have, and it’s a show worth watching.

Here’s a trailer, for those of you who aren’t familiar with what it’s about:

UPDATE

Sam commented and shared this amazing resource, a list of every show on Netflix that is available in foreign languages. Check it out here.

Grimm Grammar for German

The Texas Language Technology Center of the University of Texas has a very nice online grammar of German, Grimm Grammar.

A snippet from their about page:

Welcome to Grimm Grammar, an irreverent revival and shameless exploitation of 19th-century Grimm Fairy Tales for honorable pedagogical purposes.  Fortunately for you, Dear Reader, thirty-six characters from these fairy tales have returned to 21st century Germany (their precise location cannot be revealed for privacy reasons) to model all things grammatical … anything the most eager language learner may wish to know about the German language.

This online grammar reference was created for lower-division language courses at the University of Texas, but any beginning or intermediate learner of German may use it completely free of charge, as long as he or she is willing to take a trip to the imaginary world of Grimm Grammar … the characters of which are grumpy and gorgeous, scary and smarmy, witty and wicked!

If you’re getting started in German, check it out; you could probably skip the introductory German grammar book, and instead just wait until you need a copy Hammer’s.

Video-Thema from Deutsche Welle

Yesterday I learned about a new offering from Deutsche Welle, Video-Thema. Every week they put up a new video complete with exercises, transcript, and glossary. Apparently, they started this up at the beginning of the year; I’ve no idea how I missed it.

Thanks to Cornelia from the Deutsch als Fremdsprache Blog for posting about it.

Yabla – Foreign Language Videos With Subtitles and Translations

I recently learned about a website called Yabla, which offers Spanish and French videos complete with transcripts and translations:

Only Yabla language immersion sites give you authentic television, music videos, drama, interviews, travel, and Yabla exclusive shoots from throughout the world. Our unique player technology is designed with language learners in mind: Slow Play, Integrated Dictionaries, Listening Game, Dual Language Subtitles, and more.

I took their player for a spin, and quite liked it. The transcript isn’t just a big block of text, but instead, is integrated into the player. Each sentence or phrase appears as it’s spoken, and pressing back takes you to the beginning of the sentence. The Slow Play feature is also nice, slowing the video and audio down to perhaps 1/2 to 3/4 regular speed. The audio sounds slightly robotic after being treated this way, but it’s still quite usable. I’m usually wary of language “games”, finding most of them useless, but the Listening Game at Yabla actually seems useful. What it does is removes a random word from the transcript; you listen and watch, and try to fill in the missing word. I can certainly see where playing this occasionally could help one’s listening comprehension.

Hopefully, the amount of French videos catches up with the Spanish; as of right now, there’s around 5 hours of video at Yabla French, and nearly 20 hours at LoMasTv. Still, though, 5 hours of French video with transcripts and translations is a treasure trove for the French learner, so I won’t complain. 🙂 Do check it out, just bear in mind that their is a subscription fee of $9.95 a month. If you sign up for longer periods of time (6 months, a year), you get a discount.

Using Google As A Teacher

Jim Stroud from EnglishCafe.com wrote an interesting document about using Google as an aid to language learning. Many of his tips involve using Google’s vast text index to compare a search to what Google has on hand, for example:

3. Is there a word missing?

By using an asterix in a sentence, Google will assume that a word is missing and search for phrases that it thinks fills in that blank. For example…

By searching, How are you * today?

Google returns search results that includes:
*   “How are you doing today?”

*   “How are you feeling today?”

*   “How are you guys today?”

*   “How are you coping today?”

Click here to see for yourself and pay attention to the phrases that are bolded.

I really like his ideas, as they help language learners (learning English or anything else) to compare what they think is right, to what is right. If you run a search on what you think is right and get 5 results, it’s probably wrong. If you get 150,000 results, you’re probably onto something. 🙂

You can read Jim’s post here, or download the full guide here.

Lingro.com – Awesome Online Dictionary

I recently came across lingro.com through my ‘net travels, and while it could be improved in many areas, it’s already one of my favorite tools. While the site has a regular dictionary look-up, what I really love is the overlay feature (or “web viewer” as they call it). You go to lingro.com, select your target language, and enter a website URL; once the page loads, every word on the page is clickable. Click one, and a pop-up window appears with the meaning of the word. There’s also a toolbar at the bottom of the window that you can type a word into, to look up a word that isn’t on the page. (It’s also helpful to look up compound words, as many that are logical in nature don’t have a unique entry.) Here’s what it looks like:

Screenshot of Lingro.com in Action

Once you’ve made an account, Lingro keeps track of all of the words you look up. It also maintains a list of all of the sentences that the words appeared in, which makes it all that easier to add sentence items to your SRS application (I recommend Anki).

The site also has a rudimentary flashcard system, but it really is that: rudimentary. I’ve already poked the developers to add an “export” feature. 🙂

The dictionaries themselves are all open source, meaning they’re free, and they always will be. Furthermore, they’re largely user-built, so if you hit a word that isn’t in the dictionary you’re using, add it. If you’ve ever used the German dictionary dict.cc, Lingro works more or less the same way. The definitions aren’t always as good as you’d find in a commercial dictionary, but the ease of use – click the word, get a definition – still makes it a worthwhile tool.

Lingro currently has dictionaries for English, Spanish, French, German, Italian, Polish and Swedish.