Human calendar


Archive for mars, 2010

« Let’s all hate Toronto »

dimanche, mars 28th, 2010

Toronto Skyline
Creative Commons License photo credit: Andy.Burgess

Of course, you can well imagine I would never write an article which discredits Canada or Toronto. I have lived and worked in Toronto for a year and visited the city several times as my husband is a Torontonian so I have been able to appreciate all that Toronto has to offer and I am more than ready to defend it!

« Let’s all hate Toronto » is the title of a one-hour film in the form of a road documentary in which you can follow ‘Mr Toronto’ on a tour of Canada. He will try to find out whether Toronto is actually hated by Canadians who don’t live there. It is a tongue-and-cheek (= à prendre au deuxième degré) documentary, don’t take it literally!

Watch it on HotDocs and browse (= parcourez) this website on which you can find documentaries by Canadian filmmakers.

London’s new skyline

samedi, mars 27th, 2010

City from Tower Bridge
Creative Commons License photo credit: Matt From London

On a trip to London, you must have seen the Gherkin (= le cornichon), a 40-floor, 180 meter skyscraper situated in the City of London. The Gherkin is a nickname for 30 St Mary Axe  also called the Swiss Re Building, Swiss Re being the world’s second-largest reinsurer (= réassureur, c’est-à-dire un assureur qui partage les risques pris en charge par un autre assureur, afin de limiter les risques auxquels celui-ci s’expose et d’éviter qu’un sinistre dont l’ampleur serait catastrophique ne conduise à sa ruine).  When you look at the shape of the skyscraper, you can well understand what it derives its name from!

A new skyscraper has very recently appeared in London’s skyline: the 43-floor, 148-meter Strata Tower, also known as the Razor. It comprises 408 apartments and is the tallest residential tower in central London. Three integrated nine-metre diameter wind turbines ( = éoliennes) are installed at the top of the tower where the wind blows at nearly 60 kilometers an hour. They set a new benchmark ( = un point de référence) in terms of environmental strategy as they are expected to produce approximately 8% of the building’s total energy consumption.

The Strata Tower is situated at Elephant and Castle in the London borough (= arrondissement) of Southwark in south east London, just south of the River Thames. In this borough, you can also find the City Hall:

and the rebuilt Globe Theatre:

Strata Tower under consturction
Creative Commons License photo credit: Matt From London

Elephant and Castle is an important road junction. Its strange name is thought to have its origins in a pub of the same name which has been there since at least the middle of the 18th century.  It is generally believed that the pub got its name from a visiting Spanish princess or ‘Infanta de Castile’ which was too complex to pronounce so it became ‘Elephant and Castle’ while in fact, the place was previously occupied by a cutler (= coutelier) whose coat of arms (= blason) showed an elephant because of the use of elephant ivory in handles and the castle on its back is in fact a howdah, in India it is a seat traditionally used by hunters.

CGI view of Shard London Bridge
Creative Commons License photo credit: Team London Bridge

In 2012, the highest skyscraper in London will be Shard London Bridge, also known as  London Bridge Tower or the Shard (of Glass) (ici= l’éclat de verre), a 72-floor, 310 meter tower. Its architect,Renzo Piano designed it as a ‘vertical city’ that will include offices, apartments, a five-star hotel, restaurants and a public viewing gallery. Its construction has started in Southwark.

If you want to have a look at the Shard in the London Bridge Quarter, click HERE.

Modal auxiliaries – TL

lundi, mars 22nd, 2010

Creative Commons License photo credit: pheezy

Avant le D.S. de vendredi, vous pouvez vous entraîner à l’aide de cet exercice: (la correction est en-dessous)

I-  Traduisez ces phrases en utilisant un auxiliaire modal ou un équivalent:

1-      Ils doivent être en train de dormir.

2-      Je ne veux pas te répondre.

3-      Quand j’habitais à Nice, je marchais tous les jours sur la plage.

4-      Il se pourrait que nous venions demain.

5-      Puis-je vous demander quelque chose ?

6-      Nous savons ce qu’il aurait fait .

7-      Tu pourras parler anglais.

8-      Il n’aurait pas dû lui parler.

9-      Ce ne peut être que John!

10-   Il sait déjà compter jusqu’à 10!

11-    Tu ne devrais pas l’écouter!

12-    Il n’est pas chez lui. Il a dû partir pour le week-end.

13-    Il était fatigué mais il a dû finir son travail.

14-    Vous ne devez pas tricher! (= to cheat)

15-    Elle ne sait pas nager.


1- They must be sleeping. (= hypothèse, degré de certitude élevé portant sur une action en cours de déroulement)

2- I won’t answer you. (= refus)

3- When I lived in Nice, I would walk on the beach every day. (habitude dans le passé)

4- We might come tomorrow. (hypothèse, degré de certitude peu élevé)

5- May I ask you something? (permission, forme plus polie qu’avec ‘can’)

6- We know what he would have done. (conditionnel passé)

7- You will be able to speak English. (capacité, fait futur, il faut utiliser ‘have to’, l’équivalent de ‘can’ pour pouvoir utiliser le modal ‘will’ car on ne trouve jamais modal + modal)

8- He shouldn’t have talked to her/him. (reproche)

9- This will be John. (ce qui est prévisible/typique du sujet)

10- He can already count up to ten! (capacité)

11- You shouldn’t listen to him/her! (conseil)

12- He isn’t home. He must have left for the weekend. (hypothèse, degré de certitude élevé, fait passé)

13- He was tired but he had to finish his work. (obligation, fait passé)

14- You mustn’t cheat! (interdiction)

15- She can’t swim. (incapacité)

Alfred Hitchcock

samedi, mars 20th, 2010

Today, there was an Open House Day at the school where I work as an English teacher and I was in charge of showing the computer room to the visitors with one of my colleagues.  Camille, Aurélie and Justine, three of my students, decided to write an article on Alfred Hitchcock. Here it is:

Creative Commons License photo credit: Fire Monkey Fish

Alfred Joseph HITCHCOCK was born in 1899,  in Leytonstone, England.  He’s a very famous director, writer, actor,  script writer and producer. He was nominated for five oscars. He’s nicknamed  » the master of suspense ». He made several movies which mainly deal with mystery cases. He always plays with the point of view of the audience,  dark and light such as in « Psycho » : it creates a specific strange mood. He died in 1980, in Los Angeles.

Here are some of his most famous movies:

Movies in which the scene takes place in England:

Murder (1930)

The thirty-nine steps (1935)

Jamaica inn (1939)

Movies in which the scene takes place in the United States:

Spellbound (1945)

Vertigo (1958)

Psycho (1960)

The birds (1963)

Justine, Aurélie and Camille.

How Privacy Vanishes Online

jeudi, mars 18th, 2010

Researchers collected names, ages and even Social Security numbers using bits of data from social network sites: read the article from The New York Times.

Learn English with the British Council

mercredi, mars 17th, 2010

British Council - London 1.jpg

Qu’est-ce que le British Council? La réponse se trouve sur leur site:

« Fondé en 1934, le British Council est une organisation internationale qui a pour but de créer des relations durables entre le Royaume-Uni et les autres pays dans le monde, par le biais d’échanges culturels et éducatifs. »

Un de ses buts est de promouvoir l’apprentissage de la langue anglaise. Sur leur site, vous pourrez tester votre niveau et améliorer votre vocabulaire, grammaire, écouter des podcasts, jouer à des jeux comme le pendu, etc… Cliquez ICI!

English version: click on this LINK to have access to the website of the British Council, an organisation based in the United Kingdom which specialises in international educational and cultural opportunities. On their website, you can improve your knowledge of the English language:test your level, improve your English grammar and vocabulary, listen to podcasts, play games…

Camden Town

samedi, mars 13th, 2010

Camden Town
Creative Commons License photo credit: bortescristian

Camden Town is situated in North London, not too far from St-Pancras where foreign visitors can arrive with the Eurostar.

On a trip to London, don’t miss Camden Town, a vibrant, eccentric and colourful district associated with alternative cultures.  It is famous for its markets in which you can find clothes you won’t find anywhere else, food from all over the world, antique dealers, music stores…

[London] Camden High Street
Creative Commons License photo credit: Un ragazzo chiamato Bi

Information from Wikipedia:

Camden is well-known for its markets: these are relatively new, except for Inverness Street market, a small food market serving the local community, though now with only 3 fruit and vegetable stalls (= stands) among more touristy stalls. Camden Lock market proper started in a former timber-yard in 1973, and is now surrounded by five more markets: Buck Street market, Stables market, Camden Lock village, and an indoor market in the Electric Ballroom. The markets are a major tourist attraction at weekends, selling goods of all types including fashion, lifestyle, books, food, junk/antiques and more bizarre items; they and the surrounding shops are popular with young people, in particular those searching for « alternative » clothing.

Camden Town
Creative Commons License photo credit: bortescristian

Camden Town
Creative Commons License photo credit: bortescristian

In Camden Town, you will also find many pubs like the mythic World’s End which has existed since 1778 and you can listen to live music at a famous venue called Koko or the legendary Electric Ballroom.

Former Camden Hippodrome -   London, England
Creative Commons License photo credit: rchappo2002

Camden Town
Creative Commons License photo credit: bortescristian

Camden is also one of the best places for tattoo parlours and body piercing.

Camden Town
Creative Commons License photo credit: bortescristian

Information from Wikipedia

The Regent’s Canal runs through the north end of Camden Town. Canalboat trips along the canal from Camden Lock ( a lock = une écluse) are a popular activity, particularly in the summer months. Many of the handrails by the bridges show deep marks worn by the towropes (= câble de remorquage) by which horses pulled canal barges (= les péniches) until the 1950s, and it is still possible to see ramps on the canal bank designed to assist horses which fell in the canal after being startled (= surpris) by the noise of a train.

Camden Lock
Creative Commons License photo credit: Tommi Komulainen

Camden Locks
Creative Commons License photo credit: eskimo_jo

Have a look at the Camden Lock website which includes a video of Camden.

Video: a visitor’s guide to London

vendredi, mars 12th, 2010

Watch this video which gives visitors  advice on what to see and what to do in London.


Le passif

mercredi, mars 10th, 2010

***Emploi: on utilise le passif lorsque l’on parle de quelqu’un ou quelque chose qui subit l’action. En choisissant d’utiliser le passif, on choisit donc de mettre en valeur l’objet de l’action en le choisissant comme point de départ de la phrase. Le complément d’agent de la phrase passive est d’ailleurs très souvent omis parce que ce n’est pas ce qui intéresse le locuteur.

***Formation du passif: auxiliaire ‘be’ au temps voulu suivi du participe passé du verbe.

Exemple: Actif: he killed (prétérit)  —> passif: he was killed (auxiliaire ‘be’ au prétérit + participe passé du verbe ‘kill’)

Exercice: complétez le tableau suivant avec les différentes formes du verbe ‘donner’ (voir la correction plus bas):


Actif Passif
Présent simple I give (= je donne)
on me donne = I …
Présent en be + ing I am giving I


I gave I
Prétérit en be + ing I was giving I
Présent perfect I have given I
Past perfect I had given I
Futur I will give I
Conditionnel présent
I would give I
Infinitif to give I

***Pour transformer une phrase active en phrase passive (pour mettre l’accent sur le complément d’objet), il faut effectuer les transformations suivantes:

Exemple: actif: The secretary has sent all the letters.

passif: All the letters have been sent by the secretary.

Le complément de la phrase active (all the letters) devient sujet de la phrase passive.

– Au passif, l’auxiliaire ‘be’ se met au présent perfect, c’est-à-dire au temps du verbe de la phrase active  – attention au passage du singulier (the secretary has …) au pluriel (all the letters have …) – et on rajoute le verbe au participe passé: sent.

Le sujet de la phrase active devient complément d’agent de la phrase passive. Il est précédé de la préposition ‘by’ (= par).

***Lorsqu’un verbe a deux compléments: un COD et un COI, on peut alors former deux phrases passives: l’une en prenant le COD comme sujet de la phrase active et l’autre en prenant le COI. Tout dépend de ce que l’on veut mettre en valeur mais c’est généralement une personne (= le COI) qui sera le sujet passif plutôt qu’un object (=le COD)

Exemple: actif: Someone gave me the secret code.

Passif: I was given the secret code   ou The secret code was given to me. (dans ce cas, on rajoute ‘to’ devant le COD)

On ne rajoute pas le complément d’agent ‘by someone’ parce qu’il n’apporte aucune information intéressante.

*** Lorsque vous employez un verbe prépositionnel au passif, n’oubliez pas de placer la préposition juste derrière le participe passé.

Exemple: Actif: People made fun of him —> passif: He was made fun of.

Exercice: mettez ces phrases au passif : (la correction est en dessous)

1-They are making a new film.

2-They destroyed many historic buildings during the war.

3-Someone has broken the vase.

4-I wasn’t sure they could restore the castle.

5-They speak a lot of languages in this hotel.

6-She will give you a new watch.

7- They looked after me.


1- A new film is being made. (complément d’agent inintéressant)

2- Many historic buildings were destroyed during the war.

3- The vase  has been broken.

4- I wasn’t sure the castle could be restored.

5- A lot of languages are spoken in this hotel.

6- You will be given a new watch. (ou: A new watch will be given to you)

7- I was looked after.



Actif Passif
Présent simple I give I am given (= on me donne…)
Présent en be + ing I am giving I am being given


I gave I was given
Prétérit en be + ing I was giving I was being given
Présent perfect I have given I have been given
Past perfect I had given I had been given
Futur I will give I will be given
Conditionnel présent
I would give I would be given
Infinitif to give to be given

American slang

lundi, mars 8th, 2010

If you want to learn American slang (= argot), click HERE, you will find more than 280 American slang expressions.