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

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13090, Aix en Provence

Friday Idiom: break a leg

Learn an English idiom every Friday with Groupetude!

This idiom is used in theatres; before an actor goes on stage, rather than saying “good luck”, which incidentally is supposed to bring bad luck, you say, “break a leg!”

I have always wondered why we say break a leg… it is a bit strange after all. Its origins, however, are uncertain, so we’ll just have to remember not to say “good luck” to anyone about to perform!

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.

Word of the Day: watertight

The definition I provided above has to do with the more figurative sense of the word, because I think we can all figure out what it means literally. So, here are a few more examples of watertight with the meaning above.

  1. Jeremiah must have a watertight alibi if he wants to be beyond suspicion.
  2. The contract is watertight, you don’t have to worry.
  3. That’s a pretty watertight argument, well done.

Can you think of any other examples?

Word of the Day: jeopardize

Here is another word that I really like, perhaps also because it reminds me of the gameshow Jeopardy! that I used to watch as a kid.

When we talk of “danger” in the definition, it is not necessarily mortal danger, it can be, but it definitely doesn’t have to be. You might jeopardize your education if you don’t study; you can jeopardize your health if you smoke; you can put a project in jeopardy by neglecting to get help when you need it.

Have a look at Jeopardy!, the gameshow, I used to absolutely love it and felt so smart when I got a question right!

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

Word of the day: flamboyant

Flamboyant is an excellent word. It’s fun and colourful and filled with confidence. You might use the word flamboyant to describe a person who has a larger-than-life personality, and/or who has a colourful and original style. A friend of mine in university had a very flamboyant personality, and he was the life of the party!

Is there anything or anyone you can describe as flamboyant?

Grammar Mondays

As you know, we don’t only use conjunctions for opposition, we also need them to add information or make a further point. That’s why these are great; you can use them all at the start or in the middle of a sentence, always at the beginning of a clause.

Can you make a sentence with each one?

Let us know if you have any questions!