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:


Learning a language – 10 things you need to know
The Guardian
You have decided to learn another language. Now what? On our recent live chat our panellists first piece of advice was to ask yourself: what do you want to achieve and by when? Donavan Whyte, vice president of enterprise and education at Rosetta Stone, ...

and more »

New York Times

Spanish as a Second Language, With the Accent on Fun
New York Times
MindSnacks' app has different games meant to help you learn the language. In one game, for example, you click the word on the screen to match the Spanish word you've just heard. You play against the clock while water is draining out of an on-screen ...


New York Times

'Goodbye to Language,' the Latest From Jean-Luc Godard
New York Times
Mr. Godard has a habit of blending gravity with whimsy. His latest film, a 70-minute 3-D visual essay called “Goodbye to Language” (“Adieu au Langage”), exhibits the formal and philosophical mischief that has been his late-career calling card. It is ...

and more »

Salon

“Goodbye to Language”: Jean-Luc Godard's dazzling, provocative 3-D mind trip
Salon
I'm tempted to say that “Goodbye to Language” brings together two cultural phenomena that cannot be explained and that may not be useful: an 83-year-old cinematic legend and 3-D technology. If that sounds like the opening line of a gag, you're on the ...
With Goodbye To Language 3D, Jean-Luc Godard reinvents a new mediumA.V. Club Denver/Boulder
Review: 'Language' explores a relationship in 3-DArizona Daily Star
Thanks for the snooze fest, 'Goodbye to Language'New York Post
Slate Magazine
all 89 news articles »

NPR (blog)

Navajo Nation Changes Language Law
NPR (blog)
Here's the set up: Navajo law states that Navajo presidents must speak the language to hold office. Forty-three year-old Chris Deschene received enough votes in the first round of presidential voting to make it to the final Nation's ballot. But later ...


CBC.ca

Book helps to preserve Woods Cree language
CBC.ca
A new book of stories features the Woods Cree language, part of a larger project aimed at preserving First Nations languages. Author Soloman Ratt says the goal is to ensure the Woods Cree language is not lost. "Helping to bring the language back is ...
Preserving language through storiesRegina Leader-Post

all 4 news articles »

NET Website

Navajo President Vetoes Language-Fluency Changes
ABC News
The president of the nation's largest Indian reservation stood behind a tribal law that requires people seeking the top elected post to be fluent in the Navajo language, dealing what could be a final blow to a candidate who had been criticized for his ...
Navajo Nation presidential campaign in turmoil over language requirementWashington Post (blog)
The Language Problem in the Navajo Nation Presidential ElectionGoverning

all 129 news articles »

Ubyssey Online

UBC prof hopes to bring more Aboriginal language study to UBC
Ubyssey Online
A UBC anthropology professor is hoping to bring aboriginal languages to the forefront of language study at UBC. Mark Turin, who is chair of the UBC First Nations Language Program and a registered student in the same program, has an academic ...


New York Times

Those Silly Glasses Are Hip Again
New York Times
Godard Tries Out 3-D in 'Goodbye to Language'. By NICOLAS RAPOLD OCT. 27, 2014. Inside. Photo. Jean-Luc Godard is releasing “Goodbye to Language 3D,” with Zoé Bruneau. Credit Kino Lorber. Continue reading the main story. Continue reading the ...


How to Revive a Language With No Native Speakers
Slate Magazine (blog)
As Los Angeles fourth graders know (because their curriculum includes the study of California Indians), the original language of Los Angeles is Tongva. This American Indian language (also called Gabrielino) used to be spoken in villages all over the L ...

Google News

Show Me the Bunny: Language Acquisition

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

Second Language Competence Beneficial but often Misunderstood

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

English Has Come A Long, Long Way...

I often wonder what would happen if Shakespeare were to... Read More

GROUSE ... GROUSE ... GROUSE!!!

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

Whats In A Word? More Than You Realize

What's in a word? Apparently more than we might want.For... Read More

English Language Sputtering Online Like an Old Ford!

Sad, but true. Just about everywhere you look online, the... Read More

Learning a Foreign Language: Learn from the Blind

In a previous article, you read that to establih your... Read More

Learning a Foreign Language: the Psychological Factor

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

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

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

Learn Italian for Free

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

Learn Korean: Part 1 - Asian Languages and Language Families

So, you have always been fascinated by Asian culture have... Read More

Bridging the Language Gap Using Bilingual Picture Books

There are more than 39 million Hispanics live in the... Read More

Learning French in Paris

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

7 Words Americans Should Stop Using Until Further Investigation

Relationship: Here is a word that is used to qualify,... 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

Teaching English in Mexico: A Decent Living?

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

Learn Korean: Part 2 - Social Status in Culture

Part 1 of this series covered the language and language... Read More

Chinese Pinyin or Hanyu Pinyin Overview

Chinese Pinyin is the romanization of the Chinese "written sound".... 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 Italian in Your Hometown

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

Can You Understand English?

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

Preschool Spanish

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