Traveling through Germanic Languages and History

I’ve been traveling for the past week through Brussels, Amsterdam, Cologne and Munich. I have been trying to listen to as much Dutch and German as possible and collect all sorts of realia to learn more vocabulary. Of course I’ve also been going to educational places like Mini Europe, which I highly recommend for learning more about European Union geography and history.

I returned to Anne Frank House in Amsterdam after 5 years and it was still just as overwhelming, depressing, and humbling as before, yet it remained impossible to not be touched by Anne’s optimistic words in such a dark time. Otto Frank’s remarks on why he started the Anne Frank Foundation – to fight against the prejudice and discrimination of people of different races and religions – is partly the same reason why I learn languages. It’s not just so I can travel around Europe more easily. It’s so I can talk to people who are different from me and learn from them, and hopefully help them if they are being discriminated against because they are “too different” from everyone else.

Tomorrow morning I am going to Dachau, the very first concentration camp. Yet another reason why I learn languages: not merely to learn, but to experience, history. A lot of meaning can be lost in translation and we can never fully understand the how and the why unless we truly understand the language and culture. I know neither the perpetrators nor the prisoners spoke English so why should I only learn the history in English? I want to listen to the victims’ and survivors’ own words, not a translation.

I want to read Anne’s diary in its original version. The words that she actually wrote. When I read Hélène Berr’s diary in the original French last year, it really affected me because I knew the places and dates she mentioned and the significance of them. I could picture her life in occupied Paris until her arrest. It made the diary all the more real to me, instead of simply stories in a book. Anne’s diary is poignant enough in English, but I can only imagine at this point what it must be like to comprehend it in Dutch.

Jennie en France #2 in Top Language Learning Blogs 2010!

Bab.la announced the winners of the Top 100 Language Blogs 2010 today and I was very surprised to see that Jennie en France was #2 in the Language Learning category and #3 in the overall top 100 blogs! Thank you to everyone who voted and a special thank you to Benny at fluentin3months.com (who ranked […]

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Multilingual Goodness of the Eurovision Song Contest

The Eurovision Song Contest is going on this week in Oslo and even though I’m not watching it, I am using the unofficial website to learn languages through song lyrics. It is called the Diggiloo Thrush and it includes the lyrics and translations into English of almost all of the songs ever performed for the […]

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Common Slang Verbs in Informal Spoken French: New Video

The 4th video in the informal French series: slang verbs with their standard/written counterparts, with sample sentences to illustrate their use. Don’t forget! Voting ends today at 11:59 PM French time / 5:59 PM Eastern Standard Time!

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Using Realia Resources in Language Teaching & Learning

Realia is everyday, authentic objects, such as photographs, menus, brochures, receipts, maps, movies, television shows, commercials, etc. that are used to teach and learn languages. Some researchers include any items that can be used to prompt conversations or role-play, such as telephones, but those are generally meant to be employed in the classroom with other […]

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København, Danmark

Denmark was lovely. Even with the awful weather – I should have brought my winter coat and gloves! – everything just was so pleasant. The people were nice, the food was good, and the museums were interesting. My pictures don’t do Copenhagen justice because of the dark, cloudy sky but the city is so beautiful […]

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Copenhagen for the Weekend

I am leaving once again. This time I’m off to Copenhagen to meet up with one of my oldest friends from Michigan. The weather forecast looks gloomy but I’m definitely looking forward to seeing Jessica (she just got her PhD, so it’s Dr. Jessica now!) and being in Scandinavia for the first time. We might […]

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Please vote for Jennie in France in the Top 100 Language Learning Blogs 2010

Jennie in France has been nominated for the Top 100 Language Learning Blogs 2010 at Lexiophiles. Voting starts today and ends May 24, with winners announced on May 28. Click below to vote in the Language Learning category: There are also three other categories for Language Teaching, Language Technology, and Language Professionals. You can vote […]

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The Croatian Vacation in Split & Dubrovnik

Our Croatian vacation began in Split, the 2nd largest city. We rented a studio apartment inside of Diocletian’s Palace for only 220 kuna / 30€ per night. The palace is a UNESCO World Heritage site and about 1,700 years old, but it’s not a closed tourist attraction that you have to pay to enter – […]

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Off to Croatia / Hrvatska

David and I are going on vacation to Split & Dubrovnik, Croatia, this week. I’ve been wanting to see Croatia since I was a teenager and I’m already planning another trip to the Balkans for next year. Our round-trip plane tickets from Geneva were only 37€ each and our accommodation is only 15-25€ per person […]

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Why is Jennie no longer in France?

I created this blog in September 2006 when I moved to France from Michigan to teach English. Many of the earlier posts are about my personal life in France, dealing with culture shock, traveling in Europe and becoming fluent in French. In July 2011, I relocated to Australia to start my PhD in Applied Linguistics. Although I am no longer living in France, my research is on foreign language pedagogy and I teach French at a university so these themes appear most often on the blog. I also continue to post about traveling and being an American abroad.

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