Tag Archives: language learning

MosaLingua – More than just flashcards

We have a review from my lovely language obsessed husband, Maik.

One of the perks of attending the 2016 Polyglot Gathering in Berlin was the amazing offer from the guys at MosaLingua to give every attendee free access to their Premium Apps for learning German, French, Brazilian Portuguese, Italian and Spanish.

 

Here’s what we think of them.

 

So, for a start, the apps are available for both iOS and Android. At its core, MosaLingua uses a flashcard system with spaced repetition. That doesn’t sound like anything special you might say, plenty of apps out there that already do that, but bear with us!

 

Here are some of the elements which set MosaLingua apart at first glance:

MosaLingua dialogues

 

  • Their phrases are well chosen, and useful in actual conversations
  • You can actually study entire, authentic dialogues
  • Good quality (native speaker) audio and images with each flashcard
  • A clever rating system

 

More on that last point:

 

Rather than being simply marked as right or wrong, the user can select four levels of marking the answer (in descending order of confidence): Perfect, good, difficult and again. These ratings determine the timing and frequency of when the flashcard is next presented.

 

But going back to the beginning, MosaLingua lets you select your level when you first start in the app, giving you some brief pointers of what you should be confident with at that level. Alternatively you can take a fairly simple placement test. Based on the results, the app then personalises your learning plan, so you don’t waste your time learning/ reviewing stuff you already know.

 

The flashcards you are presented with always contain full sentences. This clearly makes them more challenging than individual words, but also a lot more useful. To help your learning, each card is also presented in different ways, i.e. a card with a full sentence in either English or the foreign language, a card where you write out the phrase, or a jumbled up sentence where you need to select the correct words in the right order.

 

MosaLingua Categories

One feature we particularly like is the “Useful Lists”, which contains the following:

  • My new cards – yes, you can actually create your own cards within the app
  • By level – all available flash cards sorted into levels of difficulty from basics to advanced and specialised
  • Ignored cards – the ones you have chosen not to learn
  • Cards to learn – cards that you want to learn (obviously)
  • Memorised cards – the ones you are in the process of memorising
  • Cards to review (exactly what it says …)

 

On top of this you can jump straight into a subject that interests you, such as Eating, Shopping or Socialising, to name just a few. And you can unlock bonus material (including jokes) as you progress – an additional reward for your learning.

 

So, to summarise: MosaLingua is not your average spaced-repetition driven flashcard app. What sets it apart is how much you as the user can customise the app for your own purposes. If you get an answer right by sheer luck, you average app would just mark it as correct and assume you’ve learnt it, whereas MosaLingua will let you say “actually that as pretty difficult and I just happened to guess right”. Add to that the ability to create your own cards and the being able to study by topic, and you have a very personalised approach to virtual flashcards.

 

Of course no flashcard app is sufficient on its own to make you fluent in a language, but MosaLingua gives you a great set of tools to build up a useful arsenal of phrases. So, we recommend you give one of their apps a go. Test drive one of the free versions, and if you like it, you can upgrade for less than £5. Let us know what you think!

 

https://play.google.com/store/apps/developer?id=MosaLingua+Crea

https://itunes.apple.com/us/developer/mosacrea-limited/id353372463

Languages can help improve your mental health

Language Show Live

Language Show LiveIn case you have missed it (ie you live in a cave and have no access to any form of media at all, in which case, how are you reading this) It is mental health awareness week.
As a languages blogger I thought I could go one better and show how languages can help your Mental Health, so using helpful subheadings, here we go.

Languages are a great way to make friends.

I would even say, langauges are thebest way to make friends. In learning someone’s language you show your commitment to them which is a massive thing. I wrote a blog about it a while back.

I believe friendships are so fundamentally important. They can encourage you to come out of your shell in ways you could never have dreamed of before. They can help you to not only brave but embrace the world. It helps us to reconnect with a world we perhaps were at a disconnect from with a void of despondency. Friendships are so eminent to our well-being, and we need to constantly remind our friends of how much we love them (because I know I love mine).

source themighty.com why-friendships-are-fundamentally-important-to-mental-health-recovery/

Want to be a good friend to someone with mental illness?


Music is the best way to learn a language.

My favourite way to learn a language is though singing along to songs in another language.

I sing ALL the time (and sometimes drive my family mad doing so) I know that the singing has positive benefits to me. I found this actual research on it saying “After reviewing 25 trials, the researchers concluded

that music is a valid therapy to potentially reduce depression and anxiety, as well as to improve mood, self-esteem, and quality of life.”

source www.healthline.com/health-news/mental-listening-to-music-lifts-or-reinforces-mood-051713

Creativity helps language learning
You can learn languages whilst colouring with these gorgeous books. My hubby brought me them back from the Polyglot conference in Iceland.
Creativity is also good for your mental health.
I find that colouring is a great way to relax and unwind, to destress. If I feel a bit anxious it gives me something to focus on. Research has been done on this too.

“Coloring definitely has therapeutic potential to reduce anxiety, create focus or bring about more mindfulness,

Groundbreaking research in 2005 proved anxiety levels dropped when subjects colored mandalas, which are round frames with geometric patterns inside. Simply doodling, though, had no effect in reducing the other subjects’ stress levels.
Just like meditation, coloring also allows us to switch off our brains from other thoughts and focus only on the moment, helping to alleviate free-floating anxiety. It can be particularly effective for people who aren’t comfortable with more creatively expressive forms of art, says Berberian, “My experience has been that those participants who are more guarded find a lot of tranquility in coloring an image. It feels safer and it creates containment around their process,” source https://edition.cnn.com/2016/01/06/health/adult-coloring-books-popularity-mental-health/index.html

Netflix and chill
Language learning can happen anywhere. Watching your favourite film or relaxing with friends.

Chilling with a film and spending time with friends are great ways to unwind
https://motherboard.vice.com/en_us/article/3daqaj/is-watching-tv-actually-a-good-way-to-rest-your-brain
To some extent, escapism is just human nature, and TV offers it up on a silver platter.

a bit of distraction can be rejuvenating, and that anything that lowers stress can be a good thing. “Television provides an escape, since we travel into a new world, we have the sense of being present in the imaginary world

source https://motherboard.vice.com/en_us/article/3daqaj/is-watching-tv-actually-a-good-way-to-rest-your-brain


The code switching of changing languages can be used to manage emotions.

Personally, I have a very busy mind and concentrating on other languages keep my mind occupied and from overthinking. I can also find if I switch languages I can be calmer. Bilinguals often have different personalities in different languages. In bilingual families some feel that one language is more comfortable in a certain setting. Some feel more able to express certain emotions better in their second language.source
www.languageonthemove.com/do-bilinguals-express-different-emotions-in-different-languages/ In our family we always talk of Nikolaustag even in an English sentence as it is a German festival for us.


Discovering your real authentic self.

Languages help you to be you. I went along to the polyglot gathering in May last year. It was such a diverse, geeky and accepting community of people but our love of languages brought us together, meeting some of the people there from different countries, backgrounds and holding such different values made me think about my own values and what actually is important.

We tend to stifle our authentic selves to fit in without even realising it. And doing so suppresses our creativity, ingenuity, and self-awareness.

We’re all raised with a core set of beliefs, and many of those might conflict with what you believe today. These may deal with important issues like race, religion, sexuality, and more. Taking time to think about about these longstanding habits and worldviews to see if they’ve changed can be really helpful
According to some psychologists, authenticity can also lead to better coping strategies, a stronger sense of self-worth, more confidence, and a higher likelihood to follow through on goals. source https://lifehacker.com/how-to-discover-your-authentic-self-and-live-the-life-1698115144

The weird and wonderful English Language Giveaway

Apologies for the radio silence recently. We’ve had a really busy time as a family.

We’ve still been playing languages at home.

This morning I woke my teen asking him what he would like for breakfast in French. He answered “I can hear you but I can’t French right now”

I asked my daughter “Tu veux combien de Croissants?”  She answered “deux”

The current government obsession with spag (Spelling and Grammar) means my girls are coming home with puzzling work sheets (What on earth is a fronted adverbial?) Even us adults puzzle over it. English spelling is odd and the reason is that English is such a mix of other languages. It is crazy that English spelling is taught in schools using phonics. English is the least phonetic language there is. This is mostly because of the invasions and settlers from other countries who introduced words of their language.

 

A few months back a linguist friend mentioned to us about the Stephen Fry and the Fry’s Planet World series. As well as loving languages we also love linguistics finding out how languages evolve and keep on evolving. This

 

We’ve a copy of Fry’s planet world to giveaway so you can enjoy it too. Simply enter via the rafflecopter link.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Victoria’s language learning, and teaching story.

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

 

I remember being interested in languages from an early age.  I was lucky enough as a child to go on family to holidays to France quite a lot (living in Kent made it fairly easy to pop over on the ferry) and I loved trying out phrases my parents taught me.  Normally, buying sweets or asking for ‘frites’ on the campsite.  I was also fascinated with the Netherlands as we have family friends there and I remember dressing up as a Dutch girl for a school summer fayre with the theme of European countries.  When I was in the last year of primary school, a

German lunchtime club was offered which I loved going to.  Moving on to secondary school, I enjoyed both French and German lessons, taking both for GCSE and French for A level.  Following this, I decided to study French at university and start Italian alongside. (I think the incentive of a year abroad was one of the deciding factors for this!)

 

 

What inspired you to love languages?

My teachers at secondary school were very inspiring and I enjoyed all their lessons.  We went on two trips to France with school which were great fun.  I also just enjoyed finding out and learning new vocabulary and for some reason I loved learning French grammar!

 

 

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

 

I have mainly taught in schools located in areas of high deprivation where children don’t often get the opportunities that others would. I think it is really important to widen their horizons and show them there is a world out there with which they can communicate.  I love it when they find out something new about a country or learn a phrase to use.  The children are on a level playing field when learning a language so it gives everyone a chance to shine which is really important, especially for those who may struggle in other areas of the curriculum.  I ran two trips to France at my previous school and the majority of children had never been out of the East Midlands.  It was wonderful to see their fascination when arriving in a different country.

 

Could you tell us about ALL  

 

The Association for Language Learning or ALL is a small charity which promotes language learning and supports teachers in the teaching of languages.  We work closely with a team of volunteers and cultural institutes to provide support and help to anyone teaching a language.  For example, through CPD events, resources, our magazine and research articles.  I think it is important, with the workload of teachers being so high at the moment, that there is good quality support and materials out there to make everyone’s life easier!  I still teach, alongside my role in the office, and the resources and ideas I use from ALL are brilliant. I would urge anyone involved in the teaching of languages to get on board.  We would love to have you as part of our association!

 

Inspirational Italian mummy Giulia

This month’s inspirational mum is Giulia Giaco from thenyoucamealong.com

I’ll let her introduce herself.

I am a woman of mid-30’s from Italy. I’ve changed my life many times in the past 6 years, from Law in Italy, to HR  and Hospitality manager in Vancouver and now mother in Sydney.

 

Could you tell us how you learned languages with your parents and in school

Honestly, in Italy, English is rarely taught well. To learn a language it is very important to have bi-lingual or native english speaker teacher, and we don’t always get that. Normally they teach literature or grammar using boring books. Instead, with my parents we often played games… “If I see an apple what am I seeing?” “Una mela!”. Songs were also very useful. The curiosity of understanding their meaning forced us to search for translations, so my entire generation probably needs to thank Take That and the Backstreet Boys for helping us improve our English.

 

So how did you meet your husband?

At that time I was sharing my apartment with other roommates, one of whom was a Spanish guy that was playing for a local soccer team in Vancouver. After a couple of weeks he invited my girlfriends and I to a soccer party….This funny Australian guy was there!! We spoke for an hour, or better he spoke and I was pretending to understand his terrible mumble and lazy accent (I always make fun of him for not being a native English speaker). We started to text each other, and after a month I had the first phone conversation with him. It was not really successful as we didn’t understand each other and we ended up chasing each other through various Subway stops.

Language barriers are sometimes funny, but can also just create massive misunderstandings. We still laugh about a couple of fights that started simply through miscommunication.

Sean and I we got married in July 2016 in a beautiful small church in Italy, surrounded by our multi-cultural group of friends and family, with everyone trying to communicate with the help of translators, body language and big smiles.

 

What do you love to do in your spare time?

I love cooking, just Italian of course, and hosting people in my house. I love making fun of the accent of my Aussie husband, probably as much as he enjoys making fun of my strong Italian one. I believe that my husband is an amazing designer, but I’m better at telling him what he likes haha. I love every single moment of creating these posters; from drawing them with Sean on the sofa to printing the final poster.

Our pregnancy is captured in this poster and in the name of the website, it is a box of memory for me.

 

Could you tell us a bit about the product your husband and you have developed.

What is it and why did you develop it?

 

We have developed a beautiful range bilingual posters, the artwork is fun and educational. The colourful designs attract the attention of kids of any age.

 

We  strongly believe exposure to a second language, at a young age is the easiest way for children to learn. By associating letters and words across different languages, the process of learning becomes simpler. With the repetition of ‘I Say, We Say…’ child and parent can create an enjoyable routine and together practice new words in multiple languages.

 

Our next project is to create a complementary range of posters, focusing on numbers, feelings, the weather, body parts etc.

 Want to find more about this product? Check out thenyoucamealong.com

 

Language show silliness

This weekend we went along to language show and  had a lot of fun and silliness.

It is a highpoint in our calendar, a chance to see what is happening in the world of languages and to meet some friends we’ve been chatting to and working with online.

We met some really inspiring people this year with amazing stories behind their products. We also bumped into a few well known language bloggers and podcasters. We took some silly selfies (because that is a fun thing to do right?)

As we arrived,we were stopped by the lovely Madelena from The Alma collective.
We’d been chatting about collaboration for few weeks but had no idea we’d both be at the Language Show. She is a native German and Greek speaker so we had a lot of fun switching languages in our conversation together. Her passion with The Alma Collective is to inspire and empower parents to raise multilingual children. We look forward to working together in the future.

The first stall we visited was Glynys and her baby Spanish CD’s. Like us she is all about starting languages as early as possible and learning with the help of songs and music. She felt there was a gap in the market here so introduced her product. We’ll be reviewing it very soon.

 

 

 

On a French book stand, Librarie la page.
We came across some awesome trilingual chilidren’s picture books, produced by Vincent from
Jarvin Crew The books are in French, English and Spanish. They were produced as all three languages are spoken in his household. It means that many family members are able to read the same story to the children.

I

I was so excited to discover BCC Mandarin. They produce some beautiful cards to learn to read Mandarin Characters by playing. They are beautifully illustrated and suggest a simple story to memorise the shape of the character. I have studied basic Mandarin a little but was far to nervous to try anything other than pin yin. These cards make reading characters accessible. They are such a brilliant idea.

The British council had some brilliant resources for bringing Polish and Mandarin into the classroom. A great way to learn together and integrate cultures.

 

 

 

 

We had a look at the Lingotot stand. I figure anyone who is passionate about teaching children languages is a friend of mine. The weirdest thing happened. When giving the lady on the stand my business card, she commented “That is my name!” How odd is that. We’d both kept our maiden names when we married our, non British husbands. We’ll be sharing Sarah’s language learning story in a the next few months.

At the ALL stand we met the lovely Victoria who had invited us to contribute to the magazine last Month. She told us a little of what ALL does to support Primary Languages. Find out more for yourself here.

We met some inspiring teacher’s whose classroom experience has led them to create something for all teachers to benefit….. Bili setting up free online language exchange and ALL-IN Octopus with their grammar teaching software. https://school.all-in.org.uk/

We were really happy to meet Gareth from How to Get Fluent and Kris from Actual Fluency, fellow language obsessives and bloggers.

We ended the very busy day learning some Esperanto with the inspirational Tim Morley. It was such fun!

 

So, as you can see we had a brilliant time and met some awesome people. Many will be features on our blog in the near future. The next day our girls came along. It was a real eyeopener for us keep an eye out for that blog!

Inspirational mum and bilingual author Claire.

This month’s inspirational mum is Claire, bilingual author of some lovely children’s picture books.

My name is Claire Gray-Simon and I have been a French Teacher since we moved to Edinburgh with my husband Phil in 2001. Before that, I was living in Paris, France where I grew up.
We have two sons: Ben and Thom both born in Scotland. I speak French to them and my husband English. My husband and I speak French between us, my husband being himself bilingual (born of a French mother and an English father and raised in England).

When my sons were around 2 and 4 years old, we moved to NYC. There, we met many bilingual families with children around the same age as mine. I remember watching my oldest son Ben especially play and interact with his friends and I was fascinated by their unique way of communicating at the time. They would speak in English and then suddenly for no apparent reason, would switch to French, or sometimes they could start a sentence in English and finish it in French, or the other way round, they could even say the same thing in both languages to make sure they were perfectly understood. They were playing with the languages, it was something instinctive for them.

My idea to create two fictive bilingual characters came up during this period. I knew straight away I wanted to write stories about a little boy and a little girl both bilingual (English and French) approximately the same age my son and his friends were at the time. These characters would become truly good friends and have fun together. The specific ideas for the stories came afterwards.

Originally, the stories were intended to be published on a website. I always had the idea of a series in mind. I also had this clear vision of a different type of bilingual story. I wanted to write mainly in one language and translate the dialogue between the two main characters in the second language in order to reflect their bilingualism.

At first, I wrote the stories in French and translated the dialogues in English. Then, I adapted, or I should say I translated the stories in English with French as the second language. I therefore had two versions of these stories on my former website; The French version with an introduction to the English language and the English version with an introduction to the French language.

When I received interesting feedback on the website and I was told my stories had potential and should be published on printed paper, I decided to rewrite the first two in English (with dialogues translated in French). Why English first and not French? Well, this decision was easy to make, I was confident enough in my English written skills, we had always been living in an English spoken country since the children were born. It was definitely a no-brainer, I thought it was more relevant to reach an audience of Anglophone children and try to make them interested in finding out more about the French language. Rowanvale Books, a Publisher in Cardiff strongly encouraged me and worked with me to release the books.

My age group target is probably children from 5 to 8 years old, but these books can appeal to a wider audience: they can be read-aloud for younger children and can be a more challenging read for older children interested in learning French and improving their French written skills. Even adults studying French at a beginner level told me they were interested in my books!

These books are not French textbooks though, younger readers, if they wish, could easily ignore the French language put in brackets and still enjoy the stories. However, these young readers could also be seduced by the discovery of a different language, consider the other language as a secret code for example, they could even use their creative imagination to invent games to play with their friends, based on this code. I never wanted to be too ‘pushy’ in the learning of French, my intention has always been to offer a gentle and fun approach.

The first purpose of the books remains to entertain children and then to encourage them to learn something they might never have heard of for some, or to practice their French skills for others.
I’ve joined a little lexicon at the end of each book with a selection of words related to the main theme of the stories.

The books are called; ‘The First Day’ and ‘The Birthday Party’. They belong to the series; ‘The Adventures of Justine and Sebastien, the Bilingual Children’

Claire kindly sent both books for us to review. Emily’s review will be up in the next few days.

If you want to get hold of a copy, they are available here:
‘The First Day’

‘The Birthday Party’

To pre-order both books at once and only pay one postage, here are the links;

UK postage

International postage

Watch out for our review of these books, coming up very soon.

b small – making language learning fun

I met the lovely people from b small a few years ago at Language show live. I’m delighted they have written us a guest post and a bit about their amazing books. So here is their blog about the many benefits of language learning.

Many people are aware that learning a language has benefits – but did you have any idea just how wide-ranging they are?

Language learning has been shown in studies to improve brain function. After just three months of language learning, brain-imaging studies showed growth in four areas. This leads to a number of improvements in social and cognitive tasks.

Language learners score higher in verbal and non-verbal intelligence tests. Empathy is increased, as it is thought that bilingual people are better at ignoring their own feelings in order to focus on the feelings of the other person. Perception is improved, meaning language learners are better at filtering out information which is irrelevant. This enhances decision making, meaning that bilingual people are able to more rational decisions than monolingual people.

Language learning also leads to improvements to memory, since the brain is like a muscle that functions better when exercised. Studies show that language learners perform faster and more accurately when asked to complete a memory task.

Language learners also become more aware of their mother tongue, for example improving their understanding of its grammar and sentence structure. Listening skills are enhanced, as language learners learn to listen for meaning above anything else.

As for the world of school and work, the many social, cultural and benefits to learning a language are well known. A second language is also estimated to increase earning potential during a career at a rate of £100,000.

Language learning is easier for a child than an adult. Studies show that children learn faster, improve their command of their mother tongue and have a more positive attitude to other languages and cultures.

This is where b small fit in. They are an independent publisher of colourfully illustrated language learning books in French, English and Spanish. b small specialise in language books for young learners, so they know what makes children tick. This allows them to create motivating books to help children develop a passion for language learning.

b small believe that language learning is a fun activity and this is reflected in their books. The books are created to be an invaluable resource for teachers, bilingual parents for home learning or just parents wanting to support their children in learning a foreign language. The complete range includes beautifully illustrated picture dictionaries, first word books, dual language story books, sticker books and activity books.

There are lots of beautiful books on their site. Please mention Lingotasic when you place your order.

Polyglot Gathering Silly Selfies

I’ve just come back from an awesome time at The Polyglot Gathering in Bratislava, Slovakia.

The weather was gorgeous, but the highlight for me was meeting the inspirational language learners there.

I had met a few of them before, both online and at Language Show Live, and I was excited to spend time with them again.

As soon as I arrived at The Polyglot Gathering, I bumped into Gareth from https://howtogetfluent.com/

Soon after, I found the inspirational Kerstin from http://fluentlanguage.co.uk/ It was a joy to chat about bilingual marriages together.

I met Dimitrios via LinkedIn and was honoured to be allowed to interview him for our blog http://lingotastic.co.uk/2017/how-do-you-become-a-polyglot/
The number of languages he can easily switch between is phenomenal.

Find out more about what he does on http://yozzi.com/

I’ve known Lindsay of http://www.lindsaydoeslanguages.com/ for a while. I was really happy to bump into her at the International food evening. Thanks, Lyns, for replying when I kept speaking to you in German.

My friend Teddy Nee http://www.neeslanguageblog.com/ from Taiwan asked me to look out for a few of his friends for him.

First up, Alexander Ferguson from http://www.echonotation.com/ The first time I met him, he spoke in a strong Scottish accent. The next time I heard him speaking English it was with a US accent. Waaah?

Secondly, Teddy asked me to look for Fiel Sahir from Polyglot Indonesia, http://www.between3worlds.com He is such a nice guy!

(Yes, I did spend the majority of the conference approaching people I had not met before, and asking to take selfies with them)

I met Bartosz from http://www.universeofmemory.com/ on the first evening, at dinner. He is a fun(NY) guy and I was excited to hear he was speaking the next day.

I started chatting to Kris of http://actualfluency.com/ at the Polyglot Conference in October, and was over the moon to be asked to feature on his Podcast. He is such a nice guy and so modest about his awesome skills.

Florian is also known as the Mentalist https://www.florian-heller.com/ He does an amazing Multilingual Illusion show in French, German, Spanish, Italian and English. I’m in awe of his ability to switch between languages.

I’d been hearing about Richard of http://speakingfluently.com/ for a long time, but had never met him before. He is so welcoming and friendly. His modelling of a polyglot life makes it seem accessible to everyone. I was as excited as I look in the picture!

This was the first time I’d met Benny Lewis. https://www.fluentin3months.com/ I’ve worked through his Language Hacking books and was keen to finally meet him for myself.

In finishing, I need to apologise to Gareth for photobombing his awesome videos 😉

The Polyglot Gathering was an awesome event. I’ll be back with a more in-depth review soon.

Vote for me!

It’s that time of year again. “What time of year?”, I hear you ask. The time of year when Language enthusiasts from around the world gather once again to vote for the Top 100 Language Lovers!

The annual competition hosted by bab.la and Lexiophiles is aimed at finding the best blogs, Facebook pages, Twitter accounts and YouTube channels about language learning. This year they have the pleasure of collaborating with LingQ, Pimsleur and Caseable who are awarding the winners with amazing prizes.

With great excitement, I would like to inform you that we at Lingotastic have been listed as one of the top 100 language blogs! When we started, three years ago, I would not have imagined that this would ever happen.

A big thank you to all of you who read our blogs and the amazing linguists and language learners who have been happy to work with us on the blog so far.


Vote here Your support in this means so much to me.

To show us your support simply follow this link
http://en.bab.la/news/top-100-language-lovers-2017

Click on the ‘blogs’ category

Scroll down to find Lingotastic UK

Click the blue vote button on the right.

Bosh, all done!

Thanks so much!

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