A few years ago, I brought to cousins in America what I thought was a perfect baby gift: Sophie the Giraffe, that ubiquitous teething toy you see everywhere in France. I thought it (she) was quintessentially French and, even better, unknown elsewhere. Well, much to my surprise, my 3-month old baby cousin already had one! Little did I know about the worldwide expansion of Sophie sales starting in 2003. Read this article about why every baby you know chews on the same rubber giraffe. I wish I had thought of it earlier.
There are so many interesting, yet unfamiliar, anecdotes in this series, that it is hard to resist doing a bit of internet research after each episode. Think of it as filling in the gaps in your knowledge of British history and improving your English. Enjoy!
As member of a jury for admissions to a business school here in Paris, one of my tasks was to evaluate candidates' English levels. One student spoke to me so fluently that I expected him to say he had lived in the UK, or that one of his parents was Anglophone. Neither was true. In fact, during lycée in Paris, he was the lead singer in a band that sang almost exclusively songs by The Cranberries. He explained that since he didn't like singing lyrics he didn't understand, over the years, he consistently looked up words he didn't know. Bravo! Song lyrics were the exclusive source of his fluent English.
Let me add that I did observe that his English was quite colloquial, and so I suggested he supplement his vocabulary with something a bit more broad (that is, not to say "scholarly"). Any well-written newspaper, book, magazine or academic text would do. Find what you like, and do it in English. And keep using that dictionary!
I love to recommend these kinds of lists to my students when the contents are both quick and engaging. Remember, you are aiming for a daily dose of native speaker English, written or spoken. Click around on the Mental Floss website and you will find plenty to keep yourself entertained. P.S. When I worked for an international bank in Sweden, every week we exchanged mail with the branch in Switzerland. Yep, people confused the two countries.
Selected from more than 26,000 entries from photographers in 59 countries around the globe, winners of the Nature’s Best Photography Windland Smith Rice Awards are displayed at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of Natural History in Washington, D.C. through September 2018.