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On Location Italian – 28 Feb 2013

130228-nicoleBuongiorno a tutti and welcome to On Location Italian. It’s Nicole here writing to you all once again from Verona, Italy. One of the highlights of spending a year abroad is when your loved ones from back home pay you a visit and you are finally able to show them around the beautiful city and region it has been your privilege to be living and studying in. With the female members of my family having already made the trip, it was the turn last week of my brother and dad to spend some time here.

After showing them around the sights of Verona, since my brother has from childhood been a huge Juventus tifoso (“fan”), it was only fitting that we caught the train to the football team’s home city of Torino (“Turin”). It was my second time visiting the city now up there on my list of favourite European cities and in my view rather underrated in comparison to other major cities such as Rome, Venice and Milan.

Unfortunately we were not able to get hold of tickets for a Juventus partita (“match”). We were able however to take a visita guidata (“guided tour”) of lo stadio (“the stadium”), getting up close and personal with all areas including la tribuna (“the stands”), la tribuna d’onore (“the VIP section”), and lo spogliatoio (“the dressing room”). To make up for missing the match, my brother, dad and I sat at a local bar where the Juventus match was being shown live. Although not a massive football fan myself I did take the opportunity to pick up phrases I heard being used throughout the game. The most common of these amongst the Juve tifosi (“fans”) was Forza Juve, meaning “Come on Juve!” I also heard fallo di mano, which means “hand ball” with fallo being translated as “foul”. Other phrases I heard were calcio d’angolo (“corner kick”), calcio di punizione (“free kick”) and fuorigioco (“offside”).

With my dad and brother back in Scotland, I am now back to my usual pastimes which are normally enjoyed in an environment somewhat less male-dominated than football but surprisingly I loved learning about il calcio italiano (“Italian football”) and spending some quality time with my family. I hope you have all enjoyed On Location Italian and I will be back soon. A presto!

On Location German – 27 Feb 2013

130227-danielHallo zusammen! It’s Daniel here for another On Location German blogpost! I now have ein neuer Stundenplan (“a new timetable”), which now allows me more opportunities to travel! (reisen=”to travel”.) So last weekend I took a trip to Hannover in the state of Niedersachsen, (“Lower Saxony”) which isn’t very far from here in Herford. Hannover city centre is very open with long, wide streets which make the streets of Scottish cities look small. Then again, most German cities make Scottish cities look small! There was only one problem during the trip:

‘Als ich am Bahnhof angekommen bin, dachte ich, dass meine Fahrkarte von der Bildfläche verschunden war!’
(“As I arrived at the train station, I thought that my ticket had vanished into thin air!”)

Von der Bildfläche verschwinden’ is German for “to vanish into thin air.”

It did turn out that I had put it in the wrong pocket… but we learn from out mistakes, right? Anyway, when I finally got to Hannover after being reacquainted with my ticket, I didn’t hesitate to find my hotel so I could take off my backpack. (zögern=”to hesitate”) Then after a weekend of Einkaufen (“shopping”), ungesundes Essen (“junk food”) and a trip to the Kino (“cinema”), it was time to go back to Herford. Luckily I didn’t lose my ticket on the way back!

The moral of the story is: ‘behalte deine Fahrkarte im Auge!’ (“Keep an eye on your ticket!”)

Until next time! Bis zum nächsten Mal!

Daniel.

On Location Spanish – 26 Feb 2013

130226-iain¡Bienvenidos a On Location Spanish! It’s Iain here with another update from my Erasmus at the Universidad de Salamanca.

As February marches on, you’ll be glad to hear that: estamos en clase de nuevo (“we’re in class again”), grappling with that most unique of challenges of matching my expected credits required by my home University with the number of credits actually available from the classes here at USal. Such is the life of an Erasmus student! Much like last semester, I’m taking a mixture of language and business classes. In my phrase, I used de nuevo to mean “again”. I picked this little phrase up from my French classmate Thibaud, who mentioned that his Spanish teacher at High School in Paris used to say it all the time. It’s interesting to see that on Erasmus, it’s not just the Spanish native speakers that are teaching me the language!

With the arrival of the new semester, la comidilla de la vecinidad (“talk of the town”) is the hundreds of new international students beginning their exchanges here. It really adds to the cultural “melting pot” that makes Salamanca known worldwide as an excellent base to develop both your Spanish knowledge and an excellent social life.

I’m glad to have a full semester ahead of me to continue working on my Spanish skills. It also allows me to see more of the Iberian Peninsula and its culture. We’ve recently visited Valladolid, an industrial town to the north of Salamanca. Also, a huge part of modern Spanish culture is defined by sport, and to that end I’ve managed to get hold of some tickets for the Formula One Gran Premio (“Grand Prix”) race in Barcelona in May. I can’t wait!

¡Hasta luego seguidores!

On Location French – 25 Feb 2013

130225-roseSalut tout le monde! It’s Rose here with another blog post from France. This article comes after realising how quickly my year abroad here in St Brieuc is going in. It’s already nearing the end of February, and my contract at school finishes in April. With this in mind, myself and a few friends decided il faut profiter du temps qui nous reste – we have to make the most of the time left to us. So, last weekend we visited the coastal town of Perros Guirec. Further north in Brittany than Saint Brieuc, Perros Guirec is well known for le granit rose, the pink-coloured rocks that make up the beach and coast here. It was nice to spend a calm weekend here, and opened my eyes to different environments. It’s easy to think weekends away have to involve visiting somewhere bigger, but sometimes escaping to a nearly deserted beach can do the world of good.

Just as we arrived on Friday evening though, my phone ran out of credit. Being a small town, I couldn’t hunt down a phone shop on Saturday, and as everything is closed on Sundays here, it was after school on Monday afternoon before I could finally top up my phone. When I arrived in France I bought a cheap mobile phone, un portable. There was no point taking out a contract – un abonnement, as I’m only here for seven to eight months. Instead I opted for “pay as you go” top-ups, les recharges. You can pick different amounts but I usually opt for the one with SMS et appels illimités, unlimited texts and minutes. Making sure my phone is topped up tends to be the least of my worries though. Instead, deciphering texts from my French friends and flat mates can be a lengthy and painstaking process. Just as we have ‘text-speak’ in English, so too in French exist acronyms such as Slt in place of salut, or c rather than c’est. Tkt is one that particularly puzzled me until I was forced to ask my friend what she meant when she kept using it. It’s short for t’inquiète pas – don’t worry, or no problem. Finally, you’re not worth your salt if you don’t finish a text in French without Bz, short for bisous or kisses, like leaving an X at the end of a text in English.

School has also been quite busy for me the past few weeks for two reasons. Firstly, my final year students will sit their baccalaureat, or bac for short, in June, exams which determine if they can go onto university. This week they have been doing what is called les bacs blancs. This literally means ‘the white baccalaureat,’or practice exams. Secondly, the whole school has been busy preparing for la semaine des portes ouvertes, open-doors week at the school. This occurs around the same time every year in France, where prospective pupils and parents can visit schools in the area. I hope you enjoyed reading this post, and à la prochaine!

French WOTD Review – 20 Feb 2013

We’ve been publishing a daily word on Facebook and Twitter and each day we’ve asked our Facebook friends and Twitter followers to post a comment using the word of the day, thereby practising their language skills. This week, in honour of St Valentine’s Day, we’ve focused on the topic of love and we’ve shared the following words and phrases with our community: l’amour, tomber amoureux, les fleurs, je t’aime and un indécrottable romantique. As usual, the Radio Lingua community has come up with some excellent examples of these words in sentences, and that’s what we’re looking at in this episode of the show.

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Spanish WOTD Review – 20 Feb 2013

We’ve been publishing a daily word on Facebook and Twitter and each day we’ve asked our Facebook friends and Twitter followers to post a comment using the word of the day, thereby practising their language skills. Last week our theme was love, in honour of St Valentine’s Day, and as usual the Radio Lingua community has come up with some excellent examples of this week’s words: enamorarse, las flores, una cita, el amor and un beso.

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Episode 304 – Q&A Spanish

In this episode of Q&A Spanish JP and Nahyeli answer questions from listeners Marta, Steve and Joe. Marta needs help with translating “to enjoy” and she also wants to know more about the difference between gracioso and divertido. Joe is wondering about buying a ticket for a sporting event: should he buy un boleto, un billete or something else? Steve wants help saying “it’s no problem” if someone bumps into him. JP and Nahyeli have lots of advice and examples in their answers.

Use the player below to listen to this week’s episode:

If you have a question for our experts, you can get in touch with the Q&A Spanish team at the Q&A Spanish page. Remember that we welcome all questions, even if you’re just starting out with Spanish!

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Lesson 05 – Coffee Break German

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It’s time for another episode of Coffee Break German. In this week’s show, you’ll learn how to introduce members of your family to your new-found German-speaking friends. Coffee Break Geramn In weekly episodes you’ll join native speaker Thomas who’ll be teaching learner Mark in gradual, structured lessons. This episode features a special input from our “Grammar Guru” Kirsten who will explain how gender works in the German language.

Episode 303 – Q&A Spanish

In this week’s episode of Q&A Spanish, JP and Nahyeli answer questions from listeners Andrew, Eimar and Suzanne. Topics covered include the difference between hasta la semana que viene and para dentro de una semana; ; the difference between sino and pero; and how best to translate two phrases: “to bump into someone” and “no cheating”. As usual, our experts provide lots of examples to help Andrew, Eimar, Suzanne and the whole Radio Lingua community understand the answers.

Use the player below to listen to this week’s episode:

If you have a question for our experts, you can get in touch with the Q&A Spanish team at the Q&A Spanish page. Remember that we welcome all questions, even if you’re just starting out with Spanish!

iTunes link | RSS feeda

On Location Swedish – 15 Feb 2013

130215-ailieHej! I have to admit that this week I have left writing this article a little late – something which Swedes, with their sense of punctuality which could rival the Swiss or Germans, would seriously frown upon! Several Swedish friends told me separately that they grew up with the motto from their parents, that if one is going to be anything more than 3 minutes late, it probably is not worth showing up at all. But in this case, my being late is what led me to the idea for this week’s article, namely, tid (time). Telling time and phrases around it are, I find, always one of the most difficult things when learning a new language, and so I would like to dedicate a little of my time today to talking about it.

Before going to Sweden, I had been told that like in most European countries, that in Sweden I should use the 24-hour clock (and had been dreading saying “sjutton” (17), for 5pm, as the “sj” sound, a rushing of air out of your mouth like you’re blowing but haven’t closed your lips enough, is nigh-on impossible and non-Swedes in general can only manage at best a half-decent impression). However on arriving in Uppsala, in conversation at least, I learnt that using 24-hours is deemed unnecessary. It’s pretty obvious when you say, “Jag ska till skolan klockan 10” (I’m going to school (here, ‘university’, at 10) that you mean in the morning, and you aren’t planning on heading to classes at 10pm. “Klockan”, meaning “the clock” and “o’clock” and in writing is usually shortened to kl., is used to preface any time, for example, “Jag vaknade kl. 8” (I woke up at 8), “han äter lunch kl. kvart över 12” (he eats lunch at quarter past 12),  “Vi ses kl. halv 10” (See you at half 9).

This last example throws up one thing which I constantly found difficult! In English, saying for example “half 10”, means of course, 10.30. In Swedish, like in German, the system is to “minus” the half from the following hour – so, halv 10 (lit. “half 10) actually means 9.30. I imagine it this way, in English we think of “half past 10”, in Swedish “half before 10”. One last phrase, to round of this lesson in time (and a personal favourite of mine”: att tappa tid, meaning to waste or lose time. “att tappa” can also be used to mean “to drop”, and so for me “tappa tid” has this image of time slowly dropping away from one’s grasp. And on that, somewhat philosophical, note;

Jag tappar ingen tid och säger ”hej då” till just nu!
I’ll waste no time and say “bye” for now!

On Location Italian – 14 Feb 2013

130215-nicoleBuongiorno a tutti and welcome to On Location Italian. It has been a busy old week here in Verona. To start off with there was the famous Carnevale di Venezia (“Carnival of Venice”), an annual festival held in Venice that attracts visitors from all over. I was fortunate enough to spend the day there, taking in the electric atmosphere and witnessing all the weird and wonderful masks at the contest for “La Maschera più bella” (“the most beautiful mask”) held in Venice’s main square, Piazza San Marco. The effort and detail that went into these masks was incredible! Verona also held its own Carnevale, not quite on the grand scale of the one taking place in Venice but one nonetheless impressive.

The period of the Carnevale ended on Martedi Grasso (literally “Fat Tuesday” but best translated as “Shrove Tuesday” (or “Pancake Tuesday”), another holiday that I very much enjoyed as you can see from my photo!). The celebrations for some, however, are set to continue today as couples will be declaring their love for one another on St. Valentine’s Day (San Valentino). Given that Verona is famous for inspiring Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet, it is difficult to escape the loved up couples enjoying a romantic getaway at the best of times, however I am anticipating the romantic atmosphere to be heightened today. Not only is Verona renowned for being a romantic city, but Italians themselves have a reputation for being somewhat the hopeless romantics. This morning I have reflected on the stereotypical passionate Italian male who loves all women, including his mamma (there is a term known as “mammoni” to describe mamma’s little boy, even if he is in his 30s). I have had a good giggle thinking back to some of the cheesy chat up lines my friends and I have overheard in the bars on a Friday night. There have been the more run of the mill chat up lines such as hai degli occhi belli (“you have beautiful eyes”) and sei bella (“you are beautiful”). However, my friends have also told me a few gems that they have been subjected to such as fa caldo qui, o è perchè ci sei tu? (“is it hot in here, or is it because you are here?”) and a particular favourite of mine ti sei fatta male quando sei caduta dal cielo? sei un angelo! (“did you hurt yourself when you fell from the sky? You are an angel”).

I am sure those users of the dodgy chat up lines are, like their counterparts in Scotland who try to be the next Casanova, in the minority. In any case, who knows maybe on this romantic day Cupid will strike with his arrow turning them into less hopeless romantic and more sophisticated/stylish romantic. I hope you have enjoyed On Location Italian this week. A presto!

On Location German – 13 Feb 2013

130213-hollyHi everyone! It’s Holly here with another blog post from Germany and after having been back in Scotland for a couple of weeks for the Christmas holidays, I am looking forward to getting back into the German way of life.

As most of you will already know, I now live with a German family and it is going very well. It is great to see how people of different ages use different types of language. There are four teenagers in the family and I have started to pick up things that they say that an adult just simply wouldn’t. One example that I hear every night at the dinner table is “Alter!” which would be best translated as something along the lines of “guys!” when someone has been annoyed by another person.

Another thing that I quite often hear when the dog comes to the dinner table is “hau ab!” which means “scram” or “get lost”. As well as this, I have learned that “Hör auf!” means “stop it!” or “knock it off!”. As you can see, meal times in my Germany host family can be quite lively!

It’s not only words I’ve been noticing: it appears that German people wave their hand in front of their face when they think something is crazy or daft. This interesting gesture can be combined with a “Bekloppt” or “bescheuert” which both mean “cuckoo” or “daft” – these are two favourite words in this household.

I’ve not spent all my time at the dinner table though! Since being back I have also seen “Schwanensee” (Swan Lake) in a theatre in Dortmund which was wonderful, and I have also being doing a fair bit of travelling, taking a trip over the border to Enschede in Holland and visiting Bonn and Cologne. This weekend I’m off to Berlin with my boyfriend so I’ll update you on the interesting sights we visit – and any language points that I pick up!

Bis bald, Holly 🙂

Lesson 04 – Coffee Break German

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In this week’s episode of Coffee Break German you’ll take your German skills further and continue to develop your confidence in using the language. In weekly episodes you’ll join native speaker Thomas who’ll be teaching learner Mark in gradual, structured lessons. Our “Cultural Correspondent” Julia and our “Grammar Guru” Kirsten will also join us in each episode to share their knowledge and love of all things German.

On Location Spanish – 12 Feb 2013

130212-graceBienvenido a todo el mundo to Grace’s first On Location Spanish update of 2013! I hope the New Year has gotten off to a great start for you all, and without further ado I’d like to tell you about my first months back in Valencia.

For the majority of the Brit Pack, we had returned to Valencia with only two resolutions: 1. Speak more Spanish, 2. Get healthy. Heeding the words of our lecturers, and taking advantage of the late night kick-off at Valencia’s Mestalla Stadium, off we went to see the Home team put up a formidable fight against Real Madrid. At a draw of 1-1, this was a satisfying result for the Valencia fans. Sadly for us, with the majority of the supporters’ songs sang in the regional valenciano, we spent most of our evening in the dark. Well, except for our rousing rendition of ¡Adios a la Liga, Adios! urging the Away team to “wave goodbye to the league title”.

Addressing resolution no.2, we all knew that we had to say goodbye to Mercadona’s reasonably priced magdalena cakes and our Wednesday night Agua de Valencia cocktails in Plaza Honduras. Getting healthy meant getting ourselves to the frutería (“fruit shop”), getting down to the carnicería (“butcher”), getting ourselves some fresh produce and (lending a hand to resolution no.1) mixing with Spaniards.

And boy am I glad we actually did! After around 4 months of incorrectly asking waitresses and shop assistants, ¿Puedo tener (algo)?, which I had quite literally translated as “May I have (something)?”, only now has my local butcher put a stop to this madness.  Setting me straight once and for all, I now know to ask:

¿Me pone una docena de huevos, por favor?
May I please have a dozen eggs?

If like me you’re most familiar with poner in the “to put” sense of the word, don’t be alarmed. Using this construction is seemingly the most accurate from a native’s point of view, and has certainly reduced the number of times a day that this Jonny Foreigner gets asked where she’s from and how she’s enjoying Spain.

I hope your Spanish is coming along well this year and that you’re enjoying the updates from Iain and myself. Please join me for more On Location Spanish and I’ll let you know if I’m having any more luck blending in and keeping healthy. ¡Hasta luego!

On Location French – 11 Feb 2013

130211-scottBonjour à tous et à toutes et bienvenue à ma première entrée de blog de l’année 2013! Since we last spoke, I flew back home to Scotland to spend the festive period with all my family and friends; I travelled to places like Paris and Barcelona to visit friends; and I recommenced my studies and my life in Toulouse. Whilst I am thoroughly enjoying my time here in France, it was great to be able to return, albeit rather briefly, to all the old faces and familiar climes; the fact always remains that on n’est nulle part mieux que chez soi – there’s no place like home!

Just last weekend, I embarked on a road trip with four French friends to Carcassonne, an olde worlde southern French fortress town famous for its historic castle, and Andorra, the small country at the heart of the Pyrénées mountain range which borders France and Spain. After packing into my friend’s car, a fifteen year old Rover which he affectionately called his vieille et fidèle bagnole (’trusty old banger’), we set off on our journey. With my roommate as chief navigator, we headed south on l’autoroute (the motorway) before coming off and taking a more scenic route, so as to avoid the many expensive péages (toll booths).

Upon arriving, I could see why so many tourists flock to Carcassonne – le château (the castle) is immensely picturesque with its imposing tourelles (turrets) and grandiose portcullis and drawbridge (la herse et le pont-levis), surrounded by its own douves – the moat. We took a fascinating tour of the museum which the castle has now become and I actually wound up learning a lot about the local history… well, on en apprend tous les jours – you learn something new every day!

We continued onward to Andorra and our proximity to the small Pyrenean nation became evident as we travelled higher and higher into the hills and the temperature consequently got lower and lower! The Andorran scenery was breathtaking, with snowy mountainsides all around and charming little chalet villages dotted here and there. From a linguistic perspective I also found the country very interesting, as the first language there is neither French nor Spanish, but Catalan. Fortunately for me, I found that they spoke good French too as when I asked a shopkeeper “Où sont les toilettes?“, she understood perfectly!

I am planning many more excursions within France later in the spring, and I shall of course be keeping you informed of how they go and what new French I learn! For now, I wish you bonne continuation avec vos études de français, et à la prochaine!

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Spanish WOTD Review – 9 Feb 2013

We’ve been publishing a daily word on Facebook and Twitter and each day we’ve asked our Facebook friends and Twitter followers to post a comment using the word of the day, thereby practising their language skills. This week we’ve been talking about buying things and as usual the Radio Lingua community has come up with some excellent examples of this week’s words: comprar, la talla, el precio, hacer un cambio, and el recibo.

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French WOTD Review – 9 Feb 2013

We’ve been publishing a daily word on Facebook and Twitter and each day we’ve asked our Facebook friends and Twitter followers to post a comment using the word of the day, thereby practising their language skills. This week we’ve focused on the topic of eating out and we’ve shared the following words and phrases with our community: l’addition, la carte, l’entrée, commande and réserver. As usual, the Radio Lingua community has come up with some excellent examples of these words in sentences, and that’s what we’re looking at in this episode of the show.

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Episode 302 – Q&A Spanish

JP and Nahyeli are back with another episode of Q&A Spanish. In this episode they answer a question from listener Laya about possessive pronouns, and a couple of questions from Sam about how best to say “these days” in Spanish, and also how to say “it can’t be denied”. Find out the answers to these questions in this episode.

Use the player below to listen to this week’s episode:

If you have a question for our experts, you can get in touch with the Q&A Spanish team at the Q&A Spanish page. Remember that we welcome all questions, even if you’re just starting out with Spanish!

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Lesson 03 – Coffee Break German

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Welcome to a new episode of Coffee Break German, our new course for beginners in German. In weekly episodes you’ll join native speaker Thomas who’ll be teaching learner Mark in gradual, structured lessons. Our “Cultural Correspondent” Julia and our “Grammar Guru” Kirsten will also join us in each episode to share their knowledge and love of all things German.