Tuesday, December 15, 2015
Tuesday, December 8, 2015
Riya Jadeja is a third year French and Psychology major who spent this past summer in the beautiful town of Lyon!
For Riya, French culture means an exploration into the art world and years of glorious history. She equates French to the "poetry of nations" because the language is so rich with history and passion that many people can't help but indulge into. Her time in Lyon really opened her eyes to all the history and art that France had to offer
She hopes to go back to Lyon real soon but until then she will relive those days through all the pictures she took while she was there
Merci beaucoup Riya for sharing!
Stagiare de Alliance Francaise de Charlottesville
Friday, December 4, 2015
Monday, October 26, 2015
There’s something about the way that French sounds that mesmerizes me. Maybe it’s the sweet liaisons or throaty ‘R’s’ that entice me. I’m perpetually in awe when I hear smoothly flowing French. When I came to college, I initially intended to only take enough French classes to satisfy the area requirements, but after traveling to Montreal I quickly realized that I needed more instruction with the language in order to engage in fluid conversations. I then decided to study abroad in Morocco and obtain a minor in French Language and Literature. For me, forming genuine connections with people is a precious experience that I absolutely cherish. Language is a wonderful tool to actualize this. I still fumble with the language, but it’s the awkward moments that motivate me to work harder and keep learning. One of my aspirations is to live and work in West Africa, which is one reason why I’ve decided to learn French as a way to render living and working in a Francophone country more accessible.
Posted by: Itohan Omorodion, AFC Stagiare
Monday, October 19, 2015
Monday, October 12, 2015
Monday, September 7, 2015
This view of bilingualism is remarkably different from the understanding of bilingualism through much of the 20th century. Researchers, educators and policy makers long considered a second language to be an interference, cognitively speaking, that hindered a child’s academic and intellectual development.
They were not wrong about the interference: there is ample evidence that in a bilingual’s brain both language systems are active even when he is using only one language, thus creating situations in which one system obstructs the other. But this interference, researchers are finding out, isn’t so much a handicap as a blessing in disguise. It forces the brain to resolve internal conflict, giving the mind a workout that strengthens its cognitive muscles.
Bilinguals, for instance, seem to be more adept than monolinguals at solving certain kinds of mental puzzles. In a 2004 study by the psychologists Ellen Bialystok and Michelle Martin-Rhee, bilingual and monolingual preschoolers were asked to sort blue circles and red squares presented on a computer screen into two digital bins — one marked with a blue square and the other marked with a red circle.
In the first task, the children had to sort the shapes by color, placing blue circles in the bin marked with the blue square and red squares in the bin marked with the red circle. Both groups did this with comparable ease. Next, the children were asked to sort by shape, which was more challenging because it required placing the images in a bin marked with a conflicting color. The bilinguals were quicker at performing this task.
The collective evidence from a number of such studies suggests that the bilingual experience improves the brain’s so-called executive function — a command system that directs the attention processes that we use for planning, solving problems and performing various other mentally demanding tasks. These processes include ignoring distractions to stay focused, switching attention willfully from one thing to another and holding information in mind — like remembering a sequence of directions while driving.
Why does the tussle between two simultaneously active language systems improve these aspects of cognition? Until recently, researchers thought the bilingual advantage stemmed primarily from an ability for inhibition that was honed by the exercise of suppressing one language system: this suppression, it was thought, would help train the bilingual mind to ignore distractions in other contexts. But that explanation increasingly appears to be inadequate, since studies have shown that bilinguals perform better than monolinguals even at tasks that do not require inhibition, like threading a line through an ascending series of numbers scattered randomly on a page.
The key difference between bilinguals and monolinguals may be more basic: a heightened ability to monitor the environment. “Bilinguals have to switch languages quite often — you may talk to your father in one language and to your mother in another language,” says Albert Costa, a researcher at the University of Pompeu Fabra in Spain. “It requires keeping track of changes around you in the same way that we monitor our surroundings when driving.” In a study comparing German-Italian bilinguals with Italian monolinguals on monitoring tasks, Mr. Costa and his colleagues found that the bilingual subjects not only performed better, but they also did so with less activity in parts of the brain involved in monitoring, indicating that they were more efficient at it.
The bilingual experience appears to influence the brain from infancy to old age (and there is reason to believe that it may also apply to those who learn a second language later in life).
In a 2009 study led by Agnes Kovacs of the International School for Advanced Studies in Trieste, Italy, 7-month-old babies exposed to two languages from birth were compared with peers raised with one language. In an initial set of trials, the infants were presented with an audio cue and then shown a puppet on one side of a screen. Both infant groups learned to look at that side of the screen in anticipation of the puppet. But in a later set of trials, when the puppet began appearing on the opposite side of the screen, the babies exposed to a bilingual environment quickly learned to switch their anticipatory gaze in the new direction while the other babies did not.
Bilingualism’s effects also extend into the twilight years. In a recent study of 44 elderly Spanish-English bilinguals, scientists led by the neuropsychologist Tamar Gollan of the University of California, San Diego, found that individuals with a higher degree of bilingualism — measured through a comparative evaluation of proficiency in each language — were more resistant than others to the onset of dementia and other symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease: the higher the degree of bilingualism, the later the age of onset.
Nobody ever doubted the power of language. But who would have imagined that the words we hear and the sentences we speak might be leaving such a deep imprint?
Correction: March 25, 2012
Monday, August 31, 2015
After the dessert a cup of coffee or cappuccino may be requested. From my experience this is the time when the in depth conversation continues. The French are not afraid to start dinner later in the evening and stay up late to share ideas, converse, and rekindle with great company.
Here are some rules and etiquette important to know about French dining..
-Do not rest your hands on your lap it is similarly rude to place your elbows on the table in America. Keep hands on table.
-Bread will most likely be served at every meal. You should have a bread plate but if one is not present the bread should remain on the tablecloth and not on your plate. Be aware to rip pieces of bread from a larger chunk versus taking bites from a larger piece.
-Follow the host. Wait until everyone is served to begin to eat. Same for the apéritif, wait until the host raises his/her glass to make a toast to drink.
Now that you have a general idea of how to host a French dinner party good luck and enjoy your company!
Monday, August 3, 2015
|La rentrée scolaire|
The French, however, have an entirely different concept of "back-to-school." In France, what is called "la rentrée" applies to not only students but to all citizens, as the beginning of September marks the end of many adults' holidays as well. Restaurants re-open, television and radio programs change their programming, and novelists unveil their new works. There's an excitement and optimism in the air marked by the convening of some many beginnings at once- c'est la rentrée!
The dramatic commencement of the new work and school year is the result of several policies implemented by the French. The French school year begins nationwide for all schools at the beginning of September. This year, fittingly, schools will open the 1st of September. The French have a more nationalized school program than what we have in the USA, making la rentrée truly a more concentrated and significant event than our "back to school" season. The program is so nationalized that there is even an official French list of school supplies that all students must have!
|"There we go! I don't we've forgotten anything."|
"Yeah we did! A giant backpack to carry all of that!"
For adults in France, la rentrée holds major significance as well because labor laws make August a favored vacation month for the French. In France, the minimum work week is 35 hours, and all workers receive two and a half days of paid leave per month worked. For some odd reason, Saturdays are factored into this calculation, and all French workers are left with five full weeks of paid leave throughout the year (wouldn't that be lovely...).
|One would imagine the French 35-hour work week looks a little like this|
Another aspect of French labor law states that one of these five weeks of vacation must be taken separately from the main school holidays (the Toussaint in mid-fall, Christmas, the winter holiday in February, and the spring holiday in mid-April). This law, in combination with French tradition, leads many workers to take long vacations in the month of August.
As a result, August has become somewhat of sacred month in France. Millions of French northerners flee towards the southern beaches in August, leaving their jobs behind. Paris in particular feels empty in August due to the sheer number of shops and restaurants that close down due to the August tradition.
|Parisian roads get very congested in the month of August as people|
flee the city for the south.
Once September rolls around, however, you can be assured that everything in France will return to business as usual.
Monday, July 27, 2015
Tucked away in the Lesser Antilles, St. Barts has long been a destination for celebrities, including Jimmy Buffet, David Letterman and Steve Martin. That doesn't mean, however, that you won't find your average joes' there as well!
|La côte de St. Barthélemy|
St. Barts is a "separate overseas collectivity," meaning that it is still technically part of France while retaining small freedoms. The French influence, however, is undeniable. Most inhabitants on the island speak French, and the high-end French cuisine is what attracts many visitors to the island each year.
|A fisherman shows off freshly caught lobster on St. Bart's|
|Sushi from Le Bête à Z'Ailes, a renowned restaurant|
|View of Marigot, the island capital|
|Zip-lining in St. Martin|
|A view of mountainous Martinique|
Going further south in the Caribbean, we find Martinique, an island first discovered by Christopher Columbus in 1493. Natural beauty is the name of the game in Martinique, with rugged mountains in the north and calm white sand beaches in the south. Mont Pelée, the dominant volcano towards the north of the island, provides stunning views at the summit as well as a daunting challenge for anyone daring enough to scale the sides of the mountain!
|Mont Pelée and the surrounding area|
Another more historic, yet equally fufilling destination in Martinique is the Schoelcher Library, which was shipped and reassembled in Martinique after being presented in 1889 at the World Fair in Paris. The library is famed for its unique and impressive design as well as for its name, given in honor of French abolitionist Victor Schoelcher.
Monday, July 20, 2015
Just a little over a week ago Bastille Day celebrations took place on the beautiful streets of Paris and many other cities in France. Many other francophone countries hold Bastille Day celebrations to take pride in France's independence. Some of the top places in the USA to celebrate Bastille Day are as follows...
2. New York City
5. New Orleans
6. St. Louis
Do not forget that the Alliance Française of Charlottesville had its own celebration which is worth talking about!
If you were unable to attend our celebration and festivities this past week next year is a must!
Breads, and little pastries were provided by MarieBette and delightful French-style cheeses by Flora Artisanal Cheese.
The children that attended were awaited by French coloring books, face painting, and a photo booth (where any individual could get their Bastille Day photo taken!).
So plan on attending next year and mark your calendars now! July 14th is the Bastille Day celebration you do NOT want to miss!
If you attended Bastille Day with us last Tuesday and want to see our/your pictures check out our website and click here to see them all!
Monday, July 13, 2015
Bastille Day is an important day for the French, embodying the fighting spirit of a people united against tyranny. Of course, the national holiday commemorates the storming of the Bastille, when the people of Paris rose up and captured the political prison on July 14, 1789. Today, the French and people around the world celebrate Bastille Day, and the story of how this day was adopted by the French is an interesting one.
The first celebration of the storming of the Bastille was actually on July 14th 1790, only one year after the event. At a relatively calm point in the revolution, the people celebrated a "Fête de la Fédération" (festival of the federation) to signify the unity and peace of France one year after the historic flash point. Of course in retrospect, nobody could predict how bloody and long the revolution would be, but it still seems a little ironic that the French would be celebrating peace so early!
When exactly did July 14th become the official symbol of French nationalism that we know today? The first celebration of Bastille Day after the revolution was on July 14 1879, when the government sponsored military exercises and feasts in for the Republic officials. The daily paper, Le Figaro, wrote, "people feasted much to honor the storming of the Bastille." This was not, however, the first time the government had sponsored a national holiday. A year before, on June 30, 1878, a huge feast in Paris was arranged to honor the French Republic. Claude Monet's famous painting, Rue Montorgueil, captured the nationalistic fervor of Paris that day.