OPEN MIC NIGHT?  SPEAK ENGLISH? SCREW IT. JUST DO IT!

Sometimes you just have to go for it. “Just do it”, according to NIKE, “Screw it, let’s do it” as the title of Richard Branson’s book urges us to do, or simply mix the two.

The message is the same; if in doubt, or if you’re thinking twice about something, the advice is to just go ahead and try it. We often hear of people wanting to be absolutely perfect before performing or producing a piece of work, and then endlessly procrastinating, and never getting stuff done.

The above catch phrases may seem trite, but they pack a strong message behind them. Sometimes, you just need to get going. You’ll learn from your mistakes. But, you’ll learn nothing if you do nothing.

You haven’t started that YouTube channel you’ve been planning for two years? Take your mobile, film that footage that you really already know, and upload it.

 You need to speak to your clients, suppliers or international boss in English, but you’ve never dared to, despite investing the last three years in English classes every week, and binge watching those Netflix series, all in their original language version? Contact them and just start speaking. Mistakes aren’t a problem as any polyglot will tell you.

You have a story, a poem or a song you’ve been rehearsing at home that no-one else has ever heard? Step up to the mic and hey, let’s do it! And if it’s in front of other friendly members of Internations in a small venue, even better.

Thanks again to Jamil for organising a great night at the cosy downstairs room at El Paraigua restaurant in the Gothic Quarter of Barcelona (02/09/2022). I had great fun listening to the other members and debuting my new song. I look forward to the next one.

For anyone who wants to meet new people and speak English there’s no better association to join in Barcelona.

www.internations.org

SIMON BRAMPTON – ENGLISH COACH en

A2VEUS – TV3

Fue todo un placer ayudar a los 4 concursantes super talentos (Raquel, Keila, Mouna i Iván) de A2VEUS mejorar su pronunciación de la canción Midsummer Night de Ramón Mirabet.

También, fue de una agradable sorpresa conocer a Nina en persona, la presentadora del programa y consejera a los aspirantes.

Es una super producción que rompe con el formato tradicional de los concursos de canto.

JUEVES 4/08 /2022 a las 23h y luego disponible en la web: https://www.ccma.cat/tv3/a-2-veus/capitols/

En aquest capítol d'”A2Veus“, quatre aspirants nous ( Raquel, Keila, Mouna i Iván) competiran per demostrar el seu talent per poder cantar amb Ramon Mirabet en un indret molt especial.

Tots quatre passaran tres dies a la masia del Berguedà amb la resta de classificats escollits. Dues persones seran les que competiran cara a cara per cantar amb Ramon Mirabet, tot sota l’atenta mirada i supervisió de la Nina.

WHAT A POTATO PEELER REMINDED ME ABOUT VALUE

Do you use a potato peeler for your potatoes, or just a sharp knife? Personally, I prefer a specific peeler, and it can also work great on carrots to prepare your healthy mid-morning snack.

Marketing has given us at least 5 Ps (Product, Price, Promotion, Place and People). Convenience is associated with price, and is an important factor in choice when we decide to buy something; and that’s one of the key reasons for the success on online shopping outlets such as Amazon.

Price is also a key factor, and when I needed to buy the aforementioned kitchen utensil, the Chinese store less than 100 metres from my flat sprang to mind. I chose one that seemed up to its important culinary function, and it was cheap. After 3 months and about 20 potatoes, the blade became lose and then last week, it just broke. There were signs of rust at the joint. I decided to take it back to the shop.

For better or worse, the owner’s teenage son and daughter were behind the counter and set about blaming me for not taking care of it and “What did I expect for what I paid for it.” They didn’t even address me as usted! As my parting shot, I told them I was never coming back there again.

Once I’d calmed down and overcome my indignation, it made me think about what I’d learned from my little crappy potato peeler. Despite the textbook “how not to deal with a customer complaint” treatment, in some ways they were right. If you pay 2 duros for an item, you should go into a transaction knowing what you are buying and lowering your expectations. Your complaint should be based on the price-quality ratio.

Many people still expect to find the utopian quality product at a bargain price. When you buy a low-cost, low-quality product (your perception) you get an immediate feeling of satisfaction, and then later on disappointment. When you buy a more expensive product that you know is good quality, you may feel disappointed in yourself or even guilty at spending so much, but later on, you’re more likely to feel satisfaction. This is obviously a simplification of a topic that hides complex psychology impulses, rationalisations and marketing strategies.

However, your potatoes should provide food for thought, and avoid anger at the friend who smugly reminds you  “I told you so.”  

If you’re learning English, the following phrases may come in handy next time you rationalise your low-cost purchase.

Buy cheap, pay dear (expensive).

You get what you pay for.

Buying cheap is a false economy.

If you pay peanuts, you get monkeys.

En fin, lo barato sale caro.

What do you think?

RAFAEL NADAL

¿ES DE VERDAD UN EXTRATERRESTRE?

Después de ganar su 22º Grand Slam en Roland Garros en 2022, en España le llamaron Extraterrestre y en Francia Le Martien. En inglés no es ni an alien ni a Martian.

¿Esto quiere decir que los anglohablantes no aprecian sus altas capacidades y su forma de superar escollos insuperables para otros seres humanos o alguno de Star Trek o Star Wars?

 Pues, no. Es simplemente otro ejemplo de que, aunque exista una palabra igual en otro idioma, el uso metafórico no coincide.

Al final, Rafael Nadal es a superhuman o para buscar una frase adverbial de otro mundo, Rafa is from another world, que sí evoca el sentido de extraterreste.

Claro, hay metáforas que sí coinciden, una estrella de rock es un rockstar, pero eres un sol se convierte en you’re a star o you’re an angel (pero sin dejar nuestro temático), pero to moon en inglés es enseñar el culo en público, que sí sale un poco de nuestro tema de hoy.

Entonces ¿Cuándo se usa alien en inglés aparte de describir nuestros amiguetes rojos de Marte? Pues, para los inmigrantes ilegales. Si no me crees pregúntaselo a Sting que lo usaba en su canción I’m an Englishman in New York, “I’m an alien, I’m an illegal alien, I’m an English man in New York”, aunque es este caso se refería al autor inglés Quentin Crisp.

Cuando finalmente los extraterrestres nos visiten como turistas, como mínimo no se sentirán discriminados en los Estados Unidos ya que se pondrán en la misma cola que los otros extranjeros que no son de nacionalidad americana, y que se llaman Aliens. Welcome to America.

Y, evidentemente no crearás que Nadal sea un extraterrestre si eres un terraplanista, porque según ellos, somos únicos en el universo. En algunos círculos se conocen a los flatearthers como flatards, que es una palabra portmanteau (2 palabras unidas en una) que combina flat (plana) con retard (subnormal).

Según tu nivel de inglés (o español), en este artículo has aprendido unas nuevas palabras super útiles relacionadas con el universo para referirte a las personas.

Y, para citar a otro superhéroe como Rafa Nadal (Buzz Lightyear),

<<To infinity and beyond>>

¿Cuáles son los idiomas más fáciles de aprender para un hispanohablante?

Si aprendes o ya has aprendido el inglés (¿Qué nivel tienes?), ¿dirías que es un idioma fácil de aprender?

Si tu primera lengua es el español, y quieres añadir otro idioma a tu colección por placer o por añadir valor a tu CV, y buscas una opción fácil, a continuación, te presento una selección de idiomas que te podría interesar.

Las lenguas romances son el grupo de idiomas que más se parece entre sí y son los más fáciles de aprender por su cercanía al español, sobre todo a nivel de vocabulario.

En primera posición podríamos poner el portugués y el gallego. Dicen que la similitud léxica entre el español y el portugués es del 89%. Es fácil de leer, pero más complicado a la hora de entenderlo sin acostumbrarse. Personalmente encuentro el portugués de Brasil (brasileño) más fácil de entender.

Otro idioma de origen latino de la península Ibérica es el catalán, que comparte muchas palabras y la sintaxis con el castellano. También existe una influencia de nuestro vecino galo (una casa petita). Las dificultades principales son la pronunciación y la ortografía. ¡Me cuesta un montón escribirlo bien!

Una cosa que sorprende del italiano la primera vez que lo escuchas es que tienes la sensación de que lo entiendes bien. Y que es más fácil de entender que aprender por las diferencias de vocabulario y gramática. Sin embargo, sigue siendo muy cercano al español, y si uno se pone en serio a aprenderlo, puede llegar a un buen nivel en poco tiempo.

Algo más difícil es el francés. Como el catalán, la pronunciación y la ortografía es más compleja. En mi opinión, el francés es tan difícil de escribir bien como el inglés. ¡y eso es mucho decir! Por suerte, comparte mucha similitud entre el vocabulario y los géneros de los objetos. 

No podemos olvidar el romano, que también es otro idioma latino y se parece más al italiano en cuanto a la gramática. Sin embargo, ha recibido muchas influencias del húngaro y las lenguas eslavas que lo hace menos familiar.

¿Has considerado el tagalo? Es el idioma cooficial con el inglés que se habla en las Filipinas, y recibía mucha influencia del español, sobre todo el vocabulario, debido a que fue una colonia española durante 300 años hasta el 1898.

Entonces, ¿el inglés es mucho más complicado? Pues, por una parte, sí, porque es un idioma germánico, pero con la ventaja de que el sistema verbal es SUPER fácil (¡A qué sí!), y hay miles de palabras de raíz latina. Pero, cuidado, muchísimos son los famosos falsos amigos (Do you assist or attend a meeting?).

Para cualquier idioma, la facilidad de aprenderlo dependerá de la similitud de la lengua además de los idiomas que ya hablas, y por supuesto de tu motivación.

 En el caso del inglés la ventaja en España es la presencia del idioma en la escuela desde edades muy tempranas además de las fuentes de exposición que existen hoy día en la televisión como Netflix y en internet con podcasts, videos y cursos de inglés en YouTube a punta pala.

Para ti, ¿QUÉ IDIOMA ES EL MÁS FÁCIL DE APRENDER PARA UN HISPANOBLANTE?

Si quieres mejorar tu inglés o cualquier idiomas en el trabajo, ponte en contacto con nosotros.

info@idiomasadvantage.com

WORDS WITHOUT TRANSLATIONS IN OTHER LANGUAGES

In this article we’re going to look at 6 words that defy a simple one-word translation. This is often because of the peculiarities of the culture, the climate, the traditions or habits that are then reflected in the language.  

Hygge

This Danish term is all about finding cosiness indoors through a warm fire, blankets, comfortable (IKEA!) furniture, warm comfortable clothing, hot drinks and hot food, and the feeling that all that gives us. In English you’d say I love feeling warm and cosy on cold winter days. It’s closely related to the climate and way of life in Denmark. Let’s bring hygge into our lives!

Flygskam

Staying with our Scandanavian friends, it’s origins are in Flyg (flight) and Skam (shame), and describes “The Guilt of Air Travel”, which is ironic since Sweden is a country where people travel 7 times more than the world average! Sweden’s very own climate activist, Greta Thunberg,  may also be to blame for the popularity of this neologism.

Schadenfreude

This German word is used in English; by intellectuals obviously. There’s no English word for this term which means “to gain pleasure from another person’s misfortunes.” It could be a person you know who is more successful than you, and you dream of something going wrong in their life! Is it only Germans that get these feelings?

Ikigai

Moving away from Northern Europe we find the interesting Japanese word Ikigai. It’s usually translated as your ‘reason for being’, or raison d’être. ‘Iki’ in Japanese means ‘life,’ and ‘gai’ describes value or worth. Therefore, your ikigai is your life purpose and what brings you joy and inspires you to get out of bed every day. What’s your Ikigai? Have you found it yet?

Trasnochar

This Spanish verb could be translated in English as stay up all night, or in informal English, pull an allnighter, but no single verb exists to express this. Does it have something to do with bars and discoteques being open all night? In my younger days in Barcelona I certainly enjoyed trasnochando.

Cherrypick

One of my most favourite words in English, which means to choose only the best of something and discard the rest, but also, to only pick the ideas that support your argument and ignore the others in a study, report, etc. Ask any politician about the secrets of cherrypicking. And, yes, you can pick cherries in England, but if you do, only choose the ripest, reddist, most delicious ones!

The fact that one language can express something in one word that another language needs two or more to say the same thing can lead to speakers of that language to think that their language is superior in some way.

However,  every language has words like these, and if you like one enough, then you can import it into your language directly as a loan word.  English does this a lot. And if yours doesn’t, well, C’est la vie!

What other examples do you know?

For an extensive list of untranslatable words from English to Spanish and visa-versa, check out my new book, coming soon!

EUROVISION – We’re back! But why now?

How Spain and the UK turned things around

The UK and Spain have been the butt of the Eurovision jokes for quite a few years now, and most people had given up hope of either country ever bouncing back again, but as the votes came in with 10s and 12s, the feeling of “Is this really happening?” started changing to “This really is happening!”

In the end, with Russia banned, Ukraine won with The folk-rap act, Kalush Orchestraas as the European audience decided to vote in support of a country at war. I’m sure both Sam Ryder and Chanel were disappointed, but understood the final result: UK: 2nd, Spain: 3rd.

How did the UK turn things around from 0 to 466 points? It finally puts to bed the belief that voters don’t vote for certain countries, as both Russia and Israel have won in recent years.

Can we learn anything from this year’s results and apply it to business, language learning or life goals?

Firstly, with the erroneous belief behind them, they decided to take the competition seriously (attitude), something that they hadn’t done for about 30 years.

Secondly, they chose a singer with a great voice (Sam Ryder) with a huge vocal range who had 12.1 million followers on Tictoc. Sam’s cover versions impressed their original singers. Alicia Keys was so impressed, she sang a duet with him (Talent).

Thirdly, they picked a quality song written by professional songwriters (with its octave jump in the chorus), influenced by classic British artists such as Queen, Elton John and David Bowie with someone who could perform it well (Quality).

Fourthly, the set was designed to convey the meaning of the song, with “space and stars” as the theme. Not spectacular, but a lot of thought was put into it all the same (Image).

Lastly, and probably most importantly, a marketing team devised a plan to promote the song around Europe in the months preceding the contest. Songs tend to grow on you, and if you’ve already heard the song a lot of times, you’re more likely to vote for it, unless it’s rubbish!! (Promotion).

Both the UK and Spain showed that when you spend the time planning something carefully and work hard to implement it with a positive attitude, your results are going to improve dramatically. Let’s see what happens next year.

Eurovision is back. What are your thoughts?

JUST ANOTHER MANIC MONDAY?

Our Western Weekend Culture

There are so many songs with a negative message about Mondays, and I’m sure that reflects how many people feel about it, especially as the West’s week revolves around reaching the weekend and having Friday off as well if possible.

The Bangles were pretty clear that

It’s just another manic Monday (Woah, woah)

I wish it was Sunday (Woah, woah)

‘Cause that’s my fun day (Woah, woah, woah, woah)

My “I don’t have to run day” (Woah, woah)

It’s just another manic Monday

And Bob Geldof from the Boomtown Rats told us about a schoolgirl that took her dislike for Mondays a little too far …

(Tell me why)
I don’t like Mondays
(Tell me why)
I don’t like Mondays
I wanna shoot the whole day down

But then luckily, the Mamas and Papas sang to us in a more positive light,

Monday, Monday (bah-da bah-da-da-da)
So good to me (bah-da bah-da-da-da)
Monday mornin’, it was all I hoped it would be

Sadly, the singer changed his mind quite radically in verse two

Monday, Monday, can’t trust that day
Monday, Monday, sometimes it just turns out that way
Oh Monday mornin’ you gave me no warning of what was to be
Oh Monday, Monday, how could you leave and not take me

It seems that his romantic partner left him and didn’t want him to go with her.

By the third verse Monday has become a psychological trigger that brings back the traumatic memories of being abandoned by his lover

Every other day, every other day of the week is fine, yeah
But whenever Monday comes, but whenever Monday comes
But whenever Monday comes, you can find me cryin’ all of the time

Not everyone needs to associate Mondays with a traumatic or unpleasant day. In fact, in the UK, Monday is the second day of the week, as it is in Portugal, known as Segunda- Feira. However, it doesn’t seem to have changed people’s attitudes to it!

I’d love to say that I love Mondays as it is the start of a week of opportunites, but I’ll keep that unpopular opinion to myself. It is also the first day of the rest of your life!

The question is, do you want your life to be two enjoyable days a week or seven? And, how can you change that without winning the lottery?

The answer is:

Bah da bah da da da…

TALK/XERRADA A L’ESCOLA OFICIAL D’IDIOMES RUBÍ

THE SECRETS OF LEARNING A LANGUAGE according to Polyglots

It was a pleasure to give the talk on THE SECRETS OF LEARNING A LANGUAGE at the EOI in Rubí on Wednesday 27th April. I’d like to thank Lucia Bonet for organizing and coordinating the talk so efficiently, and all the students and teachers from the school for their warm reception and being so receptive and interactive.

Gràcies a tots i totes per l’interès i la càlida acollida. Fins la propera! I’m looking forward to coming back soon.

Polyglots and successful language learners are notoriously good at learning languages and in an equal measure bad at really expressing how they do it.

 I summed it all up in 5 points along with a couple of bizarre secrets, quotes and stories in Catalan with slides in English!

I’d like to publish the main points of my speech here, but as you can see in the title, they’re “secrets”!

If you’d like to book me for a talk on a variety of topics related to language learning, bilingualism or improving your voice in English, please get in touch! Posa´t en contacte.

MISTAKES NATIVE ENGLISH SPEAKERS WISH THEY HADN’T MADE

THINGS I WISH I KNEW    V  THINGS I WISH I’D KNOWN

As a learner of English, you’ve studied a lot and depending on your teacher you started studying I wish at Low or High Intermediate level.

You learned that:

I wish + past simple is for things you wish for now or in the future,

I wish I knew more about saving money.

(Ojalá supiera más sobre como ahorrar dinero.)

and

I wish + Past Perfect is for things you wished for in the past that didn’t happen.

I wish I’d (had) known more about saving Money when I was twenty.

(Ojalá hubiera sabido más sobre como ahorrar dinero cuando tenia 20 años.)

However, it seems that native speakers are breaking the rules again. On some grammar forums, the suggestion is that the trend may be coming from the United States. Oh no!!

Here is an example from Frances Bridges, writing in Forbes Magazine in 2017. The title should read “10 things I wish I’d known…”

10 Things I wish I knew when I was 20

https://www.forbes.com/sites/francesbridges/2017/11/21/10-things-i-wish-i-knew-when-i-was-20/

That being said, there is so much I wish I knew when I was 20 that I know now that would have saved me time, money and often a great deal of pain.

It’s in the past so, it should be I wish I’d known…”

 If I were to write a list to myself at 20 of what I should understand as soon as possible, this is what I would write. I hope you find it helpful, and that your learn from some of my mistakes.

This is in the past so it should be “what I should have understood…”

It seems to be a lazy and sloppy way of avoiding longer phrases, which isn’t really acceptable if you are writing in a reputable publication.

This theme of “Things I wish I knew when I was (age).” has now become a fixed phrase with wrong grammar, and you can find it in LinkedIn articles and all over the Internet.

At least some authors such as Robin Sharma and Linda Green have got it right.

Who started it all? Was it perhaps an English pop star called Rod Stewart? Probably not. Songs often use words and phrases that break grammar rules so that they fit the melody or just sound better.

Here are two examples with “I wish I knew…” used wrongly in songs. If you also want to use it like this, please be aware that in a Cambridge examination it will be marked as wrong!

Rod Stewart – Ooh La La

I wish that I knew what I know now  (I wish that I’d known what I know now)
When I was younger
I wish that I knew what I know now
When I was stronger

Songwriters: Ron Lane / Ronald David Wood

Ooh La La lyrics © Warner Chappell Music, Inc

The Revivalists – Wish I Knew You

I wish I knew you when I was young   (I wish I’d known you when I was young)
We could’ve got so high
Now we’re here it’s been so long
Two strangers in the bright lights

Songwriters: Andrew Campanelli / David Shaw / Edward Williams / George Gekas / Michael Daniel Girardot / Robert Ingraham / Zachary Feinberg

Wish I Knew You lyrics © Concord Music Publishing LLC, Kobalt Music Publishing Ltd.