Tag Archives: friends

5 best ways to get kids engaged with language learning.

As a family we use many different ways to engage with language learning. Here are five we love.


Food is a great way to engage with kids.

Thank you biscuits, Oma in Germany sends food parcels to us we make soup and other foods together following instructions in German. http://lingotastic.co.uk/2015/souper-language-learning/ Souper language learning.

We also have yummy chocolate biscuits we have for pudding sometimes. The biscuits feature a picture of a famous building in Germany, France, Spain, UK and Belgium. Family members can only have a biscuit if they ask for it to say please or thank you in that language. When we are abroad, we encourage our children to read menus and order in that language. They often pick it up quickly if it benefits them!



There are many festivals that you can look at with your family that provide a cultural context for language learning.

As a family we celebrated Chinese New Year and learned a little Mandarin http://lingotastic.co.uk/2015/mandarin-learning/ . We celebrated St Martin’s day and St Nicholas, day with other German speaking families. We went along to a St Lucia celebration and learned a little Swedish. http://lingotastic.co.uk/2015/a-polyglot-christmas/



We like Asterix. The most recent films are not in English so it good reason that the kids had to watch it in German. We also watch some German DVDs in German with German or English subtitles. 

Asterix and his “big-boned” friend Obelix


Friends and family

As our children got older they often felt like the odd one out speaking other than English at home. As we were able to meet other families who spoke German as well as English it helped them accept it as normal. It also gave us others to swap books and DVDs with, Playing in the park abroad means the children have to interact in that language. Arranging to meet with other children who speak another language is another way to help kids use other languages. Spending time with none English speaking family provides a great opportunity for kids to practice and use their language skills.



We’ve many language learning games like memory pairs to help practice vocabulary, playing UNO in other languages, counting in another language when playing snakes and ladders and Ludo. That’s before we even think about electronic games that can be set up in other languages. My son used to play Fifa on the PS1 in German. There are lots and lots of online language games like Cat Spanish, Duolingo, Memrise to name a few.(We could write a whole blog just on this!), YouTube has lots of great language imput in many languages. Our Emily has written a blog on her favourite programmes to help language learning. http://lingotastic.co.uk/2016/language-learning-tips-from-a-seven-year-old-2/

Polishing your Polish whilst shopping

This month I’ve been learning Polish with uTalk. We’ve a brilliant Polish deli on our high street called Bierdronka. So my aim was to learn enough to manage a shopping trip. My hubby is German, so we were so pleased so find a local shop which sold fresh Brötchen, Aufschnitt, Kuchen, Sauerkraut and Kohlrabi. Since Poland joined the EU in 2004 there are lots of Polish people in the UK so a great chance practice Polish on your doorstep, before visiting this beautiful country for yourself.

I already had a few Polish friends so I already knew

dzień dobry – Good morning
cześć – Hi / goodbye
dziękuję – thank you

Simply though going into the shop for the last few months, I’d picked up

proszę – you’re welcome/ please
do widzenia – goodbye

So with these phrases already under my belt, in January I started learning Polish with uTalk to pick up a few more shopping phrases.

tak – yes
nie – no
Dziękuje bardzo – thank you very much
Nie rozumiem – I don’t understand
Poproszę kawę – I’d like a coffee please

Now I knew the phrase for „I’d like” phrase I could now say

Poproszę trzy plastry mortadela Three slices of mortadella please

This is my daughter’s favourite!

We had the staff in fits of giggles as we tried our Polish with them.

I now need a few more numbers!!!

jeden one
dwa two
trzy three
cztery four
pięć five
sześć six
siedem seven
osiem eight
dziewięć nine
dziesięć ten

Now I had these, I could try a few more phrases.

And finally some useful food vocab

chleb bread
mlecko milk
piwo beer
słodycze sweets
kawałek ciast piece of cake

I hope this is helpful to you. Are there any more Polish shopping phrases you would add?

So my challenge you is, find someone who speaks another language, learn a little and you’ll have some new friends!

Guest Blog from Liam O’Dell: My Year of Learning BSL

Liam blog This week we have a guest blog from Liam at The Life of a Thinker
About his adventures learning BSL. Over to you Liam…

It feels weird to say that just over a year ago, I had no knowledge of British Sign Language (BSL). In March 2014, I was introduced to a group of 18 deaf young people, with some of them using BSL as their first language. At the time, I had no knowledge of BSL and instead had to use the interpreters available as well as writing things down in order to communicate. It was a shame because I wanted to communicate with everyone in the group, including those who used BSL. With that in mind, I begun my language learning journey.

I was quick to buy a BSL dictionary, which was handy for when I couldn’t figure out a word. I researched online tutorials on YouTube as well as websites. I did try out and review a product and app for my blog called FlashSticks which was really helpful!

FlashSticks was the clear and helpful diagrams. Since BSL is such a visual language, getting the sign spot-on is key. Thankfully, the images are clear with easy descriptions. Then, if you were still unsure, using the FlashSticks app allows you to scan the post-its to load a video demonstrating that sign. On top of all that, the BSL packs were created with the help of Signature – a top organisation dedicated to teaching sign language. Brilliant!
However, what I learnt is that the best way to practice a language is with those who speak it. With that in mind, I had BSL lessons and went to my local deaf club for a meet-up. Both were really useful as I could practice, learn new vocabulary and make new friends!

Since then, I had a further four opportunities to meet up with members of the group and practice. At the last meet-up, I was able to have full conversations with my friends in BSL! Whilst that was such a great achievement for me, I’m not stopping there, and I’m learning more BSL as I go along, with the hope of getting BSL qualifications in the future.

That’s so encouraging to hear Liam. I wish you all the best as you continue your language learning journey .

If you want to get your own FlashSticks to help with your BSL learning we have a special offer on our resources page.

Liam is a lifestyle blogger at The Life of a Thinker, which you can read at The Life of a Thinker Follow him on Twitter: @lifeofathinker.

Learn languages and make friends with a GIVEAWAY from Chatterbags


picture credit: earlylearninghq.co.uk

I’m starting to realise I may be a bit of a 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”

The inspired guys at Chatterbags thought up the idea of Chatterbags so that people can tell at a glance what languages you speak. At Lingotastic we were really impressed with this idea. Chatterbags have been kind enough to offer Lingotastic visitors a chance to get a chatterbag for free. To take part in this giveaway from Chatterbags you need to enter with the rafflecopter form at the end.

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 Morgan, Zăo sháng hăo!

At my children’s school, there are parents and children whose main language is, Polish, Hungarian, Mandarin, Russian, German, Romanian, Slovak, Urdu, Arabic, Ukrainian and 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 greeting in these languages.



I started to chat the new families and learn 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 mummies 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 stumble over the new words. It empowers them and builds their confidence as they are the expert in this area. Some of the mums are new to the country, learning English, and like the fact I take the time to talk with them and understand what they are saying. I, myself have struggled with communication in other languages so I’m patient!

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! Let us know in the comments box below.

bagsThere are ten Chatterbags on offer as part of our giveaway from Chatterbags, kindly supplied by the guys at Chatterbags. To win your very own Chatterbag to get you talking, enter with the Rafflecopter link below! We’d like to see you out and about with it so please tweet us a picture of yourself with your bag.

a Rafflecopter giveaway