Tag Archives: language

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?

You’ll never guess what happened on Friday!

On Saturday I went along to Mumsnet workfest 2016. I was still very surprised to be going along. Twenty two hours before I did not know I was going! I got a tweet from Barclays to say I’d won a pair of tickets. I looked at the website and was so excited about the line up. Just a quick call to my hubby to chat about childcare and I was all set to go. The Mumsnet workfest looked to be aimed as mums returning to work after maternity leave. I figured there were a couple of seminars that looked really good and it was a great opportunity to network.

The most surprisingCath andMe part of the day was when I met Cath. I arrived early and got chatting to another he. She had an awful lot in common with me. I’m from Bradford, and she lives there now. We both LOVE languages, especially German, so we chatted about that, about our families, and the Lingotastic classes I run. Anyone who has read my blogs, or met me in the flesh will know that family language learning is my passion, so another mum looking to bring more language learning into her family life and maybe run classes like mine is an absolute joy to me. Cath said this was something she’d like to do so discussed my journey and ideas for her to work towards something similar.

The first event was with the keynote panel of Karen Blackett OBE, Jo Whiley, Jess Phillips MP and Kirstie Mackey. It was awesome to hear them share their stories and “How they do it all.”Panel speaking
Karen is a truly inspirational women who has created a culture in her company which includes and celebrates family. Jo Whiley shared how through her radio career she has worked with supportive people who have allowed her to be a mum as well as an employee. The two shining light pearls of wisdom from this session were “One good parent is enough”- Jess, and “Bring the whole of you to work” – Karen. If the day had stopped there, this would have been brilliant already.

I’m self employed, so the break out session on The Key to building your business was just what I wanted to hear. It was so great to hear others stories. I heard what I know now to be true, “Starting your own business is not the easy option”. I also had the time to reflect on how lucky I am to have a hubby who has let me run a selfie2business which did not make any money for the first two years.
For the second breakout session I walked in, and the lovely Esther Stanhope was bouncing around with excitement. It was titled “How to network when you hate small talk” There were lots of brilliant little tips I could quickly put into practice. We had to break into pairs and speed network. I found out that Katie loves Bradford (where I’m from) and writing and blogging. I was so excited I took a silly selfie. She confessed that prior to this she was a selfie virgin!

Lunch was delicious restaurant quality food and great chance to network. I chatted with a bilingual Russian & English mum about what they do at home, and she said advice and support would make a massive difference to her as her daughter grows. This was a massive encouragement to me and something I am considering I how to work in practice.

 

I went along to the self esteem workshop with Kim Morgan from Barefoot Coaching. The room was pretty full. It was a high speed session including many ideas and a couple of group exercises. I came away with a revelation that as women we all struggle with similar issues which was a real eyeopener to me. Her book The Coach’s Casebook looked a good way to follow up on the session.

We were so fortunate to be able to find out “What we did next”-inspiring stories with five awesome women who were inspired to launch their own business by Workfest 2015.

I was so excited that the guest speaker this year was Matthew Syed. My hubby has been reading his book “Bounce”, so I was excited I could hear him speak. He presented so clearly. This was a real lightbulb moment, to see my own growth mindset and fixed mindset. It was a real eyeopener as a mum, to help me to encourage my own children to see that if things go wrong, failure is not final, and though failing we learn how to do it better next time.
MattSyed If you want to buy his books Black box thinking and Bounce for yourself, click through.

It was an awesome day and I came away feeling comfortable in my own skin and that I’m not doing a bad job as a mum. Not bad at all for an event I’d not heard about before the Friday.

This blog is the first in a monthly series celebrating women in business and the workplace. I believe that if something is not celebrated it can die, so I want to take the chance to celebrate some awesome women. If you’d like to write a guest blog for us get in touch.

Is this THE best method for learning a language?

Languages, lessons and learning

This week we have a blog from Alex who is just as evangelistic about early language learning as us here at Lingotastic. Over to Alex…

Hi, I’m Alex the worst tanned Paraguayan EVER. This is a sort of summary of my language learning journey and the entrepreneurial adventure I’ve embarked on since graduating from university in languages last year. I’ve co-founded One Third Stories, where we create bedtime stories that start in English and end in a different lingua.

I would describe my upbringing as alternativo, as there aren’t many people who are born in Paraguay, America del Sud and look this white. I’m told I sound typically British when I speak in inglese, but then when I switch to spagnolo, people will recognise a strong accent from America del Sud that feels out of place, given my pasty complexion. But that’s just me (and my unfortunately pasty siblings).

A none Paraguayan looking family

A none Paraguayan looking family

There are so many benefits to learning another language, but when I was growing up I never realised how lucky I truly was. My parents were missionaries (another reason for my use of the word alternativo), and they made the conscious decision to bring me, my brother and my sister up bilingual. My dad was the linguist (he just loves words) and would speak to us three in spagnolo, and my madre would speak to us in inglese. We attended an international scuola there studying everything in both lingue.

Moving to the UK helped me realise how lucky I was to speak other lingue. From a professional perspective they helped me get my first ‘real job’, as a Spanish Assistant at the scuola I attended as a student (Biddenham Upper School). Academically, I realised that it was something I wanted to pursue further so I decided study Politics with italiano e portoghese at università. My Year Abroad was the best year of my life, and the one where I probably changed the most. I was an intern at Armani, studied in Venice and volunteered in Brazil during the World Cup. I truly believe every person should live abroad for a little while, but unfortunately it’s something that doesn’t happen often enough.

Brazil, France and England/Paraguay during the 2014 World Cup

Brazil, France and England/Paraguay during the 2014 World Cup

Besides offering me experiences to meet amazing people, opportunità to travel and grow as a person, lingue have played opened up so many doors. I graduated last year and with one Third Stories found a way to pursue this passion I share with Sarah, and inspire the linguists of tomorrow. I’m lucky enough to be working with one of my best friends Jonny Pryn, one of the first people I met in the UK, who has a lifetime worth of negative experiences in languages and is absolutely convinced we can provide a single positive one for future generations. If you want to check out our work we have a free audiobook of ‘The Three Little Pigs’ to learn español or française.

'The Three Little Pigs'

‘The Three Little Pigs’

‘The Three Little Pigs’

Is this THE best method for learning a language? If you feel like you’ve understood the lingua (italiano) I’ve embedded in my story, then our ‘Clockwork Methodology’ works. If you want to find out a little più about it go to One Third Stories, visit our website or email me at alex@onethirdstories.com

Let us know what you think in the comments below.

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