Today I am writing to you from Avignon, France where, until the 17th century, people danced “sous le pont”, never “sur le pont”, as the famous song has led us to believe. The weather is a delight so far. It is fall and like our area, the leaves are turning and the trees are shedding these beautiful adornments. Everyone is getting ready for the winter; from the winter truffles which will appear just before Christmas to the mooring of the river boat we are on. We are on the next to last voyage until March; when spring will awaken nature and this vessel will once again set sail.
Meanwhile, stateside, we are getting ready for the opening of our Spanish and English as a Second Language Programs, which will be posted on our website towards the end of November. Be sure to check the site for details. We will have a series of free Mommy and Me classes posted as well. Feel free to register for a class and try us out! Also look for details on our 3rd Annual St. Nicolas Day Celebration taking place on December 6th 2009.
October has been a very busy month. We participated in the Christopher Columbus Parade and Festival in Washington Park. We had a real blast at the Halloween Bash presented by the Children’s Guide at Siena College where we greeted over 150 families, did a fall craft with children of all ages, while we taught them some seasonal words in French! Last, but not least, our Learn French and Travel program has taken us to many wonderful experiences this week, as we sailed through the Soane and Rhone Rivers.
We welcome this month’s guest writer, Dr. Dean P. Skarlis, President at The College Advisor Of New York – College Admissions and Financial Strategy. October is the best time to start seriously thinking about college preparation, taking stock in your child’s language preparation and taking steps to help them sharpen their skills before they reach the point where they are struggling. We have great programs to help your high school student get the preparation they need to realize their future goals and dreams. Dr. Skarlis, successfully counsels and coaches many high school aged students as they prepare for and apply to colleges.
Our staff writers continue to inform and delight you this month with secret places in Italy, the Francophone world and developments from the French government. The French world is quite large and diverse.
I want to welcome our new readers to our newsletter; they are numerous this month. I hope that you enjoy reading the newsletter as much as we have enjoyed putting it together.
On behalf of myself and the staff at The Language Learning Institute, we wish you all a wonderful November, and a very Happy and Healthy Thanksgiving.
A la prochaine!
Nancy Scarselletta Owner/Developer The Language Learning Institute 518-346-7096
College Prep: Take 4 Years of Language in High School
By Dr. Dean Skarlis
Foreign language requirements vary from school to school, and the exact requirement is often unclear for any individual college. For example, is the “minimum” requirement really adequate? Do language classes in middle school count?
Most colleges require at least two years of foreign language in high school. Many would like to see three or more years, and most Ivy League schools urge applicants to take four years. These classes should be in the same language – colleges strongly prefer to see proficiency in one language rather than a superficial smattering of several languages.
When a college recommends “two or more” years of a language, they are clearly signaling that language study beyond two years would strengthen your application. Today’s world is becoming increasingly globalized, so proficiency in a foreign language carries a lot of weight with admissions counselors and employers.
That said, students who apply with just the minimum can gain admission if their applications demonstrate strengths in other areas. Many less competitive schools don’t have a high school language requirement at all.
But studying a foreign language for 4 years in high school will clearly help your college admissions chances. More importantly, it will prepare you for a world that continues to get smaller and smaller.
Dr. Dean Skarlis is President of the College Advisor of New York, a comprehensive college consulting practice serving clients across New York and the United States. His website is: www.CollegeAdvisorNy.com.
Sardegna, Italy Capital, Cagliari From Rome – 1 hour flight or 7 hour ferry
Do you have a secret that you want to keep to yourself but just can’t…my secret is Sardegna, or Sardinia, a place I visited for the first time when I was seven. I still remember how amazingly beautiful and different it was from the mainland – desert like and lush all at once, filled with traditions all it’s own. Sardinia, a fascinating and beautiful island, off the west coast of mainland Italy is the second largest island in the Mediterranean and is divided into 16 sub-regions and four provinces called Cagliari, Sassari, Nuoro and Oristano. Famous for the beaches of the Costa Smerelda, or Emerald Coast, there’s lots more to see on the island. Beautiful coasts and beaches to the interior mountains, small cities, unusual stone towers known as nuraghi and a wealth of archaeological sites, Sardinia offers a diverse range of scenery and activities. As stunning as Sardinia’s craggy creases and shimmering shorelines are, some of its most memorable sights are found underwater. Let local guides lead you through Roman shipwrecks, colorful coral and the largest underwater cave in the Mediterranean; Nereo. If an underwater cave isn’t what you’re looking for, visit the Grotta di Nettuno, one of the most popular excursions for visitors to the town of Alghero. A tour of the Grotto counts as one of the star attractions in the whole of Sardinia. These marine caves are located to the west of the town and can be reached by two different methods, each with their own merits. Two and a half hour boat trips from Alghero’s port depart in regular intervals, of which thirty minutes is spent at sea. The scenery includes the tranquil blue bay of Porte Conte and the spectacular vertical cliffs at Capo Caccia. Just as rewarding as the sea trip is the forty five minute drive from Alghero. The road winds around to Capo Caccia and ends short of the climb to the lighthouse which is just a short walk to the start of the steps. The 656 steps, a fifteen minute descent which I still remember, that lead down to the Grotto are an experience in themselves. Called the Escala Del Cabirol or goat’s steps, these were cut into the sheer cliff wall in 1954 and zigzag down the cliff before running horizontally along to the Grotto entrance. Once inside the Grotta, discovered by fishermen in the eighteenth century, this sea-level cave complex uses dramatic lighting to enhance a multitude of stunning stalactites and stalagmites. After climbing down and then up the 656 steps of the Grotto, you might be hungry for a bite to eat and a good glass of wine. Try dining or even spending a night in an agriturismo, working farm inns where your owner is always a local and willing to offer you the kind of rural hospitality that has made Sardinia famous throughout Italy. The meals served are almost always made entirely on the farm, so you never have to worry about its freshness. Most agriturismi are modest affairs, what they lack in modern amenities such as satellite TV, they more than make up for in free-range animals lying around. Be warned: come prepared to loosen your belt and put on a few pounds.
Bonjour! This month, I invite you to visit the Principality of Andorra, the smallest state in Europe in the heart of the Pyrenees. Legend tells that Charlemagne founded Andorra in 805 in recognition of aid given by its inhabitants against the Saracens. The territory is structured into seven local administrative divisions known as parishes. They are managed by the town halls. Andorra is a parliamentary co-principality. It is the only country in the world with two heads of state. The co-princes, the bishop of Urgell and the president of the French Republic, are the exclusive Andorran heads of state in person, jointly and indivisibly. Andorra is a member of the OIF (Organisation Internationale de la Francophonie) since 2004. Although, Catalan is the official language, French is widely spoken along with Spanish and Portuguese. Trade and tourism (60%) and finance (16%) are the three motors behind the economy and, at the same time, the sectors which generate most jobs. Next month, we will travel further east and learn more about this young republic, former republic of the Soviet Union. A bientot!
The French government is dominated by many different parties which sometimes form coalitions to have a majority in the lower house of Parliament, or the Assembée Nationale. Right now, the Union pour un Mouvement Populaire, Union for a Popular Movement, or otherwise known as UMP holds the majority in Parliament and in the executive branch. UMP is an example of a party which formed after a long-term coalition of several parties within Parliament, which eventually merged into one. In fact, UMP is considered relatively young, as it was created in 2002. UMP combined the Gaullist conservative party of Rally for the Republic (RFR), the Liberal-Democracy party (LD), much of the party Union for a French Democracy (UDF), the Christian Democrats, the social-liberal Radical party, and the central Popular Party for French Democracy. UMP was created primarily as an umbrella for those who supported Jacques Chirac during the 2002 Presidential election. After that point, we saw a decline in the number of electoral parties.
These merges happen quite frequently. In fact, this past Sunday, the Parti Communiste Français (PCF) and the Parti Socialiste (PS) voted on a merge of the two parties, as they hold a left-wing coalition within the Assemblée Nationale. Together, they hold 201 seats out of 577 (UMP holds 313). In the end, they voted for independence in regional and national elections; however, it is still possible that the two can merge in municipal elections. If the vote had been carried out, we would have seen an even greater decline in the number of parties and a trend similar to the American two-party system, with major coalitions being replaced by two major groups on either side of the political left/ right spectrum. For now, the UMP still dominates; but we may see changes during the next presidential election in 2012.
“Travelling with the Language Learning Institute is a wonderful experience! The groups are small, there is a lot of variety, and the trips are flexible enough that you can break away and do your own thing for a while if you want. I have never really wanted to do that, though, because the planned activities are so interesting. I have been on two trips on which I learned a lot about the different regions of France and even Belgium. The trip cost includes five or so sessions before the trip in which we learn about what we are going to experience and in which we learn a little of the language so that we can at least order in French. There is also a wine and cheese party in which we sample the products of the regions we are going to visit and in which we get to know our trip mates better. I would recommend the Learn French and Travel trips to anyone, but particularly for those who want to visit a country in a way that combines the security of a group with the flexibility to do your own thing!”