Category: Foreign Language

Why do people say "pardon my French" when they swear in English?

I spend a lot of time in my car, commuting back and forth to work each day. To pass the time, I’ll listen to audiobooks and podcasts. Recently, when listening to a podcast, an English speaker swore and then quickly said “pardon my French.” By uttering these words, it seemed to soften her language, making... Read more »

TGIF: The origins of the phrase and its use in countries around the world

The other day was one of those days when it was nearly impossible to get my two young sons out of bed and off to school. Before we walked out the door that morning, I said to my sons, “TGIF.” They replied to my quick comment with two tired, utterly blank stares. And, then it... Read more »

How many different ways can you say "you're welcome?"

When someone says “thank you” to me, my response is usually “you’re welcome.” It’s automatic. It’s learned. And, it’s something I hadn’t thought too much about – until I participated in an “ambassador” training for a volunteer position a few months ago. Our role as “ambassadors” was to welcome people from around the world to... Read more »
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Being bilingual: Is it ever better to learn to speak one language over another?

My sons attend an international school where most of their classes are taught in French – except for English class. Easily, they spend most of their day hearing, speaking and learning in French – right in Chicago. But, at their school, French isn’t considered to be a second language. Rather, French and English are both viewed as first languages. Yes, even though... Read more »

Multilingual myths: Is it ever too early for a child to learn a second language?

Before we had children, my husband and I talked about our hopes and dreams for them – like would-be-parents tend to do. Even without a child in our arms, we had clear visions for our family. And, one thing we both wanted was to raise multilingual children. But, we knew it would be a bit... Read more »

What's up? Coucou, ça va? Qué tal? Informal greetings used around the world

It’s been more than two years since my sons started at their current school. I still remember being nervous about them learning the new routines, meeting new friends, and interacting with their new teachers. A “new” school is always chock full of everything and anything “new.” But, for me, my nervousness was at a higher than usual... Read more »
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The Zazoo: Building bilingual reading skills in young children

My five-year-old son is at magical age when letters become sounds and together they become words – words he can read on his own. All of a sudden, words are everywhere – hidden in plain sight. He delights in each word he’s able to string together as he reads it – at home, on the “L” train, along busy streets, at restaurants, or at school.... Read more »

Getting “schooled” in foreign language by my two young sons

This morning, I volunteered to help out at a special event at my sons’ school. Today, students’ grandparents were welcomed to come learn more about the school, meet the teachers and staff, and visit with their grandchildren in their classrooms. My sons go to an international school so that means visitors would be coming to the... Read more »

The language of love: Finding love in another language

For me, love has primarily been conveyed to me in English. Growing up, my parents only spoke English in our home. As a child, I enjoyed hearing my German opa and oma (grandpa and grandma) say “ich liebe dich” (I love you) to me and my siblings whenever we visited them in downstate Illinois. But, I... Read more »
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Graphic tees: Fashion trend puts spotlight on foreign language

In French, "ça va" can be used to ask how someone is doing, and also used in your response to say that everything is good. The <a href="https://www.jcrew.com/womens_feature/NewArrivals/knitsandtees/PRDOVR~A3117/A3117.jsp">Linen Baseball Tee in Ça Va</a> puts the from J. Crew puts the question (and answer) front and center in a fashionably yet sporty t-shirt. Photo: J.Crew.com
I must confess – I love fashion and trends, and boy do I love a good fashion trend. But, all too often fashion-trend watching ends up being a spectator sport for me. I often observe and appreciate the latest trends, but am hesitant to incorporate them into my wardrobe. But, there’s one I am excited... Read more »