Lingo book giveaway

It’s not long until the Polyglot Gathering. I’m so excited to be going for the first time.

My husband went along to the Polyglot Gathering in Berlin last year. Read all about it here. 

In October he also travelled to Thessalonki in Greece for the Polyglot Conference.

One of the Keynote speakers was Gaston Dorren, author of LINGO- a language spotters guide to Europe. His talk was insightful and inspiring.

 

We read the book Lingo over a year ago (an inspired birthday gift) and learned an awful lot about the crossover of the European languages.

 

This is my favourite quote.

“Two languages in one head? No one can live at that speed! Good Lord, man, you’re asking the impossible.”

“But the Dutch speak four languages and they smoke marijuana.”

“Yes but that’s cheating!”

Eddie Izzard

 

It is an intriguing and entertaining book looking at the more than fifty European languages and dialects. I really enjoyed it and think it is a MUST READ for all linguists and Polyglots.

 

We’ve one copy to give away below. If you have a copy, have a go to win your friends one.

Good luck!

 

a Rafflecopter giveaway

 

Games for Language Learning? For Children and Adults!

This week we have a guest blog from Ulrike & Peter Rettig are co-founders of Games for language. Like us they are lifelong language learners, growing up in several European countries before moving to Canada and the United States. Over the them…

 

When you watch young children at play, you know: children love playing games. For them games are a way to explore the world around them and to try out how things work.

 

Indeed, many parents help their young children acquire their first language in a playful way. Who hasn’t imitated the sound of a cow or a dog for a child and matched it with the picture and/or word of the animal?

 

As young children learn to speak, they start to identify objects, learn letters and numbers, spell simple words, sing songs, etc.

 

Parents and caregivers often turn such a learning activity into a game they play with children.

 

Also, many children now play games on toy tablets or their parent’s tablet or phone. Some of the games are language based and improve a child’s native language skills.

DIGITAL GAMES

For digital language learning games, the rules are often simple. The player gains points or advances for making the right match, and loses points or has to replay for getting it wrong. Graphics, sound, and gamification features add fun and excitement.

 

Games for very young children often match a picture or sound with a letter or word. Games for preschoolers teach them to recognize words, how to spell them, and how to sound them out. For school children, games can get more complicated. These often involve sentence building, spelling races, and grammar searches.

CHILDREN LEARNING A SECOND LANGUAGE

It’s clearly not difficult to introduce children to different words for various objects. Whether a “dog” is labeled a “Hund” (German), “chien” (French), “perro” (Spanish) or “cane” (Italian) will not matter to a child. Children remember a new “label” easily and correlate it to its picture or sound, as long as they hear the foreign word often and consistently.

 

Children that grow up bilingually have no problem retaining both languages, as long as they continue to use them.

Research has demonstrated the benefits of learning more that one language as a child. One important benefit is that the foreign sounds children hear in their early years are retained by them, even if they stop using the language.

 

Thus, exposing children to the sounds of a foreign language as they grow up will make it easier for them to relearn that language later on.

SECOND LANGUAGE LEARNING GAMES FOR CHILDREN

More and more language games for children are being developed, both as web apps or as native apps, available from App stores.

 

Typical ingredients of second-language games are:

  • Flashcards
  • Fun graphics and sound
  • Simple rules, involving hit and miss
  • Rewards, in the form of advancement, points, trophies
  • Lots of repetition
  • Interactive play

 

Figuring out how a game works is all part of the learning.

 

Children as young as 2 1/2 or 3 can start with simple games, matching pictures with the audio of foreign words.

 

When children learn to read in their native language (ages 5-8), games can include simple words in their own language, plus audio of the foreign word.

 

Once children can read quite well (ages 9 and up), the games can be more challenging and include longer texts in the foreign language.

 

GAMESFORLANGUAGE

Although our Gamesforlanguage courses and Quick Language Games were originally developed for adult learners, we have found that many school-aged children have started playing them.

 

This French Quick Language Game, for example, shows some of the games included with our free courses. (Click on the link above or the picture to play it!)

 

Through feedback, we have learned what works for young players:

 

  • The courses and games are interactive
  • The travel story appeals to older children (4th grade and up) who travel with their parents
  • The story sequel format with 36 (or 72) Scenes also works well for children
  • Text-based games practice individual foreign words, phrases, and sentences, as well as English reading and spelling
  • Foreign spelling is practiced with simple words
  • Story podcasts advance listening skills

MANY DIFFERENT ACTVITIES FOR LANGUAGE LEARNING

It ‘s clearly a good idea for children to engage in all kinds of different activities to learn and practice languages. Digital games are just one tool.

Other favorites are songs, easy books, audio stories, board and card games, not to forget conversations with family and friends, at home or on FaceTime and Skype.

Our 3-year-old granddaughter, for example, is taking French Skype lessons with a tutor several times a week. She loves to sing “un deux trois” and is very proud when she can surprise us with a new French word from time to time.

 

Bio: Ulrike & Peter Rettig are co-founders of Gamesforlanguage.com. They are lifelong language learners, growing up in several European countries before moving to Canada and the United States. You can follow them on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

 

How do you do languages at home with your children?

Let us know in the comments below.

Would you eat a Ratburger?

Hi my name is Jasmin and I am 9 years old. I will be reviewing Ratburger by David Walliams. The reason I got this book is because I have never read it before, and I like David Walliams’ books.


My favourite character is Zoe because she likes animals and she wants to train them to do tricks. Zoe had a hamster but it died, so now she has a pet rat which is a wild rat. She dreams that one day she will travel around the world with her animals that do tricks.

 

The main characters are Zoe, Zoe’s dad and Sheila (Zoe’s stepmum).

The character I would like to be is Zoe because she gets to try new ice cream flavours that her dad makes.

Sheila (Zoe’s stepmum) is very lazy and she only eats prawn cocktail crisps and makes a big mess. She is unkind to Zoe and and asks Zoe to pick her stepmum’s nose which is disgusting.

Zoe’s dad is very poor because he lost his job but at the end of the book he gets his job again.

Tina is a bully and lives next to Zoe.

Raj is a shopkeeper and gives things to Zoe for free because Zoe doesn’t have any money.

My least favourite character is Burt because he kills rats and makes them into burgers.

 

My favourite bit of the story was when Zoe’s rat did a trick for Zoe’s school talent show because everybody liked Zoe’s rat.

My least favourite bit of the story was when Burt wanted to kill Zoe because Zoe went into Burt’s warehouse to try and free the rats.

If I could change the ending of Ratburger I would change it to  Zoe’s dream coming true. She would travel around the world with her animals that do tricks.

 

The book was sad and a little bit scary because Burt wanted to kill Zoe and also Zoe’s hamster died.

I would recommend this book because it is very enjoyable and it is a very interesting book.

 

It was such a good book that it only took me one day to read it and I couldn’t put it down because I wanted to know what happened next.

 

Check the link below to get your own copy.

 

 

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Inspirational mum Sally from Mum’s back

If you read our blog regularly you will know we have a monthly Inspirational Mum slot. May’s Inspirational mum is Sally Bunkham, the founder of mumsback.com, a company that provides hamper gifts for new mums; full of the things they’ve not been allowed whilst pregnant (wine, pâté, cheese, etc.). £1 from every hamper sold goes to PANDAS Foundation to help with their amazing work supporting families going through perinatal mental health issues. 

 

Can you tell us little about yourself.

I grew up in Stamford, Lincolnshire, and moved to Brighton when I became a university student, back in 1999. I loved it there and pretty much never left (until 2015). I worked at the University of Sussex for nearly 10 years. My job involved providing events for students to get them interested in entrepreneurship. A lot of it rubbed off on me! I met my lovely husband, Paul, in 2007 at Bestival and we got married in 2013. Our daughter Daisy was born in 2014. When Daisy was just over 2 months old we discovered I was pregnant again. Oops! So in 2015 we had 2 babies under the age of 2. That was hard work! Before our second daughter, Ruby, was born, we temporarily relocated to my home town of Stamford in order to get some extra childcare support from my parents. As it turned out, that was a really good idea, as it was not an easy ride! Things are slowly getting easier now and we are heading back to our home in Brighton in September.

How did you come up with the idea for your current business? 

I didn’t quite realise how much I’d miss things like wine, pâté, cheese, beer etc. etc., until I was pregnant and wasn’t allowed it! My other pregnant pals and I used to joke about how we’d do anything for a rare steak or a brie sandwich or similar. When my first daughter was born I got some really beautiful gifts, but it dawned on me that they were all focussed on the baby. It was then I realised there was a gap in the market for something purely for Mum. After all, she is the one that has just grown a tiny human being and gone through childbirth! My second pregnancy, so soon after my first, really magnified the absence of all the things I wasn’t allowed once more, and helped solidify the concept for Mum’s Back!

Sadly I suffered from a bad bout of postnatal depression after Ruby was born. She developed an undiagnosed medical condition (we are still not sure what it was) which meant that from around 4 months to 16 months old she would be incredibly unsettled, day and (especially) night. We tried cutting out various foods, had allergy testing, tried different drugs for silent reflux, and had specialist paediatric care, but nobody could get to the bottom of it. We were getting by on scraps of sleep and the strain of the acute sleep deprivation mixed with the stress of trying to care for 2 babies under 2 became too much for me. I developed unhealthy coping mechanisms (sadly involving self harm) and became quite unwell. I was diagnosed with PND. Thankfully, my daughter started to grow out of the undiagnosed condition and her sleep improved. Once she was on the road to recovery, so was I (this is cutting a long story short!). The experience gave me a deep empathy with anybody going through any kind of mental health issue, especially perinatal conditions. That helped me to realise that my business could actually help make a difference. I decided to try and raise awareness about these conditions by blogging and I also donate £1 from every hamper sold to PANDAS Foundation, who help support families going through perinatal mental health issues.    

 

 

How do you manage to balance your work around your family?

This is definitely the hardest thing about running a business! My two girls are now coming up to 3 and 2 years old and are still very dependent on me. I have to be incredibly focused when I work. I have a lot of prioritised to-do lists. I work in fits and starts when I can, which I actually find is quite good for concentration. I get 2 mornings a week when I am child-free, so I work then, and most evenings and weekends. Both my children still have a midday nap which is handy, but I know that won’t last forever! I find that actually working on my business is good for my mental health. It gives me a really good balance and helps me feel really productive, so that’s a real benefit. My business has to be agile enough that it can still keep ticking over if I have to down tools and do nothing for a few days, though. If my children are poorly, for example, I have to be able to look after them. In that instance, I can function. As long as the orders go out, that is fine. In times like that, I tend to focus on all the things I AM doing (like keeping my children comfortable and loved!) and not on the things I’m NOT doing. Mind-set is really important during those periods, or else it’s quite easy to get lost in a sea of negativity.  

 

Do you have any words of wisdom for other mums starting in business?

I do love the variety running my own business brings, although it can be a bit of a rollercoaster! I find one day I can be questioning if it was all a good idea at all, and then suddenly something great will happen and it will all be positive again. I think resilience is really important. You’ve got to be able to get back up and shake yourself off if you get knocked down, and keep on trucking. I’d definitely say it’s really important to find something you are passionate about. I hadn’t quite appreciated how fabulous the social enterprise element of my business would be when I decided to do it. It was just something I thought would be nice to do but, actually, it gives me such fire in my belly to know that the more I succeed in my business, the more I can help others. So, if you can find an angle like that for yourself, then go for it! It’s also very empowering to turn such a negative thing in my life into something positive. It’s great that I now own that part of my life, it doesn’t own me! 

 

Anything else you would like to tell our readers?

I love connecting with people, so please do come and say hi on my facebook page or on Twitter. 

And watch this space! We had the fabulous news recently that notonthehighstreet.com would like us to be a partner for them, so you should also see us appearing on there, soon. 

Finally, we have 2 cool offers on at the moment. There’s our launch offer, where you can get 20% off a classic Mum’s Back hamper. If you are getting a hamper for somebody but do not want it to be delivered until later, that is fine. You can buy now for delivery at a later date. 

We are also running a competition at the moment (last day to enter is 24th May), where you have the chance to win a hamper! All you have to do is answer the (pretty damn easy!) question.

Sally’s story really inspired me. Let us know what you think in the comments below.

Knight’s school and Chaucer -the Canterbury Tales Experience

We were so excited to be asked to review the Canterbury Tales Experience. It was a brilliant introduction to ‘Olde English’ culture.

We had only vaguely heard of Chaucer prior to our visit to Canterbury, so we took out a few books from the library to help familiarise ourselves with the story (Yes, I am uncultured!). The books which were most helpful were: Illustrated Canterbury Tales (Illustrated Story Collections) , Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales by Marcia Williams (4-Feb-2008) Paperback, and The Canterbury Tales in Modern VerseChaucer in Modern Verse. This meant we were familiar with the stories, and had talked about them with the kids, before we got there.
As we toured, we realised this preparation was not necessary as the stories were told really clearly, with lots of illustration from the set.

The multilingual audio guide told the stories as you reached each set. The guide was in English, Dutch, German, French, Japanese and Italian, as well as a less bawdy kids-English version. At the start, children​ were encouraged to choose a medieval costume to wear as we joined in the pilgrimage to Canterbury and listened to the stories along the way.

The guides begun the story in the Tabard Inn in London, where we joined the pilgrims on their journey to Canterbury. The experience lasted about forty minutes, with a combination of live interaction and audio guides. It was really cleverly done: our favourite of the five stories was the one where the lady showed off her bottom (The Miller’s Tale).
medieval clothing, swords and helmets, and, surprisingly, mead for an authentic medieval experience. We had to take a bottle of locally produced mead home, of course!

After we had visited, we went into the churchyard, which had been transformed into a Medieval Story Garden complete with Knight School, herb garden, storytelling tent and Maypole Dance tuition. We spent an hour there and the kids loved it. Emily liked the Knight School best. As a mum, it was great to see my 16, 9 and 8 year olds all training to be knights together, though they did need reminding a few times not to fight each other. The guide was brilliant at keeping it under control and safe, which with children and swords is no mean feat!

Our amazing guide taught us all about medieval medicine in the herb garden, and we played a brilliant ‘match the herb to the illness’ game. My girls liked it so much they played it three times.

My favourite part of the Story Garden experience was the maypole dancing. It took a lot of practise and co-ordination to get the final effect to work. There was a lot of hilarity as we got tangled up along the way, chatting to other families we had only just met.

My middle daughter loves books, so the story tent was just her thing; full of medieval stories – including one by JK Rowling, which we promised to buy a copy of for her later.

When I checked my watch, I was surprised to see that we had spent over an hour in the Story Garden – my youngest even restarted the Knight School with another family, as she enjoyed it so much.

The Canterbury Tales Experience was suitable for all our family, aged from 8 to 42

If we’ve convinced you to join in the fun, there are a few special events to add to the overall enjoyment.

Monday 1 May, 11am – 3pm
Medieval Story Garden: Mystical Beasts
An assortment of Mystical Beasts will descend on The Canterbury Tales’ Medieval Story Garden for May Day, with themed activities including a Mystical Beasts Hunt, Longbow talks with our costumed character and the opportunity to practice some beast-slaying skills at Knight School!

Saturday 27 May – Sunday 4 June, 11am – 3pm
Medieval Story Garden: Magical Patterns
The Canterbury Tales team will be exploring the magic of patterns this May half term with a variety of activities in the Medieval Story Garden. Have your hair beautifully braided, marvel at the magic patterns in kaleidoscopes, try your hand at maypole dancing and enjoy a demonstration of Astrolabes, ancient instruments for determining time and the position of stars, which Chaucer himself was fascinated with.

Saturday 22 July – Friday 1 September, 11am – 3pm
Medieval Story Garden: Summer
Venture to The Canterbury Tales church yard this summer for a selection of medieval activities, all included in the visitor attraction’s admission price. Split into four zones, the church yard will be transformed into a Medieval Story Garden, offering younger guests the chance to try Maypole Dancing, hone their dragon slaying skills at Knight School, observe Medieval Medicine demonstrations and be enthralled by a tale in the Storytelling tent from a costumed character.

Saturday 2 & Sunday 3 December
Artisan Christmas Gift Fair
FREE ENTRY
A special festive market with a medieval twist. Shoppers will be able to step back in time to the streets of 14th century England and browse gifts from a host of talented Kent artisans and crafters.

Saturday 16 & Sunday 17 December
Magical Medieval Christmas
Enjoy a magical medieval Christmas at the award-winning Canterbury Tales attraction. Serenaded by carol singers, guests will meet Santa’s elves, write a Christmas wish to post in the special mail box and visit Santa’s grotto where there will be a gift for every child.

Disclaimer

We were given free admission to the experience in exchange for a review. These are our own thoughts and opinions.

Why would adults learn languages?

We have a brilliant guest blog from my lovely friend Nathalie. She speaks at least two languages daily and a few more besides, so must be always learning languages. Anyway, over to Nathalie

If you are reading this blog, the chances are you already know how beneficial the exposure to other languages is to children. What about us as adults though? Either you don’t know another language or you already know one, 2, 3… or even more… Either way I feel we should always either practise and improve our skills in one language or learn new ones. I don’t necessarily mean to become fluent but to learn new sounds, new rules, new cultures… Why?

• It sets a good example for the children around you
• It puts you in the position of a learner; no one should ever forget what it feels like to learn new things: the excitement and the challenges! This way you can always sympathise with other learners, especially children
• It gives you focus; you have to be committed in order to learn another language
• It is good for your brain: research has shown that learning languages can help protect against Alzheimer’s
• It gives you direct access to more understanding: of words, of texts, and more importantly of people, even without travelling
• When you have found a way which works for you, it should be enjoyable too; if it isn’t, try another language… or another way!
I am sure they are many more reasons… please do share them with us!!


So which language am I learning at the moment?
I am learning Italian, partly with Duolingo, because I am going to Rome in April and I want to be able to communicate at least a little and I want to be able to pronounce food when I order it! Then I will learn Dutch ahead of a trip to Amsterdam with the football team which I coach and my daughter plays for; I will be encouraging the girls to try speaking Dutch when we’re there! Afterwards, I would like to learn some Arabic as a change from the European languages which I know and love… and an extra challenge!

Which language are you learning at the moment? Let us know in the comments below.

If you want to read more of Nathalie’s blogs and brilliant book reviews check out.
http://www.nattalingo.co.uk/

If you jump in muddy puddles…

We were so excited to be given the chance to review these Term Footwear wellies, and the Easter holidays were the perfect time to try them out. To find some muddy puddles. My daughter choose the purple ones as purple is her favourite colour. She was very impressed with them, and wanted her picture taken next to these beautiful purple flowers.

It has been a dry few weeks, so we had to venture into the woods to find some water. As you can see from the pictures, we had a lot of fun! Surprisingly, the boots were tough enough to handle tree climbing as they had a good solid grip. They were also flexible enough to wear for riding a scooter. These boots are perfect for young feet, providing protection and support from cold and wet conditions, being warm in the winter and dry in the spring.

Jasmin got very muddy whilst playing in muddy puddles, but the wellies were easily washed off and were as shiny as ever.

I asked Jasmin to say a few words about the wellies.

The wellies were very comfy and also really good because, if it was sunny, you could take out the lining sock so your feet didn’t get too hot.

I would recommend these wellies to my sister, Emily, as she likes she likes climbing trees and jumping in muddy puddles.”

If you would like to buy your own pair with a special Easter discount, use the code below.

Disclaimer
We received these wellies in exchange for a review. These are our own thoughts and opinions.

How do you become a polyglot?

This week we are really blessed to have an exclusive interview with a man who speaks at least twelve languages, Dimitrios Polychronopoulos. I hope it inspires your own language learning journey.


Could you tell us about your language learning journey?

When I was growing up, I dreamed of travelling the world and learning languages to speak to the people I would meet in the different countries I would visit. My first languages were English and Greek. I’m a Greek citizen and I grew up in the United States.

While I’m grateful for the lessons in the evening at the Greek Orthodox Church, where I learned to read and write in Greek, my ability with Greek wasn’t very strong when I was growing up. This is a common problem in many parts of the United States where children often lack peers with whom to speak their heritage language on a daily basis.

One solution to this was offered by Eithe Gallagher who presented at the Polyglot Conference in Thessaloniki in October 2016, and makes a case of promoting home languages in the classroom and I hope that soon we will see this kind of activity spreading to schools worldwide.

As a teenager, I was offered a choice of French, German or Spanish. For the university I wanted to attend, a foreign language in high school was required. Some people told me to protest that rule and say it shouldn’t be necessary in my case because of Greek. Because I was interested in language and culture anyway, I went ahead and enrolled in French courses without really thinking why I should choose this language and not one of the the other two.

The year after I started French, my parents took me to French Polynesia. People spoke fast when I tried to ask questions in my broken French. Despite my mom insisting I switch to English when speaking with the locals, I persisted with French to see how we could manage to communicate.

When two exchange students from France showed up at my high school the next year, they became my best friends and we learned a lot from each other. My French improved so much that I was able to be the first person from my high school to pass the Advanced Placement exam for university French credit. They invited me to France and I eventually earned a scholarship to study in Angers, France.

As I was finishing high school, also I started with my fourth language: Italian. Russian came next when I was 20 and I spent three months on a people-to-people exchange in the Soviet Union.

My sixth language was Spanish, which I added the next year after I was in the Soviet Union. It was amazing to read about the collapse of the Soviet Union in Spanish while visiting Costa Rica.

After university, I started to study Mandarin Chinese and began work in Taiwan as an English instructor.

So in my early 20’s I was up to seven languages to various degrees of competency. From my experience, Russian and Chinese are the most difficult languages I’ve ever studied. I can still converse in both languages and use LingQ and ReadLang as two methods of continuing to practice and improve on them. My Russian is rather basic though and I’m always making mistakes. Russian is difficult in terms of grammar and learning the rich vocabulary, but the alphabet was rather easy to pick up because I already knew the Greek alphabet.

My Chinese is modest, shall we say. It is difficult to learn the idiomatic expressions and the writing system. The first week of study, I also focused only on the tones. Unlike most learners of Chinese, I began simultaneously with the reading and writing. While learning daily conversation, I was also studying the Chinese radicals. After I finished my lesson book and cassettes from Audio Forum, which brought me to a basic conversational level after four months, I began to use children’s school books and learned the Mandarin Phonetic Alphabet to help read texts alongside the complex characters that five-year olds and then six-year olds and then seven-year olds would read at school.

From Taiwan, I moved to the Philippines where I completed a Master of International Studies. The time I spent living in Taiwan and the Philippines, over a span of five years, allowed me to easily enjoy visits to other parts of East Asia and I had the opportunity to explore a lot of the region.

In Manila, I had the chance to practice several of my languages while living at the university. I also began to study Tagalog and then Bahasa Indonesia. Fortunately there was a student from Greece there. My Greek was out of practice, but she helped me get it up to scratch. I also enrolled in advanced Spanish conversation and tried Portuguese for the first time but withdrew because the pace was too slow and boring. There were individuals who knew French and people from Mainland China and Taiwan, so I had lots of opportunities to use these languages, too.

After completing my studies in the Philippines, I moved to Greece and enjoyed my work there as a tour director. When I was on tour, I would also lead groups to Turkey as a part of their two-week journey to the region, so I began to study Turkish as well. In Turkish, I never reached the point of understanding the TV news or reading a newspaper, but I could communicate at the rudimentary level of taking taxis, handling issues with the tour driver and with the hospitality staff.

As for Greek, to reach a level of Greek more like people who grew up in Greece, I enrolled in courses at the Greek American Union in Athens and was placed in advanced classes with foreigners who had been living in Greece for a long time. It was also wonderful to live close to my family in Athens and I really enjoyed the time there.

A few years later, I moved to the Peloponnese and also began to take on tour assignments to Italy. The amounts of work in Italy allowed my Italian to improve a lot. Later I also began assignments to Spain and Costa Rica, which helped boost my Spanish.

One of the activities I enjoyed in the Peloponnese was kite surfing. One of my instructors was Brazilian and invited me to kite in Praia do Laranjal in southern Brazil. So I spent a couple of our winters in Brazil, which are their summers. I had ‘Teach Yourself Portuguese’ audio lessons and although I arrived and spoke Spanish to most people, I was able to switch to what they call Portuñol and eventually to Portuguese with a few Spanish word in it.

The year before I started hanging out in Brazil, I had been in Montevideo at La Herradura Language School. Ever since the day I began to study Spanish in 1991, every time I was in a Spanish environment, my Italian would disappear. Likewise, whenever I was in an Italian environment, my Spanish would disappear. Finally in 2008 I became capable of shifting between Italian and Spanish without much interference between languages. Then I moved to Spain and my Spanish continued to improve and I have fortunately been able to maintain my Italian.

In 2012 I started to study German in Hamburg with colon.de , and then later started to study Dutch on my own and then Norwegian up to A2 level in Oslo with language power and then continued Norwegian on my own after that.

Now I live in Norway where I completed an MBA recently and last year I worked on a tour a few times from Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia and on to Finland. I’ve dabbled with all four of these languages as well, using material such as Teach Yourself, LingQ and Routledge.

In May of 2016 at the Polyglot Gathering in Berlin I introduced my new language website yozzi.com, which aims to become the lang-8 (lang-8.com) for advanced language learners where people submit texts and receive corrections. The point is for people to practice writing entire articles in their target languages, not just sentences and paragraphs which is what lang-8 offers.

In June 2016, I became the congress coordinator for the Society of Intercultural Education Training and Research Europa (SIETAR Europa) sietareu.org for the congress in Dublin in late May 2017. Currently I’m dabbling with Irish.

Now that I’ve fulfilled my dream of travelling the world and learning languages, I’d like to use my languages in new ways, such as encouraging people to improve their writing skills as Yozzi aims to do, and in building intercultural understanding and awareness and to encourage language-learning.


Do you think learning languages is important and why?

Learning languages is a great way to build empathy. When a person has experienced the humility of trying to speak a different language and not being understood, of having a thick accent, bad grammar and limited vocabulary, it can make people who are otherwise in comfortable positions think about the struggle immigrants go through when they move to a new country in hope of improving their lives. Language learning also helps with educational opportunities as one can study in universities in different languages and also with career opportunities.

Do you have any new Language Learning challenges on the horizon?

My biggest focus is to reach an advanced level of Dutch and Norwegian. When there is a sense of urgency, I will likely bring one of the languages I’ve dabbled in up to a higher level. Motivation is the key when it comes to language learning. When motivation isn’t there, it’s hard to push beyond the A1 material. Another thing I have experienced is that if I reach an A2 level in a language but then don’t use it for a long time, the language drifts into a fog and that’s what has happened with Tagalog and Turkish. My main focus is with my twelve strongest languages and if circumstances arise to bring another language up to an intermediate level, then I will likely do so with an intense three-month language challenge, which I find very effective, such as with Brian Kwong’s Add One Challenge.

If you’d like to stay in contact with Dimitris check out these links
to Yozzi on:

twitter @LanguageYozzi
Facebook. https://www.facebook.com/yozzilanguage/

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Meet the inspirational mum behind the Sunshine Box

This month we have an interview with inspirational mum, Deborah. She has allowed the difficulties she has gone through do help her develop a unique way of helping others.

Could you tell us a little about yourself?
I am a mum of

four children aged between 5 and 28 years old. We are based in a second-hand bookshop in North Wales, where we moved thirteen years ago to escape the stress of our lives in middle England. It is beautiful here by the mountains and the sea, and offers a much calmer way of life.

What encouraged you to develop your product?
We have created the Sunshine Box to bring smiles, lift spirits and encourage self-care. The items are not age specific so they are ideal for anyone affected by health issues, as we have been. They would be very therapeutic for anyone with anxiety or depression but, equally, would be loved by an elderly relative who you don’t see as often as you’d like, to remind them that you are thinking of them.

There are other subscription boxes on the market but often with a higher price tag, so many people can’t afford it.
It made me so frustrated! We decided to create our own, at a lower price, offering better value for money because, for us, it is about spreading the sunshine where it is needed, not about profit.
You can buy a one-off box or take out a monthly subscription for only £15.

I hear you offer another subscription?
We also offer a subscription called Wise Reads, where we have customers fill out a form telling us about their book preferences and then we send them a second-hand book every month, chosen especially for them. It’s fantastic fun for any booklover! Prices are £5 for 1 book or £7 for two books.

Taking time for self-care, or encouraging this in others, is so important. If this interview has inspired you to sign up to one of the brilliant subscription services, please get in touch via the links below.
https://www.pebblewise.co.uk
https://www.facebook.com/Pebblewise-295311664133531/

A very German Easter

As a German-English family we like to include traditions from both cultures in our Easter celebrations so we celebrate both a German Easter and English Easter.

The first Easter I spent in Germany, I was astounded by all the beautiful Basteln (crafts) and Osterschmuck (Easter decorations). Walking around the neighbourhood, I saw many Osterbäume (Easter trees) festooned with Ostereier (Easter eggs). Many of the houses also had beautiful Fensterbilder (homemade window decorations).

I love crafts and decorating so I brought home many materials, magazines and templates to make our own Easter crafts.

In the week leading up to Easter we go up into the loft to bring down our decorations, which grow in number each year. Last year we were in Germany for Easter, so we brought home some beautiful decorations. My favourite is the Osterkranz (Easter wreath): I love the pastel colours and it is something not often seen in the UK. It was also an absolute Schnäppchen (bargain)!

 

We love to decorate a branch with brightly coloured eggs. We decorated our own plastic ones with pens the first few years. We’ve bought more plastic ones to add to our collection in following years. As we decorated it this year, my older daughter started to talk about the Osterbaum. I was surprised she still remembered the word.pic

In our home we know it is almost Easter as Oma’s Osterpaket arrives from Germany. It is brimming with lots of yummy German food and chocolate, ready for Easter.

Pic

Before Easter my girls often make Easter bonnets to wear to school.

On Karfreitag (Good Friday) we go to church as a family to think about Jesus’ death on the cross, and what that means to us personally.

My husband has described Karsamstag in Germany to us, with the lighting of the Paschal candle to mark the period from Easter to Pentecost. Many churches also have an Osterfeuer, which dates back to pagan times: a time for the young people of the church to have fun together.

On Easter Sunday (Ostersonntag) our children get up to find their baskets filled with Chocolate (Osterhasen) Easter Bunnies (must be Milka) and lots of delicious things zum Naschen. We also buy them an English Easter egg in a box. Maik, my husband, always had a few small gifts for Easter so we’ve continued this tradition with our own children – usually a book, stationery, or something they have asked for in the run up to Easter.

We all head to church together to celebrate Easter with our church family. It is a very special service with music, dance, and readings where the whole family is involved.

At some point in the weekend we have an Easter egg hunt in the garden.
As spend time playing games together.

As Monday is a Bank holiday in the UK, we take time to have a roast dinner together and head out for a walk in the afternoon.

Some years at Easter, we have visited my family in the Yorkshire Dales. My parents have friends who are sheep farmers, so we have been lucky enough to watch a lambing and help bottle feed the orphan lambs.

To me, Easter is a time of hope, of celebrating that the dark days of winter are over and the days are getting lighter and longer.

As we have two cultures and languages in our family, I think we are so much richer for embracing them both.

How does your family celebrate Easter?

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