Tag: 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 »

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 »

Japanese culture of kawaii: Even the signs are “cute” in Tokyo

This sidewalk sign helps show where the water supply is for use by emergency crews during the event of a fire - in a fun, light-hearted way.
Before my family ventured to Tokyo this past spring, I read up on kawaii – a word used to describe the quality of “cuteness” in almost all aspects of Japanese culture. As noted in a Associated Press story, Nobuyani Kurita, a sociology professor at Musashi Unversity in Tokyo, has said that the word “cute” is a “magic term” that encompasses everything that’s... 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 »

Youth language learning in Chicago: Language Stars opens its 15th local center this week

My husband and I are always quick to say we wish we could speak more than one language. While both of us took a language early on in school, we never progressed past a basic understanding of Spanish for him and French for me. From the first time we spoke about our hopes and dreams... Read more »

Kids Learn About Language and Culture at These Chicago Summer Camps

Now that it’s finally starting to feel like spring, it’s time to turn our attention to summer. Lucky for all of us Chicagoans who have been chilled to the bone these last few months, the warmer temperatures will be here before you know it. For families, summer means school is out and camp is in... Read more »