• Macarons Making Tips Part II: The Success

    If you hadn’t seen my previous post on macarons, the outcome was definitely not a success. They ended up being the flattest macarons ever created. I am happy to report, however, that round two of macaron making was an enormous success. We (my mother and I) made coconut macarons with a rum filling and they were delicious!

    Look at these beautiful macarons!

    My mother and I attended a macaron baking class (after the failure of our first attempt) and we learned not only how to make proper macarons, but where we went wrong the previous time. So of you’re wondering why your macarons may not have turned out, I’ll share where we went wrong.

    If you plan on making macarons, here are a few tips to get you started.

    Macaron Making Tips

    1. You have to age your egg whites at least three days before you make the macarons or they won’t properly peak. Put them in a container and cover them with plastic wrap with some holes poked in it. Leave them out of the way for three days before making your macarons. Yes, it’s a bit of a bummer that you have decide to make them days ahead and can’t whip up a batch spur of the moment…

    Macaron ingredients

    baking-tools-coffee-ingredients

    2. You can’t use regular food coloring or your mix will be runny and won’t work. You have to use a gel or coloring paste. This was the mistake that I made.

    3. Macarons are baked in two four-minute intervals. For the first, you put them in the oven on the tray as is. After the first four minutes, you take out the tray, slip a second tray underneath the first and put the two stacked trays back in for another four minutes. If you don’t do this, the bottoms burn and turn an ugly brown.

    4. The buttercream (or meringue) needs to get to about 55 degrees Celsius or 130 degrees Fahrenheit over the stove before you pull it off to mix the butter in. Let the mixture cool BEFORE you add the butter in and add in only a small amount at a time. If you make the espresso filling, it takes about an hour of refrigeration before you can use it.

    5. With the batter on the tray, slam the tray against the table four times (once per side). This gets rid of any points on the tops of your macarons. You can see the macarons before they were slammed against the table below. The second picture is the macarons after they were slammed against the table and then baked – you can see that the points have disappeared.

    6. Once you have placed the macaron batter on the tray to bake, let them sit out and form skins for half an hour before putting them in the oven or they won’t cook in perfect little buttons. I did this the first time, but for only twenty minutes. The extra ten minutes allowed them to form “feet” which gives the macarons their trademark look.

    There you have it, my advice!

    frenchmacarons

    We made coconut macarons which are white, so there were a few that burned (but very few). The above method really worked out. Enjoy the photos!

    gourmand-recipes-lg

    September 4, 2013 • Uncategorized • Views: 267

  • The Flattest Macarons Ever

    After reading posts from DarlaCooks and Chez Chloe, I felt inspired to make macarons and try my hand (again) at food photography. Although they tasted just like macarons, they were oddly flat. I’m not sure what I did wrong, but after the 5 hours it took me to make these four batches, I had to call it quits.

    I did eventually end up making proper macarons, so I’ll post what I did wrong in another entry soon!

    In the meantime, here are some photos from the making of the Flattest Macarons ever.

    Flattest Macarons Ever | Eurolinguiste
    Flattest Macarons Ever | Eurolinguiste
    gourmand-recipes-lg

    August 27, 2013 • Uncategorized • Views: 1048

  • The Truth About Lorem Ipsum

    What is Lorem Ipsum? | Eurolinguiste

    I just could not help myself, being the nerdy person that I am, looking up lorem ipsum – the seemingly random text generated for the text spaces on design templates – to find out its origin.

    The Truth About Lorem Impsum

    Lo and behold, to my surprise, lorem ipsum, is not random at all but an excerpt from a book published in 45 BC by Cicero.

    This book, “de Finibus Bonorum et Malorum”, meaning “The Extremes of Good and Evil” was a popular treatise on ethics, particularly during the Renaissance. It came into use as “filler text” in the 1500s by a printer and was re-popularized in the 1960s.

    There are many more contemporary versions of lorem ipsum including “ghetto lorem ipsum,”, “beer ipsum,” and “fillerati.” A simple Google search for “lorem ipsum fun” produces a number of more humorous alternatives to lorem ipsum. Be wary – some generators may insert what could be considered embarrassing text into the middle of the sample so be certain to glance all the way through!

    If you are interested in finding out more or generating your own lorem ipsum text, visit the Ipsum site.

    culture-history-lg

    August 23, 2013 • Uncategorized • Views: 187

  • How Long Does It take to Learn a Language?

    Someday | Eurolinguiste

    How long does it take to learn a language enough to be able to use it?

    First, I would like to say that I wrote a post on Sociolinguistics and language learning over at I Want 2 Speak Thai, so I hope you’ll take a moment to head over and check it out! It’s my first guest post on another blog and I am really excited to have had the opportunity. Thank you Travis!

    One of the things that I really enjoy doing is teaching and passing on the things that I’ve learned to others. This passion started when I was still in high school – I tutored other students in English during my lunch hour and started a website that featured advice articles for young musicians (which still exists today). As an undergraduate, I coached music students at two middle schools and in recent years, this love has manifested itself in the form of private tutoring – I teach music lessons and French (and sometimes English to French speakers). Having taught both music and foreign language, I’ve found a lot of similarities in teaching and learning methods. I certainly understand why people say that music is a language.

    A question that I am often asked (for both music and language) is “how long will it take me to speak fluently?” Or in the case of music, “how long will it take me to play ‘fluently’ (to perform well)?” My answer for both is at least three to five years. That’s not to say that you shouldn’t perform in either music or languages until that point – you should be using the skills you are developing in performance and practice everyday. Whether you are learning new words or new notes, use them! The quickest way to improve is by putting what you know into practice. You will never get over your fear of performing or conversing if you never do those activities.

    Three to five years can seem like a significant investment to some, especially today when we have grown so accustomed to immediate gratification. We can download and gain access to pretty much anything immediately and at a low-cost. I still remember when I had to save for weeks to have the $15-20 for an album and then wait again for my parents to drive me to the store to buy it. Now, I can download whatever I want for $9.99 an album and even less for a song. We are so used to having everything now, that making a three to five-year commitment for certain things seems unfathomable. I also have seen first hand with many of my students, that if they don’t see immediate progress, they quickly become discouraged. I could take short cuts with them and teach them “tricks” to improve quickly, but it won’t help them in the long run. It’s like cramming for a test – you can learn a lot of material quickly, but you won’t retain it.

    If you really think about it, three to five years to learn to speak a language (or play an instrument) isn’t that long. For example, a child learning their first language takes five years to become totally fluent (and still that fluency is limited), and even then, they make mistakes in punctuation, with grammar, and with vocabulary choice. In fact, most children spend the better part of their first 18 years learning grammar and new vocabulary in school and will never know the majority of words in their language. The same can be said for music, where grammar and vocabulary are technique and style.

    It is believed that the average person has anywhere from 20,000 to 100,000 words in their vocabulary. This being said, you could know 20,000 words in five languages before your vocabulary database is “maxed out.” The average person also only uses about 3,000 to 5,000 words of their vocabulary to communicate on a daily basis, meaning you only need 5,000 words in another language to be “fluent.” The difference between the 5,000 words we actually use and 20,000+ words we know is quite significant. The reason the average vocabulary varies between 5,000 to 20,000 words is because we have what are called “active” and “passive” vocabularies. The active vocabulary includes the 3,000 to 5,000 words we use in everyday communication while the remaining 15,000 to 17,000 (to make 20,000 total) are known as passive. They are words that we understand but do not use regularly in communication. So, for example, we all may know what the word precocious means, but we are unlikely to use it in everyday conversations.

    This difference is known as high frequency versus low frequency words. High frequency words are those that are used often in conversation or text, so an example of a high frequency word in English would be come, one or go while low frequency words would be a word like punctual.

    But all in all, it doesn’t matter if you know 10 or 50,000 thousand words if you can’t use them in a sentence. This being said, The Linguist, or LingQ, speaks ten languages and never focused on grammar. Instead, he focuses on learning languages through listening and reading. In my opinion, this is a much more enjoyable way to learn languages so that you don’t have to labor through grammar books. It also gets you speaking much quicker!

    So what are your thoughts on language learning and the kind of investment it takes?

    For more great articles on the subject:
    1. World Wide Words
    2. Television Learning: Do Foreign Films Really Help You Learn Another Language?

    For more language learning tips like this, check out my collection of articles on Pinterest!

    Tips for Language Learning | Eurolinguiste

    August 16, 2013 • Language Resources • Views: 586

  • Photos of Paris France | Round 1

    I have family in Paris and as a result of both being there and returning for visits, I have thousands of photos from one of my favorite cities in the world. Here are just a few pictures from a couple years ago when I was there together with my boyfriend (now husband for the first time). I’ll add more soon.

    Update: View more photos of Paris 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8 | 9

    Photos of Paris France

    Paris Round 1 | Eurolinguiste

    The Pantheon was one of my favorite places to visit. It surrounded by cafés and it’s not to far to walk to the Seine. It’s all the things I love about Paris.

    Paris Round 1 | Eurolinguiste

    Of course, you can’t skip seeing Notre Dame on your trip to France. It’s one of the most beautiful historical monuments in the city – perched upon a small island in the middle of the Seine.

    Paris Round 1 | Eurolinguiste
    Paris Round 1 | Eurolinguiste

    Paris is also known for its beautiful parks and jardins located around the city. Who knows what you may find as you explore them? Whether you discover a beautiful garden or even une petite maison, there’s nothing like taking a stroll through parks in Paris France.

    Paris Round 1 | Eurolinguiste

    And of course, you can’t forget the Eiffel Tower and the Arc de Triomphe!

    August 10, 2013 • Travel • Views: 183

  • Television Learning: Do Foreign Films Help You Learn Another Language?

    When people first get to know me and they hear about my passion for language learning, I am often asked how I’ve managed to learn ‘so many’ other languages. During these conversations I have heard the argument that watching television and movies in a foreign language accelerates the development of a second (or third) language. As a multilinguist, I am somewhat skeptical of this theory, even if it is how my husband claims to have learned his second language.

    Does watching foreign films help you learn another language?

    First, in establishing my argument against using television to learn a language (unless it is in addition to a variety of other tools and resources), I would like to say that I have, in fact, experimented with this method first hand on more than one occasion.

    While I was in middle and high school, I attempted to watch foreign films and absorb the languages I was learning, but I didn’t really ever feel like I was improving. Of course as a teenager, I always assumed that there was something wrong with me. I had to be the exception because I had so often heard that this method was effective.

    For me, it seemed, the most noticeable improvement I made was when I used the language I was learning in writing but most of all in conversation, not by watching movies. The only time films really worked for me was once I was already quite proficient in a language and could read the subtitles in the original language rather than my native language.

    One might argue that watching foreign-language films is a way to immerse yourself in a language when the real environment is unavailable. This is one area where I might agree, however, if one does not already have the basic tools of another language (some vocabulary and grammar), then this form of immersion won’t work.

    If you think about it, this method is like trying to learn a language through osmosis. How can you expect to absorb a language let alone understand what is happening on a screen without any roots? I would compare it to picking up a novel in a foreign language and trying to learn to speak it using that book without any previous knowledge – it’s an awfully difficult way to go. I wouldn’t say it was impossible, but I wouldn’t say it was easy either.

    One might say that children learn their first language through osmosis, but I’m quite certain that many linguists would argue. Children are born with the natural ability to decipher the complex system of language by picking out repetitive sounds, eventually words and then finally phrases.¹ The total language learning process takes them a total of five years to complete with 24/7 immersion in the language and endless interaction with speakers that are trying to help them learn the language.

    Why don’t movies work as well for language learning as one would hope?

    If you are looking for a shortcut to language learning – a fast way to learn a new language and skip steps, watching foreign films isn’t going to help you. Not without a basic  understanding of the language and a decent vocabulary already built up.

    The reason that television is an ineffective means of language learning is because it is missing one incredibly important element – interaction. It is a form of passive rather than active learning and therefore can be seen as less effective than other means. By watching others’ conversations in films or even by being read to by a computer (yes, there are now books that read themselves to children), one is missing one of the most important learning elements, that of interaction. When a mother reads to her child, they discuss the book, what is happening, what might happen next and what the child thinks, allowing them to become involved with the story and use the language they are developing.

    One could argue, however, that if one is actively engaged with the movie or television program, it could be considered active learning. Instead of merely watching the film, one could repeat expressions or mimic dialogue, and thus, make the activity interactive rather than passive. I myself have done this, but I usually find that using an expression in conversation (or picking one up in conversation) works better for me because I get real-time response from another person.

    On the other hand…

    To argue for television language learning, on the other hand, I’d like to tell you about my niece. My niece lives in a French-speaking household. Her parents are French, but they live in the US so she is frequently exposed to American television. She recently turned two and is just now starting to speak, but she understands both French and English. Her parents don’t really use English with her, so the only way she would have picked it up was by watching television. She is still quite young, so we have yet to see how she’ll progress in the two languages, but so far the scenario makes a pretty strong case for how television can be used as a tool for language learning.

    I also know that there are several techniques that you can use to make films an effective learning tool (shadowing among them). But really, when it comes down to it, films are best for intermediate or advanced learners and not as a standalone learning tool.

    So what do you think about using foreign-language films or television to learn a language?

    PS. There is this really fun tool that translates famous movie quotes into different languages with audio that is super entertaining to play with.

    1. Countless studies have been conducted on the brain activity of infants when hearing different sounds and as early as only a few months it has been demonstrated that they are capable of discerning meaningful sounds as “their” language.

    For more language learning tips like this, check out my collection of articles on Pinterest!

    Tips for Language Learning | Eurolinguiste

    July 13, 2013 • Language Resources • Views: 402

  • An Introduction to Eurolinguiste | A Language Learning Blog

    For those of you that are new to my blog, welcome! My name is Shannon Kennedy and I am the blogger behind Eurolinguiste.

    As part of the site, I write about learning new languages, travel, food, and more. I love taking photos, so I’ll include pictures from my various adventures, and I’ll also write semi-monthly reports on my progress in various languages.

    An Introduction to Eurolinguiste | A Language Learning Blog

    I speak English and French, but I’ve also learned Italian, German, and Croatian and many other languages. I’m currently learning my 14th language–Persian.

    In a way this site is my language learning journal, but I also hope to provide you all with resources to help you further learn a second language.

    I also have a few other fun things I’ll include on the site such as recipes (some region-specific, some not), personal updates, and additions to the Eurodictionary.

    The Eurodictionary exists because I live in a bilingual household, so my family and I are constantly making blunders in one language or another. Code-switching isn’t always easy! The different expressions and words we create as we move from one language to another are added to the Eurodictionary whenever they come up.

    If there’s anything in particular you’d like to see on the site, or any tips you have for improvement, I’d love to hear them! Feedback is always welcome!

    Thank you for joining me here at Eurolinguiste, and I look forward to starting this journey in language learning with you!

    In the meantime, please check out some of my language learning resource pages:

    July 10, 2013 • Eurolinguiste • Views: 180

  • Eurolinguiste has a New Home

    Hello everyone! Welcome to the new Eurolinguiste site!

    I’m really excited about the blog’s new home, design and I’m even more thrilled about all of the new content and posts I’ll have up soon. To all of my previous followers, I hope you’ll join me here at my new domain.

    Eurolinguiste | Language Learning and Travel

    For those that are new, I look forward to getting to know you! Please make sure to subscribe to the new blog if you’re interested in following along on my adventures in travel and language learning.

    If you’re interested in finding out more about what you’ll find on Eurolinguiste, visit our about page.

    There are a few ways to do it – you can subscribe to our feed or subscribe by email by joining my free language resource library.

    I’ll be back with more posts soon! I hope you’ll continue to (or start to) follow me here. I look forward to many new travel and language learning adventures with you soon.

    June 23, 2013 • Eurolinguiste • Views: 181