Techniques for working with films

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I have just started watching the first of several Greek films I would really like to see. The first is about the Civil War (Ψυχή Βαθιά) and it doesn't have any subtitles. I am finding it hard to hear what they are saying and so I am wondering what's the best way to watch it:
- watch it without stopping and get a general sense of what's happening, hoping it will become clearer; or​
- really listen hard and try to understand the majority of it, continually repeating bits of it until the words come into mental focus.​
The former is the easier way! But on the other hand, it means I miss so much of the story and it doesn't help my Greek to improve.

When I was at school (a long time ago now) learning French and Russian we used to have dictations which taught you to listen hard to the sounds and make sense of them in context. I'm sure they don't teach like that now in schools, but it was a good discipline.

Are there specific language learning techniques for working with films?

Any advice gratefully received! Perhaps I should be asking this in a generic language learning forum?
  • Acestor

    Senior Member
    I've read that the film is hard even for Greeks to watch without subtitles — which is the case for many Greek films. And I haven't managed to find any subtitled versions available on line. So, if you're doing it for learning purposes, start with films that have subtitles or are simple and have clear dialogues.


    Senior Member
    Swiss German - Switzerland
    continually repeating bits of it until the words come into mental focus.
    Sometimes it helps, but often it's in vain. Generally you will learn much more if they speak clearly (as clearly as necessary for you to understand at least some difficult or new words, too).

    Helleno File

    Senior Member
    English - UK
    Μπράβο άρτε! I'd never heard of this film before and having found it on YouTube I'd love to watch it too! The problem is mainly the speed that Greeks speak - not only in movies! It's an issue with most of the northern Mediterranean languages. There's no concession as there would be in a face to face conversation with a foreigner like us. It makes it difficult to recognise individual words and more problematically to distinguish the end of one word from the beginning of the the next.

    I agree with Acestor and διαφορετικός - there's not an easy answer to the question of how to approach it as a learner. I wish there was!


    Thanks to everyone for your encouraging comments. I thought it was just me being thick!

    Recently I was looking at the Edexcel syllabus for A level Modern Greek in the UK. As well as a literature option students can choose a film from a list of five to study. I was impressed that all of them were made in the last seven years. Looking on YouTube I could only find 2 of them, one with English subtitles and one with none:

    ● Ουζερί Τσιτσάνης, dir. Μανούσος Μανουσάκης (2015): on You Tube without subtitles
    ● Νοτιάς, dir. Τάσος Μπουλμέτης (2015): not on You Tube
    ● September, dir. Πέννυ Παναγιωτοπούλου (2013): not on You Tube
    ● Η αιώνια επιστροφή του Αντώνη Παρασκευά, dir. Ελίνα Ψύκου (2013): not on You Tube
    ● Μικρά Αγγλία, dir. Παντελής Βούλγαρης (2013): on You Tube with English subtitles

    I then looked at the usual sources of Greek materials in the UK: to be honest it was hard to find any of them.

    So I am curious about how students access them and how they are taught to study them.

    Do we have any A level Modern Greek teachers around who can tell us how they teach students to study these films? I can't believe they expect them to just watch them and get a general idea of the story, picking up the odd words and phrases they can make out.
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