jeudi 30 juin 2011

Staying Safe Abroad: Drink and think responsibly

Allegra having a few drinks with friends on Halloween
At Easy Languages we take your safety abroad very seriously. That's why we have partnered with organizations in the industry like the Student Youth and Travel Association to promote the importance of being fully prepared for a trip abroad. In all honesty the scariest part of traveling abroad isn't the unknown, it's the radical change of environment. Not being able to understand what passers-by are saying or what advertisements mean can be disconcerting and unnerving. While we can't make those feelings go away, we can help you be prepared for the typical curve balls that might get thrown your way. In this first in a series of installments on staying safe abroad we're going to cover safe practices for drinking alcohol safely and responsibly while abroad, but many of these tips apply no matter where you live. Parents I suggest you make your kids read this!

Language Learning: The two flies with one swat mentality

Er, what? 'Hit two flies with one swat'? Well it's actually zwei Fliegen mit einem Schlag treffen, the German equivalent of 'to kill two birds with one stone'. Idioms, and how different or even similar they are, are one of the most interesting things to study in other languages - so as I was writing an article on how to incorporate language learning into your everyday life, I did a quick reference search online.

I'm currently brushing up on my German right now, but I'm not able to go on a language immersion in Germany right at this minute. That doesn't mean you have to put your language goal on hold, and in fact, the more preparation you do before you can visit the country, the more you are going to get out of it in the end!

mercredi 29 juin 2011

Foreign Slang: The United Kingdom of timey wimey slang

(Here is a picture of Ann and I with 'bacon cobs').

Upon my third night in Brussels I had the opportunity to meet a woman from Notting Hill named Ann. Not only was she rather friendly, but she talked to me about her native country of England with great enthusiasm. I asked her about slang in the area where she lived before recently moving here to Brussels to work for UPS. Here are a few terms which she explained to me which sounded also a bit Aussie:

mardi 28 juin 2011

Geography: Do You Know the Countries of Central and South America?

I recently found a great game that can help you brush up on your South American geography. All you do is click on the country named in the top box by the timer and hope that you get it right! The game is available on purposegames.com.

Don't forget to check out our awesome Spanish programs in PeruGuatemala, Mexico, Costa RicaArgentinaUruguay, and Ecuador! We also have some Portuguese programs in Brazil.

Click here for all Spanish programs for those under 18 years old.

Source: www.purposegames.com

Traveling to the Unknown: A Trip to the Italian Countryside

View of a city in Cinque Terre
Ok sure, so Italy isn't really "unknown" territory. But for me, the short adventure to Italy at the end of my year studying abroad in Lyon, France was definitely a new one. I planned it spontaneously late, went by myself, and traveled around, not knowing anyone or a single word of Italian! But somehow I survived...In this blog I will describe some of my experiences and memories from this trip and my suggestions for how to get around in a completely alien country.

lundi 27 juin 2011

The 5 Greatest Things "à faire" in Lyon, France

Flickr user: CdePaz
From working our way down the list to the top "must-do" activities in Lyon, France, I will take you on a little journey explaining the multi-faceted city of Lyon: from shopping at a fresh market in Croix-Rousse to checking out the fun and relaxing bank of the Rhone River. Studying for a year on an exchange in Lyon has allowed me to meet tons of people from all over the world, create a great network of close friendships, and visit places I had only dreamed of visiting. Read on for more!

vendredi 24 juin 2011

Video: Travel Tips from MnMTravellers

Though the video above is a funny commentary on foreign travel, it also mentions some good travel ideas. For example, buying a map is very important because orienting yourself can be important. Another tip I liked here though was the part about throwing away your map for awhile to explore the area. By immersing oneself in these things when traveling, it can be easier for you to explore the language and the city you are adapting to.

jeudi 23 juin 2011

Is World Travel Educational?

It's unfortunate that, according to an article I recently read on USA Today's website, more than two thirds of Americans are monolingual English speakers. There is a problem with the concept of foreign language learning in the United States if the majority of the population isn't interested in learning foreign languages. Is it the attitude we portray to other countries as rugged individualists that keeps us isolated? These are questions that I cannot fully answer, but being in Brussels has provided me with some new insight. For instance, it is important to have a sense of humor and a good attitude when learning a language in a foreign country. You need to be open to new experiences and new teachers.

mercredi 22 juin 2011

Art Protesting: A Look at the Innovative Street Artist BLU

At the University of Oregon, I study art and have a never ending interest in discovering new art styles and artists. This guy is not too new and has been around for about 10 years, but I still find his works relevant to today. He is an italian street artist and does giant murals on the side of buildings, facades of old warehouses, paints street walls found in the ghetto, and even incorporates other medias like in this video I have posted: Big Bang Big Boom. He goes by the name of BLU. Blu travels around the world, as you can tell from his website, and creates these artistic statements, more like protests, about humanity and westernized societies. In this video, you may start off thinking that the art is just telling the story of the Earth and how our planet was first born (with a bang!), but in the end I think it is something much greater...

mardi 21 juin 2011

The Numbers Behind China

After reading the following infographic, one might better understand why it is so valuable to learn Chinese.
By: Jason Powers
Via: www.onlineschools.org/

Foreign Slang: Francy French (Slang in France)

Above is a music video which I think exemplifies the French slang pretty well, and here is the site which translates the French into English for those non-francophones. Upon visiting Brussels and with the fact that French is the primary language here in tow, I have created a list of French slang terms. A few have come from some sites around the web, but some terms I have found in conversations with others here at Easy Languages like "C'est fou!" meaning "That's crazy!" Read on past the break for my complete list.

lundi 20 juin 2011

Video: Silly French Song - Foux du Fafa

Unlike the other video we posted of what English sounds like to foreign listeners this song has real French in it! The above video sung mostly in French by the comedic musicians, Flight of the Concords. Most of the French is fairly basic so see if you can understand it! The lyrics are posted after the break. 

vendredi 17 juin 2011

French songs you should add to your playlist right now!

Above is one of my favorite music videos by McSolaar, a French rap artist. It is only a few years old, and I enjoy the lyrics as well. Hopefully you will enjoy this song like I do. It is my first week in Belgium and so far these are a list of some of my favorite singers in French. It really helps to listen to French music when trying to gain a better comprehension of the language. Hit "Read more" to check out my lists!

Junk Food Flabby to Actively Savvy

Hi everybody! I am a brand spankin' new member of the Easy Languages team and even more of a rookie when it comes to blogging. But recently I came across an article that interested me about americans and obesity. Although I am aware this is a very common topic nowadays in relation to the U.S., I think this little link is a good way to start conversations and discussions about food, health, and culture, in any country. These little statistics, provided by Men's Health, place the top ten fattest cities in the US and the top ten thinnest cities for 2010. As a fellow american, I have actually had first-hand experience with 2 of the cities that are on these lists: living for 18 years of my life in Kansas City, Missouri which is number 6 on the top ten heftiest cities and living in Eugene, Oregon for 2 years while frequently visiting Portland, Oregon which is ranked number 7 on the top ten fittest cities. Upon returning to the US after studying for a year in Lyon, France and doing an internship in Belgium and England, I plan on finishing my studies before finally settling down and finding a job in Portland.

mercredi 15 juin 2011

Ten Great French Films (Part 2)

Flickr user: Ryan Baxter

...And we're back. I'm sorry to tell you that this sequel, like many good sequels, is a lot darker in content (although I still squeezed in an 'aw' inducing documentary and a comedy). So let's take a look at some more recent examples of French cinema...