Education Systems, Creativity, Motivation and Results-Only Environments

Being snowed in for a week meant watching a lot of TED talks online, and a few that really interested me focus on certain established environments and how they are not very conducive to education, creativity or motivation. Sir Ken Robinson on how schools kill creativity and the need for a “learning revolution” throughout the […]


My two year-old niece will help you learn spoken French [New informal French video]

My two year-old niece was recently talking to David on the phone, and she asked t’es au boulot ? Are you at work? However, books will tell you to say es-tu au travail ? instead – or actually it’s more likely they will insist on êtes-vous au travail ? because foreigners never need to use the […]


Review of Language Learning Websites II: Mango Languages, LangMaster, LinguaTV, and Yabla

Six months ago I posted my thoughts on the popular language learning sites Livemocha, Busuu, LingQ and Hello-Hello. Now I would like to review four other language learning websites that I have used recently.  The previous four sites were “communities” where not only can you use their flashcards and exercises, you create a profile and […]


Chinese Food in France (Helps with Homesickness)

Happy Thanksgiving to the Americans, whether you are actually celebrating it or not! This week is always hard for me because I’m usually rather homesick, more so than at Christmas since Christmas actually exists in France (albeit a less excessive form of the holiday… I need an overload of decorations, people!) Luckily we did something […]


Regional Differences in France & Italy: Bienvenue chez les Ch’tis & Benvenuti al Sud

In 2008 when Bienvenue chez les Ch’tis was released in France, it was an instant success. The plot focuses on the manager of La Poste in Salon-de-Provence, who is transferred to Bergues in the Nord-Pas-de-Calais region and all the negative stereotypes about the north of France, i.e. it’s always rainy and cold, the people are […]


Cost of Living in France

Cost of Living in France: My Personal Experience

How much does it cost to live in France? I’ve received a few e-mails inquiring about the cost of living in France, so here is a listing of my monthly bills and yearly taxes. Hopefully this information will be useful for those who are looking to move to France and want to compare the costs. […]


Learning French through Comedy: Sketches by Les Inconnus

Probably the most famous comedy sketch in France is Télémagouille by Les Inconnus. You can read the entire transcript online though it’s written very informally and there are many spelling mistakes. Don’t forget to check out their other sketches on Youtube or Dailymotion (I’ve included some of my favorites below). A 5-DVD set is also available from Amazon.fr. […]


Decorated Shell Casings from WWI – Aisne 1917

Remember those old war newspapers we found in grandma’s storage space last year? We came across another interesting find recently: decorated shell casings (douilles d’obus) from 1917. To pass the time in the trenches, soldiers used shell casings as canvases to create their own works of art. You can see other examples by searching images.google.fr. Sadly, […]


Languages of the European Union, Traveling in the Schengen Area, and Using the Euro (or Not)

The European Union’s official web portal, europa.eu, is translated into the 23 official languages: Bulgarian, Czech, Danish, Dutch, English, Estonian, Finnish, French, German, Greek, Hungarian, Irish, Italian, Latvian, Lithuanian, Maltese, Polish, Portuguese, Romanian, Slovak, Slovene, Spanish and Swedish. Each page on the site has the same layout regardless of language so you can easily compare […]