ISSUE 5 Friday 29 January 2016

Dr McNerney writes....

As usual, we have lots of exciting events going on here at school. Today, some of our rugby players are at Twickenham for a training event with the England rugby team prior to the Six Nations. We were extremely lucky to have been offered this opportunity and I hope to include photographs and further details in our next newsletter. Last week, our Key Stage 2 General Knowledge team won their heat in a nail-biting finish and used both their knowledge and strategic skills to surge through to first place at the last question. Congratulations to Thomas Treloar (Y6), Arjun Obhrai (Y5), Jack Groves (Y4) and Sam Williams (Y3), who will now progress to the regional semi-finals.

Parents of boys in Senior School have received information about ‘Show My Homework’, a wonderful new initiative introduced by Mr Hibbert. As a result of last term’s homework survey, Mr Hibbert has found a way to allow pupils and parents to access homework instructions online. So far, this is working really well and I hope that it is making life easier at home. I reported to you previously that the feedback about last term’s talk for parents (Talking Pre-Teens) had been extremely positive. I have arranged for a one-off talk for next term (Talking Teens) delivered by the same company (Supporting Links). It will take place on the evening of Tuesday 17 May and I will send out further details next term.

I would like to thank the parents who attended the Dedication of the Term service, both those parents who came to support their sons performing in the Y3/4 Choir (see photograph of the boys singing so beautifully) and to those parents who came along to support the school and say farewell to Reverend Bartlett. Staffing news: Mrs. Sheeky’s knee replacement has been successful and she is recovering at home; and I am delighted to announce that Mrs. Nicholas is expecting a baby, due in late July. She will continue to work with us for the rest of this academic year and commence her maternity leave during the summer holidays.

Finally, I would like to say very well done to the Y8 boys who have mostly completed their 13+ examinations (two pupils still to sit examinations next term). I am really proud of the fact that they worked very hard and remained calm and positive throughout.

Best wishes

Dr. Karen McNerney | Head of School

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mvp mip
diary dates
quiz team
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  Diary Dates

Saturday, January 30
U10 Larkin Shield Football Tournament (h) 10.00 am-1.00pm

Monday, February 1
1st XI Football v King Alfred's (h) 2.30 pm
Junior School Parents' Evening 5.00 - 7.00 pm Junior School Hall
St Albans 13 plus Examinations Week
Y7JL Subject Parents' Evening 5.30 - 7.30 pm Dining Hall

Tuesday, February 2
Val Di Fiemme Ski Visit Meeting 4.30 - 5.00 pm Theatre

Wednesday, February 3
U13AB Hockey v Aldenham (a) 2.30 pm
UKMT Team Challenge - 9.30 am - 4.00 pm

Thursday, February 4
Junior School Parents' Evening 5.00 - 7.00 pm Junior School Hall
U8ABCDE Football v Berkhamsted (a) 2.30 pm
U9AB Football v Berkhamsted (h) 2.30 pm
Y7NW Subject Parents' Evening 5.30 - 7.30 pm Theatre

Friday, February 5
Nursery Parents' Consultations 1.00 - 3.00 pm MTPN
U13 Bath Hockey Tour Departs 1.00 pm

Saturday, February 6
U13 Bath Hockey Tour

Sunday, February 7
U13 Bath Hockey Tour Returns 2.30 pm

Monday, February 8
Technical Rehearsal for Y3/Y4 Production of "Blast Off! Mr Jones Goes to Jupiter"

Tuesday, February 9
Dress Rehearsal for Y3/Y4 Production of "Blast Off! Mr Jones Goes to Jupiter"
Shrove Tuesday - Break time Pancake races

Wednesday, February 10
1st XI Football v Davenies (a) 2.30 pm
2nd-5th Football v Davenies (h) 2.30 pm
Y3/Y4 Production of "Blast Off! Mr Jones Goes to Jupiter" 7.00 pm Theatre

Thursday, February 11
Nursery Open Morning 9.30 - 11.00 am
Y3/Y4 Production of "Blast Off! Mr Jones Goes to Jupiter" 5.30 pm Theatre

Friday, February 12
Nursery Parents' Consultations 1.00 - 3.00 pm MTPN
Parents' Association Cake Sale / MUFTI DAY
U10A Hockey v Gayhurst (h) 2.30 pm
U10B Hockey v Gayhurst (a) 2.30 pm
Y8 MTS Drama Workshop

Monday, February 15 - Friday, February 19
Half Term

Monday, February 22
Book Fair 3.30 pm Junior School Hall
Book Week
Y6/Y7 Tutorial Week

Tuesday, February 23
Book Fair 3.30 pm Junior School Hall
Book Week
Paul Dowswell - Author
Y5 Belmont School Maths Competition

Wednesday, February 24
1st XI Football v Gayhurst/Chesham (h) 2.30 pm
am Readathon
Book Fair 3.30 pm Junior School Hall
 pm Theatre of Widdershins Junior School
Whole School Staff Meeting 8.00 am

Thursday, February 25
Book Fair 3.30 pm Junior School Hall
Book Week
U9ABCD Football v Radlett Prep (a) 2.30 pm

Friday, February 26
Book Fair 3.30 pm Junior School Hall
Book Week
Dressing up Day
U10AB Football v Gayhurst (a) 2.30 pm
U10CD Football v Gayhurst (h) 2.30 pm
U11 & U13 St. Martin's Road Race Relay 2.00 pm

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Arseny Uskov 8W1                            Elliot Craft 7L2

 Sam Williams 3G
Jack Groves 4G
Arjun Obhrai 5L1
Thomas Treloar 6L2

Vincent Hudson 7W3

                           Arjun Singh-Ahuja 3G
                           Ben Ward 4G
                          Ahren Chadha 5J3
                          Adam Muneer 6N1

                          Neil Prabhakar 7L3

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          HOUSE NEWS
Had a interesting January

We’ve had an interesting January to say the least, with dark mornings, weather of all sorts, a flurry of exams and quite a few sniffles and lurgies to contend with. Still, it will be a new month by Monday and this should herald brighter days and a few more smiles. Following the Y6 & Y7 exams we are now in the heart of the parents’ evening season, something we hope all involved will find productive. Most Year 8 pupils have returned from 13+ exams and some are preparing for further interviews.  We wish them all good luck.

Looking ahead we forecast a (nice) blizzard of exciting events in the next few weeks. On the 1st of February we welcome back the celebrated Paralympian, Derek Derenalagi, who will be talking to the boys and inspiring them in their House fundraising events for 2016. Dragons’ Den is also coming and tutor groups have been thinking of some great ideas (and some not so great) to make school that little bit better! Best wishes to the Senior Hockey Team on the school’s third annual Bath Hockey Tour (5th-7th February). We hope Jack Frost doesn’t travel with you.  We then ‘flip’ into Pancake Race mode on the 9th and trust boys are practising with the frying pan in the back garden. We also look forward to seeing younger House members perform as Years 3 & 4 ‘launch’ the production of ‘Blast Off! Mr Jones Goes to Jupiter’ (Feb 10th/11th).  And let’s not forget the P.A. Cake Sale on the 12th, a good chance to stock up on goodies before a well-earned half-term (if any goodies make it home, that is).

If that’s not enough to whet the appetite, there’s plenty more to come after half term so keep an eye out for the next House News. Hopefully, the bad weather and jokes will have gone away by then.                                           

Heads of House

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A busy start

There has been a busy start to the New Year with 13+ assessments, school exams for Y6/7 and two Year 6 Parents’ Evenings. We look forward to seeing Year 7 parents next week. Congratulations to the Y3-Y6 General Knowledge Quiz Team who progress to the regional final after victory in the area final and thanks to the Year 3 / 4 Choir who sang at the recent Dedication of the Term. We also thank Reverend Bartlett for his service to Holy Trinity Church and his outreach to the school.

To reward boys for particularly good behaviour and outstanding manners, a Friday VIP table has been introduced. Boys are given an invitation to sit at one of the round teachers' tables and  enjoy special privileges at lunchtime. They do not have to wait in the queue and are given special treats as part of their meal. This has been very popular and we look forward to seeing many more boys enjoying this opportunity

Congratulations to Sam Williams & Henry Cargill Thompson (3G),  Tristan Jassal & Alexander Meikle Pebe (3S), Dhaman Sara & Shyam Pankhania (4G), Rehan Gupta & Ben Wilkinson (4N) for being elected Form Captain and Vice Form Captain respectively this term.

With regards to recent illness, we would ask boys to wear a jumper when the weather is cold, a coat when it is wet, to have tissues in their trouser pocket and to wash hands regularly.

Child Protection Reminders
i) Pupils should not be left unsupervised by parents before 8am unless they have been brought to   
  Breakfast Club. Senior School opens at 8.00 with staff on duty.

ii) Whilst we welcome parental support at school matches, parents cannot wander into school at the   
   start or end of the school day. They must be accompanied by staff or should go to the School
   Office. The Office will endeavour to contact the required member of staff or pass on a message.

iii) Staff need written permission (note in the Pupil Organiser, note from School Office or text
    message on a phone) if they are to allow pupils to go home with other parents.  

 Mr M Hibbert | Assistant Head of School & Mr A Crook | Deputy Head

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Rhys Varma J1
Aryan Sodha J2
Sohan Mukherjee J3
Amaan Kassam J1
Shaan Kalyan J2
Rahul Patel J3

Jacob Payne 6L3
Neil Prabhakar 7L3
James Gray 7L1
Thomas Treloar 7L2
Harry Bayes 8L1
Krish Thakrar 5L1
Shay Thakrar 6L3

Ali-Mahdi Merali 3S
Jasmer Sawhney 4G
Noah Moser 5N2
Aditya Singh 3S
Anay Jariwala 4G
Rishil Amin 7N1
Sid Tiwari 6W2       
Fikunmi Olutunbi 5W2
Darshan Patel 4G
Saavan Patel 4G
Rehan Gupta 4N
Abhishek Patel  4N
Max Domb 5W3 
Ishan Patel 6W1
Kaamil Mirza 6W2

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           JUNIOR SCHOOL
Time is flying by!

The Spring Term has started really well and we cannot believe how quickly it is flying by! Christmas seems like a very long time ago! This term we are pleased to welcome to Junior School, Miss Wilson and Mrs Bruce - Vanderpuije, both PGCE student teachers. They will be working in Year 1 and Year 2 respectively until the end of February.

We are all very excited about ‘Space’ in Junior School at the moment! This is the theme for Y1 and Y2’s topic and it is wonderful to see the boys’ motivation about finding out facts about space. If you have not seen it, come and look at our new Space display in the library that shows the questions that Y1 and Y2 have generated, with help from Malcolm the Meercat to inspire curiosity! The topic began with a visit to the Science Museum which gave the boys a chance to learn more about space and the photographs show Kian Sawhney (Y2J) and Arun Sharma and Munaim Zubair (Y1T) in the Space Gallery.

The topic for Reception this term is ‘We love books!’ and it began with the story, ‘We’re Going on a Bear Hunt’. The boys really enjoyed the experience of going on their own bear hunt through our woods which provided the stimulus for writing, storytelling and creative activities. The photographs show George Davey (YRB) and his friends from the Robins in the squelchy mud and boys from the Wrens class splashing through a puddle on their walk to find the bear!

Next week on Monday 1st and Thursday 4th February, we are looking forward to Parents’ Meetings in Junior School. Then after half term, we have the excitement of Book Week. I would like to thank all the parents who volunteered to read a story to their son’s class during Book Week. The response was marvellous and I am sure the boys will greatly enjoy these story sessions. Very soon there will be some letters coming home detailing the many exciting events of Book Week, so please look out for those.

Mrs S Funnell | Head of Junior School

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        Nursery Life

The boys came back to Nursery refreshed and settled straight back in after the Christmas break . We have begun our new topic “We Love Books!” which we started with two weeks on ‘Whatever Next’. The boys loved learning about space and enjoyed watching videos of Tim Peake on the International Space Station. We then moved onto ‘We’re going on a bear hunt’ which has really captured the boys’ imagination. 

We have been busy acting out the stories and the photographs show us retelling the story in Nursery and in the woods. We have also focused on using descriptive language to describe textures. In the photo Matthew-Levi Amanerimi and Evan Kotecha are concentrating on creating a wonderful textured moon. Tayer Shyam and Kiyan Dayal are busy creating visual story maps of the bear hunt.

We are also learning how to use different types of technology and the photos show Theo Williams, Riyen Thakrar and Arnav Patel learning how to programme ‘beebot’ to retell the story.

On Thursday 11th February from 9.30-11am it is our Open Morning for prospective parents. We will also be meeting with our current parents to discuss their son’s progress during the afternoons of Friday 5th and 12th February. We are very much looking forward to seeing you all.

Mrs G Ladbury| Head of Nursery

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Dedication of Term

At the start of each term, a service of Dedication is held in keeping with the ethos of our founder, Francis Terry.
The Dedication of this spring term was Reverend Richard Bartlett’s last after 10 years as Vicar at Holy Trinity Church.
After a joyful hymn and a Bible reading, Reverend Bartlett held us all (parents, pupils, staff and Y3&4 choir) enthralled as he told the story of how Jesus Christ’s suffering on the cross restored the perfection of God’s creation. 

Pupils were eager to offer examples of the wonderful things God created for humans, and these were represented by a glass full of clear water – bravely held by Oluwatobi Alade (Y3S); but then Rev Bartlett added drops of brown liquid to the water, representing things that humans had done to spoil God’s beautiful creation (for example, pollution, murder, stealing, the boys suggested).  Rev Bartlett explained that seeing this troubled world, God sent someone special, his only son, Jesus Christ, who died on a cross.  He put a cross into the glass of dirty water, and to everyone’s astonishment, the cross appeared to absorb all the nasty things in the world, turning the water clear again.  Jesus suffered, died, and rose again to make things perfect.

This was a powerful illustration of Jesus Christ’s sacrifice which Christians will remember at Easter, at the end of this term.
The Y3&4 Choir sang an Anthem with poise and spirituality; and the Dedication concluded with the Lord’s Prayer, followed by a very special blessing from Rev Bartlett.

Merchant Taylors' Prep is immensely grateful to Rev Bartlett for all of his visits to the school, and for his welcome to Y5 on their tours and to the whole school for the annual Carol Service.  We wish him every success in his new job.

The termly Dedication Service is usually held on the Friday of the first full week back, at 5pm in the New Barn Theatre.  It is a unique event in the School’s calendar – it offers the whole community (believers of any faith or none) an opportunity for quiet contemplation and renewal of their commitment to the term ahead.

Mrs N Pollock | Head of Religious Studies
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     Busy start of term for all teams!

The first few weeks of the spring term have been very busy as usual, with boys representing MTP in Football, Hockey and our annual Cross Country race at York House School. Special mention must go to the boys in years 3, 4, 5 and 6 whot competed in the Cross Country event on a very cold, wet and windy afternoon finishing 4th and 10th respectively in their teams. The Y3 boys have made a great start to their first ever football season winning four out of six games against St Martin's, and are very much looking forward to their next round of fixtures against Berkhamsted. Good luck to the senior hockey squad departing on their annual tour of Bath next weekend, aiming to repeat the successes from the previous two tours.

Mr J Denham | Sports Teacher


Hello dear Skiers!  Ciao, e ben venuti a la pagina di noticie della Signora Mortimer! (Welcome to Mrs Mortimer’s news page!)

I have been looking at the live-cam pictures of Val di Fiemme, just so that I know what is coming up!  At present, I am delighted to say that there seems to be some snow!  Oh Yes! And more is on the way.  I am fully confident that in 6 weeks' time, we will be up to our arm pits in the white stuff. 

You will be relieved to know that as ‘l’éminence grise’ of the trip, I managed to pass my Level 1 certificate in (mostly) how to put on my skis and get them off again.  During half term, I have booked to do Levels 2 and 3 – a bit brave I’m sure you will agree, for an oldie such as myself!  Under the banner of Life Long Learning, I can do this!

I will keep you updated as to my progress, or lack thereof.  In the meantime, I am taking requests as to vocabulary you would like me to feature in a small booklet of phrases.  Please ask me, I will be thrilled to compile something useful for you all. Andiamo skiare!

Mrs Mortimer 
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          QUIZ TEAM

     KS2 General Knowledge Quiz

How high is the orbit of the International Space Station? Is it 100km, 175km, 250km or 400km?

We were privileged to host the first heat of the national General Knowledge Quiz for Key Stage Two earlier this month. While a wonderful opportunity to show off both the knowledge of the boys and the splendour of the New Barn Theatre, this also created work for a number of colleagues, especially in the catering and maintenance departments, and created a temporary exile for Mr Hinton, and I’m grateful to them all, and to the many parents who came to support their sons.

We fielded two teams for the quiz. Our second team, consisting of Ahren Chadha, Arjun Singh-Ahuja, Ben Ward and their leader Adam Muneer, took an immediate lead over our first team (Jack Groves, Arjun Obhrai, Sam Williams and captain Tom Treloar). Standing at the side, I was left to wonder about my selection – I had had to make a series of very close calls. Helped by identifying that the animal which may be masked, hermit or spider is the crab (rather than an ant, a bat, or an owl), our two teams drew alongside one another and remained at parity for much of the quiz, although behind the early leaders from Alpha Prep.

It’s always entertaining to see what the adults in the room know. We were all a lot happier than the students at identifying Downing Street as not on the Monopoly board, but in general they were much better at identifying pop music, although I must report that faced with a choice between Justin Timberlake, Justin Bieber, Olly Murs and Ed Sheeran  my quizzing partner-in-crime, Mr Rice, correctly picked Bieber after hearing only two bars. Impressive? Something, certainly. Every child in the room got that one right.

Our first team drew ahead on a question the answer to which was Charles I – the subject of our current Year 5 History lessons, so the correct answer came to my great relief. In a tightly bunched contest, they went into the final question lying in fifth place, 95 points behind the leaders, with the question, which I posed at the beginning of the article, worth 100 points.

Our second team got that question wrong and maintained their sixth place, beating the first teams of several other schools, I might add. Only three teams scored any points at all on that final question about the Space Station… and of the leaders, only our first team correctly went for 400km. When the result was displayed at least one of them had to be told that they had indeed won – by 5 points, and only 10 points ahead of the team in third.

It’s not quite the closest possible result, though my shredded nerves could certainly not have coped with a tie break. Congratulations to all eight boys who took part, but especially to Tom, Jack, Arjun and Sam, who will take their quizzing to the regional semi-final early next term.

Mr A McConnell | Head of History

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  Y3 Science

When I entered the science lab I was amazed.  There was a fish tank and a big box to heat up anything to whatever temperature you wanted.  We were going to do an experiment on reversible and irreversible changes.  First we all got a plastic dish with a crayon inside it.  Then we got some foil.  Then we had to wrap the crayon in the foil.  We put everyone’s wrapped up crayons into the tank that heats up anything to any temperature.  We waited for a long time and finally we took the crayons out of the tub with a pair of tongs and we are all very excited to see what was inside the foil.  It had changed by becoming a liquid.  Then we waited some more to see if it was a reversible change.  While we were waiting we did another experiment.  We took a bunsen burner and a bit of magnesium and with the tongs held it above the flame and waited to see what would happen.  First the magnesium stayed the same but then it shone so bright we had to cover our eyes.  Then we uncovered our eyes and saw that the magnesium had turned completely white.  It was an irreversible change.  By that time the crayons had stopped cooling down and we opened the foil.  The crayon was exactly the same as it had started.  It was a reversible change.

Mr D Goddard | Y3 Form Teacher

ISS – Science in Space

Year 5 boys have spent the first half of the spring term learning about Earth and Space. As a part of their learning they investigated the life of an astronaut in Space and our very own astronaut,Tim Peake, who will be on-board the International Space Station (ISS) until June 2016.

The picture above shows Year 5 boys’ work for their Tim Peake display in the Science and Technology block.

Pupils can use to find out more about Tim Peake, his journey on the ISS and associated events and opportunities.

Sign up at and you can receive alerts for when the ISS will be visible from where you live.
We look forward to receiving our supply of 100 rocket seeds that have spent 6 months in space and a hundred Earth seeds for participation in a grand, national experiment. Does being in low orbit space affect the germination and growing qualities of a plant? We hope to find out!

Science Pupil of Month

Also the following boys have been given Pupil of the Month for January.

Year 4 Zachary Jamal - sustained effort in lesson
Year 5 Rohan Olsen - continued effort and hard work in lesson
Year 6 Adnan Asghar - improved confidence in assessments

Miss C Burke | Science Teacher

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     Music Exam Results
















































Mrs C Hawkes| Director of Music 

Joint Choral Society Rehearsals

Rehearsals are underway for Joint Choral Society, in preparation for the Joint Concert. We shall be singing the Messa di Gloria by Puccini, a beautiful work which is in places almost operatic in its style. Parents are welcome to join, please come along.

Please see below for further details of the rehearsals.

MTS Joint Choral Society

Rehearsals: (Recital Hall at MTS)
Tuesday 26 January, 8-9.15pm (followed by an optional drink in the Clubhouse!)
Tuesday 2 February, 8-9.15pm
Tuesday 9 February, 8-9.15pm
Tuesday 23 February, 8-9.15pm
Tuesday 1 March, 8-9.15pm
Tuesday 8 March, 8-9.15pm
Tuesday 15 March, 8-9.15pm
Sunday 20 March, 4-6pm
Monday 21 March, 7.30pm Concert (choir warm-up during the interval)

Mr H Jones | Director of Music at Merchant Taylors' School

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  Francis Terry Foundation News

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          ART GALLERY

  Y5-7 Artwork

Mr D Roach | Head of Art and Design


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   How best to learn words

This week, we would like to share with you a few techniques on how best to learn words or sentences in a foreign language: the traditional repetition technique which is key to learn any foreign word, the ‘Basic Words’ technique to make sure that you can form basic sentences in the language, the ‘Linking Words’ technique to remember longer pieces of writing and finally the ‘Town Mnemonic’ technique if you want to go beyond and why not learn several languages.

  • The traditional repetition technique

Here are a few tips for active learning of vocabulary:
1. Think of it as a challenge, not a chore - your attitude is MOST important – you should WANT to learn the words and appreciate that it is the only way to do well in a language assessment
2. Learn a few words on a regular basis and do not leave the whole lot for just before the test
3. Use the very effective strategy:
1st stage: [Look – Cover – Say – Check] from French to English
2nd stage: [Look – Cover – Say + Write – Check] from English to French. 
4. Get someone to test you, it does not matter if they can speak the language or not, they can just read out loud or show you the words in English
5. Learn the cognates first and then the difficult words, you will be happier to know that you have 4 words left to learn rather than 10!
6. Sort them by gender/groups/alphabetic order/patterns eg. fruits/vegetables/present/past etc.
7. Remember what your teacher tells you about the words – think about what was said in the lesson and think about the context in which the words were first introduced eg. ‘La chambre de mes parents’ for the use of ‘de’=of
8. Record yourself saying out loud the words using a MP3 player or a phone
9. Go onto language websites such as linguascope to play online games that will help you remember the words
10. Read/sing the words out loud – fast/slow/loud/quiet/French accent etc.

Learning vocabulary is often a matter of associating a meaningless collection of syllables with a word in your own language. Associating these words by repetition – by saying the word in your own language and the foreign language time and time again – is efficient, but there are even more advanced techniques that can be used to memorise these words…

2. Learn the most important words
It is a fact that just 100 words compriseabout 50% of all words used in a conversation in any given language. Learning these core 100 words gets you a long way towards being able to speak in that language, albeit at a basic level. The 20 most basic French words used in conversation are shown below:

1.         Bonjour  = hello
2.         je  = I
3.         j’ai  =  I have
4.         je suis = I am
5.         oui = yes
6.         non = no
7.         merci  =  thanks
8.         au revoir  =  good bye
9.         s’il vous plaît  = please
10.       pardon =  sorry/excuse me
11.       le/la/les  =  the/the/the
12.       un/une/des   =  a/a/some
13.       et = and
14.       tu = you (singular)
15.       j’aime =  I like
16.       je déteste = I hate
17.       c’est  = it is
18.       mais = but
19.       il y a = there is/are
20.       aussi = also

3. Link words in your own language to words in a foreign language
Starting a language “from scratch” is essentially impossible because of the vast amount of words you already know through cognates. Cognates are “true friends” of words you recognize from your native language that mean the same thing in another language.

Romance languages like French, Spanish, Portuguese, Italian, and others have many words in common with English. English initially “borrowed them” from the Norman conquest of England from 1066, which lasted several hundreds of years. Action, nation, precipitation, solution, frustration, tradition, communication, extinction, and thousands of other -tion words are spelled exactly the same in French, and you can quickly get used to the different pronunciation. Change that -tion to a -ción and you have the same words in Spanish. Italian is -zione and Portuguese is -ção.

Many languages also have words that share a common (Greek/Latin or other) root, which can be spelled slightly differently, but that you’d have to try hard not to recognize, such as exemple, hélicoptère (Fr), porto, capitano (Italian) astronomía, and Saturno (Spanish). German goes a step further and has many words from English’s past that it shares.

In case the words you have to learn are not cognates, you can use the ‘Linking Words’ technique i.e. using mnemonics to link words in another language with images.

For example, when learning English/French vocabulary:

  • English: rug/carpet – French: tapis – imagine an ornate oriental carpet with a tap as the central design woven in chrome thread.
  • English: grumpy – French: grognon – a grumpy man groaning with irritation.
  • English: key  – French: clé – think about keys made of clay

This technique is known as the 'Linking Words' technique. It helps students acquire the basic vocabulary needed to get by in the language, usually about 1000 words.

4. Use the town mnemonic technique
This is a very elegant, effective mnemonic that is based on the fact that the basic vocabulary of a language relates to everyday things: things that you can usually find in a city, town or village. To use the technique, choose a town that you are very familiar with and use objects within that place as the cues to recall the images that link to foreign words.
Nouns in the town
Nouns should be associated to the most relevant locations: for example, the image coding the foreign word for book could be associated with a book on a shelf in the library. You could associate the word for bread with an image of a loaf in a baker's shop. Words for vegetables could be associated with parts of a display outside a greengrocer's. Perhaps there is a farm just outside the town that allows all the animal name associations to be made.
Adjectives in the park
Adjectives can be associated with a garden or park within the town: words such as green, smelly, bright, small, cold, etc. can be easily related to objects in a park. Perhaps there is a pond there, or a small wood, or perhaps people with different characteristics are walking around.
Verbs in the sports center
Verbs can most easily be associated with a sports center or playing field. This allows us all the associations of lifting, running, walking, hitting, eating, swimming, driving, etc.
Remembering genders
In a language where gender is important such as French, a very good method of remembering this is to divide your town into two main zones. In one zone you code information on masculine gender nouns, while in the other zone you code information on feminine nouns. You can separate these areas with busy roads, rivers, etc. To fix the gender of a noun, simply associate its image with a place in the correct part of town. This makes remembering genders easy!
Many languages, many towns
Another elegant spin-off of the technique comes when learning several languages: normally this can cause confusion. With the town mnemonic, all you need do is choose a different city, town or village for each language to be learned. Ideally this might be in the relevant country. Practically, however, you might just decide to use a local town with the appropriate foreign flavour.

Mr R Kopel | Head of Modern Foreign Languages

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