Can you improve your family language skills in the bath?
Family language learning is rarely structured, just making the most of the different opportunities which arise, but can you improve language skills in the bath?
My daughters, really got to grips with their German colours after Oma sent some bath fizzers which colour the bath water. We would ask them what colour bath they would like and they had to answer in German. If they got it correct there was an immediate reward of a fun coloured bath. It worked really quickly for them!
We were sent something similar to try by the lovely ladies at funkydz
Bubbles are a brilliant way to engage and motivate children and get them speaking in another language in German they are called die Seifenblasen, we do it for a minute and then stop. The bubbles start again if they say “Nochmal” (again). They very quickly learned that word.
We LOVE to sing (well mummy anyway!) In the bath, garden and the high street (and sometimes to my childrens’ embarrassment in the supermarket) Singing in the bath is such a fun, silly way to bring languages in to the bathroom.
As you may have guessed German is our second language at home. A good German song to sing in the bath is “funf kleine Fische”- Five little fishes.Don’t forget to snap, snap, snap snap!
This would be brilliant to use with fishes and sharks in the bath (bath toys may work better than real ones!)
We’ve a few ducks in our bath (plastic ones of course) which we use to sing “Alle meine Entchen” -All my little duckings
German may be our second language, but that does not stop us having language learning fun in other languages too.
We’ve a few French songs we enjoy which involve boats and splashing. They are brilliant to sing in the bath.
We get out our boats for “Bateau sur l’eau” – boat on the water.
“Tapent tapent petit mains” – clap clap little hands
After the line about the fish swimming we add “et plouf dans l’eau” and splash in the water.
So, what are you waiting for? Run that bath, pour in the bubbles and get playing with languages together!
We were sent free samples of bath products by Funkydz to try at home. It sparked memories of our language learning adventures so I thought I’d share our stories as well as a link to buy your own. http://www.funkydz.co.uk/
Do you know any good splashy songs in other languages ? Let me know in the comments below.
This week we are really lucky to have and interview with Michaela Haynes from Laugh, Learn, Love Languages. I met her a while ago on twitter (@LLLLanguages) As a fellow mumtrepeneur with the same vision we’ve chatted lots (and she’s from Yorkshire like me!) This week is really special for her but I’ll let her tell you about that. Over to you…
Hi, my name is Michaela. I’m a fully qualified teacher who has been working in an outstanding Harrogate school, for 5 years, teaching Spanish and French.
I haven’t always had a love for languages, in fact, it wasn’t until I chose to take an hour of Spanish each week, as part of my Travel and Tourism qualification, that I discovered a wonderful teacher who taught lessons that captured my interest and from then on I had a new passion.
This encouraged me to become a teacher on a mission… to make language learning fun, and therefore motivating and enjoyable.
As many people will know, working in a school involves much more than being in the classroom and teaching the pupils. However, it is the teaching that I love, not the endless paperwork and meetings. After having nearly a year off on maternity leave, the thought of going back to the never-ending marking that kept me at my dining room table until 10pm most evenings and on a Sunday, whilst also juggling a family, seemed impossible. So, I decided that it was time to realise my dream… to teach people my way, the fun way, and to make languages accessible and enjoyable for everyone, all on my terms (well, along with the students’ of course)!
That’s when Laugh, Learn, Love Languages was born.
I had to make a decision. Not return to school at all and risk having no job if things didn’t go well (plus having to pay back my maternity pay) or go back to school three days a week and try to juggle the business and a family all at the same time. I chose the latter. It’s been a very busy and tiring year but I’m so pleased to say that things have gone really well. In fact, I handed in my notice at Easter and today is literally my last day at school!
I’m so looking forward to gaining the work life balance that I wanted, as of course this year has been just as busy as previous years, but I’ve enjoyed the teaching so much more. I love being my own boss and having people trust me to do my job without the pressure of the dreaded OFSTED criteria. I also really like the variety. One minute I’m singing in Spanish with toddlers, the next I’m teaching French to a feisty and competitive couple with lots of banter between them and then the next I’m teaching Spanish A Level to a lovely, hardworking student. What more could I ask for in terms of diversity? No day is ever the same!
I have big plans for the future but of course I will take it one step at a time. With some more hard work and a little bit of luck, perhaps this time next year there will be a team of us at Laugh Learn Love Languages. For now though, I’m just happy to be able to say, “Hi, I’m Michaela, the founder of Laugh Learn Love Languages and things are going really well”.
To everyone in a similar position… I wish you the best of luck. It’s not easy and can be daunting at times but I’m sure it will be worth it!
All the best,
Thanks so much for sharing your story with us Michaela. I wish you every blessing as you move into this new chapter of your life.
We’re very fortunate to have a guest post from Cassandra Lewis, a fellow language enthusiast, about her language learning journey and how she uses languages in her family and everyday life. Over to you, Cassandra…
Like most people in the UK I started French at school and immediately loved it. I really enjoyed the novelty factor of being able to say things in another language and this never wore off!
Those were the days of day trips on the ferry over the Chanel with my mum and dad to visit the French hyper markets, the likes of which we had not yet seen in the UK. It was so amazing to me that all the things we were being taught at school were actually things real French people said! To be able to recognise some words when we went on these trips and to try to communicate a little with people gave me such a buzz! This was just the start of my language learning journey.
I then started Spanish at school and found I loved that too! It was fabulous. I ended up doing 3 of my GCSEs in modern languages (French, Spanish and Italian) and two of my A Levels were also modern languages, French and Spanish.
I never really had any idea of what I wanted to do ‘when I grew up’ but I knew I loved languages and so it was a natural progression really that my degree ended up to be French and Spanish – I even tried a spot of Russian while I was at University!
Studying languages gave me the opportunity to live and work in Peru, Colombia and France and it’s no exaggeration to say that I’ve had some of the best experiences of my life whilst living abroad in these places.
My work life after University took many turns from Primary School teaching to Banking to now running a Salesforce Consultancy with my husband. Although I don’t really use my languages on a day to day basis, it’s something that’s always with me. It’s like swimming, riding a bike or learning to drive, even if you don’t do it every day, you still know how to do these things. My languages are without doubt a little rusty now but I know it’s all still in there somewhere!
I’m finding now I’m a mum to a toddler I’m able to embrace my love of languages all over again by introducing her to this world. I’ve discovered Lingotastic classes where I live and both she and I really enjoy going along every week. She’s gaining something I never had which is being able to tune her ear and brain into different languages nice and early on in life – the very best time!
My daughter constantly amazes me with how much she’s picking up. She’s saying parts of the body, singing songs and counting in French, Spanish and German and the best part is she’s picking it all up without even trying and she’s having loads of fun doing it!
I’m even thinking about learning Mandarin with her which will be a real challenge for me coming from my romance languages roots! I love the fact that my language leaning journey is still continuing. It’s a great feeling opening yourself up to be able to communicate with others on this planet; a truly enriching experience.
I do smile to myself sometimes in my work life as even though we’re all speaking English, talking the language of Salesforce and translating that into the language of those who will ultimately be using the system is something that my husband and I need to always be aware of. It reminds me that clear communication in any language is a skill and so very important so everyone knows and understands we’re all on the same page. It feels good to be understood, no matter what the language.
If you’re interested in how Salesforce could help your organisation, contact us through www.rephrase.co.uk and we’ll be happy to have a chat!
Over the last five weeks I’ve learned enough Mandarin to teach a beginners class to 1- 8 year olds with their parents and teachers. Just in time for Chinese New Year. It may sound a crazy idea but I had a few theories to test out!
I attended the Language Show Live in October 2013 I want to a seminar which really inspired me. It was called Discovering Language – multilingual language awareness They are working with Manchester Metropolitan University and advocate teachers enjoy learning and learn with their pupils. They say it is possible to teach a language and be just ahead of your learners.
At my Lingotastic classes I advocate to the families I work with that the best way to learn a second language is the way you learn your first. Hearing, responding and using that language. In a playful environment rather than a classroom setting.
With this in mind … I decided to learn Mandarin in time to teach a class for Chinese New year, just 5 weeks away. No pressure then!
Toni Wang from “ A Little Mandarin “, back in October, had sent me a CD of some funky traditional Chinese Children’s song. However, I’d been too busy to do more than have quick listen – until now. The countdown had begun …
Tuesday – day 1 (14th January)
I listened to “Little Mandarin” music CD, whilst driving to and from the German class I was teaching. In 40 minutes I’d learned “Happy Birthday” in Mandarin 生日快乐 (shēng rì kuài lè) and the other songs had started to sound familiar.
I also saw a Chinese mum on playground today and said my one word of Mandarin 你好 nǐ hǎo. She replied so it can’t have been too bad!
I chatted a little and found out she spoke Mandarin, so asked the Mandarin for good bye. Used it twice then forgot it!
I found out my local library has a free link to a resource called “transparent languages”. I must check that out!
Wednesday – day 2
I listened to more of the Little Mandarin CD in the car. I met up with another mum with two little ones who speaks Mandarin to talk about the class I’m planning. I scheduled the meeting between her toddlers’ nap time and my school pick up. She loves the Little Mandarin CD and heard many of the songs in China. She teaches me how to say “sing nyen kuài lè ” I recognise the words kuài lè from the CD. It means happy. She teaches me about rising and falling tones. She tells me how to say goodbye again: 再见 zài jiàn
I printed out words to songs from http://www.alittlemandarin.com/lyrics
I listen to the CD between classes. My hubby is listening to a “Learn Mandarin in the car” CD so shared what he’d learned.
My seven year old daughter listened to Happy Birthday 生日快乐 (shēng rì kuài lè) on the CD; she was singing along in Mandarin by the end of the song! I had a look at the free Transparent Languages course through my local library. I like it but it’s a shame it is only available on desktop.
I found a blog about counting to hundred by Transparent Language
I can count to three now!
I have offered to lead a few songs for Chinese New Year in my Children’s school. That’ll help me focus, if the looming library class didn’t already!
Hubby showed me the audio course he had found by Hank N. Raymond, Henry N. Raymond for Penton Overseas, Inc.in Deezer. I can now listen whilst walking.
Monday (19th January)
I listened to A Little Mandarin CD whilst traveling to my classes. We watched Peppa Pig and Little Einsteins in Mandarin.
Singing along to A Little Mandarin whilst travelling to work. I can sing two songs now: Two tigers 两只老虎 (liǎng zhī láo hǔ) as well as Happy Birthday which I learmed earlier! Picked out part of a song understanding the words for “we are.” Listened to a few chapters of “Learn in Your Car – Chinese Level 1” whilst walking to get children from school.
Listened to the first chapter of “Learn in Your Car – Chinese Level 1”
Lots of traffic on way to work meant plenty of time for “Learn in Your Car -Chinese Level 1”: three Chapters today! Slowly picking up phrases. I met Chinese lady and enthusiastically used my now expanding vocabulary. 你好 nǐ hǎo, nǐ hǎo ma and 再见 zài jiàn (3 phrases now)
Week 3 -26th January
Continuing with A Litle Mandarin CD in car. I can sing and understand another song now Find A Friend 找朋友 (zhǎo péng yǒu). That’s three songs now. This is sung really quickly so I’m really pleased with myself. So much so I’m singing it most of the time. This explains why my chidren can sing it too.
I find out about an app by Eurotalk
which means I can learn Mandarin by playing on my phone when I have a few spare minutes. It sounds perfect to fit into my busy schedule.
Week 4 (2nd February)
Continuing with A Little Mandarin CD in the car. Starting to learn the Good New Year song 新年好 (xīn nián hǎo ). Playing the Eurotalk app for 10 minutes a day. I like the way it links a picture word and says the word, too. A few phrases are starting to stick in my brain! I like that I can play the app when I have a few minutes to spare.
Week 5 (9th February)
Listening to the A Little Mandarin CD in the car. Playing the Eurotalk app for 15 minutes a day. I like the fact that it’s just playing games and as you can see the mandarin script as well as hear it. It’s sticking!
I’m finding I understand more of the songs I’m singing. I’m singing a lot around the house too and the rest of the family are picking them up (grudgingly in the case of my husband!) We decided to record our family singing the 新年好 xīn nián hǎo song to help market the Chinese New Year special we’re doing next week.
Our You Tube video has been seen by a few native Chinese speakers who think we sound native –result!!
Both me and my Children picked up the songs in the same order so I’ll teach the simplest song first Happy Birthday 生日快乐 (shēng rì kuài lè).” then two tigers 两只老虎 (liǎng zhī láo hǔ). I’ve been lent two big and I mean BIG tigers especially for the class!!
I’m spending about 15 minutes a day playing the uTalk app and gradually learning more.
14th February Saturday
Chinese New Year Blast Off Class at The Library. It was AWESOME! We had 25 children singing in Mandarin with even their parents joining in at some points! Really exciting to see. The write up is an earlier blog post. (http://lingotastic.co.uk/?p=307)
We took the family out to Rickmansworth Aquadrome. Whilst we were there we recorded the two tigers 两只老虎 (liǎng zhī láo hǔ) song to send out for Chinese new year
My daughter has asked if we can stop recording us singing Mandarin songs now please!
25th February I taught the Mandarin Class to 30 children from Reception and Nursery of a local school. The children were amazing! All could say hello , good bye and thank you. I had rave reviews from the teachers, who plan to continue using the few words they have learned in class. “Both the staff and children immensely enjoyed having Sarah to visit and we would love to learn more Mandarin in the future, with her”
Not bad for five weeks of playing and singing Mandarin!!
Which language do you think I should attempt next?
Enter our completion below to win an access code for full access to the UTalk app. (Basic access is free) I’d love to know how you get on.
I came across James Chapman’s lively fun illustrations in Summer. As a teacher of families and a mum myself his work really appeals to me. Anyone who has been around toddlers for any time will know how much time they spend mooing, baaing and neighing.
We were in Germany a few years ago with my toddler son and husband when I first learned that German fire engines go tatü tata. I was shocked! Fire engines go nee naw don’t they? Have a look a James’ fun illustrations and see for yourself!
I was really keen to talk to James and find out a bit more about his work. I was lucky enough to get an interview. Here it is…
What made you start drawing your Soundimals pics?
I found out about the sounds dogs make in other languages and I thought it was really interesting and that people probably didn’t know about it, or didn’t really think about it. So I sketched up a lot of dogs and gave them some sounds to be saying and the picture was really popular, so I kept on going with other animals and I’ve not stopped ever since!
Why does this interest you?
It’s so strange that all these animals and sounds that sound the same all over the world have been given such different descriptions depending on language. It’s a really nice example of diversity and how everyone can have a different opinion on something and they’re all equally valid.
How do you find out what noise animals make in the many languages?
I do a lot of online research, using google in other languages (I don’t speak any of these languages, but online translator are really useful for this). And along the way I’ve spoken to a lot of really helpful people who’ve approached me saying “if you ever need any help with this language, just ask”. The internet is a really powerful tool and there’s so much information out there and people are so helpful and supportive.
Have you had any interesting commissions lately?
I’ve been doing some work for the website BuzzFeed and they always have such fun ideas to draw. I did one a few weeks ago for German proverbs German proverbs translated into English which was very interesting. Aside from that I had some fun ones over Christmas, customising some prints to include people’s pet dogs
What are your hopes for the future of Soundimals?
In the short term I’m planning on putting together a second book, and keeping the site updates with new comics as often as I can, because it’s a real source of fun for me. I really enjoy doing it. But my main goal is to get the books and their content to a wider audience. I’m having such fun doing this that I really want to keep it going and spread the word about the fun sounds of the world!