False friends! Can they really be your friends?

First impressions.  It’s a topic that is explored by a number of course books at a variety of levels and it is often interesting  how different people contextualise it.  Most people think of a professional environment – such as a job interview or starting a new job.  This is not always the case.

“I made a bad impression when I met my boyfriend’s family.” 

Having spent time with this particular student, I found it difficult to comprehend that such a positive person would make anything less than an exemplary first impression.  So I asked her how.  The answer is not too surprising.  There was a discussion between her and one of the members of her boyfriend’s family and she translated a Spanish phrase into literal English where the meaning was the opposite of what was intended.

Está bien si yo no te caigo bien‘ she said, which translates (literally) to ‘It’s ok if I don’t like you’ but what it actually means is ‘It’s ok if you don’t like me.’ A small difference, but one which drastically changes the meaning.  Needless to say, the conversation went downhill after that.

It got me thinking about other situations where there could be a potentially catastrophic misunderstanding. One of the most common culprits are False Cognates (false friends) and they can lead to some difficult situations.  Here are some that have appeared in class:

Spanish

One the student’s friends was embarazada, but she wasn’t ’embarrassed’ by anything.  In fact, she was pregnant.  I asked her if she had recently bought a new carpet and she said yes, and pulled out her carpeta – which turned out to be a ‘folder’.

German

We learnt about a brav friend of one of our students.  We asked her why she was brave, and she told us that was wasn’t, she was ‘honest’. We asked her if she ever gave her friend a present, or a gift, and she was shocked!  She wanted to know why she should ‘poison’ her friend.

Italian

One student remarked how his friend was very educato, so we asked if he had a PhD.  It turns out that he left school early but was very ‘polite’.  He had some dry skin on his wrist and another student asked him if he wanted some moisturizing ‘cream’.  He laughed, wondering why he was offered crema (custard) for his skin.

French

At the end of class, we were told to have a bonne journéebut we weren’t going on a journey.  We were just told to have a nice day. One of the other students remarked that he was going to have a grand day, which caused confusion. Why was his day big?

To recap:

Original Word English False Cognate Meaning
embarazada (Spanish) embarrassed/ashamed pregnant
carpeta (Spanish) carpet/rug folder
brav (German) brave/courageous honest
gift (German) gift/present poison
educato (Italian) educated/schooled polite
crema (Italian) cream/ointment custard
journée (French) journey/trip day
grand (French) grand/expensive big

 

 

Announcing Liceo Galilei Visit, and Model UN Partnership

ELA-Edinburgh  and the Edinburgh University Model UN Society (EdMUN) are pleased to announce that the Liceo Galileo Galilei of Trieste will be in Edinburgh during the 2nd week of March to take part in a series of language classes and EdMUN’s TeachMUN project.

Students from Liceo Galilei will take part in rigorous language classes in the mornings, and then learn all about the Model United Nations phenomenon in the afternoons. As well as essential language skills, they will learn valuable skills such as public speaking, debating and negotiation in a week-long series of fun activities. We look forward to welcoming them to historic Edinburgh on March 6th!

This is part of our ever-improving number of social, academic and cultural activities that we offer here at ELA, not just for youth students, but students of all ages! ELA is delighted to be able to team up with a local University Society for this venture, and hopes to hav
e many similar successful events in the future.

 

Business English at ELA-Edinburgh from 13/2/17

Here at ELA-Edinburgh we’re excited about starting our new Business English class next Monday. The course is planned and our students are raring to go; there’s no reason why you can’t join them.

 

Why ELA-Edinburgh?

ELA is the perfect location to study Business English. With our fantastic interactive smart boards and extensive library of materials we are perfectly equipped to meet our students’ needs. Our wealth of experience in the corporate sector has shown us that our policy of small classes and experienced teachers means each student gets plenty of individual attention. We have learnt how to

We use a range of business materials

plan our classes to suit the needs of our students in their current or future careers. To do this we use a range of materials, from coursebooks to podcasts and newspapers.  But what is it that actually distinguishes business from more general English classes?

 

What is Business English?

Of course many features are the same in Business English as in other classes. As always at ELA you will learn lots of vocabulary and practise plenty of grammar. However the vocabulary that we teach in business courses is particularly suited to the world of work. This language tends to be more formal than the vocabulary found in

Learn the language you need for the work place

general or exam preparation course books. In any work situation the right language is vital to communicating with colleagues, Business English gives our students experience of what language is most appropriate for the office. As a result most of our students tell us that they feel much more confident after completing our business course.

 

Skills and Functions

The two main differences in Business English are the skills and tasks that we focus on. Our course equips our students with the language tools they need to progress and impress in their professional lives. Among the many tasks we practise are:

  • Presentations- get the skills you need to stand up in front of colleagues and deliver a talk
  • Emails- learn how to compose work emails quickly and logically
  • Telephoning- this is a difficult skill for many learners but vital in business. Practise in the safety of our classroom!
  • Interviewing- let’s make sure you get your dream job
  • Negotiating- get your message across in often stressful situations. We’ll use dynamic case studies to give you experience
  • Cultural Etiquette- we’ll teach you the unwritten office rules of English speaking countries

 

Why not join our happy students?

Our Course

Our Business English course runs from Monday 13th February every weekday, 1330-1530. We welcome students of all ages from all over the world throughout the year. All of our students benefit from regular testing and individual tutorials to focus on their progress. If you would like more information on our Business English course please get in touch by emailing us at info@elacademy.co.uk