Tag Archives: families

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/

Inspirational mum Mandie from Les Puces

IMG_0369 As a mum in business I love to celebrate what other amazing business mummies are doing. This month we meet the amazing Mandie Davis, the founder and creator of Les Puces Ltd, providing language classes to pre-school and primary aged children. So, without further ado, over to Mandie.

Imagine sitting in a café and at the next table is a young mum and her toddler.  The mum takes out a baby book of words and starts reciting verb conjugations to her little one.  “I go, you go, he goes ….”   She looks across at you and whispers “He just doesn’t seem to get it – he can recite verbs but not string a sentence together and he doesn’t seem to understand what I say.”  Your advice would undoubtedly be “Just talk to him!” a table

My daughters were brought up in Germany and France.  The eldest is trilingual and the youngest bilingual.  The only language lessons they had at school were to learn English!  They learned their new tongue by immersion, by simply imbibing the language until it became their own.  Let’s face it, communication isn’t just about words.  You can have a pretty good guess at what someone is saying to you based on the situation, context, the sound of their voice and their facial expressions, and so you slowly start to piece together this wonderful jigsaw of language.

When we teach our children their first language, they make errors as they grow. I remember the sweet mistakes made with words like hospital (hosbibal) and cheeks were always ‘sheeks’! As they grow, one turns to subtle corrections such as changing ‘they goed’ to ‘they went’ and eventually comes the exasperation on hearing ‘should of’ and explaining, one more time, that there is no verb ‘to of’! Group

So I have taken the same tack when forming the teaching modules for Les Puces Early Years French classes. Using 4 methods of learning – by rote; though songs, music and rhyme; through hearing gentle instructions when making something or colouring, where you can guess what to do; and through story telling with beautiful illustrations (and no words). These methods prepare a child for more formal lessons in school and they establish a good accent and ‘ear’ for the language while they are still young enough to be able to really hear the nuances.

I felt that communication was an imperative skill for my girls. It leads to confidence and an interrogative mind. As they grow to be young adults I trust that this also gives them understanding and tolerance of others; something becoming more important in the world we share.

To find out more about Les Puces Early Years French classes in your area please email mandie@lespuces.co.uk or go to out website www.lespuces.co.uk

Mandie Davis is the founder and creator of Les Puces Ltd, a provider of language classes for pre-school and primary aged children. Currently offering classes across Kent and Sussex, Les Puces have plans to expand across the UK and are about to launch in France, teaching English to French children.

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Mandie has created some brilliant resources, for sale through her shop.

Are you an inspirational mum who would like to feature in our blog? We’d love to hear more!

Inspirational mum Anna from Kidslingo

This is the first in a series of interviews celebrating inspirational mums in business.rabbitThis week we have an interview with an inspirational mum Anna from Kidslingo.

Hi Anna, could you tell us a little about yourself and your family?
I am a Mum to 2 young, very active children – aged 6 & 9. They are into all sorts of activities including gymnastics, netball, swimming and Brownies & Beavers – so after-school is a busy time!
I initially did a language degree and then went into working in marketing & advertising – first in London and then in the West Midlands.

Why did you decide to launch your business?
After the arrival of my 2nd child I reassessed my career options as I needed something that was much more flexible and that could fit around the demands of a young family – nursery and school drop offs and pick-ups, as well as after school activities.
Also I missed using my language skills and really wanted to work with children. I looked at various options including teacher training & other franchises. I then decided that I could do it better myself and started up on my own teaching a few local classes and have never looked back! We now have over 30 franchisees and are growing by the month. parachute and scarves

Could you tell us a little about your business?
Our whole approach & philosophy is all about fun language learning for kids. We use songs games, actions, dance, story-telling & drama to bring the language to life & inspire our little learners and linguists of tomorrow. We have programmes starting at birth and continuing right through to the end of primary school at age 11. This covers everything from parent & baby classes, preschool classes in hired venues or nurseries and clubs and classes in primary school for KS1 & KS2. We offer a full franchise package to people – from initial training, ongoing help and support, all of the lesson plans, music, resources, marketing pack & loads more!

How are you finding it fits in your family?
Perfectly – I drop off every morning, pick up & take the kids to their activities. Having a smart phone means you are accessible anywhere. After bed time I get the laptop out again & work begins for the evening! I miss out on some downtime in the evening but I gain by the time I can spend with the kids.

Anything else you’d like to tell our readers?

We’d love to chat to you if you think this type of thing could be interesting for you. Anna from Kidslingo.

You’ll never guess what happened on Friday!

On Saturday I went along to Mumsnet workfest 2016. I was still very surprised to be going along. Twenty two hours before I did not know I was going! I got a tweet from Barclays to say I’d won a pair of tickets. I looked at the website and was so excited about the line up. Just a quick call to my hubby to chat about childcare and I was all set to go. The Mumsnet workfest looked to be aimed as mums returning to work after maternity leave. I figured there were a couple of seminars that looked really good and it was a great opportunity to network.

The most surprisingCath andMe part of the day was when I met Cath. I arrived early and got chatting to another he. She had an awful lot in common with me. I’m from Bradford, and she lives there now. We both LOVE languages, especially German, so we chatted about that, about our families, and the Lingotastic classes I run. Anyone who has read my blogs, or met me in the flesh will know that family language learning is my passion, so another mum looking to bring more language learning into her family life and maybe run classes like mine is an absolute joy to me. Cath said this was something she’d like to do so discussed my journey and ideas for her to work towards something similar.

The first event was with the keynote panel of Karen Blackett OBE, Jo Whiley, Jess Phillips MP and Kirstie Mackey. It was awesome to hear them share their stories and “How they do it all.”Panel speaking
Karen is a truly inspirational women who has created a culture in her company which includes and celebrates family. Jo Whiley shared how through her radio career she has worked with supportive people who have allowed her to be a mum as well as an employee. The two shining light pearls of wisdom from this session were “One good parent is enough”- Jess, and “Bring the whole of you to work” – Karen. If the day had stopped there, this would have been brilliant already.

I’m self employed, so the break out session on The Key to building your business was just what I wanted to hear. It was so great to hear others stories. I heard what I know now to be true, “Starting your own business is not the easy option”. I also had the time to reflect on how lucky I am to have a hubby who has let me run a selfie2business which did not make any money for the first two years.
For the second breakout session I walked in, and the lovely Esther Stanhope was bouncing around with excitement. It was titled “How to network when you hate small talk” There were lots of brilliant little tips I could quickly put into practice. We had to break into pairs and speed network. I found out that Katie loves Bradford (where I’m from) and writing and blogging. I was so excited I took a silly selfie. She confessed that prior to this she was a selfie virgin!

Lunch was delicious restaurant quality food and great chance to network. I chatted with a bilingual Russian & English mum about what they do at home, and she said advice and support would make a massive difference to her as her daughter grows. This was a massive encouragement to me and something I am considering I how to work in practice.

 

I went along to the self esteem workshop with Kim Morgan from Barefoot Coaching. The room was pretty full. It was a high speed session including many ideas and a couple of group exercises. I came away with a revelation that as women we all struggle with similar issues which was a real eyeopener to me. Her book The Coach’s Casebook looked a good way to follow up on the session.

We were so fortunate to be able to find out “What we did next”-inspiring stories with five awesome women who were inspired to launch their own business by Workfest 2015.

I was so excited that the guest speaker this year was Matthew Syed. My hubby has been reading his book “Bounce”, so I was excited I could hear him speak. He presented so clearly. This was a real lightbulb moment, to see my own growth mindset and fixed mindset. It was a real eyeopener as a mum, to help me to encourage my own children to see that if things go wrong, failure is not final, and though failing we learn how to do it better next time.
MattSyed If you want to buy his books Black box thinking and Bounce for yourself, click through.

It was an awesome day and I came away feeling comfortable in my own skin and that I’m not doing a bad job as a mum. Not bad at all for an event I’d not heard about before the Friday.

This blog is the first in a monthly series celebrating women in business and the workplace. I believe that if something is not celebrated it can die, so I want to take the chance to celebrate some awesome women. If you’d like to write a guest blog for us get in touch.

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.