Stork's Nest, Orangerie Park, Strasbourg July 2006 (c) Bart Hulley
There are many ways to improve your French, and one favoured by many is to switch on the subtitles while you’re watching TV. Not only will this give you a better idea of what’s going on, it should also help understand the phonetics of the language a little better (provided you have the volume up); all the while improving your vocabulary too.

Unfortunately for us – the electric gold-fish bowl in our living room, although SECAM compatible, does not stretch to the ultra-modern functionalities of teletext and subtitles. So we have had to look elsewhere to try out this method of language learning.

Now, call me naïve but I had assumed that the DVD (or Digital Versatile Disk if you will) was invented for just such an eventuality. However, it seems that even if a disk is chock-a-block with all sorts of language options, that doesn’t mean it has French as one of those options.

For example, Gattaca can be listened to in English or German; with subtitles in English, German, Polish, Czech, Hungarian, Icelandic, Hindi, Hebrew, Turkish, Danish, Swedish, Finnish, Greek and Norwegian … but not French.

One supposes that this is because the distributors know a cash cow when they see one, and so release a French version seperately – presumably at an inflated price.

But there do appear to be some exceptions: now that our DVD collection is divided along the lines of language, it is noticeable that if you want it French – then it can only be a Chick-flick or a Horror movie!?

So what shall we watch tonight darling? Four weddings and a funeral or James Carpenter’s ‘The Thing’?