Lecture du moment en français: “Coquelicot”

Aujourd’hui c’est la journée internationale du livre et du droit d’auteur mais pour moi c’est la fête du livre tous les jours!

Je suis une grande lectrice depuis toujours. Je lis en français, en anglais, en espagnol, en bulgare… sur papier, sur liseuse électronique et j’écoute même des livres audios dans les transports. Mes longues études universitaires littéraires m’ont donné le goût des mots.

Le Goût des mots, c’est le nom d’une collection d’ouvrages que j’aime beaucoup, dirigé par l’écrivain Philippe Delerm. J’en possède plusieurs titres dont Coquelicot et autres mots que j’aime par la regrettée amoureuse et chanteuse des mots, Anne Sylvestre.

Dans ce livre que je suis en train de terminer, Anne Sylvestre dresse un inventaire de ses mots préférés et explique pourquoi elle les aime. Parfois, c’est pour leur sonorité, parfois c’est pour leur image mais souvent ces mots lui évoquent des souvenirs.

Si je devais choisir les mots que j’affectionne tout particulièrement, ce serait ceux-là:

papillon (en français) / spoon (en anglais) / maravilla (en espagnol) / катчамак (“katchamak” en bulgare)

Et vous, que lisez-vous actuellement? Quels sont vos mots préférés en français?

Newsletter: week 12

Weekly English Fix

This week: Chocolate Chip and Banana Muffins

Photo by Taylor Grote

By Klaudyna Piatek March 22, 2021

Wonderful news everyone, we are now an official business and have received our temporary SIRET number! And, what better way to celebrate than by baking Chocolate Chip and Banana Muffins this Saturday, March 27th?! Join us for this week’s workshop and delight in the deliciousness of these scrumptious muffins! 

Also, don’t forget that you can now sign your children up for our online English lessons over the Easter holidays. We will play games, learn about music, talk about films and help them find their comfort zone in English. Each lesson is 45 minutes long, for elementary aged children we offer 1 lesson per day; for middle and high school, it is 2 lessons per day, Monday to Friday. 

Don’t miss them! 

THIS WEEK’S

TOP STORIES

Spread the love! 10 scrumptious Marmite recipes, from roast potatoes to spaghetti

Stuart Heritage

https://www.theguardian.com/food/2021/mar/22/10-scrumptious-marmite-recipes-roast-potatoes-spaghetti

Okay, Marmite is really not my thing, but I think that we should all be open to trying new foods and experiencing other cultures. So, have a go! Read about all the different ways that you can prepare Marmite, and who knows, maybe you’re one of the lovers?!


Arrests after 6,000 people gather for illegal ‘carnival’ in Marseille

https://www.thelocal.fr/20210322/arrests-after-6000-people-gather-for-illegal-carnival-in-marseille/

Want to read about French news in English? Try out The Local. Here’s an article to get you started about the recent “carnival” in Marseille! 

THIS WEEK’S

TOP TIPS

Long Term Improvement

I recently saw a post on Facebook advertising Yoga in English. I think that’s a great idea. Pick an activity that you enjoy, and do it in English, or in whatever language you are trying to learn! It’s important to find enjoyment in language learning and it doesn’t really matter how you do it as long as you get to practice enough. 

Vocabulary

I have been learning lots of new words lately by reading books with my young son. Children’s books are great because they’re often written in a very rhythmic way, they rhyme, and we tend to read them aloud! Great practice! 

Grammar Spot

Since I mentioned reading in the vocabulary advice above, I’ll mention it here too. While I was learning French, reading books with lots of dialogue really helped me understand how to use the imparfait and pasé composé tenses. They helped because I could follow the conversation on my own time, and I didn’t have to worry about interrupting the people speaking to ask about a word. Dialogue-rich novels are fabulous! 

GroupEtude SARL

21 AV Jean Giono

13090, Aix en Provence

Saint Patrick’s Day

Happy Saint Patrick’s Day everyone!

This year, as last year, celebration won’t be quite as raucous as usual, but let’s tip our hat to Ireland’s patron saint anyway and talk a little about the day.

For starters, in many of the social circles and cities I’ve floated around in, Saint Patrick’s Day is a wonderful excuse to go out to the closest Irish Pub and party. Everyone wears green, or a least a big green hat, and drinks beer in the numerous beer gardens that wake up slowly after a long winter.

But what is Saint Patrick’s Day, and what are some of its traditions?

Saint Patrick is the patron saint of Ireland. He was born in the 4th century in Roman Britain and was brought to Ireland after he was kidnapped at the age of 16 and enslaved. After he escaped captivity, he returned to Ireland to convert it to Christianity. He opened schools, churches and monasteries around the country and is now celebrated on the day of his supposed death.

Some of the traditions surrounding Saint Patrick are: wearing green (this is supposed to render you invisible to Leprechauns, who apparently like to pinch people), attending parades, parties, brandishing Ireland’s symbol, the shamrock, or clover; in Chicago, the city even dyes the Chicago river green in celebration!

Traditionally, Saint Patrick’s Day is a feast day in celebration of the saint, however, it became a secular holiday with Irish immigrants to the United States, who introduced many longstanding traditions (like dyeing the Chicago River green) that are celebrated to this day!

So what are some ways in which you can celebrate today?

  • Wear green!
  • Listen to some Irish music.
  • Go exploring outside with your kids in search of shamrocks, maybe you’ll even find a four leaf clover and reap its good luck!
  • Bake a green cake and decorate it in more Irish colours.
  • Learn how to spell “Leprechaun” (this is one I struggle with)!
  • Have a beer, you can even dye it green!

So what did you do this Saint Patrick’s Day? How do you normally celebrate it? Personally, I rarely do, the bars and pubs have always been too full in the past and I like to get comfortable with my beer!

Okay, so where did I learn all this? See below!

https://www.britannica.com/topic/Saint-Patricks-Day

https://kids.nationalgeographic.com/celebrations/article/st-patricks-day

7 BOOKS FOR YOUNG ENGLISH LEARNERS

Since I’ve already written a post about what to read to your young kids, here’s another about some things you can give your (slightly) older kids.

So here is a list of 7 books that we either have, or that have been recommended to us.

All Right Already, and others by Jory John and Benji Davies.

I like this series, with Bear and Duck because of its simple drawings and witty turn of phrase. They really make for a great introduction to autonomous reading.

I also think these books are really fun for young English learners because the language is still quite simple, while the comic book style illustrations will help your child follow the story without too much trouble. I wouldn’t recommend it for kids who don’t have any notions at all of English, but certainly for those who are exposed to it regularly.

This brings me to my next series.

I Really Like Slop, an Elephant and Piggie book by Mo Willems

Ok, I know, I know, I’ve already put this on a previous list for young children, but these are also fab for early readers. They are funny, and easy to follow, even for children who are still learning English.

There Must be More than That by Shinsuke Yoshitake

This book is a little more difficult for English learners, but you could definitely read it with your middle schooler who has much more English in school. It’s a book that I would absolutely read with my grade 6 and 7 students (6ème and 5ème).

I love it because it’s a realistic but hopeful account of how kids might interpret the information they see and hear in the grown-up world. I love the style of drawings and I love how it creates a world of possibilities for young imaginations.

Tiny Titans by by Art Baltazar and Franco Aureliani

This series was recommended to me. I’ve included it on the list because I think comic books and graphic novels can be great introductions for reluctant readers and young English learners. As with the previous book, these ones will be for middle school aged kids who already know the basics of English. Best practice will be to read them with your kids so that they don’t feel like a chore, unless of course you’ve got avid readers!

These next titles are also recommendations from other parents and readers’ circles

Scooby-doo Team Up! By Sholly Fisch

Hilda and the Black Hound by Luke Pearson

Fairy Tale Comics by Chris Duffy

Once again, these could be great introductions to the world of reading in English. They may be for elementary aged children, but the stories, illustrations and the fact that they are graphic novels and comics will take away from the idea that they’re “little kids’ books”.

While my own son is still too young to read these, I’m really looking forward to the day when he’ll begin asking me for more things to read on his own, or with me!

TOUT LE MONDE PEUT APPRENDRE UNE LANGUE ÉTRANÈRE, MAIS IL FAUT S Y METTRE SÉRIEUSEMENT!

Nous avons tendance à penser que dès qu’il s’agit de quelque chose qui nous demande de l’effort, on est forcément ‘nul’, or, quasiment tout demande de l’effort d’une manière ou d’une autre.

Quand les gens découvrent que je suis trilingue, et que je leur parle de l’apprentissage d’une autre langue, ils me disent : ouais mais c’est facile pour vous car vous êtes douée. Vraiment ?! Non, pas de tout, je ne suis pas douée. Le polonais, j’ai appris car c’était la langue que parlait ma famille. Bon, là-dessus, pas trop de choix, surtout quand on est bébé. L’anglais, j’ai appris car, encore une fois, pas de choix; mes parents ont décidé quand j’étais très très jeune, de déménager au Canada. Jusqu’ici, on est d’accord, qu’il n y a rien de ‘talentueux’ dans mon parcours. Maintenant pour le français.

scenic view of city
Photo by James Wheeler on Pexels.com

J’apprend le français depuis l’âge de 6 ans. Au Canada, un pays bilingue, on y est obligé. Par contre, entre 6 et 22 ans, où j’ai passé 15 ans à essayer d’apprendre cette langue, j’arrivais à peine à m’en sortir quand je voulais commander un café dans un restaurant. Voilà, on peut dire que je ne suis vraiment pas douée, si j’ai passé 15 ans à apprendre une langue sans résultats.

Donc, comment se fait-il qu’aujourd’hui j’arrive même à écrire des articles entiers en français ? Eh ben, quand je suis arrivée en France en 2008, à 22 ans, j’ai travaillé très très dur; j’ai passé des mois à fréquenter des personnes et aller en soirée où je ne comprenais et ne disais RIEN, or, j’adore parler. Je me suis mise à la lecture en français, avec un petit dictionnaire électronique posé sur mon livre (c’était encore les jours avant la démocratisation des smartphones et des liseuses électroniques); je me suis forcée à parler uniquement en français même avec des personnes qui parlaient parfaitement l’anglais, car je savais qu’il fallait que je pratique; j’allais aussi à l’école pour apprendre, le CUEFA à Avignon, et je faisais des exercices, j’écrivais, je passais des tests… Bref, j’ai bossé, je me suis concentrée comme jamais, et je continue d’apprendre.

Donc, voyez-vous, il n y a rien de naturel dans l’apprentissage d’une langue. Il y a, parfois, des facilités de prononciation. J’admets que même si j’ai un accent quand je m’exprime en français, après beaucoup de pratique et peut-être un peu grâce à mes deux autres langues, je n’ai pas énormément de difficultés à prononcer les mots en français. Cependant, ces facilités là pourront uniquement vous donner un coup de pouce dans l’apprentissage, elle n’apprendront pas pour vous.

Ma conclusion est donc celle-ci : les français ne sont pas plus nuls que les autres en langues étrangères, mais avec une attitude aussi défaitiste et sans être exposés aux autres langues, tel que l’anglais, par exemple, comment voulez-vous apprendre ?

wood man people desk
Photo by Thirdman on Pexels.com

Ce n’est pas que les scandinaves, les allemands, les polonais ou les tchèques sont plus doués que les français, c’est que dans ces pays, l’anglais existe plus naturellement. Les enfants regardent leurs séries américaines en anglais, les adultes aussi; puis avec la pop culture, la musique, la communication, etc., tout devient plus simple.

Si vous avez vraiment envie d’apprendre une langue étrangère, la première chose à faire c’est de vous enlever de la tête que vous n’êtes pas doué. Ensuite il faut s’exposer à la langue, puis il faut travailler, pratiquer et s’acharner pour le faire. Trouvez des activités que vous appréciez, à faire dans votre langue cible, et faites les. Il n y a pas de raccourcis, il faut s y mettre.

*Si vous avez besoin de conseils ou les cours que propose mon école vous intéressent, n’hésitez pas à me contacter!

3 TV SHOWS TO WATCH IF YOU’RE LEARNING ENGLISH

When you can’t get yourself to a foreign country to really learn a language, watching TV is the next best thing. So, based on that statement, what fallows are 3 of my recommendations for the best series to watch in English.

There are several criteria that I used when selecting, and they are:

  • Brevity. Hour long episodes are great, but when you have to concentrate all your attention to understand what’s going on, fatigue can set it. So if you’re looking for something to watch, favour shorter shows.
  • Fun. They really should be very entertaining and especially, they should include humour that can be widely understood across cultures. Added slapstick is also a great advantage because, well, everyone gets it.
  • A mix of accents. Everyone knows that English comes in a variety of accents, it’s important to keep that in mind when choosing something to watch. Now, I wouldn’t say that it’s THE criterion to trump all others, but it helps to understand a wider array of speakers.
  • Simplicity. Don’t go for series where there is a lot of complicated language and specific slang. If you like House, that’s great, but remember, the show uses a lot of very specific medical vocabulary to seem authentic; most people struggle with this in their own languages, now imagine how it would be in a foreign language!

So here we go, my list!

Brooklyn 99

This show is just funny. Very very funny. The actors were born of Saturday Night Live and so you also get that sense of improvisation that you don’t always feel from a regular sitcom.

Why do I recommend this one? Even though the language isn’t necessarily super easy, the accents are relatively neutral and the storylines easy to follow. The humour is very much cross-cultural, so most people will get a laugh out of it even if they don’t understand everything 100%.

Apart from that, it’s the type of show where you can turn on your TV and turn off your brain. It isn’t dumb in the same way a Ben Stiller movie will be, but it’s light and slapstick, so there’s something for everyone. Also, you can watch it with your kids; not the very little ones, mind, but from about age 9 I think they can probably handle it.

So what’s it about? A Brooklyn police precinct and the various silly things that seem to happen to and are orchestrated by, the staff.

The Good Place

Apart from being a comedy, this show is just plain nice. Its simple, unassuming plot can really be understood by everyone, and the short length of each episode means that it isn’t too taxing after a long day’s work.

What’s the premise? Three people die and wake up in Heaven. Two think they belong there, and one (the protagonist) thinks there must have been some mistake.

Again, this is one you can watch with the kids, though they will probably appreciate it much less than Brooklyn 99.

Modern Family

Why do I love this show? Because the characters are endearing, the plots always funny without being completely stupid, and the language relatively simple.

What’s it about? A family in LA: 3 generations across 3 homes. It’s a “modern” family in most senses of the word, since the grandad remarries a much younger Columbian woman (who already has a kid), the “typical” couple with three kids, a gay couple who adopted a little Indonesian girl, and from time to time guest star the ex-wife of the grandad as well as another older parent.

I even watch this with my 4 year old sometimes, who of course, doesn’t understand everything, but nonetheless manages to enjoy the slapstick humour.


So there you, go. Three easy-to-watch sitcoms for the whole family, in English. Remember, when you’re watching something in a foreign language, do these three things:

  1. Forget about understanding everything. Don’t sweat it, you need to learn to ‘let go’ and try to enjoy what you do understand. As time goes by, there’ll be more and more of that!
  2. Put on subtitles in English, this will help you follow along more easily and catch those things that the characters may or may not say a little too quickly. Plus, it’ll help you with your pronunciation, just wait for those “aha” moments.
  3. Enjoy yourself. This is not supposed to be a time for close study, you are meant to put your legs up and relax in your free time. So switch on the TV, and let the show carry you forward, whether or not you’re able to follow 100% of it.

Newsletter: Week 9

Weekly English Fix

This week: Brownie Bonanza

Photo by Klaudyna Piatek

By Klaudyna Piatek March 2, 2021

Welcome everyone to this, the week before we open officially! Our very first event: the Brownie Bonanza. Join our baking workshop and learn how to make brownies for free! You can easily sign up by clicking on the link: https://groupetude.com/event/brownie-bonanza/ and filling in our sign-up form. 

This first week of March is proving to be a little unnerving due to Covid uncertainty. Nobody really knows what the government has planned, and this does nothing to help our collective anxiety. However, here is one way in which we can try to counter this. 

Hiking! My husband and I have discovered hiking with our 4 year old son. Of course, we don’t climb to the highest heights, but our kiddo has surprised us by being quite resilient and happy and even excited to go on our weekly hike. This way we not only enjoy the outdoors, but we’ve been able to see what our lovely region has to offer. Highly recommended to help with cabin fever. So, have a look around where you live, even a nice walk can do so much good! 

THIS WEEK’S TOP STORIES

10 virtual tours of spectacular buildings around the world

Phoebe Taplin

https://www.theguardian.com/travel/2021/mar/02/10-virtual-tours-spectacular-buildings-around-world-vr

If you have the travel bug without the possibility of travel, check out these virtual tours. The English level in this article is perhaps a bit difficult, but remember, the point is not to understand everything, the point is to practice and get used to the language. So don’t sweat it if you miss even 50% of the meaning, the point is to immerse yourself! 

Documenting emperor penguins in Antarctica

https://www.bbc.com/news/in-pictures-55857380

This is a beautiful story if you like nature. This photographer spent two winters alongside a colony of emperor penguins; the link will take you to the BBC article where some of his photos are documented. It’s worth checking out, if only for the pictures!

THIS WEEK’S TOP TIPS

Long Term Improvement

Download an English news app on your phone and make a vow to read at least one article everyday. I promise, this will not only improve your reading, but also your vocabulary and your general ease in the language! 

Some examples: BBC, The Guardian, The Observer, The Times, The Huff Post

Vocabulary

The Oxford Learner’s Dictionary has a Word of the Day; follow it! Make it your goal to use your new word at least once that day. If you don’t have anyone to speak to in English, then write a diary entry or join a Facebook English learner’s group and use it there! 

Grammar Spot

Did you know that adjectives in English are always invariable and always go in front of the noun? If you have trouble assimilating this, try to practice by looking around you and describing what you see. If you practice a little everyday, you’ll be a pro in no time! 

Abonnez-vous à notre Newsletter et ne ratez plus rien!

GroupEtude SARL

It’s brownie time!

I just love this brownie recipe. It’s a mix of two recipes I had been using previously, and decided to take the basic principles form both and see what happens. Well, what happens is fab! It’s not very hard to do, even if browning the butter takes a little while, but trust me, it’s worth it!

The extra chocolate chips are an option, this one was a test run for my son’s birthday, hence the little stars!

Let’s practice our cooking vocabulary with this delicious brownie recipe! 

What you will need:

  • Measuring cups
  • ½ tablet of dark cooking chocolate
  • ¼ cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 cup white sugar
  • 1 cup all purpose flour
  • ½ cup unsalted butter
  • 3 large eggs at room temperature
  • 1 ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • baking pan (the last time I made this I used a glass oven pan, which worked really well because I have a gas oven where all the heat comes from the bottom, so it really protected my brownie from burning).

Method:

  • Preheat your oven to 180°C and grease your pan with butter, or line it with baking paper. 
  • Melt the butter in a saucepan, if you really want it to taste great, you should brown the butter. To do this, you need to not only melt it, but keep it over the heat until it bubbles and browns. So, continue stirring the butter after it melts, it will begin to foam and make a crackling noise, stay close to it, after a while, brown bits of butter will begin to form at the top. You don’t have to do this, but it adds a richness to the brownies. 
  • Break up the chocolate into squares and place it in a heat safe bowl, then add in the butter, stir until the chocolate chips are completely melted and mixed nicely with the butter. Set it aside to cool for about 10 minutes. 
  • In another bowl, whisk together the sugar, cocoa powder and salt, then add the butter and chocolate mixture and vanilla extract. 
  • Add the eggs, one at a time, whisking between each addition. 
  • Add in the flour until just combined (don’t mix it too much).
  • Pour the mixture into your pan and bake for about 30 minutes, or until the centre is just set. If you put a toothpick in the centre, it should come out clean, with maybe just a bit of the batter sticking to it. The baking time for my gas oven is about 25 minutes because it gets very hot, and I don’t have a thermostat on it. Either way, you should check on your brownie after 20 minutes as baking times may differ based on the type of pan you use. 
  • Let it cool before serving.

I used to make this recipe without melting the chocolate with the butter, but it’s so much better this way! 

I hope you enjoy this brownie, it’s a mix of two recipes I found online; you can find the links below. 

Just a Taste: Quick and Easy Skillet Brownie

Browned Butter Blondie: The Best Brown Butter Brownies

Glossary

mid middle
measuring cups cups used to verify the quantity of ingredients
all purpose flour de la farine tout usage
sugar du sucre
unsalted butter beurre doux
egg oeuf
unsalted butter not from the refrigerator
unsalted butter a dish used to cook things in the oven 
oven four
preheat prechauffer
grease rub the butter into the pan to make it greasy
baking paper papier sulfurisé
melt heat it until it becomes liquid
saucepan a pot
taste le goût 
bubbles des bulles
stir mélanger
crackling crépitant
bit a small amount
form become
safe not dangerous
bowl un bol
whisk fouet
set become solid
toothpick un cure dent
batter the mixture you just made, before it becomes a cake
stick to become fixed to something

Recipe time: curry risotto

If we are going to do fusion cuisine, why not go all the way, right? I made this dish yesterday for myself and my husband, and it was delicious, if almost totally accidental. 

Over the holidays, we kind of dropped off our planned grocery shopping outings, and last night, we wound up wondering what on earth we were going to cook for dinner with a mostly empty fridge. Luckily for us, we had onions, parmesan, and lots of different spices. So here we go!

Here is my recipe for a curry risotto; but beware, it’s spicy! 

For 3 people

Ingredients

250g of risotto rice  (riz)
tablespoons of olive oil (approximately, you may have to adjust the quantity a little depending on your pan) (l’huile d’olive)
1 tablespoon of curry powder (poudre de curry)
1 tablespoon of cumin powder (poudre de cumin)
teaspoons of sweet chili powder (poudre de piment doux)
1 vegetable stock cube (carré de bouillon de légumes)
800ml of water (you may have to adjust this slightly)
100g of grated parmesan + more to taste if you like (parmesan rapé)
1 onion, or 2 if your onions are very small; finely chopped
1 garlic clove, finely chopped (1 gousse d’ail)

Method

Make the stock and set it on the side.

Fry (frire) the garlic and the onion over a medium heat (feu moyen) in the olive oil until golden. This should take about 5 minutes. Make sure you stay beside it, stirring often so it doesn’t burn (brûler). 

Add the rice, and continue stirring often, for about 2 to 5 minutes, until the rice is golden. 

Pour (verser) enough stock to just cover the rice, stir almost continuously. When the rice has absorbed almost all of the stock, add more, using the same procedure as before. Keep doing this until the rice is cooked; about 25 minutes over a medium heat. 

When most of the stock is absorbed, add the Parmesan, little by little, and stir continuously. 

When all the Parmesan is mixed in, your risotto is ready to serve. Enjoy! 

Let me know if you made the recipe, and how it turned out in the comments below !

Glossary

fusion cuisine the type of cooking which mixes recipes from different cultures 
dish food prepared in a particular way
dropped off stopped doing something (not to confuse with to drop off which means to take a person somewhere)
grocery shopping buying food
outing a trip outside somewhere
wind up doing something to do something unplanned
beware be careful
tablespoons big soup spoon
teaspoons small spoon
adjust change a little bit
finely chopped cut into very small pieces
stirring mixing