Category Archives: review

Girlie headphones review

We’ve been reviewing these headphones for just over a fortnight now. We travelled up North for family wedding so they were great so stop arguments about who chooses the music and save us a parents from the umpteenth rendition of “Let it go” or the sound effects of Crossy Road or Dumb Ways to Die. We stayed at Ibis Shipley so you may recognise the hotel in the background.
Over to Josh our tech reviewer.

These headphones are good quality for the price. This is because:
I think that the design of the EasySMX Kids headphones is very fun and colourful, this makes sense as these headphones are designed for children. The headphones have a pink faux leather headband which feels rugged and cushioned enough, the earcups are the same colour as the headband but plastic with purple and white hearts this suits the headphones as they are designed for girls in both design and size of the headphones. A feature that shows that these headphones are designed for children is that the headphones’ do not go any louder than 85db, which is about the same as a food blender at its maximum settings from a metre away. This is so that children do not listen to music too loud and damage. their hearing. There is not much bass in these headphones which was expected as they are designed for younger children which do not typically listen to bass heavy songs, the mids and highs sounded decent and overall just sounded a little bit muddy. Overall these headphones are of decent quality for the price as they have an alright sound and build quality for the price that they are.


The girls managed to dislodge one of the headphone covers, we were really pleased to find (from a very helpful member of Ibis hotel staff) they are really simple to reattach.
The headphones arrived in a solid cardboard box with a plastic insert. It was well designed with a child friendly theme.

So over to the girls….

Jasmin
These headphones are good for children as they do not go too loud. I like the design. I’m glad I have the girls design. When I use other headphones they are sometimes crackly but these headphones have clear sound. I would like it better if they were Bluetooth because the wire gets in the way.

Emily
They have good sound. I liked taking them on holiday, especially on Valentines day because they have got hearts on them. They are good because I can choose my own music in the car.

Disclaimer
We were given these headphones in return for an honest review.

Thanks to Ibis hotel Shipley for a making us feel so welcome on our stay there.

If you’d like to buy a set for your family simply follow the link below.

Labelling your children’s clothes. Love it or hate it? Nametags Giveaway

Are you a labeler or not? Do you spend hours sewing name labels on everything or simply scribble initials on the label?

I used to be a meticulous sewer on of name labels. Despite this, my son’s brand new school jumper with a sewn on label went missing, never to be seen again.

Now some school clothing comes with a space to simply write on the name and I take advantage when I can.

I know in some schools sending children in with unlabelled clothes is regarded as a heinous crime

When I was asked by mynametags.com to review these name labels and I jumped at the chance. There is a great selection of designs available from plain black and white to a seemingly endless combination of patterns, pictures and fonts. My daughters loved the Hello Kitty design and that they could choose their own font, colour and patterns.They were really simple to order and arrived quickly.

They are really simple to use. Simply stick to the items you want to label.
The website says “My Nametags new colour stickers, there is no need to either iron- on or sew on the name tags. You can just apply a sticker to the clothing washing label, and it will stay on in the wash again and again. What was once a chore is now a quick and easy job. Colour Stickers can also be stuck onto shoes, bags, DVDs, iPods and other equipment. They are dishwasher, microwave and steriliser proof.”

I’ve been testing them for four weeks now on water bottles and clothing that has had four washes so far (including an item of clothing I stuck a label on then put straight in the wash which is not what they recommend). My verdict is all the labels have stayed put so far and do not look worn. My daughters actually enjoyed labeling their own clothes, which has a great help! A friend who works in an elderly care home saw out stickers and is going to tell her employer about them as they are so easy to use and would really help in that setting.

Would you like to win your own personalised set of my nametags? simply enter the Rafflecopter giveaway below.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

How do you get great sound in your bag? #Giveaway

As a language teacher I use music all the time so needed some small powerful Bluetooth speakers.
I was sent these ones free of charge in exchange for a review a year ago.So here it is…

As I opened it I was really impressed at the packaging. The cardboard box had a hard plastic packaging which held two speakers, an audio wire and a charging wire. I was really impressed to see that both speakers can be charged with a mains plug adaptor with a USB socket on it. The two speakers have a matt black finish and their triangular shape means they can be used on the side for sound into the room or standing on the base for sound above. The size of one speaker fits into a cup holder in the car when I want to listen to music from my phone whilst driving to my class. I easily connected my phone to the speakers by switching on the left speaker and searching for the device on my phone. I then simply clicked on the correct device and it was connected. I can also be connected to laptops and tablets by searching for the device.

I was really impressed at the clarity of the speakers. At first I was a little surprised there was no volume control on the speakers themselves but quickly figured out how to use my phone to control the volume. The rocker switch on the back of the left speaker can be used to change tracks on the device. I rarely use this function.
I was amazed at the volume I could get from the speakers and when the second one is connected it is even better. The first time I used the speakers at my class one of the parents commented she was surprised that clarity and volume came from such little speakers. I’m really impressed at the battery life in the speakers. I only need to charge them weekly with use in classes and at home. I’ve sometime forgotten to charge them ahead of time so was really pleased to find you can recharge them whilst you are listening. The speakers are brilliant for what I need. Small, compact and lightweight with great volume. I’d strongly recommend them for other teachers of children’s classes. If you looking for a good sound, and a very good priced speaker that won’t cost you an arm and a leg, this may for you. It also makes a great little gift! So after a years use I am happy to report I still feel the same. The battery life is just as good after a year.

I spoke to August and they’ve given me a set of speakers to giveway. To win your own simply enter via the rafflecopter form below.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

If you want to buy your own set click here.

Language Show Live fun

Language Show Live

language-show

This weekend we had a lot of fun as a family at Language Show Live. We found some brilliant resources and met some lovely people along the way. Check out our (rather crazy) video of our visit.

Here are links to get in touch with the people featured.

Confucius institute

European Schoolbooks

Apple Languages

Superstickers

Hekayatona- Arabic resources for children

Rockalingua

uTalk

FlashSticks

One Third Stories

Tutor Ming

Bonjour Grammaire

Did you visit Language Show Live 2016?

What was your favourite part?

Do you want to study languages?

new_building_music1Are you looking for a place to study African and Oriental languages?

 

I first came across  the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS) at the Language Show. I was amazed by the number of languages they offer both for undergraduates, postgraduates and distance learners.

Here are the languages offered:

Afrikaans

Amharic

Somali

Swahili

Tigrinya

Twi-Fante

Yoruba

Zulu

Chinese, inc. Cantonese

Mongolian

Tibetan

Uzbek

Japanese

Korean

Arabic

Hebrew (Modern)

Kurdish

Pashto

Persian

Turkish

Bengali

Gujarati

Hindi

Nepali

Panjabi

Sanskrit

Sinhala

Tamil

Urdu

Burmese

Indonesian

Khmer

Malay

Thai

Vietnamese

Tagalog

French

Portuguese

Russian

Spanish

 

For someone who loves languages, this is a veritable smorgasbord. An unparalleled range of non-European languages, all of which may be studied without prior knowledge. Additionally, the school was awarded the Queen’s Anniversary Prize in 2009 for the excellence, breadth and depth of its language teaching.

As well as the language study on campus, many courses offer the chance to spend a year abroad studying your chosen language intensively in a partner institution. Many students also undertake a time abroad through the Erasmus scheme.

I would say that language cannot be studied without understanding the culture it is embedded in and these cultures. The faculty is actually language and culture so offers both.

If you want to study topics concerned with the study of Africa, Asia and the Middle East, SOAS offer the largest concentration of specialist staff of any university in the world (More than three hundred). Though there is a high emphasis in languages, the research conducted and published by the academic staff of the Faculty focuses on a wider range of topics.  The languages, literatures, and cultures (both classical and popular) of Asia and Africa.

As you may expect with an institution who offer so many languages, all students at SOAS have the option to study a language alongside their degree and, supports the short (twenty hour) language courses run by the specialist Language Centre.

 

SOAS Precinct

SOAS Precinct

 

Student life at SOAS

The intake is pretty multicultural too. SOAS has more than five thousand students from 133 countries on campus, and just over fifty per cent of them are from outside the UK. SOAS is an exceptionally cosmopolitan and diverse place to study. There are many mature students so all ages should feel welcome.

Resources

The SOAS Library has been recently refurbished and now had as more than 1.5 million items and extensive electronic resources for the study of Africa, Asia and the Middle East. Their specialist resources attract scholars from all around the world.

 

SOAS Library Images,View from levels A and D

SOAS Library Images,View from levels A and D

 

If you are not able to study on campus, join the 3,600 students worldwide in taking an online or distance learning course with SOAS.

As this is a centre of excellence, the Language Centre caters to the needs of non-degree students and governmental and non-governmental organisations. It has a huge array of courses, including year-long diploma programmes, weekly evening classes in about forty different African and Asian languages as well as French, Portuguese and Spanish and tailored intensive one-to-one courses.

 

Teacher training

SOAS also offer a recognised post-graduate qualification (Certificate and Diploma) in teaching Arabic or Chinese as a Foreign Language to help you gain a head-start in your teaching career.

 

Anyway, don’t just take my word for it find out for yourself .

The undergraduate open day is 22nd October. More open days are available for postgraduate and students abroad.

 

In this article I’ve only referred to the languages and culture faculty but they also offer courses in the faculty of arts and humanities as well as Law and Social science.

 

Disclaimer this blog has been written to promote knowledge of SOAS. These are however my own thoughts and opinions

Learning OR playing, why choose?

games

At Lingotastic we love languages and always on the lookout for resources that will help with language learning. My daughter was over the moon to be asked to review a game.

We were sent two of the products from the Pic’n Mix range, Little Fashionista and Smart Watch.

 

Packaging

They are in good solid packaging so much less likely to get damaged than in a cardboard box. The cute carry handle lends itself to a take out toy for the times a quiet toy is needed, like parent’s evening for the older children  or quiet church service. The toy  is made of durable plastic  pieces which stick together with velcro. A multilingual instruction booklet is included, the translations are likely not done by a native speaker, but on the whole is understandable.

Play of game

Little fashionista is a simple doll dressing game which can either be played by matching the pieces on the game card or dressing the boy or girl as you wish.

Smart Watch is a clock face with numbers, countable pictures and scenes from daily routine to match to times.

Educational use

As we played together with the Little Fashionista game we talked about what we saw and named the clothing in English, we talked about the weather that the clothes were suited for and moved on to naming the items of clothing in German and French. We talked about the colours of clothes in English, German and French.

 

As we played the Smart Watch game we started by assembling the clock face and identifying the numbers. I put the counting pieces on the clock face in random places and my  daughter swapped them for the correct numbers , we  then moved them to the correct places on the clock. We played in English and German. We talked about daily routine and put the pictures on the clock to best match her routine. We used the clock handles to tell the time in English and German.

The game has many opportunities for learning together through play, whatever the language. So learning OR playing, why choose?

 

I asked my daughter what she thought and  she said “I think they are really good and I liked to play with them.”

My thoughts as a mum and teacher are “I like their simplicity and versatility. I may have to borrow the games for my one to one classes.”

Would you like to get them for your little one?

Here are the links

Let us know how you use them to learn together.

We were sent this games by Pic’n Mix to review. The opinions in this article are our own.

 

Phizz-Whizzing home school help with Education City

Why Phizz-Whizzing? Well today is Roald Dahl Day (100 years since he was born) and I think he would have used this word to describe the Education City games.

We unexpectedly started our home school journey at the end of May. As a teacher I had lots of ideas, unfortunately with continuing to work time is limited. I was told about Education City by the home school consultant at our local council, so got in touch with them. They set me up with a free trial and it has been an absolute godsend.
It is set up by the age of the child, covering the areas of the curriculum they cover in the school year. The child can explore Maths, English, Science, French, German and Spanish, all at their own level. The work is marked as they do it and they can print certificates of the work they have done.

Jasmin’s review
Education city is game you can use to learn lots of things you would learn at school.
It is good because can use it yourself or working with an adult.
I think the certificates are good because I like the pictures on them.
I would make it better by making it more funky and cool like BBC bitesize.

Emily’s review
I liked to play the games and learn. My favourite game is the one with puppets in different languages.

As a busy mum trying to keep up to my daughter’s education and work I have found Education City a massive help. I could set her working independently on a subject, she enjoyed doing it on the whole and could print a certificate to show what she had done for our records. It was great to know she could make a lot of her own choices about what she wanted to do and it was at a level geared to her age. I like that it covers many subject areas so I found it a great home school resource. They are offering a free trial at the moment it’s brilliant time to check it out. Let us know what you think.

Holidays – The perfect time for a Dinosaur Dance!

When-I-was-Your-Age-NathaliaSummer is a great time to learn languages together as a family. I’ll be reviewing a few great resources over the next few weeks.  The first is a  brilliant new CD by Nathalia. When I was your age. Cuando era Pequeña.
We were really lucky to win this CD on a giveaway on Instagram. If you’re not following us on Instagram then click here

 

There are 10  brilliant songs on this album.

 

  • Dinosaur Dance
  • Señor Opuesto
  • It’s My Birthday
  • Pesadillas
  • Qué llueva
  • When I Grow Up  
  • La Iguana Pepa
  • Oh Math
  • ¿Qué me dices tu?
  • Otra Vez

 

As a family, Spanish is our least used language,  so when I started to play the CD in the car I did not know how my kids would get on with it. I need not have worried though!To start with I was listening with my teenager (who will not tolerate rubbish music) and he enjoyed it- high praise indeed!

To start with my girls only wanted to listen to the English songs. After a few listens, the bilingual “When I Grow Up” is a firm favourite. My 8 year old even said mid song, the Spanish word for world is mundo !

 

Want to have a listen for yourself? Listen to a sample of the album and purchase it here.

The album has a real mix of styles across many genres of music, from swing in dinosaur dance to Latin fiesta feel  in Señor Opuesto  to Gypsy Kings style in Que Llueva.

My personal favourite is Otra vez, a rousing African style song encouraging listeners to get up and try again.

We really enjoy Pesadillas with it’s very catchy summer vibes, the girls were singing along, in Spanish, very quickly.

There is so much variety I can’t do it justice in a review, you need to listen to a samples here.

The songs flow seamlessly from Spanish to English and back again. It would be a great addition to your CD collection if you are a bilingual Spanish English family. It helps children realise it is normal to speak two languages.

This CD has many styles and does not get boring, no matter how many times you have heard it. Because of this CD my girls (and me) are singing along in Spanish so improving our Spanish pronunciation and vocabulary whilst having fun singing .

 

If you are a GCSE Spanish teacher this CD would be a great resource to use in the classroom. The when I grow up song has a lot of vocabulary on jobs and great repetition of future tense. “Cuando será grande”

 

The CD is available to download  here. as well as physical copy from Nathalia’s website.
Keep the learning going this summer with great resources like this and get your kids up, moving to the dinosaur dance (plus many more) and singing in different languages!

Inspirational mum Fiona from Bitzbags

Fiona Gowing

Fiona Gowing

As a mum in business I love to celebrate the successes of other mums in business. This week we have an interview with the inspirational mum Fiona from Bitzbags.

Could you tell us a little about yourself and your family?
My name is Fiona Gowing, I have been a qualified Occupational Therapist (OT) for 17 years and have worked both in the UK and internationally. However, when I had my children, Ben & Ella, I decided to have a career break. It was while I was a stay at home mum that I decided to set up a childminding business and that’s when I had my light bulb moment: a new children’s product idea.

Why did you decide to launch your business?
Inspired by my children Ben and Ella and while running my childminding business I was looking for a play to pack away solution for fiddly kids toys. I dreaded the noise of a full box of Lego being tipped out onto the floor as it was time consuming to tidy up and the kids often wanted to go from one activity to the next, as fast as possible! The only products that were on the market were plastic storage boxes (which the kids loved to just tip out onto the floor), and mats with lengthy pull cord (which isn’t suitable for a child due to safety reasons). So I had to design something new.

Mess with NO stress (twitter)
Could you tell us a little about your business?
I designed Bitzbags a new 2 in 1 portable storage solution. It’s made up of a square mat, with detachable bag. The drawstring free design on the bag is what makes the Bitzbags design different.
I started the business from home, making my first batch of Bitzbags from my kitchen table to test the market at local fairs. Then, outsourcing the manufacturing enabled me to launch the product nationally in August of last year. We have exhibited at large Childcare Expo events in Edinburgh & London, and we are stocked in local retail shops. We are also available online through www.bitzbags.com and an early years resources website www.imagido.co.uk.

How are you finding it fits in with your family?
Owning your own business is hard work and I have been fortunate to have a very supportive husband and also to have the support from business start-up services such as Entrepreneurial Spark www.entrepreneurial-spark.com, Bright Ideas Scotland and Business Gateway. In regards to family life I am able to run my business around school pick-ups and drop offs and even get my children to be involved in the business! For example, they loved being involved in the photoshoot for our marketing materials and packaging, telling me that they “feel famous”, aww…

Anything else you wish to tell our readers?
I would encourage anyone out there, thinking of starting a business, to give it a go! This is the decade of the female entrepreneur, there has never been a better time for women to start their own businesses’ with a vast array of start up support specifically tailored for female businesswomen. So give it a go, dream big, and make it happen today.

At my Lingotastic classes I use a similar idea of wrapping up ducks in blue fabric ready to pull out as we start the song, or all the stuffed animals we use in story, wrapped in fabric so I can quickly get them out when we read the story.

Fiona kindly sent us a bitzbag to trial. My daughters were really pleased, I found my son’s outgrown Lego so they could play with it. I’d been meaning to do it for a while.
As she has said earlier it is brilliant for Lego and the brilliant storage bag is great if you want to put it away quickly to play later or take out with you.
If we’ve inspired you to buy your own (I’m not on commission) visit www.bitzbags.com

If you would like to see more of the Bitzbags products (including the new outdoor bitzbags visit www.bitzbags.com and follow them on Facebook, twitter, instagram and Linkedin.

You’ll never guess what happened on Friday!

On Saturday I went along to Mumsnet workfest 2016. I was still very surprised to be going along. Twenty two hours before I did not know I was going! I got a tweet from Barclays to say I’d won a pair of tickets. I looked at the website and was so excited about the line up. Just a quick call to my hubby to chat about childcare and I was all set to go. The Mumsnet workfest looked to be aimed as mums returning to work after maternity leave. I figured there were a couple of seminars that looked really good and it was a great opportunity to network.

The most surprisingCath andMe part of the day was when I met Cath. I arrived early and got chatting to another he. She had an awful lot in common with me. I’m from Bradford, and she lives there now. We both LOVE languages, especially German, so we chatted about that, about our families, and the Lingotastic classes I run. Anyone who has read my blogs, or met me in the flesh will know that family language learning is my passion, so another mum looking to bring more language learning into her family life and maybe run classes like mine is an absolute joy to me. Cath said this was something she’d like to do so discussed my journey and ideas for her to work towards something similar.

The first event was with the keynote panel of Karen Blackett OBE, Jo Whiley, Jess Phillips MP and Kirstie Mackey. It was awesome to hear them share their stories and “How they do it all.”Panel speaking
Karen is a truly inspirational women who has created a culture in her company which includes and celebrates family. Jo Whiley shared how through her radio career she has worked with supportive people who have allowed her to be a mum as well as an employee. The two shining light pearls of wisdom from this session were “One good parent is enough”- Jess, and “Bring the whole of you to work” – Karen. If the day had stopped there, this would have been brilliant already.

I’m self employed, so the break out session on The Key to building your business was just what I wanted to hear. It was so great to hear others stories. I heard what I know now to be true, “Starting your own business is not the easy option”. I also had the time to reflect on how lucky I am to have a hubby who has let me run a selfie2business which did not make any money for the first two years.
For the second breakout session I walked in, and the lovely Esther Stanhope was bouncing around with excitement. It was titled “How to network when you hate small talk” There were lots of brilliant little tips I could quickly put into practice. We had to break into pairs and speed network. I found out that Katie loves Bradford (where I’m from) and writing and blogging. I was so excited I took a silly selfie. She confessed that prior to this she was a selfie virgin!

Lunch was delicious restaurant quality food and great chance to network. I chatted with a bilingual Russian & English mum about what they do at home, and she said advice and support would make a massive difference to her as her daughter grows. This was a massive encouragement to me and something I am considering I how to work in practice.

 

I went along to the self esteem workshop with Kim Morgan from Barefoot Coaching. The room was pretty full. It was a high speed session including many ideas and a couple of group exercises. I came away with a revelation that as women we all struggle with similar issues which was a real eyeopener to me. Her book The Coach’s Casebook looked a good way to follow up on the session.

We were so fortunate to be able to find out “What we did next”-inspiring stories with five awesome women who were inspired to launch their own business by Workfest 2015.

I was so excited that the guest speaker this year was Matthew Syed. My hubby has been reading his book “Bounce”, so I was excited I could hear him speak. He presented so clearly. This was a real lightbulb moment, to see my own growth mindset and fixed mindset. It was a real eyeopener as a mum, to help me to encourage my own children to see that if things go wrong, failure is not final, and though failing we learn how to do it better next time.
MattSyed If you want to buy his books Black box thinking and Bounce for yourself, click through.

It was an awesome day and I came away feeling comfortable in my own skin and that I’m not doing a bad job as a mum. Not bad at all for an event I’d not heard about before the Friday.

This blog is the first in a monthly series celebrating women in business and the workplace. I believe that if something is not celebrated it can die, so I want to take the chance to celebrate some awesome women. If you’d like to write a guest blog for us get in touch.

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