Category Archives: Language Learning Journey

Multilingual merriment in Wales

Our girls were off at camp for almost forty eight hours so we decided to have a night away just me and Mr.Lingotastic. We decided to go to Chepstow as it was a pretty looking town.

Being the obsessive linguists we are we, thought it was a chance to practice and improve our Welsh. On the way to Wales our soundtrack was a Welsh songs playlist which was a really interesting mix of beautiful harpy Celtic sounding songs and “fields of gold” in Welsh.

As we arrived in Wales we remembered how much road sign Welsh we remembered. As we saw Welsh on signs we realised lots of common words

Bont bridge pont
Ffenestr window fenêtre
Eglwys church église
Ysgol school école

I suppose if you are linguistically minded you are always looking out for words from languages you know to make sense of other languages. Loving languages as we do we are always listening out for other languages.

Looking for somewhere to eat, we found the most lovely Greek restaurant
Mythos.http://www.themythos.co.uk/
As we know a little Greek, we greeted the waitress with “Kalispéra” (good evening) and said “efcharistó” (thank you) on a few occasions.
The food was the best food we have had in a restaurant anywhere. I was able to try the famous Tiropitakia, and musaka. Maik had meatballs and an amazing spiced beef stew. The food was really simple but good authentic Greek food. We had to try the cheese pie for dessert lots of cinnamon and filo pastry.
Hubby asked for the bill in Greek (after a quick Greek recap) and she asked if he was Greek 😊 That was the greatest honour and surprise.
We heard the other waiter was Romanian so said thanks in Romanian
mulțumesc. After the initial surprise we started talking about multilingual families and encouraging him in his journey with his five year old.

We had a look around beautiful Chepstow castle the next day. As with any tourist magnet there were lots of languages to listen out for. We managed to hear five that day.The signs in the castle were both in English and Welsh. It was fun to pick out the welsh words we knew.

It was interesting from a linguistic point of view as the castle was originally Norman, which may explain the number of words Welsh and French have in common. The local language spoken in Normandy is actually fairly understandable to Welsh speaker. It is fascinating to see how the movement of people and trade influences language.

As a family who love languages we are always on the lookout for them. We would love to hear your stories.

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!

 

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.

 

We are failing as multilingual parents.

OK a major revelation from me…
We may be bringing up our children multilingually, but the aspirations and reality are often very different.
My children all hit an age time for where they refused to speak German unless it really suited them (when they wanted sweets or chocolate for instance). As a bilingual parent this is a nightmare. We did a lot of soul searching as to where we had gone wrong, but just had to let it ride. My middle daughter Jasmin is almost ten and now starting to answer our German by speaking German herself. She made a friend whose parents speak German and who has a German Au-Pair which helped her confidence a lot. Jasmin has even started to ask “How do you say … in German?”

The highlight of my week was when we saw some Apple Strudel on a stall in town. Jasmin said “Apfelstrudel!” and the Hungarian lady on the stall continued the conversation in German. We ordered and bought what we wanted in German and Jasmin followed our conversation and said Danke and Bitte in the correct places.

She finally wants to speak German! We were in the Polish shop recently and she said goodbye in Polish: Dziękuję

The whole exposure to other languages and cultures we have been doing since she was tiny, is finally paying off.

My eldest son is 17 now and I will finally admit he dropped GCSE languages (huge shame for me to admit this). However, if he hears French he continues in French, he learnt some Dutch with Duolingo, he has an awesome accent and knows more Dutch than me and his dad. He learnt some Polish with UTalk and joins us in Polish conversations. Languages are such a part of his life he actually forgot to put them on his CV!

As a multilingual parent, there are no failures, just learning experiences for you all. No parent does a perfect job, our personal parenting goal is not to make too much of a mess of parenting.

So, I’ve finally admitted I’m not a perfect parent or a perfect multilingual parent either and it’s not going too badly. How is your family language learning journey going?

Casper’s inspiring language learning story

This week we are really lucky to hear Casper’s inspiring language learning story.

When I was a kid, I always woke up very early on Saturdays and Sundays to watch TV with my little sister. We used to watch Cartoon Network for hours! The cartoons were in English but (luckily) there were always Dutch subtitles. I honestly believe that subtitles are the main reason that most Dutch people speak English at a sufficient level. Also, when me and my sister weren’t watching English spoken TV, we would listen to English music.

When I was about 10 years old and went to elementary school, to my delight, me and my classmates were introduced to English class. Another great way of learning English!

In high school we were also taught English. Furthermore, we could choose between French and German – I picked German because it is similar to Dutch. Easier to learn, I thought… I thought wrong! German is a difficult language to learn, but so is French… If only we could choose between French, German and Spanish!

In 2016, I completed my bachelor course ‘International Business & Languages.
The program consisted of a number of marketing-related subjects and three languages: English, Spanish and German. A very broad study program which, in my opinion, is not a bad thing at all. I learned a lot about many different aspects of marketing and languages.


I spoke English and German before I started the 4 year bachelor study, and I learned Spanish in these 4 years. It was a very intensive program; I spent 7 months in Spain to improve my Spanish and three months in Australia to use my English. I also have a Spanish friend who lives in Germany (very convenient in order to maintain both languages!)

Many people, including myself, think it is an absolute must to maintain your language skills by practicing. If you master a language, and want to keep it that way, you should keep practicing. You can do so without traveling; listen to the radio, watch TV with subtitles, write your ideas down in another language and, most importantly, interact with people in the desired language!

I personally learned a lot in class, the basic knowledge for example. But it’s when I actually had conversations with people who were native speakers of Spanish, German or English, that I started to apply my previously learned knowledge and really picked up the language skills.


Fun things when learning a language:

You automatically develop an accent – there is nothing you can do about this. I spent seven months in Zaragoza, and when I speak Spanish with a Spaniard, they often tell me I speak with the accent of a “Zaragozano”.

Also, I found out that, when you’re not a native speaker of a language, you will never reach the same level as a native speaker; even if you really want to. Think of expressions and proverbs. In Dutch, which is my mother tongue, it is very difficult for non-native speakers to use the correct preposition. I know some people who have lived in the Netherlands for over 40 years, their Dutch is nearly perfect, but even they sometimes use the wrong preposition.

Not too long ago, in February 2017, I launched “Your International”.
A small translation company with experienced translators all over the world. What makes the company unique is the fixed fee of € 0.07 per word. Also, when we feel like it, we translate documents as an exchange service. A while ago we translated a promotional text from Dutch to English and Spanish: in exchange, we received two bottles of wine… Delicious wine, I should say! We’re always interested in new assignments, whether as an exchange service or as a paid service. Head over to www.yourinternational.com or find us on social media!

https://www.facebook.com/YOURlNTERNATIONAL/

https://twitter.com/yrinternational/

Want to share your language learning story? Get in touch in the comments below.

Language learning is THE best way to make friends.

I originally wrote this blog two years ago as a guest post for FlashSticks. I’ve brought it up to date now. It’s exciting to see how my language learning has progressed in that time…

I’m starting to realise I may be a bit of language nerd. I’ve been thinking recently as to why people learn a language. I think for me the greatest reason is that it gives me the chance to make friends. I’m a really relational person and language learning is great for this. As Nelson Mandela said “If you talk to a man in a language he understands, that goes to his head. If you talk to him in his language it goes to his heart”

As I walk my children in to school I often say good morning in about four languages to the other parents and children. dzień dobry, bună dimineața, jó reggelt, As- Salàmu ’Alaykum, доброе утро, dobrý deň, Guten Morgen, zăo sháng hăo !

At my children’s school, there are parents and children whose main languages are Polish, Hungarian, Mandarin, Russian, German, Romanian, Slovak, Urdu, Arabic, Ukrainian or French.

In September, my daughter returned to school, after the summer holidays. She had three children in her class who’d just arrived in the country and spoke no English. The children taught each other to say “good morning” in their own languages. I was really impressed by this mutual language teaching at age 7 and also the way the new children were welcomed into the class. I decided I could do this too, and learn to say at least good morning or simple greetings in these languages.

I started to chat to the new families and learned how to say good morning. I thought language learning would be a great way to get to know other families in the school. It’s been a fun journey. I’ve spoken the wrong language to people a few times and sometime pronounced so badly they did not know what I was saying! The Urdu and Arabic speaking mums automatically respond to me with “Wa ’Alaykum us Salam,” then realise it’s me speaking and look a bit confused or giggle! In time they’ve got used to it though!

On the whole people have been really pleased to teach me a few words of their language and laughed with me as I stumbled over the new expressions. It empowers them and builds their confidence as they are the experts in this area. Some of the mums are new to the country, learning English, and they like the fact that I take the time to talk with them and try to understand what they are saying. I, myself have struggled with communication in other languages, so I’m patient!

Cup of tea anyone?

I’ve discovered our local Big Issue seller is Romanian and she has taught me:

Hello Buna dimineata

Goodbye La revedere

I’ve been practicing and improving my Polish with the help of the staff at the local Polish Deli. Through spending time with them I’m getting to know them better especially those who only speak a little English. Other customers in the shop are noticing, too, and will speak to me in Polish if they see me on the High Street, which I love.

I’ve a few Thai girl friends so I always greet them with Sawatdee-kah.

We have Greek friends in church so I greet them with Καλημέρα Τι κάνεις: I’ve also discovered a few of my friends speak Afrikaans so I try my Dutch on them, which often works. In my daughter’s new school we have Spanish, Hungarian and Portuguese speakers, so I try to use these languages whenever I can.

I’ve met Russian, Swedish and Tagalog speaking parents at my local mums and toddlers group and am slowly learning words from them.

I’m enjoying building my own language skills and making friends, too. Do you have anyone you can get to know better by learning their language? I’d love to know how it goes!

Polishing your Polish whilst shopping

This month I’ve been learning Polish with uTalk. We’ve a brilliant Polish deli on our high street called Bierdronka. So my aim was to learn enough to manage a shopping trip. My hubby is German, so we were so pleased so find a local shop which sold fresh Brötchen, Aufschnitt, Kuchen, Sauerkraut and Kohlrabi. Since Poland joined the EU in 2004 there are lots of Polish people in the UK so a great chance practice Polish on your doorstep, before visiting this beautiful country for yourself.

I already had a few Polish friends so I already knew

dzień dobry – Good morning
cześć – Hi / goodbye
dziękuję – thank you

Simply though going into the shop for the last few months, I’d picked up

proszę – you’re welcome/ please
do widzenia – goodbye

So with these phrases already under my belt, in January I started learning Polish with uTalk to pick up a few more shopping phrases.

tak – yes
nie – no
Dziękuje bardzo – thank you very much
Nie rozumiem – I don’t understand
Poproszę kawę – I’d like a coffee please

Now I knew the phrase for „I’d like” phrase I could now say

Poproszę trzy plastry mortadela Three slices of mortadella please

This is my daughter’s favourite!

We had the staff in fits of giggles as we tried our Polish with them.

I now need a few more numbers!!!

jeden one
dwa two
trzy three
cztery four
pięć five
sześć six
siedem seven
osiem eight
dziewięć nine
dziesięć ten

Now I had these, I could try a few more phrases.

And finally some useful food vocab

chleb bread
mlecko milk
piwo beer
słodycze sweets
kawałek ciast piece of cake

I hope this is helpful to you. Are there any more Polish shopping phrases you would add?

So my challenge you is, find someone who speaks another language, learn a little and you’ll have some new friends!

How do you teach Arabic to your Children?

This week we have a guest blog from Nadine Ismail, from Reinventing Nadine . She lives in the USA and faces the same language challenges as parents the world over.

I am born and raised in Lebanon, a tiny country in the Middle East. Moved to the USA when I got married to my American born husband (He is of Syrian heritage). My native language is Arabic, but I went to French School (so all material were taught in French) and then went to the American University of Beirut, where I did both my BA and MA in Public Sector Administration with emphasis on Human Resources. I always loved languages and while in college, I also studied German for 3 years at the Goethe Institute and finished Elementary level. I worked on projects with the World Bank, UNDP and then moved to the private sector and worked in multinational companies where English was the official business language.

When I moved to the US, I decided to leave the corporate world and focus on what I enjoy doing, being a mother and wife. My blog started as a way to document my journey from a single working young woman in the Middle East to a Mom and a wife in the USA. It started as a food blog, then as my daughter grew, I started teaching her Arabic Language. I discovered how little are the resources out there for mothers like me. I started reaching out to other companies and authors who make products/wrote books and reviewed them and come up with creative ways of using the products. I became involved in my local Arabic school and helping out with the events, the curriculum and started a new Arabic Culture and Heritage class that I teach every Sunday.

I am also a blogger at Arab America ) where I blog about being a bilingual parent, tips about teaching kids/adults Arabic language and heritage. I am involved in a unique Middle Eastern Youth Singing Ensemble that teaches youth to sing classical and folkloric Arabic Songs. I am working on a course to teach adults the language with emphasis on Spoken Levantine dialect. The Arabic language is a beautiful and rich language but it is difficult and challenging. I am currently learning Spanish and Turkish. My daughter who is 7 now, can read and write in Arabic. Here is a video of her reading a book.

My website is now more about celebrating the Arab Heritage and culture through food, arts and the language. I also do traditional Middle Eastern embroidery and share that one my Instagram. In my opinion, the language is the gate to the culture, it opens up all the other doors.

Please find below links to some of my articles and collaborations:

With Arab America:

1.Teaching Kids Arabic
2. Arabic Back to School
3. Alef Baa in Songs
4. An interview with Joudie Kalla, the author of “Palestine on a Plate”
5. 10 Games in Arabic to fight Winter Break Boredom

With Arabic Playground:
My Arabic journey alphabets.
Summer workbook, my journey alphabets.Writing Arabic

Are you learning Arabic or teaching it to your children? Have you come across any other good resources? We’d love to know in the comments below.

My big fat Greek adventure

Greek inscription on an exhibit at the British Museum

This week we have a guest blog from Maik my hubby so here goes, his big fat Greek adventure.

Well, or it may also have been “Greek – An unexpected journey”. But let’s start right at the beginning. The beginning in this case was a family visit to the British Museum at the beginning of 2016. As a family we’re incredibly lucky to live near London, which means a day trip to amazing places such as the British Museum is no problem for us. Among the breathtaking range of artefacts from around the world and different eras, my personal favourites have always been the ones from Ancient Egypt, Greece and Rome, and it was in Room 78 containing classical inscriptions from the 6th century BC to the 2nd century AD that it all began. Being a polyglot family, of course my children expected Dad (me) to be able to understand each and every inscription – dads know everything of course! While I didn’t have too many problems with Latin (thanks to five years if learning it in school and a recent refresher with uTalk), I didn’t really know where to start with Greek. I decided then, that Greek would be one of the languages I wanted to learn this year.

Fast forward a few weeks into May to the Polyglot Gathering in Berlin.I had not yet made any firm plans for learning Greek, as I had been working on Esperanto. However, as luck would have it the first talk I attended at the Gathering was about Greek, with the lovely Lilia Mouma from Mango Languages giving a talk on Greek history and language ranging from the Ancient to the Modern. This was also when I found out two more important bits of information: First, that the Polyglot Conference later in the year would take place in Thessaloniki, Greece; and second that Mango Languages where running a competition to learn Greek (the modern variety) for 20 weeks learning with their app and weekly 1:1 tutoring. Well, I entered the competition, and a short while later found an email in my inbox informing me that I had won! OK, so language learning resources for Greek were sorted.

I have to admit that Greek has been one of the more difficult languages for me. Learning the alphabet took a week or two, but internalising it well enough to be able to read semi-fluently or even write took many more weeks. However, it has been an immensely rewarding experience. What I liked most about the approach taken by Mango Languages was that it was quite different to my normal approach. For one thing, at least in the app, grammar is not explicitly taught, everything is taught in the context of a conversation. Secondly, sentences are spoken at full speed by native speakers rather than the slowed down conversations I have come to expect. Yes, this makes things more difficult to begin with, but with invaluable once I actually got to Greece as (unsurprisingly) real Greeks don’t exactly speak slowly! Of course, having the weekly support from top notch online tutor Vasiliki Baskos helped as well. Although my focus was on Modern Greek, as I had been given access to all of Mango’s language courses, my inquisitive nature led me to sneak a peek at their offering of Ancient and Koine Greek as well. I was pleasantly surprised that they use authentic texts from the very first lesson – the Iliad and the Greek New Testament respectively. I may well end up subscribing once I lose my free access. The range and quality of resources are a language lover’s dream come true … I was able practice my Greek at a restaurant in Germany.

The white tower at Thessaloniki

So,moving forward in my big fat Greek adventure, how well did it work? When I finally arrived in Greece for the Polyglot Conference at the end of October, I managed a basic conversation with the taxi driver who took me to the hotel, I ordered food at the restaurant in Greek and I bought bus tickets, water bottles etc. etc. in Greek. Road and shop signs actually made sense to me, adding to the sense of achievement. It was a special treat to be able to meet Lilia (again) and Vasiliki, my online tutor, in person for the first time. I absolutely loved Thessaloniki, and being able to speak and understand Greek definitely helped at lot. I must go back with the family sometime!

So how did my My big fat Greek adventure end? Coming full circle, back to the British Museum. Despite the Greek language having changed a lot from ancient to modern time, the alphabet has remained the same across thousands of years. So when our family returned to the British Museum for the spectacular exhibition “Sunken cities – Egypt’s lost worlds”, or course I just had to pay another visit to the Ancient Greek galleries. Given that inscriptions tend to contain a lot of names (Alexandros = Alexander the Great for instance), I could now work out a lot of what was written, and the children were suitably impressed. Result!

Are you planning to learn a new language in the new year? Let us know in the comments below.

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