Multimedia resources to train your language skills

Dear readers and followers,

I am terribly sorry about the lessons on Italian vocabulary, I will definitely publish one tomorrow, and I am thinking on moving the day, any preferences? Anyway, I am here with this post about resources for practising interpreting or, simply, improving your ear in a foreign language.

I am very happy to start with a great news: Speech Repository is now free, meaning that you do not need an account provided by your University and so on to access their material. If you know it, and most of you certainly do, it is the data base of the SCIC for speeches. What are the pros and cons, and why using that and not YouTube? Well, the repository is thought as an educational tool for those who study interpretation, hence you are able to select not only the language of your speech, but also to filter your search according to several parameters, such as the use (simul or consec,) the difficulty, the domain, and the type of speech. That allows you to decide if you prefer a speech prepared by the same interpreters as teaching material, if you prefer a real speech pronounced at one of the institutions, and so on. Another pro is the fact that there is always a transcription available to check your mistakes, and a list of terminology that can be useful to prepare the speech. A definite drawback is the level of difficulty, which may sometimes not respond to what we expect. Some speeches may be classified as advanced because the vocabulary is quite complicated, but then the speed is not that fast and we may find it quite easy, while another may be defined as easy but hard to cope with due to a crazy speed, and so on depending on what parameter they consider every time.

The websites of the Presidencies of the countries are normally quite useful for that purpose, because the speeches usually are clear from a quality and pronunciation point of view, at least for the official speeches and press conferences; the difficulty and the speed, though, are a guess. I very much like the Elysée, which provides different kind of resources: it is also possible to choose the kind of speech, and there is some extra material about the speeches and press conferences, and it is possible to listen to those textes. The White House also offers the choice for the type of video, but no transcription apparently; you can although find them on the Briefing Room – Speeches and Remarks section. Moreover, both .mp3 and .mp4 versions are available to download. The Spanish Monarchy has a similar website, but without clear buttons to download the videos, and we no visible transcriptions at all. The British Monarchy has on its website a link to its YouTube channel, but the videos there are messier and often celebratory, which may mean they are not real speeches; regular YouTube transcriptions are although available. The Italian Republic has a website with the President’s videos, and from the search table it would seem possible to filter for those speeches that include subtitles; unfortunately, I tried for the speeches of the last year, and none of them seem to include subtitles.

Apart from that, there is plenty of material, and this page of the University of Geneva seems to me quite useful because it divides the links according to categories, and has a wide choice of languages, those which are offered as working languages in the cursus studiorum.

Of course, this is just an introduction to give you some tools to practice, but there are plenty more available, please share your favourite with us.

Until next and… keep being naughty, Knotty surely will!!!

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