vendredi 18 mars 2011

What English Sounds Like to Non-Speakers

How about this little number! Apparently this is what English sounds like to someone who has never been taught a lick of English. I guess I can kind of see what's going on here. It´s all gibberish, but if you aren´t listening it sounds kind of like a funky English pop song. In any case, the video called "Prisencolinensinainciusol" is hilarious and is a great way get a laugh at those funny Italians from the 1970's. Our apologies if this is old news to you!

If at one point you didn't speak English, does this sound accurate? Let us know in the comments!

Via: www.misscellania.com

mardi 15 mars 2011

How High School Food Should Be Done

If you have ever been to a public high school cafeteria in the United States you know first hand that the food is sub-par more often than not. Sorry, but this post won't make you feel any better. Recently a well known chef and food blogger David Lebovitz tweeted the above photo of a French high school's lunch menu. The food is catered by a French company called Sogeres. Some of the meals include Rotisserie Chicken, fillet of salmon in a lemon sauce, chocolate mousse, and even a lintel salad with hard boiled egg. These are four-course meals! I wish I could say I ate that well, but alas. When compared to a typical lunch from a US high school, it makes a year in high school abroad to not only be a smart life choice, but also a healthy one to boot!

Via: www.good.is

lundi 14 mars 2011

Why Visiting a Local Market is a Must

One of my most memorable moments in Paris was a Saturday morning stroll along the Bassin de la Vilette (a canal) in February 2010. It was super bowl weekend and some of my compatriots were HUGE Saints fans, their excitement was certainly palpable. We were staying at a near by youth hostel when we decided to take a stroll late that morning. After about 100 meters of walking down the canal the smells of the market slammed our noes holes with a symphony of scents.

vendredi 11 mars 2011

Ten Great French Films (Part 1)

Flickr user: Ryan Baxter

Keeping your foreign language alive and kicking doesn't have to be a chore once you get home - choose something that engages you easily, and let your interest do the rest. I'm addicted to Cinema, and films are a really easy way to keep up your exposure to the language and also not feel like you're doing homework! If you want to be really daring, you can even turn the subtitles off! This week we take a look at some French cinema.

jeudi 10 mars 2011

Language hurdle number 3 of 6: I know the vocabulary, but they can’t understand me!

Again another target you can work on with your teacher at a language school is those pronunciation problems you notice cropping up in your daily life outside the school. Teachers usually have an array of solutions to help you pronounce the language more accurately, and will be trained to take into consideration your own mother tongue and how that may have an effect on the problems you are encountering.

English-speakers generally get the short straw when it comes to language pronunciation, particularly because we are quite lazy with our vowels - most of which generally melt into one 'uh' sound (which is called a schwa for all those linguistics enthusiasts out there... just me?). We also get a bit lax with using our lips as we let a lot of our consonants fall to the back of our mouths.

However, a good Spanish teacher will be able to point out that the elusive trilled 'r' that you are trying to create, is not too far off what we use when we say words like 'gotta' instead of a fully enuciated, Queen's English 'got to' (notice how the 't' goes to a completely different place in the mouth). Suddenly those consonants are not looking so tricky!

My favourite word in French (when I can pronounce it) is 'régulièrement' - double r's combined with lots of vowels, crazy stuff! It's a veritable tongue-twister packed into just one word! Sometimes a good tip is to find a particularly difficult word and to keep practicing it until it becomes relatively quick and natural, it's a good way to get your mouth accustomed to a language's particular ways of pronunciation.

I had a quick google search to see if I could find any particular sites that were good for aiding pronunciation, but nothing really jumped out at me - I think this really underlines the fact that pronunciation is one skill that you have to go to the country for. You need to surround yourself with the vowels sounds, patterns of speech and short-cuts in words, and only really interaction with a native speaker can help you target your particular difficulties.

Are there any particular language quirks that are getting your tongue in a twist? Have you found any good pronunciation tips or tools to help you straighten them out? What's your favourite tongue twister?

mercredi 2 mars 2011

Demand for Bi-Lingual Americans to Grow in the Next Decade

According to an article in the Wall Street Journal employer demand for Mandarin and Spanish will grow at least by 42% (Mandarin) or 70% (Spanish) in the next decade. The study cited in the article by the University of Phoenix Research Institute surveyed 419 employers and 511 workers on their outlook for the need of bilinguals in the work place. Of the 511 workers, 80% said it is highly unlikely that they will gain such knowledge in 10 years. That means it is up to people in college and in high school now to take advantage of some languages that will be in very high demand in the years to come.