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Special Announcement:
On 1st March we moved to a new blogging system.

The archives of all the student, teacher and staff blogs are still available here to read but commenting has closed.

Here is the link to the new system:

http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/learningenglish

We still have student, staff and teacher blogs for you to comment on, however in the new system you do need to register to leave comments.
  

November 2008

Sunday, 02 November 2008

Salut tout le monde!!! (or Hi everybody, I should say!)

Maybe, you have already guess, dear Readers, from where I come from? I am French, I am a 24 year old girl, and I have the opportunity this month to be the student blogger.

I wish I've could have sent this first letter yesterday, but it was completely impossible. And I'm going to explain this delay already!

This week-end is special in France. For a lot of countries of Christian history, November 1st is reserved to think to lost souls. Now, thanks to Halloween, it's a great day for children to have the opportunity to eat as much candies as they can eat. In France, this day is one of the many days-off that exists in our annual calendar. So, all the people living in big cities left it. And, as I'm living in Paris, I did as everybody, and went in Bretagne, a well-known region in France for its beauty, but also, for its weather, which is a bit rainy. But, it really doesn't matter as November 1st, from Lille to Marseille, is in general rainy, frizzy and grey. And this year, the tradition has not changed. Well, in short, it seems that everything is reunified to make this day a particularly sad and desperate one. To top it all, all the shops are closed as it is a day-off.

So, the only solution to find something to do is Internet, and especially for me, to write my blog. But, the problem was that, in my fiancé's family house in Bretagne, Internet has been exceptionnally cut off. You can imagine my disappointment.Just think for a person who is used to be connected many hours a day, the situation was just catastrophic. However, still have a glummer of hope: maybe, an Internet café is be open in the city center? The situation had just get worse, when I realised that every shops are closed as it is a day-off.

I can say that fighting "destiny" was useless. This was not the day to post my first blog. So, I'm happy now to told you that I have found finally a connexion, after asking all the neighbourhood of my fiancé's family. Finally, in other way, it allows me to have communication with others, as in this blog.

I'm trying during this month to share with you some special time and make french cultur and habits more understandable for everyone. I hope I will open for a large number of you a window on my country as I really liked it.

Thanks a lot for your attention and to the BBC to give me the opportunity to write on this blog. And also, thanks to my teacher who will have a lot of work with me. To everyone, I will really enjoy to answer to any of your question.

See you soon.

Olfa

Friday, 07 November 2008

Back for a new beginning!!!

Hi Everyone,

This title that I write today is full of message. And today, i'm going to speak a little bit more about me. I'm really confused not to write during such a long time, but to be completely honest with you, it is because I was afraid. In fact, after reading a lot of blogs and the texts that you have already posted Helen, I was just afraid that my way of writing english was just boring ... and not really good! I don't know if it's the same for a lot of english learners, but I think it's easier to speak, than to write. I feel in fact easier with the oral language, as I can express my feelings with words, but not only! It's also with smiles, expressions of face which show approval, disapproval, well all the feelings that human nature can have!
So, I have been afraid of the "white page": during my day, I thought about writing so much things in order to tell what happened to me, and then, in front my screen, nothing was going out from me. It's like I have been an oyster. I have decided to see one of my very good friend, who is also a native english speaker. Don't worry, he has not helped me to write this text and it was not in my mind to ask him to. But, he has done something much more, even greater, he gives me a cultural lesson that I am going to share with you. He said that english speaker are not so strict on grammar. The important thing for them is the way that you make efforts, and nobody is going to look down on you if you make mistakes, the most important thing is to try. Well, to my mind, french people are note completely the same (and if I say that, it's because I'm french). In fact, we are so harsh on grammar. After this good advice which is "write, you have nothing to loose and don't care about grammar", all my fears left and ... here I am!!!

First of all, I want to thank Helen for your nice pictures, it just makes me dream, you know! And also, I feel relieved with your remark about my english, I feel that maybe, I am not so bad at it!

Well, a lot of things happen during this week and the first thing that I think about is Obama. I think that all over the world, it has been a relief to say that the United States are going to change, not only their president, but also it's going to be a different way of governing the country. I was just amazed to see the impact of USA's political situation in the world. And, as everybody, I just feel relieve to see Obama has President. Well, in a way, he has helped me, because, I have told myself, that "yes, I can", to write my blog.
For me, it has been a busy week: I'm a student but my situation is a bit special. In fact, in a month, I am fifteen days at school and the other fifteen days I work in an insurance company. I don't know if this kind of situation exists in England, or elsewhere. We called in french "alternance", and I don't know the english word. I'm waiting for you, all readers, to give me a piece of information. And my studies are about law, insurance and liability. I will talk to you later about the insurance business and what I do. I also need your feelings about insurance, and what you think of it. And it's my 7th year at university and the last I hope! In spite of I'm really interested in what I do, I really want to begin working in order for example, to earn more money!
So, I was at school this week and I have an english lesson. And by chance, we have talked about the way we speak english and if we translate directly french to english and in the other way! In France, for example, it's common when you learn a foreign to directly translate to your mother tongue to the foreign one. To my mind, I think that it's not a good way to learn a foreign language, and I try not to do this in spite sometimes, during my schooling, I must have to. And also, sometimes, when I don't know expression, I think in french and try to translate it. In general, those kind of translation are not nice! I think that I have been lucky to have an english native speaker teacher (this expression seems a bit strange or long, doesn't it?) who told me that I had better not to translate directly but find a way to speak as a real english (or spanish if you try to learn it). A language is for me a music and you have to find the rythms which is linked with the way that people of the country think. But, it's completely true that for a French, it's easy to make mistakes as there are some words with are quite the same in english and in french, but don't mean the same thing. I have a very interesting example which shows that english and french are particularly linked: the word is "knife". In french, we have "canife", which means knife. I don't know how has been influenced, maybe french wants to say the "k" and english can't pronounce it... who knows!
So Helen, I just will take some time, just to try to correct the sentences that you give to me and for this time, I will come back soon!
Have a good day everyone!
Olfa

Tuesday, 11 November 2008

News from the front!!!

Hello everyone,

First of all, thanks to all of you for your kindness, your advice, your attention! I was just delighted to see that so much of you wrote a comment upon what I've posted before.

Well, I hope that the few following lines are going to answer to all of your questions, about me, my life in Paris and my studies. Maybe, it will be just the beginning of the answer, and we will have the rest in next post.
Today, as Helen has said is November 11th and as a lot of countries in Europe, France commemorates this special day. I always feel lucky when I watch images or pictures of the First World War not to have seen the attrocities of war, and especially not to have live it. I was born in a country which knows peace and freedom. But, to my mind, this day could be the opportunity not only to think about this war, but also to other wars that still take place in some part of the world and to their victims. We could say lots of things about war, about how it's disgusting, useless... but war still exists. I am sad of it, and that is why I dedicated this few lines to all the people who suffer from war.
It's hard after such a message to speak about other things, but we are going on with lighter things. What about my day? November 11th is one of the many day-off that exists in France. I have already talked about this specificity in my last blog. But here, I'm going to give you a pinch of french cultur. November 11th was this year a tuesday, so we make a bridge ("faire le pont" in french), which means that after the week-end, we don't even return back to work on monday, not either on tuesday which is the real day-off. So, we have a 4 days-off. I don't know if it exists in other countries, but you can't imagine how I like this system. So, I went to the commemoration of this special day: some people are dressed up as soldiers, and some old cars are showed off. In spite of I'm a girl, I'm just crazy about cars. And those ones, are really old. It was some old Renault of the beginning of the 20th century, with leathure seats, big steering wheel. To my mind, Renault is linked with France. So, what do you think about it? What is linked with France in your mind?

But, this 4 days have been busy. As I have talked about last time, and a lot of you have been interested in having more information about it, I have studied a lot for my alternance. This is a special studying status which is quite developed in french studies. The principle is to share a month into two parts, one at work and the other at school. "Alternance" is really nice for both of the people involved: for the companies, they trained people during one year and have after a well-prepared workers who knows the way the society works. And for the student, it's a way to have experience which is very important when you are looking for a job. But also, you are paid as you are a real worker, instead of when you are only a student. Well, Marianna, external form of studying during the week-ends exists in France, also some are in the evenings, but are different from my status.
To tell you the truth, it is a very busy year, as I have to deal simultaneously with theorical knowledge and complexe law concepts and practice at work. To answer your question, Hyoshill, I'm still wondering if I want to be an insurance lawyer. Since I went to the Lloyd's in London and met some underwriters, I'm also interested by this job. So, I am waiting for the end of this year, next september, to choose.
I work in La Défense, which is the business center of Paris. It is mainly composed of skycrapers and I'm not really found of this kind of architectur and the general atmosphere of this place. Concerning the architectur, skycrapers make me suffer from vertigo and I prefer Haussmanien buildings, the ones that you can find in the city center of the capital. They are smaller and are made of stones, instead of glass and I am really found of the front, which sometimes is sculpted. The atmos"fear" of La Défense is scary: getting to it by public transport is harsh every morning as the underground is full. The first time that I get in, I was just astonished by the noise of heels on the ground and how people is running all the time. For your information, I have not all my life live in Paris, and until my fifteen years, I used to live in the countryside, this explaining my reaction when I discovered Paris and especially La Défense. And yes, Koorosk, Paris is a beautiful city, but as every big city, it's sometimes hard to live in as people are stressed out and even the conditions of living make you stressed out. But, all that stuff is forgotten when you have a walk near the Seine, or at Montmartre.
About insurance, concerning your question Ramin, I can tell you that oil companies are covered under their fire insurance for material damage. But, can you just precise your question if it concerns financial loss or just material damage?
And, I don't forget you Helen: about the use of the form "used", after reading many times this expression "used to misusing used to? Let's get used to using it accurately", I finally quite understand it. It's a way to say that now we can speak about a habit which someone has in the past with this special form properly. And concerning the embolded words, I have few questions concerning "poppy day". Why does this day named by this red flower? You have talked about the colour that everybody uses in England, but why it is the emblem of the end of war? Concerning the other words,
- Tribute is a special day to think about someone or something and to speak about it;
- grind to a halt is to make a stop;
- Weary-war means that we are all tired of war
- And last but not least, get into the flow of things: well, I find the translation in french which I can translate by "se remettre dans le bain", but it is hard for me to explain it in english. It's a way to get back to something?!
About the topic, what about talking about sports? Do you just watch it, practice it or totally live sports? For me, sport is really important, it is a way to release pressure and have fun with friends.

Read you soon and good night everyone!

Olfa

Friday, 14 November 2008

Cassoulet!!!

Hi all of you, Readers,

Tonight, I'm not going to be as talkative as usual. I just want to share with you a comic situation, that you may have been the witnesses.
The scene takes place during the Election Day In New York. On Times Square, as a camera was filming above the crowd, a banner, on which was written "CASSOULET", kept the eye of the cameraman, the people in front of their screen who where watching the result of the election (and enjoying the Obama success!!) and finally of a lot of American and especially American media. What or who is Cassoulet?
If you are not french, Cassoulet doesn't ring a bell to you. I think that you can even imagine what it is. This explains why Cassoulet has been the 62 word the most searched on Google after the following night.
Well, maybe you have searched it and already know what it is, but I'm still going to explain it. Cassoulet is not a code name, used by the secret service. It is better than that. It represents all that France has good, which is... food. Cassoulet is a typical meal coming from Castelnaudary, a city situed in the South-West of France. When you eat it, you had better to be really hungry as it is quite a heavy meal composed of beans, sausages, meats of pork and duck. Well, a really heavy meal!
This event has been organised by a columnist of a french TV show, browdcast on Canal +. This channel is really well known in France, especially for its free speech. Thanks of this channel, a lot of comedians has made their first step. So, during one week, all of the columnists of this TV show called "le Vrai Journal" have gone to New York, to show what was the situation, the atmospher, and also to have fun.

I think that the actors themselves have been astonished by the result of their action, as it creates a real curiosity and attention about their banner, and the meaning of what was written on it. This action is quite absurd, useless, and I quote something written by an american journalist who has pretty said that he has never seen something that weird.

What do you think of it? Have you seen this banner on TV?

I will answer during a more longer post next time. Thank you for all the people who has a comment, it is really nice to read it!

See you soon and have a really good night (that it is what I'm going to do!!!)

Olfa

Wednesday, 19 November 2008

Paris

Bonsoir,

First of all, bon voyage Helen! a ride of 5 hours is quite long, you need to be patient!

As we are talking about riding or traveling, I'll try tonight to make you visit Paris by this two pictures! A friend of mine has taken it last year at the same period of time, it was before Christmas, the weather was really, really cold and for me, it's the best pictures of the Eiffel Tower. Let's have a short trip!

Then, just few words about a french habit! I've said at the beginning of this post "bonsoir". Maybe, if you have visited France, you may have been a bit astonished by all the expressions to say "hello"! There are "bonjour, bonsoir, bonne soirée, ..." and so on and so forth! You could also say "bonne fin de matinée, bon après-midi, bonne fin d'après-midi, bonne fin de journée, bonne soirée", in french everything is a question of "bon", of good. So, the question is "how to be sure to use the proper bon! After maybe 10 years in France, you will now the slight difference between all of thoss words. So, try to find out how to use the good words, at the right time!

Thanks for all of your remarks concerning my last post! I think that this episod of Cassoulet is really funny, and as it could have been seen by a lot of people around the world, it can be interesting that a lot of people can understand the joke. And yes, Waldek, tomorrow is the "Beaujolais Nouveau", another occasion to eat and drink a lot in France.

Well, the "Beaujolais Nouveau" is a real traditional party . It has been created in the Beaujolais region, which does really exist and is named like that. It's not really far from Lyon. Wine-growers, when grapes are mature, have little time to pick it up. At the end of the grape harvest, called "les vendanges" in french, they enjoy the new wine by testing it. And the third thursday of november every year is dedicated to Beaujolais. In general, this wine is not really good, as it is too young, too fruity! But, it's a symbol, because wine growers have a hard work and drink the wine is a kind of reward.

I really like this day, in spite of now I live in Paris. In fact, before this party becomes a commercial one, it was just celebrated in Lyon and I used to live there? First of all some few explanation about my moves in France.In previous post, I've told you that I've not lived all my life in Paris. In fact, I was born in a region, pretty close to Lyon, called Ardeche. If you know a little bit France, you can guess that it is quite the middle of nowhere. Nature is really beautiful: in fall for example, forests seem to be like in Canada. It's really colourfull, trees's sheets are red, orange! You can pick up chestnuts (hope that everybody knows it as it's quite difficult to describe it!) Well, it's a strange nut surrounded by an envelop which is like the back of a hedgehog! During fifteen years of my life, I've lived there and my childhood has been really peacy and calm!

Then, when I was sixteen, for my parents job, all the family moved and I discovered Lyon. I considered that town as the city of my heart. A lot of good memories are linked to this city! As I was a teenager, it was great to grow in one of the major cities of France, full of museums, concert halls, cinema, theater and... bars!!!! I like the atmosphear of this city, the people and especially the football team.

As I have said last time, I'm found of sports. Not only I like to practice it, but also I like to watch it. And the favorite sport that I like to watch is football, and my favorite team is the Olympique Lyonnais. When I lived In Lyon, I used to go to the stade to watch matches on live!

I have not still answer about my practice of sports. I used to do more sports when I was younger. It's the speech of a lot of people, but it's clearly true that when you get a job, and especially when you have a job and homework too, it's quite hard to find time to do your everyday sport time. No matter, I'm still trying to do one hour and a half every two days. So, as every girl, my mother wants me to make dance when I was a child, and in particular classical dance. In spite of I was not really found of it, it helps to have a good carriage of your body! Then, to help me unwind, I did some martial arts, like judo and aikido. I'm still really found of those sports, as it represents for me a way of life. It's not like boxe, it's not about being violent and give some punch to someone, you really have to respect your opponent. Aikido is also really nice when you are a girl and not really strong, as you have to use the strongness of your opponent. At least, now, I do a lot of jogging!

It's time to finish this post! See you soon and until, have fun!

Olfa

Thursday, 27 November 2008

From BBC Learning English

Unfortunately, Olfa has decided to stop blogging - just as we were all anticipating to see her pictures of Paris! What a shame. The good news though is, in December we are going to be running an open blog, giving all our previous bloggers (students AND teachers), as well as commentators, an opportunity to catch up both with us and with each other. We are really looking forward to that and hope you will join us!
BBC Learning English team

Sunday, 30 November 2008

It’s my honor to cherish the BBCLE blog


.
Hi there,
….. It is my honor to cherish the BBCLE blog. …..

I am James, the BBCLE student blogger of May, 2007, live in Ilan county of Taiwan. You may find some data here. I am a prosecutor of Ilan district prosecutors’ office, born in 1956, married, have 2 daughters, haven’t been abroad to study English, which mean my English is a Taiwanese local English. The Taiwanese ancestors was from China (PRC) about 400 years ago. And we now have our people, land, and sovereignty,

A week ago, there was a new-open shopping mall in my city; my city is the seat of the county named Ilan city. There has been “People mountain, People sea” during the new-open period, which means huge crowds of people is just like mountain high, and sea deep. The weird thing is being that the most talking topic of the window-shopping people is “How long will the new-open shopping mall survive?” What on earth is going on !?

The following photo is the food-street of the shopping mall.
Food street in the new open shopping mall


Sincere and best wishes to all of you, and me.
James Wu ( Wu Zhih Cheng ) , Taiwan.

November 2008

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