header

29 Apr 2014

School group programmes

Are you a teacher looking for a new way to motivate your students while benefiting from an effective language programme with accommodation and activities included? We are offering great value fun and educational courses for closed school groups.

It is one thing to know a language but it is a whole other thing be able to speak one....the answer? Study abroad programmes. The problem is often that we study languages but when it comes to the moment of truth we struggle to speak them. We have this problem with French, we start studying it at school from a young age, but how many of you have finished your studies and speak with a native? You don't need to answer, I've been there...

Obviously teachers can be very good, have lots of experience and all of the necessary teaching qualifications, but let's be honest, learning French in England is not the same as learning French in France where everything (adverts, posters, television, radio etc) is all in French. Am I right?

It is true that it is not always easy to find the best time to do a language course abroad for the parents, students and their teachers. However, the idea of combining a language course with end of term travel does not seem so far fetched, does it?

Here's what we have on offer so you can decide.


School group programmes 


If you are a language teacher, in any type of institution, and are looking for a new way to motivate your students which combines staying abroad, tuition, accommodation and activities, then look no further - we have what you are looking for!

  • Group courses for students aged 12 - 18
  • From 12 - 45 students per group
  • In Spain or France
  • Accommodation in a residence or with a host family
  • Low season: best prices guaranteed

Options

In Spain, the options are varied. It is an easy and convenient way to take lessons in a different environment while combining them with leisure and cultural activities, allowing younger students to learn Spanish in a relaxed atmosphere. Accommodation is offered either in a residence or with a host family (depending on the destination). 
  • Salamanca, 14 -18 years old. From the 1st January - 30th May and from 1st September - 15th December. Accommodation is available in either a residence or with a host family. 
  • Alicante, 14 - 18 years old. From the 1st January - 30th May and from 1st September - 15th December. Accommodation with host families.
  • Barcelona, 14 - 18 years old. From the 1st January - 30th May and from 1st September - 15th December. Accommodation with host families or in a residence. 
  • Madrid, 14 - 18 years old. From the 1st January - 30th May and from 1st September - 15th December. Accommodation either in a residence or with a host family.


 In France, the dynamics are the same: Lessons, accommodation, leisure & cultural activities which allows students to learn not only the language but also the culture and way of life. 

How does it work...

The basic concept is the same as we always use, the only thing that we do not include in the prices is the journey

In each programme description you can see what is and what is not included, as well as the dates, characteristics, the number of lessons available, as well as details about the activities and accommodation. 



Once you have decided on the language, destination and programme that you are interested in, all you need to do is click the green "CONTACT US" button at the top right of the page and leave your search criteria. Then the relevant person will contact you to discuss the rest of the details and they will start the process. 

As always, we recommend that you do not make any travel arrangements until we get the final confirmation from the school. 

In short it is a very quick and easy process. As easy as travelling abroad with your class and enjoying all we have to offer (and more!). If you would like more information about this do not hesitate to contact us, and remember:

"Travel is the only thing you buy 
that makes you richer" 

22 Apr 2014

Official French language exams

On occasion it may seem that English takes over: it is seen as a second language for a large majority, is the dominant language on the internet, in business, technology etc… However there are still many who choose French as their second language. 

It is because of this that we have chosen to focus on the official French language exams.

There are three types of official exams that certify French language skills set out by the French ministry for Education. The DIFL (Diplôme initial de langue française), DELF (Diplôme d’études en langue française) and the DALF (Diplôme approfondi en langue française). 




The DILF examines your basic knowledge of the language, but it is quite normal for people to skip this stage and go straight onto the DELF A1

The DELF and the DALF are made up of 6 independent exams which correspond to the Common European Framework of reference for languages. Thus the student, depending on their level, can sign up directly for the exam of their own choosing.

These qualifications are globally recognized and are often used by ministries of International Relations in charge of education. They are present in more than 1,000 exam centres in 164 countries.

·                     The DELF is made up of 4 independent certificates which correspond to the first 4 levels of the Common European Framework
DELF A1, the basic or introductory level, evaluates the basic skills of the student. 

DELF A2, still a basic level, this exam evaluates the student’s understanding of the basics and their ability to use everyday courteous phrases.

DELF B1, this is the first real jump towards some Independence in the student’s language skills. The student must be able to cope with unexpected situations. 

DELF B2, the student has acquired the Independence necessary to argue and defend their point of view, as well as correcting their own errors.

·                     The DALF evaluates the higher levels of the Common European Framework and tests the upper levels and experiences of the student with regards to the French language.  

DALF C1, evaluates the ability of the student to express themselves in an independent and spontaneous manner, with ample vocabulary and structures to make a coherent argument. 

DALF C2, is the last certificate offered that guarantees that the student is capable of undertaking academic tasks in the target language. 

Additionally, a ‘teen’ version of the DELF qualifications exists. From the age of 8, students are able to participate in the exams with the guarantee that the content will be adapted to their age and general knowledge. The skills evaluated are the same in terms of French as a foreign language.

DELF Prim, for children between the ages of 8 - 12 in primary school.  
DELF Junior, for children in secondary school.
DELF secondary, for children at a higher level in secondary school. 
DELF Pro, "professional option" for students looked to integrate in France and French society.

At each level, the exam evaluates the following skills: comprehension and written and spoken expression.

More information here.

Original article by Blanca Díaz Blanco


18 Apr 2014

Easter celebrations

Easter is this weekend and much to the delight of many children in the English speaking world this involves lots of chocolate! The Easter egg hunts, family get togethers and searching for traces of the Easter bunny in the garden all make for a fun-filled weekend, not forgetting the bank holidays for the adults.

While some people do still attend mass on Easter Sunday, Easter in the English speaking world has lost some of its religious roots. With that in mind I decided to look up what our European neighbours will be doing this weekend and how many of their celebrations are actual traditions and which ones are modern 'interpretations'.

Source: www.happyholidays2014.com

Semana Santa - Spain

Source: tuagendasetting.blogspot.com
Otherwise known as Holy week, this celebration is based more on the religious aspects of the holiday. During the week before Easter, processions take place in many cities across the country. The features of the processions, for example what they wear, differ depending on the region. However people typically wear a cloak and a pointed hood that covers the wearer's face. The other common feature is that there is usually a 'Paso' or float depicting a certain part of the gospel. 




Kokkina avga - Greece

Source: ocog.thischurch.org
Red Easter eggs are a tradition of the Greek orthodox church. The eggs are dyed red because red symbolises life and the blood of Christ. The egg itself also symbolises the renewal of life, so the message of the red egg is victory over death. Easter is one of, if not the, most important religious holidays in Greece and they usually start their celebrations on the Thursday before Easter Sunday. 




Påske - Norway

Source: www.toptenz.net
As well as staying in the mountains, skiing and decorating eggs, a contemporary tradition for the Norwegians is to read or watch murder mysteries at Easter. All the major television channels run crime and detective shows, as well as the magazines. They even go as far as to change milk cartons, printing a short murder mystery story on the side. 







 Osterbrunnen - Germany

Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Easter_egg_tree



Decorated Easter eggs are hung on trees to make them into Easter egg trees. The most famous example is Saalfelder Ostereierbaum, Volker Kraft's apple tree. They have been decorating the tree since 1965 and started with just 18 eggs, in 2012 he had over 10,000 eggs on the tree! They also make Osterbrunnen, which are fountains or wells decorated with eggs. 'Easter fires' are also lit on Easter day at sunset, this happens mostly in Northern Germany and is known as 'Osterfeuer'. 



Egg Rolling - Scotland

Source: news.bbc.co.uk
Egg rolling is a traditional Easter game played with hard boiled, decorated eggs. People roll the eggs down steep hills and the egg that goes the furthest without breaking wins. Arthur's seat in Edinburgh is a particularly popular spot. In Lancashire, the broken egg shells have to be carefully crushed otherwise they believe that witches will steal the shells and use them as boats....Each to their own!






And of course it wouldn't be a holiday without some of Britain's crazy old traditions. Have a look here to find out what they are!

14 Apr 2014

Languages in film

One of the best ways to keep up with your language skills and learn to speak like the locals is to watch foreign films or TV series, it's also a great way to get a taste of different cities.

It may at first seem like a school teacher method, used to pass an hour with rowdy students however it is in fact very beneficial to your language skills. You get to hear different accents and, if watching with subtitles, you can see the word written and hear the pronunciation. It is also a great way to pick up new vocabulary that is commonly used by natives.

Here are a few of our suggestions to get you started:

French


Le fabuleux destin d'Amélie Poulain

A quirky depiction of Parisian life, set in Montmartre. The story follows the shy Amélie (Audrey Tautou) in her quest to help those around her. 

Released in 2001, it is still the highest grossing French-language film in the US









Les Revenants

Originally a Canal+ creation, Britain's Channel 4 showed this series under the title The Returned. The 'British' version is (thankfully) subtitled and not dubbed. 

It is a supernatural series based on the French film Les Revenants (They came back). It is zombie-esque in that various people start coming back to life after having passed away. The series follows the events that ensue their 'coming back'. 



Other note-worthy works include:
  • Tunnel (The Tunnel) - An Anglo/French crime series that is the joint project of Sky and Canal+. It is a bilingual series with a British and French production crew. 
  • Caché (Hidden) - A great thriller by Michael Haneke that analyses class divides in Paris, and France as a whole. 
  • La Haine (Hate) - Another hugely successful French-language film by Mathieu Kassovitz that follows the lives of three youths from a Parisian suburb. 

Spanish


Abre los ojos 




Abre los ojos (Open your eyes) is the 1997, Spanish original of the US remake Vanilla Sky. 

The film draws parallels to Caldéron's La vida es sueño, as it plays with dream and reality, drawing the viewer in to César's torment. 

Penelope Cruz can be seen as Sofía in both Abre los ojos and Vanilla Sky. 










El Laberinto del fauno


Otherwise known as Pan's Labyrinth, it is perhaps one of the most famous Spanish Language films. It has won various international prizes, including a BAFTA for the 'Best film not in the English language'.  

From Guillermo del Toro, the film is set in Spain 1944. It follows Ophelia (Ivana Baquero) and intertwines the real world with a mythical one, centred on an abandoned, overgrown labyrinth where Ophelia interacts with the mythical faun creature. 






Other note-worthy works include:
  • Evita - Alan Parker's portrayal of Eva Péron
  • Diarios de motocicleta - The motorcycle diaries is a biopic about the journey and written memoir of a young Ernesto Guevara. 
  • Los misterios de Laura - A comedy, crime series on TVE, not dissimilar from the Agatha Christie novels.  

German


Lola rennt 


Run Lola Run is the 1998 film written by Tom Tykwer, starring Franka Potente as Lola. The general storyline is that Lola has 20 minutes to find 100,00 Deutsche Mark and save her boyfriend's life. 

Tykwer makes it slightly more complex than this by portraying 3 'runs' in which different scenarios occur depending on Lola's actions, similar to Sliding Doors. 

Lola rennt won 26 international film awards, including the BAFTA for the Best film not in the English language









Good Bye, Lenin! 

Wolfgang Becker's Good Bye, Lenin! was released in 2003. The majority of the film is set in East Berlin from October 1989 up until German Reunification a year later. 

The story follows a young man's attempt to protect his fragile mother from a fatal shock after a long coma. He must keep her from learning that her beloved nation of East Germany as she knew it has disappeared. 

Good Bye, Lenin! has won numerous international film prizes, including the César award for Best film from the European Union




Other note-worthy works include:
  • Rush (2013) - a British-German biographical sports drama about the rivalry between F1 drivers James Hunt and Niki Lauda.
  • Das Leben der Anderen (The lives of others)- Set in 1984, East Berlin. A secret police agent surveys his lover and a writer. 
  • Der Untergang (Downfall) - Traudl Junge tells of Hitler's final days in his bunker in Berlin at the end of WWII. 

7 Apr 2014

What not to miss in Montpellier

Montpellier is the capital of the Languedoc-Roussillon region and the department of Hérault. It is located on the south coast of France and as such enjoys an average of over 200 days of sunshine per year. It is the 8th largest city in France and for the past two decades has been the fastest growing city in the country.



There is a large student population in the city with the universities Montpellier I, II and III. The original University of Montpellier is one of the oldest in the world being founded in 1160. The city is also home to numerous Grandes écoles for business and science. This gives the city a very animated atmosphere which, when juxtaposed with the traditional architecture and older quartiers, creates a well balanced city.

There is so much on offer in this city but here are just a few of things worth a visit:

Place de la Comédie



The Place de la Comédie is the main focal point of the city. It is named after the Opéra Comédie which has burnt down twice! 

Features: The Three Graces, Rue de la Loge, countless cafés & restaurants with terraces where you can sit and enjoy the sun.  





Henri de Lunaret zoo



This park is spread over an area of more than 80 hectares. In the early 1900's the land belonged to Henri de Lunaret, on his death he left the land to the city of Montpellier on the condition that the land be put to good use and kept for a worthy cause. In 2007 an Amazonian greenhouse was added which is home to numerous ecosystems found in the Amazon.

Features: 500 animals to see (90 different species) spread over 11 Km of Mediterranean grasslands, and it is free to enter. The Amazonian greenhouse: home to numerous rare Amazon species including the Ocelot, the Howler monkey and the Spectacled caiman, among others. Entry to the greenhouse is unfortunately not free. 






Jardin des Plantes





This is a historical botanical garden and arboretum maintained by the Université Montpellier I. It is open in the afternoons and admission is free. It is France's oldest botanical garden and the model for which the Jardin des Plantes de Paris is based on. 

Features: Greenhouse with a large central basin for aquatic plants and 250 species of medicinal plants.




Le quartier Montpellier-centre



In particular the historic centre of Écusson. Here you will find the typical Mediterranean architecture 'à l'ancienne'. It is one of the most beautiful districts in the city and the perfect place to explore and discover the real Montpellier.

You will find lots of small boutiques tucked away down different intersecting alleyways. On occasion you will stumble across a small square with either a restaurant or bar with a terrace for you to sit and enjoy the tranquillity of old Montpellier.

Features: a fantastic place to spend an afternoon wondering around, enjoying the architecture, gastronomy and even the odd wine bar or two.




There is of course a plethora of other things to do in charming city, such as:

  • Les domaines viticoles for wine tasting
  • Handball matches
  • Le musée Fabre
  • Arceaux aqueduct
  • Quartier Beaux-Arts
  • St-Pierre Cathedral
  • The beach!

There you have it, a short guide to Montpellier and what it has to offer, which I'm sure you'll agree is very diverse.

3 Apr 2014

Learn French in Montpellier

What better place is there to learn French. Montpellier has it all, the sun, sea, the Mediterranean culture and a great balance between the bustling atmosphere that larger cities offer, while still remaining a compact and safe city



French is, along with Spanish, one of the most widely taught languages in English schools. What most students probably overlook is that French is actually a rather widely spoken language. There is of course France, Belgium, Luxembourg and Switzerland but also Canada, Martinique, St Martin, Haiti, Senegal and Mali, among others. There are actually 74 million native French speakers worldwide.  If that wasn't enough The Telegraph ranked French as the second most useful language to learn in terms of employment - 49% of companies surveyed view French as useful for their organisations!

If you need more convincing here is what we have on offer in Montpellier:


French in Montpellier


This programme is available for students aged 16 and up (including adults of all ages!) The school has just opened a new centre, right next to the impressive Arc de Triomphe. This new centre is fitted with modern equipment, spacious classrooms and has a lot of character from the old stone walls and high ceilings. 

Students have the choice between residence accommodation or host families. The residence is a 10 minute walk from the school and the famous Place de la Comédie in the centre of Montpellier. The communal kitchen and lounge area are being renovated with all new furnishings and students have a single room with en-suite bathroom or if travelling as a pair they can request a double room. Host families offer the full immersion experience. Students have their own room and key allowing for a certain degree of independence.



Course options:
  • General French - 20 lessons per week including vocabulary enrichment, grammar structures and oral and written expression. 
  • Semi-Intensive French - 26 lessons per week. As the general programme but with additional lessons generally on Tuesday and Thursday afternoons dedicated to conversation/speaking skills.
  • Intensive French - 30 lessons per week. As the semi-intensive course but with additional themed lessons providing workshops and cultural aspects to the course.   




Summer Camp in Montpellier


Courses for juniors aged 11 to 16, combining French lessons with activities and excursions. The junior centre is located in central Montpellier within the pedestrianised area providing a safe and lively atmosphere. There are two accommodation options, host families and a residence for students aged 14+

The host families offer a complete immersion experience and students are usually in double rooms with other students staying with families nearby. The residence is just a short walk from the school and 24hr supervision is guaranteed as group leaders and supervisors also stay in the residence.  



On the programme:
  • 20 French lessons per week (45 minutes each)
  • Activities such as: city tour, beach games, sports, themed parties, discos, cinema, bowling and many others.
  • Excursions include: Nîmes, Avignon. Grotte des Demoiselles, La Camargue etc. 


School Groups in Montpellier


One of our newest programmes is organised closed group trips. In Montpellier, school groups will be in either one of the two centres, both located a 5/10 minute walk from Place de la Comédie. Ages can range from 11 to 17. Accommodation is with local host families in and around Montpellier, giving the students that extra chance to speak French. 

This programme is highly flexible and can be adapted to your students needs and abilities. A typical programme involves: 
  • 20 French lessons per week
  • Various activities and/or excursions either arranged by the school or the group leader. Examples include: Beach activities and sports, city tours, French & cookery, cinema, bowling etc or free time spent with the group and group leaders organising their own activities. 


If you are interested in any of the above courses, or any others, do not hesitate to contact us!

1 Apr 2014

Easter holidays in Bournemouth!

It is often thought that the holidays are times that are scarcely put to good use, well this is not the case if you have used our Easter holidays offer!

Source: www.staplefordpark.com

In Belgium, as well as in France and other neighbouring countries, the Easter holidays are two weeks long, during which time there are lots of opportunities for parents to send their children abroad to study a language instead of lazing around the house. But what your parents don’t know is that in Bournemouth it is not all about learning, especially with the Easy Languages group leaders around ;)

If you have booked on one of our courses or not, we are all thinking about how to spend our holidays (particularly the summer ones!), so today here is some help to get you organized... 

We’re going to Bournemouth!

You may  already know, or if not I’m telling you now, that Bournemouth is on the south coast of England and one of our top destinations. So much so that we organise group coach travel there (from Brussels or Lille). In any case, our Freestyleprogramme offers students the chance to go to lessons, choose the type of accommodation that they prefer (residence or host family), practise the language during activities organized by English speaking group leaders and enjoy free time while continuing to practise the language, visiting the city and making friends.

When planning a trip you have to take a lot of things into account….

Some of our group leaders last summer

Before you travel

You must remember that although you are travelling to Great Britain, which is part of the EU, it is not a part of the Schengen Zone, which means that you must travel with your Passport or ID card. Minors, if travelling alone (which will be the case if travelling with Easy Languages), will also need a passport, they can only travel with an ID card with written consent from a parent or legal guardian obtained at the local commissariat or police station.  

In terms of health and safety, the European health insurance card is sufficient, and to put parents’ minds at ease, Easy Languages offers its own insurance, Chapka Assurance. Contact us if you need more information. 

You know that we offer group travel for these particular programmes (see other options on our website for school groups), however you should not forget to check if you need a transfer service on arrival. 

Don’t forget to check the weather forecast for the time that you are there. We are talking about England after all, you can experience all four seasons in one day. Because of this do not forget to pack comfortable and waterproof clothing… and towels

During your stay

Whether you are going to stay with a host family or in a residence, you should be aware that other cultures will have different customs to your own. Keep an open and respectful mind and you will enjoy your stay a lot more.

It is only a couple of weeks and yes, we know that you like to relax during the holidays, but that doesn't mean you should be lazy, remember that lessons start at 9 o’clock in the morning. Although on your first day you will have to be there slightly early for the level evaluation. You can relax, the group leaders will remind you the day before.  

Moving our attention towards the group leaders, they are there to help you, but we are going to learn and practise English! The group leaders will try and make every activity different and fun, but you must understand that weather conditions have a big influence. Please don’t get annoyed with them if there is a change at the last minute and you cannot do the activity you wanted to.  

Last, but not least, remember that the aim of your stay is to practise English. Don’t get embarrassed! We are all there to help you if you have any doubts. 

Source: www.boston.com


Practical Information
·                     Adapters!! Remember that England has different plug sockets than other European countries. If you do forget them, you can always find somewhere in Bournemouth to buy one. 
·                     Passport photos. You will need them to complete your school file. 
·                     Pounds. There are of course currency Exchange bureaus, but it is better if you bring pounds with you from home. The exchange rate will be a lot better than in Bournemouth because it is a tourist city and people know how to capitalize on this.  



In short, have fun, enjoy the holidays and learn in a fun and friendly atmosphere!

Other holiday courses include: