Tag Archives: exchanges

Charlie’s language learning journey and Bili

This week we have an interview with an inspirational language learner Charlie and hear his project Bili.

Could you tell us about your own language learning journey, at home and school as a child.

I started learning French at primary school, and soon after began to learn Latin. I think this helped me get my head around new languages relatively quickly, and made me a bit of a life-long grammar geek.

When we had options to choose an extra language I chose German, probably mostly because of a conversation I had with my teacher who recommended German because it was ‘harder’ and I could pick up Spanish anytime… (Still working on that one)! The nature of learning a language ‘little and often’ fitted much better with my approach than more content-filled subjects, where last-minute cramming never really paid off for me!

This conversation really stuck with me, and I began to think of myself as someone who was quite good at languages. I remember this as a pivotal moment that set me on a path through GCSEs, A-levels, a degree, year abroad and into teaching and setting up Bili. As a teacher, I’d try to remind myself how much impact those little chats or passing comments can have on our students.

 

What inspired you to love languages?

Having a positive attitude set me on a good course in languages but didn’t yet make me love them. My real love for languages was really sparked by the doors it opened for me, through a combination of travelling, living abroad, and getting to know a culture and people different from my own.

For me, a love of languages comes from a love of communication, which fulfils one of the most natural and human urges to connect with other people. The more languages you learn, and the better you learn them, the more interesting and different people you can connect with on a deeper level.

 

What led you to pass on your love of languages to others through teaching?

Even as a student I understood that not everyone felt the same way about learning languages I did. For years MFL teachers have struggled against a decline in uptake of languages at a higher level, often low motivation in class and some quite strong societal pressures that English is enough. Contrasted with the economic need for languages (it’s estimated that we lose £50 billion every year through lack of language skills), and the more simple desire to learn languages (Ask any adult a skill they regret not learning- chances are they will say a musical instrument and a language!); it’s clear we have a problem.

I wanted to play a part in making sure that children were given the same chance I was, to learn and love languages.

 

Could you tell us about Bili. (What is it and why will it help our readers?)

Bili was an idea that only came about through my direct experience working as a teacher. I was becoming frustrated by the contrived nature of the dreaded controlled assessment, jumping through hoops for exams, and parroting back ‘A* phrases’ about holidays or free time activities.

I wanted to find a context where students could share with someone who was genuinely interested, and vice versa. I wanted a way to connect my students to young people abroad to regularly and purposefully communicate with one another. Since I couldn’t find one… I ended up setting it up for myself 😊

Bili enables teachers from different countries to connect their students in a structured and secure environment to complement their learning in the classroom, applying what they have learnt in a real context. Learners can share real information about their lives with Bili-pals the same age, whilst discovering another culture & language, and supporting one another on their language learning journey. Students actively want to communicate and a real-person at the other end provides a strong motivation.  Regular tasks, higher motivation and valued performance feedback coming from peers all save the teacher time and increase impact.

We’re always keen to welcome new schools to Bili, whether you simply want to trial with a class, sign up to build on an existing relationship with a partner school abroad, or find a new school to connect with through Bili!

 

https://www.bili.uk.com/

Would Language exchange help your family language learning?

We met the folks from Lingoo at Language Show Live back in October. We champion the same cause: empowering learners by giving them the right tools to make language learning so natural and enjoyable that it doesn’t actually feel like learning at all. We were so excited when he agreed to write us a guest post, so over to Peter.

Whether you and your family have some second-language skills or none At all, it’s pretty obvious that if you wish to develop those skills.And enter the ranks of LLL’s (Lifelong Language Learners – we love an Acronym in this day and age), you need to get yourself over to the Country where the target tongue is spoken. Job done? Second language ‘in the bag’? Not always the case…A frequent disappointment for those who visit their country of choice Is that they don’t always get the opportunity to try out their Language skills. (“Everyone spoke English on holiday”, “Authentic? We Could have been anywhere!”, “My son spent the whole of his school Exchange with his friends” amongst the all too familiar frustrations.) Maybe this wasn’t the hub of culture and language you were hoping For…

family of four in their back yard

10 years ago, Lingoo was born of a simple solution: putting learners In touch with hosts, in family settings, for holidays or exchanges.Demand was immediate and continues to grow, as more and more families Seek to spend their precious free time on holidays that tick all the Boxes, from authenticity and originality to adventure and fulfillment. So how does it work? Lingoo.com is designed to put you – the parent -Firmly in the driving seat of the matching process, guiding you Through that process to ensure that from the good number and broad Choice of hosts available, you’ll land on the doorstep of the very Best host and environment for you. The fact that these families are on Our website means you can be pretty sure they share your open-minded Outlook on life but add to that your ability to search by Lingoo.combasics (language, location, age of children) and specifics (interests, pets, Religion, diet …) and there’s no pot-luck about it. With stringent Host-vetting procedures in place too, registrants can also rest Assured that their security is safeguarded. Much of the feedback we receive centres on the overwhelmingly positive Impact on children. It’s certainly true that there is no better Environment than an immersive language holiday to see our inquisitive Little ones in sponge-mode (and if only you could bottle the wide-eyed Wonder – “They have _THAT_ for breakfast?!”). Even older children who Are more inclined to feel self-conscious are likely to see the very Point of all that time spent nose-in-textbook. Watch them pat Themselves on the back as they pull a vocab gem out of the bag (and Remember to take some of the credit yourself: you the parent are in Full role-model mode here… a love of languages, a sense of place, an Ability to step out of your comfort zone, we could go on…).

Whereas most family adventures come with a grisly price tag, Lingoo.com effectively facilitates exchanges within the ‘sharing Economy meaning our users can reap the benefits for low-to-no cost. Language exchangers pay only an annual registration fee and those Embarking on language homestays (so not hosting in return) simply add That to a fixed price for being hosted. Were this cost in the Commercial world of holidays, you would have every reason to question Very low pricing; here, a pro-sharing mentality means many of our Hosts are happy to welcome guests for surprisingly small financial return. Whatever’s on your wish-list, visit for inspiration And guidance on arranging a language homestay for you and your LLLL’s (Little Lifelong Language Learners – sorry). Let’s keep those language Fires burning bright for the next generation.