It's back to school and back to English! If you're ready to practise your English, watch this video from France24 about "back to school and work" in France. There's also a vocabulary worksheet to download if you'd like to do a bit of extra practice.
And for all my readers who are French, watching "French Connections" on France24 is a fantastic way to practise your English: short videos in English about French culture. It's easier for you to understand because you already know the topics.
Even though it's already the middle of January, everyone in France is still saying Happy New Year. If you're French, you know all about these customs, but could you explain them to someone in English? This video will help you. Who knows what we do in England when it's New Year?
Top Tip! This is a great way to practise your listening: If you are French, this is a topic you already know, which means that watching the video will be much easier. In general, if you have difficulty with listening, listen to things that you already know some information about. If you have to listen to something new, try to guess what it could be about before you start listening. Your brain starts working to predict what it will hear and it makes listening much easier.
Here's a video comparing meals in France and meals in America, with some useful vocabulary to talk about cultural habits.
Here in France, it's all about "la rentrée." So how do you say this in English?
Clue: it's not the English.
Read this article from the Local with lots of videos showing Euro 2016 at its best. (And it's a nice change from hearing about football fans at their worst. )
Shock horror here in France as the French team's Euro 2016 anthem is a song in English!
Andre Vallini, the French Minister Development and Francophonie, said choosing a song in English was “incomprehensible”.
When I first moved to Paris, I couldn't even parallel park properly. If you can't parallel park in Paris, you may as well leave your car at home. So I quickly learn to be an expert at parallel parking and at parking anywhere and everywhere. (And at hooting and shouting at other drivers, but that's another story...) My car was only towed away once, which I think is not too bad considering I lived there for 6 years.
A leading British supermarket, Tesco, has declared it will no longer sell curved croissants, only straight croissants. The reason? Tesco's customers have problems spreading butter and jam onto the curved croissants.
Anyone who lives in France will find this very bizarre. For a start, why would you spread butter on something that is already made of about 50% butter? And secondly, you don't actually need to spread jam on it. A good croissant can be eaten on its own, or dipped in some coffee or hot chocolate. If you really need some sugar, you can break pieces off and dip them into the jam.
Interestingly, in France, by law, a straight croissant must be made from all butter, not margarine or any other fat, whereas curved croissants can contain fats other than butter. So straight croissants are actually the posher and more expensive croissants. I wonder if Tesco's customers are aware of that!
Read more about the croissant debate here.
La bise, the typical French greeting, is something we British are not used to. When we see each other, we might kiss, or hug, or just look at each other and say hello. (There are no rules, so I suppose it's even more confusing for foreigners in Britain.) Doing the bise is a little bit confusing for us.
I remember when I first came to France, I was really shocked that I had to kiss people at work in the morning. In England, we would never do this! And leaving a party seemed impossible - did I have to really kiss every person, even the ones I didn't speak to? In England we just filer à l'anglaise! (By the way, in English, filer à l'anglaise is called the french slip.)
So here is a video about the French greeting, made by a British comedian living in France.
PS: Do not confuse the kissing on both cheeks with the French Kiss - that is something totally different!
Here's an interesting map I saw today, with what each country in the EU is best at. France is doing pretty well at not being fat, despite all the delicious patisseries that are everywhere. I think I'll be visiting Denmark next - the country with the most dancing and singing sounds good to me.
For full details of the statistics behind the map, you can click here. For useful vocabulary, see the glossary at the bottom of the page.
Of course if you know what each country is best at, you also probably want to know what each country is worst at. France is not doing well on speaking English, so I hope more French people start reading this blog!
I'm happy to see that British people are not killing each other too much, even though we seem to take a lot of cocaine.
From the first map:
Cork (Portugal) - the material used for the stoppers in wine bottles
Likely to... (Latvia) likely means probable
Teen Mom (Slovenia) someone aged 13-18 who has a baby
From the second map:
Dropout (Spain) someone who doesn't finish school
Tax fraud (Italy) when you don't tell the government about all your money, and so pay less than you should
VAT (Hungary) tax on things that you buy that are not essential (value added tax)
Voter Turnout (Slovakia) the number of people who vote in an election
Gender Pay Gap (Estonia) the difference between what men and women are paid for the same work
Practise your English every day!
You'll find lots of exercises to help you improve your English - listening activities, reading, advice and lots more.