If you follow us on Facebook or Twitter, you’ll know that last week uTalk became the world’s first Cockney language learning app! The traditional East London rhyming slang was launched at G Kelly pie shop on the Roman Road by the Pearly King of Forest Gate and Pearly Queen of Old Kent Road.
Some children from Olga Primary School popped in to put the uTalk app to the test. They had fun playing the games, and were keen to show our chairman Dick what they’d learnt.
And we finished with a good old-fashioned East End knees up, led by our Pearly King and Queen, pianist Mick Yarrow and the voice of uTalk Cockney, Patrick Mackervaie.
It was a fantastic day – thank you to everyone who got involved. Check out our video for more!
Our launch even made the news! As well as a feature on ITV London News on Thursday evening, our language expert Nat appeared on London Live with chairman Dick to talk about the app, and was interviewed with actor Patrick by Robert Elms on Friday morning for BBC Radio London (listen from 1 hour 40 mins onwards).
On Sunday we were back in the East End, giving Cockney lessons to visitors at the Roman Road Summer Festival. Patrick, who’s from Hackney, got the crowd warmed up with some Cockney quizzes (some harder than others), before inviting everyone to come and have a go with the app.
Want to have a go yourself? We’re giving away uTalk Cockney with the Evening Standard – and you get a free month’s subscription to all 133 other languages as well! Just visit eveningstandard.co.uk/offers to get started.
Enjoy! And we’d love to hear what you think – we know Cockney is constantly changing, and that not everyone has the same way of saying things. Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org or tweet us with #myCockney to join the discussion!
Today is a big day here in the UK, as we’re voting in a referendum to decide our future in the European Union. A lot’s been said on both sides of the debate, so we won’t repeat any of the arguments for or against Brexit.
Instead, lets focus on the rich and fascinating cultures of both the UK and Europe. And who better to ask about their favourite things about them than our lovely staff?
Our colleagues from overseas have come up with some interesting things they love about the UK:
Nikolay (Bulgaria) – I ♥ British humour and specifically panel shows! Can’t get enough of “Mock the Week”, “QI”, “Would I Lie to You?”, “Have I Got News for You” etc.
Pablo (Spain) – People’s politeness and patience. In crowded places like in the centre, underground or the streets full of cars, is where you can notice it the most. The only way you can survive from bursting into a full crisis is with both qualities. I really really love that.
Sandra (Poland) – For me it is the Sunday roast, and fish and chips. Living with a lovely bunch of friends who love to cook means that I get to discover some great British dishes, and also that I love to have gravy with almost every meal!
Aditya (India) – I enjoy the British weather, in particular that I love the rain and cloudy weather! Originating from Delhi and having also lived in Dubai, I am rather fed up of the heat/sun.
Ioana (Romania) – Before I came to Britain I thought the idea of tea and milk is disgusting. Now I’ll have a cuppa if I’m sad, happy, with friends, by myself, in the morning or in the evening, there is just something incredibly comforting in a hot cup of tea. Especially on rainy days.
And here are some thoughts from our British colleagues…
Brett – I think the obvious one here is pizza!
Phil – European beaches are the best
Simon – I visited the Sagrada Familia on my recent trip to Barcelona, and it is an absolutely incredible building, with exceptional architecture.
Safia – I love Italian hot chocolate, you can eat it with a spoon!
Liz – The pain au chocolat… it’s a miraculous culinary invention that brightens up the dullest morning…!
Over to you! Brits – what do you love about Europe? And non-Brits, what’s your favourite thing about the UK?
Valentine’s Day is a moment we should all pause our busy lives to celebrate love and the important people in our lives with whom we share special moments – not only lovers but also friends or family.
Obviously a popular holiday on the American continent, followed by Western Europe and in the last years Eastern Europe, the world’s interest towards the popular celebration of love has been rising.
Although Valentine’s Day is internationally celebrated on 14th February, some cultures have their own version of it around the year.
1. Dragobete – Romania
Romanians celebrate Dragobete on the 24th of February, a day that not only celebrates love but also the fact that spring is getting close. In old times it was an occasion for the young girls and boys to get together and play different games, dance and confess their love for each other.
2. Dia dos Namorados – Brazil
Brazilians celebrate Dia dos Namorados on 12th June, which is the day before Saint Anthony’s day (the marriage saint). One of the reasons Brazilians choose to celebrate love on this day is that traditional Valentine’s Day on February 14th would coincide with the Carnival celebration, which takes place in February and some of March. Dia dos Namorados is a day when people exchange little gifts, like sweets and flowers and lovers enjoy a romantic dinner or night out.
3. Qi xi – China
The Chinese version of Valentine’s Day is celebrated on the seventh night of the seventh month (also called Double Seven festival) of the Chinese lunar calendar – that is sometime in August. Qi xi (pronounced chee – she) is nowadays celebrated similarly to other cultures by offering flowers and chocolates to the loved ones as well as couples spending a romantic day together.
4. Valentine’s Day and White Day – Japan
Japanese culture celebrates love on the same day as Valentine’s Day but instead of men offering gifts to women, it’s the other way around. Then one month later, on 14th March on White Day, it’s the men’s turn to reciprocate the gifts. The difference is that Valentine’s Day chocolates are a symbol of a man’s popularity, but the ones on White Day are only for couples or romantically involved people. Black Day (on April 14th) however is a day when the singles, or the people that haven’t received any gifts on any of the holidays, gather to “commiserate”, often wearing black, eating black coloured food and complaining about their love life.
No matter how you choose to celebrate Valentine’s Day – or maybe you don’t celebrate at all – we believe love is a great feeling that we should hold onto every day and show our loved ones how much they mean to us.
Download our app uTalk – Learn a Language to find out how to say “I love you” in 130 languages.
What’s your inspiration for learning a language? Today we’re hearing from Jack, a student and blogger at LangLearningBlog, on how he got addicted…
What inspired you to start learning French?
I never really was fond of languages, and I only studied French at school for a GCSE in a language – but bear with me! Soon I became almost addicted to language learning and I actually started enjoying learning completely alien and new vocabulary. Some thrive from obsessing over football fixtures and their league tables, others however (us!), are addicted to language learning. Let them obsess over futile fixtures. Meanwhile, we can be learning all the words a language holds!
What gives you motivation to continue learning?
Getting yourself motivated to learn new vocab or review flashcards is so difficult (especially when they’ve been stored at the back of a drawer for a few months!!).
My main motivation hack is that I keep my learning sessions short but regular. Not five minutes, but never over one hour, I find vocab literally pours into my brain doing regular learning sessions. Obviously there’s been days where I’ve done little or no vocab learning or reviewing, a.k.a ‘forgetting days’. Short bursts or an adrenaline-kicking 30 minutes are definitely my way forward to keeping motivated.
YouTube definitely helps, personally I think the short TED Talks speeches are great. They cover a huge range of topics, including language learning, and are never too lengthy. Beware though, or before you know it you’ll be watching pandas falling down slides and dogs dancing – one could say I have some experience getting distracted by YouTube.
What’s your biggest language learning challenge?
My learning routine has always been split into two halves: school and home independent study. School would give me the content, and my vocab learning at home would help me consolidate this and go further. Harder in practice though. One of the biggest challenges I had was the content that GCSE French covered. There was no ‘off the cuff’ speaking, nor conventional speaking topics (except food). The course seemed to shy away from practical topics that I’d actually need in France, like ordering bus tickets. So doing online reviewing programmes and not being able to translate some really simple stuff, it felt like learning the language was a waste.
What’s your favourite French expression?
On my visit to St-Etienne, France, I did work experience in a primary school. One night, some of the students on the work experience and teachers at the school went to a restaurant, and were all sat around this square table. Conversation slowed and we divided into two groups: English natives and French natives. It then turned to ;it’s raining cats and dogs’, then soon after all the students attempting to explain other idioms too. Trying to decode the French idioms to English was hard. I did manage to glean from the French idiom conversation ‘manger les pissenlits par la racine’. It translates literally as ‘eating the dandelions by the roots’, roughly meaning ‘pushing up daisies’. Obviously my favourite French expression to date – not because it’s unusual, but because it still reminds me of some of the French native’s facial expressions it got in return.
What do you find to be most rewarding about language learning?
Having the chance to visit the country is definitely the most rewarding thing about the entire years-long learning process. Before I knew it I was conversing with a bookshop assistant asking them to recommend books, and where I’d find them. I was explaining tasks to groups of primary school children and earwigging into conversations on the plane (apparently some French people really like TK Maxx).
After years of learning what felt like an artificial language, as I’d never heard it in action, all this learning had finally paid off, allowing me to not only have some great conversations, but also food – French crêpes and cheese cannot be described in words.
If you, like us, are now dreaming of crêpes (and cheese), and you’ve been inspired to learn some French, visit our website to see how we can help. Or download uTalk for iOS and start learning for free!
Alex Koszykowska is the newest member of the EuroTalk team, joining us last month as our new sales and marketing assistant. In today’s post she explains why she’s learning Polish.
It is said that a million people in the UK class Poland as their ancestral home in some way. This is the case for my family; my Granddad came to England from Poland during the second world war (my Gran also came over to England but from Russia – she and my Granddad met when she was a nurse in the army). Over the years my Gran has adapted to my Granddad’s ways, and will now only speak Polish or very basic English to us. Growing up, my dad and his brothers were all brought up speaking Polish as their main language, with English as their second. Even today they can slip into Polish very naturally – leaving my sister and I completely oblivious to what was going on around us. My mum and aunties all learnt to speak Polish – mainly to get brownie points from my Gran; but really it is only my sister, my cousins and I who cannot speak Polish in our family.
This means regularly at our family’s favourite restaurant (which of course is owned by a Polish family), we would be pretending to understand what everyone was talking about.Whenever we entered the hotel, I would always greet the family with ‘Cześć’ (hi). My sister and I have also mastered how to say ‘Dziekuje ci bardzo’, which means ‘thank you very much’ (and rolls off the tongue much more easily then you think it would). We have managed to get away with this throughout our childhood. However, now I feel a certain responsibility to carry on this tradition in our family. Working for EuroTalk has shown me that language learning isn’t as intimidating as many people make out.
Part of the reason it is so enjoyable to be learning Polish is that I love everything about my Polish roots. From the tradition of whenever we go to my Gran’s she hands us a pack of Katarzynki (which are like soft biscuits with a ginger flavour in the middle and chocolate around the outside) to our rather impossible to say, spell and write surname (with a lot of people finding the change from ‘a’ if you’re female to ‘i’ if you’re male for the last letter of our surname confusing!).
The four words I do know (five if you include dobrze – ok) make my Gran so happy; she loves seeing us take an interest in our Granddad’s language. Even basic language skills are so important and can make a huge difference. My family heritage is my motivation to learn more Polish, which is why the uTalk app is so fabulous, as it is designed so you can learn how to say key phrases. For example ‘proszę mówić wolniej’, meaning ‘please speak more slowly’, which is vital to know in my family!
Are you interested in learning a language, or do you have family members who are bilingual and you’re keen to join them? Try our uTalk app to get started!