Tag Archives: language

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

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.

DRONGO language festival 2017 Two days all about language

I love to meet other language lovers so language festivals are great. Unfortunately I came across Drongofest too late last time so I want to make sure you don’t miss out too. so over the them….

This year the DRONGO language festival has assembled a two day programme full of fun sessions, interesting lectures, challenging labs and topical debate.

Like one of the keynote sessions: Artificially Intelligent Language

For dozens of years, we have been laughing at ‘the computer’ for its poor language skills. Computer voices were ugly, monotonous and difficult to understand. Because it went wrong so often, voice recognition was mainly amusing. In the end it wasn’t even funny anymore, the translation engines delivered such crippled sentences.

All this is beginning to change, among other things because the computer has learned to learn. On all forms of language skills, the computer is making spectacular progress. Take for instance Watson, the IBM computer, which beat the best human players in the extreme difficult quiz Jeopardy by understanding and interpreting the questions and most of the time, offering the correct answers in spoken form. Also think of chatbots taking over the communication with customers and making a lot of support staff redundant. Furthermore, free apps are helping tourists looking up words, understanding texts and even making conversation in countries of which they do not know the language. And Ronald Giphart, a Dutch bestseller author, is even trying to produce literature in cooperation with a robot.

What is possible nowadays, and what not yet? Do support staff, interpreters, translators and even authors have to fear for their income? What forms of machine language proficiency do we actually need ? This DRONGO session will try to find the answers. Technology journalist Herbert Blankesteijn will be interviewing questioning guests working in science, industry and the government. Gadget expert Boris Boonzajer Flaes will do the introduction with a couple of amazing examples of machines and apps with language skills.

Curious? There is more to do, see and learn on Friday 29 and Saturday 30 September. Check out www.drongotalenfestival.nl

We are failing as multilingual parents.

OK a major revelation from me…
We may be bringing up our children multilingually, but the aspirations and reality are often very different.
My children all hit an age time for where they refused to speak German unless it really suited them (when they wanted sweets or chocolate for instance). As a bilingual parent this is a nightmare. We did a lot of soul searching as to where we had gone wrong, but just had to let it ride. My middle daughter Jasmin is almost ten and now starting to answer our German by speaking German herself. She made a friend whose parents speak German and who has a German Au-Pair which helped her confidence a lot. Jasmin has even started to ask “How do you say … in German?”

The highlight of my week was when we saw some Apple Strudel on a stall in town. Jasmin said “Apfelstrudel!” and the Hungarian lady on the stall continued the conversation in German. We ordered and bought what we wanted in German and Jasmin followed our conversation and said Danke and Bitte in the correct places.

She finally wants to speak German! We were in the Polish shop recently and she said goodbye in Polish: Dziękuję

The whole exposure to other languages and cultures we have been doing since she was tiny, is finally paying off.

My eldest son is 17 now and I will finally admit he dropped GCSE languages (huge shame for me to admit this). However, if he hears French he continues in French, he learnt some Dutch with Duolingo, he has an awesome accent and knows more Dutch than me and his dad. He learnt some Polish with UTalk and joins us in Polish conversations. Languages are such a part of his life he actually forgot to put them on his CV!

As a multilingual parent, there are no failures, just learning experiences for you all. No parent does a perfect job, our personal parenting goal is not to make too much of a mess of parenting.

So, I’ve finally admitted I’m not a perfect parent or a perfect multilingual parent either and it’s not going too badly. How is your family language learning journey going?

How to Promote Your Child’s Development with Modern Toys

This week we have guest post from Rachel Summers.
How to Promote Your Child’s Development with Modern Toys

All kids love toys, that’s a given. It’s something that all parents deal with, and most of us actively encourage. Not only do we love seeing our kids happy, but we know it’s important to keep them entertained if we want to get anything at all done throughout the day. However, most importantly, we know that toys and playing can be amazing for our child’s development. It’s important to know what kind of development your child should be aiming for at each age, and their key milestones. Information on this is available at Child Development Info. The following tips can help you make sure that the toys you get for your child are the most helpful in terms of their physical, mental, and emotional growth.

1. Set a Foundation with Social Skills

Social skills are the first steps to your baby’s development, and they can start really early with games that involve sharing or taking turns. This could be with passing a ball or building blocks together. As your baby grows into a child, board games that involve multiple players and interaction can be a great way to teach them social skills.

2. Find Games That Encourage Creativity

Any game that encourages creativity is great for a child’s development. The parts of their brains that imagine things when they are children develop as they grow, creating creative thinkers and problem solvers. You can build on this as they grow, which could help them in the work place in later life. Games where your child uses their imagination are games without wrong endings, and with multiple options, so your child can become flexible and not need any rigid rules. Business magazines such as Forbes describe in detail how creative thinking is essential in the modern workplace, and that you can instill these skills early.

3. Tailor Games for Toddlers

Once your baby has grown out of some of their basic toys, you can start teaching them things like shapes and colours, as well as helping them practice their motor skills. These skills can help your child grow into happy, healthy, and active adults. Providing your toddlers with motor skills can give them confidence in their physical ability which is great when they start school.

4. Make the Most of Technology

We all hear how kids are going to be zombies who can’t interact with real people, because they spend all of their time with iPads or in front of a TV. And letting your child watch mindless TV or play silly games isn’t good for them in huge amounts – however you can utilise technology to your advantage. On a single tablet you can have thousands of story books, educational games and activities, and even apps to help develop a flair for writing, art, or music. Much like businesses will use UK Top Writers to make sure their content is flawless, parents can use apps and websites to build on their parenting skills and make sure they’re doing everything they can for their child.

5. Develop Their Language Skills

At a certain age, all babies will be able to talk. However, their level of language and their ability to express themselves can vary massively, so finding toys that are interactive, that speak or ask them to speak, and that address emotions and feelings can help them grow. Many adults struggle with communication, so you are doing your child a massive favour by helping them build on this skill as early as possible.

There will be times when a toy is just for fun. However, the rest of the time toys should be used to help your child advance and grow into a capable school child and confident adult, and assessing whether a toy meets any of the criteria described above is a great way of checking whether a toy is really good for your little one.

Lingo book giveaway

It’s not long until the Polyglot Gathering. I’m so excited to be going for the first time.

My husband went along to the Polyglot Gathering in Berlin last year. Read all about it here. 

In October he also travelled to Thessalonki in Greece for the Polyglot Conference.

One of the Keynote speakers was Gaston Dorren, author of LINGO- a language spotters guide to Europe. His talk was insightful and inspiring.

 

We read the book Lingo over a year ago (an inspired birthday gift) and learned an awful lot about the crossover of the European languages.

 

This is my favourite quote.

“Two languages in one head? No one can live at that speed! Good Lord, man, you’re asking the impossible.”

“But the Dutch speak four languages and they smoke marijuana.”

“Yes but that’s cheating!”

Eddie Izzard

 

It is an intriguing and entertaining book looking at the more than fifty European languages and dialects. I really enjoyed it and think it is a MUST READ for all linguists and Polyglots.

 

We’ve one copy to give away below. If you have a copy, have a go to win your friends one.

Good luck!

 

a Rafflecopter giveaway

 

Betty and Cat – Hennie’s Multilingual writing adventures

This week I have a real treat in store for you. An interview with the amazing Hennie, author of the Betty and Cat books.

Could you tell us a little about yourself?
I was born in Holland, immigrated to Montreal, then lived in Toronto, moved back to Holland when I had a mid-life crisis, and now spend my time between Holland and France.

How many languages do you speak?
I speak Dutch, French, and English. I studied German, but for some reason, the words won’t come out of my mouth properly! My current thing is learning Spanish.

Have you always been keen on languages?
I’ve always been keen on communicating, and sometimes it takes another language. At home, languages were always a thing – my dad was keen – he spoke four and started learning Spanish at an advanced age. He also thought Esperanto was the way forward and learned that.
Living in Montreal at a time when the English were in power, we were the only family I knew that had Francophone friends. We were different, they were different, and the people we lived among (the Anglophones) must have thought that we were different. Somehow, that ended up making us more tolerant, and I think more interesting in the long run.

Could you tell us a little about your language learning journey as a child,
Learning English (there were three of us kids; my parents already spoke school-English when we immigrated) was always fun at home. We shared stories, we showed off, we were shown off (I remember my dad having me recite Humpty Dumpty into a tape recorder for the folks back in Holland). It was never considered a chore, hard, un-fun, or extraordinary.
New year’s day we had Dutch friends for lunch and ended the day with French friends. My husband is American. So: we started the day in English, nattered in Dutch over lunch, spoke French all evening, and then went home talking English. There are millions of people all over the word who live like this, and were probably never taught to make a big deal of it. It just happens.

Could you tell us a little about your career background?
I was a copywriter all my working life. My greatest joy was writing a two-part children’s story for the newspapers around the Santa Claus Parade, sponsored by the department store I was working for. I even got a fan letter.
What inspired you to write and publish your books?
A friend here in France, an illustrator who has grandchildren growing up bilingually in Brussels, asked me if we couldn’t collaborate on a bilingual kids’ book. She ended up being too busy to illustrate it – but I caught the bug, and did it. Not for a second, though, did I consider a translated book – the Betty & Cat books just flopped out in two languages.

Anything else you’d wish to add?
There are so many people around the globe working with kids – and adults – teaching second, third and more languages it gives you hope for the future. Tout comprendre c’est tout pardonner. And one way to truly understand is to learn the language.

Find out more about Hennie’s amazing books at bettyandcat.com

What Chinese phrases you should know before you visit China?

FotoLuciachinaThis week we have a guest blog from Lucia from Lingholic. She is an inspirational polyglot.She is Portuguese and has a degree in English and German. At the moment she is curently taking a Master’s degree in English as a second language for young learners. She is also improving her Spanish and French!

So over to Lucia…

China, the world’s second biggest economy and home to over five thousand years of unique history and culture. Since China opened its door to the world in 1978, it has become one of the top business and leisure destinations in the world. Although traveling to a foreign country is always exciting, but it can also be difficult, especially when you don’t know the language. Of course, you don’t have to learn Chinese for months to become fluent and enjoy your time in China, but there are definitely some key phrases that will be very helpful for your experience. What Chinese phrases you should know before you visit China? I think these phrases are a good start for your trip preparation:

1. Hello
你好 [nǐ hǎo]
The world famous “Ni Hao” is likely the most well-known Chinese word, and for good reasons; in just about every language, you almost always start a conversation with “Hello” or “Hi”, which is why this is likely going to be the most frequently heard and said Chinese word for you during your time in China. As much as a smile is a universal language, it never hurts to also say hello. And if someone says it to you first – Don’t panic, the proper response to a “Ni Hao” is simply another “Ni Hao”.

2. How much (is this)?
多少钱 [duō shǎo qián]
Regardless if you’re the shopping type when you travel, there is no doubt that you will, at some point, have to ask “How much is this?” , it could be at a train station, Bus stop, or a small local restaurant. So make sure you are fully prepared when it comes to money matters.

3. Where is the toilet?
洗手间在哪里? [xǐ shǒu jiān zài nǎ lǐ]
No matter where you are, it’s always good to make sure you know how to find the nearest toilet. Let’s break this sentence into two parts; the first part is the word “xǐ shǒu jiān”, which means toilet, and “zài nǎ lǐ” literally means “at where”. You can replace the first part of the sentence with other words to find out where other things are, for example, “where is the ATM” would be “ATM zài nǎ lǐ” in Chinese.

4. Thank you & Excuse me
谢谢 [xiè xie] &不好意思[bù hǎo yì si]
Good manners never go out of style, even when you’re traveling. Saying thank you in Chinese when you’re in China is a great way to show your appreciation, and if nothing else, you will almost always receive a genuine smile in return!

Of course, having good manners isn’t just about saying thank you. In fact, being as polite as you can be when you’re asking for help is perhaps even more important. Before you ask someone where is the toilet, you can start the sentence with “bù hǎo yì si”, which works like “excuse me” in English. You can also use it to apologize when you accidentally bump into someone, or when you need to get someone’s attention.

5. My name is… I’m from….
我叫 (Your name),我是(country)人 [wǒ jiào (Your name) wǒ shì (country) rén]
There is no better way to experience a foreign country than to talk to the people! Even with the language barrier, you’ll still likely to learn a thing or two about the country and its culture. Start with a smile and “Ni hao”, then follow up with a little something about you!

Last but not least, you should definitely know how to say “No”.
6. I don’t want (something)
我不要[wǒ bú yào]
As a tourist or visitor, you will inevitably become a target for street vendors, or simply receive offers of services and products you may not need. To get yourself out of this type of unwanted situation, you can just politely, but firmly say “wǒ bú yào” or just “bú yào”, followed by the service or product offered.

In addition to a few common phrases, there are also a handful of things you should keep in mind for your trip to China, such as taking off your shoes before entering someone’s home, and always have your hotel’s business card (with Chinese characters) with you at all times.

Are there any other phrases you think are really important to know?

« Older Entries