I need to improve my pronunciation and I’ve just got a brilliant idea!
I have several books in English here. I need a partner to whom I could read one of them and he would correct me all the time teaching me his accent.
If anyone is interested in having “Game of Thrones” read to him by Skype just let me know here or there: zeedo_
If there are audiobook versions available, I guess you could also try shadowing the text, while listening to the audio?
Following on Jay_B’s lead, you can go to http://www.librivox.org and choose from a variety of free public domain audiobooks to shadow (google shadowing if you don’t know what we’re talking about).
I don’t like the idea of shadowing.
Shadowing isn’t for everyone (personally I could never sustain it…)
Folks who ARE into shadowing might like to check out this great review of the Prudl website by David Mansaray:
I think Steve and Mark would do well to keep an eye on these Prudl guys! At the moment they still have a few teething problems, but the way they present information (i.e. with a bilingual text format) is essentially more straightforward than at LingQ, in my opinion. And the quality of their recordings is generally much better too.
LingQ could rival Prudl by adding the option of bilingual columns - and that way users would have the best of both worlds; they could understand things Assimil/Prudl-style from a translation-column, but they could also click on words to pull up a dictionary entry where necessary, and in order to save LingQs.
(Of course there is another side to that coin: it may only be a matter of time before the guys at Prudl have the smart idea of adding LingQ-style functionality to their target text columns…)
ad Jay B: I’m not really a fan of shadowing either (simply because I don’t feel comfortable doing it) but I still think that prudl offers some really good features. What I REALLY like is that they seem to focus on quality material. I must say that there is hardly anything that I find more off-putting than study material that is full of mistakes.
Nobody is perfect and you will find minor mistakes and/or omissions, typos etc. even in textbooks of highly reputed publishing houses but it is all a matter of frequency I guess. Most free or almost free language learning sites on the Internet are a good starting point or an interesting additional tool but I would never want to rely exclusively on what they have to offer and one of the major reasons why I hardly use any of them is the fact that they simply don’t seem to pay enough attention to high quality content. Especially as a beginner I don’t want to be provided with study material that is full of typos and/or grammatical errors, no matter how “natural” the input may be.
The German course at livemocha for example is terrible (at least it was when I last visited the site a couple of years ago). It may be free but this is also reflected in the quality of the contents. Teach Yourself German (or any comparable product) costs less than a decent meal at a restaurant for two people here in Austria and you get first-rate study material (at least to get you started). Somehow people think that everything must be for free and they forget that nobody can afford to spend their time without earning any money forever. So, if people are ready to pay for a nice meal why won’t they accept the fact that good study material (normally) does not come for free either?
Personally, I prefer to pay a little more if what I get is of reasonable quality. Of course, everybody has a different opinion on that and we all need to find the material and method that best suits our own learning style and bank account
Yes, I would definitely agree that it is a good idea to pay a premium for high quality!
Unfortunately some of the high quality courses published in the English-speaking world over past decades are now no longer available to buy new. (I guess the content has become rather dated, and there simply isn’t enough demand to justify new updated editions?)
One good example of this is the Berlitz “Listen and Learn” series of records from the late 1950s. I recently came across an old set of these for French which I have been gradually filtering, editing and re-recording in digital mp3 format (a very time consuming process, alas!)
I have been really blown away by the huge amount of audio material which it contains (all entirely in French), and the sheer cleverness of how it is designed - combining a lively and entertaining dramatic storyline with rigorous coverage of grammar. Real genius!
Of course, being set in Paris of the late 1950s, it is in many ways very outdated. Yet I wonder whether this really matters so much? Most probably people could still get a solid grounding in French by using this, and then quickly adjust the 3% (or whatever) of language which is outdated by engaging with more recent materials.
(At any rate, I would like to think that my nephew will be able to get some use out of it when he starts learning French at school…)
In the 1980s there was a similar (and perhaps even better) series of courses published in the USA by Passport Books - but I think that is also long out of print now.
Would you by any chance happen to know anything about Casio Ex-Word electronic dictionaries, Robert? (I recently posted a question on another thread about adding new dictionaries to these devices.)