Let's form some clubs

I would like to get some clubs going. Here is what I have in mind.

  1. LingQ content clubs.

People learning different languages would select the same content item from the LingQ store and study that item for a week. Then they would meet with a tutor to discuss it.

  1. Imported content clubs.

People studying the same language would share information about an interesting content item which all would study and discuss.

  1. Book clubs.

a) single language

People would agree on an audio book for which the e-book is available from the Internet. They would agree to study one book for a period of weeks or months.Members can get together to talk about it, write about it, and even exchange lists of LingQs.

b) multi-language

Same as above but people would identify books (usually classics from the 19th century) where audio books and e-texts are available in various languages. Books such as Pinocchio, Anne of Green Gables, The Little Prince, or authors such as Bronte, Tolstoi, Andersen, Balzac, Goethe, Verne which have been translated into many languages would be likely choices. Again a group would choose one book to study in different languages, and find ways to meet to discuss it. Often the book may be available in the language of the learner, making it easier to study the book at LingQ.

I look forward to comments on these ideas. Is anyone interested?

  1. above should have read that people studying the same language would select the same item to study…sorry

Some comments:
I like the idea, although it’s not easy to find good times for everyone. The only one that sounds odd to me is the multi-language. I had some experience on trying to talk in 2 languages at the same time, and I don’t think it works very well.

Particularly the imported content could be interesting, since there is a lot of content that we couldn’t directly share through LingQ, but we could share by the exchange of urls.

I don’t feel like studying 19th century books, as I already have explained to you, Steve. In my own language I read them, but I’m not sure they are a good idea to a second language learner. It’s because I understand that the main goal of all this reading and listening is to feed my brain with some phrase models. If I read 19th century books, I will be memorizing 19th century phrase models. Is it a good idea? I don’t know…
I would find it funny to hear a foreigner speaking Portuguese like Machado de Assis, for instance. He is great, but has a very weird Portuguese. I can understand it and differentiate his usage from the contemporary one, but I realize that a learner hardly could do the same.

I’m not sure I would join any of these right now for personal reasons, but sometime in near future I will do it!

The thing with 19th century literature is that the e-books are often available free of charge. I enjoy reading the classics in a language I am learning. It is often good for a learner to learn a more formal or polite language than the often more colloquial language of today. At least I have no trouble dealing with both.

But this is all a matter of taste. At the very least there is absolutely harm in reading older books in any language.

I would be interested. I am also interested in opinions of people about the quality of narrations of audio-books for which e-text are available for free.

Perhaps I should start with my own opinion. I think the free English narration of Tom Sawyer as available from the LibriVox is not bad at all. Its e-text is available from the Project Gutenberg. (Some time ago I imported the first two chapters of this book, together with the front cover picture of the early edition, into LingQ. Now I always pleased to see as LingQ’s recommendation to me).

The language of Tom Sawyer, in my view, is relatively simple, modern and conversational. The only disadvantage was that I had already read the book in my native language book more than once as a kid.

Sometimes I hear: “I saw that audio-book and its e-text available for free from…” . However, the adviser have not heard the narration or at least not tried learning language from it. And I agree with Steve that professional artistic narration is very important. It is better to bye the best one than to get for free an average one. Narrator may be more than content decides if I drop the book or will be listening to it again and again. That’s why I would seek opinion of those who have already tried narrations.

Is anyone else interested in studying Tom Sawyer together with Ilya?

Meanwhile I am quite used to Tolstoi now, and have audio books and e-books for a few of his novels, Kreutzer Sonata, War and Peace, Anna Karenina. Is anyone interested in working on those together?

How about in other languages?


As I am studying Russian at LingQ, your suggestion sounds interesting, at least over “a period of weeks or months”.

I am working on accumulating more vocabulary and only just starting to work on my writing skills. It may help to be able to exchange writing or discuss a text orally, because writing about my reading just for myself or for the tutor may not be so rewarding as a real exchange of ideas.

As far a I am concerned, I can imagine that some people might be interested in discussing RussianLingQ podcasts either in writing or orally.

As for Tolstoi, I read Kreutzer Sonata and Resurrection in German a long time ago. After working through the excerpt from Bulgakov’s Life of Monsieur de Molière, which took quite some time, I could start on Tolstoi’s Kreutzer Sonata from the library. But it will take some time getting used to Tolstoy’s style and vocabulary and I would like to learn some contemporary spoken language from the podcasts too.

By the way, do you plan on adding any written content for Swedish? I am approaching the last few parts of the power of the linguist and have imported 2 articles from Dagens Nyheter. Is it possible to share such articles? Or do you know any sources for Swedish from which content can be shared?

The idea of LingQ content club seems interesting to me yet in which language the learners will speak that content? These group should be organized according to the level. I’ll wait for further explaination, this idea is not bad :slight_smile:

Talking about a book in a single language is popular in the discussions.
Concerning the old books, I’m currently reading a book that was written in the 19ème Century. As Ana-Paula wrote some phrase models are not up to date; however I do not see obstacles to read this kind of books as a learner. When a word is specified as archaic in the dictionnary, I do not spend too much time on its review. I have nevertheless noticed that some words or expressions that are no longer in use are not noted as archaic as they are used in a different way. Therefore, I decided to study that book with a tutor. That is why your suggestion to form Book clubs is fine. It can be a study of recent books as well.

The only reason why older books are useful is that often both an audio book and a free e-book are available, making it easier to import and share and study them here at LingQ.


I think we could use the various language forums here to exchange views on a common item of content or a book. Learners should be free to submit in the original uncorrected version or after correction.

I am sorry that we do not have more Swedish. I will try to look for some. I have audio books but most of the content I have, such as Hermann Lindqvist’s wonderful history books, are under copyright. Does anyone else have any ideas?

With regard to modern Russian content, we do have some discussions and podcasts and will be adding more. At present we only allow content with sound to be shared but we will change that. this way people can share texts which are free of copyright. More and more newspaper content and podcasts etc. are free and should be OK since we do not charge.

Steve asked: “Is anyone else interested in studying Tom Sawyer together with Ilya?” To clarify it, I was not really interested in studying Tom Sawyer as I had already studied it.

I only intended to provide an example of the information that I usually lack myself when I choose what to study.

By the way, inspired with the mentioning of Tolstoi, I have taken a look at http://www.gutenberg.org/files/1399/1399-8.txt,
where the free English translation of “Anna Karenina” is placed, and soon found myself fully absorbed into its reading. I’d say this English is really simple, much simpler than of Tom Sawyer. I’d even say it is percepted a kind of “smoother” than the original Russian of Tolstoi. (My native language is Russian and I like Tolstoi).

I have heard already that learning a language from a book translated into the leaned language may be easier in certain cases. The most important is to like the book. And I feel I again liked it . So may be I’'l go on with the English Anna Karenina as I enjoy it again.

I have then checked, what unabridged audio books of Anna Karenina in English are available from the Audible.com. The three versions were available. I have sampled all the three. (One can listen a chapter or a too for free). I liked the first one and the third one. But just the third one, as narrated by Davina Porter, is the translation from the Gutenberg. I got the impression that just this translation features the simplest English.

It seems I am eligible to purchase this audio-book for $7 and I am going to bye it. But even if it were more it is worth it. So I am ready to join those who will discuss Leo Tolstoi, whatever language it is translated into. While there are not many people here, it could be a good idea to “club” with respect to a popular author translated in many languages, regardless of the language of study. Moreover, I could help you, Steve, with Tolstoi’s Russian, as you could help me same with Tolstoi’s English, French, and so on. Just a pity that neither you nor me need it.

Well, I think for someone who has just started learning a language, it’s not a good idea, but for someone who has already a taste of what the language feels like, reading 19th century literature isn’t a big problem… I think it’s cool looking at all those “thou’s” and “thy’s” and “art’s”, etc… in English lol

About narrations:
I agree with you both, Ilya and Steve, the quality of narrations is a fundamental issue.
I started a book sometime ago and gave it up after 3 or 4 chapters simply because the narrators voice sounded too unpleasant. It was a free narration, I suppose. Now, I’m reading a professional narration of another book, and I’m loving it! The result of this is that I’m reading more quickly , listening to it more times and studying more vocabulary. Also, I feel the new words stick more easily on me, since I remember the story fragments they are in.
About books:
I don’t think there is any special obstacle to read contemporary books, since anyone can buy them via Internet. (I guess Julie has some study groups using a previously bought ebook) The only thing is that everyone will need to buy his or her own copy, and is not going to be able to share it through LingQ store.
Anyway, I believe reading books together and discussing them is a great idea, no matter which book the group chooses. For sure, at the end of the whole process everybody will be much more fluent in the target language than before.

To read old literature in the German language is often very difficult - even for me!!!
In this time the writers used very long sentences - one paragraph was often one sentence.
Then our the word order brings problems because you read the whole paragraph and the verb is the last word.
I would recommend a German language learner to read newer literature at first.

The thinking from ana-paula is absolutely correct. We have to be careful with copyrights and cannot bring each article in the LingQ store.
Sometimes the rights are varied in different countries! By Gutenberg too - read exactly!

In Germany the rights are pursued strong, perhaps stronger than in other countries. I use i.e. only my own pictures in the German part. It can be expensive to use a foreign picture.
I think we have controllers they have no other work than to look for.

I do no find older literature any more difficult than modern literature. I find that you have to get used to the style and vocabulary of the writer in any case. I agree that in the beginning we need easier texts.

That is why we have The Power of the Linguist for example, and we are preparing more items that will be common to all languages. We need people to help us translate and record these, by the way. I will be asking for help on another thread.

But once I get into authentic content, it is not whether it is Goethe, Balzac, Tolstoi or a modern story. The key is my interest, and even my emotional connection to the subject. Many things affect my motivation. I enjoy reading classical books, partly because I know these books are famous, partly because I am transported into another time and place, and partly because I enjoy the older language, which is often more stylish. I find modern language is more matter of fact and less pleasing. I also feel that any learner can only benefit by being exposed to the greater elegance of older literature. ON the other hand a language learner has to be very careful in using modern slang or colloquialism. And of course a large part of my emotional attachment to an audio book is the quality of the narration.

In most cases we will need to buy our own version of the audio book. However, the e-books that we can buy are usually not compatible with LingQ. On the other hand the works (often classics) available for free download are. So the classics are usually easier to use with LingQ.

Ilya, I could comment in Russian on Anna Karenina, and you could answer me. We could do the revers in English. We should not bother correcting each other’s language. If I want my Russian corrected I will send it for correction to Anna first.

Меня очень заинтересовала идея обсуждать книги на разных языках. Интересно как в этом поле прозвучит вот этот е-мейл :slight_smile:

Comment #1 on Tolstoi and the English translation of Anna Karenina from the Gutenberg.
When I was making my degree at the university - oh no Steve, not the Arts degree - we had a student wall paper with the down to earth advice on writing a thesis. I remember only the first one: “Do not be lengthy. A thesis is not “War and Peace” and you are not Leo Tolstoi”.

Why do I like Tolstoi? There are many reasons. To start with, I like this feeling that what I am reading is written by a generous man much cleverer than me, extremely capable to comprehend motives of both men and women and the order of life. That deep comprehension alone would already be enough for him to be a great author, but Tolstoi has more merits. And why do you like ( or not that like) him, Steve?

In the first chap. of that translation of Anna Karenina the word good-humored used many time with regard to Steeva Oblonsky. If I had never read the book before, I would have got it as “having a good sense of humor” and would not have looked it up in a dictionary. But my image of Oblonsky is that he was rather добродушный, жизнерадостный - and here - Babylon gives just that.


Why do I like Tolstoi? I can get into the subject in Russian on the Russian Forum. But generally I like the 19th century. I just finished dinner and we listened to Chopin. I am doing Turgenev’s Fathers and Sons as well as Tolstoi. I like Balzac. I like their language and I like the fact that it is not today. It takes me away from today to feelings that were probably as false and pretentious as they seem in the novels, but somehow more elevating than the violence, vulgar sex, lowest common denominator thrills and destructiveness of much of modern culture.

I tire of Tolstoi at times, as people are forever sighing, crying, changing their minds, worrying, finding religion etc. But I enjoy the language, and even find it easier than modern Russian novels, I guess since I am used to it.

Steve, you wrote: "somehow more elevating than…of the modern culture. "

Interesting that somewhere in War and Peace Tolstoi noticed, that every generation overestimates novelty of the current conditions and culture; actually there are much more of resemblance than difference between new and old times. I had meet this remark more than 30 years ago, and since then it did not happen me to reread it. So the actual Tolstoy’s wording is, of course, out of my memory.

Well, I don’t think there is only violence and vulgar sex in contemporary literature… what have you been reading, Steve?
I could list at least 10 or 15 books I read (am reading) the last months that are not “lowest common denominator” at all.
I like old books very much too, and have read translations of various famous classics, although I’m quite an erratic than a sistematic reader.
As a matter of fact, I read anything that catches my attention and interest.
The only point I make here is that contemporary literature gives me contemporary language models, so they are more likely to help me in practical communication, mainly speaking. I’m not talking about slang, I absolutely agree with your (Steve’s) position about foreigners using slang language.
But I’m not sure that old books can’t cause “any” harm to a language student. Let’s make an experiment? Try to study Portuguese only by reading Machado de Assis for 6 months and after that let’s talk about it, ok? In Portuguese. I’m sure I’ll find it very funny…
just kidding…