Category Archives: Learning Tips

Song translating fun.

Savez-vous-planter-les-chouxThe songs we use in our classes are a mix of those familiar English nursery rhymes and songs like Incy Wincy spider and traditional songs in the target language to help the families appreciate that culture. We have a few French songs I’d love to use but we’ve not yet got English translations that can be sung to the same tune to help introduce the song. We’re also starting working on our French CD so it all becomes a bit more urgent!

We were sat round the table having Sunday tea and I asked my family for ideas. This is how it went…

The first song was Mernier tu dors

Meunier, tu dors, (mime sleeping)
Ton moulin, va trop vite. (roll arms)
Meunier, tu dors, (mime sleeping)
Ton moulin, va trop fort
Ton moulin, ton moulin (roll arms faster)
Va trop vite
Ton moulin, ton moulin (roll arms backwards)
Va trop fort.
Ton moulin, ton moulin
Va trop vite
Ton moulin, ton moulin
Va trop fort.

My eight year old started and after five minutes we had this translation which can be sung and keeps the feel of the song.

Miller, wake up
The wind it is blowing
Miller, wake up.
The wind it is strong.

Your windmill, your windmill,
It is too fast.
Your windmill, your windmill,
is too strong.
Your windmill, your windmill,
It is too fast.
Your windmill your windmill,
is too strong.

It you don’t know the song here is a live version we recorded last year.

This second song, I’ve wanted to use for ages. It has a fun tune, is silly and is a great way to learn body parts. It must be fairly old as my mum learned it at school!

Savez-vous planter les choux
À la mode, à la mode
Savez-vous planter les choux
À la mode de chez nous

On les plante avec les pieds
À la mode, à la mode
On les plante avec les pieds
À la mode de chez nous

On les plante avec le genou
À la mode, à la mode
On les plante avec le genou
À la mode de chez nous

On les plante avec le nez
À la mode, à la mode
On les plante avec le nez
À la mode de chez nous

On les plante avec le coude
À la mode, à la mode
On les plante avec le coude
À la mode de chez nous

The google translate of this is hilarious !

“Do you plant cabbage
Fashionable, trendy
Do you plant cabbage
The way we do it at home”

After a few minutes we came up with.

Cabbage planting is such fun
Like we do it, like we do it.
Cabbage planting is such fun,
Like we do it, come along.

We can plant it with our feet,
Like we do it, like we do it.
We can plant it with our feet,
Like we do it, come along.

We can plant it with our knee,
Like we do it, like we do it.
We can plant it with our knee,
Like we do it, come along.

We can plant it with our nose,
Like we do it, like we do it.
We can plant it with our nose
Like we do it, come along.

We can plant it with our elbow,
Like we do it, like we do it.
We can plant it with our elbow
Like we do it, come along.

Next term’s French class we’ll be reading “la petit poule rousse” The little red hen. We’ll finally we using this song.

I need to find a cabbage prop! Any ideas where?

Do you use songs in your language learning? Do you have fun translating them. Let me know in the comments below.

Learn to sing Twinkle Twinkle in five languages

Love singing? Join us to learn to sing Twinkle twinkle in five languages. You’ll be a polyglot before you know it!

In English

In German

In Spanish

In Esperanto

In Mandarin

You may notice the translations have slightly different meanings. Song translation is tricky. We tend to go with the feeling of the song and flow over direct translation.

Which language do you prefer to sing it in? Let us know in the comments below.

Language Learning tips from a seven year old

EmilyEmily’s guide to programmes for your little ones.

Hello, my name is Emily. I am seven years old. This is my first blog. My family like learning languages. My dad is from Germany and my mum is from England and she runs classes.

There are some fun programmes which I watch to help me learn some different languages and they are French and Spanish and Mandarin.

My favourite one is the Spanish one which is called Dora and I can learn a little bit of Spanish and know more when I get older. She explores and she helps her friends if they get stuck and says to us to say these words in Spanish.

The Mandarin one is called nǐ hǎo Kai- Lan. She has friends and she speaks Mandarin and when she’s helping her friends she asks me to talk a little bit in Mandarin.

The French one is called Madeline and she lives in school in Paris and she is the youngest one out of all the eleven girls. She uses some French words and has a French accent and you get to see parts of Paris.

Hi there, Emily’s mum here. As Emily said we love languages and use every opportunity to bring language learning into our lives. These programmes are a lot of fun and bring in a few words of the target language in among lively stories and songs.

Children enjoy watching programmes so it is a great opportunity to bring language learning into your everyday family life.  We’ve found Peppa Pig in German and Mandarin on You Tube and the above programmes can be streamed on Amazon Prime Video.

Try Amazon Prime free for a month!

Do you have programmes your little ones like? Let us know in the comments below.

What language learners can learn from actors

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My gorgeous, talented husband @lingotutor

Last weekend our family were on stage in The Magic Toyshop by Andrew Willment.

I was helping backstage and it got me thinking. Acting is a lot like language learning. Here is why I think so.

 

Actors learn lines and phrases. They use cues and context to learn their lines.  Many polyglots start a new language by learning key phrases and build from there. When I started to learn Mandarin in January 2015, a  phrase I picked up quickly was:

Wǒ xiǎng yào yībēi kāfēi xièxiè. – I’d like a cup of coffee thank you

It was not long before I figured out how to ask for a cup of tea.- Wǒ xiǎng yào yībēi chá xièxiè.

 

Actors learn a script 

Benny Lewis in his book Fluent in 3 months talks of the value of writing a script in the target language, and learning it to start basic conversations. I’ve been learning Urdu with Eurotalk this month. I’ve learned to say  good morning – Subah Bakhair, Thank you – Shukria, goodbye- Alwidah. With these simple greetings I’ve been able converse with Urdu speaking parents and build up more Urdu as the speakers helped me.

 

Good actors are able to improvise when dialogue goes off script.

Good language learners are not flummoxed when they do not know a word in another language, they simply explain using word they know and communicate their point. I use this a lot when talking to my mum in law in German!
Acting is a lot of fun and allows to you be another person (or simply a more confident you!)

A Turkish proverb says

“One who speaks only one language is one person, but one who speaks two languages is two people.”

I’ve taught my first Chinese New Year class of 2016 this week. When I can communicate and sing in Mandarin it’s an amazing feeling; as I get into the swing of the class I feel I’m flying!
My favourite part of the Magic Toyshop play was these lines…

No look up there, he’s flying …. up… in the air!

Heavens above that’s impossible!

Yes, and someone needs to tell them that or they are going to carry on doing it!

So I tell you… go and do the impossible. Go out there and have a go at communicating in another language, and let me know where it takes you.

Guest Blog from Liam O’Dell: My Year of Learning BSL

Liam blog This week we have a guest blog from Liam at The Life of a Thinker
About his adventures learning BSL. Over to you Liam…

It feels weird to say that just over a year ago, I had no knowledge of British Sign Language (BSL). In March 2014, I was introduced to a group of 18 deaf young people, with some of them using BSL as their first language. At the time, I had no knowledge of BSL and instead had to use the interpreters available as well as writing things down in order to communicate. It was a shame because I wanted to communicate with everyone in the group, including those who used BSL. With that in mind, I begun my language learning journey.

I was quick to buy a BSL dictionary, which was handy for when I couldn’t figure out a word. I researched online tutorials on YouTube as well as websites. I did try out and review a product and app for my blog called FlashSticks which was really helpful!

FlashSticks was the clear and helpful diagrams. Since BSL is such a visual language, getting the sign spot-on is key. Thankfully, the images are clear with easy descriptions. Then, if you were still unsure, using the FlashSticks app allows you to scan the post-its to load a video demonstrating that sign. On top of all that, the BSL packs were created with the help of Signature – a top organisation dedicated to teaching sign language. Brilliant!
However, what I learnt is that the best way to practice a language is with those who speak it. With that in mind, I had BSL lessons and went to my local deaf club for a meet-up. Both were really useful as I could practice, learn new vocabulary and make new friends!

Since then, I had a further four opportunities to meet up with members of the group and practice. At the last meet-up, I was able to have full conversations with my friends in BSL! Whilst that was such a great achievement for me, I’m not stopping there, and I’m learning more BSL as I go along, with the hope of getting BSL qualifications in the future.

That’s so encouraging to hear Liam. I wish you all the best as you continue your language learning journey .

If you want to get your own FlashSticks to help with your BSL learning we have a special offer on our resources page.

Liam is a lifestyle blogger at The Life of a Thinker, which you can read at The Life of a Thinker Follow him on Twitter: @lifeofathinker.

Children are NOT confused by early second language learning

French market Today I went along to the French market in Chorleywood. The weather was good so a lot of other people went along too. We held hourly French taster classes and had a lot of people coming to join in. I was able to chat to a few families about their language learning journeys. A few were encouraged to start language learning at a young age which was a great result in my mind, whether their language learning includes Lingotastic or not.

We had a lot of fun making fish, singing and finding out what noise a Chamelion makes. A lot of parents were amazed at how quickly their little ones picked up some French.

Il fait comment le caméléon?

Il fait comment le caméléon?

I came across a few parents who were concerned that exposing their little ones to second language at a young age would confuse them. Here is my answer to this…
The best time to learn a second language is the same time as you learn the first. Bilingual families start two languages from birth. Even pre-verbal babies are able to recognise different languages, a recent Canadian study found.
In our family experience, when my son was still in my tummy, my hubby spoke to him only in German,
this meant when he was born, he only recognised his dad’s voice when he spoke in German.

A baby’s babbles sound the same, independent of the language spoken around them. From six months, the babble starts to become like the language sounds they hear regularly. So if babies are exposed to more than one language, the baby soon picks up both languages.

As far as language learning goes, the motto is, the younger the better. Birth to three years is the optimum time for introducing a second language. It is much easier for younger children to acquire languages. Bilingual families usually start at birth or before. In fact, if a child is learning two languages at a time, they will learn both at the same rate, without one language inhibiting the other.
Younger is also better with regards to children acquiring a native sounding accent; they are much more able to pick up an authentic accent if they hear a second language from a young age.

I’ve seen even the NHS, and so health visitors are promoting the value of early second language learning so I’m flabbergasted that these myths live on! The research about the best time to start second language learning is clear. Don’t let this myth make your child miss out!
What do you think?

Learn languages and make friends with a GIVEAWAY from Chatterbags

Multilingual

picture credit: earlylearninghq.co.uk

I’m starting to realise I may be a bit of a 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”

The inspired guys at Chatterbags thought up the idea of Chatterbags so that people can tell at a glance what languages you speak. At Lingotastic we were really impressed with this idea. Chatterbags have been kind enough to offer Lingotastic visitors a chance to get a chatterbag for free. To take part in this giveaway from Chatterbags you need to enter with the rafflecopter form at the end.

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 Morgan, Zăo sháng hăo!

At my children’s school, there are parents and children whose main language is, Polish, Hungarian, Mandarin, Russian, German, Romanian, Slovak, Urdu, Arabic, Ukrainian and 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 greeting in these languages.

Chatterbags

Chatterbag

I started to chat the new families and learn 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 mummies 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 stumble over the new words. It empowers them and builds their confidence as they are the expert in this area. Some of the mums are new to the country, learning English, and like the fact I take the time to talk with them and understand what they are saying. I, myself have struggled with communication in other languages so I’m patient!

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! Let us know in the comments box below.

bagsThere are ten Chatterbags on offer as part of our giveaway from Chatterbags, kindly supplied by the guys at Chatterbags. To win your very own Chatterbag to get you talking, enter with the Rafflecopter link below! We’d like to see you out and about with it so please tweet us a picture of yourself with your bag.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Interview with Kristin Hellberg from Bilingual By Music

As a family we’ve found it difficult to find good language learning resources, so over on our
resources page. we’ve compiled lots that we’d recommend. These resources were created as individuals realised there was a need and that they were able and willing to meet that need. There are inspiring stories behind all of the resources and this time we hear the story of Kristin Hellberg, Founder of Bilingual By Music.

elibbm1

Hi Kirsten. Could you tell me little about yourself and your family?

I was born in Sweden but moved to London at age 19 to study Musical Theatre. I started working as a performer and appeared in various West End shows as well as doing voiceovers and TV. I went on to do a BSc in Psychology followed by a MSc in Business Psychology.

Both me and my husband are Swedish, so its very natural for us to have Swedish as the Family language at home. It’s also important to us that we can talk to our 3 kids in Swedish, since that is our ‘emotional’ language.

We live in London and the children go to English speaking schools, they are very much exposed to English every day. We try our best to “promote” Swedish and Sweden to them as much as possible. Its not always easy though. We often find that they speak English with each other when they play together on their own for example.

How does your product help family language learning?

I think music can be a fantastic tool in language learning. Music has rhythms, structures and rules just like languages. Language learning involving music can be a fun way of repeating words and understanding concepts. Its also a great way of remembering new words. The songs on our Swedish-English album are songs that are sung in both the UK and Sweden, so families already recognise the tunes. I think its lovely to point out the similarities between the countries and cultures. We are currently working on a Swedish-English Christmas album which should be ready in time for Christmas 2015. On a sunny day this week we went to record “Let it snow”!

Is there anything else you’d like to tell those reading our blog?

I think its absolutely fascinating and I really enjoy reading about bilingualism and how it all works. There is so much interesting research that is being done as well and Twitter and Facebook is a great way of finding references and ideas.

Try to expose yourself and the children to the minority language as much as you can. Read books, listen to music and songs, watch films, use playful apps. Also try to embrace the culture, which for Swedes would include Midsummer, Lucia playing traditional games such as ‘Bro Bro Breja’ and enjoy the Swedish food traditions such as Semlor, våfflor, leverpastej etc.

Bilingual by music kids song swedish and english illustrated by asa wikman 2 © asa wikman

If you fancy learning some Swedish or Danish, Kristin at Bilingual By Music has produced some gorgeous bilingual CDs with familiar songs. You’ll be singing along in no time… I’ve a few Swedish speaking mummies who rave over these CDs. They’re also available on ITunes, Spotify and Amazon.

Website: www.bilingualbymusic.com

FB: www.facebook.com/bilingualbymusic

twitter: @bilingualbymu

Countdown to Blast Off to Spain. ¡VAMOS!

I hope you’ve had a lovely Easter break!

We’ve just finished a term of French. Each time we finish a block I’m astounded at how much the mums and little ones have picked up. By the end of the term almost everyone was singing along, knowing all the words!

This term, only two weeks in two mummies messaged me excitedly to say their little ones were saying the “Toc Toc Toc” rhyme word perfect. (They are only just two years old!)
We’ve recorded our version of this over the holidays. I hope you enjoy it!

We made some lovely Easter crafts and learned some French along the way.
rabbitsJoyeuses paques cardoeuf de paques

We enjoyed the Bébés Chouettes story this term. We had a few little ones worried that Maman Chouette had gone, but she always came back safely!

bebe chouettes

It’s been great to have a few more families join us this term and we are expecting more next term.

We had a lovely surprise on the final Chesham class where two mummies brought cake to share after the class. Yum!
easter cake

This week we’re starting with a Spanish holiday class at Little Beans and Co then blasting off to Spain to meet “la Oruga Muy Hambrienta!” It’s going to be an exciting term. We’ve some favourite songs like “la Vaca Lola” and new translations like “Cinco Patitos” Here’s a sneek preview.

Interview with Veejay Lingiah. How do Flash Sticks help family language learning?

This is the first of monthly series interviewing those featured on our resources page. Everyone featured on the page has a really inspirational story behind why they do what they do.

This month we meet Veejay Lingiah from Flash Sticks

Could you tell me little about yourself and your family?

FlashSticks all started because one of our co-founders (Richard) found
himself in a Business Park in Spain with a problem. You see, like a true
Brit, Richard thought that everyone would naturally speak English and when
he discovered that not to be the case, he found himself scrambling for a
simple and fast way to build his Spanish vocabulary.

Richard turned to a tried and trusted technique used by language learners
all over the world – sticky notes! Handwriting Spanish words on notes
and sticking these all around his hotel room, was what sparked the idea
for FlashSticks – pre-printed vocabulary sticky notes. Richard wanted
them to be colour coded to gender (blue for masculine, pink for feminine)
and also wanted a way to help with pronunciation (hence, the free
FlashSticks App).

So, that’s how the whole idea started, from which Richard and I started to
talking to the Post-it Notes brand (3M) and retailers like WHSmith. From
there, FlashSticks was born and has been growing ever since.

As the CEO, I’m now the person championing our growth, as we develop
FlashSticks for new languages and new markets.

A little about me, I was born in London, but my parents are from Mauritius
and Malaysia, with their family being from as a field as China, Thailand
and India. Add to that my wife Natasha, how is from Moscow and we¹re a
truly international bunch!

How does FlashSticks help family language learning?

Family language learning is actually one of the core benefits of learning
with FlashSticks. Having notes stuck up around the home ensures that
everyone can see them and everyone is learning at a similar pace.

We¹ve heard lots of stories of families all testing each other and
competing to see who is learning the fastest!

Our free app also means that everyone can learn pronunciation at a pace
that’s right for them, simply by hovering over any note with a smartphone
or tablet to see a video tutor pop-up and help them to pronounce the word.

Is there anything else you’d like to tell those reading our blog?

We’re working with lots of schools at the moment, donating packs
of FlashSticks to some, to help with their teaching and PTA events.
If you think your local school would like to get involved then do reach
out to us, we’d love to hear from you. We believe it’s important to make
languages as engaging and interactive as possible for everyone, especially
those learning at a young age.

For anyone that would like to learn more about us, they can find out more
here: www.flashsticks.com.

You may have noticed I like Flash Sticks! A really simple tool to increase your vocabulary in French, German, Spanish, Italian, BSL and English. (with more to come)
The guys at FlashSticks have offered Lingotastic customers a special discount.
10% off at Flash Sticks use the coupon code lingotastic10 (in lower case).

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