Tag Archives: culture

Flash Academy – Have you joined?

If you follow me on Twitter you will know I’ve been asked to beta test the new sparkly Flash sticks app Flash Academy.

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If you’ll already know I’m a read my blogs or follow us on pinterest or Instagram you will know I am a big fan of FlashSticks sticky post it notes. They are colour coded to help you remember the gender of words. Blue for masculine, pink for feminine and yellow for verbs and adjectives. For a visual learner like me they are a godsend. Simply stick them around your home or take photos when you are out and about like me! You can use the new Flash Academy app to scan any note for an instant pronunciation video from a native speakers. This is an unlimited free feature for all users. We interviewed Veejay about how the idea for Flash Sticks came about last year, read about it here.

Our Lingotastic classes are in basic French, German and Spanish and occasionally Mandarin. It is a ongoing task to keep my skills going in all these languages. As a busy mum,  as well as a teacher my time is limited so I need to be able to learn in pockets of time and apps like this fit the bill for me.

 

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The app includes hundreds of short 5-minute interactive language lessons and a series of fast-paced (for me nail biting) word games to consolidate learning. Learners continually ‘graduate’ to new levels as their fluency in the language develops.

 

I like that the first words learned are food (breakfast) so useful words to learn. There are almost three hundred language lessons available for each language, with six lessons initially provided free of charge (five in basics, one in Food & Drink)

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The graphics are brightly coloured with appealing pictures. They remind me a lot of WII games! The words are spoken as they are seen by a native speaker, which is a big plus to me! I recently realised that, in my GCSE courses I learned ,to read and write much better than pronounce. This really helps to rectify this, as I can see it written, and hear it at the same time. The app also has occasional grammar and culture tips which are really useful to learn alongside the language.

I was interested how it worked for children, so I got my eight year old, who has only just started French to test it as well. She liked it and managed to understand the more complicated parts at the end.

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The only downside I found was, as an intermediate language learner I would like to assess where I am at and start from there. Flash Academy does not have that functionality.

 

The cherry on top of the app is the amazing sci fi object scanner. Simply switch on the object scanner and take a picture of the object and by some kind of magic the app tells you what it is in English and your chosen language of over 40 languages !

Anyway, what are you waiting for? Boost your family language skills AND have fun along the way!

 

The app is free to download on

App and Google Play stores, with subscription plans starting at £2.99 per month.

FlashAcademy is perfect for all ages and all language levels.

For more information visit www.flashacademyapp.com

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

Disclaimer: These are my own thoughts and opinions. FlashSticks gave me a three month subscription in order to review this app which is just as well since I’ve found it to be addictive… What can I scan next?

 

 

Song translating fun.

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

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

The first song was Mernier tu dors

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The google translate of this is hilarious !

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

After a few minutes we came up with.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Chinese New Year in Chesham

This weekend we had an amazing Chinatown in Chesham event celbrating Chinese New Year. It was a lot of fun as you should see from the videos.
It was a damp start and there were only a dozen people around to start with, the dance was due to start at 12 and by 11:58 there were lots of familes who braved the weather to join the fun.

The start of the dance.

Walking up the High Street

As you can see it was a really vibrant event.

At 1 pm we hosted a Mandarin New Year Class in Chesham Library which was amazing. We had a mix of total beginners to Mandarin to native speaking families. It was such a blessing to share insights of how different countries celebrate the Lunar New Year. It was so interesting to hear the differences between how Singapore and Hong Kong celebrate. The families were all really keen to join in and have a go at speaking and singing in Mandarin.

We had a few really interesting conversations about family language learning which was why we hosted the event in the first place. One lucky family went away having won their own copy of A Little Mandarin Cd in our free raffle. I’m sure they’ll love singing along at home.

Chinese Children's Classics

Chinese Children’s Classics

A Polyglot Christmas

As a polyglot family we think it is really important for our children to experience other cultures. To understand and empathise with other cultures is just as important as speaking the language. Winter is a dark time and midwinter festivals are there to bring light and celebration.
This week’s blog is about the midwinter festivals we celebrated as a family, our polyglot Christmas.
As a German and English family we celebrated St Nikolaus Day on 6th December. Here is a video of us finding our boots the next day.

 

We’ve done this since our children were young. It’s just what we do as family at that time of year. My middle daughter often gets embarrassed about being different, but she was really pleased to discover a few of her Polish friends celebrated St Nikolaus day, too.
Our local church held a St Lucia celebration. I was so keen to see it for myself, having heard a few others talk about it. Here is the video of the event.


After this brilliant celebration we shared some typical Swedish food together and we had the chance to talk to some children who are bilingual Swedish and English. They love that they can have lives in both countries. One girl talked with glee about the summer house her family have in Northern Sweden.

 

As a family we also light the lights of Hanukkah, remembering how God provided for his people when their temple was destroyed. Eight nights of remembering God’s goodness and the chance to learn a bit of Hebrew together.
We celebrated Christmas in the UK with my parents with English Christmas carols and mostly English traditions, though they did pick us up a few times for answering them in German. Have you had a polyglot Christmas? Let us know in the comments below.
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I hope you and your family have had a lovely Christmas. It just remains for our family to wish you and your family a very happy and blessed new year.

Sarah, Maik and family.

Shine light in the darkness -Martinstag

Today we met with lots of other German families to celebrate St Martin’s day. (Martinstag) This is commonly celebrated by all in Germany whether they go to church or not.

Sankt Martin

We heard the story of St Martin.

Sendung mit der Maus

He choose to share what he had with a beggar. In that sharing of his cloak he gave the man warmth and comfort. He stopped what he was doing to make a difference for that one man and so is still remembered today for his kindness.

German children remember this by making lanterns and walking in the dark singing songs.

During the service the children were asked about people having difficulties who needed God’s light to shine on them. The children wanted to remember those without homes, Oma and Opa, those who were sick, soldiers and those in Paris.

Kerzen

After the service we went out with about other families to shine our lights into the darkness.

We sung

“Ich gehe mit meiner Laterne,und meine Laterne mit mir,
Da oben leuchten die Sterne und unter da leuchten wir.
Mein Licht ist aus ich gehe nach Haus
rabimmel, rabammel rabumm – bumbum!”

“Laterne, laterne, Sonne Mond und Sterne!
Brenne auf mein Licht, brenne auf mein Licht aber nur meine liebe Laterne nicht!
Laterne, Laterne, Sonne, Mond und Sterne”

“This little light of mine,
I’m going to let it shine.
This little light of mine,
I’m going to let it shine.
Let it shine, let shine, let it shine”

There were lots of home made lanterns from the very basic to intricate 3D foxes. We had some Oma sent with electric candles. We have used real candles before but they set on fire and had to be stamped out!!

We do this each year as a chance to meet with other German speaking families. It is a great visual reminder of how even a little light makes a difference in the darkness.

Do you celebrate Martinstag with your family?
How do you pass on your culture to your children?

Let us know in the comments below.

Lingotastic visits Language Show Live

This weekend we went to the Language Show Live. The WHOLE family.

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I’ve been chatting to and working with some brilliant language teaching and learning professionals via social media and the Language show is a brilliant opportunity to meet them face to face. (and take some silly photos)


I was really pleased to find out the amazing Natalie who drives her bus full of French books to venues in the North East would be there.She loves picture books and puppets like me!
We were really fortunate to catch up with the inspirational guys from Chatterbags. A brilliant tool to get people talking, whatever language they speak.
We also were fortunate enough to meet up with the inspirational ladies at KidsLingo and share ideas.
You may have noticed we had a lot of fun.

My girls loved the show too. Their brief for the show was to search out resources their school may like to use and they had a lot of fun along the way.
The picture is them playing with the Languagenut game .I was really impressed to see how well they read and understood German as we’ve done no formal lessons with them yet. They visited the FlashSticks stand and had a look at the app there.

They really enjoyed looking at the books at Little Linguist and European Schoolbooks. They said the language show was like a big party with sweets and balloons. They had lot more fun than I thought they would and want to come back next year. As a parent I was so pleased they are so open the different cultures and languages.

My year 11 son is thinking about TEFL so the Language Show Live was a brilliant opportunity to find out more from one of the many TEFL stands there and the seminar on “an impartial guide to TEFL qualifications” He now has a good idea of his next steps if he wants to do this which is a great place to be in.

It was Maik’s first visit to Language Show Live. He was really impressed at the massive range of resources available and excited to meet so many people enthusiastic about learning languages.

We went along to a brilliant seminar with the Goethe Institut with some brilliant ideas for developing literacy in the classroom. It was a packed interactive seminar and we had a had big surprise afterwards as we were given something to take home with us!

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We ended our day at the Language show with a visit to the pub with some other linguists and language entrepreneurs. Angelika, Lindsay and Kirsten who are brilliant language language tutors. It was a brilliant end to a brilliant day.

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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!

Teddy’s Tips for Language Learning (Part two)

This week we’re lucky to have the second part of an interview with Teddy from Teddy Nee’s Language Blog. If you missed the first one you can read it here.
Teddy is a native of Medan city, Indonesia, who loves writing as much as language learning.Teddy Pic

Great to interview you again Teddy.
What do you think is the importance of learning a foreign language?

How many people around you who know multiple languages? By the word “know”, I mean being able to hold conversation related to basic topics, such as self-introduction or expressing oneself. Have you ever asked them about their language learning story?
I used to question myself, “What motivates someone to learn foreign languages when many people already know English, which they might have learnt for years from school?”
Although English has been used in major international activities, not everyone speaks English. Many people know English, but not everyone speaks it well.
Let’s say a Korean meets a German, they might speak English with their accents, which could be difficult to be understood by each other. Moreover, things might be worse when they speak English with their own mindset. Imagine one is speaking indirectly meanwhile the other is the opposite, despite speaking the same language, they might not have common understanding.

Could you tell our readers which languages you have learned so far?

How do you start learning a new language?
Before learning a language, I usually begin by reading the country profile, including its language and the culture of the people. Afterwards, I would read travel phrases or play with words. I believe that when you learn a language, you don’t learn only about the grammatical structure or words, but you also learn about its culture. You learn about what makes the language alive and being used over centuries.
Many people learn foreign languages nowadays, making foreign languages part of our life. The Internet has abundant of learning resources, articles, or even free/ paid courses, but many people still cannot learn successfully. Imagine that you are still hungry despite having many plates of food served on your table. Something is wrong!
When a student don’t excel at school, parents cannot blame solely at teachers, or cannot even blame the teachers. It is always better to be an independent learner, as we know ourselves better than anyone else.
Which languages do you suggest to people to learn?
I once read that English, German, French, Spanish, and Chinese Mandarin are considered five important languages for business. Well, you might argue with me about the data accuracy, and I am totally fine with that since everyone might come up with their own conclusion about which language being the important.
However, I strongly agree that Western European languages, such as German, Spanish, Portuguese, or French, and East Asian languages, such as Korean, Japanese, or Chinese Mandarin, are favorited languages for many learners.
You can see from the mentioned set of languages that many of them come from the same language family. One advantage of learning one of them is that it enables you to understand to some degree other languages from the same family, even without learning them. For example, Portuguese speakers will understand Spanish easier than Dutch.

Thanks for sharing your ideas Teddy. Your love of languages is infectious.

If you’d like to hear more from Teddy check out Teddy Nee’s Language Blog.

Singing four languages in forty minutes.

Yesterday as a family we went along to a multicultural, multinational event called Go Fest.

As a family we think it is very important for our children to see and experience different cultures.
We went along to a multicultural concert by Resonance
Resonance

In forty minutes we had learned and sung along in Farsi, Hindi, Bemba and Urdu. My young girls were soon singing along and shaking their shakers. They loved the Indian drum and handheld Indian cymbals. We found a few phrases we recognised like “Jai Ho” There was a lot of repetition of phrases which really helped us pick the songs up quickly. Us older ones had a lot of fun as well!

One of the group, Rob Baker is an Ethnomusicologist. He studies music in it’s cultural context and spent a long time in West Africa capturing local music and helping people compose songs in their own language. Exciting stuff!

Music is a brilliant way to engage with other cultures and languages. Is there an event you know about your family can join in? Let us know how it goes!

Resonance
run song writing workshops encouraging groups to write songs in their native language and so strengthen their cultural identity. The band are from Singapore, Britain, Italy and Germany. Some of the band members have spent a lot of time in Mali and Tibet and so studied the culture and music of the countries.

Conchita Wurst and Döner to go

Last weekend we really enjoyed watching Eurovision. We were chatting to some friends and it led to a discussion on Eurovision entries and singing in your native language. Of the 40 entries to Eurovision only 10 were not in English and only 4 of those made it to the final.

I think this is part of a bigger picture of English creeping into other languages.
We were in Germany at Easter, in my husband’s home town. On a visit into town one day, I was shocked by the amount of English in everyday use in Germany. In a five hundred metre stretch of High Street I took these photos.

A few were simply importing English names and phrases such as…

A few more were English phrases with German added such as…

Most were a weird German/ English mix which make no sense at all in English. Maybe a new language called Denglish?


(You may need to click on the thumbnails to see the picture in full)

To be honest, as I speak both languages I did not notice some of these until I started looking! If you’ve noticed why I’ve included these pictures, let me know in the comments below!

On chatting to another German friend, I think the main reason is that English is “cool”. The younger generation like to be different to others so they use their own words, and marketing is quick to pick up on this.

David Bellos in his book “Is that a fish in your ear?” states that the purpose of language is not mutual understanding but forming a sense of community by excluding others who do not speak that language. Evidence of that is in regional dialects and the fact that some words have different meanings to different sub-cultures.

The English language has a long history of borrowing and incorporating words from other languages such as Latin, Saxon, French and many more.

Cultural fashions change. Two hundred years ago French was the language that influenced others. Who knows what it will be in fifty years time?

Languages often have their own culture attached to them. So with singing in Eurovision or even bringing across foreign words to your language, is something being lost or are languages enriched by this sharing? Let us know what you think in the comments below.

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