The Stamp Collector: a student story in English!

The students of the In English! section of the blog were invited to read some stories written by the 5th year students who followed the Advanced English course. They elected the best story: ‘The Stamp Collector’, written by Servan Charlot, an INFO student. Check it out by clicking below:

The Stamp Collector, a story by Servan Charlot

And here are the sources used by Servan to write his story : https://github.com/Servan42/AI_story

Tips to improve your English skills as a French student

Learning a new language requires a lot of effort, commitment and investment. The problem of the majority of French speakers is not only that they have not spent enough time to study pronunciation correctly, but also they have spent all their life pronouncing things wrong (and thinking that they were pronouncing it correctly).
Indeed, in which world can « choir » (chorus) be pronounced as « quaia »? It’s that they do not even look alike! And I am not talking about any exceptions, just have a look at more common words like « water » (water) pronounced « ou – o – tah » (in British English)

 

It is common knowledge that the learning of English is not immediate, but here I will offer you a few tricks to practice your knowledge and surpass them.
The first thing you want to do is slow down! Many people believe that if you talk very fast, it is more difficult to correct bad habits. Practice some basic things every day. It starts with simple sounds, then continues with words and later go on to pronounce whole sentences.

To improve your vocabulary, you can read in English, as having clear notions of what you are going to read allows you to build better grammatical bases. You can read anything, from novels to short stories, news articles, anything, as long as you enjoy what you are reading. A good way to start reading in English: read books you’ve already read and enjoyed in French.

In English, the writing and pronunciation of words are different in the vast majority of cases and this can cause confusion. Once you have learned to differentiate the sounds corresponding to each letter, the next step is to achieve an accent that brings you closer to the pronunciation of the natives.
To achieve that, you need to learn to listen, in order to pronounce better. In this life we go so fast that we even forget to listen. I do not mean to hear what they say, but to listen with calm and attention. However, it is the key to improve pronunciation, because in the end what we want is to imitate a way of speaking.
But, what to listen to will you ask? Well, subscribe to a British or American YouTuber!
Some have become very famous and have millions of visits in each video! From videogames to fashion, to beauty, travel or simply people who record themselves telling their lives and adventures … There are for all tastes, you just have to choose yours!
And why do I recommend YouTube and not to watch TV, listen to the radio or watch movies to improve pronunciation? For the simple reason that in Youtube Videos, there are native speakers who are talking in a natural way, in exactly the same way that a British would talk in the street: vocabulary, expressions, speed, and intonation…
Listen as the natives pronounce the words and try to identify the sounds that are made. Pronounce the words aloud again and again until you notice that you have said it correctly.
Once you have integrated these three main points, here are 3 tips to work on your pronunciation in English
1. Differentiate vowels with the same sounds
This is something that usually happens for example in the words « beer » and « bird », or the very famous « sheet » and « shit ». The trick here is to always pronounce the combination « ee » with the vowel « i » of the French language, while the words with « i » as the second case of each example, it is better to pronounce them with an « e » of our language, but very soft.
2. Convert the O into an A and the A in an O
That’s right, the correct pronunciation of the O is often a kind of combination between O and A! Try to pronounce in this way some words like « rock » or « color » and you will see the difference, they sound in a much more natural way.
An exception to this rule is when the O is at the end of the word, as in « Do », in which case it becomes a French « ou ».
Converting the letter A in an O does not apply to all words that carry the letter A, but you have probably noticed in many words the A has a sound more like the O of our language. Take for example words like « Awesome », « Walking », « Talking », « Although », « All », in all these the pronunciation of the A corresponds to an O.
3. Blowing the P, T and K
A good way to sound more natural during pronunciation is to « blow » the P, T and K. This means that you shall not make a dry sound as is normally done in the French language, but should try to « take a breath » with them as you are pronouncing them.

After working on the pronunciation, you need to actually talk right? For that, two main tips. First, you should record yourself speaking English. In order to know where your errors are at the time of pronouncing or to what aspects you should pay more attention, it is better to analyse the way you speak from the outside. You will be surprised to hear yourself and you can more easily change what you think should be improved. And last but not least: share with a partner! Having someone with whom going through an English language learning process is a good way to compare your own progress in the language. Practice, learn and try to solve your doubts with your partner.

Finally, you must remember that constant practice will give you greater fluidity. Apply the tips I have detailed and you will notice the progress in the way you speak and thus pronounce English

Good Luck!

‘Our Planet’, a breathtaking nature show

Co-financed by WWF (World Wildlife Fund), one of the most powerful environmental NGOs, and the production companies Silverback Films and Netflix, the project benefited from significant resources. In fact, it is the largest documentary series produced to date, with more than 600 film crew members, 50 countries covered, a budget of several tens of millions of dollars and years of filming, thus outperforming all BBC productions. Even new technologies have been used to obtain unique plans such as vehicle-mounted cameras, motion-detecting cameras and 4K drones. 

The series consists of 8 episodes, the first of which is an introduction. Each episode explores in turn the forest, deep waters, frozen worlds and jungles without stunning the viewer with figures or apocalyptic sentences about the extinction of species as other documentaries have done before. However, the distress of the situation is realized through the breathtaking shots such as the one at the end of the first episode when, set to calming classical strings, kilometer long icebergs implode off the shores of Greenland. «What we do in the next 20 years will determine the future for all life on Earth», says the narrator. And that is the main purpose of this production; to make the audience aware of the alarming reality that awaits us.

In addition, naturalist David Attenborough has lent his voice to the English version and brings a very appreciable scientific touch to it. He explains very clearly how nature perfectly regulates itself, how elephants pass on their knowledge from generation to generation or even describes surrealist bridal parades of exotic birds. But more importantly, he reminds us why human’s action is destroying this incredibly rich and therefore precious world of ours, and why we all need to act quickly to delay the disaster.

The show is available since the beginning of April only on Netflix. Whether you are passionate about nature, storytelling or beautiful images, this series will not disappoint you. And the message it carries is crucial for our time.

Us – Movie review

First of all, what’s it about ? It’s about a family going back to the mother’s previous house in California. They want to have a good time there on holidays, but events will bring to the surface horrific memories to the mother. She knows, like back in the time, something similar is about to happen again.

Speaking about the change of mindset of the mother played by Lupita Nyong’o, let’s begin by remarking the acting. She played in “12 years a slave”, “Black Panther” and in “Star Wars VIII” and is really convincing in the role of someone progressively losing her mind.

“Us” had been directed and written by Jordan Peele. He had only directed “Get Out” 2 years ago before this one. It was already a horror movie, which has shown to be very popular and received pretty good reviews. Spectators liked it because instead of only being gore, Jordan Peele did a movie in which we had to put all the pieces together to understand what was going on. We were trying to figure everything out until the final twist, and that was enjoyable. Consequently, we could have good hope on “Us”.

Indeed, “Us” is still based on the same model, with evidences spread here and there that you can use to understand everything before the end, but it won’t be easy. By the way, it’s amusing to see how Jordan Peele considers very well his spectator on the one hand considering the plot, but still takes time to explain some stupid details on the other hand. In the end, it even offers several possible interpretations. To be honest, the puzzle is clearly more complex than in his previous movie, and we also completely loose the humorous side “Get Out” had.

Therefore, even if the story is also about a black family, this time the subject isn’t about race and discrimination but more about the dark sides of individuals and groups. It’s frankly more centered on the horror aspect while “Get out” was more a thriller.

On the technical side, cinematography was awesome. It’s been shot by Mike Gioulakis who also shot “It follows” back in 2014, also a horror movie. The camera was placed at so many spots on tense scenes to shoot a single one from different point of views that it adds to the feeling of losing control. It’s classic for horror movies, but I loved chosen spots on this one. I also want to note the vivid colors used. It’s overall fairly dark, but they still use bright colors, making the picture high on contrast. As opposed to one previous horror movie released in November, the drab “overlord”. “Us” is definitely more impressive than “Get out”.

Interview of Guillaume, member of the BDSM (Mountain Sport Office)

⇒ Hi Guillaume! So, can you introduce yourself to those who don’t know you yet?
Hi! Of course!
My name is Guillaume Colin, I am a GCC student and the Material Manager of the BDSM.

⇒ And you are also a high level athlete, aren’t you?
Yeah, in rock climbing, I won the University French Championships and I participated in a World Cupin Chamonix last year.

⇒ So, can you telle us about the BDSM, what are the purposes of this organization?
The BDSM was founded by Thomas Bioud and Marylou Pellerin, which are currently president and vice-president of the office.
The idea of creating this organization emerged in the spring of 2018 :
the main goal was to provide the opportunity for students to meet new people and to go hiking, skiing and climbing around Grenoble.
We recruited the office’s members in the different sections of Polytech, and we started the administrative steps quickly, so that the association could be ready for the school startin September 2018.
The other purpose of the BDSM is the equipment loan : we provide members with mountain equipment.
The school management was rather against this idea, mainly for responsability’s reasons, that’s why I made a training, provided by the FFME (French Federation of Mountain and Climbing), in order to be able to manage the material.

⇒ Can you tell us about the events you have already organized, and thoose you planned to organize?
The first event we oragnized was an aperitif at the top of the Moucherotte, over the 60 participants, 50 of them took their BDSM membership after this event.
We also organized a DVA (Detecting and Locating Avalanche Victims) formation.
For the end of the year, we plan to organize a barbecue at Fort St Eynard, and for the next year, we want to organize a week end in the Callanques with the collaboration of Polytech Marseille!

⇒ Okay, thank you for your time and I wish you all the best for your exams!