All posts by Beth Vandersall

Writing Essays in Language Classes

An unfortunate part of a student’s life is writing essays, but what can make writing essays more complicated is if you have to write them in a language that you are learning. Recently, I wrote a French essay for my French 305 class on a play that we read in class. In honor of this, I thought that perhaps making a list of how I write my French essays might help other people write essays in their language classes regardless of whether they take French or not!

First, I like to make a bullet point outline of what I want to say in my essay. Usually, I try to organize this outline by different topics in order to make the essay easier to write in the future. Often, I write this list in English unless there’s a specific word or quote that I want to use.

Then, I attempt to start writing the essay. Personally, I like to write as much as possible without using a dictionary first as it interrupts my thought process. Additionally, it is good to check and see if there are any specific grammatical structures you need to use in your essay such as the subjunctive. For these, it is best to incorporate them throughout the essay instead of just at the end of your paper.

Every once in awhile as a general rule of thumb, I will go back and reread what I’ve written to make sure it makes sense. However, essays for language classes can sometimes be complicated in the sense that you have to make sure your points make sense as well as your grammar and your vocabulary, which you most likely don’t have to try as hard to correct when writing essays for other classes.

Other tips to make note of: At least for me, essays for language classes take more time to write than for other classes, so I make sure to leave plenty of time to complete them (please don’t leave them to write at the last minute!). Also, it’s perfectly okay to use basic vocabulary and sentence structure (if there are no specific grammatical structures required). It’s better to be clear than to write in a way that you have no idea what you are talking about.

Though this was short, I hope that this helps some people in writing essays for their language classes. As a summary, first it’s good to check the requirements and outline your points, then write and as you go along double-check your work and look up unfamiliar words as needed.

On behalf of the LRC, I wish everyone a wonderful summer and bonne chance (good luck) on your finals!


Resources I use to write my French essays: ← this website is my go-to for a French dictionary! It also has dictionaries for Spanish, Catalan, German, Korean, Japanese, Italian, Russian, and various other languages! Additionally, my favorite part about this website is that it has a verb conjugator, which allows you to type in a verb and it will conjugate the verb in every mode and tense in the French language.

The Transcendental Nature of Music

For a recent post, I wrote about how to listen to music in another language. Continuing that theme, on March 24th, I got to put those skills to the test in real-time as I attended a concert for BTS’s The Wings Tour at the Prudential Center. Now I do have a confession to make, I’ve only been listening to BTS since October 14th to be precise when it just so happened that a friend of mine showed my roommate and I the music video for “Blood, Sweat, and Tears.” At first, I thought the video was a little strange, but I remember liking the dancing and of course, full disclosure, the boys themselves are gorgeous. Eventually, the song got stuck in my head and I decided to watch the music video again and from that point forward I like to say that is when I officially fell head-first into the fandom affectionately known as A.R.M.Y. Flash forward to March 24th and I’m driving from Gettysburg to Newark, New Jersey to attend what I believe was one of the best experiences of my life thus far.

Picture taken before the concert from my seat!

In short, the concert was amazing. After having watched BTS videos on my computer for so long, it was a surreal experience to see them live. Over the years, I’ve been to numerous concerts including One Direction, twenty one pilots, and Imagine Dragons; however, I can easily state that K-pop concerts are somewhat different than other concerts. First, the fans are super dedicated. That’s not to say that fans at the other concerts I went to were not dedicated, but at K-pop concerts it is virtually a necessity to sing along and participate in fanchants. For most Korean pop groups this includes yelling the group members’ names during songs e.g. “Kim Namjoon! Kim Seokjin! Min Yoongi! Jung Hoseok! Park Jimin! Kim Taehyung! Jeon Jungkook! BTS!.” Additionally, many fans organize and hand-out banners for everyone to hold up that usually say some inspirational phrase or quote. K-pop groups also have light sticks that fans can buy and hold up during concerts, which creates what is known as an “ocean.” In BTS’s case, this light stick is called an ARMY Bomb. During the concert, fans had organized a “Rainbow Ocean” where we put different colored bags on our light sticks to create a rainbow throughout the arena.

The Rainbow Ocean created by the crowd during the concert. Photo courtesy of BTS_official (@bts_bighit).

In terms of the concert itself, the video interludes were well-produced and connected the various storylines that BTS had created with their albums. The performances were stunning as BTS really knows how to work a stage. It was clear that a) they are incredibly talented, b) captivating performers, and c) amazing dancers, singers, and rappers. Throughout the show, BTS would communicate with fans causing the decibel level to rise a dangerous level in the arena (I’m pretty sure I lost some hearing for a few days after). Often during songs, BTS would hold out their microphones thus causing all of us to sing the lyrics even louder. Considering that most of BTS’s lyrics are in Korean this is an impressive feat for an audience where most of the people don’t know what they are saying or how to say it correctly. Nevertheless, we tried our best to nail the lyrics, which earned us a few thumbs up from the members every so often.

Likewise, it was touching for me to hear them speak English, a language they are by no means fluent in, as they tried their best to convey their emotions and feelings. Member J-hope stated at the end of the concert that we are BTS’s wings and “we can fly higher together.” However, one of the most poignant moments for me was when member Rap Monster, the sole member who is nearly fluent in English, stated that “music and performance transcends language and countries and races” and “like a rainbow, [it doesn’t matter] if you’re red,…blue, orange, green, purple, or yellow either.” Afterwards, he decided to teach us the Korean word for together: “hamkke,” which he explained that “if we are hamkke we never walk alone.” As someone who fully believes in the power of music, I latched onto what Rap Monster said and I think that it will stick with me for a long time.

To reiterate my point in listening to music in a different language, it really doesn’t matter if you can’t speak or understand the lyrics to a song. As mentioned in my last post, there will always be translations available online somewhere and most importantly the lyrics may mean something different to each and every person. In terms of the future of BTS, I wish them the best of luck on the rest of their world tour and I look forward to hearing the new music and performances they will create.

BTS 101:

  • South Korean K-pop group
  • Short for Bangtan Sonyeondan or literally Bulletproof Boy Scouts translated into English
  • Seven members: Rap Monster (Kim Namjoon), Jin (Kim Seokjin), Suga (Min Yoongi), J-hope (Jung Hoseok), Jimin (Park Jimin), V (Kim Taehyung), and Jungkook (Jeon Jeongguk)
  • Debuted in 2013 with the song “No More Dream”
  • Latest albums Wings and Wings: You Never Walk Alone charted high on the U.S. Billboard charts
  • American leg of Live Trilogy Episode III: The Wings Tour consisted of five sold-out shows (2 in Newark, NJ, 1 in Chicago, IL, and 2 in Anaheim, CA)

Songs you should check out!

Cover photo courtesy of BTS_official (@bts_bighit).

New Game at the LRC: Verba!

Hi everyone! We have a new game at the LRC in French, Chinese, and Spanish!

If you’ve ever played Apples to Apples before, this game is very similar. Each set has a list of colored cards and white cards. On each white card there is a noun with a picture of the noun on the card. On each colored card there is a simple sentence with a blank such as the examples below.

Like Apples to Apples, every player gets 7 white cards. One player is then chosen as the judge for the round and draws a colored card. Next, the other players put in white cards face down that they think best fit in the sentence. After that, the judge picks the best card. The white cards for that round are then discarded and the winner for the round keeps the colored card. The game ends when all the white cards have been used up and the winner is the player with the most colored cards!

For more information on the game here’s a link to the website:

Please stop by the LRC to play this fun and easy game with friends! Hope to see you soon!

How to Listen to Music in Another Language

I always like to say that music has the ability to connect people. That being said, it can be difficult to understand the meaning of songs when the lyrics are written in a language you don’t know well or at all. Since I recently got into Korean pop group BTS (pictured above), I thought it might be helpful to give some tips on how to listen to a song in another language for the first time:

  1. First, listen to the song and keep an open mind. Personally, I’m a huge lyric person. If a song has meaningful lyrics and it has a good melody, I’m pretty much sold on the song. Listening to the song first also helps me when I read the translation of the lyrics because it makes it easier to follow along.
  2. Next, I look for a translation of the lyrics. For me, I always google “song title English (or any language you want the song translated into) translated lyrics.” Usually, I click on the first website that pops up and then I read the translation. Another helpful tip is to find a website or a YouTube video that has translated lyrics and the lyrics in the original language. Now keep in mind that something in one language may not directly translate into another and the translations that you find may not be 100% accurate. Often if I’m confused about the way a lyric is translated, I will look at multiple sites such as forums to see how other people interpreted the lyric.
  3. Then, once you’ve found a translation that you like (I recommend looking at a side-by-side lyric translation when doing this), listen to the song again. Reading the lyrics while listening to the song helps me to put the meaning together with the music. I usually do this a few times just so that I know I’m not missing anything.
  4. Finally, repeat any steps you want! Even when I’ve listened to a song for a while, I will occasionally go back and read a translation again. Sometimes I will even pick up on something that I haven’t heard before or an interpretation that I haven’t thought about.

This step-by-step guide is by all means not complete, but I hope this helps give an idea as to how to listen to music in a different language. As for why listen to music in another language, I’ve found that especially if I’m learning the language such as French it is helpful to listen to music in French as it really helps with comprehension. Even if you aren’t learning the language sometimes it’s cool to explore music from all around the world and make comparisons.

So, do you enjoy listening to music in different languages? If so, what do you like to listen to?

As always, we hope to see you soon at the LRC!

LRC Scavenger Hunt!

Do you need a study break and love scavenger hunts and prizes? Come to the Language Resource Center (1st floor Breidenbaugh) to play!

First, download the app “Klikaklu”* from the app store or find one of our posters located around campus for the QR code. Then, search for the “Gettysburg LRC Hunt” and come to the LRC during our open hours to play with groups of up to 3 people! The best part is that everyone receives a prize for completing the hunt!

Visit our website for a list of our open hours:

Hope to see you soon!

*The app is only available for iPhone, so bring a friend that has an iPhone if you don’t have one!


LRC Student Staff: Beth Vandersall

Hello! Salut! My name is Beth and I am a sophomore majoring in French and Globalization Studies. I’m really excited to work at the LRC and help others who are passionate about learning a language or two or three! If you take French and would ever like a buddy to speak French with, I would be more than happy to speak with you! Besides learning languages, I really enjoy traveling. I’ve been to France, Spain, Italy, Greece, the Bahamas, the United Kingdom, and Canada, so I guess you could say I have a little bit of a travel bug. In the future, I would love to visit more countries and experience new cultures and new foods. One country in particular that I would like to visit is Brazil because I would love to go zip-lining through the rain forest. I also really enjoy playing and listening to music. At Gettysburg, I play cello in the Gettysburg College Orchestra (insert shameless plug about our concert April 29th at 8 pm at the Majestic, which is free with student ID!). Besides classical music, I love listening to pop music and going to concerts. In March, I’m going to see a Korean pop group called BTS (you should definitely look them up!) with my roommate. Because of this, I’m planning on learning Korean at some point (shout-out to my fellow co-worker Angela for sending me some great resources to help me learn!). All in all, I hope to see you in the LRC very soon! À bientôt!