I love living in the UK. Yes I do!

You just couldn’t make this up.

Our government (here in the UK) are considering running negative ad campaigns in Bulgaria and Romania to discourage immigration into the UK.

However, if we refer to  the guide to Britishness (written by the government), for foreigners who would be citizens, it starts with ‘Britain is a fantastic place to live: a modern thriving society’.

Well, which is it? A fantastic place to live or complete dump?

If you are planning to take the citizenship test,  and are not buying into the UK being a rainy hellhole, then you better peruse the book carefully.

I tried the test. I thought that having been born in London and lived here all my life I would cruise through without a problem.

I tried a sample of the test on the guardian website and scored 7 out of ten. Among other things, I thought the Queen was older than she was and accordingly that the Jubilee celebrated 60 rather than 50 years. OK, I  already have a passport so being interested in the monarchy isn’t that important to me. But to you, dear reader, who is attempting the test, it could be the difference between citizenship or not. Although, if this negative add campaign takes off, you might not want to become one.

So despite having  lived here all my life, and absorbed the culture as it were,  and ‘what it means to be british’ , I still appear know only seventy percent of the answers.

FWIW. I love living in the UK.  I don’t like the general whinging that goes on about what a bad country it is, how social fabric is unravelling, neighbours not talking, violence increasing and the constant rain. It is a fantastic place to live. I say Bună and Здравейте to the neighbours and all is well.  (That was a little joke, my neighbours are Polish so I say Cześć).

The UK is superb, and I know it is not traditional to say it, but I feel lucky to live here, and proud of my country.  We are only let down by the people in charge. I didn’t vote for them, and we get the opportunity change them every five years.

BTW If rain is a problem for you, or you like your summers to be warm, than I’d consider somewhere with a more mediterranean vibe. Personally, I’m thinking of building an ark.

And the point of this post is? Well, yes I like the UK (hence the title), but there is is also a language related theme to this. It is distinctly possible that there may be more Romanian and Bulgarian spoken here over the next few years, and so what better time to expand on the Bulgarian and Romanian sections of this site.

I would like to add mini-courses on both languages, which would be  something of a new departure for SL which is more about phrases for travelling.

But first, Tagalog or maybe Malay, while I think about the best approach …



My Italian Challenge. A1 to B1. 2013

A1 to B1

After several years of picking up bits of Italian here and there, but never putting enough time and effort into the language to really improve, this  will be the year that I will improve substantially.

With this in mind, today  I had my first Italian lesson, with a native speaker, a teacher from italki. My level was judged to be at the end of A1 (A full definition of which can be found here), but in essence is:-

“Users can introduce him/herself and others and can ask and answer questions about personal details such as where he/she lives, people he/she knows and things he/she has. They can interact in a simple way provided the other person talks slowly and clearly and is prepared to help.”

This seemed a fair enough evaluation to me. I get around in Italian comfortably enough in the most basic sense but struggle if I have to express more than the simplest ideas. So while I don’t have any particular inhibition in attempting to speak Italian, I really can’t.

My aim is to reach a comfortable B1 in the spoken language by the end of the year.  According to the CEFR wiki entry this includes: being able to describe experiences and events, dreams, hopes & ambitions and briefly give reasons and explanations for opinions and plans. Great, I like to talk and this would be peachy.



My first post. Languages, programming, dogs and musings.

This is my first post (the clue being in the title), or more accurately my first post on a blog hosted on Surfacelanguages.com.

As this is my first post, I feel compelled to set out what this blog is about. Obviously languages. A blog attached to SL would have to have some language related component. I find languages interesting.

I also find programming interesting. And so it was natural, after numerous false starts to create a language learning website, and also a place where I chart my own language learning journey, as well as general witterings about life, programming and so on.

Programming. Surface languages is powered by Ruby on rails, and this blog by word press. At some point, I will describe the tedious process of making them play nicely together, and adventures with my Raspberry Pi.

And dogs. I have a dog. Every morning, come rain or shine, we walk together and while I talk (generally when no-one can see me), he chases sticks, and that way I put my thoughts in order.

Musings. Anything else that springs to mind. Language related or otherwise.