Monthly Archives: July 2014

20S - Turtle Talk

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A few weeks ago I had a very dear friend visit from Australia. He had actually just spent the last few months working on a marine conservation project in a small Malagasy fishing village. So upon his arrival in Reunion, I knew just the place to take him! The wonderful Kélonia, in Saint Leu. Naturally, one would think that English is widely spoken in such a popular tourist haunt. Well, I decided to put this assumptionto the test!

Now apart from basically pleasantries, my friend doesn’t speak a word of French. Ithus pretended to do the same. So off we set to one of Reunion’s most well known tourist attractions to see how two undiscerning English speaking tourists were to be welcomed, and of course, to brush up on our knowledge of the island’s marine life. 

We approached the front desk and enquired about entrance costs and closing times. We were somewhat taken aback to be greeted by a receptionist whose English was limited to, “Me, English, no possible”. She then proceeded to make a large ‘X’ with both arms in front of her face to make sure she had got her point across.Flabbergasted, we pointed desperately to an audio guide to hire. “Pièce d’identité” was repeated several times. My friend had no idea what she was asking for, so Ifollowed suit. “Passport” was then the next word uttered, (albeit with a very thick French accent) but my friend cottoned on to the fact that she was after proof of ID. Unfortunately for our friendly receptionist, my friend didn’t think to take his passport with him to the turtle museum. Eventually she gave up and waved us through, shaking her head almost as if it was OUR fault for not speaking French!

After the initial debacle, we continued out visit which was as informative andrewarding as ever. We were however very tempted to jump in the big basin to have a swim with the turtles as we thought to ourselves that nobody would be able to scream at us in English to get out!


Vocabulary

Upon his arrival - à son arrivée

Haunt - lieu de prédilection

Assumption - supposition / hypothèse

Pleasantries - civilités

Thus - donc / ainsi

To set off - partir / s’en aller

Undiscerning - sans discernement

To brush up on - se remettre à niveau

Front desk - l’accueil

To be taken aback - être surpris / choqué

To get a point across - passer un message

Flabbergasted - étonné

To follow suit - suivre / en faire autant

To utter - dire

Albeit - quoique

To cotton on to the fact - piger

To give up - laisser tomber

Rewarding - gratifiant 

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20N - Turtle Talk

Visit www.anglais.re for more !

A few weeks ago I had a very dear friend visit from Australia. He had actually just spent the last few months working on a marine conservation project in a small Malagasy fishing village. So upon his arrival in Reunion, I knew just the place to take him! The wonderful Kélonia, in Saint Leu. Naturally, one would think that English is widely spoken in such a popular tourist haunt. Well, I decided to put this assumption to the test!

Now apart from basically pleasantries, my friend doesn’t speak a word of French. I thus pretended to do the same. So off we set to one of Reunion’s most well known tourist attractions to see how two undiscerning English speaking tourists were to be welcomed, and of course, to brush up on our knowledge of the island’s marine life. 

We approached the front desk and enquired about entrance costs and closing times. We were somewhat taken aback to be greeted by a receptionist whose English was limited to, “Me, English, no possible”. She then proceeded to make a large ‘X’ with both arms in front of her face to make sure she had got her point across. Flabbergasted, we pointed desperately to an audio guide to hire. “Pièce d’identité” was repeated several times. My friend had no idea what she was asking for, so I followed suit. “Passport” was then the next word uttered, (albeit with a very thick French accent) but my friend cottoned on to the fact that she was after proof of ID. Unfortunately for our friendly receptionist, my friend didn’t think to take his passport with him to the turtle museum. Eventually she gave up and waved us through, shaking her head almost as if it was OUR fault for not speaking French!

After the initial debacle, we continued out visit which was as informative and rewarding as ever. We were however very tempted to jump in the big basin to have a swim with the turtles as we thought to ourselves that nobody would be able to scream at us in English to get out!


Vocabulary

Upon his arrival - à son arrivée

Haunt - lieu de prédilection

Assumption - supposition / hypothèse

Pleasantries - civilités

Thus - donc / ainsi

To set off - partir / s’en aller

Undiscerning - sans discernement

To brush up on - se remettre à niveau

Front desk - l’accueil

To be taken aback - être surpris / choqué

To get a point across - passer un message

Flabbergasted - étonné

To follow suit - suivre / en faire autant

To utter - dire

Albeit - quoique

To cotton on to the fact - piger

To give up - laisser tomber

Rewarding - gratifiant 

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19S - Different Worlds

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It’s now six weeks since I returned from Reunion to London.  I’m teaching a summer school in English for Academic Purposes at the University of Westminster.  This means my life has completely changed.  Instead of jumping into my little Peugeot and racing along the coastal highway by the beautiful blue ocean, I squeeze into the Docklands Light Railway carriage with dozens of other commuters, and rattle along the high-rise buildings into the city centre.

 

Instead of winding through sugar cane fields with a backdrop of spectacular velvety-green mountains, I walk from the station over the River Thames on a pedestrian bridge, with a panorama of St Paul’s cathedral, the London Eye and the Houses of Parliament.  Instead of listening to Maloya or Séga on my car radio, I can hear the sound of a busker who plays English traditional songs on a trumpet – very badly.

 

Instead of a low, modern campus with a courtyard shaded by palm trees, Westminster University’s Regent Street building has stone columns and a marble entrance hall.   Instead of a leafy car park there’s a busy street, where red double-decker buses and black London taxis trundle past all day long, creating noise and fumes.

 

In the class, instead of students who all speak French, there are learners from all over the world: China, Brazil, Viet Nam, Saudi Arabia, Thailand, Japan and Iran.  Instead of explaining some difficult words or phrases in French, all the classes have to be given entirely in English.  This is an intensive language course, so the students are in class for five hours each day.  And of course, so am I!

 

At the end of the day, instead of unwinding by stopping off for a drink at a beach bar and watching the sun sink behind the horizon, I sit with a friend or colleague at a busy pavement cafe, and watch the never-ending stream of people, heading to the late-night shops on Oxford Street, the bars and restaurants in Soho or Fitzrovia, or home to the suburbs.

 

London is a busy, dirty, noisy, vibrant, multicultural city in Northern Europe.  Reunion is a lively, crazy, friendly, uniquely beautiful island in the Southern Indian Ocean.   Every day I ask myself: where would I rather be?

 


 

Vocabulary:

 

rattle along - bringuebaler

 

high-rise buildings – tours de bureau ou d’habitation

 

velvety-green – vert foncé de velour

 

busker -  musicien de rue

 

trundle -  cheminer

 

unwinding  -  se détendre

 

never-ending – sans cesse

 

Soho, Fitzrovia – quartiers de Londres

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19N - Different Worlds

Visit www.anglais.re for more!


It’s now six weeks since I returned from Reunion to London.  I’m teaching a summer school in English for Academic Purposes at the University of Westminster.  This means my life has completely changed.  Instead of jumping into my little Peugeot and racing along the coastal highway by the beautiful blue ocean, I squeeze into the Docklands Light Railway carriage with dozens of other commuters, and rattle along the high-rise buildings into the city centre.

 

Instead of winding through sugar cane fields with a backdrop of spectacular velvety-green mountains, I walk from the station over the River Thames on a pedestrian bridge, with a panorama of St Paul’s cathedral, the London Eye and the Houses of Parliament.  Instead of listening to Maloya or Séga on my car radio, I can hear the sound of a busker who plays English traditional songs on a trumpet – very badly.

 

Instead of a low, modern campus with a courtyard shaded by palm trees, Westminster University’s Regent Street building has stone columns and a marble entrance hall.   Instead of a leafy car park there’s a busy street, where red double-decker buses and black London taxis trundle past all day long, creating noise and fumes.

 

In the class, instead of students who all speak French, there are learners from all over the world: China, Brazil, Viet Nam, Saudi Arabia, Thailand, Japan and Iran.  Instead of explaining some difficult words or phrases in French, all the classes have to be given entirely in English.  This is an intensive language course, so the students are in class for five hours each day.  And of course, so am I!

 

At the end of the day, instead of unwinding by stopping off for a drink at a beach bar and watching the sun sink behind the horizon, I sit with a friend or colleague at a busy pavement cafe, and watch the never-ending stream of people, heading to the late-night shops on Oxford Street, the bars and restaurants in Soho or Fitzrovia, or home to the suburbs.

 

London is a busy, dirty, noisy, vibrant, multicultural city in Northern Europe.  Reunion is a lively, crazy, friendly, uniquely beautiful island in the Southern Indian Ocean.   Every day I ask myself: where would I rather be?

 


 

Vocabulary:

 

rattle along - bringuebaler

 

high-rise buildings – tours de bureau ou d’habitation

 

velvety-green – vert foncé de velour

 

busker -  musicien de rue

 

trundle -  cheminer

 

unwinding  -  se détendre

 

never-ending – sans cesse

 

Soho, Fitzrovia – quartiers de Londres

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18S - A Google Image Problem

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Last week I was looking for images for the website. They had to be pictures of Reunion Island, something beautiful, intense, cultural. Something to really show Reunion off should someone come across Anglais.re who hadn’t heard of it. First stop: Google Images!
So I typed ‘Reunion Island’ into the search box, and was given this: The first was from a site called balcktomato.com, It looked to me like a travel site. It was a picture of a lush mountainside with waterfalls flowing down the side.
The second, third and fourth photos were of Reunion Island’s geographical location. Useful images, sure, but not what I was looking for. The fifth photo stopped me in my tracks. It’s a photo taken in May 2013 of three policemen and two ambulance drivers carrying a corpse across a beach in Saint Gilles.
Hold on. Is this the sort of image English speakers get of Reunion? One of a dangerous, deadly island, unfit and unsafe for tourists? Apparently, yes. Now in no way am I belittling or downplaying the aforementioned tragedy. What happened was awful, and I hope steps are being taken so that this doesn’t happen again.
But why is that the fifth image? Since that picture was taken in May 2013 we’ve had Le Grand Raid, Sakifo, Leu Tempo Festival, Florilèges, Mielvert and even a volcanic eruption! Surely there was someone at those events with a camera and a blog!
Imagine a non-French tourist doing research for their holidays and noticing that this is the fifth image that comes up. They must presume that this is all the Island is famous for. That’s a tragedy for tourism. I say non-French tourist because if you type ‘Isle de la Réunion’ into the search box, you get a very different search result. Try it out yourself.
So what to do? Simple. If you own a website that has nice pictures of Reunion, why not label them with the keywords ‘Reunion Island’ not just ‘Ile de la Réunion’. Maybe then we can fix this image problem of ours.
Vocabulary
to show Reunion off - mettre en avant la Réunion
to come across - trouver par hasard
lush - riche
waterfalls - cascades
useful - utile
it stopped me in my tracks - ça ma choqué
corpse - cadavre
to hold on - attendre
unfit - inapte
to belittle - minimiser
to downplay -  dédramatiser
aforementioned - susdit
steps - les mesures
camera - appareil photo
to notice - remarquer
to come up - apparaitre
to fix - réparer
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18N - A Google Image Problem

Visit www.anglais.re for more!

Last week I was looking for images for the website. They had to be pictures of Reunion Island, something beautiful, intense, cultural. Something to really show Reunion off should someone come across Anglais.re who hadn’t heard of it. First stop: Google Images!


So I typed ‘Reunion Island’ into the search box, and was given this: The first was from a site called balcktomato.com, It looked to me like a travel site. It was a picture of a lush mountainside with waterfalls flowing down the side.


The second, third and fourth photos were of Reunion Island’s geographical location. Useful images, sure, but not what I was looking for. The fifth photo stopped me in my tracks. It’s a photo taken in May 2013 of three policemen and two ambulance drivers carrying a corpse across a beach in Saint Gilles.


Hold on. Is this the sort of image English speakers get of Reunion? One of a dangerous, deadly island, unfit and unsafe for tourists? Apparently, yes. Now in no way am I belittling or downplaying the aforementioned tragedy. What happened was awful, and I hope steps are being taken so that this doesn’t happen again.


But why is that the fifth image? Since that picture was taken in May 2013 we’ve had Le Grand Raid, Sakifo, Leu Tempo Festival, Florilèges, Mielvert and even a volcanic eruption! Surely there was someone at those events with a camera and a blog!


Imagine a non-French tourist doing research for their holidays and noticing that this is the fifth image that comes up. They must presume that this is all the Island is famous for. That’s a tragedy for tourism. I say non-French tourist because if you type ‘Isle de la Réunion’ into the search box, you get a very different search result. Try it out yourself.


So what to do? Simple. If you own a website that has nice pictures of Reunion, why not label them with the keywords ‘Reunion Island’ not just ‘Ile de la Réunion’. Maybe then we can fix this image problem of ours.


Vocabulary


to show Reunion off - mettre en avant la Réunion

to come across - trouver par hasard

lush - riche

waterfalls - cascades

useful - utile

it stopped me in my tracks - ça ma choqué

corpse - cadavre

to hold on - attendre

unfit - inapte

to belittle - minimiser

to downplay -  dédramatiser

aforementioned - susdit

steps - les mesures

camera - appareil photo

to notice - remarquer

to come up - apparaitre

to fix - réparer

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17S - Canyoning

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Here is a story about my very first week in Reunion Island back in 2000. My diary reads:

“Monday: The alarm wrenched me awake. I couldn’t for the life of me realise why it had been set for 6.00am when I had clearly only been in bed for 3 hours. And then I remembered. Canyoning!

‘Canyoning?’ I hear you cry. ‘What can this mean?’ Basically, it's white water rafting... but without the raft.

As the sun appeared over the ocean I met the mountain guide Philippe in Saint-Denis, and after a quick coffee on his balcony we headed east down the coastal road towards St Suzanne. Turning off at the Riviére des Roches exit, the tarmac road soon became a dirt-track as it weaved in amongst a vast plantation of sugar cane. Palm trees lined the track and the sugar cane leaves encroached on the path. About five kilometres later we came to a clearing and parked the car.

We donned our wetsuits and made our way up the mountain path, the river winding through the gorge below us. Philippe gave me a few pointers, stressing in particularly that if I didn’t want to jump off any waterfalls, I didn’t have to. Abseiling down instead was suggested. Down the slippery slope we began, the morning sunshine filling up the gorge below us. The first waterfall arrived, and we climbed out of the river to get a good jumping point. It would have been far too dangerous to let ourselves be carried over, as there was the possibility of the current dashing us against the rocks below.

We reached the top and below us lay a drop of about 6 metres. Philippe went first, and with a loud cry he vanished below. From where I was standing I couldn’t actually see him land, but the long pause before the splash was enough to set my knees trembling. I was left standing alone. 

Picture the ridiculous image: I was standing in a full-length blue jump suit and a white hat, arms out-stretched to keep my balance. I looked like a paranoid smurf. What the hell am I doing here? I asked myself. Suddenly, my old office in London flashed before me. A far cry. It was a long way down, but here I was, hovering dangerously over a precipice on an island in the Indian Ocean. Looking at the sun up in the sky shining down on me I realised that it was for moments like these I had come. The fear went and I launched myself screaming into the void below.

In total there were 4 more jumps made as we continued down the valley, the penultimate one a massive leap of 11 metres. In the long journey down it felt like I had enough time to recite Hamlet’s soliloquy before landing. To be or not to be… I don’t know the rest…

We stopped off for a bite to eat and upon getting back to my flat I went straight to sleep. Having just woken it all still seems like a bit of a dream. Was it real? It must have been – my vocal chords are killing me...”

Vocabulary:

diary = journal intime

to wrench = arracher

coastal = littoral

weaved = arpenté

clearing = clairière

to don = mettre

wetsuits = combinaison

winding = serpentant

pointers = conseils

abseiling = descente en rappel

slippery = glissant

slope = pente

waterfall = cascade

to land = aterrir

knees = genoux

flashed before = défilé

void = la vide

flat = apartement

killing me = me fait très mal

00:0000:00

17N - Canyoning

Visit www.anglais.re for more!

Here is a story about my very first week in Reunion Island back in 2000. My diary reads:

“Monday: The alarm wrenched me awake. I couldn’t for the life of me realise why it had been set for 6.00am when I had clearly only been in bed for 3 hours. And then I remembered. Canyoning!

‘Canyoning?’ I hear you cry. ‘What can this mean?’ Basically, it's white water rafting... but without the raft.

As the sun appeared over the ocean I met the mountain guide Philippe in Saint-Denis, and after a quick coffee on his balcony we headed east down the coastal road towards St Suzanne. Turning off at the Riviére des Roches exit, the tarmac road soon became a dirt-track as it weaved in amongst a vast plantation of sugar cane. Palm trees lined the track and the sugar cane leaves encroached on the path. About five kilometres later we came to a clearing and parked the car.

We donned our wetsuits and made our way up the mountain path, the river winding through the gorge below us. Philippe gave me a few pointers, stressing in particularly that if I didn’t want to jump off any waterfalls, I didn’t have to. Abseiling down instead was suggested. Down the slippery slope we began, the morning sunshine filling up the gorge below us. The first waterfall arrived, and we climbed out of the river to get a good jumping point. It would have been far too dangerous to let ourselves be carried over, as there was the possibility of the current dashing us against the rocks below.

We reached the top and below us lay a drop of about 6 metres. Philippe went first, and with a loud cry he vanished below. From where I was standing I couldn’t actually see him land, but the long pause before the splash was enough to set my knees trembling. I was left standing alone. 

Picture the ridiculous image: I was standing in a full-length blue jump suit and a white hat, arms out-stretched to keep my balance. I looked like a paranoid smurf. What the hell am I doing here? I asked myself. Suddenly, my old office in London flashed before me. A far cry. It was a long way down, but here I was, hovering dangerously over a precipice on an island in the Indian Ocean. Looking at the sun up in the sky shining down on me I realised that it was for moments like these I had come. The fear went and I launched myself screaming into the void below.

In total there were 4 more jumps made as we continued down the valley, the penultimate one a massive leap of 11 metres. In the long journey down it felt like I had enough time to recite Hamlet’s soliloquy before landing. To be or not to be… I don’t know the rest…

We stopped off for a bite to eat and upon getting back to my flat I went straight to sleep. Having just woken it all still seems like a bit of a dream. Was it real? It must have been – my vocal chords are killing me...”


Vocabulary:

diary = journal intime

to wrench = arracher

coastal = littoral

weaved = arpenté

clearing = clairière

to don = mettre

wetsuits = combinaison

winding = serpentant

pointers = conseils

abseiling = descente en rappel

slippery = glissant

slope = pente

waterfall = cascade

to land = aterrir

knees = genoux

flashed before = défilé

void = la vide

flat = apartement

killing me = me fait très mal

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