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!

How to decorate Easter eggs

Maybe you were in need of inspiration to decorate your Easter eggs a few weeks ago. If so, here is a very simple and original way to beautify them for next year! This method is inspired by Eastern Europe (especially Poland) where onions are used to create a thin coloured surface for drawing patterns on the eggs. You will only need about one red onion per egg to decorate and a touch of white vinegar.

First, you must boil water (enough to cover the eggs) in a saucepan with the onion skins and a few tablespoons of white vinegar. Then, let the mixture cool for about 30 minutes. After that, add the egs, wait for about thirty minutes again, remove them and dry them properly; they will have a red tint and with a fine needle, you will be able to draw on them as in the following image:

It is also possible to decorate them with leaves or plants by sticking them directly to the eggs during cooking. Let’s get creative!

Tip : How to make a paper plane

Today I will show you how to make a simple paper plane that flies well !

First you need a classic sheet of paper, place it in front of you vertically and then fold it in half vertically.

Next, you have to unfold the paper and to fold the corners into the center, as shown below.

Fold the top right edge to the center.

Now repeat with the left corner.

Then, fold the plane in half.

Finally, you just have to fold the wings down in order to meet the bottom edges of the plane body !

Job’s done, all that remains is to test it !

You can find a large variety of paper plane with folding instructions, video tutorials on https://www.foldnfly.com.

How to easily make your online privacy more… private?

You maybe wonder: « But… why should I care? »

Privacy is a right (just like freedom, justice, etc.) you haven’t always had, people fought for this in the past and will undoubtly continue to do so. It is something you should value and care for. You should care because information can be dangerous: if you entrust someone with your data, you cannot know that it will never be leaked, intentionnaly or by being hacked. You never know what is goind to happend, this harmless information today could become the material for a blackmail in the future, against you, your company or someone you know. And you do care about privacy, it is not necessarily that you have something to hide: just like when you shut the door when you go to the bathroom, everyone knows what you’re doing, still you would feel uncomfortable if someone happened to open the door.

These are just a couple easy hacks, you can of course dig and do more.

1. Don’t log with your Google of Facebook account on every website, prefer to use an email instead. And if you already did, you should be able to revoke their access by searching in the settings.

2. Be wary about the data you give: when you have the option to not give some of it you should keep it to yourself. Does this random website really need to know your birthday or your phone number?

3. Think about what you share online. Check who can see what you do and generally speaking just post online what you wouldn’t mind being on the front page of the newspaper.

4. Try not to centralize your online activity. For example, do you know that Google represents 90% of all online searches and that Chrome is 60% of the internet browsers installed wordwide? (1) And I bet a lot of you use a Gmail account. If you want to be more careful, you can try switching for example to Firefox, DuckDuckGo and ProtonMail. I invite you to look what would suit you best.

5. Security is important if you want your data to remain private. Try to use long passwords, unique to each account (look for how to create a passphrase), and if you have the option I recommend you to use two-factor authentification. This is particularly important for your most sensitive accounts: for example if your email is hacked, it will be impossible for you to prevent your data to be accessed to by someone else.

Happy surfing!

(1) : http://gs.statcounter.com

Tip: How to land an internship

An internship is a valued feature in one’s resume that one can readily use to prove they have a keen familiarity with the workplace environment. In consequence, it is essential for every student to find one, and, unless you tend to be a very obnoxious person like those people who eat tangerines in public places, there should be no reason for you to get none.

Following here are the steps to get an internship:

1. Rely on your wondrous assets and mesmerizing skills to charm your potential employers – in other words: Piston, piston, piston!

2. Master some foreign languages for any internship that will take place abroad and learn to translate:
« J’aimerais être pistonné, s’il vous plaît. » : « I would appreciate it if you would pull a few strings for me, please. »

3. Target the companies which solutions and outlook on the world motivate you – aka the behemoths that pay well. (Don’t forget about the  overlooked ones like Orange or the SNCF!)

4. Finally, polish your resume and cover letter (but you won’t need it if the strings were properly pulled).

You now have all the requisites necessary to get that internship you desire so much. You may relax and wait for the HR departments of all the companies you’ve reached out to to call you back!
And don’t forget how to say « piston »!