For more information about learning French with VLLC contact us.
Whether you are a city lover, beach lover, skier or lover of the countryside France has it all, from arts and culture to fantastic food. France hits the jackpot! From the beaches of the South in Nice and Saint-Tropez to the vineyards and hop growing areas of Alsace in the North, France has something that appeals to everyone. While France has it all for many visitors, France is barely touched, let alone uncovered, because of one simple thing: French.
Fans of the hugely popular Only Fools and Horses will all know how the main character Del Boy used misplaced French phrases to make him sound impressive or to just get a point across, common phrases that really are not phrases such as “It’s Boeuf Bourguignon, as the French would say”. While people around the world, including the French, have laughed till they hurt at Del Boy’s use of French. It does nonetheless, speak volumes about the importance and even respect that the language has in getting to know France and the French people. Speaking French raises a person up in French society and shows considerable respect in a nation where respect is important.
Having more than a smattering of French makes a massive difference to any visit to the rich and diverse country. With language, a weekend in Paris becomes more than just a quick trip up the Eiffel Tower, a visit to Euro Disney and a brisk walk around Pompidou Centre or the Louvre following in the footsteps of each and every tourist. Language lifts the lid of, not just Paris, but the whole of France where small, family run restaurants can be happily visited without the worry of not being able to understand what is on the menu, or morning coffee can be shared in a pavement café, watching the world go by whilst deep in conversation with a true Parisian.
Knowing how to communicate in the French language opens up the French Culture and allows you to blend in to experience, not just a country, but a way of life. Iconic tourist attractions are seen with different eyes when you can converse in French and you can begin to understand why the people of France are so proud of what they have. Historic castles such as Le Puy-en-Velay in the South of France and the Chateau de Chenonceau, open up in a whole new way of being able to talk about and discuss the stories behind the walls in French. In their native language. Stories become more alive and you will, of course, discover little things that those without the ability to speak French would miss out on.
Even a walk in the Wine lands of France comes to life with French. Being able to discuss Red wine in Bordeaux with a local farmer and uncovering smaller wine estates that may be off the grid because you cannot speak French, turns wine tasting into a real French adventure. France has so much more to offer than just the Champs Elysees, Eiffel Tower, and Euro Disney and it can only truly be uncovered by being able to communicate in French.
For more information about learning French with VLLC contact us.
As far away as Australia, we have come to associate the 14th of July with the red, white and blue streamers of Bastille day. While we celebrate that French je ne sais quoi we have come to love, the French themselves celebrate their freedom and democracy in displays of fireworks, street parties, balls and military parades. But what are we actually celebrating?
La fête national – the national holiday we know as Bastille Day, has been celebrated since 1880, when it was proposed as a celebration of freedom and unity. However, the annual festivities not only celebrate the 1789 storming of the bastille for which Bastille day is most commonly known, but also the national unity that came with the 1790 federation.
The latter - la prise de la bastille - was a defining moment of the first of a string of revolutions which took place in France. La bastille was a Parisian state jail considered to represent the king’s power under his monarchy. For this reason, its destruction was both symbolic and logical, as it held arms needed for a revolution against the ancien régime – France’s old order. Under this regime, France’s population was separated and hierarchized into social classes : from the king – who held absolute power,to the clergy, the nobility… then the powerless masses. France’s pre 1789 monarchy thus produced extreme social, economic and political crises – and these are the conditions which the first revolution, and those which would follow, sought to ameliorate.
From the republics which ensued resulted the slogan we know so well; liberté, égalité, fraternité – freedom, equality and fraternity: a representation of revolutionary values which centre on democratic power, and the tenet that each individual is equal in the eyes of the law. So, aside from the excitement of festivities, how do these historic events affect us at VLLC? The republican desire for conformity and equality is reflected not only culturally, but linguistically – calls for homogenization saw the spread of a standard French language throughout all districts of France, most of which had previously spoken their own patois. Without the changes that followed the revolution, there’s a good chance our "French" would be much more varied, and sound incredibly different – the infamous bon voyage could have been the Alsatian Bù Voyage, or the Breton Beaj vat!
Eady McLaren, past VLLC French Tutor
Moonlight, Paris, River Seine and the one you love. Nothing quite symbolises romance as much as France and then of course, just to add some extra sugar on top of all the love, one merely needs to speak the language of love, which for many has to be French. There is just something about France and romance that makes the country so special. From proposals on the Eiffel tower where so many couples have said “Je t’aime”, or I love you in somewhat rusty French, to the vineyards of Champagne, where the sparkling wine epitomises love itself as a cork is popped and a glass handed to a loved one with the words ‘Mon Amore” trying as hard as possible to be perfectly romantic.
Perhaps the reason stems from the fact that Paris, especially, was the birthplace of some of the greatest writers, novelists, and painters the world has known and many of these famous people put emphasis on romance and love. This, with the complexity of French culture and their “Joie de vivre’ has made Frenchmen romantic by nature with flourish and flair in just the right amount in everything they do from architecture to food, and even the language itself, with certain objects being considered female and others male. And thanks to Hollywood and movies, this flourish and flair has been extenuated and has created an overall image of France, the French language, and even the French accent as being romantic.
Today France, and more specifically Paris, are synonymous with Love and Romance making the City one of the most popular honeymoon destinations on the planet. Part of this is the world class dining where every meal is served with just that little something special, from a meal in a five-star restaurant to an open sandwich in an auberge on the side of the road in a tucked away village. The French add love to food as they do with everything.
But all that love can be easily lost for those who cannot speak French, because the language is as much about the Romance as anything else. Seeing the sights and being in the place where romance is part of life is one thing, and yes, romance will be felt, but to get the full romantic appeal out of France, knowing the language makes all the difference. Being able to ask for something special for your romantic meal or being able to ask for directions with a more romantic or scenic drive adds a little something that is immeasurable, as well as impresses the partner.
French and France go hand in hand but when you want to be cheeky with your loved one just by saying “vous êtes mignon” or when you want to simply comment on your loved one’s smile by saying “J'aime ton sourire” you will soon realise that speaking French allows love to flow. Perhaps it is the very fact that the French speak French; maybe that is the real reason for France and Paris being as romantic as they are. Learn to speak French.
The Arab world has become one of the top tourist destinations in recent years. Known for its great transport connections, the airlines have really opened up this part of the world, and with high-quality hotels having outstanding service, there is a lot to see and do. There is even more to do when you speak Arabic.
Swim with the Dolphins in Dubai. A top attraction for many in Dubai is to get up close with one of the most majestic and mesmerising animals on earth. Swimming with the Dolphins in Dolphin Bay in Dubai has to be a bucket list item for many people, and this is surely one of the best places in the world to achieve this dream.
The Burj Khalifa Dubai. This is not just a top ten of the Arab world but a top ten of the entire world. At 828m tall, The Burj Khalifa is the tallest building in the world. There are 160 stories in this outrageously tall building and tours to the very top are a popular tourist attraction. From the top one get perhaps the best view anywhere in the Middle East but if you suffer from vertigo it is perhaps not the place to visit.
Museum of Islamic Art, Doha. There are multiple reasons to visit this spectacular and unique museum. The museum is an immaculately collated collection of Islamic art and History. With impressive Georgian rugs, restored and preserved remnants of Damascan palaces as well as relics and porcelain relics from across the ancient Islamic world there is a lot to take in. By learning to speak Arabic your tour of the museum will become more impressive as the Arabic language will enable you to understand what you are seeing better. However, there is another reason for visiting this outstanding museum and that reason is a few steps away in a courtyard. Here in the left-hand courtyard is arguably the best view oh Doha possible.
Dune Riding in a Buggy or on a quad bike. For those who seek a little more thrills and spills from their visit to Dubai, Doha or any one of the cities in the Arab world escaping to dunes is where to find it. Many Arab countries have turned their biggest natural resource, sand, into the ultimate adventure playground. Groups can be taken on dune tours in a large, luxury 4 x 4 but to experience the sand dunes up close one needs to bash through them in a buggy or on a quad bike. The sand dunes and it, of course, camels are iconic symbols of the middle east but hitting the dunes by buggy or bike has to be the top thing to do for anyone with a sense of adventure.
Speaking Arabic can open up many more places in the Arab world. Small coffee shops where local sit and while away the morning sun can open up an opportunity for conversation that lifts the cotton sheets on the almost mystical society. If there is one top thing to do in the Arab word then surely it must be to speak to an Arab in his native language.
Ask anyone who has travelled to the Middle East to describe the region and they will struggle to create a picture that comes anywhere close to their experience. Spices dominate the Middle East, their fragrance, colours and in food, their taste. One cannot really define the Middle East unless one is familiar with the spices of the region and this is also true with food.
Middle Eastern food can be sophisticated, and with a barrage of exotic tastes hitting the tongue, or simple, with something special about them. Food in the Middle East is something every tourist has to try and here are a few dishes and items worth looking out for.
Iraqi Masgouf. Let’s start with something unusual, Carp. This freshwater fish is something most people would very easily turn their noses up to, and quite rightly so, carp is not the most appealing of foods. However, when carp has been slow-cooked for three or four hours leaving none of the fishy fat carp is known for, and then served with lemon, pickles and maybe a salad carp takes on a whole new meaning.
Baklava. Okay, let’s go to another extreme far away from carp. Baklava is a Middle Eastern sweet dish that is known and loved worldwide. Chopped nuts, lashings of sweet syrup and honey with filo pastry mad with plenty of butter make a dish that is so amazing that it is little wonder it is one of the most popular in the world but it is best eaten in the Middle East.
Mansaf. This has been described by many as the Middle Eastern Pizza, but is quite a bit different from the average piece of pie found on a New York street. This Jordanian and Palestinian dish is a culinary delight made from lamb or mutton, sprinkled with pine nuts and almonds, that float in a layer of rich creamy yoghurt. Mansaf can be served on a plate, but for a real experience it is eaten at a celebration, and the table becomes the plate. It is a simple dish but the slow cooked tender mutton is something fit for a king.
Moutabal. The Middle East is famous for Hummus but there is a dip that surpasses Hummus hands down. Moutabal is a spiced up dip made from Eggplant, a little tahini and yoghurt. It is smokier and more flavoursome than Hummus and will become your new favourite dip very quickly.
The Middle East is well known for its different foods and many tourists never get to try them simply because they don’t know what something is and don’t know how to ask for it. Speaking Arabic can open up the culinary delights of the Middle East allowing you to explore new tastes with ease. Even a few words help, but a full control of the language gets you more experiences than you could ever dream of.
The Middle Eastern Arabic speaking countries are fast becoming tourist hubs. In the past, destinations such as Doha in Qatar and Dubai in the UAE have been seen as places for business, but they are now attracting fun lovers. Speaking Arabic can make your vacation to Arabic speaking countries special, and achieve the feeling as if you have just been upgraded.
Tourists, whether entering Arabic speaking countries purely for pleasure, or on the back of an extended business trip, are made to feel very welcome by Arabs. Hospitality comes naturally to an Arab and is extended liberally, generously and lovingly, even more so when Arabic is spoken.
One of the biggest tourist attractions, particularly in Qatar and the UAE, must surely be the markets. The markets come to life when the scorching Middle Eastern sun goes down, and every human sense is nudged and woken up like never before. Spices and the smell of coffee often fill the air and locals sit and relax as the hustle and bustle flows around them.
Sitting down and taking in the atmosphere with locals, feels almost rude if you cannot speak Arabic. A few words here and there will help, but a full grasp of the language will open up a world of stories, fascinating people and a culture steeped in history. Blending in with language is something many tourists do not understand, but for those who take their travel seriously, language and speaking it is what makes the vacation a true vacation.
In the markets, haggling is a way of life. Locals haggle over bales of hay, next to feeding donkeys and maybe camels next door, to a market stall selling tourist trinkets and gifts. Nothing it seems has an actual price tag; everything is negotiable. Haggling in English is ok, but if you want to take it seriously, speaking the native Arabic will quite likely get you a better deal.
Many Arab nations are proud of their heritage, culture, and Muslim faith. These elements of the Arab world are perhaps what create the great mystery that seems to flow like smoke around the Arab world. Arab countries may well be small, but there is a lot of magical mystery that many tourists are hungry to discover, language opens up the possibilities.
Getting beyond the tourist hub is challenging. The hotels and amenities are designed to attract tourists and release an abundance of enjoyment and relaxation. However, there is more to an Arab country than luxury hotels. In true Lawrence of Arabia style, with language, you can begin to explore, and dare to go further. Camel rides in the desert are touristy, but getting to know those who own and keep the Camels, is something few tourists are able to do. Speaking Arabic changes the whole experience, respect is shown and your touristy thing again feels upgraded.
The Arab world beckons the tourists from all over the planet. Speaking Arabic opens up a host of opportunities and possibilities that will turn an average vacation into something magical… who knows, if you speak Arabic you make be able to make a carpet fly!
The importance of being multilingual should not be overlooked by frequent travellers. It becomes essential in some parts of the globe, just like your passport or mobile. Learning a new language reaps benefits beyond the reach of tourist maps, guides etc… Books and internet are of no use when you have to negotiate prices with a street vendor who doesn’t speak your native tongue.
There are many official excuses about why you should avoid learning a few foreign languages. Most excuses include being too busy or too lazy. Nevertheless, we have come up with a few reasons why you shouldn’t excuse yourself from enriching your travel experience through leaning a language.
Learning any foreign language is easy:
Learning any foreign language with VLLC is much easier than it sounds. It can be accomplished much more quickly than you expect. The key is to know what you want. You don’t have to be proficient enough to write poetry and you don’t have to be intimidated by the strange looking alphabets and never ending grammatical rules. For starters, you don’t have to be fluent in the language to survive in any country. The ability to communicate and have a decent understanding of the language goes a long way. Learning a language specifically for travel can include relevant vocabulary in a short period of time is really possible with VLLC.
Learning local language makes life easy:
When you speak their language, you can have a far more valuable experience with the locals. Knowing how to order food and drinks at hotels alone can save you money. It’s logistically easier to navigate a city through trains, buses or walking, when you know some basics in the language. You can also protect yourself from scams more readily if you speak their language as you do when you speak only English. Being able to speak the local language helps you to be accepted more readily for the most part. Not looking like an Uber-tourist in any foreign land has its benefits. Learning a few words to enable you to ask for directions doesn’t demand too much preparation.
Language is the gateway to culture:
If you have ever tried learning a foreign language, you would know language isn’t the only thing you would absorb. Along with the language, you would learn some history and culture of the country. Even being able to read a passage in a short story would open your mind to various aspects of culture or folklore. Some cultural values would appeal to you and stay forever. Difference in the depth of understanding of a poem or story would vary with the way you learn it. Reading mere translations and reading the original passage would show the difference. Foreign music can also take your experience to a whole new level.
Local language keeps loneliness at bay:
It’s common to feel lonelier when you are away from home. Homesickness can creep in subtly. When you know the language, you can make friends more easily. Sharing a story is a lot better than just a smile. Developing lasting relationships in a safe and pleasant manner can be a real life changing experience. Knowing the local language gives you more options to do something interesting than just following the run of mill tourist plan. Your ability to experience local life in a new country would increase dramatically. There wouldn’t be any need to resort to the lonely international traveller lifestyle.
Learning reflects your gratitude and courtesy:
Leaning the local language makes you appear more interested and courteous toward the locals. It shows the respect you have for foreign countries’ and their people. When visiting a country, you need to learn at least some basic language, out of respect. The benefits of learning a new language are far more reaching than you think. New language rewards you with new acquaintances and memories. Contact VLLC for more information on how you can prepare for your next overseas trip.
With any country, a visitor can get by with a phrase book, some broken language and plenty of hand gestures, and for some, just speaking in their own language louder and slower hoping the person they speak to understands is the norm. But to get under the skin of a country, to see life as a native and to get a greater understanding of what is around you and what makes a country what it is, nothing beats speaking the language.
When in Rome, so they say, do as the Romans do and when visiting Italy on vacation or for business nothing could be closer to the truth. Italy is a wonderful country that comes alive by speaking the language and not just in Rome but any city, small town or rural village. Language lifts a layer off a country, a whole new country opens up and with Italian you really can do as the Romans do.
There are countless tourist attractions to see and visit in Italy and it is easy for anyone to simply visit, look and then check off the bucket list. But what would it be like visiting these attractions knowing you can converse, understand the signs, feel the emotion?
There is a place in the middle of Venice called Isola di Burano that is famous for its colourfully painted houses. It is a popular tourist attraction and many people just book their tickets, have a look around, snap a selfie and consider it as seen. But if you spoke Italian you would suddenly be able to go beyond the colourful houses and strike up a conversation with a local. Going a little beyond just good morning and very much passing the time of day, you will be a tourist who is able to experience the life and culture of one of Italian’s own.
It’s the little things that bring Italy to life when you speak Italian. Theatre trips can be taken because you understand what is being said, a small local village play can be as marvellous as a performance at La Scala in Milan. Simply because you speak Italian, you understand and what would normally be reserved for the Italians, can be enjoyed by you.
All the many works of art that Italy is famous for can be visited with a whole new confidence when you speak Italian. Leonardo Da Vinci’s painting of The Last Supper can be talked about with Italians as you gaze at the masterpiece, you might even get better ticket prices just because you speak Italian. But you can absorb works of art and question if you must in the local language, conversation can be struck up with an Italian art student and suddenly a whole new perspective on a painting or sculpture is found and appreciated.
But it is not just the leisure tourist who wants to get close to the arts of Italy who is a winner by speaking the language. As a business visitor, your host, customer or supplier will feel confident in inviting you to real Italian events and places when you can converse, this will allow you to get closer to the people and the Italian way of life that may very well be the difference between you winning your company the business.
Each and every attraction has a whole new appeal when visited with a speaking knowledge of Italian, the leaning tower of Pisa, the Sistine chapel, the Colosseum in Rome or just a stroll through the vineyards of Tuscany become places with deeper meaning and greater understanding that create a better memory allowing you to really say “L’Italia e Bella” – Italy is Beautiful as the sun sets on your visit.
Love is a curious thing and both France and Italy must be very close to if not at the top of the list for love and romance. But, how do you open the conversation with a stranger in Paris, Venice, Nice or Rome?
Chat up lines around the world can be humorous, perfectly charming, completely misunderstood or unintentionally rude and insulting if spoken by someone in a language other than their mother tongue. What may work in one language may not work in another, and very often a joke about a country, city or icon in spoken in English is never going to work.
One of the worst English chat up lines to use in a French bar for example, would be “Are you sure you are not a tower? Because Eiffel for you….” it may get a smile, if the person understands English, but if they don’t, it will mean nothing.
Having a grasp of a second language when in Italy, France or any other country, will always open up doors that would otherwise remain closed. When it comes to meeting, or just chatting up a potential Miss or Mister Right, language can open up the door to romance and maybe even marriage.
Pick up lines make great content for any stand up comedian, and some when literally translated could make you feel a little unwell. In France, one French chat up line that is so bad it is actually good goes “J’ai un problème avec mon portable, il manque ton numéro!” and quite literally means “I have a problem with my phone. It doesn’t have your phone number!”. This chat up line could be spoken in any language but somehow it sounds a little less corny and more romantic in French. Even the classic “is it hot in here, or is it just you?” sounds much less corny in French “Il fait chaud ici, ou c'est juste toi?” Speaking another language gives you the tools to use the language to your advantage and opens up a completely new dating pool.
The Italians are stereotypically famous for their chatting up of the ladies and any chat up line, no matter how bad, corny or even crude sounds wonderful in the flowing Italian. The most basic and simple “would you like to go out for a cup of coffee?” has no real charm or lustre in English but when spoken in Italian it becomes something almost operatic “Ti va di andare a prendere un caffè?”. Even just asking if someone would like to go out sometime with you oozes romance and beauty “Ti va di uscire qualche volta”
Italy and France are the most romantic countries in the world, partly because their language is so colourful and so full of radiance. Everyday conversations become lessons in love, being upset or angry in French or Italian is full of expression, and the emotion can often be lost in translation. Such is the power of the language.
Visiting France or Italy, whether for business or pleasure is made easier, more interesting and wonderful when you can speak the language. You may not intend for romance to happen, or it may be intentional, but in truth, it never will be unless you Parlez Francais or Habla Italiano. Learn the language today to avoid corny chat up lines tomorrow!
Italy is a popular tourist destination and a country that has many hidden gems. For the vast majority of visitors the main hubs are the only places they get to. It is often because firstly they do not know about these places, and secondly, because they cannot speak Italian and ask about them to know about them. Here are five places that the Italian language can unlock in Italy.
Montefalco in Italy’s Umbria region, is a sleepy Italian town famous for Sagrantino wine and magnificent scenery. Montefalco is a little off the beaten track, and its peace and tranquillity makes it worth a visit alone. The San Francesco Museum houses some of the best works of art in Italy. Speaking Italian will open up this amazing, less travelled place.
If you are flying on a budget airline to Venice, there is a good chance you will land in Treviso. Treviso is a picturesque walled city, 20 miles outside of Venice. Seemingly untouched over the centuries ,once you enter through the medieval gates, you will twist and turn your way around the city through a maze of narrow cobbled streets. Many of the streets were once water courses, and it is not difficult to picture the town in days gone by. Peaceful, intriguing and somewhere where speaking Italian will open up a whole new world. Treviso is a must.
Lake Como is very much a tourist Mecca, but it has a smaller, less familiar, but equally beautiful smaller sister. Lake Iseo is popular with hikers and Monte Iseo is the smallest lake island in Europe. With no cars and fewer than 2000 residents, Monte Iseo is a place that can only truly be experienced when one speaks Italian. The calm and the quiet make this a truly hidden place in Italy, where the real Italy can be experienced.
Gargano is an Italian national park with the perfect balance of sun soaked, sandy beaches and tranquil pine forests. This is one of the top places for Italians to take a vacation in their own country. In peak season, virtually the only language heard spoken is Italian. If you visit here, speaking Italian is very much essential, but speaking Italian will ensure that you vacation as Italians do. This region is barely known by tourists and is one of the best kept Italian secrets.
The best way to describe Portovenere is the sixth Cinque Terre village, officially, there are five but Portovenere has no railway station. Portovenere is peaceful, not full of tourists and a wonderfully friendly little town by the sea. A number of other, equally tranquil villages are found nearby and when you speak Italian the whole Liguria region opens up in a friendly, colourful bouquet of places to visit and stay.
Speaking a language will always open up a country and allow you to see it, and experience it, in a completely new way.
Speaking Italian will open your eyes to one of the most wonderful countries on earth.
Learn Italian at VLLC before you go and open your eyes to a whole new world!
Travelling is an exciting opportunity which can be enhanced by learning the language before you go. This blog contains some interesting articles about language and travel.