With the state of emergency still in force here in France after the November 13th attacks, no marches are allowed. So I found this beautiful picture from Place de la Republique very poignant. You can ban marches, but you can't take away the French right to protest.
My class today did a little introduction to English for conference calls, and they especially enjoyed this video. For those of you who do conference calls for work, I'm sure this will be very familiar...
Here's some classic English humour from the BBC (with transcript and a little vocabulary quiz. Answers in the comments.) Have fun!
Tomorrow my American friends will all be eating turkey and celebrating Thanksgiving. You might be wondering, as I did, what is Thanksgiving all about? Well, here's an article that explains everything.
For us British, it's just a normal Thursday in November (with cold and wet weather probably.)
It's grey and cold here, so how about a little song to brighten things up? And it has a great 1980's style video.
Try my lyrics gapfill to go with it (you can check the answers on a lyrics site like this one.) And have a look at my useful phrases underneath.
"We were bound to get together"
be bound to + V is a very useful phrase which means something was sure to happen.
Teresa's bound to be late. (She is always late so it's sure that she'll also be late this time.)
We were bound to get together. (It was sure to happen, it's almost like it was destiny.)
"Don't you dare look back."
don't you dare + V is another phrase we use a lot when we tell someone not to do something, in a very strong way. It's like "don't even think about doing it."
Don't you dare be late again tomorrow. (Don't even think about it, but if you are late, you know I am bound to be really angry.)
Don't you dare put your dirty shoes on the sofa.
Here are the answers to yesterday's quiz:
on fleek extremely good, attractive or stylish (I am far too old to use this, or even understand what it means. For more information, read this.)
Brexit the UK leaving the EU
Dark Web part of the web only accessible with special software, allowing users to remain anonymous
ad blocker software designed to prevent advertisements from appearing on a web page
they used to refer to someone of unspecified sex
refugee a person forced to leave their country to escape war, persecution or disaster
sharing economy a system where assets are shared between individuals for free or for a fee, usually through the internet.
lumbersexual a young urban man with a particular way of dressing (usually with a beard and a checked shirt) that makes him look like he has a rugged outdoor lifestyle.
Your challenge: try and use some of these words next time you're speaking English.
The Oxford Dictionary's word of the year has been chosen! For the first time ever, it's not a word, it's an emoji. It is....
That's right, the word of the year is the crying with laughter emoji. Apparently it's the most-used emoji in the world. What do you think? Should an emoji be word of the year?
Here are the other words from the shortlist and a little English exercise for you. Can you match the word with the definition?
Paris was my home for 7 years. I lived and worked there, it's where many of my friends still are. It's a city I will always love. I am so deeply shocked and saddened about what happened on Friday night.
When terrorism touches your country, it affects you personally. But we must remember that this is happening in so many countries around the world. Thousands of refugees are running from this very same threat.
My hope is that these attacks unite the people of France, people of all colours and religions. Terrorism comes from hate. We cannot fight it with hate for each other.
Many years ago, I went to live in Japan. I had a job, but I didn't speak a word of Japanese. I bought a "Learn Japanese" book before I left, but it seemed too complicated.
But, within 6 months, I could speak enough Japanese for everyday life in Japan and to have a good conversation with a Japanese person.
I'll share with you the things I did and how you can do the same:
1. I made a friend who already spoke some Japanese. At the beginning, this was great as she taught me some basic words and explained some of the really crazy things I saw around me.
2. At that time, I played capoeira. The best thing I did for my Japanese was to join a capoeira group in Tokyo. There was only one other foreigner there, so I had to learn really quickly. I made a Japanese friend in capoeira who spoke English and wanted to practise her English, who helped me a lot. And I just tried to speak. I spoke terrible Japanese. Half the time people couldn't understand me (often they were too polite to say so!) but I carried on. I made a fool of myself but I didn't care.
3. Every week there were things I wanted to say in capoeira class that I didn't know how to say. So I went home and looked in my learn Japanese book about how to say it. Then the next week I practised it.
4. I bought some little revision cards and wrote down new words - Japanese on one side and English on the other. Then when I was on the train, I tested myself.
5. I joined a Japanese class to learn the basics of grammar and to have some structure.
6. Japanese is not easy to read as there are 2 different 'alphabets' and thousands of Chinese characters. I taught myself the 2 alphabets and then tried to read everything I could around me.
So how does this relate to you as an English learner?
If you are living in an English-speaking country, you have a huge advantage, And the best thing you can do is to join a group - a sport, a class, an organisation - doing something that you enjoy. You will be forced to interact with other people.
If you are not living in an English-speaking country, never mind. English-speakers are everywhere! Find an English-speaking group. Advertise for a language exchange. Go to the pubs where English-speakers hang out and force yourself to talk to people. Join an English class (if you're in France, ask your employer for formation continue. Independents also have the right to this.) Start an English book club for native and non-native speakers. Be friendly to tourists.
And then follow up your practice: think about what you really wished you could say last time you were speaking English, and find out how to say it. Write down the new words you heard and test yourself so you don't forget.
If you can afford it, a trip to an English-speaking country, especially a study trip, is invaluable.
Above all, do not be afraid to speak! Yes, you might say some ridiculous things (see my blog post about best mistakes) but really, who cares? Just laugh, keep calm and carry on.
This is a great TED talk - Matt Cutts speaks clearly, it's a good length (and you can follow the interactive transcript if you need to, although I suggest you try the first listening without the transcript) - and it might even inspire you to try something new for 30 days as well. How about trying to use one new English word a day for 30 days?
My own 30-day challenge: I'm trying to get up when my alarm clock rings the first time, and not press snooze. It's going to be tough.
When you've listened try the vocabulary review exercise to practise some of the phrasal verbs and idioms from the talk.
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...