Goodbye summer – TV serial language learning nostalgia

Yesterday I chanced upon a  14 short videos on Youtube called ДО СВИДАНИЯ ЛЕТО or “Goodbye summer”. They’re renderings of a TV series from a 1980 BBC series “Russian language and people”  Here is episode 10 which is based in St Petersburg, then Leningrad, and therefore close to my heart:

I watched the whole series yesterday  and learned quite a few helpful phrases. Although the rendering is quite poor, you still get a fascinating glimpse of Soviet Russia and 1980s life.  I remember those clothes! I also smiled when, about three minutes into the first episode they discussed smoking. It used to be a “thing” early on in textbooks and TV series from the 60s, 70s and early 80s that you would learn how to ask for cigarettes, ask for a lighter, ask if someone smoked.  There was some minor sexism in the programmes too – not specifically Russian;  it existed everywhere at that time. And of course, a love interest. Interestingly, in this Soviet story they didn’t all live happily ever after, because (as the narrator explained) that might be sad but that’s life..

I did enjoy following a storyline though, in simple Russian. It’s  a strategy that works well to motivate learners. A little bit each lesson – some new language, a new cliffhanger to keep you watching and learning.

When I taught French and German my students loved the  Extra! shows – based on the US TV sitcom” Friends”. Here is the archived (flash based) website for Extra French  and here is episode 1 of the French version as an example:

A couple of years ago when I wanted to brush up my Spanish , I enjoyed Mi Vida loca again by the BBC. The episodes are archived and here is  Mi Vida loca episode 1 This series incorporates a mystery, danger, excitement and reminds me of the 1968 TV series and books/records (yes I am that old!) I first learned Spanish with: Vamos a ver! That story involved bull fighting and extortion and taught  me at the tender age of 9 how to ask if someone smoked and if they had a lighter I could borrow..

Vamos a ver

One comment

  1. Great to see “Goodbye Summer” again – I watched some of this as a schoolboy in the early 80’s. I agree that soap opera is potentially a great format for language courses – The end of the Leningrad episode is unusual, with the conversation about wartime suffering and bereavement… Makes most modern courses look pathetically trivial.

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