суббота, 18 июня 2016 г.

Finding gems in rubbish piles

Part I

Recently I came across a brilliant website for language learners and music lovers. Pick a song, enjoy the music video and fill in the blanks.

If you missed the word, press the UP key and listen to last five seconds of the song again. If you don't keep pace with the singer, don't worry, the video will stop on its own giving you time to type in the missing word. If you still can't catch it, you can skip. If you are afraid of typos, I have good news for you: the site won't let you make one because it ignores wrong letters. Words you have to restore are chosen at random but you can set the frequency of gaps. You're still not on Lyrics Training? Well, then I have two more arguments for you. Ten languages are available, such options as Japanese and Catalan are among them! Finally, to start using Lyrics Training you don't even need to sign up. As a guest, you can take advantage of all its features except for saving your statistics.

Part II

Are you back here? Do you know anything similar? If so, I wait for you in the comments.

Wonder what the title of my post stands for? Then read how I found Lyrics Training.

For more then a year I barely used my desktop for anything but watching TV and movies. More than a year ago I looked into the Downloads folder for the last time. There were hundreds of files there, both viewed but not deleted and just saved to look at in the future. Just accidentally I decided to clean up that folder. Luckily I looked into the MS Word document containing dozens of "useful links for English learners". Somehow I didn't close it immediately after encountering the lists of popular online dictionaries and news websites. Finally, I came across the paragraph devoted to Lyrics Training. But wait... I downloaded that file more than a year ago. Hence I could use that awesome resource for quite a while. But I almost missed it. How to avoid such situations in the future?

What about promising to view each file immediately after downloading, to make valuable notes and to delete the file on the same day? That's too strict. Sometimes you don't have enough time for that, some files are too long for reading them at one go.

What about automatic deletion of those files which reside in the Downloads folder for more than a week? But are you sure that after losing a couple of presumably valuable files you will not create a new folder Downloads2 as a backup for your Downloads? Next you'll feel quite safe to "lose" another hundred of files. The system never works unless you have a good discipline (or unless you stop being curious and saving everything what attracts you).

Your Downloads folder is empty? Good start. And how many articles that you saved using Pocket/Evernote Web Clipper/<put your option here> will you never read?

3 комментария:

  1. Guessing words while listening to something great is a wonderful idea! And songs' lyrics always try to slip past your attention.

    Although, there are several drawbacks. You just can't tamper with a natural flow of a song painlessly. Pausing and repeating parts while listening to a podcast is one thing, but musical compositions are much more sensitive. That said, implementation of playback stops on Lyrics Training is as smooth as it can get at all.

    Choosing what song to listen to is also an issue. Training on a known song where you know any word by heart is nearly useless, though funny anyway. On the other hand, if you are hearing a song for the very first time, you probably would not want your whole attention being drawn to the word guessing, and not to the song in general. In the case of Lyrics Training, their very limited collection of song is not helping either.

    So, I think it would be great if someone extended the same functionality on more content: podcasts, audiobooks and other songs. Probably, TV series could also go well with the idea of leaving some words in subtitles blank.

    1. Agree. I dream about having the opportunity to watch TV series w/o subtitles and then have a hotkey for "scroll back for five seconds and enable subtitles for ten" so your mind fallback to reading only when it's really necessary. I've noticed that I barely listen when watching with subtitles, but it's very annoying to click through menus to enable subtitles for these five seconds that I didn't get.

      May be there is some plugin for Media Player Classic or VLC, I don't know.

    2. Kirill, first of all, sorry for the late reply. You have a good point, my only comment is that even for familiar songs that approach is a good test of your spelling. And if a certain song is the first case in which you heard that specific word, then your skill of sound-to-text conversion (i.e. applying pronunciation rules in reverse order) is tested.

      I agree with you about TV series. Actually, at some point I was thinking about creating a mobile app which would do a similar thing for any combination of a videofile and a file with subtitles. Unfortunately, I hadn't time even to start working on it so far.

      Egor, replying to your comment, haven't you tried VLC hot keys? "V" for enabling/disabling subtitles, "Alt + Arrow Left" for jumping 10 seconds backward (moreover, VLC allows you to change the length of the jump if you prefer to jump 5 seconds backward).

      Completely agree with you that watching something with subtitles makes you fully concentrate on reading. However, my problem is that when I watch TV series without subtitles I miss half of the words. Visual context is more than enough for a decent understanding.

      To sum up, I think that the best fit for that approach would be a text synchronized audiobook (no visual context, no melody). Unfortunately, as far as I know, there are too few such books, and they are usually sold as standalone apps but not as just a pair of files.