A wonderful site for French audio and text content

A friend in Brazil told me about the web site “audiocit??” . Some wonderful jewels of French literature are available for free download, in audio and text.

For all you LingQ members out there, based on their creative commons license, this content can be shared in our LingQ French Library, since it is available free of charge to anyone. Just make sure you acknowledge the source properly, including a link to their site.


French immersion in Canada – does it work?

Many anglophone kids in Canada are enrolled in French immersion schools and take all of their education in French. My three grandchildren who live in Vancouver are in French immersion.

I find that, given the number of years of schooling in French, the fluency and pronunciation of these French immersion kids is not impressive. Swedish kids of the same age speak much better English, on average, and do not attend immersion. I am of the opinion that, with effective language instruction from grade 1, kids should be able to speak at least one language, and possibly more, better than these immersion kids in Canada speak French.

Wikipedia, that handy source of information, has the following misleading paragraph in its page on French immersion, which of course makes me question the whole article.

“French-immersion programs are offered in 9 Canadian provinces, except the province of New Brunswick, which has eliminated in the early grades in favor of universal French education grade 6. French popularity differs by province and region. Currently, enrollment in French immersion is highest in the Maritime Provinces and parts of Quebec and Ontario. Western Canada, which is predominantly Anglophone, is experiencing high population growth. This has resulted in increased enrollment in French immersion programs, which can be attributed in part to the immigration of Francophones from Eastern Canada as well as other parts of the world, such as Haiti and Africa.”

In fact New Brunswick probably has the highest rate of French immersion enrollment in the country. New Brunswick, Quebec and Ontario are the only provinces with significant French speaking populations. The rest of the country, including the West is predominantly anglophone. The population growth in Western Canada is primarily due to immigration from Asia. Immigration from Africa and Haiti is insignificant and has almost zero impact on French immersion enrollment, which is largely an effort by parents to provide an enriched learning experience for their children, and get away from special needs kids in the system, such as the increasing number of?? ESL students.

How many words do we need to speak a language.

Here is an interesting thread at our LingQ Forum.

The first post said the following;

“I know this is not a new topic but a few months ago I read some polyglots claiming that knowing the 100 most used words (they even provide a list), you could understand basically close to 75 percent of what you read in another language and when you train your ear to listen, you could probably understand close to 50 percent. Others claim that on an average day to day conversation in your own language, we don’t use more than 1000 words, that for someone that is very well versed and speaks more advance using technical terminology, 3000 words would be the highest the person would used in any given day or week.
As humans, we tend to stick to the words we know and used on a daily basis and rarely (unless you are studying at school, learning a new language or preparing for an exam) use different terminology for each conversation we have. I see politicians for example: the vocabulary they use is always the same. They use the basic words we all use plus a dozen of their own such: constituents, government, bipartisan, etc. etc.
I want to experiment with these claims to find out if they are true or false but before I do that, I would like to hear your imput and to see if anybody has tried this before. I strongly believe that the more vocabulary you learn or assimilate, the more prepared you would be. Please let me know your thoughts, doubts, suggestions.
I started to learn in German these 100 words. I will print a lesson from Vera for example and will mark every single word of those 100 to find out the percetage of the total words used. I look forward to it but also know i might be dissapointed. What do you think?
pd. sorry if you find any mispellings. I am trying my new “Ipad” and it has a mind of its own. “

Here is my most recent post;


It is tempting to believe that we can just acquire a small number of very useful words, and sort of get a jump start in a language. I have never found that to be the case. Even learning where, when why etc. does not help a lot, in my experience. I find that we need a certain amount of time to get used to a language.

It is not difficult to get a list of the most “useful” words in a language. You can look them up, or you can just type them out in your own language and submit them to google translate. I doubt if that will help much, at least it does not in my case.

I find it just as useful to go after content, preferably interesting content, and pick away at these useful words, saving them as in LingQ. If they are really that useful, they will appear soon and often. And the less frequent words that I just need to get through the content,?? I save them as well but?? I ignore them until they show up often enough so that I soon find that I have learned them.

I create lots of LingQs, and not only of words I do not know, but also of common little words that work differently in the new language, like “meu” or “minha” in Portuguese versus “mi” in Spanish. Some of these common words I may Tag.

I just keep doing that and gradually improve. The more I do it, the faster I improve. There is no great leap forward. It is a long road driven by the three key engines; our attitude, the time we spend, and our ability to notice what happens in the language. “

Audio books in German on German history

I was asked on my youtube channel about German language audio books on history. Here are the CDs I found in my library. Others may have other suggestions. Please advise.

Who can afford an iPad?

I think that the iPad is a revolutionary educational device. Opposition to this idea comes from those who dislike Apple. Personally I do not care if it is an iPad or some other electronic tablet. It is the fact of being able to connect anywhere and everywhere to all the learning content on the Web that is exciting. I believe sites like Khan Academy can replace text books and classrooms, not to mention cram schools and tutors, at least for some students.

Another voice of disagreement comes from teachers, who claim that many people cannot afford an iPad and say that the school system does not have the money to provide everyone, whether a schoolkid, or an adult learner, with an iPad. However, the cost per learner of our bureaucratic school system is enormous, between $12,000 and $27,000 per year in the US according to this study.

I think it is a matter of how the money is spent. Less time in class, and more advice and encouragement on how to become an independent learner, might do wonders. We need to liberate the learners from the classroom and the teacher. And a learner who does not want to learn, is not a learner.

Native speaker teachers or non-native speaker teachers or independence

A number of people have commented to the effect that they prefer language teachers who are native speakers of their own language.?? Here is one example from my blog:

“I’ve been living in Thailand for a year and have taken Thai lessons from native speakers for most of that time.

I couldn’t write or read and could barely speak. About two weeks ago I started lessons with an american and in two weeks learned to read – something the natives couldn’t teach in a year of study.

I think learning another language from someone who shares your mother language is the best way to learn a language. My new american tutor says it this way: “I can’t teach English, I don’t know how I learned it but I know how I learned Thai and can teach you that process.”

How can you live in Thailand for one year, want to learn the language, interact with a native speaker teacher and not be able to read or speak? This is a far cry from Benny’s three months to fluency. The only explanation is that the learner is dependent on the teacher. The first rule of language learning is independence.

If you spend one year in Thailand, or anywhere else, listening to the language, and slowly teaching yourself to read, while listening, and accumulating words, you cannot help but learn. The native speaker is there to speak to when you are ready. If you wait for a teacher to teach you, you are captive of whatever teaching theory he or she has. Language learning is about learning, not teaching.

One quarter of ESL teachers in the US are non-native speakers

I was surprised to learn that one roughly quarter of ESL teachers in the US are not native speakers of English. They may be just as good at teaching as the native speakers. However,?? if I emigrated to China or Poland, I would certainly prefer to learn the local language from a Chinese or Polish teacher, rather than an American or French teacher.?? I wonder how many students who travel to a country to learn a language would happily accept a non-native speaker as a language teacher. Surprised.