Being French, learning English from day to day, is a source of poetry, of mysteries, of surprises and difficulties.
ESL is for English as a Second Language. I always liked to learn english. From my 12 years (“Andy has a dog, his name is Mustard. Andy loves his dog”), until now. I have happily a few friends today who can help me if I have questions about English.
It’s not about vocabulary (you have pretty good websites about this, my preferred one is Reverso). It’s mostly about the subtilities, and idioms, too.
(My last question, for example, was for the word “crafty“. I asked myself if it was colored negatively or not. A little girl who can repair her doll alone, she’s crafty ? Hummm… Good dictionaries gives me : sly, clever, shrewd, cunning, but nobody seems to be able to explain me the subtilities, sigh…)
What you don’t know, you English or American people, is the whole pack of complicated subtilities you have to dig when you are NOT from there.
I got an example just today :
I had a friend who’s blog was named, let’s say, A Well Seasoned Article. I loved this title so much ! You know why ? Because I thought that she built “seasoned” like :
“a preterit to Season (like summer, winter) for a poetic use”
I loved it ! I did not know, until today, that seasoned meant “flavored”, or… “experienced” (and the circle closes itself, isn’t it crafty ?).
Well, do you remember that you FORGOT that the name of the group The Police is based on police ? And that you don’t think about Washington (the man) when you say Washington (the State) ? Well, when you learn a language, you are new to many words. You realise that you can watch a watch, that “hang up” the phone is a bit illogical (“UP ? Really ?”), and that you have to dig, really, to understand the differences between Impressed, Awestruck and Dumbfunded.
More : some English words are written the way French words are. Sometimes it’s fantastic ! If in a poem you read “She sang”, you just see a woman singing, but “sang”, in French, means “blood”. Immediatly, she sings under (or to) the clouds, and these clouds are dramatically red. A whole landscape appears. Funny, right ?
Other example : pain, in French, is bread. Each time an ESL reads you have pain, you have some bread. Voilà.
Your language, you see ?, is a bit strange, or tastier when you’re a foreigner. Yum ! Food !
Let’s invent this tool :
If you’re blocked on a text, an article, a paragraph, translate it ! If you’re a bit lazy, you’ll have to make it simpler. If you are full of energy, you’ll search for subtilities in the “other language” : it’ll give you ideas, patterns, new lights, seeds.