If you’d like to learn a foreign language, but are too busy binge-watching TV, LingoPie claims to offer a solution. Stream one of its many series from around the world and, “after only three or four episodes, you’ll notice a serious improvement in your listening comprehension and vocabulary.”
So, as someone who has long had “learning Spanish” on his bucket list, I sign up for a seven-day free trial.
“The most important thing is to select a TV series that you’ll enjoy,” the LingoPie come-on says.
Under the category of “Beginner Friendly,” I find a choice of 14 series. Amid Kitty is Not a Cat and other shows that seem to have been been geared originally to the pre-school set, I find Sin Rodeos con Flavia. Its description: “Colombian sexologist Flavia Dos Santos [below] is on a mission: to get rid of the stigma and confusion around sex, love, and pleasure.”
What’s more, each episode is only three minutes long! So I should be able to get through three or four of them pretty quickly, and see if LingoPie can really teach me some Spanish.
I click “play” on episode one. Whoa! This woman is talking way too fast! I slow her down to beginner speed, set the video to “automatically stop playback at the end of every subtitle,” and get underway.
Here’s how LingoPie works. You watch the show with its same-language subtitles (the default also gives you simultaneous English-language subtitles, but that seems like cheating to me, so I turn them off) and click on any word you don’t understand for an instant translation.
I’m not keeping exact track, but, using this method, the first three-minute episode takes more than an hour to watch.
And, from the moment LingoPie translates Sin Rodeos con Flavia to Without Detours with Flavia, I know this is going to be at least as hard as my excruciating middle school French classes or my pre-Bar Mitzvah Hebrew lessons. Because I’ll need to make sure by myself that the English translations made sense!
After all, another highlight of episode one is the translation of “viejas en pelotas,” clearly meant as “naked women,” to “chicks with balls” instead.
I follow each episode with another half-hour or so of LingoPie’s “flash cards,” where you see how many of the words so far you can actually translate. Some, like “no” translating to “no,” are pretty easy, of course.
Finally, with my first virtual Spanish lesson ended. I don’t feel like I’ve learned much Spanish, but I have learned Flavia’s five ways to enjoy pornography!
You do remember the show description, right?
In each episode of Sin Rodeos con Flavia, Dos Santos – the first sexologist I’ve watched on video since Dr. Ruth, and equally enthusiastic about her subject – answers a question from a viewer, and finishes up with five short tips on the subject at hand.
By the end of episode three, I also know “five drugs that can affect erections” and “five keys to enjoying good sex.” But, more importantly, I’m finishing my viewing in about 20 minutes, and know more of the words on the flash cards. Even the annoyingly misspelled translations — i.e., fortiy for forty, bisides for besides – aren’t phasing me.
When episode four concludes with “five tips for a feminine orgasm,” I know it’s time to quit…this series, at least.
In only 12 minutes of actual viewing, LingoPie tells me I’ve learned 236 words (or “palabras,” one of those 236), but still don’t know 266 other words.
I decide not to continue with LingoPie past the trial. After all, the service costs $9 for a month or $60 for a year, and I do have so much other TV to watch. And perhaps better ways to learn Spanish.
LingoPie currently offers shows in French or Spanish, and says that Russian Italian, Portuguese and German are on the way. A recently announced deal with Spain’s RTVE will provide thousands of hours of content, nearly doubling the amount of its Spanish-language programs.For more info, or to try out the service, visit LingoPie.com.
(Top image source: LingoPie.com video)
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