Tag Archives: cartoons

Casper’s inspiring language learning story

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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


Fun things when learning a language:

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

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

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

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

https://twitter.com/yrinternational/

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

Can you pass on a language without being a native speaker?

Today we have an interview with Rachel, who is teaching her daughter french, but she’s not a native speaker of french.
I’d been chatting to Rachel before. We met via the Speak to the Future LinkedIn group. I was really excited when I found out she’s teaching her own child French at home, although her mother tongue is English, like we’re doing at home.

Learning about le poisson d'Avril

Learning about le poisson d’Avril

We met Rachel in her hometown of Carlisle in the Easter holidays.

– The first question was from Emily: Why do you live in the north?

I’m from this area and my parents live here. There’s lots to do with little ones in Carlisle.

– What do you do for work?

I’m a freelance translator of French and German and private tutor of French. I also occasionally do some voluntary work in French classes in a local infant school.

– What made you want to introduce a foreign language to M?

I can see that it’s a massive advantage for her to be introduced to languages at a young age. Little ones are like sponges – they learn so quickly. She’s at an age where she’s not shy about using another language. I have the language skills so can pass them on to her. I know she won’t become bilingual through me – I’m not a native speaker and we don’t live in France – but I want her to have a good grounding in another language, to enjoy it and be confident in it. I was surprised from how early on she could distinguish between French and English and how much she has picked up.

– Do you do lessons with your little one?

No, we simply do it as part of our everyday life. She likes to watch “Pierre le lapin” (Peter Rabbit) and other English-language cartoons she knows on the tablet in French, as well as original French-language cartoons. We’ve also got some CDs of French songs – she in particular likes trying to sing along to songs on one called “Maxi Enfance”. We enjoy sharing French books and puzzles. I’ve got a French mummy friend we exchange books with, which is a great advantage.
I joke with friends that I teach her “French by torture” – we play a tickling game where I’ll stop tickling only when she says “arrête”. She often shouts “encore”!
We visit France together. Last time we were there, M bought herself a book. I explained the procedure/what to say, all in French, and she quite happily went to the counter and said all the right things at the right time, and was delighted to have “tricked” the lady into thinking she was French!
She’s just started French lessons at her preschool, so we’ll see if she lets on that she knows lots or is quiet and acts like she doesn’t know any!

"We love to share these magazines together"

“We love to share these magazines together”

Alongside learning the actual language, I also think it’s important to teach M about some of the traditions and culture of France. For example, we recently read an article together on Easter in France, from which M not only learned a couple of new Easter-related words but was also interested to find out about the “cloches volantes” that bring sweets to children in France. We also had fun making “poissons d’avril” as I taught her about this French 1st of April tradition. I was also able to use this activity to reinforce colour words with her.

– Finally, what would you say to other parents wishing to pass on their language skills to their little one?

Go for it! There’s no better time to learn than when they’re young – the younger the better! Especially if you’re a native speaker, but even if you aren’t but have the right background and skills in the foreign language. It’s fun for both of you and wonderful to see their progress.

Confessions of a German grammar geek (yes I like alliteration!)

With my amazing wife

With my amazing wife

This week we have a guest post from Maik with some breaking news about exciting new developments here at Lingotasic. Anyway I’ll let Maik tell you more…

 

Hi there! I’m Sarah’s husband Maik. When Sarah started Lingotastic, little did I know how quickly she would become (and I’m not exaggerating) an international phenomenon. At the time of me writing this blog, I think the numbers are at over 500 Facebook likes and 2,000 Twitter followers from across the world. Not to mention all the re-pins on Pinterest. Within a short time she’s managed to establish links with other language enthusiasts in the U.S., Taiwan, France and Wales to name just a few. All this on top of her regular language classes for tinies in the good old Home Counties.

Now the time has come for me to join my wife on the exciting rollercoaster ride which is Lingotastic. But let me tell you a bit more about myself. My name is actually pronounced Mike, and I’m originally from Germany.

Growing up in Germany, Languages have been a part of my life from quite early on, starting with learning English in school from year 5, French from year 7, and later additions of Latin, Spanish, Polish and some Hebrew. Yes, I do like languages A LOT!

Of course in a lot of cases I had a vested interest. Learning English allowed me to pick up twice as many jokes in my favourite sci-fi comedy, Mel Brooks’ “Spaceballs” and watch dozens of cartoons like Inspector Gadget in the original. Oh, and it also meant I could watch, and understand reasonably well, the original UNCUT version (including all the gory bits normally cut out for German telly) of the Terminator movie when it was on cable from the Netherlands.

Asterix and his "big-boned" friend Obelix

Asterix and his “big-boned” friend Obelix

In the same way, Latin helped when reading my favourite comic book series … Asterix! Which was of course originally written in French. So after our school organised an exchange with a school in Rennes, France, I naturally returned home with my luggage containing a good number of Asterix books in their original lingo.

As for Polish, well this was actually during my University days, when I was studying European Business Studies. And it was basically a cut-price summer holiday! A full month of residential language learning in Czieszyn, Poland, including accommodation and food for a few hundred deutschmarks (this was pre euros).

Lots of Vodka. Got to try it all ...

Lots of Vodka. Got to try it all …

Naturally it involved making a lot of friends who would help try all of the 30-odd different brands of Vodka on the shelves of the local supermarket. It must have helped, or at least not been detrimental to the learning experience. I was actually reasonably fluent at the end of the month, having arrived in Poland with practically no prior knowledge.

It was also during my University days that I met Sarah – and we were married just a couple of months before I submitted my dissertation. Of course you know of her passion for languages, so it was only natural for us to bring up a multilingual family. Although honestly all those years ago I could hardly have imagined us singing the Two Tigers song in Mandarin, La vaca Lola in Spanish or entering an Esperanto language challenge as a family. But you’ve probably seen a lot of the mad stuff we get up to on the blog already, like randomly sticking Flashsticks post-its in all sorts of places.

There’s plenty more stuff in the pipeline for Lingotastic, including a multilingual CD of all the favourites from the classes and more! And I’ll be helping to develop our programme to go into nurseries and schools, doing classes, and lunchtime as well as after school clubs. Making language learning part of everyday life is what Lingotastic is all about, making it literally child’s play across the age groups.

The enquiries are already coming in from schools, as well as parents interested in after school tuition. Exciting times ahead, and I’m glad to be on board for this next phase of the adventure of Lingotastic!