Study And Learn Italian In Italy

ITALIAN LEARNING in BOLOGNA?

WOULD YOU LIKE TO LEARN ITALIAN IN ITALY AND HAVE TIME TO VISIT THIS BEAUTIFUL COUNTRY TOO?

Hallo! Servizi linguistici di Kos Marta Inga e Di Dio Luigina snc organizes training courses for private students, professionals and companies. Our team is made up of dynamic and friendly people, who have a great amount of experience.

A young and international environment is waiting for you!

Our aim is to create a meeting point between high quality teaching and a friendly environment, in which students feel comfortable and enjoy studying and spending their time here with us.

We’re located in the Borgo Panigale suburb, in Bologna, near the historical centre, surrounded by nature and a relaxing atmosphere.

Hallo! is strategically positioned near “G. Marconi” airport (ten minutes away), 5 minutes from the “Bologna – Borgo Panigale” train station and not far from exit no. 3 of the freeway.

For accommodation needs, we have a special agreement with a rooming-house near the school.

This is our offer for ITALIAN SUMMER COURSES IN ITALY

Group Courses – small groups of 3 to 8 participants
“TWO” Courses – for 2 participants
Individual Courses
Individual and “Two” Courses

Individual and “Two” courses give students the opportunity to study and learn italian in Italy following a personalized learning plan according to individual needs. We prepare the program and the calendar together with the student/s.

Group Courses
Courses are held from Monday to Friday, from 9am to midday or from 3pm to 6pm. 15 hours are planned per week.

You can choose to take courses for one, two or three weeks. Participants are divided into small groups of 3 to 8 students, on the basis of their level.

Courses begin from the first week of June 2008.

Our teaching programmes

Basic course

The objective of the course is to offer the foundations of the Italian language and culture, in order to enhance the first approach to our country. During the lessons you will deal with topics which are useful for daily life situations. You will learn how to describe yourself and other people, how to describe your studies/job and your free time. You will begin to grasp “survival” language that will help you face various social situations (at a bar, in a restaurant, in a hotel, in shops and at the post office).

Intermediate course
This is the ideal course for someone who already has basic knowledge of Italian and is ready to further study the grammar and vocabulary aspects of Italian. Our objective is to offer a wide variety of learning activities, in order to make the lessons fun and dynamic. You will learn how to use verbs in the past tense, you will increase your vocabulary and be able to describe interests, desires, opinions and intentions in a detailed manner.

Advanced course
The objective of the course is to strengthen oral and written skills, thus giving the student more self-confidence and the opportunity to pick up the nuances of the Italian language and culture.

The focal point of the lessons will be conversation. Topics and ideas will be taken from current affairs, magazines, newspapers, Italian television etc, in order to encourage the student to speak about a variety of “made in Italy” topics.

Prices
15 hours (1 week) 250,00 €
30 hours (2 weeks) 480,00 €
45 hours (3 weeks) 675,00 €

ENROLMENT, THE EVALUATION TEST AND THE COST OF BOOKS ARE INCLUDED IN THE PRICE
PRICES ARE PER PARTICIPANT
THE AFOREMENTIONED PRICES INCLUDE VAT AND ARE VALID FROM 01/06/2008 TO 30/09/2008

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How the Chinese Moon Festival is Celebrated in China

The Chinese Moon Festival is a favorite holiday among the Chinese. It is the opportune time to give thanks for the year’s blessings and to re-kindle ties with family.

The Chinese Moon Festival is celebrated every 15th night of the 8th in the Chinese lunar calendar. In this year’s Western calendar (2008), it is celebrated on September 14. The Chinese believe that this is the night when the full moon is at its fullest and brightest. For the Chinese, the moon symbolizes prosperity and longevity. Its round shape also symbolizes the complete family circle.

Chinese Moon Festival Food

Mooncakes are distributed to business networks and relatives a week or two before the Chinese Moon Festival to re-affirm ties. Traditional recipes use fruit, seed, bean paste and meat as filling. Egg yolks are also baked in the center for extra luck, as the yolks look like the moon. These days, even the mooncake is undergoing makeovers to keep up with the taste of the younger generation. Some mooncake recipes use ice cream or chocolate as filling, and their crusts can also be flaky. Even though bakeries start selling mooncakes early, these are always out of stock as the festival draws near.

The Moon Festival dinner is typically banquet-style. Dishes totaling 5, 7 or 9 are considered lucky. Other foods typically eaten during the festival are taro, pomelo and snails.

After dinner, ancestors are honored by burning incense, lighting candles and bowing at the family altar.

The Moon Festival table is then set up. Here are the items commonly placed on the table and what they symbolize:
• Gourds – long lasting togetherness
• Apples – peace
• Pomegranates – plenty of children
• Round shaped fruits – ex. Asian pears, persimmons, grapes, peaches, melons
• Soybean plants – representing the cassia tree
• Peanuts – long life
• Coconuts – healthy face and figure
• Watermelon seeds – plenty of children
• Tea service

Trekking the Outdoors on Chinese Moon Festival

Nowadays, there are plenty of Chinese Moon Festival events that families can attend. Still, the idea is for families to go out to admire the beauty of the moon. Children are given lanterns to light the path. Lanterns are usually shaped like animals, but the modern lanterns now come in other shapes like airplanes, rockets and cars.

• Family is encouraged to send prayers of thanks for all blessings. They are also encouraged to put forth their wishes for the lady on the moon. It is said that when the moon is at its fullest, the Lady of the Moon grants wishes.
• Mooncake is shared. One mooncake is not eaten whole in one sitting. Rather, it is sliced into quarters and shared with family.
• Lovers also take this occasion to share mooncake and wine.
• For lovers and family who are far apart, they can gaze at the moon and remember the loved one who is also gazing up at the moon. They feel some bonding doing something together, despite the distance.

Telling Legends about the Moon

While gazing at the moon, legends about the moon are retold for the young people. Here are some of the more popular legends.

• The Archer and the Lady of the Moon. In the olden days, it was said that 10 suns arose and dried up the earth. Hou Yi the archer shot down 9 of the suns and saved the earth. The Jade Emperor was pleased and awarded him with the Elixir of Life. Hou Yi’s wife, Chang’E, takes the elixir. She floats up to the moon. Hou Yi chases her through the heavens, but does not succeed in getting her back. The gods allow them to meet there once a month, when the moon is full.

• The Jade Rabbit accompanies Chang’E on the moon. The rabbit is commonly shown using a pestle and mortar, continually concocting the Elixir of Life.

• Wu Gang the Woodcutter. Wu Gang selfishly sought out immortality. This angered the gods that they sentenced Wu Gang to cut the Tree of Immortality on the moon. Unfortunately, every time Wu Gang succeeds in cutting down the tree, the magical tree grows right back.

• Moon Minister of Marriage. It is said that the old Minister matches future couples by connecting baby girls and baby boys with an enchanted red thread.

Bringing Out the Chinese Moon Poetry

Part of the Chinese Moon Festival’s popularity can be attributed to the beautiful moon poetry written by ancient poets. The festival is the perfect time to bring out the poetry to be appreciated by the family.

A famous poem about the moon written in the ancient times is “Missing Home in the Silent Night”
One translation goes:
“The moonlight is shining through the window
It makes me wonder if it is the frost on the ground,
Looking up to see the moon …
Looking down I miss so much about my hometown.

As the family, good food, moonlight, legend and poetry combine for this magical night, it is no wonder that the Chinese Moon Festival will always remain a favorite holiday among the Chinese.

Sources:
The Good Luck Life. Rosemary Gong.
Chinatravel.com
“For Mid-autumn festival, bakers replace traditional fillings with trendier fare.” By Maureen Fan. Washington post.

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Learn To Speak Spanish Fluently – And Reap The Rewards

Dos cerveza por favor. If you know what that means you have probably vacationed in a Spanish-speaking country that had sandy beaches and nice hot weather. Or maybe you’re the person who enjoys going south for the winter and spending some time in the Caribbean, Mexico, Central or South America. Even if you have never had to order a beer in Spanish on a hot day or if you have never visited a Spanish-speaking country, most of us recognize the familiar Spanish phrase “Dos cerveza por favor”. You don’t realize it yet, but this Spanish phrase is the corner stone on which your desire to learn to speak Spanish fluently will become realized.

Who doesn’t like the sand and surf? Summer is quickly approaching and there is enough time to learn Spanish rapidly so that you can take your Spanish experience to the next level, that is, you can go beyond the confines of the resort or your hotel, and enjoy some independence and freedom. At this level, you’ll be able to communicate with the locals and by doing so; you will increase your chances of meeting and establishing lifelong friendships with the Spanish-natives. You will be able to share your culture with them and visa versa, to further build and solidify a mutual respect for each other’s culture. Your feelings of isolation and existence as part of the tourist “herd” will be a thing of the past. You will be more independent and be the “Go to Guy or Gal” for the other English-speaking tourists when they are in need of extra assistance. Your social life will increase, as you will be able to equally interact with the tourists and the locals.

Life and ignorance is not always bliss and as Murphy’s Law states, “anything that can go wrong, will go wrong” and it can happen anytime, anyplace and anywhere. Knowing how to speak fluent Spanish puts you at an advantage when traveling or living abroad, and you will be less likely to be taken advantage of due to either your lack of speaking Spanish, or your limited “dos cerveza por favor” means of communication. One of the things that frustrated me the most when I was traveling in Mexico, for example, was the fact that I felt less secure when I couldn’t express or communicate effectively if something went wrong. The media reminds us of the fact that strange things can happen to anyone when you are living or vacationing in a foreign country. Thus, having a proficiency or solid grasp of the local language can protect you from certain situations and can better equip you to handle out-of-the-ordinary situations we sometimes find ourselves in when living or vacationing abroad.

One of the first things to do is to find an excellent Spanish course that will enable you to learn to speak Spanish fluently or enough to be able to converse and communicate at a functional level. You have to find a course that best fits your learning style and needs. Does the course/school have a good reputation? Is the material taught in a way that you can grasp it easily? Do you have access to extra help or assistance with support groups or forums? Are there sufficient resources for you to use? Is it affordable? These are some checkpoints on your checklist to help you make the right choice.

As you learn fluent Spanish, I would recommend that you focus your energy on learning as much relevant cultural and social etiquette information about the country that you will be going to. You will be more alert and aware of what’s going on around you and this will keep you out of trouble the smart way. With the right course to learn to speak fluent Spanish, you will graduate from “dos cerveza por favor” to “una botella de vino tinto” and be able to quickly learn Spanish so that you can spice up your travels and/or stay as an expatriate in any Spanish-speaking country. It will be worth the time and effort that you put into this rewarding activity.

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Execelent Essay With Essay Writing Service

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SExpert Essay Writing Service and Assistance

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Learn French in Mumbai – Five Easy Steps to Master the French Language

“Think” in French – Yes! This is the key to mastering the French language at the very core. It even comes before French grammar. Most of the successful French learners in mumbai have found that this technique – “think in French” works like magic! At any moment of leisure as you sit down to think on any issue – pull yourself towards thinking French. It will not be easy if you are not using it often, but the technique will work its magic quickly. It makes you deeply involved with learning French quickly in Mumbai.

Know and understand the French Culture – This is the very enjoyable part! Take time to know the French. Listening to French music, watching French movies, French radio, reading French books or magazines – these will remind you constantly of your goal (“Master French!”) and build up basics. As you do so, you will learn French quickly – learning new words and delving deeper in formation of sentences. The city of Mumbai offers many such avenues for learning French the fun way. French language events in mumbai are easy to find. At our multiple French class locations in mumbai (Fort-Bombay Main, Borivli, Thane, navi mumbai and dombivli), it has been observed that this comfort with French culture works very effectively. French movie views, books and magazines are possible and highly encouraged at all our french language courses/classes in mumbai.

Consistency Matters – Step by step and with regularity – That is how it will work! Cramming French language studies for 12 hours a day and then doing nothing about it for a week will actually put you behind. On the other hand, if you set aside just an hour a day and learn French regularly, the results will be outstanding. Regularity is the smarter way out – no choice on the same – even as you master the French language in hectic mumbai. With our expertise in running French Classes in mumbai (all over mumbai, Fort-Bombay Main, Borivli, Thane, navi mumbai and dombivli), we have found that this technique works wonders.

Know your French learning problem areas and then join a French class or course in mumbai – There are many classes and courses to learn French in mumbai. How do you know which one of these classes for French in mumbai works best for you? Spend some time knowing the French language and visit the French course counselor to figure out which area is exactly weak. Learning French in mumbai then becomes easy as you interact with other students in your class/course who are in the same level as you are. With years of expertise in conducting French language courses in mumbai (all over mumbai, Fort-Bombay Main, Borivli, Thane, navi mumbai and dombivli), we have found that our genuine concern for students’ French language learning problems encourages them to be more diligent in attending our courses and implementing all exercises for learning French quickly.

Invest time in learning French grammar and vocabulary- French grammar lessons will help you solidify your foundation in French language. As you spend more time learning the French culture our training locations for the same in mumbai, you could also accelerate your mastery by spending some more time learning further new words.

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Rising to the linguistic challenge

This is a story about a young man growing up in Los Angeles in the 1950s. He was a bit strange for a Californian of that epoch. He of course loved surfing, but he loved mathematics and physics even more. His dream from a very young age was to go to university and get a science degree. And that’s what he did.

In 1960 he enrolled at University of California at Los Angeles (UCLA). At that time (I imagine it is still the case), in addition to their choosing a major, university students were required to take so-called “cross curriculum” classes in other disciplines. In particular, at UCLA everyone was required to study a language.

This young man chose German because it was a language of science. This was a mistake. Not only is German a very difficult language compared to English, it is almost impossible to learn any language if you are exposed to it only in the classroom. This of course is the case in the United States, and in particular at that time English was so dominate that outside the classroom you would never hear German, or virtually any other language. Spanish in California was of course an exception; however, in the 1960s it was no where near as important as it is today.

Although the professor insisted that “Sie werden Deutsch lernen!” (You will learn German), our young man was not so certain. “Particle physics and differential topology are not easy subjects, but German is impossible. I spend more time and effort on this class and get less out of it than any other class I have.”

The professor of course was wrong. The young man didn’t learn German, and probably neither did anyone else. All he knew was that he was extremely relieved when the course was finished.

When he graduated, the young man joined the Peace Corps, the U.S. government organization established by President Kennedy to send volunteers to Third World countries to help them with their nation building. The young man was assigned to Tanzania in East Africa. As part of their preparation, all volunteers heading to Tanzania were required to study Swahili, the national language, three hours a day, six days a week for nine weeks.

“At last a language I will actually be able to use!” the young man exulted. So he really threw himself into it. He intensely studied every aspect of Swahili, grammar, vocabulary, syntax, diction, idiomatic expressions, etc. He was unquestionably the best student in the class.

When the volunteers got to Dar es Salaam, then the Tanzanian capital, four of them were put on a train and sent to posts in the middle of the country. At each stop, vendors swarmed around the train to sell bananas, tangerines, oranges and other local produce. With some difficulty, the young man was able to speak to the vendors, but he couldn’t understand their replies.

One of the other members of the group had unquestionably been the poorest Swahili student. At the end of the nine weeks, she could barely say “hujambo” (hello), yet somehow she understood what the vendors were saying. So the young man would speak, the vendors would reply, she would translate, and he would speak again.

“But this makes no sense. How can you understand them when I can’t?” he asked. “I don’t know,” she replied. “I guess I just listen to what they are saying.” Suddenly, he realized that his approach to languages had been academic, not practical. He was listening for conjugations, singulars and plurals, inverted verbs and other grammatical constructs, but not to what people were actually saying.

Once he recognized this, his progress was blindingly rapid. Within a very few weeks, he found that he was no longer translating through English. He was actually thinking and speaking directly in Swahili.

“It was like being released from prison. I saw my cell door swinging open and my mind being set free to fly out. I could literally feel my brain expanding!” the young man explains.

He now lives in Belgium and has gone on to master French, has a working knowledge of Dutch and German, and is currently turning his attention to Spanish.

“You know,” he says, “I used to be jealous of people who learned other languages as a child, not as an adult. But now I’m not so certain. I was 24 before I learned a second language. It wasn’t easy; in fact it was excruciatingly difficult. However, I had an experience that people who grow up speaking other languages cannot even begin to imagine. Looking back on it, I don’t think I would really want to change that.”

I was that young man. I am no longer so young; all of this happened more than 40 years ago. Having had four decades to reflect on it, I am now convinced that this life-altering experience firmly demonstrated two things.

First, under the proper circumstances, anyone can learn to speak other languages. Having grown up in a country as big as a continent with a single dominant language, I had fallen victim to the idea that learning other languages required high intelligence and/or special gifts. I am extremely happy to have discovered otherwise.

Secondly, I believe that the way languages are taught in the U.S. is all wrong. The objective of teaching students to speak the language is manifestly false. They won’t, because in most cases opportunities to use the language are lacking. Pursuing this objective therefore only demoralizes students and turns them against language learning per se.

American educators need to recognize that the best they can do is to acquaint students with a language and lay a foundation for them to rapidly start speaking it if they ever find themselves in a place where the language is actually spoken.

Language courses should teach basic grammar passively, i.e. so that students can easily recognize verb conjugations, singulars and plurals, formal and familiar pronouns, etc., then concentrate on helping students to comfortably read in the language, e.g. newspapers, magazines, novels, etc. If students know how to read a language, once they finish the course they might continue reading it, thus keeping their knowledge grammar and vocabulary fresh and ready to use should the opportunity ever arise.

Under current conditions, the moment they leave compulsory language courses, most students immediately forget whatever it is they might have learned, so everything is lost.

My own experience demonstrates the value of this approach. When I had mastered Swahili — and realized that I could master any other language I wanted to — I decided to try my hand at French. With some effort, I taught myself to read French while still living in Tanzania. When I returned to Los Angeles, I continued reading newspapers, magazines, and novels in French, so five years later when I moved to Belgium, I began speaking it almost immediately.

I am currently doing the same thing with Spanish. I have essentially no opportunity to speak Spanish in Belgium, but I now read it almost fluently. I occasionally spend a week on vacation to Spain. Each time I do, it takes only one or two days for my mind to switch to Spanish mode, so that I can begin speaking. Not fluently, but enough to get around. I am certain that if I were to spend a month or so in Spain, I would rapidly approach fluency.

Philip Yaffe is a former reporter/feature writer with The Wall Street Journal and a marketing communication consultant. He currently teaches a course in good writing and good speaking in Brussels, Belgium. His recently published book In the “I” of the Storm: the Simple Secrets of Writing and Speaking (Almost) like a Professional is available from Story Publishers in Ghent, Belgium (storypublishers.be) and Amazon (amazon.com).

For further information, contact:

Philip Yaffe
Brussels, Belgium
Tel: +32 (0)2 660 0405
phil.yaffe@yahoo.com, phil.yaffe@gmail.com

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Simple Psychological Tips for Learning Languages

by Philip Yaffe

Native English-speakers are increasingly exhorted to learn foreign languages to play a more effective role in globalization. However, we tend not to learn foreign languages for three very valid reasons.

1. Many other peoples in the world are not just exhorted to learn English, they are required to do so. Thus, you can find English virtually everywhere you go.

2. The grammar of most other languages, certainly most European languages, is much more complex than English. Thus, native Anglophones often view language learning as a daunting, and even demoralizing task.

3. Most native Anglophones, especially in North America, live in almost exclusively English-speaking environments. We virtually never hear other languages spoken live, on radio or television, and virtually never see them written in newspapers, magazines, books, etc. This is hardly motivating.

The fact is, the world conspires against Anglophones learning other languages. So if you speak only English, you have no reason to be ashamed.

Nevertheless, while these factors explain why so few Anglophones know other languages, they are not valid excuses for not learning them when the situation calls for it. For example, you are sent to open or manage a foreign subsidiary, you are assigned to negotiate or maintain working relationships with a foreign partner, etc.

How should you go about learning a foreign language with the least pain and most gain? In my experience, the secret lies in changing your mindset.

I live in Brussels, Belgium. I speak French fluently, understand and can more-or-less get around in Dutch and German, and I am now rapidly acquiring Spanish. But the first language I mastered was none of these. It was Swahili, which I learned when I spent two-and-a-half years working as a Peace Corps volunteer in Tanzania.

Like many (probably most) Americans growing up in an essentially English-speaking environment, I thought the ability to speak another language required superior intelligence; only people endowed with this unique talent could actually achieve it. Shortly after I got to Tanzania, I visited in a remote tribal area where virtually everyone spoke three languages. Moreover, virtually none of them had ever seen the inside of a school (there just weren’t any schools), let alone graduated from a prestigious university (UCLA).

I therefore had to radically rethink my attitude towards language learning. This new mindset has significantly helped me master the languages I now regularly use. I will illustrate with French, the language I know best. But remember, these same tips and techniques apply to learning virtually any language

Seeing Is Learning

If you are studying French, it is probably for one of two reasons. Either you are required to do so for school or for your job. Or because French is “a language of culture,” i.e. no properly educated person should be without it.

Whatever your reason, here is some good news. Learning to speak French is perhaps the easiest part of the task.

What!

I know you may have thought that speaking is the most difficult part. However, I would argue that most people can learn to speak French reasonably well within 5-7 months.

Writing French is quite a different story. French is one of the most complex written languages in the world. In fact, written French and spoken French are almost two separate languages. If your objective is to speak French, you should first concentrate on speaking, then let the written language follow at a more leisurely pace.

In some quarters this may sound like heresy, because the majority of language courses try to teach both speaking and writing at the same time. I believe this is a mistake. Also, I am not advocating “total immersion.” Few of us have the luxury of spending a week, or preferably several weeks, totally concentrating on learning a language.

What I am advocating is doing things in the proper psychological order.

Most people can master enough basic grammar to be able to speak (poorly but nevertheless coherently), and to understand what is being said to them, really quite quickly. This is because the major obstacle to acquiring another language is not grammar; it’s vocabulary.

If you don’t know the verb you need, it doesn’t matter that you know how to conjugate French verbs; you still cannot speak. If you don’t know the adjective you need, it doesn’t matter that you know how to decline French adjectives; you still cannot speak. And so on.

I therefore suggest that the most effective order for learning would be:
1. Basic French grammar — the minimum necessary to put together an intelligible (if incorrect) sentence
2. Basic French vocabulary — the minimum necessary to begin using the basic grammar
3. Elaborated French grammar and vocabulary — building on basic grammar and vocabulary as soon as you can actually use them
4. Writing in French — tackling the daunting task of putting French on paper.

If vocabulary is crucial, then the largely unrecognized key to learning to speak French is: Learn to read it.

There is nothing like being able to sit down with a French newspaper, magazine, or even a novel to reinforce both grammar and vocabulary. The more you read, the more your vocabulary will expand. And the more some of French’s apparently bizarre ways of doing things will seem increasingly normal.

For best results, the novel should contain a maximum of dialogue and a minimum of description. With dialogue, you can more or less anticipate and interpret what the characters are saying; with description you haven’t a clue. When I was learning French, I used mystery novels by Agatha Christie and Tarzan novels by Edgar Rice Burroughs because they are about 90 percent dialogue and 10 percent description. However, any novels with a strong emphasis of dialogue will do.

The problem is, as in English the words you see written in many, many cases will be spelled quite differently from how they are pronounced. So if you are going to improve your spoken vocabulary by reading, you will need some way of translating what is written into what is said.

You will find some important tips on how to do this at the end of the article (“How to Pronounce Silent Letters”). However, if you are lucky enough to know a native French speaker, don’t hesitate to ask him or her for help. Not to carry on a conversation, but to ensure that you are properly pronouncing what you are seeing in print. If you don’t have the luxury of a French-speaking friend, try the Internet. Put into any search engine French + audio to access an almost endless number of websites with audio examples to help you.

It’s All in the Mind

If French is your first foreign language, let me assure you that while learning it is not easy, it is far from impossible. And you don’t have to be either a genius or have a “natural talent” for languages to achieve it.

As noted above, most of the people I met in Tanzania spoke at least two languages and often three or more, even those in remote bush areas untouched by formal education. This was nothing exceptional. People in similar circumstances in virtually every country of the world speak two or more languages as a matter of course. Here in Belgium, around Brussels even burger-flippers at McDonald’s are expected to speak both Dutch and French, two of the countries three official national languages (German is the third), plus English.

If they can master other languages, certainly you can, too. Admittedly, it is never easy; however, it is far from impossible — and the rewards can be astounding.

When I first arrived in Tanzania, I was speaking in Swahili by translating through English. However, one magic day I suddenly realized that I was no longer translating through English. I was speaking in Swahili directly. It was like being released from prison. Although this happened more than 40 years ago, the picture of my cell door flying open and my mind flying free is as vivid now as the day it happened. It’s an experience not to be missed!

The process of learning another language is greatly facilitated by understanding and bearing in mind two key psychological principles.

1. Facility Principle: What you don’t have to do is always easier than what you do have to do

In other words, the less you have to think about in learning French, the more rapidly you will learn it. And the fewer mistakes you will make. Believe it or not, French (both written and spoken) has certain features and characteristics that make it objectively easier than English. Pronunciation provides a perfect example.

Most people are largely unaware of how seriously difficult their own native language could be to a foreigner. As a native Anglophone, you probably find that English is quite easy to pronounce. But the fact is, French is even easier.

What! With its nasalization, trilled “r” and other difficult sounds? Yes, and I can prove it!

First, it is important to understand that no sounds, in any language, are inherently difficult to pronounce. If they were, they wouldn’t exist because the native speakers never would have accepted them into their language in the first place.

Learning foreign sounds is never easy; French speakers learning English have a terrible time with the “th” sound in words such as “the,” “they,” “through,” “throw,” etc. Because there is no equivalent sound in French, they have great difficulty in mastering it. But it certainly isn’t impossible. Just as it may be difficult, but certainly not impossible, for you to master unfamiliar sounds in French.

Where French pronunciation has an undeniable advantage over English (and most other European languages) is its virtual lack of a “tonic accent.”

Tonic accent simply means that certain syllables in a word are given more stress than are others. For example, “difficult” is pronounced “dif-fi-cult”; the first syllable carries the tonic accent. It could just as easily be pronounced dif-fi-cult,” which is what the Spanish prefer (dif-fí-cil). Or even “dif-fi-cult.”

Technically, the tonic accent does exist in French, but it is very hard to hear it. For example, in English we say “un-i-ver-sal.” In French, this is “un-i-ver-sel,” with no apparent stress anywhere. Likewise with “rest-au-rant,” which in French is “rest-au-rant.” And so on. Thus, you never have to guess where the tonic accent should go, so you can never make a mistake.

As a native Anglophone, you have grown up with the tonic accent, so you might not immediately recognize what a blessing this is. However, if you have had any dealings with foreigners speaking English, you know that if they put the tonic accent on the wrong syllable, you might not understand the word at all. By foreigners, I don’t necessarily mean non-native English speakers. If you are American, try conversing with an Australian or an Englishman; you are likely to have the same problem. And vice versa.

2. Familiarity Principle: Familiar habits and patterns of thought are often hard to break

Paradoxically, some of the aspects of French that are easier than English at first glance will appear to be strange — and therefore falsely difficult. Although it may take you some time to accept them, once you begin to think in French, you will rapidly come to appreciate them and enjoy their benefits. Here are a couple of anecdotes to illustrate the point.

A. Straight is more difficult than zigzag

One time I was talking with a Dutch-speaking friend. He agreed that English is fundamentally simpler than his own language; nevertheless, he complained that he just couldn’t get used to English’s simpler sentence structure. In certain instances, Dutch grammar requires the order of the words of the sentence to suddenly reverse; this never happens in English. Objectively, then, English sentence structure should be easier than Dutch. But to him, not reversing the word order just didn’t seem natural.

B. Never overlook the obvious

One day I was telling a French-speaking friend of mine about my experiences in Tanzania. I mentioned that Swahili has the interesting characteristic of forming plurals with a prefix rather than a suffix. For example, the Swahili word for book is kitabu; the plural is vitabu. So to go from the singular to the plural, you change the beginning of the word rather than the end. His reaction was swift and surprising.

He: They can’t do that! They can’t form plurals with a prefix!
Me: It’s their language. They can form plurals anyway they want.
He: But it makes no sense. And I can prove it. Which is more important, what a word means or whether it is singular or plural?
Me: What a word means.
He: Then announcing that a word is plural before saying the word is illogical.
Me: I agree. So why do you do the same thing in French?
He: We don’t do that in French!
Me: Of course you do. And I can prove it.

You need to understand that in French, as in many other languages, the definite article (“the”) has both a singular and plural form. Why? I don’t know, that’s just how it is. In French you say le livre to mean “the book,” but you say les livres to mean “the books.” The definite article le (pronounced “luh”) changes to les (pronounced “lay”). So just as in Swahili, French requires you first to announce whether the following word is singular or plural, then say what it is.

My friend was astounded. What he had found so strange, and even absurd, in another language turned out to be exactly what he was doing in his own. Suddenly Swahili no longer seemed quite so bizarre.

Context and Comprehension

Before proceeding, it is necessary to make a fundamental observation.

No amount of grammar and vocabulary can fully cover every situation that may arise in using a language, your native language or a foreign one.

Language is used to communicate meaning, but meaning often depends on context. Therefore, what you say may be grammatically correct, but still not communicate the meaning you have in mind.

The importance of context in communication can be demonstrated by a simple example. J’ai besoin d’un avocat / I need an avocat. How would you interpret this sentence? Avocat means both “avocado” and “lawyer,” so you could interpret it in two ways: 1) I am making a Mexican salad and I need this particular fruit, 2) I am having legal problems and I need professional help.

Without knowing what preceded the statement, there is no way of deciding which interpretation is correct. It is only within context that we can know.

According to the celebrated dictum, “Translation is treason.” In other words, when you go from one language to another, chances are you will fail to transfer some important nuances. I would like to propose a new dictum. Within the same language, “Context is comprehension.” In other words, many apparent problems of English or French (or any other language) tend to disappear within the context of their use.

Context is vital; it must always be taken into account.

How to Pronounce Silent Letters

If this sounds like a contradiction in terms, it really isn’t. Remember, you will be doing a lot of reading to improve your vocabulary and to get used to thinking in French. The problem is, the words you will see written in many, many cases will be spelled quite differently from how they are pronounced. So if you are going to improve your spoken vocabulary by reading, you will need some way of converting what is written into what is said. Fortunately, with many other languages (e.g. Dutch, German, Italian, Spanish, Swahili), this is much less of a problem.

The major part of the disconnection between spoken and written French has to do with silent letters. French is littered with them. However, there are some strategies you can use to help you pronounce what you see.

Silent letters that do Not affect pronunciation

Most silent letters come at the end of words. The two letters “s” and “x” almost never affect pronunciation.

The silent “s” is the ubiquitous ending for plural nouns, articles and adjectives. It is not pronounced. Neither is “x”, which also sometimes indicates a plural and is often the ending on masculine adjectives. For example: chien – chiens, grand – grands, élegant – élegants, pou – poux, jeu – jeux, peureux (adjective), fâcheux (adjective), etc.

The silent “s” is also often found at the end of words for no apparent reason other than to be decorative. For example: cas (kah), pas (pah), souris (sooree), tapis (tahpee), héros (eeroh), sans (sahn), moins (mwehn), pis (pee), etc. The words bus (bewss), as (ahss), fils (feess), non-sens (nahn-sahnss), sens (sahnss), tournevis (toornahveess), and vis (veess) are important exceptions.

The silent “x” is also often found at the end of words for no apparent reason: prix (pree), voix (vwah), noix (nwah), paix (pay), croix (krwah), taux (toh), toux (too), etc.

Words ending in a silent “s” or a silent “x” have the same pronunciations and spellings in both the singular and the plural.

Silent letters that Do affect pronunciation

The silent “e”

The silent “e” is the ubiquitous ending indicating a feminine noun or adjective. It itself is never pronounced, but it may change the pronunciation of the syllable to which it is attached. For example: vrai – vraie, bleu – bleue, cru – crue (no change of pronunciation). But boulanger (masculine), pronounced boo-lahn-zhay; boulangère (feminine), pronounced boo-lahn-zhair. Caissier (masculine), pronounced kay-see-ay, caissière (feminine), pronounced kay-see-air. Port (masculine), pronounced por, porte (feminine), pronounced port.

Silent letters that affect pronunciation in verbs

Silent letters that change pronunciation occur mainly in conjugated verb forms, and specifically in the imperfect and conditional tenses.

Imperfect tense

Je parlais, tu parlais: The “s” itself is not pronounced. Without it, the ending “ai” would be pronounced “ay.” With it, the ending “ais” is pronounced “eh.”
Example: parlai = par-lay. parlais = par-leh.

Il/elle parlait: The “t” itself is not pronounced. Without it, the ending “ai” would be pronounced “ay.” With it, the ending “ait” is pronounced “eh.”
Example: parlai = par-lay. parlait = par-leh

Ils/elles parlaient: The “ent” itself is not pronounced. Without it, the ending “ai” would be pronounced “ay.” With it, the ending “aient” is pronounced “eh.”
Example: parlai = par-lay. parlaient = par-leh

Conditional tense

The conditional tense uses the same endings as the imperfect tense, so the effects of the silent letters are the same.

Je parlerais, tu parlerais: The “s” itself is not pronounced. Without it, the ending “ai” would be pronounced “ay.” With it, the ending “ais” is pronounced “eh.”
Example: parlerai = par-ler-ay. parlerais = par-ler-eh.

Il/elle parlerait: The “t” itself is not pronounced. Without it, the ending “ai” would be pronounced “ay.” With it, the ending “ait” is pronounced “eh.”
Example: parlerai = par-ler-ay. parlerait = par-ler-eh.

Ils/elles parleraient: The “ent” itself is not pronounced. Without it, the ending “ai” would be pronounced “ay.” With it, the ending “aient” is pronounced “eh.”
Example: parlerai = par-ler-ay. parleraient = par-ler-eh.

Pronouncing nouns and adjectives with silent endings

French writing is characterized by its enormous number of nouns and adjectives with silent endings that are pronounced nothing like how they are spelled. Therefore, in order to use reading as a basis for speaking, you must be able to determine their pronunciation. This is not always easy, but there are some generalizations that can help.

Words ending in a silent “t”

Most nouns and adjectives with a silent ending other than “s” or “x” will end in a silent “t”. The combinations are:

a. ait: This combination is pronounced “ay.” Examples: attrait (ah-tray), fait (fay), lait (lay), portrait (por-tray).

b. art: This combination is pronounced “ahr.” Examples: art (ahr), part (pahr), rempart (rahm-pahr).

c. at, ât: These are both pronounced “ah”; the accent circonflexe (^) has no effect on the pronunciation. Examples: dégât (day-gah), état (ay-tah), plat (plah), rat (rah).

d. ert: This combination is pronounced “air.” Examples: couvert (coo-vair), ouvert (oo-vair), pivert (pee-vair)

e. et, êt: This combination is pronounced “ay”; the accent circonflexe (^) has no effect on the pronunciation. Examples: billet (bee-yay), complet (com-play), filet (fee-lay), forêt (for-ay), intérêt (ehn-ter-ay).

f. ort: This combination is pronounced “or.” Examples: fort (for), effort (eh-for), mort (mor), port (por), sort (sor), tort (tor).

g. ot: This combination is pronounced “oh.” Examples: boulot (boo-loh), complot (com-ploh), lot (loh), rigolot (ree-goh-loh)

h. out, oût: These are both pronounced “oo”; the accent circonflexe (^) has no effect on the pronunciation. Examples: bout (boo), goût (goo), tout (too),

i. ut: This combination is pronounced “ew” as in “few.” Examples: début (day-bew), rebut (reh-bew), statut (stah-tew), substitut (sub-stee-tew). The word but (goal, objective) is an important exception, being pronounced “bewt.” The word scorbut (scurvy), pronounced “skor-bewt” is also an exception, but you will probably have little use for it in normal conversation.

Note

There is no equivalent of the French “u” sound in English. It comes close to the “u” sound in “few” if you tighten your lips while saying it, This book uses “ew” to indicate the sound in writing. However, the only way to really get the sound is to listen to a French speaker — and then practice. Free online French courses with sound files are excellent for this purpose.

Words ending in “er”

The ending “er” is extremely important. It is the infinitive ending on a major class of verbs, where it is pronounced “ay.” Examples: assister (ah-sees-tay), fermer (fehr-may), manger (mahn-zhay), participer (pahr-tee-see-pay), etc.

It is also the ending on numerous nouns and adjectives, where is it also pronounced “ay.”

Examples: chantier (shan-tee-ay), fermier (fehr-mee-ay), héritier (eer-it-ee-ay), premier (pray-mee-ay), etc.

Words ending in other silent letters

Silent endings other than “s”, “x”, “r” or “t” are relatively rare. But some of these words are rather important, so you will need to know how to pronounce them when you see them written. Here are a few of the most common ones.
• accord (ah-cor): agreement
• corps (cor): body, as in the expression ésprit de corps
• coup (coo): hit, strike, or blow, as in coup d’état
• nez (nay): nose
• pied (pee-ay): foot
• riz (ree): rice
• trop (troh): too much

Je vous souhaite bonne chance et bon amusement (Zhe voo soo-ate bone shance ay bon ahmusmahn) / I wish you good luck and good fun.

This article is excerpted from the author’s book Gentle French: French grammar as native speakers really use it.

—————————

Philip Yaffe was born in Boston, Massachusetts, in 1942 and grew up in Los Angeles, where he graduated from the University of California with a degree in mathematics and physics. In his senior year, he was also editor-in-chief of the Daily Bruin, UCLA’s daily student newspaper.

He has more than 40 years of experience in journalism and international marketing communication. At various points in his career, he has been a teacher of journalism, a reporter/feature writer with The Wall Street Journal, an account executive with a major international press relations agency, European marketing communication director with two major international companies, and a founding partner of a specialized marketing communication agency in Brussels, Belgium, where he has lived since 1974.

Books by this Author

The Gettysburg Approach to Writing and Speaking like a Professional

The Gettysburg Collection:
A comprehensive companion to The Gettysburg Approach to Writing and Speaking like a Professional

Actual English: English grammar as native speakers really use it

Gentle French: French grammar as native speakers really use it

What’d You Say? / Que Dites-Vous?
Fun with homophones, proverbs, expressions, false friends, and other linguistic oddities in English and French

Science for the Concerned Citizen: What You Don’t Know CAN Hurt You.

The Little Book of BIG Mistakes

The Eighth Decade: Reflections on a Life

Major Achievements of Lesser-known Scientists: Human Biology

Books in “The Essential Ten Percent” Series

(at August 2012)

College-level Writing: The Essential Ten Percent

Logical Thinking: The Essential Ten Percent

Public Speaking: The Essential Ten Percent

The Human Body: The Essential Ten Percent

Wise Humor: The Essential Ten Percent

Word for Windows: The Essential Ten Percent

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Writing a College Admission Essay Help Outs

Wіth thе increasing number οf applications pouring in thе offices οf еνеrу college, getting admission in a gοοd college іѕ becoming difficult day аftеr another. Thе college admission essay іѕ a reflection οf уουr ability and opens thе gate οf higher education for уου. Hence іt іѕ іmрοrtаnt to know hοw to writing an essay. Thеrе аrе three basic steps involved in thіѕ process:

• Thinking οf thе various topics- Once уου know thаt уου hаνе to write an essay, devote sufficient time in thinking οf thе various options οn whісh уου ѕhουld write. Yου саn сhοοѕе to write οn уουr hobby οr skill, аnу adventurous incidence, аnу challenge thаt уου faced in life and hοw уου solved іt, уουr struggle, a favourite book οr a movie, telling аbουt thе reason for joining thе college, whаt уου want to bе in life, уουr childhood, уουr role model etc. A personal essay wіll give thе selector an іdеа аbουt hοw уου аrе suitable for thе college seat.

• Selecting a suitable topic to write- Once уου hаνе thουght οf thе various options, сhοοѕе a topic whісh саn bе somewhat relevant to уουr study. A topic thаt саn very well depict уουr personality, οr аt lеаѕt mirror іt, саn аlѕο bе a gοοd option. It ѕhουld bе something whісh саn bе οf interest οf majority οf people. Hot social οr political topics ѕhουld never bе chosen.

Admission essay help – Whеn уου ѕtаrt writing уουr college admission essay, уου need to keep ѕοmе points in mind to write effectively and write to crack thе test. Thеѕе аrе:

* Originality and Precision- Thе essay needs to bе original, depicting уουr οwn self, уουr character, feelings and thουghtѕ. Dο nοt try to include аll аbουt yourself. If уου аrе writing аbουt уουr hobby, dο nοt enlist аll уουr hobbies to ѕhοw thаt уου аrе a jack οf аll trades. Write to thе point and stick to thе topic thаt уου hаd ѕtаrtеd wіth. Instead οf using heavy words and grand themes, υѕе thе words οf day to day official conversation.

* Clarity- Eνеrу essay іѕ lіkе a ѕtοrу; іt hаѕ a beginning, a middle body and thе еnd. All three раrtѕ ѕhουld bе well connected to each οthеr. Write in a manner аѕ іf уου аrе сrеаtіng an image in thе reader’s mind. Thе thουght process ѕhουld bе clear and ѕο ѕhουld bе thе flow in thе essay. Thе body ѕhουld bе divided іntο paragraphs to add clarity. Humour ѕhουld bе self-critical in nature οr wit and nοt more thаn a pinch.

* Introduction and conclusion- Mοѕt οf thе people find thеѕе two more difficult to write thаn thе body. Introduction needs to сrеаtе curiosity to hold thе attention οf thе reader. Summarization οf thе whole essay ѕhουld bе done in thе conclusion and nοt in thе introduction.

* Tone- Chοοѕе thе words carefully to keep thе tone οf thе essay balanced. If уου аrе talking аbουt уουr accomplishments οr уουr skills, dο nοt ѕtаrt bragging аѕ іf уου аrе unbeatable. It ѕhουld bе a mix οf pride, humility and generosity.

* Smaller errors- Dο nοt ignore аnу grammatical, spelling οr punctuation errors in thе essay. Even a small error саn take away уουr chance οf being selected.

Once уου hаνе рυt уουr best effort in уουr college admission essay, leave іt aside for a couple οf days. Revisit іt, whеn 2-3 days hаνе passed and dο a critical analysis οf whаt уου hаνе written οn thе basis οf above points. Thе outcome οf thіѕ analysis wіll dеfіnіtеlу improve уουr essay. I wish уου thе Best οf Luck.

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