Thanks for Russian, Spanish and Italian Recordings

By   April 14, 2010

I just wanted to say спасибо, gracias and grazie to the awesome people who have recorded mp3s for the Russian, Spanish and Italian tutorials recently.  We really appreciate your generosity, Marina, Renzo and Corrado! (All three are fans on the Facebook page if you would like to thank them personally.)

You can listen to the mp3s while you are on each page by using Yahoo Media Player – the play button should automatically appear – or you can right-click on the MP3 button to download to your computer. If you use Firefox, I highly recommend the DownThemAll add-on so that you can download all of the mp3s in one click.

I believe I have found someone to do the German recordings, and David will continue to provide the French audio.  If you are interested in contributing sound files of your native language, let me know!

Learning the Language AND Cultural Vocabulary Online

By   April 10, 2010

How do you learn proper nouns, place names, brands, acronyms or other culture-specific vocabulary if you aren’t immersed in the culture? Before I moved to France, I knew that Carrefour was one of the largest stores and so I used their online ads to learn vocabulary for everyday objects that I would need when I arrived. But then it got me thinking about other stores in France and how I would even go about finding out their names and what they sell. What if Carrefour didn’t have what I wanted? Where else could I go?

Most countries have their own version of the yellow pages, so I started with and typed in magasin de + whatever I was looking for to find the names of stores that would hopefully have websites. And by visiting their websites, I could learn more vocabulary instead of just the generic words that are found in books. There are more than sofas (canapés) and chairs (chaises) to sit on, and thanks to sites like Conforama or But I was able to learn several new words for types of furniture that I didn’t even know in English. Clic-clac, banquette, BZ, pouf, chauffeuse, poire?

Sitting on a poire doesn’t seem like a good idea… but when referring to furniture and not fruit, it’s actually a bean bag chair.

Once I moved to France and started receiving ads for local businesses (whether I wanted them or not), I could also learn the names of stores and new vocabulary that way. For restaurants and prepared dishes, it was slightly harder. Again, I could find local restaurants on but not many had websites or put their menus online and few sent out ads, unlike the major stores. So I just resorted to taking pictures of the menus and translating them all when I got home. (This is what inspired me to create the Realia page.)

However, finding this cultural vocabulary for household items or food was only half the battle. What about proper nouns, like places, peoples’ names, abbreviations, acronyms, metonyms, etc. and most importantly, how to pronounce them?  I had a hard time understanding my students’ names when I first started teaching English here because there were so many names that I had never heard before and half the time I didn’t even know if the name referred to a man or a woman. Listening to the news is a good way to hear names of countries or cities, but of course, it will only be those places that are constantly in the news. French absolutely loves to use acronyms and abbreviations in everyday speech but the string of letters didn’t mean much to me until someone said the full name.

Cultural vocabulary isn’t usually included in books because it is too location-dependent and it does change over time just like slang. People in Quebec talk about the Sears catalog, but here in France it’s LaRedoute or 3Suisses. If you travel by train in France, the national company is called the SNCF, while in Belgium it’s the SNCB and in Switzerland it’s the CFF. In Quebec, people buy books, DVDs and music from Archambault; but in France, people shop at FNAC.

So how do we learn to pronounce and recognize this extremely important cultural vocabulary? Listening to authentic language as much as possible and asking native speakers for their input is the obvious answer. But if you aren’t yet in the country and you don’t have access to native speakers whenever you want, you can use the internet:

  • Wikipedia has good articles on generalized brand names (propietary eponyms) in several languages so you can discover what people actually say beyond the well-known ones from English (Kleenex, Frisbee, Xerox , etc.)
  • Search each country’s Google page or Yellow pages to find names of certain stores selling clothes, shoes, sports gear, furniture, etc. I guarantee the vocabulary used on those sites will include many, many words than those found in textbooks. If the sites don’t include pictures, then use each country’s page to find out what exactly it is.
  • For pronunciation, you can try Forvo because they have categories such as brands, geography and internet.
  • Get a native speaker to record target words for you at Rhinospike.
  • Or you can try your luck with Acapela, computer-generated speech which is surprisingly accurate (at least for the French proper nouns I tried.)
  • If you know the IPA, LaRousse dictionaries includes a lot of metonyms and eponyms, such as Elysée and Sopalin and some do have audio included, like Matignon and Photomaton.

Pronunciation dictionaries exist in English, but I can’t seem to find any in French that include proper nouns and vocabulary from more than one country that uses the language. Insiders’ French is a good dictionary of this vocabulary but it only refers to France and doesn’t include pronunciation. The online Dictionary of Modern France is very helpful too, but again, limited to France.  The books that do include cultural vocabulary are usually written for advanced learners and so are completely in French, but even beginning learners need to know certain cultural concepts, especially if they are living in the country with limited knowledge of the language. Culture needs to be taught along with the basics of the language from the very beginning. This is my biggest problem with textbooks and even social language learning sites. They all present bland, generic vocabulary that no one really uses and create fake situations and dialogs from it instead of just using authentic materials and the words that people actually say in everyday language.

I’ve tried to help learners with France-based vocabulary and included pronunciation of common acronyms and regions/cities in France but there are many more proper nouns that I need to add, especially names.

Language Learning Articles, Software, Websites (Link Collection from Twitter)

By   April 3, 2010

A collection of language learning articles, software and websites that I’ve tweeted/retweeted/discovered on Twitter over the past few months for those who don’t use that site:

Popling. Hack your Brain.
Learning, Without Studying. A website + desktop app for people who want to learn, but lack motivation.

Learn languages with your vocabulary trainer.

Rhinospike: Foreign Language Audio on Demand
Online language learning community tool that lets users around the globe connect and exchange foreign language audio files.

Up Your Bottom
Hilarious real-life stories of foreign language gone wrong. French Online
Parler français, gratuitement et facilement / Speak French with native speakers for free through Skype

Language of the Month
Interactive videos of children from Newbury Park Primary School teaching common words and phrases in their native languages.

Top Ten Internet Languages (Internet World Stats)
Statistics on the ten most used languages on the Internet.

Read the latest in Linguistics
Wiley-Blackwell is pleased to offer FREE online access to selected journal issues and book chapters.

Books Should Be Free
Your source for free audio books. Download one in mp3, iPod and iTunes format today.

World Loanword Database
It provides vocabularies (mini-dictionaries of about 1000-2000 entries) of 41 languages from around the world, with comprehensive information about the loanword status of each word. It allows users to find loanwords, source words and donor languages in each of the 41 languages, but also makes it easy to compare loanwords across languages.

Science Daily: Language Acquisition
Latest research news on learning languages, the human brain and memory.

Outsourcing Language Learning
Almost a decade ago, Drake University stirred up controversy by eliminating its foreign language departments and thereby the jobs of faculty in French, German and Italian, even those with tenure. Traditional lecture and language lab instruction was replaced with the Drake University Language Acquisition Program (DULAP): small discussion groups led by on-campus native speakers, a weekly session with a scholar of the language, a one-semester course on language acquisition and the use of several Web-based learning technologies.

First Bilingual Educational Toy Brand, Ingenio (TM), Hits the U.S. Market
Alpharetta, Ga.-based Smart Play, LLC has launched Ingenio(TM), the first entirely bilingual brand of educational toys and games in the United States.

What English sounds like to Foreigners
An Italian singer wrote this song with gibberish to sound like English. If you’ve ever wondered what other people think Americans sound like, this is it.

About World Languages
The Technology Development Group (TDG) is proud to present a one-stop information website dedicated to the world’s most important and populous languages.

Language is a Human Right
Free language learning helpware for people in need. El Book is a free primer for Spanish speakers on the bare essentials of English. It was designed for people with no certain address, little access to advanced technology, and not a lot of formal education.

Europe Commissioner for Human Rights: Bilingualism should be encouraged for all
Language rights have become an issue of contention within several European countries. Their denial undermines human rights and causes inter-communal tensions, said Thomas Hammarberg, the Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights (via

Accent on Montreal
A 5 part series on Anglophone Montrealers’ distinct way with words.

BFQS: Les expressions verbales figées de Belgique – France – Québec – Suisse
Il n’existe pas à ce jour de recueil de données fournissant un panorama comparatif complet des expressions propres aux quatre pays francophones occidentaux (Belgique, France, Québec et Suisse) établi selon des critères syntaxiques et distributionnels rigoureux. Le projet vise l’étude systématique des expressions figées dans ces quatre domaines de la francophonie (BFQS). L’objectif est de constituer un dictionnaire papier et électronique des expressions appartenant au « français commun », à chacune des variétés et/ou aux sous-ensembles de ces quatre variétés.

Review of Some Language Learning Communities: Busuu, Livemocha, LingQ, and Hello-Hello

By   March 28, 2010

Lately I’ve been using several language learning communities online to see what they offer and how expensive their pay materials are. Personally, I was most interested in finding sites that offered free audio flashcards for learning vocabulary (preferably with pictures) and less so in finding a teacher or language exchange partner.  I just wanted to learn some vocabulary (and how to pronounce the words) online since my main focus on learning languages in the beginning stages is to simply understand what people are saying, and to be able to say a few phrases to get around while traveling. I don’t worry so much about forming grammatically correct sentences or having long conversations just yet.

Review of Some Language Learning Communities: Busuu, Livemocha, LingQ, and Hello-Hello

A few of the sites I came across were solely for finding teachers, some did not offer any or much free material, and a few were almost exactly what I was looking for. Another aspect of modern language learning that I was hoping to find on these sites was portability – if they offered downloads of audio and text so I did not have to sit at a computer with an internet connection in order to study.  For those of us who work all day long at a computer, the thought of only using a computer to study languages isn’t exactly enticing.  For these reasons, and the fact that I was focusing on German and Italian, my top three choices are, and, while gets an honorable mention (but mostly because they don’t currently offer German.)

Busuu and Livemocha are quite similar in that they offer free audio flashcards, but Busuu is slightly better because they have more vocabulary. Plus they now have keyboard shortcuts so that you don’t need to keep clicking with the mouse in order to go through the flashcards. Almost all of the flashcards have a sample sentence to go along with the vocabulary word (though pronunciation is only for premium members) and the same is true of the dialog section for each vocabulary topic.

There are 4 levels for each language, A1 to B2, and some categories focus on grammar (simple past tense, adverbs, modal verbs, etc.)  but they are only available to premium members. Currently, there are only a few languages available: French, German, Italian, Spanish and Portuguese. You can change the site language instead of using English however, so that you can learn/review two foreign languages. (I use the site in French to learn German.)

You can mark flashcards that are you not sure of to review later, but it is a multiple choice quiz of 10 randomly chosen words instead of the actual flashcards. Other multiple choice quizzes in each category are also free. For premium members, you can submit writing and speaking samples to be corrected by native speakers and also create personalized revision exercises.  There is also a chat function called busuutalk that lets you talk to friends on the site while you’re learning, or you can simply send them messages.

As for portability, you can download a PDF and MP3 of each lesson if you are a premium member. For the free version, you can download only a select few files, but when you first sign up, you have 7 days as a semi-premium member so you can discover more of the premium advantages.

Premium prices: 1 month is 12.99€, 3 months is 29.97€ and 6 months is 47.94€ for access to all languages

Livemocha offers a lot of the same advantages as Busuu, as well as more languages (currently 35!). It is the largest language learning community online, so it is probably the best if you are studying a less common language. A major difference concerning the flashcards is that the translation is not automatically shown. However, there are tips from other users in the right sidebar that often show the translation instead of simply providing tips, whether you want to see it or not. I’ve noticed that even with a language specified, it will show tips in any number of languages, which is nice if you are a multilingual lover but perhaps a bit distracting if not. One problem I had with the German flashcards is that the article was not given, so there was no way of learning whether the noun was masculine, feminine or neuter. Luckily many users have submitted this information in the tips, but it would be extremely useful to have in the flashcards themselves.

Same as above, there are some quizzes available (matching, listening, create sentences, etc.) as well as writing and speaking submissions to be corrected, but they will only be reviewed by a “qualified tutor” if you pay. For the free version, anyone can review/correct your work. If you want to mark a flashcard to review later, you have to wait until the end of the flashcard deck and then check them off.  Sets with more than 8 cards will automatically be added to the publicly available Flashcard Sets so that other members can use them.

Concerning portability, you can download PDF, MP3 and MP4 video files for each lesson if you pay. For non-paying members, you can download the first unit from each level.  Livemocha also sells Travel Crash Courses in Spanish, French, Mandarin, German or Italian for $9.95 (for a 90 day subscription), but there are no free materials to review first.

Premium Prices: this depends on the language, but for German it is $9.95 per month (or $19.95 with qualified tutor); or one-time payment of $49.95 for 6 months (or $99.95 with qualified tutor). Unfortunately, you cannot just pay one monthly fee and have access to any language you want, but you can change the site language to learn German in French, for example.

LingQ is different from Busuu and Livemocha because it is based on texts rather than flashcards. You begin with sentences or dialogs completely in the target language and listen to the MP3. Mouse over a word you don’t know and the translation will appear. Click on it and you can add it to a flashcard set that you can review online and that will be e-mailed to you.  Even for non-paying members, you have access to several texts and MP3s in Russian, Italian, Swedish, Chinese, Portuguese, French, German, English, Spanish, and Japanese.

The main idea is just to listen and read along to the language and learn from constantly being exposed to it. The focus is not on being perfectly correct, as non-native speakers can record and upload texts too. However, you can submit your writing  to be corrected if you are a paying member and have conversations with native speakers through Skype. The variety of lessons available is large for most languages since anyone can import materials.

Free accounts can create up to 300 LingQs (flashcards) and import 5 lessons, while paying accounts are unlimited. Subscribers get points that they can use towards the writing corrections, conversations and courses that teachers sell. Even Free members can print the texts and download the MP3s, though I would like to have a download PDF and listen online function too instead of always having to play the MP3 in another program.

Premium Prices: $10 per month for Basic; $39 per month for Plus; $79 per month for Premium. You can also make a one-time payment for a 6 month subscription starting at $60 for Basic.

Hello-Hello currently offers only three languages – Spanish, French and Brazilian Portuguese – but German, Italian, and Mandarin are supposed to be added in a few months. Hello-hello is based on dialogs so it is more similar to LingQ than Busuu or Livemocha. There are 3 levels of 10 lessons each. Each lesson begins with simply listening to a dialog (without the text provided yet), but since the site uses the Quicktime plugin instead of an MP3 flashplayer, it doesn’t work in Firefox (at least not on any of the 5 computers I tried it on).

The second part is listening again to the dialog, but this time reading along with the transcript of the target language. Third, you can read the dialog in the target language with the translation into your native language. Then you can listen to the dialog line by line and repeat each sentence and finally you listen to the dialog line by line and type the sentence that you hear.

In the Build your Vocabulary section, you can mouse over underlined words to see synonyms or other useful vocabulary related to the theme (with pronunciation) and you have the option to add words to a flashcard set. Then you can do multiple choice quizzes to review the vocabulary. Other practice sections include recording the given dialog, writing your own dialog and recording your own dialog, all to be corrected by community members. As with other communities, there is of course a friends area where you can chat or send messages.

Right now Hello-Hello is in beta so it is completely free to use. I don’t know when they will be changing over to a pay system, but then levels 2 & 3 will only be available to premium members, so you might want to take advantage of it now!


I don’t know if it’s possible for one website to be perfect for learning languages. I’m pretty happy with a combination of the four sites I reviewed, but there are of course other great sites that are useful. For example, if you want native speakers to correct your writing for free, then Lang-8 is best. If you want native speakers to record a text for you for free, then the site Rhinospike (that Street-Smart Language Learning provided a nice review of) will be helpful. If you want to watch subtitled videos in your target language, then try FluentU or Yabla. If you are just looking for language teachers or exchange partners, there are plenty of sites available: Myngle, italki, My Language Exchange, etc.

Other sites that I looked into, but that didn’t have enough free content to really get a feel for the site and how it works include Mango Languages,, and Babbel. Mango offers one sample course of the first lesson, which is just basic greetings, so I can’t really say how in-depth the other lessons get or how useful it really is. doesn’t offer audio to free members for their flashcards, which is what I was specifically looking for, but other parts of their site can be helpful, such as the dictionary, quizzes, forum and survival guides that you can download for free. With Babbel, you can only choose one sample lesson for each language and then you’re stuck with it, so again, it’s difficult to see what the other lessons are like and if they’re worthwhile.

In the end, I think I will try Busuu’s premium content for a month and see if I like it. How about you? Do you use any online language learning communities? What’s your favorite and for what reasons?

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

Do I still speak English?

By   March 26, 2010

Maybe it’s a good thing that I don’t plan on teaching English much longer because I have been forgetting my own language. In my vocabulary classes, the students basically work for 90 minutes straight on learning new words and how to use them properly. They have to answer questions and write paragraphs and record themselves talking spontaneously while I listen, read and correct constantly. Except sometimes I don’t remember what we say in English because I’ve gotten so used to my students’ mistakes that I tend to just translate literally from French into English just like them.

Now I have doubts about what people actually say in my native language. When describing a picture, is it normal to start with We can see instead of just saying There is/are? I know French loves to use on all the time, so whenever I hear my students start a sentence with we, I wonder if it’s correct. Like when they say We are five instead of there are five of us when talking about how many people are present in a group. We are five is still awkward in English, right? And how about firstly? Is it normal to say that instead of just first?

Creative Commons Licensephoto credit: mdid

Just this past week, almost everyone began their sentences about household chores with It’s my mother who… or It’s my father who + verb. In English,we’d simply say My mother or father + verb… Are there any cases in English where this weird it’s my [person] who is possible?  I’m thinking this is just a literal translation mistake, but perhaps other native speakers who aren’t losing their language can verify it?

And for British English speakers, is to take a decision really possible? In American English that is so wrong and of course my students want to use the verb take since it’s prendre une décision in French. I think I’ve heard that take a decision is possible in formal British English, but not so common in everyday speech. How about to take breakfast? Once again it’s prendre with meals or food in French, so I think  it’s just a mistake that all of my students make, but with the British English differences, I’m not so sure…

I’d really like to know why every single student says come back at home instead of come home or practice sport instead of play sports when they’ve been learning English for 7 or 8 years already. Do middle and high school classes just not teach proper phrase constructions? Or do students really think they can just translate word for word and it will work perfectly in another language?

I’d say that I’m 50% angry that students constantly make the same mistakes over and over and I have no idea how to make them learn the correct constructions, and 50% angry that they are making me doubt my ability to speak English. I actually said practice a sport the other day and I was so mad at myself for letting their mistakes influence me.

At least when pronunciation is concerned it’s a different story. I may have trouble with grammar sometimes, but I know without a doubt when a word is pronounced wrong. I almost laughed out loud when a student said “I don’t like to sleep in dirty sheets” but she pronounced sheets with the short [ɪ] vowel. I don’t think anyone would like sleeping in that.

Eavesdropping on the French [New MP3]

By   March 21, 2010

I’ve finally uploaded another French Listening mp3 and this one is a little different from the others. First of all, it is much harder to understand because I was basically eavesdropping on random conversations. It starts out with Mamie working on a crossword puzzle, then Parrain talking about winning the lottery and retiring, then Patricia asks Douné if he wants his hair cut, Parrain mentions the end of the world in 2012 according to the Mayan calendar, and then Obama shows up suddenly and the subject gets changed again to staying with a friend. Did you get that in English?? Now try it in French:

This is yet another reason why French is hard to understand. When Anglophones are sitting around a table talking, usually only one person talks at a time while everyone else listens. The opposite happens with Francophones. Several people talk at the same time so it makes it even harder for foreigners to follow along. (This isn’t a dig at Francophones, just an observation – and further support for the need to learn culture and language simultaneously.)

The previous 20 mp3s that I’ve uploaded have been representative of spontaneous, unrehearsed speech which I find much more helpful than carefully scripted and pronounced dialogs. The major difference with this mp3 is that no one knew I was recording them at the time, and so they didn’t have the chance to change their way of speaking like so many people do when they realize their words can be saved forever.  The goal is to make the listener aware of all of the false starts, fillers in speech, and especially slang vocabulary that are so hard to learn from books or even movies (movies are scripted and rehearsed, after all).

I’m trying to bring the real French language to those who want to avoid the catch-22 of language learning: you want to learn the real language before you go abroad so you won’t be totally lost and confused; however, the only way to learn the real language is to go abroad and be constantly exposed to it. I know there is no substitute for living in the country where the language is spoken and interacting with native speakers, but it’s not always an option for certain people. So thank goodness for the internet!

Updates to Come Soon, I Promise!

By   March 18, 2010

Just a short message to let you know/promise that I will update the site soon. I fully intended on adding more comparative material and French exercises and listening resources this weekend, but of course real life keeps getting in the way. I actually have some revision and translation projects to work on, as well as phonetics exams to grade, and a real deadline that I have to stick to over the next few weeks. But the review of language learning communities and a new informal French video are coming soonish.  I only work 8 days at my real job during the month of April, so I should be able to get a lot accomplished then.

I have finally created a Facebook Fan page for ielanguages, so please join if you want to keep in touch on there. You may have also noticed the new Wibiya bar at the bottom of the blog, which allows you to see what’s happening immediately on my Twitter account as well as the Facebook Fan page. Plus you can quickly see what photos I’ve uploaded to Flickr and what videos I’ve uploaded to Youtube, choose to go to a random post on the blog, or translate the page into a different language. I especially like the Online feature as you can see who is online and where in the world they are. The power of the internet to bring people together when they are so far apart geographically will never cease to amaze me.

As am I going on 4 different trips this May & June, I’ve decided to expand the Travel Photos section of the site and add more useful information on traveling in general. I like sharing my photos and helping people realize that traveling, especially in Europe, is actually quite cheap and easy to do. And of course the whole point of traveling (at least for me) is to discover how a new language is used in everyday life and hopefully become a better citizen of the world by experiencing a new culture. So of course, I also want to add to the realia page by taking pictures of signs, menus, tickets, brochures, etc. for authentic exposure to the language instead of relying on instructional books that tend to only teach generic words that are not used often enough.

French desserts

In France, un cake isn’t really a cake – at least not in the American sense of the word.

Why French is Hard to Understand, Reason 17 of 428: Fake English Words

By   March 11, 2010

The real reason why French is hard to understand for English-speakers is the numerous liaisons (that I mentioned recently) and lack of junctures between words. English tends to pause more often between words and exhibit open juncture, while French pauses between phrases and links sounds between certain word boundaries so that determining individual words is rather difficult unless one already knows French phonology. In addition, English is a stress-timed language that gives prominence to stressed syllables and reduces the unstressed syllables, whereas French is a syllable-timed language that gives equal prominence to all syllables, with the so-called “stressed” syllable always being the last.

Nevertheless, I would like to add another reason why French is hard to understand: the transformation of English words in the French language.  I have nothing against borrowing since it’s a natural part of language evolution and change, but English-speakers are at a slight disadvantage when trying to learn vocabulary in French. We basically have to learn a new Frenchified version of the English words, along with the pronunciation based on French phonetics.

English or French or both? news, people, look, relooking, fun, clip

First of all, the borrowed words are often changed slightly so that they are not exactly the same as the original English word. Fortunately, they are quite easy to understand in writing and are usually easier to change from French to English than English to French because many times French drops the end of the phrase. However, the pronunciation of these words can be radically different and so understanding “English” words spoken in French can be a challenge.  This is also true of names and titles – it took me a good 5 minutes to understand Sons of Anarchy when I first heard it pronounced in French.  Usually it is the stress on the last syllable in French – which rarely happens in English – that makes the word so unrecognizable for English-speakers. Finally, since most of these words are recent borrowings and considered too informal, they are often missing from textbooks and grammar books. So once again the only way to learn them is to listen to native speech in everyday situations that has not been produced specifically to teach the language (and therefore stripped of all cultural and informal vocabulary.)

If you teach English to French students or pay attention to the mistakes that French people make when speaking in English, you may notice that they simply use the French form of the English word and assume it is exactly the same as in English. Every single one of my students thinks camping is the correct way to say campground or that bowling is the sport and the location where one bowls. So on the other hand, French students learning English are also at a disadvantage because they need to re-learn the English vocabulary they thought they already knew.

Here are some examples where the French “English” is shorter than the real English:

trench coat: un trench

parking lot: un parking

campground: un camping

bowling alley: un bowling

fast food restaurant: un fast-food

drive-thru: un drive

bodysuit/onesie: un body

e-mail: un mail

volleyball: le volley

basketball: le basket

Other French “English” words are usually easy enough to figure out even if they are rather different from the original:

sneakers: des baskets

cereal: des cornflakes

rollerblades: des rollers

lip-synching: le play-back

facelift: un lifting

celebrities: des people/pipol

schedule: un planning

bartender: un barman

tennis player: un tennisman

Though some of them are a little harder to figure out:

dry cleaner’s: un pressing

blowdry: un brushing

walk-in closet: un dressing

political rally: un meeting

makeover: un relooking

channel surfing: le zapping

hit song: un tube

music video: un clip

style: un look

lounge chair: un relax

And others have a much more complicated etymology:

tuxedo: un smoking

station wagon: un break

One tip for learning this type of vocabulary is to check out celebrity magazines online (like Closer or Public) or some TV/radio stations (like MTV or NRJ) for videos or audio. They use a lot of English words because they are geared toward young people and they want to seem cool.

Pronunciation of the above words, as well as many more “English” words used in French, can be found at French Tutorial VII.

Some of these not-really-English words are used in other languages as well, not just French. Lifting is also used in Italian and Spanish to mean facelift, though in German it means to take the ski lift uphill. Wikipedia has a page on pseudo-Anglicisms if you want to learn more of them.