Hello! Long time no see, as usual! As it’s exam season, I haven’t had nearly as much time or energy as I would have liked to devote to blogging, but nevertheless I am here now, taking a break from revision to enjoy the sunshine and plan for summer. There are many things that I’d like to do in the summer whilst I’ve got plenty of free time, so I thought I’d write a list to give me something to look forward amidst the stress of exams.
Amsterdam – probably the most exciting yet daunting thing that will be happening this summer as two friends and I will be travelling to Amsterdam in July – our first trip away as responsible adults without our parents. We haven’t yet planned out exactly what we’re going to do, but I am really looking forward to it, considering I wasn’t expecting to be able to go abroad for the next few years! We definitely want to take a canal cruise, and there are a few places that we have in mind to visit, but if you have any suggestions I’d love to hear them!
Snowdon – another exciting thing that’s happening is our family camping trip to Snowdon. I’ve never been to Snowdonia – or North Wales for that matter – and as a keen adventurer, climbing a mountain is something I’ve wanted to do for a long time. I absolutely love camping and being in the outdoors, so I’m really pleased that we’ll be going just after exams finish for a well-earned break. I’m sure you’ll hear all about my travels on here over the next few months.
Reading – honestly I have read about 1 and a half books since Christmas, and one of them was for my upcoming French exam. I can’t wait to be able to read for fun again – I still have the French version of I’ll Give You The Sun by Jandy Nelson that I bought dans la librarie in Marseille last summer to read, as well as a book on the political history of France that I picked up for 10p at a library book sale ages ago. Not to mention my Goodreads TBR list, which continues to grow.
Blogging – of course how could I not mention blogging?? It’ll be nice to get back into the flow of writing non-academically and who knows, maybe I’ll start writing on my French blog again.
Preparing for uni – I am actually really looking forward to shopping for all my university supplies. I’ve got a few things but still much more to get before Fresher’s Week.
Beach days – I mean, I live in a seaside town with close proximity to at least three beaches, so I’ve got to have at least one beach day right?
Spending time with friends/family – it’ll be nice to have the whole family back together again when my sister comes home from uni for the summer. Also, I’m looking forward to spending time with friends, although I’m worried I will lose contact with a lot of friends from college and not be able to see my friends as often as I’d like as most of them have jobs. However, it’ll be good to spend at least some time with them before we all go our separate ways.
Well I think that’s all I can think of for now, other than the obvious ‘sleep’ which is becoming more and more elusive as exam season draws nearer. If you’re in the UK, I hope you’ve been enjoying this little heat wave and best of luck to anyone taking exams this term. 🙂
Some of my happiest memories stem from summers spent exploring the British coast and countryside. Waking up to birdsong, under canvas, and morning dew settled precariously on blades of grass. Driving through country lanes, sun blaring through the windows, music blaring through the speakers, smiling from ear to ear as we drove to the coast. Abandoning flip-flops and dashing towards the sea and jumping the waves, full of love and life. Playing cricket on the beach under the hazy sun. Sure, sun burn and sleeping bags never ended well, but that’s how life is, in the summer time.
Wandering through little fishing villages, marvelling at how simple and happy a life here could be – a breeze in the relative storm of modern life. Sun reflecting, fragmenting over the oscillating ocean that stretches as far as the eye can see. That sense of peacefulness as the wind tickles your skin and wraps round your hair. For a moment, the Earth stood still.
Climbing up headlands and hills – to admire the view or just for the thrill? I never knew. Watching the sun turn the sky into a frenzy of redorangeyellowredpink as the evenings dragged out and campfire embers died. One day, I hope, summer will last forever, and every day will mark a new adventure. But for now, I’ll just count down the days until the sun blazes hot in the sky and I can live this life again.
Hello! (Excuse my attempt at doing a northern accent in that title) but last Sunday (20th), I traveled up to Yorkshire with my family for a week to stay with my grandparents and I thought I’d document my travels whilst I was there. I’ll take you through day by day, as I started off writing on each day but then got out of the habit of it, so wrote the last few days up on the long drive home.
Sunday was such a long day. We had planned to leave early and stop off at Biddulph Grange Gardens in Staffordshire before going to Yorkshire, so we could split up the usual 4 hour journey a bit. However, as there were major roadworks around Birmingham, we got a bit confused, and hit delays and then once we’d actually got into Staffordshire, we got lost and Google maps was our only saviour in helping us actually find the gardens. After almost 4 hours we made it to the gardens, had lunch and looked around. It was actually stunning – the garden was split up into different countries, so there was a Chinese garden, an Italian garden, an Egyptian garden and so on. I managed to take some cool photos of flowers and we got to go inside a pyramid (made of hedges), go through various tunnels and over little bridges and explore Chinese temples.
Once we’d left the garden, it was supposed to take just under two hours to get to my grandparents in West Yorkshire where we were staying for the week. However there were road closures again that we weren’t aware of and we got stuck in the middle of no where and had to ring them for directions. We thought we may have to make a massive two hour detour and go through Sheffield but we were directed down the ominous sounding Snake Pass, which actually turned out to go through the beautiful Peak District so the scenery was lovely. We went through some little towns in the Peak District too, like Buxton and Glossop, that were just sort of in the middle of nowhere?? It was strange. We also managed to go through Midhopestones and drove along the exact bit of road we watched the Tour de France fly (well…cycle) past in 2014.
Eventually we got there at about 7:30, so we’d spent around 6-7 hours traveling which was pretty exhausting, so it was nice to have e got there at last!
We were all pretty exhausted from Sunday’s travelling, so we had a relaxing day. We went for a walk around the village (which actually ended up in us walking to the next village because we took a wrong turn) and my sister and I spent the rest of the day doing a jigsaw puzzle, then once we’d done that we started a French murder mystery/escape “game” that I just discovered in the Ça M’intéresse magazine I bought in France! Basically you get clues and have to find the answers throughout the magazine to create mystery words which supposedly join together to make a sentence revealing who killed the mysterious murderee Sovère. We managed to do two out of seven (I think) parts to the “game” – it was really fun although a challenge for us both as I had to read all the French then translate it for my sister, then we’d search for the answers and solve French anagrams. I think I’m definitely going to ask for a French puzzle book for my birthday because it’s such a great way to practice my language skills and I love a good word game.
(Also I was so cold on Monday, I mean I’m pretty sure it wasn’t even that cold out but I think my brain was like “you’re up north, be cold” so I wrapped up warm in a winter jumper and fluffy socks haha).
We got up fairly early today as we were heading off to Manchester for the day. We didn’t actually venture into the city (other than driving round) but visited Quarry Bank Mill in a place called Styal near Manchester airport. We’d been recommended the mill by the relatives we were staying with for the week, as they had visited a couple of times.
On the way there, we drove through long winding roads surrounding by hills, lakes and heather (and of course drystone walls) – it was so great to drive through the Yorkshire countryside with Bastille blasting out the car radio.
The mill itself was set in a little valley with a river running through the heart of it, and the actual land owned by the mill owners was pretty big. At the top of the valley as you entered there was the apprentice house, where children who were taken on by the mill owners from as young as 9 to 18 years slept, ate and attended school (well, the boys did anyway). We did a little guided tour of the apprentice house, which was really cool as our tour guide was dressed up and she took us round the school room, bedroom, treatment room and kitchen, explaining to us what the daily life of the apprentices would be like.
After that we went to look round some greenhouses and a small garden area where again I couldn’t resist practicing my photography.
Then we ventured down into the valley and had a picnic on the mill meadows, next to the river and a hydroelectric dam that looked like a waterfall.
When we actually ventured into the mill itself, it was huge and there was so much to look at. They had running machinery on each floor taking you through the cotton making process, which was very noisy, and the tour guides were so insightful and full of interesting facts.
We also walked through the main gardens of the mill, outside the mill owner’s house, which had lovely flowerbeds, including one replicating the family crest in the stainglass window of the house.
It was a long day, but Quarry Bank Mill is definitely worth a visit if you’re in the area! Especially if you’re interested in finding out about what life for mill workers would have been like in the 1800s. (I should add that both Quarry Bank Mill and Biddulph Grange Gardens are owned by the National Trust).
We were quite tired again from our day out the previous day, but we still wanted to go out and explore so we went in to Holmfirth, which is a little village in the Holme Valley (where Last of the Summer Wine was filmed if anyone knows that old TV series). Holmfirth is one of my favourite places in Yorkshire – it’s so quaint. I hadn’t been in a good few years as we haven’t gone up in summer for a long time (when we go up at Christmas we don’t tend to go on day trips much), so it was the first time since Le Tour de France passed through in 2014 that I’d been there and I was surprised that many shops still had painted bikes outside there shops and in there walls and Tour de France bunting.
We went to a little bakery and bought some cakes for elevenses, had a walk round then drove up to a viewpoint at Holme Moss to eat out cake. The views were amazing!!
We relaxed for the rest of the day and my mum and I started another puzzle, this time a circular one of the Lowry print “A Lancashire Village”. I love Lowry’s paintings and as he was born in Manchester, he has a lot of paintings of Yorkshire towns and villages which are so interesting to look at.
On Thursday we went out with my grandparents to the Peak District for a hike. We walked part of the Pennine Way and walked around various reservoirs. It was lovely – the hills were covered in beautiful purple heather and there were boats sailing on the reservoirs. We walked around 6 miles in all, which doesn’t sound that far but I’m not the most active of people 😂.
After we got home I was so tired I had to have a nap for a bit.
I was a bit stressed on Friday because I was supposed to be enrolling at college and getting my timetable and bus pass but as I was 300 miles away from home there was no chance I could go and my friends were telling me the classes have been mixed around. However I still had a great day – we took the train into Huddersfield, the nearby town, which brought back so many memories because I used to go into town with my grandma and sister when we were younger. We looked round some of the markets there and visit the town art gallery where we saw a Yorkshire photographic society exhibition, a Peter Brook exhibition (he paints beautiful Yorkshire landscapes, often featuring his sheep dog), a sculptural exhibition entitled “Reproduction” with artwork made of images of cells and DNA and the permanent exhibition which features two Lowry paintings.
We also ended up going stationary shopping at Ryman’s as we don’t have one at home and then got lost finding Sainsbury’s, ended up at Tesco’s and got lost trying to find the entrance 😂. We also walked along the canal tow path for a bit too where we were greeted with a “top of the morning to you” from a passing couple.
On Saturday my sister and I were going to Leeds festival, which is basically the reason we came up to Yorkshire. We didn’t get up too early as we weren’t planning on getting there until 12:30. We left just after 10:00 to drive up to Leeds and it didn’t take as long as expected so we stopped at a service station in Wetherby for about 45 mins. The service station was packed with people – it was fun to try to spot who was going to the festival and who was going to watch the various football matches that were on that day. I saw several people in Bastille tops so they were definitely going to the festival haha.
The festival itself was absolutely amazing. The atmosphere was brilliant and it felt really well organised. We’d planned out before hand using the very handy Reading and Leeds app (because both the festivals happen on the same weekends but the acts play on different days in each location) all the bands we wanted to see so we know what times they were on and on which stages. The festival site itself was huge, although it was nice and spacious and it didn’t feel too crowded.
When we got there we came across the Alternative Stage (after having our tickets exchanged for wristbands – by the way how long is it acceptable to wear festival wristbands for? Because I’ve still got mine on a week or so later lol) and stumbled upon ‘WifiWars’. We didn’t know what it was but my sister recognised Steve from Go 8 Bit on TV and eventually found out that basically it was a massive video game competition with smartphones. So we logged onto the website and joined the blue team and played various games such as good ol’ snake, penalty shoot out, a sort of adventure game called ‘Dragons Lair’ and a first person shooter game, all with varying success. But we like to think we helped the blue team to victory as when we entered they were losing by about 300 points to the reds and in the end we actually won by 60 points (ish)!! It was really fun, I would definitely do it again.
The first band we wanted to see was The Amazons on the Festival Republic Stage (I should add all the stages except the main stage were in fact very large tents). Although we didn’t know many of their songs, they were still fun to listen to and the crowd was really getting into the music.
Next I think we decided to head over to the BBC Introducing Stage, where we saw Olly Chamberlain, and eat some lunch as it was around 2:00 pm. Olly was actually really good for such a young musician, and I would definitely recommend you check out his music!
I’m struggling to remember the order we saw everything in even though it was a week ago, but I’m pretty sure we went to the Main Stage and saw Rat Boy afterwards. I’d actually seen Rat Boy before in 2015 as they supported The 1975. I can’t really remember much of their music from then, I just remember not being able to hear very clearly as it was an indoor venue and the sound reverberated, distorting the music. Oh and I also remember me and my friend were like a few metres away from them whilst queuing to get in as their tour van pulled up round the back of the venue and they all got out for fans to take photos. However I really, really enjoyed their set at Leeds. It had such a summer-y vibe and watching live music in full sunshine is honestly the best thing ever. I mean, nighttime concerts re great but there’s nothing quite like festivals. Some of their songs I recognised from the radio so could sing along a bit, but all of the songs were jams. Since I’ve come up I’ve been listening to their music all week, which is surprising because I didn’t think I’d like their style of music so much!
After we moved closer to the Main Stage because one of our most anticipated sets was n afterwards. I was so excited to see Circa Waves – their music is the definition of summer! I have their vinyl at home and it’s just so upbeat and cheerful – I love it! I’ve been wanting to see Circa Waves for a few years now, as I couldn’t see them on tour last year 😦 I’d been eagerly watching their sets at Glastonbury and Radio 1’s Big Weekend online over the past couple of years, so finally being able to see them live was amazing! I loved how the crowd was so invested in their set too, and so many people were singing along which was great because none of my friends have even heard of them.
After Circa Waves finished their set I was a bit sad because I honestly didn’t want it to end, but the good thing about festivals is there is always more music to listen to, whereas once a concerts over, it’s really over. I think we went to watch Anne Marie next at the BBC Radio 1/NME Stage. I’m not the biggest fan of Anne Marie’s music, but it was worth going to hear the hits Alarm, Ciao Adios and Rockabye and dance along with the crowds.
I think after that we headed over to the merch stand. Honestly there was so much band merch, not to mention the Leeds merch itself, but we settled on buying a set of Leeds pin badges because we didn’t bring a lot of money with us and are planning on ordering the Leeds t-shirts online when we’ve saved some money.
We went back to the main stage at around 6:30 I think and sat down on the sort of hill that looks down on it and ate some dinner whilst watching Two Door Cinema Club. I didn’t really know much of their music at all, but it was enjoyable to listen to and definitely gave out summer vibes.
When it got to about 7:30 we decided to head closer to the stage and get a good spot because Bastille were on at 7:50. We were both really excited to see Bastille as they’re a band we’ve loved for ages and ages. When they came onto the stage, I couldn’t believe that I was finally watching them perform. The whole set just felt like a dream haha, I didn’t want it to end! Dan was so good at interacting with the crowd (not to mention singing) and the stage set up/background graphics were so cool. I’d definitely recommend you go to see Bastille if you can because they really do know how to put on a show. I had a bit of a sore throat by the end of their set from singing all the words. What was even better was that as they were playing, the sun was setting and it was one of the most beautiful sunsets I’ve ever seen. It really made the moment more special.
We waited around after their set for the headliners of the day – Kasabian – to come on stage. The background graphics for their set were really cool too, and as it was properly dark by then the stage lighting sort of beamed out into the darkness. In the end we only watched half of their set as the crowd was getting a bit rowdy, but I’m glad I got to hear You’re In Love With A Psycho as it’s one of the few songs of theirs I actually know.
We headed away from the main stage and went to see Bear’s Den in another stage which I’ve completely forgotten the name of…ooops. There wasn’t a huge crowd watching them but it was so nie to watch a more intimate set, and their music was really relaxing and peaceful. After they finished, we made the long (well not that long but it feels long when your legs are like jelly from jumping to music all day) walk back to the car park where our parents were waiting to pick us up.
It was a long day, but I had an absolutely amazing time and I’d love to return next year if I can!
As you can probably guess, Sunday was a lazy day. I didn’t wake up extremely late because I wanted to make the most of my last day up north. For the majority of the morning (after packing my stuff away), my mum and I powered through the Lowry puzzle because we were barely half-finished but wanted to complete it before going home (it was such a difficult puzzle but so worth it). Afterwards we had the (not so) genius idea of trying to turn the puzzle over (because it was a double-sided puzzle) as we wanted to see what the other side looked like. After getting the whole family involved and using various place mats to hold the puzzle together (and a couple of mishaps) we managed it.
We ate lunch outside as it was lovely and sunny – typically all the nice weather arrives on the day you’re leaving. We went for a long walk around the village and neighboring fields in the afternoon as I hadn’t done the usual walk yet that week, and it’s sort of something we always do whilst we’re staying there.
After having dinner, we said our goodbyes and started the long drive home. I was really, really sad to be leaving. I’ve grown so attatched to Yorkshire over the past 10 years that my grandparents have been living there, and I’ve made so many memories there. I felt so relaxed during the holiday it was a shame to come home to the stress of college again. But I definitely made some good memories this time which I will cherish until I can return again.
So, that concludes my adventures in Yorkshire. I’m sorry it’s been such a long post – but it was an action-packed week that I wanted to document here and share with you all. I was hoping to have compiled all my videos from Leeds together to share with you by now, but it’s taking longer than expected as my wifi is so slow it takes half an hour to upload each 1 minute clip to YouTube! So keep an eye out for that in the hopefully near future (I will post about it on here when it is up at last).
I hope you’ve all had a marvelous summer and best wishes to all those venturing back to school in the days to come.
So a few posts ago, I mentioned I’ll be heading off to the Côte d’Azur in a few weeks (eek!), more specifically to Marseille. Since it’s going to be between 25-30°C – temperatures that we never really get in British summers (apart from last week when it was 28°C for two days then we had a huge thunder storm) – I found myself in need of lightweight, summer-y clothes to wear and hence went on a little shopping sprees!
Disclaimer: I’m not great at photographing clothing and only had a small desk to use as a white background, hence why I couldn’t fit the whole items of clothing in the pictures, so do bear with!
I actually bought these t-shirts last year from Primark for £4 each, but they’re fairly thin and light-coloured so they look more summery than the majority of my t-shirts. I also bought another white t-shirt similar to the one pictured above from Sainsbury’s, but this one is made of cotton so hopefully will be cooler on the hotter days.
This blue tunic-type top also came from Sainsbury’s. I fell in love with it when I first saw it, and it’s the perfect top to take with me as it’s soooo lightweight but because it’s blue, it’s can’t see through it either. Also I love how it’s a bit different from the generic t-shirts that I usually wear. It did cost me £13, but it was reduced from £18, and it’s something I could wear all year round.
I got this zip hoodie in New Look at Christmas in a sale for £7. I know it seems a bit odd to take a hoodie to the Mediterranean, but my teacher suggested it just incase it gets cold in the evening or the weather isn’t as nice as it usually is. I probably won’t wear it, but it’s best to be prepared! Bottoms:
So I got these shorts a few months ago when I went up to Primark – for £4 I think – and thought they’d be perfect to wear on the beach. My teacher told us that it’s fine to wear more “revealing” clothing on the beach, but when walking around the city we need to cover up a bit, so I won’t be wearing these accept when we go to the beach in the evenings to cool off as they are quite short on me (struggles of being tall). I’m still on the look out for a suitable pair of shorts to wear that are knee-length and lightweight, so if you know anywhere I could look let me know! I am going down to Primark again next week so I can have e another look in there as well and see if I can find anything.
So I also bought this dress last year, from a shop called Store Twenty One which is a sort of budget clothing chain in the UK. The dress is fairly long – it comes down to just above my knees – but is the perfect length to wear in Marseille as it’s quite dignified. Also, it’s a very lightweight, floaty material again which helps to keep me cool. I think it probably cost me around £8-£10, but I can’t remember since it was a year ago!
Okay so I didn’t *necessarily* need to get new pyjamas, as I already have a few sets of summer pyjamas, but when I saw this cute cacti vest and shorts set in Sainsbury’s, I couldn’t resist. Plus they had a pretty good sale on for bank holiday weekend, meaning I picked up this set for just £7.50 which I think is pretty good value!
Due to the heat, we’ll be going down to the beach that’s 5 minutes walk from the youth hostel to see and cool off in the evenings. Therefore I dug out my black and white polkadot tankini (I’m not a bikini person) I bought a few years ago from Store Twenty One and luckily it still fits! Accessories:
As it will be very hot and sunny in Marseille, I decided to invest in a new hat. Usually I wear baseball caps on holiday, but I find they make my head really hot, and I saw this in Deichmann for £7 and thought it was the perfect alternative! It’s a little bit big for my head, meaning that my head doesn’t overheat and it’s very comfortable. However I will have to make sure I hold onto it when we go on a boat trip to the Chateau d’If!
These sunglasses are prescription sunglasses from Specsavers which I got for free with a buy one get one free voucher last year (my m bought a normal pair of glasses for herself then gave me the voucher). They’re actually a really nice tortoiseshell pattern, but it’s hard to see in the photo!
(This was so hard to take a photo of as it kept sliding off the desk I was using as a background 😂 so here’s a better photo of me wearing the kimono + dress + hat)
I picked up this floral kimono from Store Twenty One as well for £4, and I’m really pleased with it! Again, it’s a very lightweight, sheer material and the pattern means it goes with just about any top. It’ll be great to throw on over my dress (so I don’t get burnt due to it’s thin straps) or a t-shirt in the event that I get a bit cold or just want something thin to take the sun off me. It’s very summery and I love it!
This handbag also came from Store Twenty One. I think it cost me £12, but there was a buy one get one half price offer, meaning I got the kimono for half price (it was originally £8). I got this because my current handbags would be too small to carry around the bottle of water, suncream, sunglasses, camera, phone and purse I’ll need to take around with me whilst I’m there, and again I find rucksacks can make you really hot and I’d prefer to have my valuables to hand for safety and practicality reasons. This bag has loads of sapce and pockets inside, which I’m really pleased about, and because it’s canvas I’ll be able to easily fit it in my suitcase to take on the plane (hooray for only being able to take hand luggage!).
These pineapple flip flops will be perfect for going down to the beach in the evenings, and will be easy to fit in the nooks and crannies of my suitcase. I got them from Store Twenty One a couple of years ago.
I got these lightweight trainers a few months ago in another sale from Sainsbury’s for £8. They’re really comfy and practical and I basically wear them all the time at the moment. I’m not sure if they’ll be too hot to take to Marseille, but we’re going to be doing a lot of walking so I’ll need comfy shoes even if it means having hot feet.
So, that’s what I’ll be taking with me clothes/accessories-wise! I’m so excited about going, I may even do another post nearer the time of other things I’m taking. I don’t go abroad often, I’m fact this will only be the third time, so it’s all pretty exciting for me. The last time I went abroad was to Berlin in 2015, a couple of days after I started my previous (and first) blog, so it’ll be exciting to be able to write about my adventure when I get back, and show you all photos of the beautiful scenery of course! I’m a little nervous about having to speak French to ACTUAL French people whilst I’m over there, but I think it’ll be a really great experience for me and my class mates. 🙂
I hope you enjoyed and good bye for now! I have four exams next week, and oke the week after, but then after that I am exam free and I’ll have much more time to blog again! See you on the other side amigos!
For many students in the UK and across the world, the summer holidays are approaching quicker than ever. Many of you, like me, are probably studying a foreign language at school or college at the moment, and may be wondering how you will survive going back to school in September after 6+ weeks without having foreign language lessons (well I certainly am anyway, maybe I’m just weird haha).
So, as a year 12 student studying A Level French – and taking my exams next summer due to the linear A Levels – who needs to ensure I’m still practicing French over summer, I come bearing a list of ways to keep up language practice, so by the time it gets to September you (hopefully) haven’t forgotten it all! I’ve come up with a few ideas about how you can practice each aspect of language learning – reading, writing, listening and speaking – so hopefully they’ll be helpful to some of you.
Reading is a really, really great way to keep up language practice. I mean, if you’re a bookworm like me, then why not read books in your target language? Books are relaxing to read, and you can find a genre or author that interests you – there are so many foreign language book lists on Goodreads! Even just reading a couple of pages a day will help make sure you’re being exposed to the language and the more you read, the more vocab you’ll learn and the more you will see grammar rules in practice; basically, it will give you a better grasp of how the written language is formed!
It can be hard to find books that are the right level for your skills in your target language. If you’re just starting out, children’s books are a good idea as they’ll have more simple vocabulary and sentence structures. But if you’re at GCSE level or A Level, you could try reading version of books you’ve already read in English in your target language – for example last summer after I finished GCSE French, I read the first Harry Potter book in French. Often you’re local library will have at least some foreign language books, or you can use their online catalogue to reserve books and get them delivered to your library.
Also I think most A Level foreign language specifications will have a set book list, as you will usually have to study a book as part of the course, but that doesn’t mean you can’t read the other books on the list too!
Another way of practicing your reading is by reading magazines. There’s a really good French magazine called “Ça m’intresse” which covers a load of current themes in society, and a lot of topics relevant to A Level. You’ll have to order them online unless your school or college has them in the library, but one copy would cost roughly £5 including delivery costs, or you can download the digital copy which is obviously cheaper. If not, you can always read articles in your target language on news websites (and Ça m’intresse even has a range of free articles on their website which you can read too).
Keeping up with writing practice can be quite time-consuming and tedious, but it will help you to recal all of the grammar rules and tenses you need to know, as well as practice vocab.
Some simple ways of practicing writing would be to write a few sentences at the end of each week, talking about what you’ve done that week and what you plan to next week. In the run up to my exams, I’ve been doing this by trying to write a sentence in each French tense at the end of each week in my diary.
You could also write some blog posts in your target language, which I will definitely be doing over the summer.
Or, if you do read some articles in your target language over the summer, you could practise summarising the foreign language articles using synonyms which will help both your writing and be good practice for exams (as certainly in French A Level exams we are required to read short passages and summarise them in our own words).
Another thing you could do is set up a Twitter account in your target language, and try tweeting in the language you are learning. You can also follow native speakers or newspaper/magazine accounts in your target language, which will help with your reading too.
Practicing your listening skills doesn’t have to mean sitting down and doing listening past papers and activities provided by your exam board – the internet offers a variety of ways to practice listening!
Firstly, you can listen to international radio stations on your phone or the internet, which is a great way to test your listening skills and discover artists who sing in your target language. Some French radio stations which I listen to include Radio Nostalgie (which you can listen to for free via their mobile app – they play a mixture of 70s/80s/90s music) but there is a huge list here that includes French radio stations that broadcast anything from news to pop to classical music.
Another way is by listening to music in your target language itself. This can sometimes be difficult to find, but there are some good Spotify foreign language playlists – and I’ve created my own French one which I may write a post about in the future!
The there’s also the wealth of foreign language resources provided by YouTube. Sometimes it’s possible to watch old films and TV series in your target language on here for free. For example I watched a French series called “Extra” which was made specifically for French language learners, so it uses fairly simple language and comedy to help you understand. Also there will be many YouTubers who are native speakers of your target language – one French YouTuber I’ve started watching recently is Anatastesia – she makes a wide variety of videos, many in French so hopefully there’ll be something you like!
Finally buying and watching DVDs in your target language – or films on Netflix – will be invaluable practice for your listening skills. You may have to watch the films with English subtitles or watch them multiple times to understand fully, but it will be great practice and it will also immerse you into the culture of your target language as well. I recently bought some second-hand French DVDs on Amazon for 10p with £1.20 delivery – so they’re not always expensive! I may also do a separate post on French film recommendations at some point too as I’ve watched quite a few french films – some better than others haha.
Speaking may seem to be one of the hardest things to practice, because often you don’t have someone to hand that can speak your target language and are willing to have a conversation with you. But, do not fear, because actually talking to yourself is also good practice. For example, you could just challenge yourself to talk for 60 seconds in your target language each day about what you’ve been doing or what the weather’s like etc. If you want, you can record yourself speaking and see your progress. Sometimes even just narrating what’s going on in the moment in your target language helps!
Speaking is actually a lot easier to practice than you might think – for example you don’t have to focus on reading a foreign language book, or remember spellings and accent placements as you do when you’re reading or writing. Speaking practice can be as quick and simple as you want it to be.
Another great resource for speaking practice I’ve found recently is the website and app “Forvo”. Within this app, you can practice your pronunciation. You chose a level to start at – I recommend choosing beginner whatever your level as it you’ll learn more vocab – and you’ll be shown a virtual flashcard with a word in your target language on it. Then you have to say that word, flip the card, hear how a native speaker pronounces it then you can rate whether you failed, were good or found it easy etc. Then the app will keep bringing up the words you struggle with until you’ve rated them easy, then you can move on and learn new words. I highly recommend it, as pronounciation is a large part of speaking a foreign language, and learning how to say things properly can really boost your confidence in speaking your target language.
Finally I want to talk about the app HelloTalk. This app fundamentally allows you to talk to native speakers over message or through voice recordings. At first I was a little skeptical about how safe the app would be, but generally my experience so far has been good! I think you have to be at least 13 to use the app, and after you’ve put in your age, it’ll only allow people within a 2-3 year age difference to you to be able to find your profile and contact you. It also has all the options for blocking people if needs be. So far, it’s been very useful to me. It’ll show you native speakers who are most suited to you based on age and competency level in their target language, and you can the see their profiles and see their interests to find a suitable language partner. Everyone I’ve talked to already seems really friendly, and I find their voice recording option really useful, as I’ve been able to send and receive voice messages from a native speaker in Algeria over the past few days. Also with the text messages, your language partner can correct your mistakes using their great correction feature, which has been really useful too! All I would say is to make sure you don’t put personal details on their, as with any platform that allows you to come into contact with strangers, and obviously if anyone is acting inappropriately towards you, block and report them.
So, that’s pretty much exhausted my tips for keeping up language practice over the summer holidays, but if you have any more to share, let me know below and best of luck to ayone taking exmas at the moment. 🙂
The awesome Dani from Life of Teen Girls created a tag – the five senses tag (incase you couldn’t tell from the title). I think this tag looks really cool and I can’t wait to give it a go so thank you Dani for making this and nominating me!
– Thank the person who nominated you
– For each of the five senses (or as many as you do) describe five of your favorite things having to do with that sense. AKA your five favorite smells, sounds, etc.
– Nominate five other people to do this tag
Rolling waves that sparkle in the sunlight.
Sunsets – I am addicted to sunsets, just look at my Instagram for proof!! (@em_is_lost99)
Patterns. Not any inparticular, I just really like patterned things.
New books that haven’t been opened.
Watercolour paintings because they look so beautiful and remind me of the sea/water.
Liquid sounds – words with ‘l’ sounds in them like lollipop and illustrous (if that’s how you spell it).
Sea crashing on rocks or sand.
The sound of acoustic guitars because it sounds so natural and pure.
Birdsong in the morning (just not too early, I need my sleep!)
The motorway – I find it really soothing for some reason.
New books (I just like book, ok?)
Freshly baked bread.
Sun cream (don’t ask).
Mango and papaya.
Chocolate – obviously.
Anything with pastry.
Things to feel:
Sand at the beach.
Computer keyboards – I don’t know why, I just like the feel of the keys.
So that’s the end of the Five Senses Tag (booooo) but I do get to tag five awesome people to try it out themselves!!
Where do I start? This week has literally been the busiest week of my life. It doesn’t even feel like I had my last two exams this week, on Monday and Wednesday – exams feel like they were years ago (well…not quite years but you get the point). I officially left school this week which was sad but it feels good to be free now and actually have time to do the things I love like blogging and sleeping and drawing and sleeping and playing instruments and sleeping…did I mention sleeping? I’m also getting back into rereading Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows which I started before exams but had to abandon whilst I was revising. I’m currently waiting to pick up a French copy of Harry Potter and the Philosophers Stone from the library and I can’t wait to actually work on improving my French over the summer. Anyway, let me talk you through this week.
Monday: chemistry exam ugh.
Tuesday: t-shirt signing day. It’s a tradition at my school that all the school leavers sign (and basically just ruin) each others school t-shirts. It’s quite cool because it gives you something to remember the school and all the friends you made there by. Also the canteen gave us FREE CAKE. I know, I was as shocked as you. The food at my school is usually REALLY overpriced but here they were handing out unlimited free cake. Amazing.
Wednesday: physics exam. Enough said. It was horrible grrrrrr. BUT in the evening I went to listen to an outdoor James Bay concert (I couldn’t go because my sister had an exam the next day so we stood outside and listened to most of it). James’ voice is actually so beautiful live and it’s made me want to actually go to one of his concerts even more now. I took a few videos which I will *fingers crossed* be editing and uploading on my YouTube channel soon!!
Thursday: PROMMMMMMMMM!!!!!! I was so nervous waiting around all day to get ready for prom that the only way I could stay calm was by spending 3 hours sketching James Bay.
I was so relieved when it got to 3pm and I could start doing my hair and makeup which actually turned out exactly how I wanted it!! Me and my friends decided to hire a Buick Electra to take us to prom so we could turn up in style. However our plan kind of failed as we went for a drive along the beach before going to the school and got stuck in rush hour traffic. So we ended up being the last people to arrive at school and by that time the carpark was so crowded that I doubt barely anyone was able to actually see our car arriving. Plus people were too busy taking photos of them and their friends. But the car did do a wheel spin on the way out which turned some heads!!
Prom was honestly the best night of my life. We had to get a coach from the school to the venue but the venue was absolutely stunning and well worth all the travelling. Everyone looked so beautiful at prom and at first it was hard to recognise who everyone was! I kept getting my friends names muddled up throughout the night, probably because I was so tired!
We had a three course meal which was delicious in every way, especially the blackberry cheesecake. Me and my friends literally danced and sang for the whole night. We spent the whole time on the dance floor, dancing like crazy and it was amazing. I think all the other people in my year group who don’t know me that well were really surprised to see me actually dancing because I’m usually really quiet and shy but on the way to prom, something just clicked and I suddenly stopped caring about what people thought of me and I think I’ve gained a lot of self-confidence since then too which is great!
Friday: I felt like a zombie after prom (I ended up going to sleep after midnight) but had to drag myself out of bed to take part in the leavers festival at my school. Another tradition is that all the year 11s dress up in fancy dress and parade tgrough the school on any transport they can think of. Me and two of my friends decided to dress up as super heroes on bikes. I was Captain America so wore a blue t-shirt with a silver star pinned to it and made a shield as well as wearing a blue tutu. It was really fun and surprisingly I didn’t feel at all embarassed, despite having the majority of the school watching us. Afterwards everyone went into the hall for our final leavers assembly where we watched videos that each tutor group had made and watched out official prom photo from the night before. It was quite emotional but definitely a good send off. We hung around in the school for a while after the assembly because we just didn’t know what to do with ourselves now that we were finally free!!
Saturday: yesterday I went to a Catfish and the Bottlemen concert and ahhhhh it was sooooo good!!!! I haven’t been listening for them for too long – about 2 or 3 months – but I fell in love with their music immediately. Seeing them live was absolutely brilliant – they were really lively and their voices wee just as amazing as they are on their albums. Also the band themselves were really nice and cool (and good looking!) and great to watch. The atmosphere of the concert itself was a bit too wild for me – we managed to get in the front row on the right hand side and I’m so glad I wasn’t in the middle of the crowd as I don’t think I would have survived that mosh pit! I am now even more in love with Catfish and the Bottlemen arghhhh they were just soooooo good!! As with James Bay, I took some video clips and am hoping to make a YouTube video out of them too. I took some pictures and they actually came out quite well as we were at the front. I queued for like 20 mins after the concert to buy merch and came hone with a huge (and I mean huge – the only place it fits is on my bedroom door)The Ride poster (their new album which is No.1 in the UK at the moment). Now I’m having concert withdrawal symptoms 😂it was just BEYOND WORDS. What I’ve written could never do justice to it.
So, that’s how busy my week has been!! Despite now being thoroughly exhausted after 4 late nights in a row, I have loved every second of this week and wouldn’t change it for the world. I hope you’ve all had a great week too! 🙂