Archive for the ‘Words’ Category

4 Interesting Ways to Practise Your Italian in Italy

Posted on March 17th, 2014by Melanie
In Italian, Speech, Words | Leave a Comment »

Practising what you’ve learned during your language lessons doesn’t need to be mundane or learned by rote. So when you’re visiting the exciting country of Italy, there are numerous ways you can test your language skills. Here are four suggestions to help you get started:

1. Count and Climb the Spanish Steps   

untitled (2)While you’re out and about sightseeing, what better time to practise your Italian language skills? Numbers are always useful to know so, if you happen to be visiting Rome, how about visiting the Spanish Steps…all 136 of them, and count them on the climb upwards. The Spanish Steps (Scalinata) is the widest staircase in Europe and you can climb it from the base in Piazza di Spagna to reach the top at Piazza Trinita dei Monti where the impressive Trinita dei Monti church stands. Now you’ve used up all those calories, it’s time to reward yourself with some delicious food…!

2. Eat Your Way Through An Authentic Italian Cookery Class

images0N1E0182You could practise saying fruit and vegetables in Italian by going to a local market, or you could learn meals by ordering them at a restaurant. But why not make things a bit more interesting? There are many cookery classes throughout Italy where you can learn how to cook authentic Italian dishes. Known for its pizza and pasta dishes, why not try a basic class in cooking some tasty pizza or pasta recipes for a more unusual and hands-on way to get genuine practice at speaking Italian.

3. Enjoy an Italian Ice Cream

untitledYou’ve cooked some dinner, now have some dessert with some of Italy’s infamous gelato. You can practise saying the flavours as well as the multitude of colours that these delicious ice creams are available in. Most gelaterias will let you sample a couple of flavours then it’s decisions, decisions…cup (coppa) or cone (cono) and how many scoops? But that’s not all as then you’ll be asked “Panna?” which is freshly whipped cream on the top. So, when the tough decisions have been made (in Italian!) you can enjoy your hard earned ice cream!

4. Do Some Window Shopping

ValentinowhitedressesAs well as their passion for food, Italians have a love of fashion. As you wander around the beautiful country you’ll definitely notice the Italians’ sharp style and fashionable flair. While you’re admiring their chic look, describe the different clothing you see, from the basic types of clothing (pantaloni, gonna, camicia) to their colours, lengths and materials. You could always treat yourself to some Italian finery while you’re at it!

There are so many things to see and do in Italy. What other interesting ways can you think of to practise your Italian speaking skills?

Train Your Brain to Talk

Posted on November 17th, 2013by Melanie
In Language acquisition, Speech, Words | Leave a Comment »

HeadphonesYou want to learn a new language but the thought of sitting in a classroom with your nose buried in a textbook or having to do embarrassing role plays is not really inviting you to book your first lesson. What about all of the adverts that promise you can learn a language in a matter of weeks, that anyone can learn and not just the linguistically gifted? Do those statements ever actually come true?

Whilst it used to be considered you either had a knack for languages or you didn’t, that you innately inherited your linguistic skills, and that it was a disability not to be able to learn foreign languages, we now know otherwise. Thanks to a multitude of researchers over the years, it has been proven that, yes, anyone can learn a new language; really. Far from being the stupidity of struggling students, the inability to learn a language is actually due to the learning strategies used. So, now you know you can definitely learn a language, that’s a start. But how long will it take? Those timeframe guarantees look very appealing.  Those ever helpful researchers can put your mind at ease again because, yes, you really can learn a new language in that short space of time.  Just pick the right language and right learning technique.

Choose the right language: by choosing a language similar in construction to your own, it has been found to speed up the learning process due to its familiarity. For example, English speakers will find it easier to learn Spanish than Mandarin.

Immerse yourself in the language: put the textbooks to one side and just start speaking the language from day one. It doesn’t matter if you don’t understand everything, just become used to the way the language sounds and you’ll soon pick up words and phrases.

Use the ‘shadowing technique’: while you’re listening to the language, simultaneously speak it out loud and read it too. The reason behind this is to slow down your thought process and pay more attention to the details.

You’ve got the know-how, now just kick-start your brain into gear and train it to follow these easy rules. All of those researchers can’t be wrong, so stop doubting yourself and start speaking a new language in no time at all.

Being Bilingual Bolsters the Brain

Posted on October 13th, 2013by Melanie
In Research, Speech, Words | Leave a Comment »

Brain workoutDoes speaking two languages just confuse your brain? Does bilingualism muddle your thoughts and hinder speech in both languages? Well, that used to be the general opinion, especially where children were concerned. On the contrary, we now know that the complete opposite is true, with bilingualism enhancing thought patterns and organizing them into a much clearer format.

Haven’t you ever sat and listened to someone speaking in two different languages, naturally flicking from one to the other without hesitating, enviously wishing you could do the same? This ability is due to the mental workout being bilingual gives to your brain, training it to be stronger and more flexible. The ability to multi-task, not just with languages, but with all things, becomes very apparent as does the ability for the speaker to edit the languages and information according to who they are speaking with. For example, two bilinguals will often flit between the two languages using the best words or phrases from either language to get their point across. When speaking to someone who only understands one of the languages, however, the bilingual speaker will stick to that language when conversing with them. This ‘language selection’ is a cognitive skill built up from the mental exercises used to speak two languages fluently.

Research has shown that bilinguals can comprehend languages in a different way to monolinguals, concentrating on key words or phrases when reading sentences rather than the whole text. The brain becomes more organized and filters out the relevant information. Bilingual children tend to be better at prioritizing than their peers and adults are much better at multi-tasking. Being bilingual can bolster the brain and helps to protect it from aging issues, such as dementia and Alzheimer’s disease.

Do you have the ability to juggle two languages? Do you find it confusing or are your thoughts very clear and organized?

Speak Up For Your Future!

Posted on October 9th, 2013by Melanie
In Language acquisition, Speech, Words | Leave a Comment »

Speak to the FutureWell it seems that 1,000 is the standard number of words we’d need to learn of a foreign language in order to be able to hold a conversation in it. More and more language companies appear to be recommending this level of competency in a foreign language but one organization, Speak to the Future, is taking this a step further.

Backed by the British Council, Speak to the Future is on a mission to get Britain talking, albeit in foreign languages. Believing the Brits to be ‘lazy linguists’, the organization feels that using the excuse that English is the most widely spoken language in the world is not good enough in these times of global connectivity.

Believing 1,000 words to be easily achievable by everyone, no matter what their age or how linguistically skilled they are, Speak to the Future has launched a campaign to promote this challenge. They’re not expecting fluency, just the ability to have a simple conversation. With the support of over 30 organizations, their belief is that by learning foreign languages we can

  • better understand other cultures
  • we can increase the level of education within the UK
  • people will have more opportunities within the employment sector as well    as  socially
  • contact with international networks will create innovation and enterprise
  • we will benefit by having a greater pool of highly qualified linguists within the UK
  • and that we need to act now to increase our standing in globalization.

Have you taken up the challenge? Join in with the campaign and speak up for your future by learning 1,000 words of a foreign language. You might be surprised at the opportunities that suddenly become available to you.

Reading Into It

Posted on September 7th, 2013by Melanie
In Spelling, Words, Writing | Leave a Comment »

French directionsWhen we think of learning languages, we tend to mean speaking them, getting to know the basics first so that we can ‘get by’ with the little that we know, then gradually increasing our knowledge until we eventually reach a point of fluency. When people look enviously at others and say that they wished they could speak another language like that, or have the ability to switch effortlessly between two languages, they are ultimately referring to the ability to speak the language.

However, learning languages doesn´t just involve speech. It goes without saying that you also have to be able to listen to and understand it when it´s being spoken to you, but the ability to read and write it mustn´t be forgotten or dismissed.

When travelling abroad, a basic knowledge of the language is helpful for simple tasks, such as reading shop signs, understanding menus when you´re ordering food in restaurants,  being able to follow road signs and directions, and understanding how to buy and validate a ticket for the correct route at a train station. These are just some of the everyday things we deal with without thinking, but being able to read and understand the basics can go a long way in a foreign country.

Students often find the reading and writing aspects of learning languages daunting, but with the right teacher and the correct tuition, there really is no need to be worried. Once you´ve grasped the basics, you´ll find that the words will just logically fall into place. So take the plunge and enrol in some language classes; you´ll be word perfect before you know it!

Talk the Talk

Posted on August 17th, 2013by Melanie
In Pronunciation, Speech, Words | Leave a Comment »

Talk the talkThe art of a good conversation is knowing what to say, when to say it and how to say it. That’s not always easy as people often mean one thing but say another, try to discuss subjects they´re not fully clued up about, blurt things out in a tactless manner, speak too quickly for others to understand or go off at tangents. All of these things can lead to confusion, disgruntled feelings and mixed messages, which makes having a good conversation in a foreign language even more challenging!

Trying to find the right words and expressions in your own language can be hard enough, but scratching around in a foreign vocabulary to make yourself understood in the way you intended to be is even harder. Confidence is the key; that mixed with a bit of patience and persistence. Be confident that you are speaking the right words in the right way and you´ll carry your conversation off without anyone realising that it involved a little guesswork or that you were unsure of yourself. Don´t worry about the thought of being ridiculed if you get something wrong; on the contrary, people will admire you more for trying. And don´t give up if you can´t think of how to say something straight away, just take some time until it becomes clear in your mind and you´ll find that, after that, the words will flow easily so that you can carry on with the conversation.

No matter what level of lingual ability you´re at, everyone has the same angst when learning and speaking a new language, so be persistent with your studies and be brave at your approach, and you´ll soon find that you´re enjoying a very good conversation!

Let the Music Begin!

Posted on August 11th, 2013by Melanie
In Events, Italian, Words | Leave a Comment »

Concert 2Martin was ready to pack up and set off again. As part of a band crew, he travelled a lot, staying away from home for long periods of time and touring to different destinations; and he loved it!

Martin had been working in this profession for twenty years and never tired of it. Travelling with different bands and crews made each job exciting and challenging. The hours were long and he was used to living out of a suitcase but the buzz of the concerts at the end of each night which reflected on all of the crew´s hard work was fantastic.

Travelling to different locations was the added bonus and, between sets, he would explore each city with other crew members and take in the atmosphere and sights around him. He´d travelled on tour to cities like Milan, Berlin, Seville, Lisbon, Paris, Amsterdam and Prague, and many more besides. Each tour took his job to new cities and he looked forward to whenever he´d get a chance to get to know the areas.

Of all the places he´d travelled to, his favourite country was Italy. Each city was so different with diverse landscapes and a fascinating culture. The locals were always friendly and welcoming, and he had a particular fondness for Italian food! His freelance work usually took him on European tours so, more often than not, he´d be pretty sure to end up in an Italian city at some point. He´d picked up lots of words and phrases on the way and had even taken up Italian language lessons back home. Although his work schedule was very irregular, his language course was flexible enough to cater for this and he was able to continue his studies from where he had left off the previous time without having to skip chunks of lessons.

For now, it was back to work and the hard graft of the behind the scenes crew. Soon the stage would be set, the lights would go up and the crowd would go wild!

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!

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!