Category Archives: Learning French

iTunes U Materials and MOOCs Available in Languages Other than English

By   June 5, 2013

I recently noticed that iTunes U now lets you browse the courses by language. Finally! Previously you had to go to the list of universities and look for a certain institution, which may or may not have had any real content. Now you can simply select Chinese, Spanish, French, German, Italian, Japanese, Catalan, Portuguese, Korean or Turkish and universities that offer content in that language will appear.


The  MOOC provider Coursera also now offers 27 courses in other languages (Spanish, French, Chinese, German and Italian). You simply choose which language to browse when looking at the list of courses.

Miríada X and UNED are Spanish-language MOOC providers, though I can’t seem to find any French-language providers. Usually individual universities will offer open online courses, such as Universidad de Granada or EDUlib HEC Montréal, but the number and range of courses is very limited.

Does anyone know of other non-English-language MOOC providers?

South Australia Travel Videos in French

By   June 1, 2013

Want to see how beautiful South Australia is and learn some French at the same time? The French-language travel site has a few videos of South Australia, including Adelaide, Flinders Ranges and Kangaroo Island. Here’s the one on Adelaide:

South Australia is also called Australie Méridionale but that’s much harder to pronounce, so let’s just stick to Australie du Sud. You’ll notice that most Australian animals have very similar names in French. I’m sure you’ll have no problem figuring out what un kangouru, un koala, or un wallaby are. However, un ornithorynque might be a bit harder (it’s a platypus), but it is really fun to say!


New French Listening Resources Videos with Transcripts

By   May 17, 2013

The latest French Listening Resources video has been uploaded! This short clip is for beginners talking about family members and their ages. If you need the transcript, check out the Watch & Read page.

There are seven more videos from Carole & Fabien on topics such as the house, typical meals, stores & fast food restaurants in France. I’ll try to get them edited, uploaded and transcribed as soon as possible.

Visit the French Listening Resources page for the rest of the mp3s and videos that are available. You can also subscribe to my Youtube Channel or the iTunes podcast.

Let me know if there any topics you’d like to learn about, or if you can help contribute more videos (especially videos that feature other accents of French!)

Readlang + Podclub = My Latest Language Learning Obsession

By   May 8, 2013

Readlang by Steve Ridout is a new site (still in beta) which helps you learn foreign languages by reading and translating words you don’t know. You simply import text from any website, click on words you don’t know in order to translate them into another language, and save these words so you can review them later. It  “uses a spaced repetition flashcard system to make sure you remember the words” that you’ve clicked on and has a feature to open a dictionary in a side panel if you want to look up more information on the word(s). You can read the blog to see the latest updates, such as export word lists to Anki and translations of phrases rather than just individual words.

Lately I’ve been using the transcripts from Podclub podcasts since I always prefer to have text plus audio. I imported the text of the latest episode of the Spanish podcast A mi aire, and I’m translating words into English. You can see below that I’ve clicked on discurso, it was translated into speech, and the dictionary panel on the left shows the entry in Wordreference. The word discurso has now been added to my list of words to review later.


Click on image to view actual size

Check it out and send your feedback to Steve so he knows what new features to add.

Free Children’s Books Apps in Foreign Languages

By   April 13, 2013

There are a lot of free language apps available nowadays but many of them are not very good or extensive. They tend to include some basic words or tourist phrases in flashcard format, but very few offer connected text (such as stories) in addition to pronunciation. Lately I’ve been looking for apps that include both text and audio in foreign languages, and I’ve mostly found apps that provide one or the other, i.e. ebooks or audiobooks but not synced together so that you can read and listen at the same time. I have found a few apps designed for children, however, that mostly include fairy tales but some include original stories. Many have a “read to me” and autoplay option so you don’t have to keep swiping the screen.

Free Children's Books Apps in Foreign Languages

Both Apple and Android

PlayTales Gold : download books for free, but ad-supported and internet connection needed. Stories available in 8 different languages: English, Spanish, French, German, Italian, Portuguese, Chinese (Mandarin), and Japanese. [ Apple version is only a seven day trial so not quite as useful]

Luca Lashes : Original story available in English, French, Spanish, Chinese, and Italian.

Hao-Ming Yeh /QLL Inc. : Apple version seems to only include English and Chinese but Android also has Spanish. Two languages can be displayed on screen instead of just one.

Verlag Friedrich Oetinger : German and English stories (but in different apps)



Tri-Software : Lots of classic children’s books (in different apps) available in at least two languages. Most are available in English, German, French, Spanish and Italian and some even have Portuguese and Chinese. The free versions only include the beginning of the story.

Readalong Spanish : Only in Spanish but you have the option of including the English text on the same screen.



Vienom Kids Books : Two stories available in French & German and two stories available in French, German, and Spanish. Four different apps though, and the free versions only include seven pages of the stories.


Any other useful (and free) apps to add to the list?


I didn’t include any “free” apps that make you pay for every book.

Dora will help you learn half a dozen languages

By   March 17, 2013

I often buy DVDs from the European Amazon stores to ensure that I will have a choice of at least one or two other subtitled/dubbed languages besides the original language. I’m not sure how, but I came across Dora the Explorer DVDs at the German Amazon and noticed that they offered FIVE languages, or at least that’s what the Product Details claimed. I bought Entdecke die Welt to see if it were true and I’m so glad I did! It is indeed dubbed in five other languages: German, French, Italian, Spanish and Dutch. Even without subtitles, all the repetition and visual clues in the episodes make it so easy to understand – and if I can’t quite understand something, I’ll just watch the scene in English or French, then again in one of the other languages and try to translate what was said. Five foreign languages for five euros! Amazing! I wish I had bought more DVDs, like this Geburtstagabenteur one which has German, French, Italian, Spanish, Dutch AND Portuguese.

I decided to check the other Amazon stores to see if I could find any other languages, or any that also had subtitles (which is extremely rare for kids’ movies; sorry deaf kids!) Not only did I find a DVD at the Italian store with the same six languages, but three of those languages are also available as subtitles!  How cool is that?!?

Dora will help you learn half a dozen languages

Dubbed in Italian, French, Spanish, Portuguese, German, and Dutch with subtitles in Spanish, Portuguese and Dutch!

But that’s not the best part. I found a few DVDs at the Spanish and Italian stores that are dubbed in… wait for it… IRISH!!! Yes, Irish. Not English with an Irish accent. The actual Irish language! Whaaaaaat? SHUT. THE. FRONT. DOOR.

And it’s not a mistake or anything. This Italian one has an image of the back of the DVD where you can see that the language irlandese is really included. Wikipedia says that the Irish version actually teaches a few words of Spanish like the English version, unlike most of the other languages which teach some English.

Dora will help you learn half a dozen languages

I even underlined irlandese with a red crayon [brush in Paint].

I also looked at the US, Canadian, French, and UK stores to see if they offered other languages but it’s mostly French and/or Spanish or just English. So if you’re looking for as many languages as possible on one DVD, the German store has the cheapest shipping to the US or Australia, followed by Italian, then Spanish. But remember, the DVDs will be region 2 so you’ll need a region-free player.

P.S. Yes, I loved this and am totally geeked out for this.

Death of a language website: [UPDATED: There are at least 3 other sites with the same files]

By   February 26, 2013

UPDATE: All of the files are available at,, or, or you can use this torrent if you’d like to download everything.

If anyone knows what happened to, please let me know! It was the site that included all of the Foreign Service Institute courses in the public domain, and where I downloaded the courses in order to turn them into HTML pages for my FSI Project. For about a month the site has been unavailable with a 403 Forbidden message. There haven’t been any new files added since January 2011, but the site was still online as of this January. (Thanks Internet Archive!), where have you gone?, where have you gone?

For those who have been downloading the FSI files for a while, you may remember that was actually created when the webmaster of stopped updating the site. The files are no longer available through that original site either. I downloaded many of the courses, but not all of them, and although some are available as torrents, I don’t know of another way of downloading the materials. Were any mirror sites ever created?

If anyone has any information about – I believe the webmaster went by VagabondPilgrim on the forums – or if the files are available to download in another location, please leave a comment or email me. A lot of people spent MANY hours digitizing the books and cassettes in order to share them with other language learners, so we need to get them back online!



Try these sites (first three are mirror sites that should contain everything that is on the original site):

  1. – includes everything that was available on
  2. – includes everything that was available on
  4. – directory listings for both FSI and Defense Language Institute public domain courses
  5. – just the DLI courses
  6. Scribd
  8. Wayback Machine

If you want to download all of the FSI files that were available, Joni has created a torrent (20.8 GB) from a site rip done in January 2011. Please help seed it for others to download too!


Thanks everyone!

Adding Subtitles to Online Videos with Amara for Language Learning

By   February 8, 2013

Listening while reading a transcript of what is said is the best way to improve overall comprehension as well as pronunciation. Extensive listening and reading also contribute to vocabulary acquisition. I have previously talked about TV series and movies that may include subtitles, but what about online videos? Youtube does have an automatic closed captioning feature (that is notoriously bad) but you cannot add subtitles to videos that you did not upload. Luckily, Amara and crowdsourcing exist to fill that gap.


Amara, formerly called Universal Subtitles, is a tool for subtitling videos found on Youtube, Vimeo or coded with HTML5. You simply paste the video URL to add it to Amara, and then you and/or anyone else can add subtitles in any language. You can also link your Youtube account to Amara so that the subtitles appear on Youtube itself without having to use the embed code provided by Amara. (If the owner of the Youtube channel hasn’t synced to Amara, then the subtitles are only available through Amara.) You can also download the subtitles in many formats – SRT is the most common – through Amara, which is useful if you download the video and watch it through VLC Player.

For example, here is a video on my Youtube channel with subtitles that I added in Amara. You can watch it through either Amara or Youtube, and either way the subtitles appear.

Now here’s a video that I helped add subtitles to – but since the owner of the Youtube channel to which this video was uploaded has not synced to Amara, the subtitles are only available if you watch the video through Amara rather than Youtube. Usually this doesn’t pose a problem as long as embedding is allowed through Youtube.

Amara is a great tool though it does have a few minor problems. I can’t seem to delete any videos that were added automatically from my Youtube channel (such as travel videos that are silent) or videos that I added only to find out embedding was not allowed. The subtitle sync tool is a bit buggy and hard to use. The search feature is not very good, and it is not possible to simply browse videos in a certain language. You can choose to sort by spoken language and subtitle language, but you must also type in a search term. Sometimes people have identified the video incorrectly. I came across some English and German videos even though I sorted by Dutch for both spoken and subtitled language. One video had numerous misspellings and typos though, as if the subtitler didn’t speak the language well. (This is one of the major problems with crowdsourcing: quality control.) Finding videos that include subtitles of the spoken language can be a pain, but I do believe that Amara will get better over time as more native or advanced speakers help to add subtitles.

Amara emphasizes the need to make videos accessible to the deaf and hard of hearing, as well as reaching as many viewers as possible by translating and subtitling into other languages. Yet they don’t seem to emphasize how extremely important subtitles are to language learning. And it isn’t simply watching/listening and reading at the same time that helps language acquisition. Adding subtitles to videos can also be a language learning exercise.

First, request a transcript of a video on Rhinospike. Once someone has provided the transcript, you can then add the subtitles to the video on Amara by copying and pasting. You must listen a few times to make sure the subtitles are synced correctly to the video, so it’s a way of making sure you repeat the material over and over. As a bonus, you are making more resources available to other language learners AND helping out the deaf population who truly need subtitles.

I’ll continue to try out Amara for subtitling the French Listening Resources videos. I am also requesting transcripts of videos in other languages on Rhinospike so that I can add subtitles in Amara and create listening resources for Spanish, Italian, German and Dutch.

Amazon or Similar Stores with International Shipping for Foreign Language DVDs

By   January 8, 2013

If you’re looking for DVDs of movies or TV shows in European languages with the subtitles in that language, you’ll most likely have to look to European stores. Even though you  can often buy foreign movies from or, the subtitles will usually be in English only or there will be a weird combination of dubbing and subtitles in mismatched languages (e.g. a French movie dubbed in Spanish with subtitles in English and German, why???) Not all foreign DVDs include subtitles unfortunately, but a lot of countries are starting to be kinder to the deaf population and are making an effort to include them. Just make sure to check the DVD specs before you buy.

Amazon currently has French, German, Italian and Spanish stores based in Europe that offer international shipping; however, the DVDs are region 2 so you’ll need a region-free DVD player. Luckily most DVD players in Australia are region-free (even my cheap $29 one I got at Kmart), but it’s still not a standard feature on American DVD players. There is also a Dutch store called that sells books and DVDs though there is a rumor that Amazon might open a store based in the Netherlands soon.  If you’re in America and do not have a region-free player, you can still take advantage of the large Spanish-language DVD selection on and get French Canadian DVDs from For those in Australia who would like Mexican Spanish-language DVDs, ships to Australia for $5 per shipment + $5 per book or $1 per DVD with delivery taking anywhere between 18 and 32 business days.



Canadian French:

to US: $8 per shipment + $2 per book or $8 per shipment + $2 per DVD (8 to 16 business days)

to Australia: $11 per shipment + $7 per book or $5 per shipment + $3 per DVD ( a whopping 10 to 12 WEEKS)


European French:

to US: 7€ per shipment + 1,50€ per item (10 to 12 days)

to Australia: 10€ per shipment + 1,50€ per item (12 to 15 days)



to US: 3€ per shipment + 3€ per kilo (8 to 12 business days)

to Australia: 9€ per shipment + 4€ per kilo (7 to 19 business days)



to US: 17,35€ per shipment

to Australia: 19,80€ per shipment



to US: 10€ per shipment + 5€ per kilo (10 to 15 days)

to Australia: 14€ per shipment + 5€ per kilo (12 to 15 days)


European Spanish:

to US: 10€ + 7€ per kilo (10 to 12 days)

to Australia: 20€ + 10€ per kilo (12 to 15 days)


There is also a Brazilian Kindle store if you want to read Portuguese. No word yet if this store will eventually sell actual books and DVDs.


Anyone know of other stores to add to the list?


All prices are for standard shipping. Expedited and priority are often available if you want to pay more.

Ugly Betty Adaptations and Other Telenovelas for Language Learning

By   January 2, 2013

The Telenovela Method, as explained by Andrew, is a great way to learn languages quickly, which a recent study suggests actually helps your brain grow. The main reason I like this method is the authenticity of language and culture which is usually lacking from language learning resources. Finding subtitles to go along with the movies or TV series can be a problem though, especially with telenovelas.

Ugly Betty Adaptations in Spanish

The most famous telenovela and the original Ugly Betty, Yo soy Betty, la fea, was made in Colombia and you can watch all of the episodes (many with subtitles in Spanish and English) at The European Spanish version, Yo soy Bea, also has a quite a few episodes on though not all have Spanish subtitles yet.

The Mexican version, La Fea Más Bella, is available on DVD through as a shortened/edited version with English subtitles only.

Ugly Betty Adaptations and Other Telenovelas for Language Learning Mexican version of Ugly Betty

Mexican Telenovelas

If you are interested in using Mexican telenovelas to learn Spanish, I highly recommend Las Tontas No Van al Cielo. It is actually better than La Fea Más Bella, even funnier and much more addictive. The DVD available on is, of course, a shortened version of just over 15 hours but the editing was actually done quite well. There was only one storyline that I don’t remember seeing the end to, but everything else made sense.

Ugly Betty Adaptations and Other Telenovelas for Language Learning Best telenovela ever.

The male lead is Jaime Camil, who was also the male lead in La Fea Más Bella. The female lead is Jacqueline Bracamontes… who also had a small role in La Fea Más Bella. I was also pleasantly surprised to find out that the theme song, Esto es lo que soy, is sung by Jesse y Joy, my favorite Mexican band.

Ugly Betty Adaptations and Other Telenovelas for Language LearningThis dude is hilarious.

If you prefer to have actual DVDs so you’re not stuck in front of a computer all the time, there are a lot of Mexican televenovelas sold on for less than $10 each. They will be the edited versions because the full versions that aired on TV are more than 100 hours long and that is a LOT of DVDs. They tend to only have English subtitles but their price is rather cheap for how many hours of Spanish you’ll get to hear. If you don’t mind using the computer, Andrew also has lists of sites for watching Spanish-language TV online as well as Spanish videos with Spanish subtitles.

Ugly Betty Adaptations in Languages Other than Spanish

For Portuguese, Brazil has Bela, a Feia and many clips can also be found on Youtube. There are no French or Italian versions, but Germany has Verliebt in Berlin and you can get the (many) DVDs which include every single episode on from third-party sellers (region 2 only though!).

There are two versions in Dutch, Sara from Flemish-speaking Belgium and Lotte from the Netherlands. A few clips from Sara can be found on VTM’s site and LotteTVChannel is still uploading all of the episodes of Lotte to Youtube. Plus Lars Oostveen is the male lead. You should recognize him as Sam Scott, a.k.a the American, from the Extr@ series. Now you get to hear him speak his native language.

Ugly Betty Adaptations and Other Telenovelas for Language Learning

And he’s instantly ten times cuter when he speaks Dutch.

A few other adaptations of Ugly Betty exist in languages such as Greek, Croatian, Polish, Russian, Tagalog, Mandarin, etc. but I don’t think they’re available on DVD. Some clips may be available online though.

Update: Learn Spanish by Watching Telenovelas (with recommendations for more telenovelas to watch)