Author Archives: Lingotastic

How can NCS help your teen?

My son Josh really enjoyed taking part in the National Citizen Service course, so when we were approached to help reach other parents about NCS, we were really keen to be involved.

So what is National Citizen Service?

“NCS is a government backed programme established in 2011 to help build a more cohesive, mobile and engaged society. By bringing together young people from different backgrounds for a unique shared experience, NCS helps them to become better individuals, and in turn better citizens.”

NCS is open to 16 and 17 year-olds across England and Northern Ireland. The two to four week programme, which takes place in school holidays, includes outdoor team-building exercises, a residential for participants to learn ‘life skills’, a community-based social action project and an end of programme celebration event.
My eldest son Josh was invited to take part via a presentation at his school, back in 2016. He came home really keen to take part so we signed him up asap. He finished the term early that year, as he had just finished his GCSE exams so it was a good time for him to sign up. NCS is amazing value for money. The whole experience including food, accommodation and travel costs £50 and bursaries are available on a case by case basis. Support is also provided for young people with additional needs.

As a family we often take holidays together and visit family both in the UK and abroad. We wondered how three weeks of NCS would fit into this. Thankfully there was a big choice of dates so we could choose one that worked for us.
Though NCS he would meet, and work with others from different backgrounds and cultures which as a diverse, multilingual family ourselves we hold as very important.

So over to Josh to describe his experience of NCS.
I really enjoyed my experience of NCS. On the first part of NCS which was in the Mendip hills I got to know and bond with my group. We all came from different backgrounds which helped create a unique and fun experience together. On the residential trip in which we stayed in university style accommodation we were set a budget and had to purchase all our ingredients for the whole week which helped teach us important skills such as budgeting, cooking, teamwork as we had to work together to prepare our meals. These skills will help us in the future and help others.
As part of the community project as a group we designed a dragon’s den style pitch to persuade “investors” (People choosing who the best project is and who to give more money for their community project. This helped me build my confidence and public speaking skills as my group leader helped the group design and practice the pitch.


For the community project, we provided an afternoon tea and food in a place which supports people affected by drug and alcohol addiction. We also painted a mural for them so that we could show our support. The afternoon was enjoyed by all people there and our whole group was proud of what we had done together and how we had helped other people.
On the residential trip, in which we stayed in university style accommodation, we were set a budget and had to purchase all our ingredients for the whole week which helped teach us important skills such as budgeting, cooking, teamwork as we had to work together to prepare our meals. These skills will help us in the future and help others.
During the residential time, my team was given a skill to learn with a mentor. My team was given Photography to learn. I really enjoyed learning this as I take photographs as a hobby anyway. Each team was given a different skill to learn which gives a wide range of skills that were being taught. We took photos together across the town and presented them to families who came along on the last day.
There were over 100,000 teenagers on NCS over the whole summer, this means that a lot of new friendships will have been made, new skills developed and the opportunity to develop a community. It was very enjoyable, and I also had an amazing time. I wouldn’t hesitate to sign up again.

Josh came back form each section excited about the new experiences he had had and friendships he had made. (I think the main aim of the outdoor team building for the teens was to find which corner of the site had internet reception!) He came away from the residential section with increased confidence in his meal planning and cooking skills, which I consider really important life skills. In the social action project the teens were engaged in helping those in society they may never have worked with before, In the initial team building phase he was able to take part in some outdoor activities he had not done before, as well as making lots of friends.

11th September 2016
NCS Graduation @ Athena, Leicester, UK
© Tom Horton
www.tom-horton.co.uk

As well as a fun experience NCS was set up with a purpose in mind.
By bringing together young people from different backgrounds for a unique shared experience, NCS helps them to become better individuals, and in turn better citizens
NCS was established to help build a more cohesive, mobile and engaged society
As Josh said, “It was very enjoyable, and I also had an amazing time. I wouldn’t hesitate to sign up again” So what are you waiting for?

There are still places available for Year 11s to take part in this once in a lifetime opportunity this summer.

To sign up now, go to the NCS website. use this link:

http://www.ncsyes.co.uk/?utm_source=blogger&utm_medium=website&utm_campaign=summer18


This is a sponsored post.

These are our own thoughts on the NCS scheme. Some of the facts about NCS are taken directly from their promotional material.
The photographs were provided by the post sponsor.

I’m a little teapot -singing fun

Back in October, we took on the crazy task of translation of 36 English nursery rhymes into singable German versions. As we attempted it, we realised why they had not been translated before. After all the work it took us we’d love the translations to be used.

First up is one I love the actions to. I remember singing it myself as a little girl so here goes… I’m a little teapot.

I’m a little teapot

I’m a little teapot, Short and stout
Here is my handle, Here is my spout

When I get all steamed up, I just shout
Tip me over and pour me out

I’m a very special pot. It’s true
Here’s an example of what I can do

I can turn my handle into a spout
Tip me over and pour me out

I’m a little teapot, Short and stout
Here is my handle, Here is my spout

When I get all steamed up, I just shout
Tip me over and pour me out

Ich bin ‘ne kleine Kanne, klein und rund
Hier ist mein Griff, und hier ist mein Mund

Fang ich an zu dampfen, hör mich schrein
Schütt mich aus, gieß den Tee ein

Ich bin ‘ne kluge Kanne, ja und dann
Werd’ ich dir zeigen was ich kann.

Ich dreh mich im Kreis und das ist fein
Schütt mich aus, gieß den Tee ein

Ich bin ‘ne kleine Kanne, klein und rund
Hier ist mein Griff, und hier ist mein Mund

Fang ich an zu dampfen, hör mich schrein
Schütt mich aus, gieß den Tee ein

After all that talk of tea, I’m putting the kettle on.

So, what do you think? I’d love to see a video of your family or German class singing along to it.

The weird and wonderful English Language Giveaway

Apologies for the radio silence recently. We’ve had a really busy time as a family.

We’ve still been playing languages at home.

This morning I woke my teen asking him what he would like for breakfast in French. He answered “I can hear you but I can’t French right now”

I asked my daughter “Tu veux combien de Croissants?”  She answered “deux”

The current government obsession with spag (Spelling and Grammar) means my girls are coming home with puzzling work sheets (What on earth is a fronted adverbial?) Even us adults puzzle over it. English spelling is odd and the reason is that English is such a mix of other languages. It is crazy that English spelling is taught in schools using phonics. English is the least phonetic language there is. This is mostly because of the invasions and settlers from other countries who introduced words of their language.

 

A few months back a linguist friend mentioned to us about the Stephen Fry and the Fry’s Planet World series. As well as loving languages we also love linguistics finding out how languages evolve and keep on evolving. This

 

We’ve a copy of Fry’s planet world to giveaway so you can enjoy it too. Simply enter via the rafflecopter link.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Charlie’s language learning journey and Bili

This week we have an interview with an inspirational language learner Charlie and hear his project Bili.

Could you tell us about your own language learning journey, at home and school as a child.

I started learning French at primary school, and soon after began to learn Latin. I think this helped me get my head around new languages relatively quickly, and made me a bit of a life-long grammar geek.

When we had options to choose an extra language I chose German, probably mostly because of a conversation I had with my teacher who recommended German because it was ‘harder’ and I could pick up Spanish anytime… (Still working on that one)! The nature of learning a language ‘little and often’ fitted much better with my approach than more content-filled subjects, where last-minute cramming never really paid off for me!

This conversation really stuck with me, and I began to think of myself as someone who was quite good at languages. I remember this as a pivotal moment that set me on a path through GCSEs, A-levels, a degree, year abroad and into teaching and setting up Bili. As a teacher, I’d try to remind myself how much impact those little chats or passing comments can have on our students.

 

What inspired you to love languages?

Having a positive attitude set me on a good course in languages but didn’t yet make me love them. My real love for languages was really sparked by the doors it opened for me, through a combination of travelling, living abroad, and getting to know a culture and people different from my own.

For me, a love of languages comes from a love of communication, which fulfils one of the most natural and human urges to connect with other people. The more languages you learn, and the better you learn them, the more interesting and different people you can connect with on a deeper level.

 

What led you to pass on your love of languages to others through teaching?

Even as a student I understood that not everyone felt the same way about learning languages I did. For years MFL teachers have struggled against a decline in uptake of languages at a higher level, often low motivation in class and some quite strong societal pressures that English is enough. Contrasted with the economic need for languages (it’s estimated that we lose £50 billion every year through lack of language skills), and the more simple desire to learn languages (Ask any adult a skill they regret not learning- chances are they will say a musical instrument and a language!); it’s clear we have a problem.

I wanted to play a part in making sure that children were given the same chance I was, to learn and love languages.

 

Could you tell us about Bili. (What is it and why will it help our readers?)

Bili was an idea that only came about through my direct experience working as a teacher. I was becoming frustrated by the contrived nature of the dreaded controlled assessment, jumping through hoops for exams, and parroting back ‘A* phrases’ about holidays or free time activities.

I wanted to find a context where students could share with someone who was genuinely interested, and vice versa. I wanted a way to connect my students to young people abroad to regularly and purposefully communicate with one another. Since I couldn’t find one… I ended up setting it up for myself 😊

Bili enables teachers from different countries to connect their students in a structured and secure environment to complement their learning in the classroom, applying what they have learnt in a real context. Learners can share real information about their lives with Bili-pals the same age, whilst discovering another culture & language, and supporting one another on their language learning journey. Students actively want to communicate and a real-person at the other end provides a strong motivation.  Regular tasks, higher motivation and valued performance feedback coming from peers all save the teacher time and increase impact.

We’re always keen to welcome new schools to Bili, whether you simply want to trial with a class, sign up to build on an existing relationship with a partner school abroad, or find a new school to connect with through Bili!

 

https://www.bili.uk.com/

Victoria’s language learning, and teaching story.

Could you tell us about your own language learning journey, at home and school as a child.

 

I remember being interested in languages from an early age.  I was lucky enough as a child to go on family to holidays to France quite a lot (living in Kent made it fairly easy to pop over on the ferry) and I loved trying out phrases my parents taught me.  Normally, buying sweets or asking for ‘frites’ on the campsite.  I was also fascinated with the Netherlands as we have family friends there and I remember dressing up as a Dutch girl for a school summer fayre with the theme of European countries.  When I was in the last year of primary school, a

German lunchtime club was offered which I loved going to.  Moving on to secondary school, I enjoyed both French and German lessons, taking both for GCSE and French for A level.  Following this, I decided to study French at university and start Italian alongside. (I think the incentive of a year abroad was one of the deciding factors for this!)

 

 

What inspired you to love languages?

My teachers at secondary school were very inspiring and I enjoyed all their lessons.  We went on two trips to France with school which were great fun.  I also just enjoyed finding out and learning new vocabulary and for some reason I loved learning French grammar!

 

 

What led you to pass on your love of languages to others through teaching?

 

I have mainly taught in schools located in areas of high deprivation where children don’t often get the opportunities that others would. I think it is really important to widen their horizons and show them there is a world out there with which they can communicate.  I love it when they find out something new about a country or learn a phrase to use.  The children are on a level playing field when learning a language so it gives everyone a chance to shine which is really important, especially for those who may struggle in other areas of the curriculum.  I ran two trips to France at my previous school and the majority of children had never been out of the East Midlands.  It was wonderful to see their fascination when arriving in a different country.

 

Could you tell us about ALL  

 

The Association for Language Learning or ALL is a small charity which promotes language learning and supports teachers in the teaching of languages.  We work closely with a team of volunteers and cultural institutes to provide support and help to anyone teaching a language.  For example, through CPD events, resources, our magazine and research articles.  I think it is important, with the workload of teachers being so high at the moment, that there is good quality support and materials out there to make everyone’s life easier!  I still teach, alongside my role in the office, and the resources and ideas I use from ALL are brilliant. I would urge anyone involved in the teaching of languages to get on board.  We would love to have you as part of our association!

 

Trampolining fun


Hi I’m Emily and I’m Jasmin, today we are going to be reviewing this brand new trampoline park called Better Extreme at Gosling park Welwyn Garden City.

Emily

Just before you enter you have to watch a safety program which I think is a really good thing so you know what to do to not get hurt.

On the inside they have all sorts of things such as the diving board, trampoline, dodgeball, trapeze, trampolines, slackline, wrestling and long trampoline.

Jasmin

My favourite part was the trapeze because not many trampoline parks have a trapeze and also the slackline because it is was challenging to complete.

 

The diving board was fun because you could could jump up quite high into the foam pit.


Emily

I like this trampoline park because if you are thirsty or hungry you can get a drink or a biscuit for free. (They kindly provided this for us families reviewing on the day)

 

One of my favourites was the wrestling which was a bar and you have these protective things and you try and get the other person into the foam pit. I think it is good because it is kind of testing how strong and how long you can balance for.

 

Jasmin

I fought my mum on the wrestling and she won.  

Emily

One of my other favourites is the trapeze which you have to swing on and immediately letgo so you fall in the foam pit. I think it is good because it shows how far you can get into the foam pit.

 

Mum (Sarah)

I was so excited when I found out we had been invited to review this brand new trampoline park. We have been along to rush a few times and my girls loved it. I’d never had a go as I was too stingy to pay to play as well. We were lucky to be invited for free. I had a go with the girls. It was a LOT of fun.

 

The park was really well laid out and lots of activities were on offer. My girls’ eyes lit up when they went in. They ran for the trapeze first of all.

We were there for two hours and the time flew by.

The staff  were really enthusiastic.and friendly. A  few mentioned they had always wanted to work in a trampoline park.

The park is opening in early December. My girls have already asked when we are going back.

Multilingual Parenting Masterclass

We’ve been trying to set up an interview with Tetsu for far too long. Maik and Tetsu finally got together after Tetsu’s talk at the Polyglot Conference in Iceland in October.

We have very different styles of teaching but the same aims for our families.  Grab a coffee and have a listen to their chat.

Tetsu, What are your aims and aspirations in raising multilingual children?

My aim is to give them the world.

I want to arm them with an undeniable advantage in the most important skill to develop in their lives: communication. This skill alone will allow them to make more friends, have better career prospects and even lead better family lives. Simply by having languages and cultural understanding with respect to languages, starting early leads to much better results for the same amount of investment in resources, they will already be miles ahead of peers who do not have these when communicating with others. And I firmly believe that teaching them early will be the most effective way to go about it. Most other types of skills and knowledge can be learned to similar levels later in life.

Want to find out more about Tetsu? Check out these links.

www.multilinguannaire.com

His book Pampers to Polyglot: 7 Ideas For Raising Multilinguals Like Me is available via his Facebook page

www.facebook.com/PampersToPolyglot

My YT channel: https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLnsvVbHGlecAQktAXzhMH2ZUtSr-kldaT

So, what  are your thoughts? We’d love to hear what works for you in the comments.

Inspirational Italian mummy Giulia

This month’s inspirational mum is Giulia Giaco from thenyoucamealong.com

I’ll let her introduce herself.

I am a woman of mid-30’s from Italy. I’ve changed my life many times in the past 6 years, from Law in Italy, to HR  and Hospitality manager in Vancouver and now mother in Sydney.

 

Could you tell us how you learned languages with your parents and in school

Honestly, in Italy, English is rarely taught well. To learn a language it is very important to have bi-lingual or native english speaker teacher, and we don’t always get that. Normally they teach literature or grammar using boring books. Instead, with my parents we often played games… “If I see an apple what am I seeing?” “Una mela!”. Songs were also very useful. The curiosity of understanding their meaning forced us to search for translations, so my entire generation probably needs to thank Take That and the Backstreet Boys for helping us improve our English.

 

So how did you meet your husband?

At that time I was sharing my apartment with other roommates, one of whom was a Spanish guy that was playing for a local soccer team in Vancouver. After a couple of weeks he invited my girlfriends and I to a soccer party….This funny Australian guy was there!! We spoke for an hour, or better he spoke and I was pretending to understand his terrible mumble and lazy accent (I always make fun of him for not being a native English speaker). We started to text each other, and after a month I had the first phone conversation with him. It was not really successful as we didn’t understand each other and we ended up chasing each other through various Subway stops.

Language barriers are sometimes funny, but can also just create massive misunderstandings. We still laugh about a couple of fights that started simply through miscommunication.

Sean and I we got married in July 2016 in a beautiful small church in Italy, surrounded by our multi-cultural group of friends and family, with everyone trying to communicate with the help of translators, body language and big smiles.

 

What do you love to do in your spare time?

I love cooking, just Italian of course, and hosting people in my house. I love making fun of the accent of my Aussie husband, probably as much as he enjoys making fun of my strong Italian one. I believe that my husband is an amazing designer, but I’m better at telling him what he likes haha. I love every single moment of creating these posters; from drawing them with Sean on the sofa to printing the final poster.

Our pregnancy is captured in this poster and in the name of the website, it is a box of memory for me.

 

Could you tell us a bit about the product your husband and you have developed.

What is it and why did you develop it?

 

We have developed a beautiful range bilingual posters, the artwork is fun and educational. The colourful designs attract the attention of kids of any age.

 

We  strongly believe exposure to a second language, at a young age is the easiest way for children to learn. By associating letters and words across different languages, the process of learning becomes simpler. With the repetition of ‘I Say, We Say…’ child and parent can create an enjoyable routine and together practice new words in multiple languages.

 

Our next project is to create a complementary range of posters, focusing on numbers, feelings, the weather, body parts etc.

 Want to find more about this product? Check out thenyoucamealong.com

 

Language learning is a Superpower

We have been going to the Language show since 2013. Our whole family have been coming with us for the last  three years. Taking our kids to language show proved a real eyeopener this year. Jasmin is now 10 and Emily 8. They have finally realised Language learning is a Superpower.

Here are their thoughts on the day.

 

Jasmin

I liked language show because I did not know that I know Mandarin so I was surprised.

I also liked the Chinese singing and dancing because they had amazing costumes.

I liked the language taster session for Icelandic which was quite hard to understand.

I liked the food stalls as they provided food from many different countries.

 

Emily

I enjoyed the Chinese dancers with their magnificent costumes.

I liked the Spanish for babies stall because they had the most delicious sweets.

I tried a Mandarin learning game for secondary school age and I found it pretty easy.

I went to an Icelandic taster class to learn Icelandic. I learned the word velkomin which means welcome.

I asked my dad to buy me some Assimemor cards “Corps et Vetiments” en Francais.

I choose this as I already know my colours and numbers in French.

 

The girls were happy and confident to try other languages this time they said” Arigatō” to the Japanese stall holder and “Gracias” to the Spanish man who gave them some sweets, “xie xie” to the Mandarin lady who gave them a book mark and “danke” to the lady on the Goethe Institute stand who gave them a sweet. As a parent I was overjoyed to witness this. They have often battled us about using languages other than English as home. They saw a stand about some online language learning games, Language Magician and were keen to try them out. The game was a mix of vocabulary and grammar in German. They enjoyed a lot and are keenly waiting for the full version to be released next year. Emily played with the u talk app and decided she wanted to learn Arabic! That’s my girl!

The girls were keen to visit the Speak like a native stand. A lady taught some simple Spanish to them whilst we chatted to the others on the stand. They simply played connect four together in Spanish and my girls picked up some Spanish.

As we passed a translation stand, the girls were chatting about the languages they could translate to and from. They them started to think about careers that languages would open for then. I think at 8 and ten to be thinking about that is so encouraging.

As we passed the Army Careers stand Emily aged 8 asked us “Why do the army need languages?”

We approached them to ask the question, they explained that the army serve all over the world and so need lots of languages, what they are really looking for are people, who are able to learn languages rather than able to speak them now.  As a mum I was so proud as this was exactly what we have done with our own kids they are bilingual German and English but as regularly exposed to different languages and encouraged to have a go speaking them.

My youngest Em enjoyed learning Mandarin in a taster class and joined in with the adults. After the class she looked down the list to see which language she could learn next!! I love her attitude to languages.

 

The highlight of the day for the girls was the bcc mandarin stand. The ladies on the stand started to demonstrate the mandarin learning game they have developed for secondary school age. My ten year old quickly picked it up and was correctly identifying mandarin characters. The ladies who had developed the programme were blown away by how quickly and easily they were learning Mandarin. My Jasmin came away speaking to us of how she was going to study GCSE Mandarin at school. We now need to investigate how we can make this possible for her. We came away with the amazing character cards developed by  teaching characters in a pictoral format , as well as a simple description to aid memorisation. We’ll be writing a full review on this soon.

 

As parents of children learning languages at home it is sometime surprising to see how this is progressing for them. Often it is only in a different setting they use the skills they have and show you how much they actually know. I was most excited to see their current attitude to languages as we have had a few years of them only wanting to use English and not be seen as different.

 

I would love to hear about your family’s language learning journey either let  us know in the comments bellow or get in touch and we can feature your story on the blog.

 

Language show silliness

This weekend we went along to language show and  had a lot of fun and silliness.

It is a highpoint in our calendar, a chance to see what is happening in the world of languages and to meet some friends we’ve been chatting to and working with online.

We met some really inspiring people this year with amazing stories behind their products. We also bumped into a few well known language bloggers and podcasters. We took some silly selfies (because that is a fun thing to do right?)

As we arrived,we were stopped by the lovely Madelena from The Alma collective.
We’d been chatting about collaboration for few weeks but had no idea we’d both be at the Language Show. She is a native German and Greek speaker so we had a lot of fun switching languages in our conversation together. Her passion with The Alma Collective is to inspire and empower parents to raise multilingual children. We look forward to working together in the future.

The first stall we visited was Glynys and her baby Spanish CD’s. Like us she is all about starting languages as early as possible and learning with the help of songs and music. She felt there was a gap in the market here so introduced her product. We’ll be reviewing it very soon.

 

 

 

On a French book stand, Librarie la page.
We came across some awesome trilingual chilidren’s picture books, produced by Vincent from
Jarvin Crew The books are in French, English and Spanish. They were produced as all three languages are spoken in his household. It means that many family members are able to read the same story to the children.

I

I was so excited to discover BCC Mandarin. They produce some beautiful cards to learn to read Mandarin Characters by playing. They are beautifully illustrated and suggest a simple story to memorise the shape of the character. I have studied basic Mandarin a little but was far to nervous to try anything other than pin yin. These cards make reading characters accessible. They are such a brilliant idea.

The British council had some brilliant resources for bringing Polish and Mandarin into the classroom. A great way to learn together and integrate cultures.

 

 

 

 

We had a look at the Lingotot stand. I figure anyone who is passionate about teaching children languages is a friend of mine. The weirdest thing happened. When giving the lady on the stand my business card, she commented “That is my name!” How odd is that. We’d both kept our maiden names when we married our, non British husbands. We’ll be sharing Sarah’s language learning story in a the next few months.

At the ALL stand we met the lovely Victoria who had invited us to contribute to the magazine last Month. She told us a little of what ALL does to support Primary Languages. Find out more for yourself here.

We met some inspiring teacher’s whose classroom experience has led them to create something for all teachers to benefit….. Bili setting up free online language exchange and ALL-IN Octopus with their grammar teaching software. https://school.all-in.org.uk/

We were really happy to meet Gareth from How to Get Fluent and Kris from Actual Fluency, fellow language obsessives and bloggers.

We ended the very busy day learning some Esperanto with the inspirational Tim Morley. It was such fun!

 

So, as you can see we had a brilliant time and met some awesome people. Many will be features on our blog in the near future. The next day our girls came along. It was a real eyeopener for us keep an eye out for that blog!

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