27 Feb 2014

Greetings from around the world

Our office is a multicultural hot pot with people from Spain, France, Holland, America and Italy among others…. And what do we do? We work with languages of course. 

Source: http://pocketcultures.com/2010/07/14/kiss-hug-or-shake-hands/

When living with people from so many different backgrounds you have to be able to adapt to the different ways of living. Normally, people who move abroad for work or to live are more open minded. However, one thing that is harder to lose are the customs that we grew up with. 

Most of the time when meeting someone it is not as easy as a simple ‘hello’. The greeting you use depends on the context in which you find yourself.

Source: http://www.wikihow.com/Say-Hello-in-Different-Languages

The Spanish usually greet each other with two kisses, one on each cheek, even when meeting someone for the first time. Men would normally shake hands, as you would also do when in an interview. Although our Spanish colleague Blanca did get two kisses in an interview once! When meeting someone you know well you can give them just one kiss or a hug, this goes for both men and women.  

·         The USA: 
Matt, from the US tells us point blank, no kisses. In America they are fans of personal space so be careful not over step the mark.

When meeting someone for the first time you would normally shake hands, be it two women, men or a man and a woman... It goes without saying that in an interview you would definitely shake hands. Although you could always wait for the interviewer to make the first move.   

Sometimes you would hug, but this is usually just between women who have known each other for a while.  

·        France:
Annabelle is French but has lived in Belgium for a while, so she has told us a bit about the differences between the two countries.  

In France, when meeting someone for the first time you would normally shake hands, this goes for women and men. In Belgium, you would kiss once on the cheek when meeting someone. It would be strange in France for two men to kiss on the cheek if they don’t know each other; this is more common when they know each other.

In an interview in France, you would simply just say hello, no hand shake or kisses.  

Source: http://pocketcultures.com/2010/07/14/kiss-hug-or-shake-hands/

·         Italy:
Mariangela represents Italy in our office. She says that the greetings in Italy are not that different from other countries, although there is one thing to point out: In Italy the kisses are the opposite way round to in Spain, that is to say in Spain you first kiss the right and then the left cheek. In Italy it is the other way round!

When meeting someone for the first time two kisses on the cheek is the norm for women. Greetings between men and women would involve a hand shake and two kisses, but men however never kiss, except if they are relatives, good friends or if it is a special occasion like a birthday. 

In job interviews you would shake hands. 

Source: http://4.bp.blogspot.com/-yFYM3OpUL6k/UlPoFuGhc6I/AAAAAAAAAdE/MjGSdAXsBuQ/s1600/EasyLanguages_saludo_japones.jpg

·     Japan:

Yusuke, our Japanese colleague, has given us some advice on how to greet people in his country. Here, like in the US, they like personal space and even class distinctions.   

When meeting someone for the first time in Japan, the norm and correct way to greet someone is to smile and say good day, whether between women or men. They do not kiss, hug or shake hands. If you know the person a simple "Oh!" will suffice, no we don’t get it either! 

As you would expect job interviews are not that easy either. The norm is for the person of a lower class to offer their business card to the person of a higher class, for example the seller would offer their card to the buyer. 

Have you ever had an awkward moment meeting someone? Tell us your story! 

25 Feb 2014

Total Immersion in Paris

It's nearly the end of February and soon we will have a new destination of the month but here's one last post about Paris. Hear about one of our students' time in the French capital and what he thought of his time there. 

Why did you choose to take French lessons in Paris?

Because I wanted to experience the culture and the day-to-day way of life in the capital of France. 

How long did you stay there? Did you feel that this was enough time?

I spent 1 week in Paris and it was definitely enough time - I improved a lot!

What did you think of the lessons/teacher?

The lessons were intense and aimed at my weak areas. They were effectively tailored to my needs which was great. 

Do you feel that this course helped you improve your language skills?

Yes, it most definitely did!

What was it like staying with a French host family? Was it beneficial?

Yes, having to speak French 24/7 was the best aspect of the course in my opinion. 

Do you have any advise for other students going abroad?

Make sure you fully immerse yourself and avoid speaking in English wherever possible. 

What did you think of the services that Easy Languages provided?

 They were brilliant, I felt very welcome and at home. 

Et voilà! If you are looking to start learning French, look no further, do what Oliver did and sign up for one of our French courses!

20 Feb 2014

Les faux amis

As Paris is our destination of the month and the home of the French language as we know it today, here are some words to look out for if you don't want to leave a wave of confused Parisians behind you...the infamous faux amis.

If you have ever had a French lesson at school, your teacher will have surely told you thousands of times to learn these words. Les faux amis (false friends) are foreign words that have a deceptive resemblance to words in one's own language.  

Actuellement - At the present time, not actually

Affluence - Crowd, not affluence

Assister à - To attend, not to assist

Crier - To shout, not to cry

Décevoir - To disappoint, not deceive

Disposer - To arrange, not dispose

Engagé - Committed, not engaged

Éventuellement - Possibly, not eventually

Gentil - Kind/nice, not gentle

Journal -  Newspaper, not a journal

Noise - Quarrel or trouble, not noise

Sensible - Sensitive, not sensible 

Sale - Dirty, not sale.  

This is just a short list of the common false friends but if you want to familiarise yourself with more of these tricky words take one of our French courses

18 Feb 2014

Which language should you learn?

So you want to learn a language...but which one? 

There are countless reasons as to why you should learn a second language, business, travel, pleasure, culture etc. The real question, however, is which one.

Some people may think "the easiest one" or "the most similar to my first language". While similarity may be helpful it can also be the cause of much confusion and who's to say what is easy and what isn't - different people have different skills after all. 

The answer is simple, "the one that you enjoy the most" because 'you never achieve real success unless you like what you are doing' (Dale Carnegie).

Here's a short guide to some of the world's most widely spoken languages that may help you make your decision. 

Le français

Spoken in: France, Monaco, Luxembourg, Quebec, parts of Belgium & Switzerland, North & Central Africa and French overseas territories. 

Difficulty: French grammar is similar to Spanish and Italian. English speakers may find genders and pronunciation tricky at first. 

Did you know: A lot of English words and expressions are of French origin. Have you had a 'déjà vu' recently or been to a 'restaurant' or 'café'? Similarly, French is adopting a lot of Anglicisms like, 'le parking' (car park), 'le week-end' or 'un email'. 


Spoken in: Spanish (or Castilian) is spoken in Spain, Central & Southern America (except Brazil), the USA, the Philippines and Equatorial Guinea.

Difficulty: It is in general thought to be quite easy as it is a phonetic language. Although there are still the gender agreements to remember and Spanish tends to vary quite a lot from country to country. 

Did you know: English and Spanish share many words of Latin origin so you will already be able to recognise 3,000 Spanish words, for example: Liberación (liberation). Many US cities also have Spanish names: Los Angeles, Nevada, Las Vegas. 


Spoken in: Germany, Austria, Liechtenstein, parts of Switzerland & Luxembourg.

Difficulty: German and English are related so you will see a lot of similarities, once you've got your head round the noun case endings and 3 genders - and the long words! 

Did you know: There are a lot of words of German origin in English and German loves English, so much so that a new phenomenon called Denglish is emerging (the German equivalent of Franglais). 

ру́сский язы́к (Russian)

Spoken in: Russia, Ukraine, Belarus, Kazakhstan and other republics of the former USSR. 

Difficulty: The pronunciation and grammar are rather tricky but the good news is is that there are only 3 tenses!

Did you know: There are plenty of loan words from Italian, French and German and 10% of Russian words are internationalisms. 

中文 (Chinese)

Spoken in: One in five of the world's population speaks a form of Chinese. Mandarin is the official language of the People's Republic of China. 

Difficulty: Chinese grammar is quite straightforward with none of the tenses or genders of European languages. Although it is a tonal language which could be difficult for learners. 

Did you know: English speakers use Chinese words, especially martial arts enthusiasts with Kung fu and Tai chi.  


Spoken in: The Netherlands, Belgium, Suriname and the Dutch Antilles.

Difficulty: It is considered as one of the easiest languages for English speakers as it is somewhere between German and English. Verb positioning in sentences may take some getting used to. 

Did you know: Dutch has many similarities with English as they both come from the old Germanic root such as: appel (apple), tomaat (tomato), groen (green).

Once you have made your choice, get in touch and we can help you plan your stay!

12 Feb 2014

Bilingualism...A new trend?

Hollywood and its glamorous residents have long been the source of many fads and trends over the recent years. From Atkins, flash mobs, over-sized sunglasses and the iPod to Dubstep, Angry Birds and Gangham Style (to name just a few!)

However it looks like a new trend is emerging in Tinseltown....and it doesn't involve pets in handbags or crazy baby names!

It's bilingualism. Yes our beautiful Hollywood friends are out to prove that they are more than just a bunch of pretty faces, they have the brains to match.   

Here are 10 celebrities leading the way in this new fad.

1: Mila Kunis - Russian.

Mila moved to the US at 7yrs old
and grew up bilingual.

2: Sandra Bullock - German

Sandra's mother was a German
opera singer.

3: Gwyneth Paltrow - Spanish.

Gwyneth spent a year in Spain
as an exchange student.

4: Natalie Portman - Hebrew.

Natalie was born in Israel. She also
speaks: French, Japanese, German
& Arabic!

5: Bradley Cooper - French.

Bradley spent 6 months in

6: Colin Firth - Italian.

Colin started learning Italian
when he started dating his
Italian wife.

7: Charlize Theron - Afrikaans.

A native of South Africa,
Afrikaans is actually her
first language. 

8: Shakira - Many languages!

Shakira's native language is Spanish,
she is fluent in English & Portuguese.
She also speaks: French, Catalan
& Arabic!

9: Kim Cattrall - German.

Kim used to live in Frankfurt with
her husband in the 80's.

10: Johnny Depp - French.

Johnny used to live in France
with Vanessa Paradis.

There are of course others such as Ben Affleck (Spanish), Jodie Foster (French), Zoe Saldana (Spanish), Diane Kruger (German) and Joseph Gordon-Levitt (French).

There you have it, bilingualism is officially great and on-trend, so what are you waiting for? Follow suit and start learning a language - its easy!

11 Feb 2014

From Paris with love

It’s February and Valentine’s Day is just around the corner. It might be the shortest month of the year but it is certainly not boring. What better way to celebrate it than with Paris as our destination of the month!

We could not make Paris the destination of any other month. We know this city as the ‘City of Love’ or the ‘City of Lights’ among other things including fashion and great patisseries, but what else do you know about this city? 

The French capital is now the fifth largest European city and is one of the most important economic centres on the continent. Paris is in the Ile-de-France (island of France) district and is made up of 20 administrative districts or ‘arrondissements’.

Tourist map of Paris. Source: http://adiktivas.es/

The Seine, which flows through the centre of the city, has been an important factor to the city’s development and history. Paris has been home to numerous different tribes throughout the ages, notably the Gaulish Parisii (who gave the city its name), the Romans and Vikings. In more recent history, Paris has been the site of many revolutions.  

Some of the milestones that have marked Paris’s history: 
·        1789 the famous French Revolution, marking huge social upheaval and resulting in the dissolution of the French monarchy. 
·        1793 King Louis XVI was executed by guillotine in the Place de la Concorde. He was the only French king ever to be executed. 
·          1853 Baron Haussmann was appointed by Napoleon III to reconstruct the centre of Paris, which was hugely overcrowded, and he gave us the Paris that we have today.
·          1899 the Eiffel Tower was erected as the entrance to the World’s fair.
·          1947, Christian Dior presents his first collection.
·          1968, or ‘May 68’ was the year of the infamous student occupations of the city’s universities.
·          2007, Nicolas Sarkozy launches his urban renewal project named ‘Grand Paris’.
·     2012, François Hollande is elected president. The first socialist president since François Mitterrand in 1995. 
With so much history and culture, it is unsurprising that, in 2012, France was the most visited tourist destination. 83 million people descended on the country to see the monument, taste the food and learn the language, which is spoken by more than 200 million people worldwide. Paris, with nearly 14 million tourists, was the third most visited city in the world in 2012. 

Here are some of our suggestions from the many many things Paris has to offer.   
·                     Churches: Sacre Coeur, Basilique Saint-Denis, Saint Sulpice...
·                     Museums: Orsay, Rodin and the Picasso museum... 
·                     DistrictsÎle de la Cité, the Latin district, the Champs Elysées...

·                     Must see: Eiffel Tower, the Louvre, Notre Dame, the Arch de Triumph...