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:


The Guardian

On immigration, the language of genocide has entered the mainstream
The Guardian
But as dead bodies are taken out of the sea, destined for unmarked graves, we might ask how the language she speaks, and the flaunting of murderous wishes towards people who have nothing but the clothes they are found in, has become so mainstream.

and more »

BBC News

Language school ditches 'Isis' name
BBC News
An English language school and education group called "Isis" is having to change its name because of the associations with extremism. A spokesman said it had become increasingly difficult to attend international language events under the Isis banner.

and more »

Wall Street Journal

Managing the Decline of, Like, a Great Language
Wall Street Journal
Descriptivist grammarians—those who reject the idea of right and wrong uses of language—won't be much help. They don't sprinkle their own talk with random likes, but they reject grammatical “correctness.” The overwhelming majority of literate English ...

and more »

NJ.com

NJ is right to require world language instruction | Editorial
NJ.com
In an increasingly global economy, New Jersey is right to require world language instruction. And Flemington-Raritan School District 's proposal to do more than the minimum for its youngest students is a step in the right direction. Schools struggle to ...

and more »

TheNewsTribune.com

Lakewood's Oakwood Elementary School embraces language of hope
TheNewsTribune.com
Fifth grader Ace Falenofoa works in class at Oakwood Elementary School in Lakewood on Monday. . He is the student body president. “When you make a mistake, they got your back,” he said of the school community., PETER HALEY — Staff photographer ...

and more »

Daily Mail

Grammar map reveals bizarre language differences across the US
Daily Mail
What unusual phrases does YOUR region use? Interactive grammar map reveals bizarre language differences across the US. In New York and California, there is a tendency for people to use the word 'so' in sentences to increase drama; Phrases such as ...
Team puts 'weird' grammar on the mapFuturity: Research News

all 2 news articles »

The Tico Times

Costa Rica's first official sign language interpreter has long history of ...
The Tico Times
Besides her work as an interpreter for Costa Rican sign language, known as LESCO, Carvajal is also an advocate for the deaf community and hopes that her position can help raise awareness about deaf culture and her belief in the human right to information.


Media Matters for America (blog)

Karl Rove Misrepresents Abortion Language In Human Trafficking Legislation To ...
Media Matters for America (blog)
Fox News contributor Karl Rove misrepresented controversial anti-abortion language added to human trafficking legislation that is being used by Republicans to stall Loretta Lynch's confirmation to the Department of Justice, falsely claiming it was part ...
Karl Rove and Juan Williams argue over Loretta Lynch confirmationPolitiFact

all 8 news articles »

Home Ministry hires language experts to teach Hindi to 30 MPs from non-Hindi ...
Economic Times
NEW DELHI: The Narendra Modi government's emphasis on Hindi has found 30 non-Hindi speaking MPs, mostly from Tamil Nadu, Kerala, West Bengal and the North East, who are willing to learn the language. The Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) has roped ...

and more »

Discovery News

Universal Language App Made by Mom of Autistic Child
Discovery News
The French mother of an autistic child has created what is believed to be the world's first smartphone application allowing people speaking different languages -- or those incapable of speech at all -- to communicate together, French company Sogeti ...

and more »
Google News

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

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

English Language Sputtering Online Like an Old Ford!

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

Speaking Spanish To Increase Mind Power

Our "mind power" is largely in the way we use... Read More

Show Me the Bunny: Language Acquisition

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

What Does an Interpreter Do?

Many people get confused as to the difference between an... 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

7 Words Americans Should Stop Using Until Further Investigation

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

How Ronzoni Italian Foods Helped My Dad Learn English

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

Can You Understand English?

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

Aphasia: The Cruelest Language Barrier

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

Learning a Foreign Language: the Ventriloquists Lesson

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

Mexican Living: Todays Obsession

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

Learn Italian for Free

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

English Slang For Perplexed Tourists

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

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

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

Second Language Competence Beneficial but often Misunderstood

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

Learning a Foreign Language: the Psychological Factor

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

Learn Korean: Part 2 - Social Status in Culture

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

How To Learn Spanish Quickly and Easily

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

Teaching Reading to English Language Learners

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

Learn Italian in Italy

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

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

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

Online IELTS Preparation - Why Does It Make Sense?

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

Learn Korean: Part 1 - Asian Languages and Language Families

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

Uncommon Facts / Rules of English Language

English is an international language. It has so many grammar... Read More