vendredi 9 avril 2010

Pixels - 80s computer game pop culture video by Patrick Jean

Uploaded by onemoreprod. - Arts and animation videos.

80s video game pop culture icons
Shot and edited by Parisians Patrick Jean and co, and filmed in New York.

I can see/recognise:

• Bomb icon from Mac OS?
• Space Invaders
• Pacman
• Tetris
• Arkanoid
• Donkey Kong
• Frogger
• Bomb? not sure

This is super cool and clever. I love it!

Via Blugture

jeudi 8 avril 2010

During that day when I went to the beach, I also went to a very large newsagency there. I knew they had a decent selection of foreign magazines and I was keen to see which French magazines I could find.

Now, my local Borders has heaps of foreign magazines but it seems that most of the French ones are about home decorating which is great and all, I like looking at pretty pictures of homes and house interiors, but it doesn't make for very exciting reading (when I'm not in the position to be decorating any houses). There's Marie Claire and that's about it.

However, at this other newsagency there was a wider selection and I ended up buying Cosmopolitan. It was pretty painful to pay $8 for it when it costs €2 but one must make sacrifices.

It's funny because I haven't bought the Australian version of this magazine for years. It's pretty trashy and I only liked it for the fashion pictures. The magazine seemed to be aimed at women younger and younger and I felt it was ridiculous for me to be reading such crap! The magazine is probably aimed at those around 21-25 years of age but I'm sure there are many teenagers reading it too, I know I started reading it when I was around 18-19.

I actually just finished reading the memoir of the former editor of Australian Cosmopolitan magazine, and in it, she mentioned that the Australian version of the magazine was more risqué than the ones from other countries. In other words, we have more explicit content and sealed sections and 'rude' words and whatnot - which of course adds to the trashy aspect and why teenagers would be dying to get their hands on a copy.

So when I started reading this French version, I was pleasantly surprised. The target market seemed to be slightly older women, in their late 20s to even early 30s so I could relate to it a lot more.

Pendant la journée où je suis allée à la plage, je suis aussi allée à un gros rayon presse*. Je savais que cette agence a une grande sélection de magazines étrangères et j'avais envie de voir quelles magazines étaient là.

Mon Borders du coin a plein de magazines étrangers mais il me semble que la plupart de magazines français sont de travaux de décoration et c'est bien. J'aime regarder aux jolies photos de maisons et les intérieurs de maisons, mais c'est un peu ennuyeux de lire ça. Ce Borders a juste Marie Claire et c'est tout.

Cependant, a cet autre rayon presse, il y avait une plus grande sélection de magazines, et j'ai acheté Cosmopolitan. C'était douleureux aussi de payer 8 dollars pour ça quand ça coute 2 euros.

C'est drôle parce que je n'avais plus acheté l'édition Australienne depuis quelques années. L'édition Australienne est nulle et j'aimais ça just pour les photos de la mode. La magazine me semble de ciblé a les femmes qui ont 21-25 ans, mais je suis sûr qu'il y a beaucoup d'ados qui aussi le lire. Je sais que je commencais à le lire quand j'avais 18-19 ans.

Je viens de finir de lire le mémoire de l'ancienne directrice de Cosmopolitan Australien et elle a dit que l'édition Australienne était plus risqué que l'unes des autres pays. Autrement, nous avons plus de content explicite et les pages fermés, et c'est à cause de ça que les ados veulent l'acheter.

Donc, quand je commencais à lire cette édition française j'étais surprisée. Le marché cible m'a semblé est les femmes un peu plus âgée, au fin de la vingtaine ou au début de la trentaine.

Some articles I liked (in this Feb 2010 edition) were:

Les articles que j'aimais (à cette édition de février 2010) étaient :

p. 56 Rencontre. Marie-Adélaïde et Laurent. C'était le premier, et c'était le bon.
Un crush l'année du bac, un baiser volé: huit ans que ça dure.

p. 63 T'inquiète pas, chéri, ça c'est normal.
Ils nous aiment aussi pour notre petit grain de folie. La preuve.

p. 76. Et toi, tu te sens d'où?
Elles sont : En France.
Elles viennent : de partout.
Au moment où l'identité national fait débat, on s'est dit que le mieux, c'était de leur demander, à elles, d'où elles se sentent. Réponses surprenantes sur le sentiment d'appartenance.

p. 82. On m'avait dit que je n'avais pas l'âge.
Trop jeune? Trop âgée? Qu'il agisse de voyage, d'amour ou de carrière, on a toujours l'âge de vivre une aventure. Sept filles le prouvent.

p. 88. Là, je vais la surprendre.
On croit connaître son homme quand, tout à coup, oooh ! Eh oui, c'est aussi pour ça qu'on l'aime.

p. 96. 15 petites aventures qui m'ont rendue meilleure.
Un sourire, un gest, une attention, ça change la vie.
(this article is accompanied by a full page photo of a non-typical photo of Sydney. But I recognised the backdrop straight away).

p. 136. Même plus peur !
Parfois, pour transformer en lointain souvenir une peur insurmontable, il suffit d'un déclic.

and of course I love all the photos of clothes, shoes, lingerie, bags, accessories and jewellery and the beauty product reviews !

et bien sûr j'adore les photos de la mode, des chassures, des lingeries, des sacs à main, des bijoux et des produits de beauté.

* I'm not really sure what you call this in French. In Australian English it's called a newsgent or newsagency, and I think it's newstand in American English? But then, I think a newstand is more like French kiosque (of which Australia doesn't have very many of). It's basically a shop that sells primarily magazines and newspapers, but also stationery and things like lottery tickets, bus tickets, candy and sometimes books and even toys/gifts/souvenirs if it's a big one like this one was. I found this site with photos of French ones. I guess they are just called "Presse" or "Point presse" for the smaller ones? If someone knows, please tell me! :)

(I know my French in this blog post has heaps of mistakes, I'm still learning! and that was painful to translate ;) )

mercredi 7 avril 2010

J'adore voyager

I was just reading this blog article about travelling, and making the time for it.

I think my love of travelling stemmed from having done it so much since a young age, and from my mother's genes and ability to try new things, experience new cultures (and their food ;) ) and probably some other reasons that I can't think of right now.

I count myself as very very lucky and I'm not at all ungrateful for all the wonderful experiences I've had criss-crossing around the world. There are many parts I still haven't seen but I have been to almost 20 countries, and the majority of my world travels was done in my mid 20s.

They say that you can tell a lot about a person from the friends they have and when it comes to travelling, this is very true for my friends. They love travelling just as much as I do, if not more! I find that Facebook status reports are constantly filled with travel-related gossip.. such as "so-and-so has just booked a trip to such-and-such a place!", "so-and-so is eating dinner and watching the sunset by such-and-such a beach!" etc etc and accompanied by photos of course.

Over the Easter long weekend, I went to a friend's party where 90% of the conversation was about travels and sharing travel stories.

Frankly, I find it bizarre that there are people who don't like travelling. People who will make up excuses not to do it. I totally agree with the article. The more you put it off, the less likely it's going to happen. And best to do it while you don't have kids because if you don't do it now, you're definitely not going to do it after! I can see the benefits of travelling when you're in your 20s. You'll never be fitter at another age and travelling is definitely quite tiring.

My grandparents on my mother's side are in their 70s and 80s and still travel! Good on 'em I say!

Well, I had been feeling rather stressed, depressed and sad that I hadn't travelled in such a long time but certain problems/reasons prevented me from doing so. It's hard to explain but travelling for me is almost like breathing. If I don't do it often I feel exhausted and upset. It has been so hard to hear of tale after tale, week after week (or so it seems) of everyone else's travel tales yet having none of my own to share, for well over a year. And I'm not just talking about my friends but also my family members, professional acquaintances and random people I come across. It seemed that everybody I know (bar 1 or 2, and even those with kids) was going overseas several times a year! (and that is not an exaggeration).

So with that in mind, I am very excited because I am going on my first holiday in over a year! It's not overseas, it's not far away, it won't be flash and it's not for very long. But I definitely needed a break and needed to get out of Sydney for a while so I am super super excited and happy about that! :D

I'll be going in a few days' time (wanted to avoid the Easter holiday crowds) and I can't wait!

Another thing I have noticed with my friends (and myself too) is that travelling is addictive, it's like a drug. The more you have of it, the more you want. And if you haven't had it in a while you develop withdrawal symptoms.

Part of my plan in moving to France is that I want to maximise travel opportunities too. It's extremely difficult and expensive to do any overseas travel when you live in Australia, unfortunately. I hope to be able to do enough travel so that I never really have to go through those horrible withdrawal periods ;)

A child's guide to language acquistion - documentary

A child's guide to languages

This excellent documentary compares the ease with which children learn languages, compared to the difficulties that teenagers/adults face when learning languages. Not sure who it's produced by or when it was made (seems to be 80s) but I found it a fascinating and informative documentary to watch and learn from. I have typed out some parts of the video (about a half of it).

...Children pick up language in their own way and in their own time. Attemps by adults to interfere don't usually have much effect.

Prof. Stephen Krashen, Dept. of Linguistics, University of Southern California: "Error correction doesn't help acquisition. We have a lot of evidence for this. Parents only correct a very small part. They correct verbs like 'goed' and 'went', they correct pronunciation and they correct dirty words and that's about all. All the rest of the grammar grows by itself."

Dr. Jean Aitchison - Senior Lecturer in Linguistics: "Oddly enough, parents seem to praise their children when they tell the truth and not when they speak well so that if a child showed a mother a teddy bear with a sock on and said, "Teddy sock on" - which isn't very good English - the mother would say, "Yes dear. Quite right. Teddy's got a sock on." but if the child said, "Look mother, my teddy has a sock on" which is quite good English but there was no sock on the teddy bear then the child would get disapproval, so one American researcher has said that if approval and disapproval worked you'd find children growing up speaking the truth but ungrammatically. And in fact they do the opposite."

This ability to pick out language in the noise of speech, to absorb the words and grammatical rules unconsciously is called language acquisition. We can all do it when we're very young. And it works. It works for one language, for two, for three, or for more. But why does it work? And why does it appear to work best when we're very young?

"If language skills are centered in the brain, does the fact that the brain is developing the fastest when we're young explain young children's apparent success? If language can only be acquired during the period when the brain is malleable and developing fast up till the age of puberty then have adults simply missed the boat?

Dr. Jean Aitchison - Senior Lecturer in Linguistics: "Children do seem to learn languages amazingly quickly if you don't look at them carefully. When you look at them carefully you'll find that it isn't so magic as was once thought. In 1967 there was an American, Eric Lenneberg who thought up the critical age theory that between the age of 2 and 13 children did have some special propensity for acquiring language and this seemed to explain a lot, and most people became very enthusiastic about this theory. However, after the initial excitement had died down and people started looking at his strands of evidence more carefully, it was found that a lot of them really didn't stand up to the test of time."

In the mature brain, language is usually in the left hemisphere. But it doesn't begin life that way. In the early years, the language area (in the brain) is much more spread out. Lenneberg claimed that the period in which language became concentrated in the left side of the brain, coincided with his critical age for language. The process was completed by age 13. This explained why children found language was easier. But he was wrong. We now know that the process is completed much earlier, by about 5, not 13. And it begins not at 2 as he thought, but much earlier. It's even going on in the womb. The evidence doesn't support that critical age theory.

Nevertheless, the theory was influential enough to inspire a large experiment in the 60's to introduce French in primary school. To many people's surprise, the younger children didn't do very well. And they later compared these with the ones who'd begun secondary school French as usual, and they'd found little difference. The report concluded: "Pupils taught French from age 8 do not subsequently reveal any substantial gains in achievement." Since then, research has shown, that contrary to popular belief, young children are very inefficient learners of everything, including languages. Apart from pronunciation, young children are not really that good.

A recent volume of research papers comparing children and adults found "the 3-5 year olds scored consistently worse than older groups on all tests... it does not support the critical age period hypothesis for language acquisition."...

If children had to learn languages under the same conditions as most school children or adults they'd be the dunces of the class. But of course, they don't. Most young children get their language in a quite different way. They do it by growing up in a pretty perfect environment. Not for language learning but for language acquisition. They have plenty of time, they're not under pressure and they're unaware for the most part that they are doing it. If we follow their method we should be able to do even better...

...Adults may be smarter than young children but they expect much more of themselves and they expect it much more quickly. Anxiety, error correction, over emphasis on formal grammar all have the effect of producing a barrier to language acquisition. Thus, many adults convince themselves they're just no good at languages. By comparison, young children have none of these disadvantages. For the most part they are unaware of language. It's secondary to whatever they're using it for. Their mistakes aren't continually corrected. And most important, they are allowed to be silent. No one can make them talk before they're ready...

Children succeed at languages because they always get 3 things:
1. Lots of comprehensible input
2. A stress-free environment
3. Nobody forces them to talk until they're ready, the right to be silent.

...Total Physical Response... it's based on the way we acquired language as a child through the commands we get from our parents. "You can see TPR operating beautifully by simply observing a mother and an infant. The intimate relationship between the language and the child's body. If we can simply follow nature's blueprint, this entire language acquisition process can be very graceful and very enjoyable. There's absolutely no reason that it has to be a frustrating, painful, failure experience repeated. It's inexcusable.

It's not just fun. TPR's been evaluated probably more often than any other language teaching technique. In beginner's classes it totally outperforms conventional methods.

..What the Canadians have done. This school is in Toronto. There are hundreds like it all over the country. The children all come from English-speaking families and watch English language television. They are typical of North American children. And yet when playtime ends, it's as if they've entered a different country. ..

All of the schooling is provided in French. The child arrives at Kindergarten and is greeted by a teacher who speaks French but understands English so the children are completely comfortable. They can speak in English to the teacher but the teacher will always respond in French. After a year, these 5-year old children are confident in French and use it naturally for all their lessons. At the outset of the scheme, many people were worried that the children would lose their English and what about their academic progress? Would they learn science and other subjects properly? And would they really learn French?

You cannot pick up a journal in applied linguistics without reading the reports of some immersion programme or other and it comes out remarkably uniform. Here's what they have found:
1. The children don't forget English. They have language arts in English, they go home to an English speaking community and they do fine in English.
2. They learn their subject matter just as well as kids educated in English.
3. They acquire LOTS of French.
They are not perfect in French when they finish but they are very good. After 5, 6 years, on certain tests they come close to or match native speakers. You do see mistakes. They do have an accent. They'll say things like j'ai tombé instead of je suis tombé but their French is good enough so that they can use it easily outside the classroom. They have met that standard of being a genuine intermediate. And I'm told from Canadian researchers that when these children do finish school they often do go on to French-speaking universities and they do that fine. They are in that position where they can continue to utilise that language outside the class and continue to improve.

What have we learned from immersion? What we've learned from immersion is that subject matter teaching, when it's made comprehensible, is language teaching.

...100,000 Canadian children are now enrolled in French immersion and it always works. Successful immersion doesn't depend on age. It depends on making the subject matter comprehensible.

How has the rest of the world responded? The United States now has a few immersion schools but what about Britain? Apart from Wales, which has had its own Welsh immersion schools for decades, there's almost nothing. Why are the British so bad at languages?

Prof. Nigel Reeves, Dept. of Linguistics and International Studies, University of Surrey - "Teachers teach to the syllabus of the GCSE examinations. They see they have little choice and the GCSE boards until recently, have been very conservative in their approach to language examinations. They've been academic. The written skills have had more value attached to them than not, more than oral and aural skills. I think that the A levels in particular has quite a lot to answer for. A large part of the A levels afterall, consist of the discussion in English, of foreign language literary texts. The candidates write their essays in English. They discuss the texts in English. The only French or German they are learning through this process is really the French or German of the text itself. And since the texts are often not contemporary and certainly of literary style, it doesn't serve this objective of communication very adequately.

...There are very good reasons for for learning foreign languages. In fact only 25% of our export market are English speaking now. The other 75% are not. Over 50% of our exports go to Western Europe and people and people in Western Europe expect you to have the decency to speak their language if you're going to sell to them. When the British Overseas Trade Board investigated the matter in 1978 under the chairmanship of the Duke of Kent, we interviewed a number of the commercial counsellors who worked for British Embassies abroad and they made it quite plain that many business opportunities were being lost because we weren't approaching the foreign customer in their own language."

The Dutch and the Scandinavians are exposed to far more English as a foreign language than we are to French or German as a foreign language. Practically every pop song is in English. Pop songs carry great weight amongst children. Every evening on television there are English films being broadcast with subtitles so a large part of their viewing takes place in English. It's almost like living for part of their life in Britain and that's the key to learning any foreign language: residence abroad. We don't have that. Look at the BBC's example. Whenever a politician is being interviewed, the moment he/she starts to speak, the sound is turned down, and the translation is offered in English, not subtitles. We're never offered the chance to try to grasp what the person is trying to tell us in the foreign language.

The British are the victims of speaking a world language. So we need radical methods to force us to take other languages seriously. Like the Canadians, we must use the classroom as a foreign country.

"The job of a classroom is to give you the comprehensible input that you cannot get on the outside. That's what classrooms are for."

...The best place for languages is school. Enough is now known about the process of language acquisition to suggest that language teaching can be more effective and more enjoyable. Languages don't have to be learned very young. Rather, we have to create, in the classroom, the perfect language environment which most children take for granted. Comprehensible use of language about relevant and interesting things and not making people talk until they are ready.

18 months ago, these Canadian children knew no French. Now, even though they live in an English speaking city, French is part of their lives. Like other British babies, Kirsty will have no problem acquiring her first language, English. But, unless there's a radical change in attitude and approach beginning in our schools, English will probably be the only language she will ever speak.

lundi 5 avril 2010

La météo / The weather

10 February, 2010

31 March, 2010

The weather is a funny thing. It affects people's moods. It certainly affects my mood because it affects my health. It's been interesting reading people's blogs over the past few months, talking complaining ;) about the snow and the ice and the all round coldness, and here I was sweating even while wearing nothing (in the privacy of my own room of course ;) ) and the fan blasting cold air into my face...

Now the tides have turned and my glorious 4 months (!!) of summer are over and it has now officially turned cold. In fact the temperature is HALF of what it was just last week! It's gone from low 30s to the teens. Incredible. Meanwhile, people in the northern hemisphere are rejoicing that the sun is out and the flowers are blooming...

I know that when I move to France I'm going to end up having a whole year of winter, which is just horrible. But I've done it before (in another country) and lived through it. The good thing is, if I come back around the same time I end up with a whole year of summer too!

I've attached some screenshots of the wunderground weather widget thingy in the bottom right hand corner of my blog. The difference between France's temps and Sydney's has gone from huge to almost nothing in just a few weeks.

dimanche 4 avril 2010

Joyeuses Pâques à tous et toutes

Je veux vous souhaiter de joyeuses Pâques !

Aujourd'hui, j'ai joué à cache cache avec des oeufs de chocolat dans le jardin de derrière (de mes parents). Le petit ami de ma soeur les a caché et j'ai trouvé beaucoup plus d'oeufs que ma soeur.. héhéhé...

Hier, je suis allée à un marché des artisans et j'ai vu un stand de photos de Sydney et d'Australie. Je les ai regardée et regardée... elles étaient belles mais elles m'ont semblé un peu "norme" car j'ai déjà vu des milliers de photos de Sydney ! Après j'ai regardé une deuxième table de photos, j'ai trouvé quelques photos de Paris et de France ! J'ai réfléchi aussi au nom de ce photographe et... je pensais que peut-être il est français.

Je demandais à cet homme si il est français et oui, il est ! Donc, on avait une petite conversation géniale (de vivre à Sydney et à Paris/en France, d'apprendre la photographie, d'apprendre des langues étrangères, etc) mais, j'étais bête car je lui parlais l'anglais, même après je lui disais que j'apprends le français à l'Alliance Française ! Je me sentais un peu nerveuse de parler le francais entièrement, je ne sais pas pourquoi ! Dommage. Je utilisais juste quelques petits mots en français mais pas de phrases complètes!

Bref, j'ai passé un bon moment à ce marché et à la plage !

I would like to wish you all a happy and safe Easter holiday!

Today, I played an easter egg hunt game in the backyard of my parents' house and I found way more eggs than my sister.. hehehe...

Yesterday, I went to an arts/crafts market and I saw a stand selling photos of Sydney and Australia. I looked and looked at them... they were beautiful but they seemed a little "normal" to me since I've seen thousands of photos of Sydney! After I looked at a second table of photos, I found some photos of Paris and France! I thought about the name of the photographer too... I thought that perhaps he was French.

I asked this man if he's French and yes, he was! We had a nice little conversation (about living in Sydney and Paris/France, learning photography, learning foreign languages, etc), but, I am stupid because I spoke English to him, even after I told him I study French at Alliance Française! I felt a little nervous to speak in French entirely, I didn't know why! ARGH. What a pity. I used just a few words in French but not complete sentences.

Anyway, I had a nice time at this market and at the beach!

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