Archive for the ‘French’ Category

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_2883676

3. 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?

Using Innovative Cues to Converse

Posted on September 1st, 2013by Melanie
In French, Spanish, Speech | Leave a Comment »

Innovative learningEveryone´s different. People have different tastes in food, in music, in what they enjoy doing during their free time; everyone has their own preferences and their own way of doing things. The same goes with how we study and learn. Some people are more academic and studious whilst others need more inspiration to learn and absorb their studies.

An innovative approach to learning swept through Canada some years ago promoting unique ways of learning which combined traditional theories of language acquisition with brain related research. The concept encouraged students to learn foreign languages by incorporating their learning with music, singing, dance, gestures and drama. Its methods helped students to quickly and effectively grasp both verbal and written skills. Pupils learned to associate words and phrases with particular songs and gestures. That´s in Canada, but anyone can incorporate these methods into their learning techniques.

So, when you think that learning a new language is too hard for you, then think again. Apply what you´ve learned in your lessons to a song, a dance or a gesture and you´ll be surprised at how quickly you start to recall sentences. If you´ve ever fancied learning French or Spanish as a second language but never thought you could apply yourself fully, then be inspired and sign up for some foreign language classes and prove yourself wrong!

With the help of a native speaking teacher, you´ll be singing in Spanish or chewing the fat in French in no time!

A Fond Farewell

Posted on August 29th, 2013by Melanie
In French, Language acquisition, Speech | Leave a Comment »

French bistroSheila had spent five lovely years in the south of France. Lovely for her, but not quite so enjoyable for her husband and kids. She’d settled in straight away, having always wanted to live there and being able to speak the language fluently. Her husband, however, had a very limited knowledge of French and found it harder to make friends and find work, and the children still missed their friends from back home. When they´d moved to France in the first place, they´d all agreed that if anyone was unhappy, they´d all go back to the UK together rather than anyone being miserable living in a foreign country. So, being completely outvoted, Sheila had to concede and they had all moved back to the UK. At least she´d had those five lovely years and the memories of the experiences that went with them.

One thing didn´t change on her return to the UK, however, and that was what she´d been doing for a living in the south of France. Before they´d emigrated, Sheila had qualified so that she could teach the expats living in France how to speak French from the most basic of phrases to complete fluency. She´d built up regular clients over the years and always felt a sense of pride and satisfaction when her students no longer had a look of panic or embarrassment when speaking, and actually initiated the conversations themselves instead.

The location was different but the job was the same, and Sheila had quickly set up her own language course for people wishing to learn French in the local towns surrounding her hometown. One of the things she liked to do was to meet her students in a local French bistro. It gave the lessons a more relaxed and authentic feel and she always found that she got better results from her students in this type of atmosphere rather than in formal surroundings. Besides, she couldn´t give up all of her favourite French pastimes!

Modern Languages Make a Difference

Posted on August 25th, 2013by Melanie
In French, German, Spanish | Leave a Comment »

GCSE 2This week has seen the release of GCSE results all over the UK. It´s been a mixed time for students with feelings of nerves, excitement, disappointment, relief and happiness. The subject of the GCSE grading this year has been under controversy due to the new tougher grading system put in place mixed with an increasing re-sit culture and more pupils being entered for their GCSEs a year early.

Teachers, parents and employers disagree with this new system as, instead of promoting higher grades, the new system caters for a certain percentage of passes (40% of students must achieve 5 GCSEs including English and Maths in grades C or above), without fairly grading all students across the board in comparison with previous years. Students this year are not necessarily getting the grade they deserve or expect as lower grades are being handed out in contrast. Teachers feel that accurate comparisons cannot be made with the levels of students´ capabilities from year to year, employers believe that pupils´ employment prospects are being damaged, and parents are now encouraging their children to do resits in order to obtain the grade they need.

This year’s results have seen a 1.3% decline in A*-C grades since last year, the biggest decline in grades in the 25 years that the GSCE system has been in place. Many students have been left feeling disappointed with their results and believe, as do their teachers, that their grades would have been higher had the new system not taken affect.

It´s not all bad news, however. Reports show that in this new system of learning, and possibly due to the introduction of the English Baccalaureate, the level of candidate entries for modern languages has increased significantly. The increase of students taking French rose by 15.5% and German increased by 9.4%. The entry levels for Spanish, however, had a whopping rise with 25.8%. So, despite other dips in the GCSE debate, languages are proving to be increasingly popular with pupils, and that will open numerous doors in their futures!

Educating in English to Expand in Enrolment

Posted on June 27th, 2013by Melanie
In Education, English, French | Leave a Comment »

Welcome bienvenueThe French are proud of their language, just as they are of their country and culture. Their language is their identity and they protect it quite vigorously. And why wouldn´t they? The melodic language is soft and romantic and, to the French, it holds links to its traditions and history.

The Academie Francaise continuously sweeps for foreign words that have been introduced into the French language, usually from immigrants and the influence of their own native languages. It strives to substitute them with French alternatives in order to preserve their beloved language from devolving into a modern mixture of languages as others have done in recent years. English words in particular have a habit of cropping up. And despite their best efforts, it looks as though the English language is about to encroach on them even more.

The French parliament has settled on a debate over the teaching of lectures at French universities in English. Only elite universities and business schools have previously taught courses in English but these new proposals will allow all universities to do the same. This has caused a lot of opposition in France. The arguments are not against the learning of foreign languages – linguistics are promoted and encouraged from an early age – but of academic subjects being taught in a language other than French. The reasons for promoting this, though, are to encourage foreign students to study in France, and this new proposal is seen as an obvious progression if France wants to boost its intake of foreign students. The minister for Higher Education, Genevieve Fioraso, has backed this proposal completely and is adamant that these changes will be a positive change for France and its universities.

If you´re as passionate as the French people about preserving their language, these French classes in Manchester will have you speaking it fluently in no time!