Monday, April 20, 2009

Online lessons and software

I've just come across this great software for Mac OS X and Windows platforms called BYKI . There's a free and deluxe version and I've just downloaded the versions for French and Turkish. Both needed to be downloaded separately but once set up, run from the one program. I'm really starting to remember new words - no small ask to assist Miss Sieve-for-a-Memory!
Maybe I'll upgrade to deluxe in a year - I really just need the repetition in order to remember vocabulary, plus the phrases in there are fantastic. I'll look a little closer later, but whether I do will depend on if the fee is per language. Because later it would be great to learn even more - and if it's a one-off fee, then BYKI is good value. Will wait and see.

Felt good whizzing through the first few French lists! Although there were a few phrases I wasn't familiar with, such as "Où se trouve...?" for "Where is ...?" I think that last year I used a mangled form of phrasebook French, that on reflection, aimed to be as concise as possible while retaining the core meaning!

....actually, no. I'd copied phrases from a band member's phrasebook and I'd lost my copy and was getting around Paris without it as best as possible hahaha it was so much fun. Guess I can't point my poor French on substandard "phrasebook pedagogy"!

I think the difficult thing with taking language comprehension to the next level (i.e. to begin to engage with the culture) is the non-literal use of language. I guess though, that it depends on whether you have a constructivist view of language.

For a more in-depth study of Turkish, these have been some good finds currently out there:

2. Immensely comprehensive resource for students of Turkish - a bit tricky to navigate due to its depth. Try using the links in the header:

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Golden Kangaroos in France

Here are three links briefly covering the Golden Kangaroos when we were in Europe in June - July last year. It will help if you understand French!

(This was also posted in 'A Sound Pursuit'.)

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Starting to learn French

16 January 2009

I'm going to learn some French – at least enough to converse in public and understand about 80% of conversational speech. I hope to know at least as much French as I do Cantonese – which is not much, but enough to understand most chatty domestic discourse...absorbed through eavesdropping!

The website that I've been using is

Wed Jan 21 Why French?

There is something about the overall sound of the French language, when spoken, that makes makes anything said in it sound sincere. And compared to basic Australian English, you really have to involve all parts of your oral cavity to get a close to real sound. Because of this, I've felt like I've been overdoing it and using too much “flair” in getting out the words!

I wonder why it's an appealing language; perhaps the novelty, its musical tone (also why I am very fond of the Italian language), the bond carved through the shared sufferings of our countries through war and maybe because of being “beloved”. [smile]

Ah, and of course because of Monet!

Last July I was so disappointed that a trip to Giverny wasn't possible in the brief time we had in Paris. The staff at the hotel found out that it was about a 75km trip, which would be like going to Campbelltown and then half that again. I guess that their rail system is much better than ours, but it would be at least an hour journey one-way, irrespective of that. However, quite fortuitously, I was recommended the Musee D'Orsay by R and P and boy was I glad! S went to the Lourve and found only 3 Monets, whereas I spent several hours in rooms filled with them! [laugh] It still excites me to think of that museum. It was so beautiful – a once train station. However, all the photos I took of them are on my macbook [scream] so they may be as good as gone.....I actually photographed EVERY SINGLE MONET plus some of the other impressionists' work, as well as duly noted the title and year of EVERY SINGLE ONE OF THEM...and they're ALL on my cracked-up macbook i.e. forever gone!!! [frantic but clinging to the hope of its resurrection]

Sat 23 Jan

The front spread of the SMH yesterday was about Ronald Coles Investment Art Gallery, just over in Kenthurst and my goodness, am I glad that I never actually went there. I've thought about it several times, particularly when there were local paper ads and inserts. It didn't apportion blame onto Coles, yet honestly, how could that be? It mentioned one of his former employees examining an 'original' to a print of that original, whereupon she noticed differences in the detail - some bark was missing and the head of a cow/some cattle were facing the opposite way!

Numbers are very odd in French. “No, half of them are even.” Very funny. For example, 80 is said as “four twenties” and 93 is “four twenties, thirteen” (I didn't actually know those numbers - just checked them with P). Does that mean that children of French-speaking backgrounds, if they use/are exposed to those larger numbers, have a head start with numeracy?

Sunday Jan 25

“ca va tre bien” → “tre” sounds like I'm trying to hack something up from the back of my throat. I've never been able to do rolling “r”s (in isolation)....but they do come out okay in context...more practice for now – that's if I can plan in the time as school is starting back this week [gasp].

The Coffee Break French podcast is one of the best. It goes at such a relaxed pace, but probably isn't the best for people with a holiday looming soon and who are looking for a quick course. It's quite stretched out. Before my macbook crashed I had a few gigs worth of podcasts [disgusted at the excess]! I guess I may have been carried away and threw away discernment as we'd just returned from France at that point in time. Kids also need to be able to access information, filter it and appraise it (on top of comprehend it). Maybe it's not the best podcast after all, because I'm not sure what made me choose it over the others (for now), besides not going crazy like last time and using up all our bandwidth! The French Ecole was also a good one from memory.

I can't wait to create podcasts/poddocuments/vodcasts with a class! Maybe we'll even be able to use itunes as a platform to communicate with a French class! Wouldn't that be cool!

Further to the Monet exhibition at the Art Gallery of NSW, I read that as it closes up, it may approach the most numbers of any exhibition, second to another of Monet's in 1985. Last week I went to the Teachers' Workshop on the exhibition and it was fantastic. We even got hands on, which was so much fun. I remain convinced that the pursuit and practice of art is therapeutic. So now I know what they do in that glass-partitioned area at the end of the ground floor!