Tag Archives: Dutch

Language learning is THE best way to make friends.

I originally wrote this blog two years ago as a guest post for FlashSticks. I’ve brought it up to date now. It’s exciting to see how my language learning has progressed in that time…

I’m starting to realise I may be a bit of language nerd. I’ve been thinking recently as to why people learn a language. I think for me the greatest reason is that it gives me the chance to make friends. I’m a really relational person and language learning is great for this. As Nelson Mandela said “If you talk to a man in a language he understands, that goes to his head. If you talk to him in his language it goes to his heart”

As I walk my children in to school I often say good morning in about four languages to the other parents and children. dzień dobry, bună dimineața, jó reggelt, As- Salàmu ’Alaykum, доброе утро, dobrý deň, Guten Morgen, zăo sháng hăo !

At my children’s school, there are parents and children whose main languages are Polish, Hungarian, Mandarin, Russian, German, Romanian, Slovak, Urdu, Arabic, Ukrainian or French.

In September, my daughter returned to school, after the summer holidays. She had three children in her class who’d just arrived in the country and spoke no English. The children taught each other to say “good morning” in their own languages. I was really impressed by this mutual language teaching at age 7 and also the way the new children were welcomed into the class. I decided I could do this too, and learn to say at least good morning or simple greetings in these languages.

I started to chat to the new families and learned how to say good morning. I thought language learning would be a great way to get to know other families in the school. It’s been a fun journey. I’ve spoken the wrong language to people a few times and sometime pronounced so badly they did not know what I was saying! The Urdu and Arabic speaking mums automatically respond to me with “Wa ’Alaykum us Salam,” then realise it’s me speaking and look a bit confused or giggle! In time they’ve got used to it though!

On the whole people have been really pleased to teach me a few words of their language and laughed with me as I stumbled over the new expressions. It empowers them and builds their confidence as they are the experts in this area. Some of the mums are new to the country, learning English, and they like the fact that I take the time to talk with them and try to understand what they are saying. I, myself have struggled with communication in other languages, so I’m patient!

Cup of tea anyone?

I’ve discovered our local Big Issue seller is Romanian and she has taught me:

Hello Buna dimineata

Goodbye La revedere

I’ve been practicing and improving my Polish with the help of the staff at the local Polish Deli. Through spending time with them I’m getting to know them better especially those who only speak a little English. Other customers in the shop are noticing, too, and will speak to me in Polish if they see me on the High Street, which I love.

I’ve a few Thai girl friends so I always greet them with Sawatdee-kah.

We have Greek friends in church so I greet them with Καλημέρα Τι κάνεις: I’ve also discovered a few of my friends speak Afrikaans so I try my Dutch on them, which often works. In my daughter’s new school we have Spanish, Hungarian and Portuguese speakers, so I try to use these languages whenever I can.

I’ve met Russian, Swedish and Tagalog speaking parents at my local mums and toddlers group and am slowly learning words from them.

I’m enjoying building my own language skills and making friends, too. Do you have anyone you can get to know better by learning their language? I’d love to know how it goes!

Betty and Cat – Hennie’s Multilingual writing adventures

This week I have a real treat in store for you. An interview with the amazing Hennie, author of the Betty and Cat books.

Could you tell us a little about yourself?
I was born in Holland, immigrated to Montreal, then lived in Toronto, moved back to Holland when I had a mid-life crisis, and now spend my time between Holland and France.

How many languages do you speak?
I speak Dutch, French, and English. I studied German, but for some reason, the words won’t come out of my mouth properly! My current thing is learning Spanish.

Have you always been keen on languages?
I’ve always been keen on communicating, and sometimes it takes another language. At home, languages were always a thing – my dad was keen – he spoke four and started learning Spanish at an advanced age. He also thought Esperanto was the way forward and learned that.
Living in Montreal at a time when the English were in power, we were the only family I knew that had Francophone friends. We were different, they were different, and the people we lived among (the Anglophones) must have thought that we were different. Somehow, that ended up making us more tolerant, and I think more interesting in the long run.

Could you tell us a little about your language learning journey as a child,
Learning English (there were three of us kids; my parents already spoke school-English when we immigrated) was always fun at home. We shared stories, we showed off, we were shown off (I remember my dad having me recite Humpty Dumpty into a tape recorder for the folks back in Holland). It was never considered a chore, hard, un-fun, or extraordinary.
New year’s day we had Dutch friends for lunch and ended the day with French friends. My husband is American. So: we started the day in English, nattered in Dutch over lunch, spoke French all evening, and then went home talking English. There are millions of people all over the word who live like this, and were probably never taught to make a big deal of it. It just happens.

Could you tell us a little about your career background?
I was a copywriter all my working life. My greatest joy was writing a two-part children’s story for the newspapers around the Santa Claus Parade, sponsored by the department store I was working for. I even got a fan letter.
What inspired you to write and publish your books?
A friend here in France, an illustrator who has grandchildren growing up bilingually in Brussels, asked me if we couldn’t collaborate on a bilingual kids’ book. She ended up being too busy to illustrate it – but I caught the bug, and did it. Not for a second, though, did I consider a translated book – the Betty & Cat books just flopped out in two languages.

Anything else you’d wish to add?
There are so many people around the globe working with kids – and adults – teaching second, third and more languages it gives you hope for the future. Tout comprendre c’est tout pardonner. And one way to truly understand is to learn the language.

Find out more about Hennie’s amazing books at bettyandcat.com

The worlds most stolen painting and flemish family frolics

Having seen a BBC programme about Renaissance art  in Europe, we simply had to stop off in Ghent on our yearly trip to Oma’s home in Germany. So this post is about the worlds most stolen painting and Flemish family frolics It is a very long drive from the UK, so a stop-off on the way is very welcome. familysmall

As a family of five it is often tricky to find a room for us. We found a brilliant room at the Hotel Onderbergen as it had a six bed room. The bedroom was really modern, with a double bed and two roomy bunk beds. We chose the bed and breakfast option for our one night stay. There was lots of local food on offer as well as a full Irish breakfast. It was really easy to find the hotel when we finally arrived in Ghent it and has secure on site parking which was perfect for us. The location was brilliant. It was only a two minute walk from the old town centre.

During our overnight stay in Ghent we visited the three main churches: Saint Bavo’s Cathedral, Saint Nicholas Church and Saint Michaels Church all with amazing architecture and decoration.

The main reason for our visit was to see the world’s most stolen piece of artwork. It is now protected by bulletproof glass and in a secure room: the altar piece by Jan and Hubert van Eyck  It is named the 1045_pp_ghent_overallAdoration of the Mystic Lamb, and better known as the Ghent Altarpiece of 1432. It  is an amazing work of art which illustrates Christian teaching for both the literate and illiterate. It shows people from all nations and backgrounds coming together to worship the lamb who was slain. It was awe-inspiring, simply by its size. The amount of detail was phenomenal. The longer you looked at it, the more there was to see. It kept the attention of my seven and nine year olds for ten minutes, which says a lot. We talked together about what we could see and bought a sticker book of the painting for the children do on the journey home.

In the other churches we looked at very ornate silver and gold chalices and articles used during communion. There was also a beautiful display of very ornate vestments made by very skilled craftsmen and women. The churches in Ghent were a display of the best work by those who were the most skilled of their time in many different fields.

We could not visit Ghent without trying the food and the language. As you need to speak to order food, these go well together. I was so pleased my Flemish is now good enough to order a coffee or two!
“Twee koffie alstublieft”

Although understanding how much money I owe them is still a challenge.

We attempted to order a children’s meal, which resulted in a LOT of hilarity! fritjes

„Een kiddie alstublieft.“

Other useful words

alstublieft            please (polite)

dank u   thank you

waar zijn de toiletten, alstublieft?             where are the toilets, please?

spreekt u Engels?             do you speak English?

ik spreek een heel klein beetje Nederlands          I only speak very little Dutch

For more basic dutch phrases check out https://www.speaklanguages.com/dutch/phrases/basic-phrases

We really enjoyed our short trip to Ghent. Have you visited Ghent? Did we miss any must-see places?

Language learning with bilingual animals? Whatever next!

Regular readers of our blog will know we love books so when Hennie asked us to review this book I was excited to find out more. Language learning with bilingual animals? Whatever next!

Il neige chez Betty and Cat In the snow by Hennie Jacobs and Christine Duvernois

Betty and Cat

Betty and Cat

It is a really interesting concept I’d not come across before. Hennie contacted me about her books and I was very interested to find out more.

In this story, Betty the dog and cat have lots of fun/ don’t want to play in the snow. It’s a fun story as Betty eventually shows cat how much fun snow can be (If you dress for the weather) hilarity ensues as they find ways to stay warm whilst they explore the beautiful snowy landscape outside the front door.

Hennie describes the books as follows: Betty & Cat is a series of children’s books that reflect the way today’s children play with language. You won’t find a translation, just two animals communicating: Cat in English and Betty in Dutch or French depending on the book.
I found it a bit strange to start with, never having come across a book like it before. As a multilingual family, we do often have conversations in two languages at the same time. For our family, this is very normal but I’ve never seen it on paper. Nathalia’s CD does this a lot.
My daughters had a look with me, and commented on the beautiful pictures. As a mum of children who have always loved to read (sometimes the same book over and over!) the illustration of the book is very very important.
This books helps bilingual children to see how normal and acceptable it is to switching between the two languages. This is often needed as bilingual children get older and want to fit in with their peers.
These books offer adults the opportunity to participate in the bilingual experience of the children. If relatives only speak one language they are still able to share a story with the child.

The books are also good for children who are struggling with learning English and who may not see the point of learning another language. The fun of the stories brings learning in by stealth, part of the everyday family life, in my opinion the best way to learn together as a family.

The books are a really interesting concept and a fun way to bring language learning into everyday. Have a look for yourself on http://www.bettyandcat.com/

The books are available in Spanish/English and Spanish French, as well as Dutch/French and the usual English with French, Dutch, or Spanish.

To find out more check out http://www.bettyandcat.com/

Is that the mummy of Kleiner weißer Fisch?

kleiner-weisser-fisch

This weeks book is Kleiner weißer Fisch by Guido von Genechten published by ArsEdition

I’d love to tell you about my favourite German picture book. I first came across it in our local library who had it on loan from bright books. It is a beautiful, colourful board book written for native German speakers over two years.

The story follows the adventures of a little white fish who has lost his mummy. The text invites you get involved in the story “Is this the mummy of the little white fish?” No spoilers but it has a happy ending!

It has lots of repetition so it is quickly understood. I’ve used this book in a library setting and none native German speakers quickly joined in with ja and nein.

Through the story you will learn the names of the sea creatures in German, colours and yes and no. You will hear how questions are asked in German. My daughters learned their colours in German with the help of this book and bath fizzers (but that is another story)

I’ve used it with children up to eight years who have no previous knowledge of German. As you can see I use lots of props so the children can match the animal to the one in the story. I made my own little white fish. It is a really fun interactive story when can be enjoyed again and again.

This book was originally written in Dutch and I’ve also found a translation in French if these are your target languages.

I hope this blog has inspired you to share stories with your little one, however young or old they are.

You can buy your own copy here.

If you’d like to hear me reading the story in German. Have a look here.

If you missed the last picture book review have a look here.

Do you have any picture books you would recommend and why?

OPOL or bust? What’s the best method for language learning?

I’ve heard it said many times that one parent one language (OPOL) is the best if not only way of family language learning. It is often held up as the Holy Grail of bilingual families.
In our home OPOL was not possible, as my husband was not keen to do this. He’d only lived in England two years by then and felt consolidating his English was most important. I’m native English and had studied German to GCSE, so started to pass on what I knew when our son was small. Maik did help me work on my German, so me and my son were learning together. We found some French books in a local shop when he was a little over a year and we started to read those to him now and again.

Il fait comment le caméléon?

Il fait comment le caméléon?


It was all very ad hoc, and in the very early internet days we did not come across anyone doing the same. I just felt it was important so we shared German books together, recited days of the week in the car, sung along to nursery rhyme CDs, counted on the swings, played with toys which spoke German and watched German DVDs together as well as German satellite TV. My thinking was to give as much language exposure as possible which he could build on in school. Yearly visits to Germany provided a good chance for him to meet German speaking people and practice speaking. Food vocab was considered most important! We celebrated German festivals like Martinstag and Nikolaustag together. It was hard work and I was not sure how much difference it was making.
A few years later my girls were born and I met a few German speaking mums with similar age children. It was so encouraging to be able to speak to someone outside our family in German and talk with them about how they brought German into their family. We shared books, DVDs and CDs which was great. We also found out about a German Lutheran church about an hour away so we were able to join with them for Martinstag and Nikolaustag.Nikolaus Boots
My children are not fluent in German but can understand a lot and communicate in the country. My son can easily pick up native accents (and mimic regional accents too) and speaks better Dutch than his parents. I put this down to hearing and using a few languages from a young age. My six year old was astounded when I told her some families only speak English.

So back to the opening question, OPOL or bust? What’s the best method for language learning?
I think there is no best way of family language learning. Raising multilingual children is a flexible and very personal process, do what works for you and your family, make it part of your lifestyle. It needs to be something which works for you and your family in the long term.
Bilingualism is a massive asset to your children in the long term and as parents we are so fortunate to be able to give it to our children. Just do what works for you all and enjoy the journey together.

What has been your family experience? We’d love to hear from you in the comments below, or you could even write us a guest blog.

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.

Links

There are some brilliant language learning resources out there. As a parent raising bilingual children I know how difficult it can be to find resources suitable for children.
Here are a few and some with special Lingotastic discounts to tempt you further…

At Lingotastic we sing and play in English, German, French and Spanish so I’m so pleased to recommend The Little Linguist’s Alphabet poster created by the lovely Una. The Little Linguist’s Alphabet is a multilingual alphabet with 26 objects that all start with the same letter as their translations in English, French, Spanish, Portuguese, German and Dutch. Now D is always for Dinosaur, and P is always for Princess, no matter which combination of these languages your little linguist speaks.

loveyrlingoclose

Una is an English (Irish) speaking mum with a French speaking husband. Her children found if confusing that U is for umbrella with mummy but with papa it is P pour parapluie. She created this alphabet so in English, French, Spanish, Portuguese, German and Dutch. D is always for Dinosaur. With original illustrations, this print makes a stunning addition to any child’s bedroom or playroom. All the words for each language are printed around the edge to help the grown-ups! This beautiful poster is available on www.loveyourlingo.com

Singing is my favourite way of learning a language so here are some CD’s both me and the families coming to Lingotastic classes would recommend.

Babi Bach CD
The lovely Penni from Babi Bach has produced a brilliant bilingual Welsh and English album. Here is our interview
The album is currently available for download through most major sites including Amazonand Spotify. CDs can be ordered directly from Penni (info@babibach.co.uk) and in some South Wales shops. CDs will also be available shortly through Siop Mabon a Mabli online.

a little mandarinA Little Mandarin produce a fun funky CD of both familiar and traditional Chinese songs to expose little ones to mandarin from a young age, to help them “tune in” to the language. The songs are really funky so it’s fun for grown ups as well as little ones. My family used this CD and within five weeks had picked up four songs. As Mandarin is so different to European languages there is real value to very early exposure to it so, when they encounter it later in life it feels familiar and they can pick it up more easily. The album is also available on Deezer and Spotify.

Bilingual by music kids song swedish and english illustrated by asa wikman 2 © asa wikman If you fancy learning some Swedish or Danish, Kristin at Bilingual By Music has produced some gorgeous bilingual CDs with familiar songs. You’ll be singing along in no time… I’ve a few Swedish speaking mummies who rave over these CDs. They’re also available on i tunes Spotify and Amazon. Read our interview with Kristin here

Baby Boom Boom produce some baby friendly, sing along CD’s to introduce babies and little ones to other languages early in life, the songs are familiar sung in both English and the target language. The CD features nursery rhymes and songs in English and a second language. Currently you can choose from English and either French, Spanish, Italian, German, Polish, Chinese Mandarin, Scottish Gaelic or Welsh. Exclusive code from Lingotastic. Use the code lingo10 for a 10% discount.

This summer we found out about a brilliant new Spanish CD by Nathalia. When I was your age.Cuando Era Pequeña“> Cuando era Pequeña.
Cuando Era Pequeña Check out our review of it here.

You may have noticed I like Flash Sticks! 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). We interviewed Vejay about the concept read about it here.

Early language learning is all about having fun. Toys that talk and sing in another language really fit the bill there and Rachel’s Toy Shop sell some beautiful ones. Simply mention “Lingotastic” in the comments box when ordering to get to a 10% discount AND your postage refunded!

Mommies Tongue. Stock a brilliant range of bilingual toys as well as multilingual puzzles and games for older children too. Brilliant resources to pick up and practice language whilst simply having fun! We bought a Polish singing Teddy from them a while back and my six year old now knows the alphabet in Polish! We were learning the German alphabet and I was surprised how much she knew. It’s what my teddy bear sings she told me!

Renze at Babeltots has a massive range of beautiful bilingual toys and books.

The_Rights_of_the_Language_Learner_-_b_small_publishing[1] Reading together is a brilliant way to increase your little one’s language skills. It’s a good way to sneak a hug from a lively toddler too! b small publishing Produce some beautifully illustrated books in French, English and Spanish. They range from simple one word vocab books like “les vêtements” perfect for toddlers and new language learners, to bilingual story books, perfect to snuggle up and read together. They also have some brilliant activity books for older children. Sam at b small publishing has offered Lingotastic customers an amazing 10% discount.
Simply email sh@bsmall.co.uk and quote LINGOTASTIC to place your order.

I’ve bought some beautiful foreign language books from Little Linguist They’ve offered Lingotastic customers a special discount. E mail us to get the special code

Chatterbags make some brilliant tote bags to get people chatting, whatever language they speak. Simply tick which languages you speak, use the bag whilst out and about and get chatting. Mention Lingotastic when you place your order.
Chatterbags blog

Chatterbags

Chatterbag

All these businesses started when a parent or individual saw a need for language learning resources and decided they would find a way to meet it. We’ll be sharing their inspirational stories on our blog!