Alle Beiträge von Matthias Säuberlich

How English Spelling Keeps Kids From Learning

You might think that children who grow up with English have a big advantage. But it’s not all so easy. The irregular spelling system of the English language causes considerable problems for young minds, requiring abilities that most children don’t develop until they are pre-teens. In fact, English-speaking children typically need about three years to learn the basics of reading and writing, while children in most European countries needed a year or less.


Rugby World Cup 2015 (and an Intro to Rugby for Beginners)

This weekend will see the quarter finals of the Rugby World Cup 2015. Like the FIFA World Cup, it is held every 4 year, with this year’s event hosted by England. With the pool stage finished, 8 teams have made it to the quarter finals – South Africa, Wales, France, New Zealand, Ireland, Argentina, Australia and Scotland


If you want to take this opportunity to watch some top-level international rugby, Eurosport is the only free-to-air channel showing some of the matches on German TV. If you can find a way to watch British ITV, they are showing all the games live. And most Irish / British pubs will be showing the games, just phone one and ask. To help you enjoy this very complex sport, have a look at the video below, it will explain some of the basics.

Tongue Twisters

Tongue twisters can be a fun way of practising your pronunciation. Try some of the examples below aloud.

Shep Schwab shopped at Scott’s Schnapps shop;
One shot of Scott’s Schnapps stopped Schwab’s watch.

All I want is a proper cup of coffee,
Made in a proper copper coffee pot.

Around the rugged rocks the ragged rascals ran.

The keen king kissed the quick queen on her green ring.

Other than their brother, I’d rather bother those
who gather worthier brethren than these.

And what is considered by many to be the most difficult tongue twister in English:

The sixth sick Sheik’s sixth sheep’s sick.

Of course, tongue twisters do not only exist in English – most languages have them. The video below shows some examples from around the world.

Idiom 113 – Dutch Courage

We took our new Japanese clients out for a large dinner last night. Because I studied Japanese for 2 years at high-school, it was decided I should make a speech in Japanese after the meal. I was very nervous about it, but fortunately the four glasses of wine I had with dinner gave me all the dutch courage (angetrunkener Mut) I needed.


The most common explanation for this idiom dates back to the Anglo-Dutch Wars of the 17th and 18th centuries. English soldiers claimed that Dutch soldiers needed to drink gin (invented by the Dutch) to give them enough courage to fight. In this sense the term is rather racist, suggesting that the Dutch would only show up for wars if they were drunk.

Why English Has Words With Silent Letters (includes Podcast Recommendation 13)

This article from the Grammar Girl blog looks at the phenomenon of silent letters – did you know that more than half of the letters in the English alphabet are silent in at least some words? Why they are so common in English? Click the picture below to see more. There is also a podcast to accompany the article (top right of page).

Words With Silent Letters

Cultural difference in business between China and Europe

Today the LINGUA FRANCA Sprachschule blog is bringing you another video from the TED series. TED (Technology, Education, Design) is an international and interdisciplinary conference series based around the concept “ideas worth spreading”.

This talk by Valérie Hoeks looks at one of the key difference between Europe and China – the importance that is given to relationships. In China connections with the right people help you to get things done, to survive and to succeed. This talk provides essential information for anyone interested in doing business in China.

This video is suitable for a variety of levels. Higher-level English learners (B2+ and up) should just watch it without subtitles. Intermediate students (B1+ – B2) turn on the English subtitles. Lower-level learners (up to B1+) can turn on the German (or the language of your choice) subtitles.


Idiom 112 – White elephant

It feels like the new BER airport in Berlin will never be finished. It’s too late to give up because so much money has been invested already, but it’s nowhere near ready for travellers. And on top of it all, it costs 16 million euros each month just to maintain the unfinished buildings. It’s a total white elephant (lästiger Besitz – mehr Ärgernis als Nutzen).

File:Lord White Elephant.jpgThe term comes from the sacred white elephants that used to be kept by the kings and queens of Southeast Asia as symbols of justice, power, peace and prosperity. The white elephants were seen as objects of great opulence, very expensive but not particularly useful

Podcast Recommendation 12 – The Economics Of Sleep

Hello from the very warm LINGUA FRANCA offices in Berlin. With the heatwave currently being felt in Germany, sleep has become a problem for many. But did you know that it seems those who sleep more, earn more and get sick less often?PC Sleep

In this 2-part episode (Part 1 / Part 2) from the Freakonomics podcast economist Steven D. Levitt, and writer Stephen J. Dubner, look at the health and economic effects of our sleeping habits . Best suited to B2- and higher students – lower levels can follow the audio using the transcript for Part 1 and Part 2.
iTunes link