Tag Archives: English

Learning OR playing, why choose?

games

At Lingotastic we love languages and always on the lookout for resources that will help with language learning. My daughter was over the moon to be asked to review a game.

We were sent two of the products from the Pic’n Mix range, Little Fashionista and Smart Watch.

 

Packaging

They are in good solid packaging so much less likely to get damaged than in a cardboard box. The cute carry handle lends itself to a take out toy for the times a quiet toy is needed, like parent’s evening for the older children  or quiet church service. The toy  is made of durable plastic  pieces which stick together with velcro. A multilingual instruction booklet is included, the translations are likely not done by a native speaker, but on the whole is understandable.

Play of game

Little fashionista is a simple doll dressing game which can either be played by matching the pieces on the game card or dressing the boy or girl as you wish.

Smart Watch is a clock face with numbers, countable pictures and scenes from daily routine to match to times.

Educational use

As we played together with the Little Fashionista game we talked about what we saw and named the clothing in English, we talked about the weather that the clothes were suited for and moved on to naming the items of clothing in German and French. We talked about the colours of clothes in English, German and French.

 

As we played the Smart Watch game we started by assembling the clock face and identifying the numbers. I put the counting pieces on the clock face in random places and my  daughter swapped them for the correct numbers , we  then moved them to the correct places on the clock. We played in English and German. We talked about daily routine and put the pictures on the clock to best match her routine. We used the clock handles to tell the time in English and German.

The game has many opportunities for learning together through play, whatever the language. So learning OR playing, why choose?

 

I asked my daughter what she thought and  she said “I think they are really good and I liked to play with them.”

My thoughts as a mum and teacher are “I like their simplicity and versatility. I may have to borrow the games for my one to one classes.”

Would you like to get them for your little one?

Here are the links

Let us know how you use them to learn together.

We were sent this games by Pic’n Mix to review. The opinions in this article are our own.

 

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?

 

 

Detecting with Dotty

Detecting with Dotty

Detecting with Dotty

Reading is a brilliant way to improve language skills. As a parent I love to encourage my children to read.  This is our Emily’s first ever book review. I’ve interviewed her to keep it simple.

What did you think of the book?
It was interesting. The part where Dotty has to guess the hidden code is very funny. (She was laughing out loud at this point!)

What do you think of the cover?
It was clever as she is called Dotty the detective and there are gold shiny dots. The cover matches her top in the picture.

What was your favourite bit and why?
The part where Dotty tries to guess the hidden code and gets it wrong and when McClusky joins in the singing on the stage.

Who is your favourite character and why?
I like McClusky (the dog), Dotty and Beans. McClusky is my very favourite as he saves the day and is very cute.

How would you persuade your friends to read this book?
I would say, “It’s good because there are some funny bits and some bits you’ll really enjoy”.
I think it is a book for boys and girls because McClusky is a boy and Dotty is a girl.

When I first showed Emily the book she was a bit intimidated by the length of it but, I suggested we could sit together and I would listen to her read a few chapters each evening. This worked really well and she really enjoyed the book.

Have we inspired you to read this book?

Get your copy here.

 

 

We were sent this book to review by  the Big Shot. The opinions given are entirely our own.

What does your family like to read? Let us know in the comments below.

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.

Why learn languages?

This week my friend Teddy Nee from Nee’s language blog talks about the value of learning languages

“Why should you bother learning another language when you already know English?”
Someone might have ever asked this question to you before, and how did you react to it? Or let’s assume nobody had asked this question to you, how would you answer it when you are asked?

I was frequently asked by either my friends or acquaintances why do you learn languages. They know and we all know that I know English because if you can understand this text, it means that I know English. Having been asked that question, I have only one answer, “Not everyone is eager to speak English or can express themselves well in English.”

We should accept the fact that nowadays we can get information from other countries in other languages much easier than, let’s say, 20 years ago. It mainly because of the internet. The internet has really changed our way of life, and it even has created so many jobs that weren’t existed before. I work as an IT engineer, and it is not easy to explain about what I really do to my parents, or even to my grandparents because what I am doing did not exist in their time when they were at my age.

So, this easy access to information has caused globalization to happen where companies can establish partnership with overseas companies, and have the ability to expand their market even to much larger scope, not to mention inter countries, but inter continents.

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English as a universal language
English language which originated from England has apparently became a universal language that two persons from different countries would use to communicate unconsciously because they thought English is supposed to be the language that everyone understands for international communication.

If you often gather information from the internet, you must have realized that most contents are available in English. Therefore, if you know English, you can get much more information that those who don’t know English. That’s the fact! However, I need to remind you that there is still limitation for using English to search for information, especially if the information is more personal that only speakers of the original language could have the privilege for the access.

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Taking part in an international community
When we discuss about a universal language, a question might occur in mind, that is “What is a truly universal language?” and “How do we define a universal language?”. The United Nations even has 6 official languages — English, Mandarin, Spanish, French, Arabic, and Russian. We might also be intrigued to talk about a constructed language for international communication, Esperanto.

Esperanto speakers around the world have been vigorously promoting Esperanto as the language for international communication. Nowadays, we can see many activities done in Esperanto, such as activities related to education, charity, science research, journalism, commerce, and so on. Although there are quite a lot of people who are still pessimistic and skeptical about Esperanto language being a human communication tool.

We need to have more knowledge about other language in order to get access to much more information, and to be able to get to know more people from other countries, especially those who don’t speak English or our languages. On top of that, language learning is like an investment. Spending a little time and effort to learn a language that you could use for your whole life doesn’t seem to be a big deal.

Books

Choosing a language to learn
When you search for, let’s say, top 10 most favorited languages in the world, top 10 languages with the most speakers, top 10 languages for job seekers, etc. you can get abundant of results. The most important is to know your goal, whether you want to learn the language because there is more job opportunities in your area or you want to learn the language that is completely different from that you have known or you want to learn a language that is similar with that you have known. Deciding the goal is the very first thing you need to do.

If you like challenge, you should choose to learn language from other language family. For example, if you know English, you can pick Hindi, Mandarin or Russian as your target language. If you want to quickly reach higher level of understanding in other language, you should choose to learn language from the same language family. For example, if you know Spanish, you can choose to learn Italian, Portuguese or French.

There is actually a rule of thumb that many language courses don’t teach you. If you want to impress your friends with the amount of languages that you know, learn languages from the same family group because they share so many similarities that you even already can understand a big portion of it without learning. Thus, it is not surprising to know a someone who knows 5-6 languages but those languages are from the same language family.

Depending on your geographical location, some languages might not be useful. Let’s say you will spend some months in Latin America. Your focus should be Spanish rather than Japanese, and perhaps, the second language could be Portuguese. However, any languages will likely be useful if your activities are internet-based since the majority of people around the world have had access to internet nowadays.

So I ask again. Why learn languages? Knowing more languages is always beneficial. Apart from giving you more opportunities to enjoy what speakers of those languages can enjoy, you can also enrich yourself by broaden your viewpoint and increasing your skills. Learning language also trains your brain and it certainly increase your intelligence. No wonder, many articles state the benefits of knowing more languages as if there is no downside of it.

Teddy loves to learn languages.

Teddy loves to learn languages.

Teddy Nee is a passionate language learner and blogger. An IT Engineer by day and a language learner by night. His mission is to raise awareness of the importance of knowing more languages and to educate more people to be global citizens. He believes that learning the language of the others is a milestone to reach world peace. You can correspond with him in Medan Hokkien, Indonesian, English, Chinese Mandarin, Spanish, and Esperanto. Visit his blog at Nee’s language blog.

Learn to sing Twinkle Twinkle in five languages

Love singing? Join us to learn to sing Twinkle twinkle in five languages. You’ll be a polyglot before you know it!

In English

In German

In Spanish

In Esperanto

In Mandarin

You may notice the translations have slightly different meanings. Song translation is tricky. We tend to go with the feeling of the song and flow over direct translation.

Which language do you prefer to sing it in? Let us know in the comments below.

Remembrance Sunday . Don’t mention the war!

PoppiesAs I bought a poppy the other day I chatted to the bloke selling them.  It’s a bit complicated in our house as we’re English and German and any mention of the war can be a bit emotive amongst the older British generation.

Having said that, we really enjoy the Fawlty Towers episode “the Germans

Don’t mention zee vor!

My grandparents were farming in Lincolnshire during World War II and my husband’s grandfather was a German soldier. My mum in law has a really old book full of cigarette cards which were popular collectables as Hitler was rising to power.

Osnabruck-Rathaus-building

We were married in a registry office rebuilt in 1954 after it was bombed . We’ve visited a u-boot in Bremerhaven. Which likely bombed British boats in WW2

 

Our children thought nothing of being German and English (except when it comes to football) but, whilst visiting my parents a few years ago they watched an old war film. A character shouted “watch out the Germans are coming” which my girls picked up and kept saying it to daddy!

 

So what is Remembrance Sunday about?

 

As a family we talk about the brave soldiers who fight so we may have peace. To us remembrance Sunday is a time to say thank you for the great sacrifices they have made whatever side they fought on.

 

What do your family do on remembrance Sunday?

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!

FlashSticks new app. A review

This week we have a review of the new sparkly FlashSticks app.
If you follow me on Twitter you’ll already know I’m 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!
On a windy day outside I’ve almost lost them a few times!

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froid

When I heard Flash Sticks were creating a new app I was so excited. I was NOT disappointed.

It launched only few weeks ago and Francesco challenged me to a competition. Being the competitive person I am, I could not resist! Guess what, I got more points than him 🙂

Lingotastic runs in six week blocks of French, German and Spanish. We’ve just started a block of Spanish and this has been a great way to tune into Spanish again. As any polyglot will tell you your strongest language often comes to mind first, so it takes practice to suppress this and the app has been a brilliant help for me to do this for this block.

 

So here is my review of the app.

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There is a “learn words” function which allows you to flick through the words before playing the games.

la barba

el pie

el pie

guapa

My favourite game is word flash. I really like that it shows the colour of the FlashSticks to help you remember their gender. The music is very reminiscent of countdown and keeps you focused.

The other game is “word drop”. A good way to test and improve your spelling of the new words, against a clock. The music for this is really feel-good and makes me smile.

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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 (maybe elves?) the app tells you what it is in English and your chosen language.
Here are a few I took to try and fool the scanner.

Anyway, what are you waiting for?
Download the app for FREE and try it for yourself. Check out FlashSticks.com.
Let me know in the comments how you get on.
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?

Ukrainian, Russian and English with Mykhalo and Anna

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Hnatyev Family

This week I have to pleasure of interviewing two friends of mine, Anna and Mykaylo about their language learning journey and speaking three languages at home.

Hi Mykhaylo and Anna. Could you tell me a little about your language learning journey?
Mykhaylo: I was born and brought up in Ukraine to Russian speaking parents. At home we spoke Russian and I went to a Russian school in the Ukraine. We were taught French and English in School but as I lived in a Soviet Country the furthest I expected to travel to was Poland so it was purely academic subject with little use outside of school.
Anna: I was born in Moldova to Russian speaking parents. I studied Romanian in school as an additional language I learned some English at school. I went to university in Romania and really found it difficult to understand what was happening. As I read for my assignments I would have a dictionary in my hand to look up what each word meant. I also studied German at university.

Do you think children can be introduced to languages from a young age?
Our Children spoke Ukrainian and Russian at home. Our elder son studied Helen Doren English at Nursery school. We were shocked when we heard nursery rhymes in the UK and we recognised them like Humpty Dumpty and Jack and Jill.
As multilingual parents how do you keep three languages working at home, especially with your children attending an English school
Mykaylo: We are mostly focusing on Russian speaking at home Russian speaking television programmes online about travelling to other countries and reading books in Ukrainian to keep the language. He is concerned when going to the Ukraine he can’t speak to his friends. He may continue to learn Russian but to write Russian has lots of rules. He will need to do additional exercises to learn Russian properly or it will be a terrible mess. Many younger Ukrainians and speak Russian well but when I comes to writing it is a different thing.
Anna: Our youngest boy gets frustrated that people do not say his name correctly. He is starting nursery soon and we will send a list of Russian words he uses to help the teachers.

What are the cultural differences in the UK to the Ukraine?
In urban environment there is very little traditional singing. Babies are sung lullibies. We used to watch a short cartoon and hear a goodnight song on the state television. We have familiar famous short poems which are passed down generation to generation.
The school system in UK seems much more relaxed than it is in the Ukraine. It is a much more intense programme in the Ukraine with little time to play in school.

So you’re working in the UK now what do you do?
I am working in business development and client relationships management role in the UK representing a Ukrainian software development company ELEKS.com

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