Archive for the ‘French’ Category

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!

Make the Most of Your Memory

Posted on June 12th, 2013by Melanie
In French, Language acquisition, Research | Leave a Comment »

BilingualResearch studies have shown that learning two or more languages can improve your memory later in life. Learning another language and being able to interchange between the two of them exercises your mind, making your brain more flexible, which helps to protect your memory.

Cognitive research has shown that learning more languages can actually delay the onset of dementia by a number of years. By exercising your mind and by challenging your brain, you build up a reserve of extra brain power that helps to combat memory loss. Normally, average people may begin to suffer from symptoms of dementia in their mid-seventies but bilingual people are able to stave off the symptoms until their eighties.

Being bilingual is said to boost a part of the frontal lobe of the brain known as the ‘executive control system’ in that it controls language, learning, reasoning and memory. This area becomes stronger as you learn a language, particularly from a young age, but there are still benefits to learning languages later in life as it keeps your brain active and resistant to damage. Symptoms of dementia such as Alzheimer’s can be delayed for up to five years.

If being bilingual has significant health benefits, then multilingual speakers are in an even better position. Individuals with the ability to speak three languages are three times less like to develop memory problems compared with bilingual people. Speakers of over four languages are five times less likely to suffer from memory issues. Researchers believe that increased fluency levels in these languages is more effective at boosting memory but it´s not essential; it´s purely the extra usage and stimulation of the brain when learning languages that seems to act as a protective element against cognitive problems.

It´s never too late to start learning a new language so face your future head on; master another language and improve your memory now. Kick start your brain training with some French classes in Manchester or a city near you!

Cherished Memories of the French Countryside

Posted on June 2nd, 2013by Melanie
In French, Speech, Words | Leave a Comment »

French villageBeth and Michael both had a love of France that went back to their childhoods. Beth had spent her early childhood years living there after her mum had emigrated there from South Africa. It was a very free time with happy memories of playing in the surrounding countryside with her brothers. Michael, on the other hand, had spent many holidays there with his parents when he was a child and he too had a strong connection with the country.

As a married couple with kids themselves, they had bought a villa in the beautiful French countryside and used it as a holiday home for many years. Their dream was to one day retire there, away from the rat race in England, and relax in the calm and peaceful surroundings of their second home. Their daughters were already grown up and would soon be having families of their own, and retirement wasn´t too far ahead in the future. Whilst Beth and Michael both had a basic knowledge of the French language, they weren´t fluent by any stretch of the imagination and felt that it was about time they took their linguistic skills up to the next level. Once they were actually living in France, they would need to be able to converse fluently and get by on their own, especially considering their remote location where there were no other English inhabitants to ask for help. So they set aside some time each week to learn French in Leeds and began practising their vocabulary in earnest.

As each class passed by and as their conversational skills progressed, Beth and Michael became one step nearer to fulfilling their French dream!

Finding Foreign Words in our Everyday Language

Posted on May 24th, 2013by Melanie
In English, French, Words | Leave a Comment »

EurostarCan´t speak a foreign language? Think it´s too hard to learn? Nonsense! You may not realise it, but the English language has absorbed so many words and phrases from other languages over the years that they have become commonplace and used as everyday terms for us. Take the French language, for example.

How many times have you asked to see the à la carte menu in a restaurant? And chosen crème brûlée, mousse or a flambé for dessert? Do you enjoy watching the ballet or is the Grand Prix more your kind of thing? Are you an entrepreneur? Why don´t you buy your fiancée a lovely bouquet of flowers? Is your home in a cul-de-sac and does your bedroom have an en suite bathroom?

We have become so used to these words in our everyday language that we often don´t realise that they have been taken from another one. So whilst you might think that you´re unable to learn another language, think again, because you´re already speaking one more than you realise!

With the right style of teaching, at a level to suit you, you can learn to speak French fluently in no time. The best way to pick up the language easily is for a native French speaker to teach you. So give it a go! Arrange to meet your tutor in the local café and pick up your friends en route to your lessons. You´ll be surprised at just how easy it is to learn French in Leeds!

Lost in Translation

Posted on May 15th, 2013by Melanie
In French, Speech, Translation | Leave a Comment »

Lost in translationEddie Izzard, the quick-witted comedian known for his love of Europe and his alternative humour, is planning something a little daring and somewhat risky with his current tour.

Force Majeure, which commenced in March and will carry on into 2014, is a major comedy tour that will span 25 countries within all of the continents. The comedian has already shown his talents during this show in Germany, Latvia, Croatia, Turkey, Austria, Estonia, Scandinavia and Serbia. That´s formidable enough in itself as these countries haven´t hosted many British stand-up comedians, but that´s not nearly enough of a challenge to satisfy the demands of this intrepid comedian! Eddie Izzard is looking to perform his show in no less than five other languages. That´s right, five. He already speaks French and plans to have learned German and Spanish to a performance level by next year, with Russian and Arabic performances to follow suit. Luckily, his brother is a linguist who will be giving him a helping hand but, even so, this will be no mean feat to accomplish. As anyone who has tried learning new languages will know, what you are trying to say in your native language and how you think it should be worded in the new language is often not how it is actually spoken. Trying to convey comedy in other languages is tricky, not only because the true meaning of the sentence may become lost in translation, but because people´s sense of humour in different countries can also be very different to each other.

But Eddie Izzard firmly believes that speaking different languages brings people together and can only see the benefits of this grand idea. He feels it shows respect for others and dismisses any negativity that his humour will be lost on people from other nationalities. Let´s hope that his ‘universal humour’, as he calls it, really can be universally understood! If your funny bone is looking to be tickled, why not follow Eddie Izzard´s example and learn some amusing French sketches in Leeds to impress your friends!

Leave Learning Disabilities Behind and Become Fluent in a Foreign Language

Posted on May 12th, 2013by Melanie
In French, Pronunciation, Speech | Leave a Comment »

Learning difficultiesStudents with learning disabilities might be dismissed as being unable to learn foreign languages, but this is simply not the case. Many people with learning disabilities have trouble isolating the sounds of words and distinguishing between vowels. They may mispronounce words that have a similar sound. Learning a new language will emphasize these issues but it doesn´t mean that it will prohibit the learning of a second language. Studies have shown, in people suffering from dyslexia, that those with less phonemic awareness in their own language may find it harder to learn a foreign language whereas those with a better phonemic awareness will be able to converse in a foreign language more easily and may find the writing and grammar aspect harder. Or, conversely, the reading and writing component may not present any difficulties but it may be harder to speak it. By using a systematic approach to learning that involves a multisensory structure, students with learning disorders can overcome any inhibiting factors and have the ability to learn foreign languages. People with dyslexia can be particularly good conversationally, so more vocal orientated lessons in foreign languages are recommended.

As the need for a knowledge of foreign languages is on the rise, it´s no longer necessary for people with learning disorders to be made to miss out on these linguistic opportunities. As awareness of learning difficulties has increased and new teaching methods have evolved to cater for these needs, there´s nothing to stop students from learning the new language they desire. So, if you have a learning disability and have always felt that you´ve been held back by being told you can´t learn a new language, then think again! With courses that are specifically tailor-made to your needs, you can learn French in Leeds and show that you have what it takes to learn a foreign language.