Happy Saint George’s Day!

sant-jordi

For those who live in England or Spain today is a special day: we are all celebrating Saint George’s Day!

What is it?

You all know the legend of the Dragon, St George and a Princess. Well here in Barcelona we mix it with roses and a book. You can read a brief summary here.

stjordi_2-el-drac-enomorat

Traditions

For today’s Barcelona residents it’s a beautiful day to walk along the Rambla and browse around the stalls with roses and books for sale. You can even get your favourite book signed by the author!

Women are traditionally given a rose by the (many) men their life: boyfriend, husband, son, friend… And in return women should reciprocate with a book (although rose sales far exceed the book sales).

This is just a quick note to wish you a Happy Saint George’s Day! Make the most of it!

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Posted in Now

Easter traditions can be fun

easter eggs

Easter is one of the most important festivals in the Christian calendar, celebrated throughout the world with great pomp and show. There are a few things, such as the Easter eggs, bunnies and chocolates that are common to many Easter celebrations all over the world, but, there are also some traditions that are unique, like the Holy Week full of processions in Spain or these others.

duckrace

Have you ever heard about duck races or egg hunts being very popular within the UK and the US at Easter? In the UK, duck races, normally take place in Easter Monday and are used as a method of money fundraising for organizations worldwide. People donate money to the organizations by sponsoring a duck. In the US, The Easter Bunny leaves hidden eggs for children to find on Easter morning. There is a special Easter Egg event hosted each year by the president at the White House.

There are many traditions around Easter eggs, which are a symbol of new life at spring. One such tradition–In Medieval times, eggs were forbidden during Lent. People had to save their eggs during this time, and then at the end of Lent they would use a large portion of the stored eggs to make an Easter cake.

simpsons

On Easter Sunday, you can either stay at home and bake some eggs and bunnies or you can organize an Egg hunt with your children and help them find as many eggs as possible and then…eat them! You can enjoy an egg hunt online, just like in the Simpsons Easter new app , fun with the whole family from Cadbury or, for a more grown-up egg hunt, check out the Fabergé website if you are planning a trip to NYC.

Vocabulary

  • Pomp: stately or magnificent display; ceremonial splendor.
  • Fundraise: to raise money for a cause.

How are you going to celebrate this Easter? Leave us a comment!

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Do foreign jokes work in English?

BEn Murray

Have you ever heard the expression ‘lost in translation’? If you have seen the film with the same name, you’ll understand what it means and remember the hilarious scene in which Bill Murray shoots a TV ad for a brand of Japanese whiskey.

As language learners, travellers or just citizens of the world we all have found ourselves in situations when something being said was just untranslatable, sometimes things are difficult just to explain to speakers of other languages. There are words and expressions in our own language – often idioms, proverbs or words that are ‘local’  or particular to our culture- that are very difficult to communicate in a different language. Even a language as versatile and universal as English is today can cause problems when we try to tell someone that really funny joke from our country.

rev-kudelka-Jokes

The Guardian has published a feature about jokes around the world and whether their English translations live up to the original. With English being a lingua franca for hundreds of millions of people all over the planet one would expect a good translation to be enough to guarantee a good laugh.  Why don’t you try by yourself and tell us? You’ll find the transcriptions and English translations right below the video featuring jokes told by natives in their own languages.

Do you think it’s a cultural problem or just a matter of getting the punch-line right? Are different things funny in different languages?  Can humour be globalized?

Taking into account that English speakers are not known for their foreign language skills, many good jokes might be lost in translation for them. On the other hand, I guess British humour is not for everyone either-  remember Manuel from Fawlty Towers?

Vocabulary

  • Hilarious (adj): funny, something that makes you laugh
  • Shoot (v): to photograph or record. As a noun it’s an informal word to refer to a photographic assignment or session with a photographer
  • Lingua franca (n): a language used for communication among people of different mother tongues
  • To live up to something (v): to fulfil (an expectation, obligation, principle, etc)
  • Punch line (n): the culminating part of a joke, funny story, etc, that gives it its humorous or dramatic point
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Posted in Fun!

Old School Games

Oldgames

Most kids love video games and they have certainly changed their lives. Remember when waiting at the supermarket or the dentist meant reading a magazine? Not anymore. Now the first thing you hear from the small person next to you is “Can I have your phone?”

And while the games that are so readily available on our phones are more advanced than ever, what about all the old favorites? You probably remember Pacman, Qbert and Donkey Kong in the arcades, or Snake, Pong and Simon at home. But do your kids know all the old school games? Can they appreciate all the pixelation or do they just get bored with the simple one- or two-function controls?

pacman

I think those of us who have been around a while can remember being amazed by the simple pleasure of playing the early games like Pong. Sometimes it’s good to go back to the beginnings of a movement, like looking at the early technologay of video games, in order to appreciate it fully. It can be a real eye-opener for kids when they see how far things have come in such a short amount of time. It’s also fun for them to see the origin of the character. Pacman is back in action today, but he’s different, and frankly, not as fun!

You can find some of theses forerunners here.

Here’s a fun video of ol school vs new school- who do you think wins?

Vocabulary

  • Arcade: a place where you go to play video games. You usually have to pay with coins.
  • Old school: This means something that is from an earlier time period, or maybe old fashioned. Donkey Kong is old school, Angry Birds is not.

What was your favorite video game when you were a kid? Do you still play games today?

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Prank it Forward

share a prank

“Pay it forward” is an old concept that has found new life in the last couple of years.  It is used to describe what happens when a person who receives the benefit of a good deed, then passes on the same benefit to another person.  So, for example, you get the the front of the queue in a fastfood restaurant and when you try to pay, you find out someone has already paid your bill for you.  So,  you stop and think “ Wow, that’s lucky, I’ll just keep this money for myself.” But then you decide to keep the chain moving and use the money to pay for the next person’s food and pass the good vibrations on.

prank-your-kids

In Spain, this type of good deed has been called Café Pendiente, but it doesn’t have to be confined to coffee or food, it just means doing a good deed for someone who wasn’t expecting, and hoping that they will be so pleased by it that they’ll do something nice for the next unsuspecting person.

Now you can also pay it forward just by having fun and watching funny videos online.  Break.com is going to give a dollar to help charity for every 1000 views of their videos in April.  The pranks are positive, meaning nobody gets their feelings hurt.  You get to laugh, they get to to laugh, and money goes to charity.  A win-win!

Prank it forward  or here  for the whole list.

Vocabulary

  • Prank: another word for a “practical joke.”
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