Learning a Foreign Language: the Ventriloquists Lesson

The main feature you have to master, in order to call yourself a ventriloquist, is to speak without moving your lips. It is not that difficult. There is a trick, of course. The sounds M, B and P make your lips move, as make the sounds V and F but in a lesser way. So, in order to be a ventriloquist, you should ban any word with m, b or p inside and avoid to pronounce f-v words. If your name is Mabel or Patrick, choose a stage name!

Try to say where you come from. Try right now. It is the best way to understand how it works exactly. "I come from...". No, your lips are moving. Try again: "I was born in..." Far better! You are almost a ventriloquist.

There is a competition of this kind among teachers; for example: How to express "I have lost my cell phone and my credit card near the 4WD garage" in Latin. (I agree, Latin teachers are, well, Latin teachers.)
It is very alike the game you played in the schoolyard: you had to answer to a lot of questions using such required word but avoiding such other. Remember! It was not easy to place "rhinoceros" while avoiding "zoo" when asked: "Where were you on Sunday?"; nevertheless, you managed to! You were a gifted ventriloquist and avoided the m-b-p word "zoo".

In your own language, you use circumlocutions to exclude certain words. In a parallel step, speaking a foreign language is learning how to use circumlocutions in order to avoid some words: those you don't know.

Think of the words you do not know as your m-b-p words.

Do not try to pronounce m-b-p words without moving your lips, you would spend precious time for nothing. Do not fight against obstacles, get round them. Ventriloquists do not master the movements of their lips, they choose their words.

Whatever language you choose to learn, there are always several ways to express something.

Gabrielle Guichard, a French teacher who can be reached on GabrielleGuichard.com and listened to on FrenchPodcasting.com

In The News:


IS Boosts Russian-Language Propaganda Efforts
The militant group Islamic State (IS) has stepped up its Russian-language propaganda efforts, another sign that its Russian-speaking contingent is becoming more powerful. Though Russian-speaking IS militants have put out their own propaganda for some ...

and more »

Times of India

Digital India: Google to focus on local-language content
Times of India
NEW DELHI: Engaged in various initiatives under the government's 'Digital India' campaign, global tech giant Google is focussing on key areas like bringing more Indic language content online and helping 20 million small and medium enterprises set up ...

and more »

PSFK (blog)

Fridge Grants Free Beer Through Six-Language Passcode
PSFK (blog)
What makes someone Canadian? A question had been raised by Molson Canadian, a beer company seeking a deeper relationship with their customers. By placing a large, red fridge in the middle of a park they received numerous answers. The red fridge ...


Court stays release of Sunny Deol's 'Mohalla Assi' for filthy language ...
New Delhi: A court here on Tuesday restrained the release of Sunny Deol-starrer Mohalla Assi countrywide saying a prima facie case was made out that the movie contained "filthy language". Civil Judge Kishor Kumar restrained the release, which was ...

and more »


Gay debate language offensive: Wong
Senior Labor frontbencher Penny Wong laments the language opponents of gay marriage are using, saying it lurches between the illogical and the offensive. Cabinet minister Barnaby Joyce at the weekend said that Asia could view Australia as "decadent" if ...
Lock in gay marriage vote, says WongNEWS.com.au
Penny Wong to conservatives: tone down rhetoric against gay marriageThe Guardian

all 25 news articles »

Liverpool Echo

Liverpool language school relocates to enable expansion
Liverpool Echo
A Liverpool language school has relocated to keep pace with its expansion. The Language House, which provides Spanish, French and English training, has moved to larger, and newly renovated office space, on Whitechapel. Managing director, Vincent ...

Glasgow South and Eastwood Extra

East Ren plan to boost Gaelic language use
Glasgow South and Eastwood Extra
“We recognise this position of the language is fragile and if it is to be revitalised as a living language, effort on the part of not just the government, but public and private sectors and community organisations will be required. “Our draft plan is ...

Pacific Daily News

CHamoru language usage is a must
Pacific Daily News
While learning grammatical structure, such as the verb and subject placement in the language, I dared to use it in written form when I became secretary to the Young Men's League of Guam. Because the monthly meetings were conducted in the CHamoru ...

Indian Country Today Media Network

Preserving Innu Language Through Verse: A Chat With Poet Josephine Bacon
Indian Country Today Media Network
Bacon's work reflects the ways in which her Innu language has changed as the First Nation society has moved from a nomadic past to a sedentary lifestyle, the people forced onto reserves. Since languages reflect their environment, the Innu went through ...

and more »

CBS Local

Keller @ Large: Body Language Expert Analyzes Goodell, Boston 2024
CBS Local
“He's trying to hide any kind of facial expression with that blank face,” non-verbal communications specialist Don Khoury, looking at one recent Goodell press conference, told WBZ-TV political analyst Jon Keller. “It looks like to me there's a ...

Google News

Show Me the Bunny: Language Acquisition

Some children are really funny about experimenting with speech. Nonetheless,... Read More

Learn Italian for Free

Italian is one of the most widespread languages in the... Read More

Teaching English in Greece - What Do You Need to Know?

The employment situation can be quite uncertain for newcomers to... Read More

Learn to Speak Basic Chinese (Mandarin) Words and Phrases

The Chinese Language and dialectsEach province, each city and even... Read More

Aphasia: The Cruelest Language Barrier

Imagine the following scenario: You wake up one morning and... Read More

Don?t Take The Romaji Short-Cut When Learning Japanese

This is an issue many Japanese learners come up against,... Read More

Teaching Reading to English Language Learners

There is an increasing amount of English language learners represented... Read More

Online IELTS Preparation - Why Does It Make Sense?

Because IELTS is a difficult test. While most agree that... Read More

Learning French in Paris

Nothing can be more frustrating than to be in France... Read More

How Ronzoni Italian Foods Helped My Dad Learn English

My dad likes to say, he was made in Italy,... Read More

How To Learn Spanish Quickly and Easily

Spanish is a very useful language to learn as it... Read More

Japanese Kanji Learning: Short-Cuts to Rapid Mastery (Part 1)

What? Kanji can be learned quickly? This seems an impossible... Read More

Learning a Foreign Language: Why Should you Learn Words You Never Use in Your Mother Tongue?

Imagine a child sitting in front of a desk, his... Read More

Mexican Living: Todays Obsession

I would like to talk about one of my many... Read More

Can You Understand English?

There is a lot of talk about making English the... Read More

English Slang For Perplexed Tourists

I watched the British version of 'Big Brother' recently. That's... Read More

Learn Italian in Italy

You can combine your love of the Italian language with... Read More

Learning a Foreign Language: the Psychological Factor

When it comes about learning a foreign language, many people... Read More

Learn Italian in Your Hometown

Are you interested in learning the Italian language right in... Read More

Learning a Foreign Language: the Ventriloquists Lesson

The main feature you have to master, in order to... Read More


I realize that we here in the United States consider... Read More

Japanese Kanji Learning: Short-Cuts to Rapid Mastery (Part 2)

In Japanese Kanji Learning: Short-Cuts to Rapid Mastery Part 1,... Read More

Second Language Competence Beneficial but often Misunderstood

Second language learning has associated with it many types of... Read More

Preschool Spanish

Why an EarlyAGE 2nd Language?Research indicates that from ages 1... Read More

Teaching English in Mexico: A Decent Living?

What's more disappointing than a person who makes a promise... Read More