Archive for the ‘Speech’ Category

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.

Lazy at Learning Languages?

Posted on June 19th, 2013by Melanie
In English, German, Speech | Leave a Comment »

LazyWhen speaking with people of other nationalities, it´s very noticeable how fluent they all seem to be in English, with usually another couple of languages tucked under their belts as well. They have a firm grasp of the language and are confident when speaking it; there are no embarrassed looks or pauses, no awkward moments, they can joke around in English and have a vast knowledge of the vocabulary. And then you have the Brits….

Whilst not wishing to stereotype people, Brits on the whole seem fairly content at just belong able to speak English. They may have learned French or German at school, some may have tried their hand at Spanish, Italian or Russian, but those who take it further and become fluent in a second or third language are fairly rare in comparison with their European counterparts.

So why is this? Are Brits just lazy at learning languages, or maybe just reluctant? Is the British educational system letting them down or is the curriculum just not promoting the benefits of language learning enough? Or are the British just complacent, being satisfied with just speaking English with no need to have a knowledge of other languages?

Well, perhaps it´s a mixture of all of them. English is so widely spoken around the world that you´d be hard pushed to go to an area where someone didn´t speak it. Even in countries where English isn´t commonly spoken, there always seem to be people around and to hand who can speak it, if only a little, who always seem willing to help if need be or eager to strike up a conversation.

In 13 member states of the EU, English is compulsory as the first foreign language and is still usually chosen in those countries where it´s not compulsory. Whilst languages are included in the UK´s national curriculum, not as much emphasis is placed on their necessity as is in other countries and pupils aren´t actively persuaded to choose languages over other, more academic subjects. Learning a foreign language in school is not actually compulsory in the UK or Ireland. The benefits of being able to speak more languages aren´t highlighted to pupils and the options this skill could give the pupils later on in life are not necessarily promoted.

The attitude of many Brits is that there is not as much need to learn a foreign language as there is within other countries as English is such a widely spoken language anyway and that, being British, that automatically holds an advantage. Historically, English became the spoken language in many parts of the world and people needed to be able to converse in it to be able to advance in society. Nowadays, it´s an internationally recognised business language.

Despite this lack of foreign fluency, British schools actually offer the highest range of languages available to learn in the EU. Further education establishments, independent language classes and adult education language centres offer an extremely diverse selection of languages, particularly minority ones, and these classes are on the rise. As more people travel or meet new people from other countries, the interest in learning new languages is increasing. More and more people are enrolling in language classes in their spare time, whether it´s to learn the more “common” options such as French, German, Spanish or Italian, the increasingly popular language of Mandarin Chinese, or more obscure languages such as Polish, Danish, Turkish or Russian. This escalation in foreign language learning in the UK will only increase more as people discover a love of other countries and more opportunities for language learning become available to them.

You, too, can join the ranks of linguistic masterminds by taking part in some German lessons in London, or a city near you, and demonstrating your flair for foreign languages. This enthusiasm for linguistics, post-school education, just goes to show that the British aren´t lazy at learning languages after all!

From the Beginning

Posted on June 8th, 2013by Melanie
In German, Language acquisition, Speech | Leave a Comment »

Nature vs NurtureIt has long been debated as to whether language acquisition is innate (something we are born with) or learned. Are we all born with the genetic capability of speaking our own language? Do we recognise speech patterns immediately? Is it possible to begin structuring language compositions in our brains from such an early age? How can we separate language from other external audio stimuli when we are babies? Do we tune into the most commonly spoken words around us and gradually learn them subconsciously? There are many questions on this subject matter with the aim of discovering whether language is an innate or learned skill. The answer is it that it’s actually a bit of both.

Our brains have the innate ability to comprehend, interpret and to produce language. Several studies have shown that infants, from birth until six months old, can distinguish between the phonetics of all languages. They hone in on the most commonly spoken words and sounds used by others around them, resulting in them being able to choose their native language. After six months old, however, they can only detect the phonetics related to their chosen language. Young children of just a few years old have a grasp of the grammatical rules of language without having been taught them. A child progresses though different stages of learning their native language until, usually when they reach puberty, they are able to learn a foreign language. The ability to learn a language is innate, but actually speaking a specific language is learned. These specific languages are learned from the environment and from experience.

For example, you have the innate ability to learn German, but that doesn´t automatically mean that you can speak German. To do that, you would need to actively learn the German language. So now that you know you have a natural disposition to learn languages, book some German lessons in London or whichever city is nearest to you and put your linguistic skills to the test.

A Means to an End

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

Employment officeRob and Julie lived in Spain with their two kids, Becky and Sam. They´d emigrated from the UK when Sam was just 18 months old and Becky was born in Spain three years later. Julie, a qualified teacher, was lucky enough to get a position in a local school teaching English to Spanish children, while Rob was a plumber by trade and set up his own plumbing firm. For a while, they did very well and settled into the Spanish lifestyle with ease. But after the recession hit Spain, work was harder to come by for Rob as he had to compete for business against his Spanish competitors.

After a while, things took a turn for the worse financially and the family had to consider their options. Julie´s job at the school was still secure and the kids, who were now much older, were both doing very well in school. So Rob made the heart wrenching decision to go back to the UK to work for a while until things got better, leaving Julie and the kids in Spain.

Once he´d got on his feet back in the UK, one of the things Rob did to try to bridge the gap was to learn Spanish. Julie had already picked up quite a lot of the language at the school, and the kids both spoke it fluently. Already feeling too far apart from them, he thought that he could at least try to keep up with his lessons so that he didn´t drift further away from them in that aspect. He opted for some group Spanish classes in Bristol so that he could practise his conversational skills with like-minded people.

Whilst being apart was hard, they all had to make the best of a bad situation. In Spain, Julie and the kids carried on as normal and looked forward to Rob´s visits. In the UK, Rob worked as much as he could and squirrelled his earnings away to build a pot back up for them to use in Spain. His lessons were something to look forward to each week and each one was a step closer to him returning back to Spain and being reunited with his family for good.

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!

Immersing into the Italian Lifestyle

Posted on June 1st, 2013by Melanie
In Education, Italian, Speech | Leave a Comment »

ItalyLouise was desperate to learn Italian. She´d been on family holidays to Italy numerous times and loved it; she loved the country, the people, the sunny climate, the food, everything about it, and especially the melodic language. But for Louise, learning a foreign language wasn´t as easy a task as it might seem. She suffered from a learning disorder and, unfortunately, learning foreign languages was considered an unachievable task by her teachers. She was used to the stigma; she´d always been teased about seeming to be slower than her classmates to grasp things but was still determined to learn a second language one day, despite her teachers´ views. They believed that, due to the nature of learning disorders which directly affect language capabilities, the acquisition of a new language when she often struggled with her own was an impossible undertaking which would just cause Louise undue stress and disappointment.

Luckily, Louise´s parents disagreed with this and backed her enthusiasm and determination to learn a foreign language. They´d conducted a considerable amount of research on the subject and had contacted organizations related to both learning disorders and languages. They discovered that it was often the traditional teaching methods that actually inhibited the learning of languages rather than a student´s ability to learn. This is because the reading and writing skills typical of a normal classroom lesson often presented problems whereas learning conversational techniques could be extremely beneficial and produce excellent results. One of the organizations contacted Louise´s parents to advise them of an immersion programme which placed students directly into family homes abroad. This technique had produced excellent results and the experience meant that students learned real life conversational skills as opposed to basic sentences that were the norm usually taught in schools. This was a dream come true for Louise! Not only did she get to live in Italy for a while, but she would be learning the language from a genuine Italian family and living the Italian lifestyle she´d hankered after.

That was then. Now, Louise, who blossomed in Italy under the tutelage of the hospitable family, can speak a great deal of Italian and her confidence has increased no end. The lessons she learned in Italy of how to control her speech and pronunciation have helped her to overcome problems she has when speaking her own language. Not wishing to lose her newly acquired language capabilities, Louise is keen to improve her speech by taking conversational Italian classes in Newcastle. She is coming along in leaps and bounds, much to the admiration of her very proud parents!

The Key to Unlocking your Future is Language!

Posted on May 26th, 2013by Melanie
In German, Language acquisition, Speech | Leave a Comment »

Unlock your futureRosa was from southern Spain and, having spent a year in England in her twenties, spoke fluent English. At home, that opened up more opportunities for her as a large number of companies on the coast were British run. She´d joined one such company and had enjoyed working there for the next nine years. It was a large travel company with a mixed nationality staff including British, Spanish, German, Danish, Russian, Swedish, Finnish and French. Rosa loved working with so many different nationalities and enjoyed the travel opportunities that it opened up.

Unfortunately, like many other companies during the recession, this travel firm had gone into liquidation and Rosa found herself out of work. With so many people facing unemployment in Spain and with no companies hiring new staff, Rosa had decided to travel to Germany, like many of her Spanish friends, on a 3 month intensive language course with the intended outcome of finding a job there at the end of it. But, as no work was forthcoming, and with no work available back home, Rosa had to look carefully at what options were open to her.

She´d stayed in touch with her ex colleagues and many of them had returned to the UK, opting to work for the sister company of the one they had all worked for in Spain. The perfect job was available for her there, to deal with their Spanish clients on a daily basis, so Rosa flew to the UK to begin her new job. But she didn´t want to give up on her idea of working in Germany one day either, so looked to find some German courses that would enable her to keep up her new linguistic skills. She found the ideal course which enabled her to have lessons near her workplace and was taught by a native German speaking teacher. The teacher quickly assessed Rosa´s level in the German language and structured the lessons to continue from that point. Rosa´s confidence grew not only in her ability to speak the German language, but in the fact that there would now be so many more possibilities open to her in the future, and she looked forward to whatever they might be!

If you´ve ever dreamt of living and working abroad, as Rosa has, then broaden your horizons and learn German in Liverpool. You never know what your future holds!

Chewing the Fat with the Family

Posted on May 19th, 2013by Melanie
In Spanish, Speech, Translation | Leave a Comment »

Family mealAlice and Damian had been in a relationship for a few years now and, like any couple, spent a fair amount of time with each other´s relatives for family meals, celebrations or casual visits. For Alice though, this wasn´t always an easy affair as Damian´s family was Spanish on his mum´s side. Having taken a year of basic Spanish in school, Alice had been able to make initial gestures towards conversations when she´d first met his family, but her vocabulary was somewhat limited to say the least. When their relationship had become more serious, Alice had travelled to Barcelona to take a brief but intensive Spanish course to try to build up her knowledge of the language and boost her confidence when speaking it. Now though, as time had passed and with little practice, Alice found that she had difficulty in recalling words and phrases, and was finding it harder to be included in conversations at family get-togethers.

So, she thought she´d better make an effort and take more of an active role with Damian´s family by looking for some refresher courses. Having made some enquires, Alice signed up for some recommended one-to-one Spanish classes in Bristol and looked forward to being taught by her native Spanish teacher. As she lived so close to the language centre, Alice was lucky enough to benefit from the teacher being able to visit her at home for the classes which was extremely convenient. The lessons were geared to be a continuation from Alice´s current level of Spanish and were more personal in their content, with much of the subject matter being focused on Damian´s family and on conversations that would be more likely to take place.

As her Spanish vocabulary broadened and she found it easier to get her tongue around certain phrases, Alice´s confidence increased again and she felt sure that she´d be able to hold her own during some of the family conversations. Now she could look forward to the next mealtime when she could sit and have a chat with Damian´s mum without having to use him as a translator!

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!