I've been reading a hilarious blog post with 99 of funniest things seen on CVs. Here are a few of the best:
Reason for leaving:
Education and Qualifications
Hobbies and Interests:
The moral of the story? Proofread your CV! And be honest, but not too honest.
You can read the rest of the 99 here.
*The words in italics are the ones you should check if you don't understand the mistake.
**My dear students, you may think your teacher is just boring you with grammar, but here is proof that grammar is important.
The French accent in English is very charming, even sexy according to many people. Dropping h's and adding h's all over the place is all part of the charm, but too much can turn charming into ridiculous. If you're making a presentation or speaking on a conference call, you want people to be listening to what you're saying, not counting how many times you say av instead of have. And what about if you want to tell someone you're hungry? Will they think you're angry?
It's better to be able to control those pesky h's for the times when you really don't want to tell someone they have nice air.
My top tips:
1. Take a breath before an h. If you have a sentence with a word beginning with h - for example, I'm going to the hairdresser - take a tiny pause and a tiny breath before hairdresser so you can do a little exhale to aspirate the h.
2. If a word begins with a vowel, link it to the word before. For example if you want to say I need some fresh air, you should imagine you are saying I need some freshair. Don't leave any room for an h to sneak in.
3. Practise saying I'm hungry and I'm angry. I'm hungry has a little pause before the h. When you say I'm angry you should imagine you're saying I mangry. You also need to open your mouth really wide for the a sound, like you are going to bite into a huge apple.
4. Beware of words that have a silent h: hour, honest, honour, heir, vehicle, exhausted. Just imagine there is no h and your pronunciation will be correct.
5. Practise, practise, practise. Reading aloud for 1 minute a day and really concentrating on the h's is an excellent way to improve. If you can stand it, record yourself.
When I first met my husband, he put extra h's everywhere and dropped all the other h's. As he often has to do public speaking in English, he really made an effort to practise, and his h's are nearly perfect now. Except after a few glasses of wine, but that's all part of his charm...
Some people are afraid to speak a word of English because they are so ashamed of their accent. Other people happily talk away, unaware that no one is really sure what they are saying. If you can speak well enough to communicate, that's enough right? The French accent is considered as quite sexy - why would you want to get rid of it?
Well....I disagree. To a certain extent. Pronunciation is very important. I'm not advocating that people try to make their native accent disappear. Your accent is part of your identity, you are charming when you speak English with an accent, and honestly, very few adult learners of English ever get a perfect accent.
But surely you'd prefer this:
If you are visiting an English-speaking country where people are not used to hearing your accent, it can be difficult to communicate, even about simple things. If you need to speak English over the phone or on conference calls, you really need to work on your accent so that you are speaking clearly.
I still have a terrible English accent in French, but there are certain sounds which I have worked a lot on. The u for example. Being able to identity this sound means I know if my yoga teacher is saying dessous or dessus (under or over) and I don't embarrass myself by saying cul instead of cou (butt and neck.)
In the next few blog posts, I'll give French-speakers some tips on pronunciation and what to practise.
Meanwhile I will leave you with a South-African rugby player who has managed to get an excellent French accent. (Thanks to my student Fred for this video.)
It's here! The day that Marty McFly and the Doc travel to in Back to the Future 2.
Did the film correctly predict the future? Well, we still have roads, which is probably a good thing, cars seem to have enough trouble driving without adding a Z axis. Hoverboards? Self-tying shoelaces? Have a look at this BBC article to see what the film got right and what it got wrong. There is one very major part of our lives nowadays which doesn't appear at all in the film. What do you think it is?
Interested in the US presidential election campaign? Here's a hilarious look at Donald Trump from the Daily Show.
Following on from my last blog post, here are my top tips for learning English. Unfortunately, there's no magic potion that is suddenly going to make you bilingual...practice and exposure is the key.
1. Consciously use new vocabulary. If you have an opportunity to use English at work or in class or whatever, this is great: Write a new word or phrase that you want to remember on a post-it and stick it on your computer or wherever it's visible. Then try to use it as many times as you can that day - in emails, in speaking, on the phone. By consciously using language, it will become automatic.
2. Watch TV and films in English. It's ok, you can put subtitles in your own language on. When you improve, you change to English subtitles. Eventually you'll be able to watch without subtitles, but there's no hurry. It's better to enjoy what you are watching and understand it with subtitles. (Ever wonder why people from Scandinavian countries speak such amazing English? One reason is that they don't dub their TV, it's only subtitled.)
3. Read in English. BUT....only read things you are interested in. A short magazine article, a blog, follow someone on twitter. If you're interested, you'll enjoy it and it won't feel like studying. Reading is the number 1 way to improve your vocabulary and grammar.
4. Social Media. Follow people on twitter. Follow people you're interested in on Instagram (ones who write captions with their photos. For example @natgeo for amazing nature photos or @humansofny for human interest.) Or join a facebook group - wherever you are in the world, you're sure to find one in English.
5. Listen to English music. And if you like music and singing, go to a site like metrolyrics, print out the lyrics to your favourite song and work out what they mean. Then sing! This is what I do sometimes with Turkish songs - I have learnt a lot of useful phrases like Are you going to kill me or make me crazy darling? Ok, maybe not so useful when I need to order a coffee in Istanbul, but it's fun and it's learning.
6. Listen to English radio. Don't worry if you don't understand everything, just let the words flow over you. Some days you will spot words you know. After a while, you will realise you actually understand without even trying.
Any other great tips? Let us know about them in the comments.
Tomorrow I'm going to give you some top tips on how to improve your English outside of your English classes.
But first of all, here is the number one piece of advice:
Whatever you do to practise your English should be interesting and fun - for you.
Watch TV shows you like, read articles you are interested in. Listen to songs you like. DO NOT kill yourself trying to understand the BBC news if you would prefer to watch Friends.
The next most important piece of advice is:
Don't try to understand everything. Relax, let the words flow over you. If you're reading, look up only the really important words. If you're listening or watching, it doesn't matter if you don't understand. Your ear is unconsciously attuning to the language.
Practising your English in your free time should be enjoyable.
Fun = you're more likely to continue and do it often.
Boring = you're more likely to give up and then feel guilty.
Just do something in English. Even if it's only for 2 minutes.
Unfortunately, most people in Britain think of this kind of thing when they hear the words "French Work Culture."
Or something like this:
We don't usually hear about how things are changing in France. However, the Guardian newspaper ran an interesting article this weekend about successful French start-up BlaBlaCar, which you can read on the Guardian website here. Maybe in the future "French work culture" will have a different reputation abroad!
Test your English - what should this sign really say?
I saw plenty of these kind of unintentionally hilarious mistakes while I was living in Japan - you can check out the Engrish.com website to see more English from around the world.
My blog has changed! If you're looking for my English-practice exercises, they're all still here, just look in the archives.
Catherine: blogging about learning, language, culture, France and more...