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There are many benefits to learning another language, foreign language learning has long been promoted in the UK regardless of the language in question. However, recent news from the British Council suggests that British people should be looking at a new approach to language learning. John Worne from the British Council has said that while traditional foreign language choices such as French, German and Spanish should not be disregarded, we should also be looking towards increased learning of languages such as Arabic, Chinese and Japanese. Higher levels of knowledge and practice of these languages could help to encourage and improve communication between Britain and the attractive economies which use them. The Council has compiled a list of the 10 most important languages for British people to learn, a range of economic, political, cultural and educational factors were analysed in order to define the languages which “will be of crucial importance for the UK’s prosperity, security and influence in the world over the next 20 years”. Mr Worne underlined the importance of promoting language learning in schools, saying that language skills should be given the same status as maths and sciences. The efforts of the British Council and other bodies encouraging the use of foreign languages are clearly paying off, the Department for Education in England has announced that there were 50,000 more entries to languages GCSEs this year, with French up 16%, German up 9% and Spanish up 26%. From next year it will also be compulsory for children to be taught a foreign language from the ages of seven to 14. However, the British Council are keen to point out that language learning is not only important as part of a child’s education, but also for adults. Mr Worne stated that it was important that language skills are functional, without needing to be fluent, he described the idea of being fluent in a language as being an inhibitor and that individuals should begin with a few select words and phrases.

Visit the British Council’s website to find out more about language learning in the UK:

http://blog.britishcouncil.org/2013/11/20/which-languages-the-uk-needs-and-why/

 

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Drumroll please…the Oxford Dictionary have announced the Word of the Year for 2013 and the winner is…SELFIE!

selfie

Pronunciation: /?s?lfi/
(also selfy)

noun (plural selfies)

informal

  • a photograph that one has taken of oneself, typically one taken with a smartphone or webcam and uploaded to a social media website: occasional selfies are acceptable, but posting a new picture of yourself every day isn’t necessary

Origin:

early 21st century: from self + -ie

Although the word has already been incorporated into the online version of the dictionary, its popularity has increased rapidly over the past year, leading to its status of Word of the Year. The increase in the use of this word is illustrated in the diagram below:

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It is thought that this neologism first appeared on an Australian online forum, its -ie ending is a popular feature in informal Australian English, which uses shortened spellings of certain words such as ‘tinnie’, ‘barbie’ and of course, ‘Aussie’. The latest developments of the word ‘selfie’ have led to users changing the first letter(s) of the word to give more detail about the content of their photographic self-portraits, for example, the ‘welfie’ (workout selfie), the ‘drelfie’ (drunk selfie) or reality ‘star’ Kim Kardashian’s now infamous ‘belfie’ (a photo of one’s backside).

Click the link to read the Oxford Dictionaries’ blog

 

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Do you know what ‘gambas’ are? Any idea how many languages are spoken across Europe?

Test your language knowledge with The Guardian’s latest quiz!

http://www.theguardian.com/education/quiz/2013/nov/14/foreign-languages-quiz?CMP=twt_gu

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Using the Latin names for many common minor medical conditions can make them sound rather more serious than they really are. Oxford dictionaries’ latest blog gives us a few examples of the correct medical terms for common conditions such as a runny nose or rumbling stomach:

Commonly known as: Official medical term Etymological notes:
runny nose rhinorrhea Greek rhino- (of the nose) and -rrhoia (flow)
dry mouth xerostomiath Greek xero-(dry) and stoma (mouth)
rumbling in the stomach borborygmus Greek (same sense)
pins and needles paeresthesia Greek para- (beside, beyond, irregular) and aisthesis (sensation)
earwax cerumen Latin cera (wax)
crying lachrymation Latin lachryma (tear)
hair standing on end; goosebumps horripilation Latin horrere (to stand on end) and pilus (hair)
scab eschar Latin eschara (scar or scab)
nosebleed epistaxis Greek,  epi (upon, in addition) and staxis (dripping)
“every four hours” QQH (quarta quaque hora) Latin (see quarter and hour)

 

Original blog: http://blog.oxforddictionaries.com/2013/10/10-medical-words-you-thought-you-knew/

A French philosopher and member of the Académie Francaise has launched a fresh campaign against the use of English in France, making particular reference to advertising campaigns. Michel Serres has appealed for French citizens to boycott products that are advertised in English and films which do not have translated titles. His remarks have been met with disdain from Stephen Clarke, an English author who has lived in France for many years. Clarke criticises the philosopher’s forceful approach and encourages him to allow more freedom where language is concerned:

“The French love playing around with language, and their knowledge of English gives them more to play with…the joy of language, surely, is that it is a source of constant invention. People everywhere are inventing new phrases and new words every day. Language is a DIY affair, not a government policy…This is the key point – the ideal solution to language issues is not to have things banned, it is to see them shared and explained. Why make people poorer when you can enrich them?”

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It seems that Serres may be fighting a losing battle, given that the companies using English in their advertising campaigns and slogans are French. In his initial commentary in la Depeche du Midi newspaper he even made reference to the use of the word ‘smiles’ by the French national rail provider, SNCF. Surely such companies with carefully planned marketing activities would not use English if it weren’t considered acceptable. In fact it seems that English is becoming more and more popular. However, Serres needn’t worry too much, as the French are taking English and making it their own. As Stephen Clarke suggests, ‘language is a DIY affair’; so much so that many ‘English’ words used by French speakers are unintelligible to the average Anglophone. English influence on the French language has resulted in the creation of words that have English features, either the gerund -ing ending or the use of all or part of an English noun, but a completely new meaning. Would you immediately grasp the meaning of words such as ‘le footing’, ‘un brushing’ and ‘le cocooning’? Whilst the etymology of many French neologisms may well be English, the Academie seems to fail to realise that many of these words are in fact clear examples of the evolution of the French language and the need to find le mot juste for every occasion.

Read the Michel Serres’ original comments and Stephen Clarke’s full response by following the links below:

«la grève contre l’invasion de l’anglais»

The French philosopher who needs to meet the punks

 

 

indexRecently released figures from The Department of Education census have shown that there are 240 schools in England where 90% of pupils are not native English speakers and five primary schools which have no native English speakers whatsoever. Whilst these figures are surprising and show an increase in the number of non-native English speakers in English schools, this is not necessarily a bad thing. Some critics have been quick to highlight the negative impact that this increase in foreign student numbers has on teaching standards, citing disruption in lessons due to poor teacher-pupil communication as one of the main issues. However, a number of head teachers have spoken out in favour of having more foreign pupils in classrooms, describing how these pupils not only out-perform their English counterparts, but can also help to broaden their classmates’ horizons. These pupils often have a stronger work ethic, as they must work harder to achieve results when working in a language that is not their mother tongue. Due to their varying cultural backgrounds they can also share their experience with classmates, thereby improving cultural awareness and understanding throughout such schools.

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The decline in language learning in British schools and universities has been a widely commented upon in the media recently. Whilst some commentators endeavour to find a solution to this worrying problem, others question why young pepole should learn foreign languages. One of the reasons why it could be being overlooked by school and university students is because they deem it unnecessary, given that English is spoken widely across the world. There is seemingly a lack of multilingual role-models promoting language learning for young people today. However, as part of the Guardian’s British Academy-supported case for language learning, a number of public figures have come forward to help promote foreign languages. Each of these shows that languages can open doors and lead to success in a wide range of careers. Amongst the supporters of the campaign are ex-England footballer Gary Linekar, comedian Eddie Izzard and sailor Ellen MacArthur. Speaking of the importance of French in her career, MacArthur said “…once at sea, all the weather reports, the various boats’ positions in the fleet, every piece of information I needed to compete effectively were in French – so you could say that my life depended on understanding the language.”. Endorsement from such an array of successful individuals should hopefully encourage young people who aspire to be like their heroes to think again about learning languages and how useful such knowledge could be in their chosen career.

Click the links below to read the interviews in full:

Ellen MacArthur

Eddie Izzard (et al.)

Matt Worman, army captain

Caroline Wyatt, BBC defence correspondent

Gary Linekar

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As a translation agency we are constantly on the lookout for well-trained translators who meet our high quality standards. At UPS Translations we understand the importance of delivering high-quality translations on time, which is why we only use the best linguists. As any agency worth their salt will tell you, in order to produce high quality translations translators must only translate into their mother tongue. No matter how fluent a translator claims to be in their second language, they will never have the full linguistic background required to create a truly accurate translation that also sounds natural in the target language. This is why we have a bank of regular, reliable mother tongue speakers who we can rely on to ensure we meet our deadlines without compromising on quality.

Fortunately we currently have no shortage of translators when it comes to translations into English, with many of our English linguists having knowledge of two, three or even more additional languages. However, with the current state of language learning in the UK, it seems likely that we may we face a shortage of mother tongue English translators in the years to come. The decrease in pupils choosing to study a language GCSE will certainly have a knock-on effect, leading to fewer students obtaining language degrees and therefore a reduction in the number of qualified translators. This in turn could lead to the need for companies to use non-native English speakers to produce English translations, and therefore have an impact on translation quality across the board.

Protecting the quality of future English translations is one of the many reasons why the promotion of language learning is so important. Although learning a new language can be difficult, it can also be fun. I’m currently trying to add Italian to my repertoire; here are a few resources that I would recommend, and they’re all completely free!

  • Duolingo: Available online or as an app, this is great resource if you find it hard to find time to study. In a ‘game’ format, it is also great if you struggle to motivate yourself, you can win points as you learn and compete against your friends on Facebook. Particularly useful for picking up new vocab quickly.
  • http://www.bbc.co.uk/languages/ : BBC’s online language learning resource, providing short, interactive language courses and some interesting cultural background information. Visit the ‘your say’ section to read some interesting tips including help with false friends, amusing travel stories and – my favourite – tongue twisters!
  • Radio Lingua podcasts: Great for learning on the go, simply download these podcasts and get learning. What’s unique about these podcasts is that there is a good balance of ‘textbook’ language learning and more colloquial phrases and scenarios. There is also a good balance of levels; the audio is not only designed for total beginners. I would highly recommend ‘Show Time Spanish’ for those who already have a fairly good grasp of the language.

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Britain has a bad reputation when it comes to language learning, and things seem to be getting worse. Figures released by the European Commission in June this year showed that Britain was bottom of the table when it came to languages; research also showed that only 22% of secondary pupils were at a level where they could understand basic sentences and information in French. There seem to be a number of factors contributing to these poor levels of language learning, one of the biggest contributing factors being the fact that languages are no longer compulsory at GCSE level. Ever since the Labour government changed the status of languages from compulsory to optional in 2004 there has been a steady decline in pupils deciding to take on language GCSEs. In order to try and turn this decline around and promote language learning, a new campaign called the ‘1,000 words campaign’ has been launched. Its main aim is to improve language learning by encouraging people to learn 1,000 words in another language.

“The idea of 1,000 Words is that it roughly equates to the level of a basic user – level A2 on the Common European Framework of Reference. This means that learners should be able to do the following:

  1. Understand sentences and frequently used expressions related to areas of most immediate relevance (e.g. very basic personal and family information, shopping, local geography, employment).
  2. Communicate in simple and routine tasks requiring a simple and direct exchange of information on familiar and routine matters.
  3. Describe in simple terms aspects of their background, immediate environment and matters in areas of immediate need.”

To find out more about the campaign, its goals and ambassadors, visit the official website:     http://www.speaktothefuture.org/1000-words-challenge/

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