04 April, 2012

Week of April 2nd in Language Workshops

For the last week of classes at the end of April, there will be an in-class activity which will count as a large portion of your assessment for the workshops.

This week in all workshops we discussed a bit of history of tourism in the United States, as well as the food culture. In some classes we discussed beer and wine in the U.S., and in some classes we also had time to discuss the vegetarian and vegan culture, and their growing popularity.

If you are interested in additional information, don't hesitate to post questions in the comments.


People had only been living in the US for 150 years when we gained our independence. Most people living in the US were for a long time on the east coast as it was still quite difficult to travel from place to place. Roads had just started being established, and traveling by horse or even by foot could take a very long time. One of the first trips west was organized by the President Thomas Jefferson. From 1804 to 1806 he sent the explorers Lewis & Clark on a strategic mission. We had recently purchased the territory of Louisiana, and wanted to assess the purchase. The main goals were to attempt to find a water passage between the Atlantic and the Pacific to be able to trade with Asia more easily. Another purpose was to ensure the Native Americans were aware of the soverignty of the US over them. Although a direct route was never found, this give an idea to how much time it can take someone to travel across the country. However, with the development of the locomotive in the 1880s, it became easier to travel from east to west.

Up until 1915, most people could not afford the luxury of traveling, and did not travel domestically for vacation. With the development of the automobile, Ford for example started marketing to the lower income population, explaining a car was easier to maintain than a hose, but cars were not affordable for the average American until 1913 when Ford dropped their prices. Although the automobile was finally available, we did not yet have a well-developed road system. We additionally had to deal with World War I and II, Prohibition from 1919-1933, and the fall of the stock market (bourse) in 1929. After the recovery of our economy we finally see a push for development of tourism and hotels in Florida as we think of them today. It was at this time many hotels were built in Miami in the style of Art Deco, a tourist attraction to this day. Florida remains a large tourist attraction, and additionally has added parks like Disney and Universal Studios, and more recently the Harry Potter theme park.

Throughout the 1950s to the 1970s, we had the auto boom in the US paired with the development of air travel. During the auto boom, cars became bigger and more comfortable, as well as more affordable, and gas prices were inexpensive as well. Our government also invested a great deal of money in the development of our highway systems, some of which replaced train lines. Air travel was really what finally brought the commerce of tourism to the US, making in easier for people from around the world, not just Canada and Mexico to travel to the States.

Source information -

Other materials and articles

30 March, 2012

Wednesday Workshops L2 L3 Mag

In group 4 and 5, I discussed employment, health insurance, taxes and gave an quick overview of the politic parties in the US. We later listened to This American Life episode "What kind of Country?" and read the transcript. I explained how we have three tiers of taxation in the US, with national income tax that pays for social security (the money you receive at 65 after you retire) and the health care and medication for the elderly as well, and other government programs. We additionally have state and local taxes. This can vary from state to state, as well at the sales tax (like the TVA) on purchased items. In group 5, I went a bit further in detail in the upcoming election and the concerns of Americans for the Democratic and Republican parties. I explained that the American campaigns for president cost a lot of money, and are often funded by Political Action Committees (PACs) which are special interest groups often funded by big businesses, who pay for campaigns in order to ensure politicians will vote for laws that benefit the businesses. I explained that Obama's campaign is entirely funded by small time donors, and he doesn't accept money from PACs. I showed a current campaign video called "Obamaville" produced by Republican candidate Rick Santorum as an example of some of the over-the-top campaign tactics we have in the US.

In group 3 - I gave a detailed grammar lesson on frequent mistakes at level 3, as well as the explanation between the words: trip, travel, vacation/holidays, voyages, journeys, & cruises. I explained the past simple, past continuous, and the present perfect. The present perfect most closely resembles the past tense in french, because it uses have, has and had. It's not used as past tense, but only in theses circumstances of


I have been to France.
He has worked in tourism.

Change Over Time

I have improved my English from my year abroad.
The travel industry has become more interested in eco-friendly tourism.
You have grown more mature from living on your own.
He has become less difficult to work with.

Achievement / Accomplishments

He has hiked in the Alps.
She has learned a lot from working in Africa.
The students have finished exams.

Uncompleted Action You Expect to Happen

James has not finished his homework.
She hasn't mastered Chinese, but she is improving.
They haven't arrived at the airport.
The train has not arrived yet.

Multiple Actions at Different times

I have had four classes already today.
We have had many problems while working on this project.
She has talked to many tourists about the town.

27 March, 2012

Monday Workshop L1

We did the Speed Dating Activity yesterday. Each student came up with a profile, and then each student went on 'dates' with the other students. At the end each student selected their favorite date, as you would at actual Speed Dating. Here is a funny video about Speed Dating, it's supposed to be sarcastic (or ironic).

We had some time left at the end, in which I discussed briefly the immense popularity of dating nights like Speed Dating, or dating websites, and even now, phone applications for dating and meeting up with people who are located nearby. There are two recent NY Times articles I suggested reading, one based on the new phone applications for dating, and the second discusses the 'science' behind the dating websites. (Many websites claim to be able to find your perfect match based on mathematic equations or lengthy personality quizzes)

The last article I mentioned claims that because only 1 million users are on the most popular dating site (eHarmony) in the United State, you may have more of a chance to meet that special someone on World of Warcraft, since it boasts 12 million users. Here is a link to that article with a link to the the infographic. This is not exactly a reputable site, but they raise an interesting point.

Monday Workshops L2, L3, MAG

Yesterday in class, I had groups 4A, 6, and 3B.

In groups 4a and 6, we listened to an episode "What Kind of Country" from NPR (National Public Radio - US) This American Life, discussing taxation in the United States. I gave a brief overview of the political beliefs of the right, or Republicans/Conservatives in the US as well as the Left/Democrats. I explained the differences between a Full Time (FT) and Part Time (PT) job. Even a Full Time job in the US does not entitle you to healthcare. Of the 55% of Americans who have health care, (which is the equivalent of l'assurance maladie and securité sociale, social security in the US in the money that seniors receive from the government when they are over 65 and retired), most Americans receive health care through their employers. The employer has a group healthcare plan for all their employees, and the employees pay for it through a portion (usually 10% of their salaries). Obama is trying to enact universal healthcare, but has not yet succeeded against the Republicans in our Senate.

In group 3B, I gave a basic grammar review on the difference uses between different past tenses in English. We have 3 basic kinds, which are the past simple, past continuous, and the use of past participle. The use of "to have" does not construct the past tense but the present-perfect, which most resembles the French past tense. The sentence construction, subject + "has" or "have" is NOT used the same as French past tense, causing many ESL French students to use "have" when they don't need to. There is a good explanation of this here. And even more, there is a large amount of verbs in the past tense that are irregular, and it's hard for students to learn and remember each one. We then used this information to tell stories of problems while traveling and corrected the stories together.

Simple Past
There are two principal past tenses used to make general statements about the past: The past simple and the past continuous. The two tenses are quite different. Use the past simple to talk about an event which happened at some point in time in the past.

Tom flew to Chicago last week.
Peter visited his friends in Florida two months ago.

Past Continuous
The past continuous is usually used to refer to events happening at the same time that something important happened in the past.

They were doing their homework when she arrived.
Jack was studying while Dave was cooking dinner..

The past continuous is also used to express what was happening at a precise moment in the past.
I was attending a lecture at 2.30 yesterday afternoon.
Alice was reading a book at six yesterday evening.

Past Simple Structure:
Subject + Verb + ed OR Irregular Past Form + Objects
I, You, He, She, We, They -> played golf yesterday afternoon.I, You, He, She, We, They -> went lunch at noon.

Subject + did not (didn't) + Verb + Objects
I, You, He, She, We, They -> didn't go on vacation last summer.
Subject + did not (doesn't) + Verb + Objects

(Why, What, etc.) + did + Subject + Verb + Objects?
Did -> I, you, we, they -> attend the meeting last week?

Past Continuous Structure:
Subject + conjugate the helping verb "be" + verb + -ing.
I was, You were, He was, She was, We were, You were, They were -> watching TV when I arrived.
Subject + conjugate the helping verb "be" + not + verb + -ing.
I wasn't, You weren't, He wasn't, She wasn't, We wasn't, You wasn't, They wasn't -> working when he came into the room.
Question word + conjugate the helping verb 'be' + subject + verb + -ing
What -> were you, they -> doing at seven o'clock?What -> was I, he, she -> doing at seven o'clock?

Study the Past Simple and Past Continuous in Depth:
Here are detailed guides to the past simple and the past continuous tenses.
Each guide provides situations, common time expressions used with the tense, as well as examples.
These guides were prepared especially for beginners and include dialogues and a short quiz.
Past simple with the verb "to be" for beginnersPast simple with regular and irregular verbs for beginners
It's also important to know your irregular past simple forms which are included in this list of the most important irregular past simple and past participle verb forms

21 March, 2012

Wedesday Workshops L2, L3, MAG

I had groups 4B, 3A, and 5.

In all groups, I asked students to give me examples of questions that are frequently asked in job interviews. The idea is that when preparing for an interview, you should try to think of the types of questions you will be asked, and prepare your answers in advance. This way you will be much more confident when it comes to the actual interview, and more comfortable with answers you have already practices reciting, especially if you ever have to do an interview in your second language of English. After the students gave me their questions,
I read off this list of commonly asked interview questions. In some classes I gave additional CV advice. I also in some classes discussed using career building websites like or .com to post your CV in French and English, and using facebook applications like BeKnown to build an online presence. Most employers these days will Google prospective employees, and it is a good sign to have an additional online presence other than facebook. I also advise students to start blogs about travel or something else they are interested in. It's good to have a good online presence, and will only become more important in the future.

In group 4B, we talked about some good adjectives to use, as well.

In group 3A, we are ahead one week of the other classes. I missed an update. We have already worked on the travel stories the Week of March 14th. We did not fully discuss the past tense, and so I ask if you have the chance to refer to the next post - for Monday the 26th, for group 3B to look at some of the usage of past tense.

In the group 5 class, with the extra time in class, I gave a brief description of the difference between CDI/CDDs in France, and the basic overview of how a job and taxes work in the US. I decided we will continue this discussion next Wednesday in more detail.

20 March, 2012

Workshops L2 L3 MAG & Reinforced L1

Yesterday in class, I had groups 4A, 6, and 3B.

In all groups, I asked students to give me examples of questions that are frequently asked in job interviews. The idea is that when preparing for an interview, you should try to think of the types of questions you will be asked, and prepare your answers in advance. This way you will be much more confident when it comes to the actual interview, and more comfortable with answers you have already practices reciting, especially if you ever have to do an interview in your second language of English. After the students gave me their questions, I read off this list of commonly asked interview questions. In some classes I gave additional CV advice. I also in some classes discussed using career building websites like or .com to post your CV in French and English, and using facebook applications like BeKnown to build an online presence. Most employers these days will Google prospective employees, and it is a good sign to have an additional online presence other than facebook. I also advise students to start blogs about travel or something else they are interested in. It's good to have a good online presence, and will only become more important in the future.

In the Group 6 class, I also spent the last few minutes of class giving a basic overview of the United States geographically speaking, with a brief overview of our history as a country. I described the regions of the United States, and what brings tourists to each region. I additionally discussed travel across the United States. Many people believe that we use planes more to travel, however, travel is always quite expensive because things are much farther apart. I discussed the difference between using planes contrary to cars, where you can enjoy the country side, but that is takes much longer to travel from place to place by car, and can cost as much with the cost of gasoline. Our highways and roads are the easiest way to travel. I discussed the use of buses (autocars) that can be much cheaper than using trains. In the 1960s and 70s, we got rid of many train lines, or abandoned the train stations and tracks, and instead built roads and in some cases paved over the old train tracks, especially in the Northeast, where we had already a lot of well developed areas. Here is a list of some links to websites for different travel modes in the U.S.

Southwest - not exactly Ryanair, but a discount domestic flight company.

Amtrak - an expensive Train service that travels between States.

MTA - Manhattan Transit Authority - Here is an example of a city transit system - that also extends in the surrounding areas. For example, trains also leave New York City and go into the surrounding areas, much like the RER.

Greyhound Lines - A bus company that goes between most major cities in the U.S.

Megabus - A discount bus service, also available in the U.K. and Canada.

Boltbus - additional discount bus service.

14 March, 2012

Language Workshops L2 L3 MAG1

Today I met with groups 4b, 3a, and finally group 5. The grammar I discussed with group 3b on Monday the 12th is also listed here below.

In group 4b, I assigned everyone to bring their CVs for next week. We spent the class reviewing the past simple and past continuous verb form. The past simple is not as simple as it seems, because there are many irregular past verbs in English. It helps to review them to commit them to memory. I talked about the past continuous as well. The difference between the two is that past simple is an action that is finished in the past. For example, I went to Paris. The past continuous exlains an action that was taking place over time in the past. I went to Paris, when it was snowing. You can see the past simple has now been connected with the past continous. The continous is formed by using and auxilary verb with the -ing ending on the action verb. I had the students write a 10 sentence story about a problem they had traveling attmpting to use 5 sentences with the past continuous. Everyone read their stories.

In group 3a, I assigned everyone to bring their CVs for next week. Please make sure to read the article here on my blog titled CVs. I also then gave a crash course on some common problems with level 3 students. We talked about the use of "moreover" and "indeed", I explained these words are rarely used in English, and there are many other ways to start off sentences, for example with: furthermore, certainly, and to continue. Another example of this is the direct translation of "To my mind.." students should instead use: In my mind, In my opinion, or According to me. I explained more often that not, when it comes to "during" or "since" students most of the time when confused, should use "for". Example, "I have been studying for four year." You only use during or since with a specific date. "I have been studying since 2009." I also explained the difference between coming and going. These are both irregular verbs in past tense. I come, I came, I have come OR I go, I went, I have gone. You can only come to places you currently are, and you can only go to places you were in the past, or will be in the future. Example, I came to Angers, France in 2009. Second example, I went to Paris in December. Last example, is that it is different when talking about someone else. They can 'come' where you were in the past, or will be in the future. Example: "My best friend came to my house last night," or "My friend will be coming (or you can use going) to Rome visit me in July."

We had the first course of Group 5, in which we used questions to interview our partners and then introduce them to the class. I also assigned CVs for the following week.

Reinforced English L1

Yesterday in class, we discussed asking questions. I asked each student to think of a question that wasn't, "Where do you come from?" or "How old are you?" and to try and think of questions with more interesting responses. I gave the example of my favorite question of all time, "If you were an animal which one would you be and why?" This excercise is to help students get better at thinking and asking questions in English, but also to make sure the questions are being asked correctly. Sometimes the grammar is correct, and English speakers can understand the question, but it is not phrased as we ourselves would ask the question. Introductory questioning is a valuable asset to know perfectly.

I also presented the irregular verbs rap, to give an idea of how many irregular verbs there are in English. Homework is to check out out the post I have on creating a CV in English and bringing it to class next week, which will be at 17h in salle 508.

13 March, 2012

Ateliers de Langue: L2 L3 Mag 1

Monday we had groups 4a, 6, and 3b - there was a change to the schedule.

In group 4, this was the first time we were meeting, students gave me examples of questions they might ask someone, other than the usual questions of, "Where do you come from?" and "What is your name?" The students then introduced their parteners to the rest of the class.

In level 6, as the class was changed from Wednesday to Monday, I decided to push back the CV activity until next Monday. If you were not there, please bring your CV next Monday in English, of course. Please don't forget to take a look at the CV post of this blog. I spent the last 20 minutes of class discussing the popular technogoly and phone apps in the US that have yet to reach France. We also watch a video on the app, Foursquare.

In level 3, the sudents presented their partners. I gave a basic grammar crash crourse, which I will post here tomorrow, based on common problems at level 3. I also spent the end of class speaking about the phone apps in the US. I ask that level 3b students come with their CVs in English on Monday.

05 March, 2012

Ateliers de Langue - L2/L3/MAG2

Classes will meet once a week and based on your group number, the lessons will meet Monday or Wednesday. You can find this information under the link for Atelier Schedule.

You are expected to attend class with university policy, as most of the work is done in class activities. You are expected listen, as well as participate. If you have an English dictionary, I ask that you bring it with to each class. If you ever have questions, I am always available via email.

I have blog post about about English language resources online and in Angers, job resources, and making an English CV or letter of motivation. You may want to look these over, we won't cover all of it in class.

17 February, 2012

MAG Students Last Class/Exam

My appologies for the unexpected absence the last class, I had a personal problem to attend to.

For anyone seeking their exam, they will be available at my office. Simply e-mail me and we can arrange a time.

13 February, 2012

February 14 - Tourism Marketing

With technology advancing quicker each day, every current student should consider how technology will affect their future job. Every hiring company is looking for someone who is not only capable of using the internet (as most people in first-world countries have a good understanding of how to use it), but also for people who are able to market on the internet. Whether it is by creating a website or blog, promoting your product through social networks or events, or creating an advertising campaign, you will probably be asked in the future to help a company with their presence on the internet.

I decided to show a few examples of award winning campaigns, that even included viral videos. Although these campaigns usually have a large budget (a lot of money to spend), the idea is what counts here. If you have a good idea, you won't need to spend a lot of money to get people talking about your product.

Travelocity Traveling Gnome

Montana: There's Nothing Here

Old Spice: The Man Your Man Could Smell Like

Jameson: Taste Above All Else

The new North American Finalists will be posted next week on the Effie site.

February 7th & 10th

Tuesday we had class as usual despite the weather. We did an activity based on speed dating and each student developed a character that was looking for a romantic partner. Each student spoke with another student as if on a speed date of 2 - 3 minutes in length. At the end of the class each student was asked to select their preferred date. This is a good oral practice and vocabulary builder.

Friday, we were to have a quiz but it was moved to today, the 14th of February. In Groups 1 and 3, we played a type of trivia game and in Group 2, we played an English version of Times Up.

This week consisted of both in class activities, so there is nothing to make up if you were not in class. However, if you have questions about either activity, feel free to contact me.

03 February, 2012

Week of January 31 – February 3rd

This week I handed back corrections on any CVs I received, printed or e-mailed. I gave some feed-back based on common mistakes I saw on Tuesday. I then reviewed some basic grammar on the past tense, in the simple and continuous form. The problem is there are many irregular verbs which do not follow a specific rule for conjugation in the past. For a more complete list of frequently used irregular verbs, check out this list.

I then assigned each student to write me a story of at least 10 sentences in length. The subject of the story was to be about a time you encountered a problem at work or while traveling. This was to help you prepare for the question in an English interview of, "Tell me about a time you solved a problem at work and how you did it." Also, many of us enjoy telling stories about a time when something went wrong for us, and so it's good practice to tell stories you frequently tell in your native language in English. I gave the rest of the class to work on this.

Today, we read those stories out loud. I finished the class with a a short exercise on the comparative and superlative adjective forms. Some adjectives use the word 'more' in front of them in the comparative, while others use the ending '-er' or '-ier' if the adjective finished with a 'y'. In general, the superlative follows the comparative model, but uses 'most', '-est', and '-iest' instead. I asked each student to pick three examples from each of the following topics- Cities, Music, Books, Films, Food, Sports, etc. Each student was to come up with comparative and superlative sentences talking about each topic.

Example: Music - David Guetta, Johnny Hallyday, and Serge Gainsbourg.

David Guetta is more popular than Johnny Hallyday (comparative), but Serge Gainsbourg is the best French music icon. (superlative)

27 January, 2012

Delayed Update

I apologize for not keeping the blog up to date, as I have been sick the past week.

In our second class, I had each student select a favorite and a least favorite destination. Each student had time to ask several questions, to discover the secret destination of their partner. I then assigned a 10 sentence comparison of the city you like vs. the city you do not like.

In Class #3 we covered modals, like should, could, and would. We then read samples from the NY Times Advice "The Social Q" and in groups of four, each group came up with solutions to problem solve. There was a minimum of 20 sentences required. I allowed the rest of class to work on this, and until the following class to finish the assignment.

In Class #4 we had each group share their advice column responses. I distributed the corrections to the assignment between two cities, and discussed common mistakes that I found in the copies. I gave the rest of class to those students who wanted to read their comparisons aloud to the class, for oral practice.

In Class 5, I discussed the use of "for" and "since", and use of the words "trip, travel, vacation, holiday, cruise, voyage, and journey". The use of these last group of words is different than in France, although many are the same word in both languages. There are also differences in use between America and England. We split into partners, where each partner corrected the CV in English of the other. I distributed a document with frequently asked interview questions. Each student could use five questions from the worksheet I distributed, and then had to come up with five questions of their own for their partner. We then conducted interviews with each other. A lot of vocabulary used in interviews was discussed in class.

At the end of this last class, I also showed videos that cover some of the pronunciation problems when foreigners learn English, because there are so many irregular pronunciations.

Irregular Verbs Rap Video
Since VS For; Travel, Vacation, Trip, Journey, etc.
Group 3 did not see clips

17 January, 2012

First Class & Week 1

Hello MAG 1 students!! The first day of class I gave an overview of the class, and my expectations. Attendance is mandatory as well as class participation. The groups are not split up into Levels, everyone is mixed, and I ask that everyone feel welcome to ask questions.

The first day of class, we came up with questions that you could ask someone upon first meeting them. We then interviewed a partner, and introduced them to the class. For the groups who did not finish introducing their partners, or for the students who did not attend the first day of class, you will be presenting your partner or yourself this coming Friday, January 20th.

Today, the 17th in class, we practiced asking questions, using a secret destination or place. Each student came up with a place they liked, and a place they didn't like. Students took turns asking other students questions in order to figure out which place the first student was thinking of. We rotated partners so everyone had a chance to speak with someone different. At the end of class, we totaled up the points for each team. I also assigned homework, 10 sentences written or printed out for Friday morning, on why you prefer the place you like, to the place you don't like. If you use sources, as always, please list them.

I will correct this assignment, and we will use it in class next Tuesday.