Tag Archives: books

Why would adults learn languages?

We have a brilliant guest blog from my lovely friend Nathalie. She speaks at least two languages daily and a few more besides, so must be always learning languages. Anyway, over to Nathalie

If you are reading this blog, the chances are you already know how beneficial the exposure to other languages is to children. What about us as adults though? Either you don’t know another language or you already know one, 2, 3… or even more… Either way I feel we should always either practise and improve our skills in one language or learn new ones. I don’t necessarily mean to become fluent but to learn new sounds, new rules, new cultures… Why?

• It sets a good example for the children around you
• It puts you in the position of a learner; no one should ever forget what it feels like to learn new things: the excitement and the challenges! This way you can always sympathise with other learners, especially children
• It gives you focus; you have to be committed in order to learn another language
• It is good for your brain: research has shown that learning languages can help protect against Alzheimer’s
• It gives you direct access to more understanding: of words, of texts, and more importantly of people, even without travelling
• When you have found a way which works for you, it should be enjoyable too; if it isn’t, try another language… or another way!
I am sure they are many more reasons… please do share them with us!!


So which language am I learning at the moment?
I am learning Italian, partly with Duolingo, because I am going to Rome in April and I want to be able to communicate at least a little and I want to be able to pronounce food when I order it! Then I will learn Dutch ahead of a trip to Amsterdam with the football team which I coach and my daughter plays for; I will be encouraging the girls to try speaking Dutch when we’re there! Afterwards, I would like to learn some Arabic as a change from the European languages which I know and love… and an extra challenge!

Which language are you learning at the moment? Let us know in the comments below.

If you want to read more of Nathalie’s blogs and brilliant book reviews check out.
http://www.nattalingo.co.uk/

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?

Interview with James from Soundimals and a hamster!

James HamsterAt our Lingotastic family language classes anything that involves animals and making animal noises is a hit, so when I came across the fun Soundimals illustrations by James Chapman I had to find out more…
We last interviewed James in January 2015, you can read that here


Since we last spoke I know you’ve finished your PHD. How are you finding life after University?

Life after university is good! I always imagined I’d double my productivity as I used to work all day at university then come home and work all evening on illustration, but now my days are all illustration I’m pretty worn out by about 6, ha. It’s good to have some relaxation time though, I never really had the whole work/life balance sorted out before but now it’s all quite nice.

Emily: We’ve just got a pet hamster. Have you done any pictures of hamsters?

Congratulations on the hamster! Hamsters are a lot of fun, my brother had one when we were young, had to keep it well away from the cat! I think I have drawn maybe one hamster? I’ll have a look and see if I can find it somewhere, it was wearing a tiara I think!

Jasmin: Have you got any pets in your house?

As for my pets, there are some fish that I live with! Three of them and they blub away while I’m working. I’d love a dog and some cats, but I don’t think I’m allowed them in my building just at the moment. One day though, one day I’ll have a hundred cats.

Have you had any interesting commissions lately?

Over the summer I’ve had a few wedding commissions to draw up, which is always really nice. I actually was commissioned to make a comic book that was used in a proposal between two friends of mine! It told the story of them both and the last page said “Will you marry me” and it was very very adorable. Wedding stuff is always very fun.
Aside from that I’m working with a Manchester charity for an art show in a few months. Exciting and daunting in equal measure, it’s still in the works but hopefully it’ll be a fun fun event.

What are your hopes for the future of Soundimals?

With Soundimals, I’d love to keep spreading the word mostly! It’s a fun book but with a strong message of diversity and being open to other cultures and I’d like to share that with as many people as possible. It’s had a really good response already online and the books are selling really well, so I suppose maybe the next step is to find a publisher/distributor and try and get them in shops all oooover the place.
In the mean time, I’ve been working on a few new books, including a big one about proverbs from all around the world. I’ve posted a fair few around instagram and my site, they’re mostly wise phrases and expressions that are commonplace in their native country but sound so different to other cultures. “A bad workman blames his tools” sounds quite normal to me, but in Polish the phrase is “a bad ballerina blames the hem of their skirt” – a much more exciting version! I’m just trying to get that book together now, so hopefully they’ll be some news on that in the new year. Keep up with what I’m up to on tumblr

The book Soundimals and How to Sneeze in Japanese can be found in my shop along with a new new new book called When Frogs Grow Hair. It’s all about the different phrases people say when they think something is impossible – like when pigs fly in English. In Spanish, they say “when frogs grow hair” and in German it’s on “St. Never’s Day” which sounds especially sassy, like a line from Mean Girls. Anyway, that’s the new one! I’m looking forward to sharing it with everyone.

PS I found it! It was a sketch someone requested in the front of their book!

Thanks James, it’s been a pleasure talking to you. The hamster is soooooo cute!

What shall we do with the BOO HOO BABY?

Some of the props we use with the book.

You may have noticed a few book reviews from my gorgeous girls recently. Well I’m not

Some of the props we use with the book.

Some of the props we use with the book.

missing out! At Lingotastic, we love to share stories together, (with puppets of course)

Before I start this series I need to issue a disclaimer. I will probably say of each book it’s my favourite! I love a good picture book and different picture books are good for different audiences and different languages. So what shall we do with the BOO HOO BABY?

This weeks book is

Qu’Est-Ce Qu’On Va Faire Avec Le Bébé Ouin Ouin ? What shall we do with the boo hoo baby?  By Cressida Cowell illustrated by Ingrid Godon. Published by Mantra Lingua.

This copy is in French and Engilsh but Manta Lingua have published it in 20 languages so I’m sure you’ll find one to suit you.

This is a bilingual book but I do not always read the English if they are understanding anyway.

The baby is crying and la vache, le chat, le chien and le canard do what they can to calm him down, with little effect until…. (no spoilers!)

This book has lots of repetition so little ones soon know what comes next.

It has animals and animal noises which is always a winner. Little ones love to join in with that almost as soon as the books starts which really makes it an interactive story. The pictures are lovely which I find so important in a picture book. When reading this with small children I have toys for them to hold, dogs, cats, cows and ducks. I start by letting them choose an animal and then talking about what noises the animals make.

As I read it to parents and little ones, both enjoy it. The parents were waiting with baited breath to see if the animals could calm a crying baby and I reckon to get some tips for themselves.

Many Mantra Lingua books are available in local libraries or buy your own copy.They are available in a huge variety of languages. These are the ones I would use at home or in our Lingotastic classes.

Do you have a favourite bilingual book? We’d love to know about it. Let us know in the comments below.

By Toutatis – what a ride! At Parc Astérix

The chief!

The chief!

I don’t really have a bucket list as such, but if I had, then right at the top would have been a trip to Parc Astérix, just outside Paris. Ever since its opening back in 1989, I’ve been wanting to go. No idea why it’s taken me this long, but in any case the 27-year wait was worth it.

I think my indomitable wife, Sarah, only told half the story when she said about our Family Trip to Paris on a budget that it was really all my idea. No, the actual idea for the trip was the brainchild of our little book addict daughter (yes, the serial book reviewer you may remember from a couple of blogs). But of course when she announced she wanted to go to Paris, Dad was all for it, in order to finally meet his childhood hero Astérix.

I have to confess, I’ve read every The Mansions of The Gods “>Astérix book (in various languages), and watched every film. In fact, I’m quite excited that there seems to be a concerted effort to re-launch Astérix in the UK, with big names like Jack Whitehall, Catherine Tate and Dick & Dom providing voices for the most recent Asterix: Asterix: The Mansions Of The Gods [DVD]“>”The Mansions Of The Gods” movie. Yes, went to see it in Germany over a year ago already, but I wouldn’t want to miss the UK release for anything … but more on that in a later blog.

Back to Parc Astérix. When I first heard about it, I had only just started secondary school. Now with children of my own, there were many more reasons for going. Kids love theme parks, and for a polyglot family like ours, Parc Astérix was certainly a more genuinely French experience than the (according to feedback from other parents) overhyped and overpriced Disneyland Paris. We spent remarkably little time queuing, even the most popular rides (including Discobélix, a brand new ride which had only just opened) had a maximum of 15 minutes waiting time! Prices in general didn’t seem excessive, compared to what we’re used to from other theme parks, and getting there with the shuttle bus from CDG Airport was nice and easy.

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The biggest surprise, and one of my favourite attractions, was the sea lion & dolphin show. Absolutely amazing! As far as the rides are concerned, I was really impressed that there seemed to be plenty of options for different age groups: From high speed rollercoasters for the older thrillseekers, like Oziris, to family friendly rides and attraction for the “Young Gauls”, there is plenty to choose from. Finally, the spectacular live action show “Romains – Gaulois: Le Match” was a fitting and entertaining conclusion to our day at Parc Astérix

I think I’ll have to find a new excuse to ensure I won’t have to wait for our next visit as long as I had to for the first one!

How does it feel to speak a language?

We are really blessed to have a guest post from the inspirational bilingual author Delia Berlin. Prepare to be encouraged and provoked to think.A tall order, but she does it! Emotional Aspects of Language Learning

Delia on deck

I grew up in Argentina and my first language was Spanish. Then and there, any knowledge of a foreign language was universally valued. My school years in Argentina exposed me to German, English and French. Today, I’m only fluent in Spanish and English, but I still have rudimentary knowledge of a variety of languages.
Having spent my adult life in the US, when I had a daughter I had to decide what language to use with her. Since I always thought that speaking more than one language was beneficial, I wanted her to learn both English and Spanish. She was bound to learn English from her teachers and peers, so I chose Spanish. She grew up bilingual, and decades later she is now raising a bilingual child of her own.

So why is it that so many Americans with parents or grandparents who spoke another language never learned a word of it? A friend of mine pointed out that in her family, the first generation of immigrants was focused on fitting in. Learning English and leaving the old language behind was required for upward mobility and success. There was no practical value in teaching children a language for which they no longer saw use. For these immigrants who had left their countries forever, survival depended on growing new roots as Americans.

In the years between the world wars, immigrants arrived in waves. There was a hierarchy for these groups, with the latest one to arrive usually being the poorest and least socially connected, and therefore shunned. With language as the main identifier of one’s group, the quicker one learned English, the sooner this discrimination would diminish. Native languages were a liability. It was only natural for parents to want their children to sound “American” and to be spared these difficulties. As for children themselves, then just like now, their focus was to fit in with their peers.

The first time I noticed a child in the US who spoke Spanish but pretended he didn’t, I was baffled. But then, I understood. Here, if you are middle class and educated, travel and have global interactions, proficiency in Spanish is helpful. But if you are a Latino child in a poor community, speaking Spanish may have given you nothing but grief. And so ironically, emotional aspects come into play and those who are most disadvantaged become less likely to exploit the rich, low-hanging fruit of an additional language, that eventually may give them an edge.

libros2

Although largely spared, I was not blind to the prevalent prejudice and discrimination against Latinos while raising my daughter. I understood that if she was going to speak and maintain Spanish, she had to “buy in” to its benefit. In those days, I didn’t have many bilingual support sources at hand, but a home-made combination of talks, travel, books and even a little Sesame Street, seemed enough to convince my child about the value of her Spanish.
These days, with easier travel, increased communication technology, more diverse populations and a global economy, the practical value of knowing multiple languages has skyrocketed for some. But for many they still remain a stigma.

During the last four decades in the US, inequality has increased resulting in more marked segregation in neighborhoods and schools. In my own town, for example, more than three quarters of the students are Latino, while more affluent adjacent towns have mostly white, non-Latino enrollment.
Our teachers and school administrators do their best to support bilingualism, but with segregation entrenched, prejudice and discrimination are hard to eradicate. Speaking Spanish is not perceived by many of these children as helpful, and this presents an emotional barrier to developing and maintaining bilingualism. How could we change this negative perception in every child who has the opportunity to learn Spanish from a young age?

kids' books

In my community, my contribution comes in the form of writing bilingual books for children and reading them at local schools. Bilingual books help children make linguistic connections between their languages. In their homes, these books allow every family member (a grandma who may not speak English, or a young uncle who doesn’t know Spanish) to share the same story. Children can discuss the story with everyone in the family, and even adults may benefit by improving their own language skills. By reading these books in local schools, I also demonstrate that bilingual skills are valuable. Many of these children have never met an author, let alone a bilingual one. For some of them, this single experience may tip the scale of motivation.

When I’m out with my young granddaughter, we speak Spanish. While rarely anyone says anything, gestures and actions speak louder than words. The wide range of responses from people around us spans from sheer delight to harsh judgment. At times, even I become self-conscious enough to switch languages, as if needing to prove that we can speak English, that we are home.

We all can find our own ways to recognize the value of languages to motivate children’s learning. Our help could come in the form of praise for a child’s language proficiency, or a request for help with a translation. And it could be as subtle as becoming aware of our own reactions to people speaking foreign languages. Worldwide there are different social dynamics at play for each foreign language. Some languages may even trigger public distrust, avoidance, or fear. Children may not be able to articulate these reactions, but they certainly notice and internalize them.

Bio Statement:
Delia Berlin was born in Argentina but has spent most of her life in Connecticut. With graduate degrees in both Physics and Family Studies, she worked in early intervention, education, and administration, and taught child development at the college level. She writes bilingual children’s books, as well as essay collections with her husband, artist David Corsini. For more information about Delia Berlin and her books, visit her website at deliaberlin.com.

If you’d like to buy some of Delia’s lovely books click on the links below.

Who is “the other Alice”?

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If you follow our blog regularly you’ll know we love books. My daughter Jasmin was sent “The Other Alice” by Michelle Harrison to review. So this is it.

We enjoy fantasy and magical stories in the genre of Terry Pratchett so we were really pleased to be asked to review this book. Mum read it to her nine year old. She thought it was a “bit scary” so mum read it on her own and will save it for when she is a bit older.

What did we think of “The Other Alice”?

It is a magical tale blurring reality and fiction with many surprises.

A rich and twisting tale of magic riddles and the power of imagination

The same day Alice disappears, her brother Midge thinks he has seen her walking down the street, so starts a story which brings into question what is real and what is imagined. The story feels like it could take place in any small town in the UK, with speckles of magic which appear at the most surprising points.

Alice is a writer. When she goes missing, a talking cat called Tabitha appears in her bedroom. Before long, Midge realises the only way to find out where Alice is is to ask for help from Tabitha,
the talking cat, Gypsy and Piper (who seem to be a lot like the characters from a story Alice had written) Soon Midge realises Alice’s stories contain the clues he needs to find his sister, before time runs out.

This is a very tense, dark, page turning adventure with plenty of twists and turns to keep a reader engaged in the story. It’s a spellbinding story for readers aged 12 plus.

We were sent this book proof (and a beautiful handmade paper cut cat) in exchange for our own honest review.

Would you Rent a Bridesmaid ?

Jasmin_rent a BridesmaidIf you follow our blog regularly you’ll know we love to read. Reading is a great way of language acquisition as well as improving literacy and spelling, whatever the language. This week we have a book review by our Jasmin. So over to her…

Hi I’m Jasmin and I’m eight years old.
I have been asked to write a review of “Rent a Bridesmaid” by Jacqueline Wilson.

The main characters are Tilly, Matty (Tilly’s friend) and Tilly’s dad.

In the story Tilly wants to be a bridesmaid, so she puts an advert in Sid’s shop window. She gets three replies asking for her to be a bridesmaid. She is amazed at how many replies she gets.

The part which surprised me was when Tilly’s mum visited because I thought she would never come. This made me feel happy.

The most exciting part of the story was when Tilly got a reply asking for her to be a bridesmaid.

I would change the part when Tilly’s mum didn’t stay to her staying because then Tilly would be able to be a bridesmaid at her mum and dad’s wedding.

If I could write another ending, Tilly would go to lots more weddings and become famous.

Thank you Jasmin.

She read this 360 page book in just two evenings, a good sign she enjoyed it! I was really impressed by the extra activities at the end to design your own bridesmaid dress, finish a quiz about the book, make wedding favours and have fun with a wordsearch. As a mum there were lots of interesting relationships in the book to talk about together, which is great for pre teens.

Disclaimer: We were sent this book to review. The opinions expressed are entirely our own.

If you’d like to buy your own copy you can pick it up here

Do picture books help children learn another language?

This week we are really blessed to guest blog from the lovely Nathalie. We met on twitter and have a shared love for picture books and puppets. So over to Nathalie.Natalie 4

For as far back as I can remember, I have always loved books and been surrounded by them. When my children (now 12 and 15) were born and I decided to bring them up bilingual (English and French) I am convinced books played a major part in their success… thanks to my parents who always bought so many stories for them! I read to Leah and Max in French every day and they learnt naturally, without any lessons, to read French; Max read so much by himself he taught himself to write in French too. However I never actually thought of making it part of my business until I had so many children’s books that I started to wonder what I was going to do with them! Books in English and books for adults I never kept you see; I believe books are only alive if they are being read and shared and it was easy to give them away, but books in French… Well they were too heavy to take back to France and I didn’t know anyone in the UK who would appreciate them! My dream was to open a French library; then my best friend came up with the amazing idea of a mobile library!
Bibliobus

You can check out photos of the bus on my website: http://natta-lingo.gihem.info/
The books I travel around with on my Bibliobook are mostly picture books. Why, might you ask, should anyone want to pay me to go and tell a story to their children in French? If you attend any of Sarah’s classes I am sure you are not asking yourself this question as she is a fan of books (and puppets!) herself. We all accept that stories in their native language are good for our children and they are encouraged to be read to and to read from a very young age. Moreover research shows that sharing stories in a second language (even without being bilingual) helps to develop listening, speaking, reading and writing skills! (more about various research projects here http://natta-lingo.gihem.info/spip.php?article114) More than 2000 booksChildren still love books as real objects; they enjoy sitting on the carpet and listening to a story, even more so if they can act it out with props! This we do on le Bibliobook whilst surrounded by nearly 2000 French books!! It is great fun and we know our children will learn better and be more motivated when they have fun… Not just little ones either!

If you do not have access to authentic books in another language, please check out One Third Stories for virtual stories which start in English and end in another language. That’s another great fun way of learning with stories!
So if you get the chance to, please take your children to storytelling sessions (in any language!) and keep reading to them or with them (in any language you can too!). You and they will never wish you hadn’t done it!
Natalie writes weekly blogs about picture books that are great for language learning.

The single best resource for your language learning!

This week we’ve got another guest post from Maik (@lingotutor)
Okay, I admit it. I like Amazon … a lot. Or to be more specific, I like the wealth of resources they put at my fingertips as a language learner. So let me be upfront about this: I think the single best language learning resource is Amazon Prime and signing up for Amazon Prime is a no-brainer. And here’s why.

 

Physical language learning books

I’ve needed to buy a good number of language learning books in the last few months, either as a resource to use for language tuition, or to refresh / improve my own language skills. Currently I’m brushing up on Latin which I’ve not used since my school days over twenty years ago. But there’s no need to go for a brand-new book every time (although I love the smell of a new book, I’m weird like that!). So most of my purchases were sub-£3 second hand copies, which could still be in my hands the very next day thanks to free next day delivery with Amazon Prime. You’d pay more than £3 for just the delivery charge elsewhere!

 

Le tour du monde en 80 jours

Le tour du monde en 80 jours

eBooks

Sometimes I’m too impatient to wait for next-day delivery, which is when eBooks come in handy. The great thing is that there are so many free eBooks available in various languages. In French for example, you could be reading “Le tour du monde en quatre-vingts jours” by Jules Verne or “Le Chien des Baskerville” by Arthur Conan Doyle at no charge at all.

The choice is even wider if you have an Amazon Prime membership, as you’ll automatically benefit from the Kindle Owner’s Lending Library, which lets you chose from a vast number of eBooks. You can chose a new book each month, provided you “return” your previous one. My personal favourites recently have been “The A-Z of Learning German” and “Learn German for Your Holidays” by the amazing Angelika Davey (review to follow).

The only drawback is that, as the name suggests, the Kindle Owner’s Lending Library is only available to you if you own either a Kindle eReaderor Fire tablet. If you don’t, you’ve got two options:

(1) Sign up for Kindle Unlimited, which allows you to read as much as you want on any device or

(2) Get yourself a Kindle eReaderor Fire tablet. They’re seriously awesome and with the benefit of the Kindle Owner’s Lending Library basically pay for themselves within 7 months.

Chinese Children's Classics

Chinese Children’s Classics

Prime Music

Okay, the selection here is not (yet) as wide as on Spotify or Deezer, but there is a lot of quality stuff here, especially for the language learner. One of our family favourites is “Chinese Children’s Classics” by A Little Mandarin. And there’s not just music, as the name suggests, but a good number of spoken language courses, including my personal favourite: the “Learn in your car” series. It’s a great way to fit language learning into your commute, and as a Prime member, you have access to Spanish, French, Italian, Mandarin, Russian and German courses at no charge. The CD versions would easily set you back £20 each.

Fire TV Stick

Although there used to be a good number of Foreign Language films available on Amazon Instant Video, including the hilarious “7 Zwerge” (again free to Prime members), they are now few and far between. But I still use the Fire TV Stick a lot for watching language stuff from YouTube on the big screen of my telly rather than the smaller phone or tablet screens. And the Prime membership does come in handy when I’m taking a break from language learning to watch “The Imitation Game” or “Paddington”. Not to mention that I’m ready for Clarkson, Hammond and May next year, now that they’ve left the BBC’s Top Gear and have signed with Amazon instead.

The Top Gear Trio on Amazon Prime

The Top Gear Trio on Amazon Prime

So, as you can see, our Prime membership gets used A LOT. Mostly, but not exclusively for language learning. I think it’s a must for every language learning enthusiast, and now is probably the best time to sign up. You get a month’s free trial anyway, and the free next day delivery is incredibly useful in the run-up to Christmas. Best of all, if you sign up through the link below, you’ll help us bring more language learning awesomeness to you in the future. What’s not to like? So go ahead, you know you want to 🙂

Try Amazon Prime free for a month!

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