Tag Archives: games

How do you teach Arabic to your Children?

This week we have a guest blog from Nadine Ismail, from Reinventing Nadine . She lives in the USA and faces the same language challenges as parents the world over.

I am born and raised in Lebanon, a tiny country in the Middle East. Moved to the USA when I got married to my American born husband (He is of Syrian heritage). My native language is Arabic, but I went to French School (so all material were taught in French) and then went to the American University of Beirut, where I did both my BA and MA in Public Sector Administration with emphasis on Human Resources. I always loved languages and while in college, I also studied German for 3 years at the Goethe Institute and finished Elementary level. I worked on projects with the World Bank, UNDP and then moved to the private sector and worked in multinational companies where English was the official business language.

When I moved to the US, I decided to leave the corporate world and focus on what I enjoy doing, being a mother and wife. My blog started as a way to document my journey from a single working young woman in the Middle East to a Mom and a wife in the USA. It started as a food blog, then as my daughter grew, I started teaching her Arabic Language. I discovered how little are the resources out there for mothers like me. I started reaching out to other companies and authors who make products/wrote books and reviewed them and come up with creative ways of using the products. I became involved in my local Arabic school and helping out with the events, the curriculum and started a new Arabic Culture and Heritage class that I teach every Sunday.

I am also a blogger at Arab America ) where I blog about being a bilingual parent, tips about teaching kids/adults Arabic language and heritage. I am involved in a unique Middle Eastern Youth Singing Ensemble that teaches youth to sing classical and folkloric Arabic Songs. I am working on a course to teach adults the language with emphasis on Spoken Levantine dialect. The Arabic language is a beautiful and rich language but it is difficult and challenging. I am currently learning Spanish and Turkish. My daughter who is 7 now, can read and write in Arabic. Here is a video of her reading a book.

My website is now more about celebrating the Arab Heritage and culture through food, arts and the language. I also do traditional Middle Eastern embroidery and share that one my Instagram. In my opinion, the language is the gate to the culture, it opens up all the other doors.

Please find below links to some of my articles and collaborations:

With Arab America:

1.Teaching Kids Arabic
2. Arabic Back to School
3. Alef Baa in Songs
4. An interview with Joudie Kalla, the author of “Palestine on a Plate”
5. 10 Games in Arabic to fight Winter Break Boredom

With Arabic Playground:
My Arabic journey alphabets.
Summer workbook, my journey alphabets.Writing Arabic

Are you learning Arabic or teaching it to your children? Have you come across any other good resources? We’d love to know in the comments below.

Mondly -a review

I’m a great fan of gamified learning. As I’m trying to keep making progress in German, French and Spanish as well as being a busy self employed mum it needs to be fun!
Mondly is a gamified app available I Phone, I Pad , Android and and online on Mondly.com. It costs $47.99 for a year giving access to 800 lessons and 33 languages.
I came across Mondly about two months ago. I was fascinated by idea of the chatbot. Cat Spanish app had a conversation section but not one with so much freedom.
I’ve been testing it out for six weeks and a really enjoying it. My hubby and children have been enjoying it too. My nine year old enjoyed it but found it challenging. The learning is split into themed chapters 8 units to build on and a conversation at the end to use the vocabulary learned. It has a fairly comprehensive range topics so lots of vocubulary you can learn.
The website has an amazing number of languages(34). It includes Finnish, Croatian, Hindi, Greek, Farsi, Bulgarian, Hungarian, Afrikaans, Czech, Romanian, Vietnamese, Indonesian, Hebrew, Japanese, Korean and even Chinese. Of course you can learn the popular languages like German, Spanish, French and Italian. Great for a compulsive Polyglot like me.
What is unique about this app is the chatbot. Here’s what Alexandru Iliescu, co-founder and CEO of ATi Studios said “The best way to learn a new language is to build your confidence with practice. We’ve taken chatbot technology and combined it with a speech recognition platform then added our own object recognition system. The result is that we’ve created something that is fun, useful and unique for language learners. This new feature is truly a revolutionary new way to learn a new language and we’re proud that Mondly is the first to do it.”
So what did we think? I’ve listed the pros and cons below to help you make your own mind up.

 

Pros
The site uses native speakers and the voice recordings are excellent.
lt is a mixture of hearing and speaking to learn in different ways.
As a busy mum I really appreciate the short lessons so I can fit language learning into the small pockets of time I have.
As I have four languages to keep going games which allow me practice French from Spanish, or French from German are a huge advantage to me.
I like that the progress made transfers from the device to the computer so it can be easily used on both devices, not something I’ve come across before.
I love the daily quiz to keep you coming back and a notification that comes up each day to remind you to play.
The chatbot is a lot of fun I found myself giving none standard answers to catch it out which is great for your language practice.
I like the to see daily progress on a chart. I like the way the different chapters are shown as a journey. It makes me feel I’m progressing so encourages me to keep going.
My initial thoughts were that it is good as part of a language learning plan, but not enough on its own.
I was not convinced that there was enough spaced repetition but I seem to be learning so maybe I was wrong about that.

 

Cons
It would be much better if it showed the gender of words. English speakers often forget about these. I did not see the value myself at school. Difficult to learn in addition later. (maybe colour code like flash sticks)
Was doing it on a train in London it was fine at stations but cut out inbetween Does not work without wi fi so not great to use when commuting!

Unlike some other gamified learning you have to pay if you want to have all the features. However it is not expensive when you bear in mind all the languages offered.
In my opinion there is not one way to best learn a language. It is a combination of things you can play, watch, read and sing along too which builds your language learning. I think Mondly fits well into that. Try it for yourself and let me know what you think! https://www.mondlylanguages.com/

 

Disclaimer:
I was given free access to the site in exchange for an honest review.

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.

 

Ever seen a confused octopus eating spaghetti?

No? Well you’ve never played randomise game then! As a family we love to play together so we jumped at the opportunity to try out this game.
With the Easter holidays coming up we thought it was a great opportunity to try it out. We were travelling up to the Lake District to visit family and the small box fitted very easily in our luggage.

randomise rain

We had a very rainy afternoon where my brother and his wife were over, as well as my parents. Nine in total and a great opportunity to try out the game.

Playing cards

The rules are simple. Choose three cards, decide whether you are playing the easy or hard game and off you go!

It was soon obvious that different people preferred different ways of playing. I preferred to act it out. The younger ones preferred to draw and a couple of adults preferred to describe.
My hubby drew the cards of an ugly Hippo giving birth and had to put his we developed acting skills to full use.
My favourite was when I had to act out the giant Chicken ballet dancing. I don’t have any acting skills whatsoever so this was really quite daft!

We started playing in teams of boy verses girls except the girls kept changing sides. We gave up on scoring early on as We were in fits of giggles at many points as it was so so silly, and not able to keep a score anyway.

Can you guess what these pictures are describing?

giant lady

priest randomise

Pigeon

Let us know your guesses in the comments below.

My mum was really impressed we had an hour of fun together without screens.
Jasmin age 8 said “it was really good and funny”
Emily age 8 thought “it was good”.
Maik aged 41 Was “amazed at Emily’s creativity. She asked to borrow a phone to act out a lazy rabbit taking a selfie”

So next time anyone asks Ever seen a confused octopus eating spaghetti? you will be able to answer yes!

We were sent this game to review by Randomise.

Has this review inspired you to have a go with your friends and family?
Buy your own here.

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!

froid

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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20150916_205215000_iOS

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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?