Monthly Archives: July 2014

Language Acquisition: Why it is easier to learn foreign languages once you have mastered one.

website banner books photoIf your aim is to learn more than one foreign language, it is best to start with one of the easier foreign languages to learn such as one of the Western European languages. If your learning approach for your first foreign language was efficient then you will find it much easier to master additional languages. The reasons why more languages are easier to learn are as follows: Continue reading

Choosing the right adjective

picBored v Boring

On Friday night I went to see a film at an open air cinema in London.  We started eating our picnic whilst we waited for the film to start. My friend Rob was telling a funny story when my sister Anna started yawning. Rob stopped mid-sentence and said; “I’m sorry Anna, am I boring?”

Anna was embarrassed and explained that she hadn’t slept the night before because of the thunder storms, so Rob forgave her.

That conversation reminded me of a common problem for English learners, and that is choosing the right adjective between those that end with ‘ing’ and those that end with ‘ed’. Continue reading

Colombian Spanish Slang

It´s always fun to learn a bit of slang when you go travelling to a new country! It is a great way to join in with the locals or at least to help follow what they are talking about!
Here is a bit of Colombian Spanish slang to try when you visit this beautiful country.

De una!: Let´s do it!(now!)
Bacano: Cool, awesome
Chévere: Cool awesome
Juepucha: Oh my god!
Que mas?: How are you?
Que hubo? Hello, what´s up?
Parar bolas: To pay attention
Estoy enguayabado: I´m hungover
Que pena!: Sorry
Está mamando gallo: He´s kidding
Se le corrió el champu!: He´s nuts!
Plata: money
La Berraquera: the best

Structure of the Chinese characters

A Chinese character is made up of one or more components, for example,

Character with one component: 山 (mountain)

Character with two components: (the Sun)      +       (the moon)      =       (bright)

Character with three components: (wood)   +   (eyes)   +  (heart)     =      (to think)

Some components have meanings, but some don’t, and some of them can match up with other components, to form a new character, therefore, a different meaning too.

Generally speaking, there are six formations of the Chinese characters.

Forms Examples
left – right (good),(mum),(she)
left – middle – right (thanks),(which), (swim)
top – bottom (morning Sun),(is),(forget)
top – middle – bottom (win),(love),(space)
symmetrical (small),(sit),(fire)
inside – outside (return),(country),(field)

Strictly speaking, there are about 91,251 Chinese characters collected throughout the whole history, and there are 3,500 characters in The List of Frequently Used Characters in Modern Chinese in 1988. Although learning 2,000 characters would probably be sufficed to read newspapers, have a conversation or even live in China.

Lena’s professional profile can be found on LinkedIn.

Foreign words in English

photoOn holiday this year, I noted how foreign words had been borrowed and sometimes adapted into the French language: “sandwichs” and “paninis” being two examples. There are many such loan words in English, and I wondered how many I could use to describe my holiday.


Having arrived at our holiday home on the beautiful island of Corsica, we started the climb of 50 steps up to the apartment.  Perhaps a holiday chalet would have been a better idea? I can certainly see why older people prefer bungalows!  After we had dumped our suitcases, we headed up onto the roof terrace, with its stunning views of the port and the old town of Porto Vecchio.  The sight of swifts gliding past, and the bells ringing in the ancient cathedral made a delightful setting as we dined al fresco, and then took an afternoon nap or siesta on the comfy chairs provided.  This is the life!

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