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/

If you’d like to share your language learning journey on our blog we’d love to hear from you.

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?

Easter in a Polish-English home

Happy Easter to your family from ours. We have a brilliant blog from Darren our editor, about his family’s Easter celebrations.

As Easter fast approaches, I thought it would be a good time to share with you something about the traditions in my own English-Polish home.

Although neither my wife nor myself are particularly religious, we still like tradition, so Easter is a bigger deal in or house than in most of my English friends’ homes.

Setting the scene…
Firstly, we decorate the house – really! The living room and kitchen are covered in hundreds of coloured eggs (pisanki), chicks, rabbits, and flowers. We decorate eggs by boiling them in different colour food dyes, or by placing them in heat-reactive sleeves which contract when the egg is boiled, giving them pretty coats.
Decorations are taken from the loft the week before Easter weekend and multiply every year thanks to last minute trips to craft and bargain shops. It’s almost as extravagant as Christmas: we’re just missing a tree and some elves!

Good Friday
Good Friday is the day that we give presents to our children. Though many people give chocolate Easter eggs, my kids don’t really like chocolate very much (I know, right!), so we often buy them a little something practical but cute; such as a lunchbox set with their favourite cartoon characters, or we take them out for the day.
We do occasionally set up an Easter Egg Hunt (with plastic eggs) for them in the garden but they are so competitive that it can end up being a battlefield!

Easter Sunday – Niedziela Wielkanocna
Sunday morning is my favourite time of the whole Easter period because it means FOOD! Traditionally, the Polish custom is to take a basket of food (containing sausages, eggs, salt, ham, bread, and other essentials) to church on the Saturday, to be blessed, and this would form the basis of your meal on Sunday morning. However, as I mentioned before, we aren’t very religious, so we don’t follow this particular tradition. The food we eat, though, is thoroughly Polish: Coloured eggs, bread (chleb), eggs with mayonnaise, ham (szynka), egg salad, horseradish and beetroot (ćwikła), and sour rye soup with white sausage and egg (żurek). Did you see that? There’s something eggy going on here…
After the meal is finished, we will often go out for the day to walk off some of the excess soup…

Wet Monday – Śmigus-Dyngus
Rare in England, though not unheard of, this is the day many Polish girls and women dread; because tradition dictates
that boys should throw water over any girls they meet! My own experience of this phenomenon came just after I moved in with my girlfriend (now wife), when I was rudely awakened by our flatmate who decided to tip a cup of water over her… and me! Luckily for my wife, I’m too afraid of her to try this myself!

And so we reach the end of my little trip through Easter. How do you celebrate Easter?

Meet Darren: Not bad at really simple foreign phrases.

I’m delighted to introduce you my inspirational linguist friend Darren who is not bad at really simple foreign phrases. I hope you enjoy the interview as much as I did.

Could you tell us a little about your language learning journey?
My language learning journey began at about 7 years old when my teacher at the time came back from holiday and decided to teach the class some Italian phrases. I found I was able to remember them after just reading them a couple of times and I thought it was very exotic. The big trigger was from the most unlikely of places, though: the Heinz Invaders Fan Club. Heinz released a range of spaceship-shaped pasta dishes in the early 1980s and started a fan club, which my parents let me join. I waited a few weeks for the promised goodies, only to be told that the club wouldn’t run due to lack of interest. However, Heinz did send me an Invaders pack, which contained, among other things, an Invaders secret language decoder. And that was it. I was hooked on the idea that I could read a language that no one else could, and I started looking for more secret codes everywhere I could. Unfortunately, this was in the days before the Internet, so I was limited to what I could find when the library van came around.
Real languages didn’t enter my life until I started secondary school. I started learning German at 11, then added French at 13. I found German easy but struggled with French so I never really enjoyed it. I passed both my GCSE exams and then didn’t think about languages until around 2005, when a friend asked me to help her study Latin terms for her nursing exam. I was able to break each term down so that she could link it to something in her life and remember it all easily and I again felt the rush of having this “secret knowledge” again. Luckily for me, there were a lot of Polish girls at work who couldn’t speak English, so I started helping them in exchange for them helping me learn Polish. In no time I was using basic phrases and even managed to get myself a Polish girlfriend (now my wife) though she personally didn’t have any desire to teach me Polish. I decided to take lessons and enrolled at Bristol University for a year. After the first term, I was able to help the more confused students and found that this basic form of teaching really agreed with me. After finishing Polish (the course was sadly discontinued at the end of that year), I trained to be an EFL teacher. Once I’d completed my courses, I started teaching at Bristol Language School. I only taught for a single term as we had two very small children at home and I didn’t want to miss anything, but it made me realise what I eventually wanted to do. After that I started learning foreign phrases as many languages as I could get hold of: Spanish, Italian, Romanian, Russian, Hungarian, Greek…
2016 was the best year for me so far. I copy edited the 2nd edition of “Endangered Alphabets” by Tim Brookes, completed the Esperanto course on Duolingo, and discovered the Utalk Challenge – completing all 12 of my chosen languages. Let’s see what the rest of 2017 brings…

How does your family join your language learning journey?
My wife Aneta is fluent in four languages; English, Russian, German, and Polish, so we sometimes mess around, changing languages mid-sentence or testing each other on random words. Our oldest son, Robert, is autistic and has always been amazing with languages – he could read and write the English alphabet before he started nursery, could write basic Russian words, and could say “Hello”, count, and say handfuls of words in Spanish, Polish, Swahili and more. Sadly, he lost interest at around 4 and now will only speak in English. Alex, our youngest, speaks English and some Polish. He also loves to practise languages with me.


I see you teach languages. Could you tell us a little more about that?

I give free exchange lessons: English for any other language, and I also run Esperanto and Italian study groups once a week. It enables me to keep myself surrounded in languages.


Where can we find out more about your classes / teaching?

I prefer face-to-face lessons as it allows me to form a bond with my students/language partners that you don’t really get through Skype or other platforms, so I tend to only see people in Bath/Bristol. I can be contacted through email or Facebook for anyone that is interested in language exchange sessions, or those who need help with learning another language.

I’m sure our readers are really social, where can we connect with you on twitter, FB, Insta etc?

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/lingo78

Instagram: omnilinguist

Twitter: https://twitter.com/Rosomakx

Nasza-Klasa: Darren Cameron

Dork Diaries book review

My daughters love reading. Their current favourite series is Dork Diaries. Emily has written a Dork Diaries book review to let you know what she thinks of it. Over to Emily.

Nikki Maxwell lost her diary! Since starting at her new school Nikki has filled the diary with all her secrets and if the wrong person finds it her life will be over! So the hunt is on to track it down before anyone else does…have you ever lost anything like Nikki Maxwell did?

My most favorite character is Nikki Maxwell because she is kind to others and even though she is bullied by Mackenzie she helps others in need of her help.

I did not like it when someone stole Nikki Maxwell’s diary. Who could have stolen Nikki Maxwell’s diary?

I found it interesting when Nikki Maxwell wrote a letter to herself it was funny when Nikki Maxwell popped out of a actual birthday cake on her birthday.

I would change the ending by saying a dog got the diary and then the quest began to retrieve the diary.

If Emily has inspired you to read this book check out the links below.

Would Language exchange help your family language learning?

We met the folks from Lingoo at Language Show Live back in October. We champion the same cause: empowering learners by giving them the right tools to make language learning so natural and enjoyable that it doesn’t actually feel like learning at all. We were so excited when he agreed to write us a guest post, so over to Peter.

Whether you and your family have some second-language skills or none At all, it’s pretty obvious that if you wish to develop those skills.And enter the ranks of LLL’s (Lifelong Language Learners – we love an Acronym in this day and age), you need to get yourself over to the Country where the target tongue is spoken. Job done? Second language ‘in the bag’? Not always the case…A frequent disappointment for those who visit their country of choice Is that they don’t always get the opportunity to try out their Language skills. (“Everyone spoke English on holiday”, “Authentic? We Could have been anywhere!”, “My son spent the whole of his school Exchange with his friends” amongst the all too familiar frustrations.) Maybe this wasn’t the hub of culture and language you were hoping For…

family of four in their back yard

10 years ago, Lingoo was born of a simple solution: putting learners In touch with hosts, in family settings, for holidays or exchanges.Demand was immediate and continues to grow, as more and more families Seek to spend their precious free time on holidays that tick all the Boxes, from authenticity and originality to adventure and fulfillment. So how does it work? Lingoo.com is designed to put you – the parent -Firmly in the driving seat of the matching process, guiding you Through that process to ensure that from the good number and broad Choice of hosts available, you’ll land on the doorstep of the very Best host and environment for you. The fact that these families are on Our website means you can be pretty sure they share your open-minded Outlook on life but add to that your ability to search by Lingoo.combasics (language, location, age of children) and specifics (interests, pets, Religion, diet …) and there’s no pot-luck about it. With stringent Host-vetting procedures in place too, registrants can also rest Assured that their security is safeguarded. Much of the feedback we receive centres on the overwhelmingly positive Impact on children. It’s certainly true that there is no better Environment than an immersive language holiday to see our inquisitive Little ones in sponge-mode (and if only you could bottle the wide-eyed Wonder – “They have _THAT_ for breakfast?!”). Even older children who Are more inclined to feel self-conscious are likely to see the very Point of all that time spent nose-in-textbook. Watch them pat Themselves on the back as they pull a vocab gem out of the bag (and Remember to take some of the credit yourself: you the parent are in Full role-model mode here… a love of languages, a sense of place, an Ability to step out of your comfort zone, we could go on…).

Whereas most family adventures come with a grisly price tag, Lingoo.com effectively facilitates exchanges within the ‘sharing Economy meaning our users can reap the benefits for low-to-no cost. Language exchangers pay only an annual registration fee and those Embarking on language homestays (so not hosting in return) simply add That to a fixed price for being hosted. Were this cost in the Commercial world of holidays, you would have every reason to question Very low pricing; here, a pro-sharing mentality means many of our Hosts are happy to welcome guests for surprisingly small financial return. Whatever’s on your wish-list, visit for inspiration And guidance on arranging a language homestay for you and your LLLL’s (Little Lifelong Language Learners – sorry). Let’s keep those language Fires burning bright for the next generation.

Do you need some Calm?

As a mum and entrepreneur I find that running my own business is incredibly rewarding but also very stressful. During a recent difficult spell we looked into some of the meditation apps on the market. Many have a day or two’s limited access to trial them, but the Calm app really caught our eyes.

In case you are not convinced of the value of slowing down, here are a few quotes from Michael Acton Smith and Alex Tew, the founders of Calm. These are from their Calm book.
Entrepreneurial life can be a chaotic, restless and intense experience. Few of us do anything to train and nurture our minds. Pretty much everyone has an inner voice that does not shut up. Taking time to calm the mind has a huge range of benefits.

In the Calm book, Michael and Alex share their stories of what led them to launching Calm in 2012. “By stepping away and stilling my mind, I was able to fully appreciate the power of calm, we are now on a mission to help the world find more calm and less stress through mindfulness meditation.”
So we downloaded the calm app and bought the book.
The app consists of meditations, bedtime stories and simple deep breathing exercises.

So here are our family’s thoughts on the app:

Sarah:
As soon as the app is opened, it says to take a deep breath then shows you a beautiful, natural scene with the relaxing sounds of nature. I found even to open the app make me feel calmer.

My favourite part of the Calm app was the Emergency Calm, which has proved invaluable to me in restoring a peaceful mind following fraught moments, particularly on difficult mornings after fighting to get the kids to school on time (or not!). Emergency Calm promises to provide immediate relief when feeling overwhelmed or stressed. There is a choice of 2, 5 or 10 minute sessions. It starts with deep breaths, focusing on the body, and some positive affirmations.

The bedtime stories section was a lovely way of finding some calm before sleep. I love to listen to stories: the first time I used it, I was asleep in minutes and did not remember the story. The second time I used it was during a particularly restless night. The story incorporates lots of deep breathing and, at the end of the twenty minutes story, I felt much more relaxed.

There are three different meditations for preparing for sleep. My personal favourite is deep sleep relax. I had encountered this idea before and it worked well for me.

The Breathe section is great when you need to be grounded again; it helps you take slow deep breaths, slow down your thoughts and be more grounded in the now. It has sound to it so can even be running in your pocket, quietly reminding you to simply breathe.
My daughter was having a bit of a meltdown one school morning so I gave her my phone with the Breathe running, whilst I drove her to school. It worked for her. We arrived at school with her in a much calmer place.

Maik:

I think this app does what it says. From the moment the app is opened it creates a sense of calm.

I liked the selection of sleep stories. I listened to them together with Sarah,< who fell asleep within seconds.
I liked the selection of meditations designed to help you relax to sleep and felt they worked for me.

Jasmin and Emily:
The girls enjoyed the sleep stories and meditations specific to their age groups. My youngest really enjoyed the warm heart meditation and managed to follow the instructions well. The blowing candles one was a useful concept when she had her ears pierced recently and we had to clean her ears each evening. The blowing candles idea helped her to focus whilst I cleaned her ears.
Both of my girls enjoyed all of the sleep stories, but the clear favourite was Ella’s lagoon.

Josh:
My teenage son listened to the meditations aimed at 11 to 18 year olds, but found the Emergency calm most helpful.

We found this app helpful for creating a calm space in the day and restoring some order in thoughts.

The accompanying book is illustrated beautifully with gorgeous pictures and fluid text which flows around the pages. You can dip in and out of it, or leaf though it when you are feeling overwhelmed. I found exploring the book an adventure it itself. It has space for interactions, creativity, journalising, and is crammed full of tips for living more mindfully. It makes a beautiful gift for yourself of others.

Disclaimer: We were given a week’s free access in order to review the app.
We have since decided to pay and subscribe for ourselves.

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