Have you ever found yourself in a situation whereby you need to describe something to another person, but the other person doesn’t speak the same language as you?

I found myself in just this situation recently. Paris, April 2014. I needed to buy a gift for my daughter. She had specified something with a hedgehog on it.

Now, when I did GCSE French – or indeed, when I was ‘re-training my brain’ with my Lingua Translations colleagues before I went, I didn’t think to ask or check what the French word for ‘Hedgehog’ was.

So, there I was, standing in the middle of a French toy store (I call it a toy store – it was more like an everything / anything store really), wondering how on Earth was I going to do an impression of a hedgehog – yes, it had come to that.

Suddenly, completely from nowhere, the word “hérisson” popped into my head. To say Hubby was impressed, was an understatement!! When I explained that I recalled the hairy little boy, his impressed state changed to one of confusion and mild concern for my mental wellbeing – although he did offer up the phrase, “full of useless information”.

I think at this point, I should explain myself.

I had been given the opportunity to read a brief synopsis of a scheme called “Link-Word http://www.linkwordlanguages.com the week before we left for France. Included within this document was a little test, for the reader to test themselves on their ability to visualise words to improve the likelihood of recollection. It was here that I read about visualising a hairy little boy for the French word for hedgehog. Something of a random nature, which I really didn’t pay much attention to. But then again – it worked for me!!

My daughter was pleased when she received her hedgehog present – and I was more than happy that I didn’t have to crawl around on all fours, sniffing the ground, pretending to have spines on my back. Not so useless information after all!!