Archive for the ‘Language acquisition’ Category

Hidden Meanings

Posted on September 29th, 2013by Melanie
In Historic, Invented languages, Language acquisition | Leave a Comment »

Double DutchSecret languages have been used for centuries, both verbally and non-verbally, as an essential way of communication where normal vocalization has been restricted or prohibited. Travellers used secret languages amongst themselves to retain their identity when they travelled through and worked in other communities; Polari was used by gay men in Britain when homosexual activity was illegal, to protect themselves from conspirators and undercover policemen, and was used considerably in the British Merchant Navy; American POWs in Vietnam developed a tapping code with their fingers when they were prevented from speaking to each other.

Nowadays, there’s little need for them and secret languages are usually no more than language games. We´ve all tried speaking in secret languages as kids, getting a kick out of no-one else being able to understand what we´re saying. Some classic secret languages are described below, using ‘Mary had a little lamb’ as an example for each.

Pig Latin

This is the most widely known secret language and is constructed by taking the first letter of a word and placing it at the end of the word, then adding ‘ay’:

Arymay adhay aay ittlelay amblay.

Double Dutch (see picture)

All consonants are replaced with a syllable, while vowels remain the same:

Mumarugyub hutchadud a lulituttutlule lulamumbub.


‘Egg’ is added before each vowel:

Meggary heggad egga leggittlegge leggamb.

Eggy-Peggy is the English equivalent of the US spoken Ubbi Dubbi which adds ‘ub’ before each vowel sound.

Have you ever been intrigued by secret languages? Which ones did you try speaking when you were younger?

Take Time to Talk

Posted on September 22nd, 2013by Melanie
In Education, Language acquisition, Technology | Leave a Comment »

Too much to doBusy, busy, busy! There’s always something to do, somewhere to go and never enough time to do everything you need to. Only the essentials get prioritized and hobbies or extras get left behind.

With language tuition nowadays, there’s no need to worry about how to fit it all in as the classes are designed to take away the stress and add flexibility and ease of use to your lessons. Whilst some of us might be grateful for an excuse not to have to learn something in our free time, for those of us that do want to, these pupil friendly courses will blend in seamlessly with our otherwise hectic schedules. Instead of attending an educational establishment, tutors will now happily conduct the classes at their pupils’ homes, workplaces or other convenient locations, and can fit the lessons in around their timetables, including weekends.

For those who travel regularly, online lessons are a great advantage. Pre-recorded lessons can be downloaded and emailed back to tutors from any location at any time with the use of a portable device such as an iPad or Android tablet. You can still speak directly to your tutor using the built in webcam and microphone. Conversations, messages, document sharing and the viewing of websites or videos can be conducted over free software, such as Skype or Google+. In fact, with this type of technology, you don’t even need to leave the comfort of your own home to learn a new language!

Do you struggle to fit everything into your daily routine? What timesaving tips have you got for others who are learning a new language? Make some space in your schedule where you can and enjoy the satisfaction of being able to speak in another language!

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!

Discovering Hidden Depths

Posted on August 14th, 2013by Melanie
In Language acquisition, Spanish, Speech | Leave a Comment »

Scuba 3As a child, Peter had loved scuba diving and spent as much time as he could in the water looking at the colourful scenery beneath him and learning to spot different types of coral, fish and other marine life.

After many happy holidays abroad, and now an adult, he´d decided to take his hobby a step further and become a diving instructor. He´d lived and worked in Greece for a couple of years, initially training with a diving school for his PADI instructor certification, and then to gain experience at earning a living as an instructor. It was invaluable for the amount of knowledge he´d learned, not only about the fascinating underwater life but also how to be a guide. The work taught him how to deal with different people and how to adapt the dives to different levels of capabilities.

A couple of years later, he put this knowledge to good use when an unexpected move took him to Spain and he joined a renowned dive centre. Dealing with locals as well as tourists, Peter gradually picked up the language and this helped greatly with the training classes and put people at ease straight away. He relished the dive excursions where they explored the colourful reefs, abundant with rich and diverse marine life. He enjoyed wreck dives, making underwater discoveries, watching the inquisitive fish and sometimes even feeding them, with great opportunities for underwater photography shots. The spectacular undersea scenery never failed to amaze him.

Unfortunately, Peter had had to return to the UK to deal with unforeseen family matters but still went diving whenever he could and planned to go back to Spain eventually to continue with his dream job and lifestyle. To make sure he didn´t waste a moment of his time, he had enrolled in Spanish lessons to keep the language active in his mind as he intended to carry on exactly where he left off on his return to Spain. With more pressing matters to hand in the meantime, he contented himself with his memories of the magical underwater world of the Mediterranean.

Getting Rid of Guesswork!

Posted on July 31st, 2013by Melanie
In Language acquisition, Speech, Words | Leave a Comment »

SpeakingShrugging shoulders, huffing and puffing, and flashing eyes – these are sure signs of an irritable mood. A harsh tone of voice, sharp hand movements and a reddening face can convey anger and aggressiveness. Slumped shoulders with watery eyes and a downturned mouth are signs of being very upset. A head thrown back with a happy expression and eyes creased at the corners shows happiness and laughter. Body language is one way we use to communicate but speaking to each other will give a much clearer message of what we mean.

Having said that, speaking to each other might not be quite as easy as we´d like! Have you ever been on holiday or in a similar situation where you´re trying to ‘speak’ to a person from another nationality despite only knowing a few words, if any at all, of their language. You end up enacting a form of charades to try and explain what you mean which can be as hysterical as it can be exasperating when you can´t get your point across. One way to make sure you´re really understood is to simply learn their language!

And it really is simple with the wide choice of language classes available and the modern methods used. Language learning can be done at home with the aid of online courses, with a tutor in a place to suit you and at a time to fit in with your schedule, in a one-to-one situation or in a group environment if you prefer. Original teaching methods make learning languages fun and easy to reach fluency. So make your message clear by mastering a new language!

The Dawning of a New Era

Posted on July 28th, 2013by Melanie
In Events, Historic, Language acquisition | Leave a Comment »

Prince GeorgeThis week welcomed the arrival of the baby Prince George, the future king of Britain! Born on Monday 22nd July in the same private wing of St Mary´s Hospital as his dad, Prince William, and his uncle, Prince Harry, baby George Alexander Louis has emerged as the third in line to the throne.

Proud parents, Kate and William, looked happy and relaxed as they introduced their son to the eagerly awaiting media and crowds. These young royals, a modern day couple, took a break from tradition and announced their son´s name just a day after the duchess left the hospital. Historically, the naming process has always been much longer with Prince William´s name being announced after a week, and his father´s name, Prince Charles, taking a whole month to be announced. The Queen´s visit to see her great-grandson was also the first time in over a century that a reigning monarch has met a grand-grandchild who has been born in succession to the throne.

So what does the future hold for Prince George and for the people? A new era for the Royal Family has begun and with it a new era has dawned for the next generation of the general population. Times have changed and, like his parents, Prince George will need to show that he can keep up with them and build good relations with both British people and people throughout the world. One way to do this would be to learn the languages of neighbouring countries just as his great-grandparents have done – the Queen and Duke of Windsor speak fluent French – and in the same way that royals from other countries learn foreign languages.

We live in a cosmopolitan world and the key to a successful future is communication. Be a part of that success and open the doors to endless possibilities by learning new languages!

The Perfect Opportunity

Posted on July 21st, 2013by Melanie
In Events, Language acquisition, Speech | Leave a Comment »

Working abroad 2Jodie was single, living in rented accommodation and had itchy feet. She worked for a travel company and spent her days planning and booking holidays for the customers while wishing she was travelling to those destinations herself. So she jumped at the chance when the company offered her a position abroad.

A mixture of nerves and excitement filled her during the first week as she learned the ropes. Her duties were to meet and greet guests at the airport and hotels, and to sell tour tickets on the beach. This was better than a desk job any day! In the evenings, she had to complete reviews of the hotels and tours in order to ensure that the company only offered its customers accommodation and entertainment that came within its expected standards. Having a nosey around the plush hotels and experiencing the tours each day in exchange for writing a report seemed a very fair swop to Jodie. Selling the tour tickets was a lot easier than she had expected. People were already relaxed on the beach and happy to talk about what they wanted to do on their holidays, and those eager to get out of the hot sun and see the sights were more than happy to part with their money in exchange for a tour!

Eventually the season finished and Jodie had to move back to the UK. She went back to her old job with the same company but with a confidence and vigour that she didn´t have before. Feeling refreshed and more knowledgeable about the tourist resorts, she put everything into finding her customers the best holidays she could that would make them want to return again and again. And they wouldn´t be the only ones to return; Jodie had already put her name down for a placement abroad the following year! With her annual plan firmly in mind, she enrolled in some language lessons to give herself a bit of a head start the next time she travelled. This role was definitely suited to her and she was determined to make the most of this perfect opportunity.

If you´ve got itchy feet like Jodie, or feel that you´re stuck in a rut, do something about it and turn your life around. Learning languages literally opens up a whole world of opportunities, so grab yours now!

Artistry Abounds

Posted on July 5th, 2013by Melanie
In Language acquisition, Spanish, Speech | Leave a Comment »

Miro 5It’s no surprise that a country so rich in beauty and culture should produce so many of the world´s renowned artists. Spain is a diverse country and it holds a lot of inspiration for onlookers, particularly those with a creative disposition.

Pablo Picasso was born in Madrid in 1881 and was particularly known for his co-founding of the Cubist movement which was considered to be of the utmost importance in influencing the art movement during the 20th century. His famous works throughout his life include Guernica, Weeping Woman and the controversial Les Demoiselles d’Avignon.

Francisco Goya, born on 1746, was a court painter to the Spanish Crown and a Romanticist painter. He was regarded as the greatest Spanish artist of the late eighteenth century as well as the first of the modern artists in the early nineteenth century. His artwork took an unexpected change from light-hearted to sinister works, known as the Black Paintings, during the turbulent reign of Ferdinand VII.

A surrealist artist and part of the Dada movement, Joan Miró received prestigious awards as recognition of his talents, including the Guggenheim International Award and the Gold Medal of Fine Arts which was presented to him by King Juan Carlos of Spain. The Fundació Joan Miró, a modern museum of art, was built in his native city of Barcelona as a dedication to his work, and the Fundació Pilar i Joan Miró a Mallorca was established in Palma de Mallorca to house a major collection of his artwork and memorabilia.

Just like Miró, Salvador Dalí was also a prominent surrealist artist who was heavily influenced by Cubism and Dada. The eccentric artist from Figueres produced famous works such as The Persistence of Memory, Millet´s Architectonic Angelus, and The Invisible Man.

If you find Spain a great source of inspiration but are more inclined towards languages than art, why not express yourself in Spanish after taking lessons in Oxford or a city near you.

It´s All About Italia!

Posted on June 30th, 2013by Melanie
In Culture, Italian, Language acquisition | Leave a Comment »

ItaliaWhat springs to mind when you think of Italy? Their delicious handmade pizzas of funghi, quattro stagioni and capricciosa. The fresh pasta dishes such as cannelloni, spaghetti carbonara, gnocchi and ravioli. Or perhaps it´s their famous ice cream, gelato.

Their beautiful artwork by inspired artists such as Leonardo da Vinci, Raphael and Michelangelo is breathtaking. The magnificent ancient architectural sites such as the Colosseum, the Pantheon, the Baths of Diocletian, the Trevi Fountain and the Leaning Tower of Pisa can´t fail to impress.

The warm climate certainly appeals as does the warmth and passion of the Italians themselves. Then there´s the romance as told in tales of old such as Romeo and Juliet. Maybe you´re struck with their flare for fashion from famous fashion designers and labels such as Dolce & Gabbana, Gucci, Fendi and Versace, or crave a luxury Italian sports car such as a Ferrari, a Maserati or a Bugatti.

With so many positive attributes, it´s hard not to fall in love with Italy and everything about it. Why not take it a step further and start having Italian lessons in London or a city near you. While you´re dreaming about all of the places you´re going to see and about everything you´re going to do when you get the chance to go to Italy, you can hone your Italian language skills and get ready to impress the locals with your linguistic capabilities! Buona fortuna!

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!