Category Archives: review

Use Bidvine to find a singing teacher

I was asked by Bidvine to have a look at their site, so here goes.

As one who sings regularly I realise I need to protect my voice. I’ve sung for a long time but had very limited professional training. I’ve been thinking about getting some singing lessons for a while, so this brought the perfect opportunity.

My first reaction was surprise at the range of services available on Bidvine,

They have:

Writing, translation and transcription

Business

Photography

Repair and technical support

Personal

Legal

I was gobsmacked by the range of services on offer: from Pokemon Go training to personal chefs, from bodyguard services to songwriting, from Cantonese translation to software development. Anyway, I was actually looking for singing lessons. I sing a lot, in classes, at home and professionally. I’m aware that I need to look after my voice, and I’ve been meaning to book some singing lessons for a very long time.

I went though to this page https://www.bidvine.com/singing-lessons
As I was looking for singing lessons, there was a form to fill out about my current musical skills, past training, styles of music I like to sing, etc. It seemed a really comprehensive list, so my teacher would be fully informed before the lesson and we could get going almost as soon as the first lesson started.

As soon as I had submitted my reply, there was an e mail in my inbox to acknowledge it all.

The process was really simple and straightforward I found it really easy to use.

Bidvine is perfect for people who do not have time to trawl through the Yellow Pages (retro) or the Internet to find what they need.

The website itself is very clean and nice looking. It is really simple to navigate your way around.

There is even an app if you want to search on the go…

I had no idea that Bidvine existed before. I’ll definitely be using it again.

Disclaimer.

This is a sponsored post. I received payment for this post but these are my own views.

Knight’s school and Chaucer -the Canterbury Tales Experience

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Disclaimer

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

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.

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.

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