Archive for the ‘French’ Category

Study Abroad in France: Top 3 Universities

Posted on November 11th, 2014by Heather Keagan
In French | Leave a Comment »

Maybe it’s the beautiful beaches in the south, or the cafes and charming patisseries in Paris that have set your heart a flutter over France. Maybe you’re in love with the language, the culture, or the people. Whatever the case may be, if you’re thinking of studying in France, there are some important things you should know before taking the plunge.

There are three main types of higher education in France: public universities which are government funded and open to anyone with the right qualifications, Grandes écoles, which are considered more prestigious and will usually require exams for entry, and technical institutes that usually deal with vocational subjects and are particularly good for those considering engineering, or hands-on science degrees. There are a wide variety of programs offered at countless educational Institutions throughout France, meaning that regardless of your needs or educational requirements you will find something that suits you. If you choose to study in French, you will need to sit and pass a Test de Connaissance de Francais (TCF). Now that you know the basics, here’s our list of amazing French universities to check out:

Université de Nantes, Nantes

Photo by Christophe Laigle/Flickr

Photo by Christophe Laigle/Flickr

The University of Nantes is located in Western France on the Loire river. A large school, it has over 42 000 students, of which a little under 10 percent are international students. They have over 1500 researchers and professors, and they offer 295 different diploma programs. Many of these options are taught in English exclusively, or in a mixture of English and French. Some of the English-taught programs include Master’s degrees in multimedia and data management, biology-biochemistry, and a Bachelor’s in British and North American studies.

If you are looking to study in French, even more options are available to you. The university is organized into 4 campuses all of which have energy efficient facilities.  They have a very active theatre on campus that organizes around 70 performances a year, in addition to multiple festivals, such as an International Film Festival held on campus every year. There’s a lot to see and do in Nantes outside of your studies as well, making it a great place to live and study for your degree.

Want to see how fluent you already are in French? Test yourself with our free French level test!

Université Joseph Fourier, Grenoble

Joseph Fourier University is located south-east of France. The university rests in the heart of the Alps, making it a beautiful place to live and to study. With a much smaller student body (consisting of approximately 15, 000 students), Joseph Fourier University offers a mix of science and humanities options with a good assortment of English-taught degrees available.

The university also considers itself to be quite career-oriented with internships and Master’s degree placements available as well as additional help and training that will give you the edge for future polytechnic education, if that’s what you’re interested in.

Some of the programs offered in English include networks and telecommunications, physiology and epigenetics, mathematics, and computer science. Joseph Fourier University is highly ranked and a great place to complete your Bachelor’s degree, so explore it as an option if the programs listed above seem up your alley.

Université Paris Diderot, Paris

With approximately 26 000 students (around 20% of which are international), this university has a wide variety of degree programs and is connected to the Sorbonne Paris Cité group which consists of 4 universities in Paris that subscribe to the highest possible value of education. They provide courses in film studies, genetics, scientific journalism, and psychology among many other disciplines.  The university has a selection of cultural and art workshops every year for both students and staff and are tailored to different artistic abilities.

CinéDiderot is known for its unique film society that shows an eclectic mix of cinema. Paris Diderot also offers a wide variety of sport extracurricular activities, like scuba diving, Kendo, and volleyball. The university proffers courses taught in English, however the school does require you to be fully fluent to succeed in the courses and in academic life. For more information on language requirements for the program you’re interested in, take a look at the university website.

The opportunity to study in France is waiting for you to seize it. Make sure you’re fully prepared before taking the plunge by getting your French up to scratch. It can seem daunting studying in a foreign country and especially in a foreign language, so why not make French feel more like a first language, than a second? Contact us and see what courses we have available near you!

4 Amazing French Movies You’ve Probably Never Seen, But You’ll Wish You Had!

Posted on October 29th, 2014by Heather Keagan
In French | Leave a Comment »

The French film industry has often been touted as the pinnacle of cinematic greatness. Cannes film festival is one of the largest, and most publicized film festivals in the world, with many avant garde (and quite a few ground breaking) films debuting there every year. Perhaps you’ve seen a few French films, or perhaps French cinema is something entirely new to you. Whether it’s to further your language skills, or to introduce yourself to a new medium of social and self expression, these films are sure to provide you with a little bit of everything:

DdC

Le Dîner de Cons (Dinner Game), 1998

Have you seen ‘Dinner for Schmucks’? Well, this is the film that started it all. It doesn’t try nearly as hard as the English adaptation: the jokes are smoother, classier, and the general feeling is much more subtle and not nearly as crass. The premise? A dinner party is held for a group of French business men, and their guests: ‘idiots’. Each diner must bring an ‘idiot’ with him that the rest of the diners may ridicule, and at the end of the meal, an ‘idiot champion’ is chosen. Similar to ‘A Christmas Carol’, we see the lead (played by Thierry Lhermitte) transformed from a man who has it all, to a man who has nothing, into a man with a better understanding of what and who is important in life. An excellent French cast, mixed with a unique premise and a soft rolling comedic humour make this a great film to watch.

Did we like it? 4.5 out of 5 stars.

 

Caché (Hidden), 2005

A film starring Juliette Binoche of Chocolat fame, we get to watch a seemingly happy couple; the husband is a television personality and the wife works at a upscale publishers office. Their world is shaken when they begin to receive video tapes of themselves in their house, outside their house, at work – everywhere. They don’t know who has made these tapes, or why. All they know is that they keep coming in, become more disturbing, and shake the foundations of the family to its core, all the while toying with the idea of blame and racism, and managing to turn these questions towards the viewer. This is one that will keep you guessing, but not so much in a ‘Hollywood thriller’ sort of way. It’ll get you asking, why? Why them? Why do they think that way? A creepy film that stays with you, it’s not one to miss.

Did we like it? 4 out of 5 stars.

 

affiche-intouchables-2011-1

The Intouchables, 2011

This film will take you a bit by surprise, and the fact that it’s based on a true story might just warm your heart. It’s the story of an extremely wealthy quadriplegic searching for a care worker. He goes through countless aids until he stumbles across a man who does not fit the role in any respect, and is simply looking for a signature for unemployment benefits. He offers him the job and the story follows both of their lives and the way they, sometimes complicatedly, intertwine. While taking up ample space in your heart, along with being expertly cinematographed and extremely well acted, this is a movie that will remind you of the good in human kind and in friendships.

Did we like it? 5 out of 5 stars.  

 

Les Choristes (The Chorus), 2004

This is a heartwarming story that will tug at your heart strings and have you on a rollercoaster ride of emotions. Told in a flashback, you get a taste of what the lead character, Pierre Morhange, has made of his life before you see how he got there. During his youth, he was sent to a boarding school for difficult children and his life was changed by the choir conductor, Clement Mathieu. You’ll feel sadness, anger, and hopefully, by the end, pride and a sense of satisfaction. Critically acclaimed, this film has an amazing cast with actors like Gerard Jugnot, and Jacques Perrin.

Did we like it? 4.5 out of 5 stars.

 

Watching films in French is always a handy way to study the language, but if you need a little help getting started, contact us to see what courses we have available for you before you settle down with the popcorn.

Explore the Beautiful French Island of Corsica!

Posted on September 8th, 2014by Heather Keagan
In French | Leave a Comment »

You might not have considered it before but Corsica is a perfect place to practice your French – check out our list of places to visit when you’re there!

Usually, when thinking of places to practice French, Paris, or Marseille, or even Nice come to mind. Not that these aren’t amazing places to travel, explore and improve your language skills, but they’re heavily tourist-oriented and the chance of you truly getting to practice and improve your French are more limited than in a place less dominated with tourists. Corsica offers some of the most beautiful views in the Mediterranean and is incredibly accessible for tourists, though it still allows you to immerse yourself fully in a French-speaking environment. Check out our list of places to visit in Corsica (where you can practice your French):

Be the active tourist in Bonifacio:

Bonifacio is located directly on the Mediterranean sea, is the only major harbour on the southern coast, and also covers the Îles Lavezzi, a small outcropping of islands near Sardinia. Much like other European cities, it has an Upper/Old town (Vielle ville or Haute ville in French) where you can find the citadel that overlooks the whole town and the sea.. At night, the citadel is lit up in a way that makes you want to bust out your tripod to capture the beauty and peace of the view. Spend your evenings wandering the narrow cobblestoned streets, ordering beautiful wine and chatting en français with new friends in the making. Entertain yourself during the day by exploring the limestone cliffs, visiting the citadel’s museum, or taking a boat trip to the Îles Lavezzi. Go for a swim, or better yet, go rock climbing or kite surfing at La Tonnara beach.

Photo by traroth

Photo by traroth

Be the festival-goer in Calvi:

Calvi lies in the North, and is home to quite a few spectacular festivals –the Festival du Vent is one of them. Held in October every year, it is host to a multitude of arts events. There’s cinema, sculpture, paintings –you name it, you can find it there. That, combined with the beauty of the town,and the gorgeous sea view make for an unforgettable trip. Take in the artwork and watch some unique French arthouse cinema while you’re there (often without subtitles, giving your listening skills a thorough workout!). Or if you’re more physical, try some windsurfing or water sports while the festival is in full swing. Another interesting festival to take part in, is the Festival des 3 cultures. It’s held every three years and goes between Calvi, and Ciboure in the Basque country, and Collioure in Catalonia. You can expect to see music, art and street performers while it’s in town (plan for May 2015!). Calvi also has an amazing citadel, and stunning views, though really the whole island is gorgeous, so it’s hard to pick the best view.

Photo by Pierra Bona

Photo by Pierra Bona

Be the history boff in Filitosa:

It’s not so much a city as it is a historical goldmine. If you’re into history at all, this place will astound you. Arrow heads and pottery were found dating back to approximately 3300 BC, and the large stone megalith structures give way to Neolithic structures and finally to Roman settlements. There are quite a few menhirs (French for ‘long stone’) surrounding the site at Filitosa, which have been carved to look vaguely like people with weapons and human faces. One theory for their existence is they were used to ward off an invading group of people called the Torréens, though perhaps even more remarkable is how well preserved these stones are. Get a history lesson en français with a local guide, or pick up some French reading material on Filitosa at the gift shop to give yourself some try unique reading comprehension practice. There is a great deal of information and history surrounding Filitosa and you can easily spend a day walking around and exploring this amazing site.

Photo by xtra

Photo by xtra

With so much beauty, so many places to explore and opportunities to practice your French, why not contact us to see what French courses are available near you before you head to this beautiful part of the world?

The 5 Best Canadian Foods You’ll Ever Have the Pleasure of Eating

Posted on July 15th, 2014by Heather Keagan
In English, French | Leave a Comment »

What really is Canadian food? Much like Canada’s culture, Canada’s food has been influenced by immigrants, that have brought their food and their own style of cooking to Canada. Because of this cultural mosaic, often times you find variations on classics depending on where you are in the nation. On this list you’ll find an interesting amalgamation of food that you can really and truly call Canadian:

1. Poutine.

Poutine is a delicious mixture of cheese curds (though you can find it simply with shredded cheese, depending on your location), brown gravy, and French fries. Some people like to add a little ketchup, I personally like to add a little vinegar.  In Canada most restaurants or pubs that serve French fries will have some version of this on the menu, and KFC gets in on the craze with their own incredibly tasty poutine. Don’t pass up the opportunity to try this Canadian classic.

Photo by  Yuri Long

Photo by Yuri Long

2.Maple Syrup.

Maple syrup is something that every Canadian child will have on their waffles and pancakes growing up, and something that as an adult you may enjoy as a marinade on your wood-fired Pacific Salmon. We dip our bacon into it, we put it on snow cones, we turn it into fudge. Really there’s nothing Canadians don’t use Maple syrup for, so smother your pancakes in it whenever you have the opportunity.

3. Nanaimo Bars.

Originating in Nanaimo, British Columbia, these little squares are perfect for anyone with a sweet tooth.  The first layer is similar to a chocolate brownie with coconut mixed in. The second layer… well if I was to tell you what it’s actually made of you probably wouldn’t eat it (it’s butter and sugar), and makes a creamy delicious middle to this chocolate sandwich. On top there’s a hardened layer of chocolate that sometimes has a pattern to it, depending on the baker. Delicious with a coffee (perhaps a Tim Horton’s double double?), if you’re watching your waistline try to keep the squares small.

Photo by Sherri Terris

Photo by Sherri Terris

4. Halifax Style Donairs.

Similar to a Turkish kabob, a ‘donair’ in most of Canada refers to the ‘Halifax’ style. This is actually so popular among people on the East Coast of Canada that you can buy the meat, and sauce pre-packaged and ready to heat at home.  The meat is heavily spiced ground beef and is a bit peppery and salty. This ground beef is molded into a dense log and heated and sheared off for each serving. It’s served in a pita with onions, green peppers, cabbage and topped off with a sweet white ‘donair sauce’.  Perfect after a night out on the way home from the bar, and many people like to use the donair sauce for pizza dipping; however you decide to enjoy it, it’s an interesting uniquely Canadian treat.

5. Atlantic (or Pacific) Salmon.

Because I’m from the East Coast of Canada, I am naturally biased towards Atlantic Salmon. Of course, Pacific salmon on the West Coast is also delicious, I just prefer the taste of the Atlantic stuff. There’s no end to the use of salmon in Canada: mixed with mayonnaise in sandwiches, smoked and served with a cheese plate or onto of a bagel, mixed into a fish chowder, blended into a fish cake, bar-b-qed on a cedar plank, marinated in maple syrup and roasted with root vegetables.  Really any way you could want to try it, you’ll be able to find and enjoy it in Canada.

Photo by pug 50

Photo by pug 50

Want to learn even more about Canadian food and culture while studying a language? Why not contact us to see what French and English courses are available for you!

6 Famous Sights to See in the City of Paris!

Posted on February 12th, 2014by Melanie
In Culture, French, Speech | Leave a Comment »

What better way to put your French lessons to use than by visiting the beautiful city of Paris? There’s so much to see and do that you will be spoilt for choice, and we have put together a list of the top 6 attractions to help you make the most out of your trip.

file2531287236318 1. Eiffel Tower

As the most iconic feature in Paris, climbing the stairs to the top of the Eiffel Tower should be top of your list of things to do! Towering 300 metres over the city, the spectacular view will reward you for your efforts. You can take some amazing photos to show your friends back home, and point out the places you’re going to visit during the rest of your trip.

paris_28447232. Champs-Élysées

This famous street in Paris is the perfect place to ‘people watch’ while you enjoy a drink in a café. You can see the historical buildings and architectural styles which line the street on either side, and it’s a paradise for shoppers. Buy a baguette (French bread) from a boulangerie (baker) and a cake from a pâtisserie (cake shop), wander around un grand magasin (a department store) and get some souvenirs in un magasin de souvenirs (a souvenir shop).

arc-de-triomphe-4_28836763. Arc de Triomphe

Standing at the end of the Champs-Élysées the Arc de Triomphe is a commemorative monument for fallen soldiers. Take the 234 steps to the top and enjoy the sights of the city, adding more photos to your holiday collection.

file0007220034954. Louvre Pyramid

For the more refined tourist, you don’t get much better than the art collection in the Louvre. This famous museum is home to the Mona Lisa and Venus de Milo, and is situated in the courtyard of the Louvre Palace. The Louvre Pyramid itself is a fantastic sight to see, let alone the artwork displayed beneath it.

sacre-coeur_211936715. Montmartre

If seeing modern artists at work is more your style then a trip to Montmartre won’t disappoint! The Place du Tertre is filled with artists and you can pick up some great souvenirs while you’re there. Talk to the locals and soak up the atmosphere of this lively neighbourhood. The Sacré-Coeur sits at the top of Montmartre and the gravestones of many artists can be seen in Montmartre Cemetery.

bone-texture-5_211489986. Catacombs

For a burial place with a difference, step underneath the city and walk along the network of tunnels, known as the Catacombs, to see the macabre displays of skeletal remains from about 6 million people. This famous burial site is both morbid and fascinating, and is sure to be a highlight of your trip!

Make the most of your French holiday by really immersing yourself into your surroundings and using your French lessons to their full potential. You’ll get much more out of your trip by speaking in French whenever you can, whether you’re ordering food, asking for information or chatting to a local about what it’s like to live in the exciting city of Paris.

What other attractions can you recommend while visiting Paris? Any particular restaurants, famous shows, landmarks or museums? What would you consider to be an unmissable part of a sightseeing trip in the French capital?

Fluency or Functionality?

Posted on November 22nd, 2013by Melanie
In French, German, Spanish | Leave a Comment »

DictionariesA new report was recently issued regarding the languages spoken in the UK…or rather, the lack of them. The British Council’s report states that not enough people in the UK have sufficient abilities and skills in foreign languages, and that this “alarming shortage” will result in the UK missing out on cultural and economic benefits, gradually diminishing our global standing.

This type of report is not really news to most people though. In schools, the rate of foreign languages being studied had drastically declined, although this trend is already starting to turn with the introduction of the EBacc. As well as that, it will be compulsory from children aged 7 to14 to be taught a foreign language from next year.

A YouGov poll showed that 75% of the UK adults questioned were unable to hold a conversation in any of the ‘top ten’ languages deemed necessary for the UK’s future prosperity. Of these ten languages, 15% could speak French, 6% German, 4% Spanish and 2% Italian, while the remaining languages (Mandarin Chinese, Russian, Portuguese, Arabic, Turkish and Japanese) were spoken by 1% of people, if that. Many say that Brits are too lazy to learn languages but it’s more the case that English is considered to be the ‘universal language’ with little need to learn any other languages. Even so, a challenge was recently released to encourage everyone to learn 1,000 words of a foreign language.

Often, too much stress is put on the need to become fluent in another language, and this can sometimes deter people from learning a new language. John Worne, from the British Council, has argued against this, commenting that it’s better to be functional in a language rather than being fluent in it. He stated that, “‘Fluent’ is an inhibitor, ‘functional’ is a liberator”, believing that people can get further, faster by making a start with new opportunities using just a few words and phrases.

The authors of the report believe that businesses should invest in language training where it will directly benefit them, and that the number of minority languages in the UK should be utilized in education.

Which of the ‘top ten’ languages can you speak, and would you consider yourself to be fluent or functional in that language?

Switching Languages and Personalities

Posted on November 16th, 2013by Melanie
In French, Spanish, Speech | Leave a Comment »

Split personality 1Do you put on a special ‘telephone voice’, suddenly becoming more polite, more confident and well-spoken? Most of us have, at some time or another, suddenly taken on a new persona when speaking on the telephone. So it’s possibly no surprise that, in the same way, people take on a new persona when speaking in a different language.

Bilingual and Bicultural

There can be a number of explanations for this, including a natural confidence in the more familiar language or because the thinking process changes when speaking different languages. People who are bilingual as well as bicultural might associate different memories with each language, therefore affecting how they converse within each language.

Language Composition

One explanation is that the way the language is spoken is due to how the sentences are constructed. For example, Greeks are thought to speak loudly and constantly interrupt each other. The syntax and grammar of the Greek language means that each sentence is started with a verb containing a lot of information, so the other speaker will be able to ascertain what the sentence is about at any early stage, therefore being able to interrupt more easily. This is contradicted, however, when you look at other languages, such as Welsh. Sentences in Welsh are constructed in a similar manner but Welsh people are not known for making constant interruptions and being pushy when others are speaking.

Perceived Personalities

Another explanation is that people often tend to behave in the perceived behavioural personality of people from that country. For instance, Spanish people tend to speak very quickly and energetically, using a lot of hand gestures; the French have a soft lilt and are thought of as being demure. By speaking a foreign language, you can often unconsciously take on the perceived personality of someone from that country.

Do you take on a different personality when you speak in a foreign language?

Can Essays Help Save Endangered Languages?

Posted on November 2nd, 2013by Melanie
In English, French, Spanish | Leave a Comment »

Many languages, one worldAs globalization has changed the way we conduct business and interact socially, the need to understand other languages and cultures has increased. Why then, of the 6,000 existing languages in the world, are nearly half of them endangered?

To be precise, 43% of our world’s languages are currently at risk and about 200 of these are spoken by fewer than ten people. Languages are ‘safe’ when they are spoken by all generations but become vulnerable when, despite most children being able to speak a language, they are restricted with their use of it, such as in their homes. A language becomes classified as endangered when it is not taught to children as their mother tongue, when older generations speak it and parents understand it but do not talk to their children in it, and when grandparents are the youngest speakers of the language and they themselves barely use it. When no-one alive speaks a language, it becomes extinct, and approximately 230 languages have become extinct since 1950. It’s not just a loss of the language, but a loss of the culture that the language related to.

Launching a Linguistic Initiative

The UN is hoping to turn this declining trend around by launching an initiative called ‘Many Languages, One World’. University and college students have been set the challenge of writing an essay in a language other than their own – in one of the six official languages of the United Nations: Spanish, English, Russian, French, Chinese and Arabic. Based on the benefits and uses that multilingualism has in our globalized world, the aim of these essays is to highlight how important linguistics and communication are and to encourage the study of languages in the future, particularly the six official languages of the UN.

Would you learn an endangered language to ensure its survival and revival?

Celebrities Converse in Foreign Languages (Part Two)

Posted on October 27th, 2013by Melanie
In French, German, Italian | Leave a Comment »

One DirectionAthletes are well known for speaking foreign languages as it helps them when travelling for their sport, and many are actually able to conduct interviews in their second language. Top ranking tennis player, Novak Djokovic, learned German as his third language after practising there and is continuously learning more languages so that he can understand what’s going on around him when he travels, and also to satisfy his love of linguistics. As well as his native French, Arsène Wenger, the manager of Arsenal football club, can speak an incredible five languages including English, German, Italian, Spanish and some Japanese. He strongly believes in the benefits that languages can have in people’s careers and is quick to promote language learning.

A great role model for younger people is the group One Direction who have taken it upon themselves to learn the 20 most common words of the language of each of the countries they’re due to visit whilst on tour. The group made this decision after a trip to Japan which was a huge culture shock for them and became embarrassing during a press conference due to the language barrier; they realized that they needed to give more to their fans than just their musical talents by making an extra effort to communicate with them in their own languages.

Having role models such as actors, musicians and sportspeople to look up to is a great way to be inspired to learn a new language, and they are keen to promote the benefits that speaking another language has had for them. Could you be encouraged by their examples to learn a new language?

Celebrities Converse in Foreign Languages (Part One)

Posted on October 26th, 2013by Melanie
In French, German, Spanish | Leave a Comment »

Johhny Depp 3If you aspire to be like your favourite celebrity then you should consider learning a new language; you’d be surprised at how many celebrities are fluent in more than just their native tongue.

With a French wife, a house and even his own vineyard in France, it goes without saying that the actor Johnny Depp is fluent in the French language. Likewise, fellow actor Orlando Bloom, whose parents owned a language school in Kent when he was a child, also boasts French as his second language.  The actor and stand-up comedian, Eddie Izzard is currently on tour promoting foreign languages in ‘Force Majeure’ where he actually conducts each show in the language of the country he’s currently touring.

Actress Gwyneth Paltrow completed a Spanish exchange trip when she was a teenager and still continues to speak Spanish whenever she can, even co-starring with Antonio Banderas in a Spanish film. Sandra Bullock, whose mother was German, became fluent in the language when she travelled with her mother, an opera singer, on European opera tours as a child and spent time with her aunt and grandmother in Nuremberg and Salzburg. Natalie Portman, on the other hand, can speak a whopping five languages (and is fluent in two of these) including French, German, Spanish, Japanese and Hebrew! Being born in Jerusalem, Israel, with an Israeli father and an American mother, she was lucky enough to become fluent in Hebrew and English at an extremely early age.

Far from just the glamour and hype of their careers, many celebrities are fluent in one, if not more, foreign language and have been able to use them to their advantage both in their careers and their personal lives. Who is your favourite celebrity linguist and how has their story inspired you to learn a new language?