Archive for the ‘French’ Category

Men Are From Mars, Women Are From Venus

Posted on May 2nd, 2013by Melanie
In French, Language acquisition, Research | Leave a Comment »

It’s no secret that men and women are different from each other in just about every way. Their physical appearance, their emotional attitudes, their interests, their abilities…they might as well be from different planets! Many studies have been conducted over the years to see if men´s and women’s brains are wired differently making one sex excel in one field while the other sex excels in another. One such type of theory and related studies considers the difference in linguistic abilities between men and women; does one have the ability to learn languages more easily than the other?

The answer is yes, women are more likely to succeed in learning a new language and at a faster rate than men. This is because they process the information in both sides of their brain and also listen using both the right and left hemispheres which enables them to multitask while doing so. Men, on the other hand, use the left hemisphere only of their brain when listening and also when learning a new language. Men process male and female voices differently to each other which can lessen the degree of ease for learning languages. In the parts of the brains used to process languages, women´s brains have been found to have a larger proportion of volume than men, resulting in women having a natural advantage over men in the ability to learn and process languages. Whilst these findings don´t affect everyone, they do apply to the average population and go a long way in explaining why there seem to be more females in language related professions, such as interpreters, over their male counterparts.

Why not test this theory for yourself and get a mixed group of friends together to see who has the ability to learn French faster in London!

For the Love of France!

Posted on April 18th, 2013by admin
In French | Leave a Comment »

During a short break in Paris, Gemma fell in love with the City of Light and had a deep interest in learning about all things French. The romance of the city captured her and she gazed in awe at the beautiful landscape around her. The iconic Eiffel Tower pierced the sky as it watched over the bustling city. She strolled down the Champs-Elysées, gazing at the historic buildings, busy cafés, chic clothing boutiques, tantalising patisseries and at the impressive Arc de Triomphe which stood proudly at the end of the infamous avenue. Having climbed to the top, she held her breath as she beheld the sight of the city below her. A visit to the Louvre was next; she couldn’t possibly visit Paris without catching a glimpse of the Mona Lisa or Venus de Milo! A leisurely saunter through the charming village of Montmartre enabled her to pick up some artistic souvenirs for her family and friends. Even the macabre skulls and bones lining the tunnels beneath the city in the Catacombs intrigued her.

Now, back in the UK, she yearned to return there again one day but, in the meantime, had to content herself with finding something else to fill the French void. Then an advert caught her eye for some language lessons which would be taught by a native French speaking teacher. She spoke with the teacher over the telephone and arranged to have classes near her workplace in the evenings. As the language school had an offer for cheaper two-to-one classes, she asked her friend to join her. They booked a session of introductory lessons where they would learn the basics of the language before quickly progressing to conversational French.

With something to look forward to, Gemma reminisced about what had inspired her to learn this language and was pleased to have this great opportunity to learn French in London at a time and place that suited her needs. A beautiful language with a soft lilt; the next time Gemma intended to speak it after this linguistic course would be back on Parisian soil!

Canadian Bilingual Row

Posted on February 13th, 2013by jake
In English, French | Leave a Comment »

There is tension in Quebec, Canada over a proposed bill that would limit English language rights.

The law would make it more difficult for municipalities to maintain their bilingual status if their anglophone population drops below 50 percent. Those seeking to enter the nursing order would have to demonstrate advanced proficiency in French. Measures would be taken to discourage English CEGEPs from recruiting students from the French system.

Bill 14 has caused a media firestorm and has lead to protests against the bill. The bill seeks to revoke bilingual status from some municipalities that currently cater to both French and English speakers. This would open a can of worms as the law would be far reaching, including forcing children from military families to go to French language schools. Many politicians have spoken out against the law including Daniel Ratthe, the CAQ MNA for Blainville who said:

“We think that we should leave to the city the choice or not to stay bilingual”.

Liberal interim leader Jean-Marc Fournier had this to say:

“French will always be a priority when it is presented the right way,” said Fournier. “When we seek to share French it will grow, now when we use a hammer to impose it.”

via: CTV News Here and Here

Tips To Help You Learn

Posted on November 7th, 2012by jake
In Education, French, Hints and Tips, Japanese, Korean, Polish, Spanish | Leave a Comment »

When learning a new language there are a variety of supplementary ways to help you on your way. The teaching network section of The Guardian posted an article (which can be found here) that reveals different approaches that school teachers take to teach languages. One teacher suggests music as a way of making languages more fun.

Music videos are a great way to introduce students to the culture of French-speaking countries and develop speaking/writing projects.

This got me thinking about the recent global success of Psy’s song Gangnam Style. The vast majority of the lyrics to Psy’s song are in Korean yet people all around the world are humming along to the song, even learning the words, despite perhaps never having considered learning Korean. Below are some musical suggestions for you to listen to. Try to learn the words to one of the artists songs and any words you do not know make a note of and look them up.

Korean:  2NE1, Psy, Wonder Girls and Big Bang.

Spanish: Mala Rodriguez, La Casa Azul, Chimo Bayo and Miguel Bosé.

French: Yelle, Raï’n’B Fever, Edith Piaf, and Sylvie Vartan.

Japanese: Perfume, L’Arc~en~Ciel, Ayumi Hamasaki and Hikaru Utada.

Polish: Kasia Stankiewicz, MIG, Daab and Halina Frąckowiak.

Decrease in A-Level language take-up

Posted on August 19th, 2012by Michelle
In Arabic, Education, French, German, Japanese, Polish | Leave a Comment »

This week was A-Level results week, where thousands of young people found out what their immediate future holds.

It appears that fewer young people are choosing languages to be part of their future, with reports saying that the number of British teenagers choosing a European language A-Level has fallen.

The number of students taking German has fallen below 5,000, with entries in French down to around 12,500. Interesting, languages such as Polish, Arabic and Japanese have seen a slight rise in the number of candidates. It seems that languages traditionally studied in British schools are proving less popular with young people.

Andrew Hall, chief executive of the AQA exam board, said the drop in the number of people taking A-levels in traditional modern foreign languages was a real worry. “We have the euro economy in crisis – I think modern foreign languages are in the same place,” he said.

There was no magic bullet to fix the problem, Hall said, but he welcomed the government’s move this year to introduce modern languages in primary schools.

Mark Dawe, chief executive of the OCR exam board, said universities had made it clear they wanted students with qualifications in science and maths. “I’m not sure the message has been as strong around languages, so they could assist in this approach,” he said. (Source: The Guardian)

French – the official Olympic language

Posted on August 11th, 2012by Michelle
In Culture, French, Hints and Tips | Leave a Comment »

The London 2012 Olympic Games draw to a close tomorrow, with Team GB having won a record medal haul.

The Olympics have been a great success for their host country, with one minor exception: people have been baffled as to why announcements are made in French first, followed by English. In an English-speaking country, why is this?

Well, it’s because French and English are the official Olympic languages, with French being the official language of the International Olympic Committee (IOC). The IOC is based in Lausanne, Switzerland, which is a French-speaking city. French is also used in honour of Baron Pierre de Coubertin, a Frenchman who is considered the “father” of the modern Games.

So, if you’re watching the Closing Ceremony tomorrow night, listen out for those French announcements.

Irish third most used language

Posted on April 15th, 2012by Michelle
In French, Irish, Polish, Research | Leave a Comment »

In the first report to be published from last year’s Census, it has been revealed that Irish is the third most spoken language in Ireland.

Census figures show that more people speak Polish (119,526) at home than speak Irish (almost 82,600). French is spoken by 56,430 people. The number of people who answered “yes” to the question “Can you speak Irish?” increased from 2006, to 1.77 million in April 2011. More women identify themselves as Irish speakers than men.

Interestingly, Irish doesn’t seem to be catching on with young people, with one in three 10 -19 year olds answering “no” to the question “Can you speak Irish?” Just over 12% of the population speak Irish on a daily basis in the education system only though. It seems as if Irish is seen as a language for school use only – what can be done to combat this?

(Sources: RTE and Central Statistics Office report)

Ooh, mademoiselle!

Posted on January 14th, 2012by Michelle
In Culture, French, Words | Leave a Comment »

Wait – that should be madame.

A town in France has banned the word “mademoiselle” (the French word for “miss”), instead saying that all women should be addressed as “madame”.

In Cesson-Sevigne, official documents no longer say “mademoiselle” as it is argued that women should not be defined by their marital status. But when women face bigger issues, why does this matter?

Professor of applied linguistics Dr Penelope Gardner-Chloros, of Birkbeck University, says that a society’s language – and how it chooses its terms of address – can reflect deeply ingrained attitudes.

“[Language] it is a sensitive indicator of the distinctions that a society makes – so if it is important to know if a woman is married or not, then it will be indicated in language,” she explains.

“‘Mademoiselle’ was a courteous title and there was even a male equivalent – ‘Mondamoiseau’, though it was very rarely used,” and later fell out of use completely. (The word “damoiseau” can be translated as “squire”.) (Source: BBC News)

Academie Francaise offered new words

Posted on November 27th, 2011by Michelle
In French, Words | Leave a Comment »

The Academie Francaise, protector of the French language and notoriously hostile to English encroachments, has been challenged to accept new words into their dictionary.

Members of the public have been invited to make suggestions for additions to the language as part of the 2011 Festival XYZ, now in its tenth year. The festival of new words was founded by a French sociologist who says the idea is to bring new life to the language.

The festival’s word of the year was announced as “attachiant(e) – a combination of attachant (captivating, endearing) and the slang word chiant (bloody nuisance) to denote someone you cannot live with but cannot live without” (Source: The Guardian).

Other offerings include bête seller (a book that is badly written but a best seller) and eurogner – euro plus rogner (to cut down).

Let’s hope the Academie sees sense and adds these delightful new words!

Schoolgirl interpreter

Posted on April 20th, 2011by Michelle
In Education, French, Mandarin, Spanish, Translation | Leave a Comment »

A girl aged just 10 has become an interpreter for the European Parliament… although just for a day.

Alexia Sloane has been blind since the age of two, and is fluent in four languages – English, French, Spanish and Mandarin. She is currently also learning German. Her mother is half French and half Spanish whilst her father is English, and Alexia has been trilingual since birth. By the age of four, she was reading and writing in Braille.

After winning a young achiever of the year award, Alexia chose to visit the European Parliament as her prize. East of England MEP Robert Sturdy invited her as his guest and Alexia worked with the head of interpreting to get hands-on experience of life as an interpreter.

She continues to harbour ambitions of becoming a full-time interpreter, revealing: “The trip was more than a dream come true. Unfortunately, I have to wake up to reality now.

“I am now more determined than ever to become an interpreter in the future and to return to Brussels in the not too distant future – to see all the wonderful people I met.” (Source: Digital Spy)

What incredible ambition from someone so young!