Top Trumps

New terms begin with introductions: Hello! How do you do? We’re delighted to meet you! Did you have any trouble finding us? What lovely weather we’re having for the season!

For those of you who don’t know us already, we are ELC: the Dream Team for your English project: be it general English, banking English, legal English or learning enough English to ask a dolphin for directions as you cross the Atlantic.

We’re a small team, but as we say in English, “small is beautiful”. What? You want to know more? Well, here is all you need to know ….

Postcards from the edge of sanity

Ouf! It is getting dangerously hot, isn’t it? And these new spicy hot temperatures are not adapted for our bodies and minds. We have read studies which suggest that in Mexico, there is a 1.5% increase in the number of murders for every degree that the temperature rises! Now, this kind of madness is not something that would affect your favourite English team of course, but on the hottest of days, we have been known (dare I say it) to honk our horn (klaxonner) at a particularly naughty motorist or even …. say a rude word to a bee if we swallow it whilst eating a jam sandwich. And this is why, as France hits its meltiest period, we turn off our smart phones and computers and put ourselves on holiday to recharge. ‘But where are you going?’ we hear you cry! ‘What if we have a particularly sticky present perfect question for you?’

 

     

The Results of the Great ELC Bake-off

DANIEL // Bake Off – The Finale

About my ‘competitor’

At the end of a competition, we should be gracious. We should be respectful. We should be a good sport, no matter whether we have won or lost. We should be an example to those that follow in our footsteps. It’s not always easy to be that gracious, respectful good sport – especially if our competitor wasn’t very good (mine wasn’t), or if our competitor was terrible at trash talking (mine was), or even if our competitor’s cooking made you wonder if they have ever seen a recipe before (I did wonder!). Regardless of these problems with my competitor, I’m a picture of restraint and respect.

About the competition

It appears I lost. I know, and I agree with you – it’s unjust. It’s unthinkable. It’s illogical. It’s simply…impossible. Now, I’m not saying that it was because the judge and my competitor are related. It may possibly be because I’m not as good a baker as I think I am. No, I agree with you again – that’s not feasible. Well, either way, I say congratulations to Katie. Well done, good job, a fine effort on your part. We both made an apple crumble last week, and actually, I must admit, her crumble has been amazing – I’ve been using hers as a doorstop. It works great.  

Vocabulary:
Gracious: Courtois, digne // Respectful: respectueux // A good sport: beau joueur // No matter whether: peu importe si // Wonder: se demander // Regardless: quoi qu’il en soit // Restraint: retenue // Appear: apparaître // Unjust: unjuste // Unthinkable: impensable // Related: lié (à) // Feasible: faisable // Apple crumble: crumble aux pommes // Doorstop: cale-porte

KATIE // Bake Off – Another one bites the crust!

 

About my competitor:

He gave it his best effort but unfortunately my opponent’s best just didn’t cut the mustard. Yes, you’ve guessed it, I won the bake off and I will never let Daniel forget it! Despite his attempts, we didn’t all come down with food poisoning but I did appreciate his hot cross buns which I keep in my kitchen as a knife sharpener.

About the competition:

I thoroughly enjoyed the competition and the banter with Daniel, it was a wonderful team building exercise. I think we’ve both learnt a little from the experience: I have learnt that the simplest approach is often the best, that I am much more competitive than I thought and Daniel has learnt to stay out of the kitchen.

We’ve all had lots of fun but now, as the summer approaches, it’s time to set aside our dessert spoons and pick up our salad forks. The diet starts tomorrow!

crust = la croûte // cut the mustard = être à la hauteur // come down with food poisoning = souffrir d’une intoxication alimentaire // knife sharpener = aiguisoir à couteaux // banter = se charrier //put aside = mettre de côté

 

 

Bake Off – Hot Cross Buns

Bake Off – Hot Cross Buns / DANIEL

Non-fighting words

Competition is a healthy activity. It pushes us to be better, and can test our limits. And what better type of competition than a cooking one! However, every competition needs a winner and a loser. Lucky for me, for this particular competition my opponent is Katie, so this will be an easy win for me.

No good competition is complete without some good trash talk, in order to demoralize your opponent. So please sit back and enjoy the reasons why I’m not concerned about my chances of winning.

  • Someone once said that British food is bland. I don’t think that’s true – I think they just had dinner at Katie’s house.
  • I heard that Katie once dropped a loaf of her bread and it broke her foot.
  • I’m not saying the Taste Tester is in danger because Katie is baking, but I did hear that they took out extra insurance.
  • I’m not saying Katie’s bread would make a good paperweight, but the evidence shows that they do.
  • I heard that last year a local builder ran out of bricks when building a house, so Katie donated a batch of her bread rolls as a substitute. I don’t think that house will ever fall down.

Vocabulary:

Bland: sans gout, insipide / Trash talk: échanges verbaux / Loaf (of bread): miche (de pain) / Taste tester: goûteur / Paperweight: presse-papiers / Evidence: indice / Builder: maçon / Donate: donner, faire un don / Batch: fournée / Bread roll: petit pain

Bake Off – Hot Cross Buns / KATIE

INTRO:

There’s nothing better for team building than a little friendly competition. This month, Daniel and Katie have decided to have a bake off; England vs Australia, and their first challenge is The Hot Cross Bun. Amy will be the judge and we’ll share our winning recipes with you. So, Daniel and Katie, on your marks, get bready and go!

HISTORY

All my family know their way around the kitchen. My mother and father have always enjoyed cooking (and eating), my brother is a chef and has worked in many different restaurants around the world and my sister is always inspiring me with new healthy recipes.

One of my very fondest memories is of baking with my Grandma who was famous at her church’s bake sale for “Amy’s boring buns” which were simple but always the first to be sold out!

FIGHTING TALK

Katie: “Knead it and weep

This is going to be an easy one and I plan to make like bread and rise to the challenge. Daniel, prepare to go home because you’re going down…under! If I may misquote The Beatles: “all you knead is love” and there’s nobody who loves Hot Cross Buns more than me! I’m confident I’ll be taking home the gold and Daniel will be taking home his buns that nobody wants. I hope Amy has the number of a good dentist because she’ll need one after tasting Daniel’s baking!   

Pun Glossary:

-On your marks, Get Ready and Go! = À vos marques, prêts, partez

-Read it and weep = quand tu verras ça, tu auras envie de pleurer.

-make like bread and rise to the challenge = faites comme le pain et relevez le défi!

-The Beatle’s song: All you need is love (knead = pétrir)

 

What I have learnt on maternity leave.

On Monday I returned to work after 12 wonderful weeks with my new daughter Stella. The time had flown by so quickly, and I couldn’t believe that she was already 3 months old.

I was nervous. I was used to my new routine and was worried I had forgotten how to speak to adults, but I was equally excited to see my lovely colleagues and students again.

So, what have I learnt?

  • Team work. Whatever you do, it’s always helpful to know that you’re not alone and to have a strong support system. As a parent, I know I have family and friends to turn to if ever I feel overwhelmed. As an employee, surrounded by caring, dynamic and inspirational people motivates me to do my best.
  • There’s no shame in needing and asking for help. As a working mother especially, I feel there is a lot of pressure to manage my home and work life simultaneously and it’s difficult. Nobody is perfect but asking for and accepting help can only make me stronger.
  • Take your time. Progress is still progress, and with patience you can achieve many things. You don’t become bilingual in one day and you don’t suddenly become the world’s greatest parent as soon as your baby is born. I am proud of every achievement, big or small and working hard for something only makes the result more satisfying.
  • Self-worth. It was only when my older daughter pointed out my roots were showing that I realised I had not thought about myself as a person for the past year. I had been an oven for 9 months and a milk dispenser for the next 3. After taking a little time for myself, I felt less stressed, more confident, and ready to face the world.

It’s for that reason that I plan on taking any training opportunity I have this year, to improve my skills and make me a better-rounded person (but with a flatter tummy!).

ELC Finds a New Home!

Since its creation in 2004, ELC’s headquarters have been a closely guarded secret and the team has managed this because we have always made it a point to go to see our students in their own companies …. Whether it be a lovely village setting at the entrance to the calanques, a chic financial hub in the centre of town, a place where ladies still design underpants for gentlemen in the northern suburbs or a trendy hangout surrounded by vegan restaurants …. We love coming to you, because it helps us know you even better when you are surrounded by your natural environment.

However, ELC is now blooming and growing and adapting to new post-pandemic ways of working. We are becoming ELC 2.0 ….. Basically, we’re down with the kids!

Since February this year, we have joined the NOW co-working community on the Vieux Port of Marseille and we are loving it! The atmosphere is great thanks to Laurie, Andréa and Vanina at reception, the other co-workers are from so many different professions that we are bursting with curiosity and …. We are even training some of the most fabulous members in business English so as to make them even more fabulous internationally.

Check out our new group in the brainstorming room with Stéphane from Easiware, Andréa from Now, Anne-Laurence from Attention Fragile, Félix the graphic designer and Matt from Le Petit Ballon!

If things continue to be this good, we might even have to give up our secret office in that undersea volcano ….!

Big Fat quiz

ELC has a tradition every year to put together a quiz containing what we view as the most interesting news events of the year. Now, the events in question might not be the ones that made the headlines. Arguably, they may not figure on your list of top 50 events. It’s quite possible, even that they slipped your attention completely. But they caught our attention while we were skipping through the press daily, seeking the best articles for our dear students. Some of them made us gasp, some made us smile. Some even made us reach for the gin bottle. There are 28 questions, a few traps, three mad billionaires, some big business, a secret crush and a prize for the first person to send back a test with all the right answers…

It’s Graduation Day at ELC!

In October 2018, 11 brave men and women arrived at the Maison de l’Avocat with a sense of trepidation and embarked on a marathon 18 months of legal English training with ELC. Some were lawyers, some were in-house lawyers, and one member of the team worked for an expert witness. Each member embarked on a voyage of discovery of the common law, visiting company law, contracts, damages, sale of goods law, intellectual property law, real estate law, tort, white-collar criminal law, debtors and creditors and even the dreaded litigation process.

Each topic was approached with flair and finesse, leading to some memorable debates, some hilarious role plays, a lot of chocolate biscuits and a legendary tax law/pancake evening.
At the end of the course, 9 of the brave men and women took the TOLES (Test of Legal English Skills) exam and did brilliantly! In fact, they did so brilliantly that we had to celebrate in style (finally … after a year juggling covid restrictions) with a picnic and a game of pétanque.

 

They are the class of 2020: Nathalie, Pierre, Justine, Ali, Chloé, Anne, Agathe, Bastien and Jennifer. They are beautiful. We salute them!

ELC did a 30-day challenge

Juggling with Katie

I think there are very few people who are successful in every aspect of their lives.

A lot of things take time and practice to perfect.

As we tell our students: consistency is key. If you’re learning a language, practising a sport or even trying to be the best parent you can possibly be. It takes work.

At the beginning of the 30-day challenge, I was highly motivated. I love drawing and I always wish I have more time to do it. As the days went on I found it more and more difficult to prioritise my own hobbies. My daughter began CP in September and is beginning to read so I’ve loved helping her do her homework and watching her progress. I also love my job and my students and working between home and Marseille has kept me active; which is important because I’m also pregnant and getting bigger, slower and less flexible every day!

Very often, I realised that it was the end of the day and I hadn’t picked up my pencil.

It’s not always easy but I haven’t given up yet. So, if you too are struggling to juggle everything, I completely understand. But keep going, we’re in it together!

The Challenge… thirty days later

One month ago, I enthusiastically threw myself into learning a new language. And for at least ten days, that enthusiasm made me push myself to learn as much as I could every day. I was very proud of myself, managing to crunch my way through fifty exercises a day, but then work and responsibilities slowed me down. I began to realise that what I tell my students must be true for me too: take it slowly, and don’t try to run before you can walk.

I realised that repetition, although quite boring, is actually very useful in helping to remember things, and that vocabulary does not simply enter your mind and stay forever – you have to work at it!

I understand that, as a language teacher, I have an advantage in understanding the processes and grammatical structures, but the mental gymnastics required to say things not only in different words but also in different ways can be exhausting.

Sometimes, in the past week, I have only managed five or ten minutes a day, but I believe that spending some time every day to maintain what has already been learned is extremely important. I’m happy to say that I feel my Spanish has improved a great deal, at least in terms of understanding. I fully intend to continue learning, because it has been such a pleasurable experience. And I’ve won myself more than four hundred crowns on the Duolingo platform!

All I need to do now is to actually speak the language with some real Spanish people!

Hasta la vista!

 

Regularity is key!

My challenge for September was born from a challenge that my 18-year-old daughter had set herself: be able to do the splits within 30 days. And of course, as I cannot resist a challenge myself, I joined her, safe in the knowledge that I had been able to do the splits when I was a young girl so there was no danger of me not achieving the same flexibility 40 years later.

 30 days later, I am probably a centimetre closer to the ground than I was at the beginning of September, but I am more determined than ever! My sister-in-law used to boast that her grandmother of 90 would do the split at parties to amuse the crowd, so I have decided that THIS is my new challenge!

 We always tell our lovely students that learning a language is like doing sport: regularity is key, but it is a long-term commitment. It is wonderful to observe the gains, but fluency is as easy to lose as a pert bottom if you don’t test it on a regular basis.

 So, watch this space. I haven’t given up yet!

 

 

Post-30-day challenge

Jugglers (jongleurs), that’s what we are. Work, tasks, errands, cooking, friends, family, sleep—every week we try to juggle those, attempting to (en essayant de) find time for all of them. Some people even like to play on hard mode (en mode difficile), adding children, volunteering (volontariat), and other activities to the list. And, like a juggler, the more balls we have in the air, the more likely we can’t find time to catch them all.

One thing we might forget to add to our list is exercise. ‘I don’t have the time,’ you might say, or ‘I’ll start next week.’ How about this one— ‘I used to be fit! But I hurt my back/knee/foot.’ I’m certainly guilty of (coupable de) saying one or all of these. There is an expression, however, that we tend to forget: ‘healthy body, healthy mind’ (un esprit sain dans un corps sain). If we believe that saying to be true, then we must consider the long-term (à long terme) health impact of our busy lives on our bodies, if our bodies are not capable. We look after (s’occuper de) the engines in our cars, so that we can continue to use them, but we don’t always do the same for ourselves.

How much exercise should we get each week? There are many different recommendations, but about 30 minutes per day for about 5 days a week is a common recommendation. Even if (même si) we might need to exercise for longer, 30 minutes is better than 0 minutes. It could be as easy as parking your car further away from your work and walking, or sometimes choosing to ride a bike instead of taking your car or scooter.

Last month for my 30-day challenge I committed to (s’engager à) going to the gym (salle de sport) at least 5 times a week. That was my commitment (engagement) to ‘healthy body, healthy mind’. I succeeded in doing this, going a total of 35 times during the month. Now my goal is to continue. Healthy body, healthy mind!