Tag Archives: learning

What has an Armadillo got to do with homophones?

A few months ago I met Guy Moore. He has created a fun educational app to help with language learning, inspired by his grandfather. I was so intrigued by how story told to a young boy could in time become a learning tool for many, I’ve asked him to share his story on our blog. So here goes, over to you Guy… grandfather

This project all began because of my grandfather Clifford Frost who loved to tell me stories, and one day he told me a story when I was just six years old, and it has stuck with me all these years.

He sat me down and said
‘When I was a little boy Guy I was locked in a tower that was so high it went into the clouds. There was only one window with metal bars and I wondered how I was going to get out. Well I thought and I thought until my head grew sore, and with this/ saw I escaped from the tower. I was miles away from anywhere so I shouted and shouted until my voice grew hoarse ‘Help Help’, and on this horse I rode away until I reached an endless wall. Well I found half an orange, and a little bit further along I found another half of an orange. Two halves make a whole, so I climbed through the hole.
Even though it was quite short, I found it absolutely fascinating, charming, engaging and very educational.

Even at such a young age I realised how helpful it was.

We have also created a lovely back story film called “Aarchie. Where it all began’.

It was his creative use of the English language which was one of the reasons I decided to get into advertising.

So eventually 44 years later I decided with my writing partner Tony Malcolm to take it to the next level and create an interactive edutainment book. The Tales of Aarchie was born.
My granddad lived to the ripe old age of 103 and was overjoyed that Archie would be his legacy, and be passed down from generation to generation.
Working with a fantastic team of developers in Cardiff, and my best friend Les the illustrator, who is a veteran in the games industry including working on Angry Birds with Rovio, we wanted to create an educational story that makes learning for children fun. What has an Armadillo got to do with homophones?
The Tales of Aarchie is a funny, charming animated story that explains that quirk of the English language, the homophone.
Homophones are words that sound the same but mean completely different things like witch/which, horse/hoarse, plane/plain and so on.

The interactive app encourages children to press the homophones to move the story on, and therefore literally highlighting the play on words.
The benefits of this are pretty simple.
65% of people are visual learners and take in a lot more information when they are having fun.
We have created two versions.
An animated interactive app while reading, or a ‘read it to me’ mode.
Plus we also have a digital e-book.

The interactive story is aimed at children between the ages of 5-9, but we have seen other children who aren’t English be a little bit older.
At the moment it’s only available on an i-pad, but we are currently working on an Android version too.

There is a Lite version of the app which is free, and then there is the full all singing and dancing version which is £2.99.
Both versions are available on The Apple Store.
The one thing we all really believe in and as a team feel very strongly about are in app purchases. Well, with The Tales of Aarchie there are none and never will be.

However, he haven’t stopped with the app and book, we also have Aarchie…the Puppet.
Aarchie has been magically transformed by a brilliant puppeteer called Phil Fletcher.
So we acquired a YouTube channel just for Aarchie and we want it to be a brilliant edutainment channel that children and parents will enjoy, and refer back to again and again for new episodes.
With our gorgeous puppet and blue screen technology we’ll create broadcasts of funny stories and facts about English presented in both short 20-30 second bursts or longer formats.
We have yet to start filming, but this will hopefully start in the very near future. How much fun can be had with homophones?

Want to try the app for free? Guy has kindly provided two free passes for our readers. The two lucky winners will be chosen at random on Monday 12th November

COMPETITION NOW CLOSED

Language learning with bilingual animals? Whatever next!

Regular readers of our blog will know we love books so when Hennie asked us to review this book I was excited to find out more. Language learning with bilingual animals? Whatever next!

Il neige chez Betty and Cat In the snow by Hennie Jacobs and Christine Duvernois

Betty and Cat

Betty and Cat

It is a really interesting concept I’d not come across before. Hennie contacted me about her books and I was very interested to find out more.

In this story, Betty the dog and cat have lots of fun/ don’t want to play in the snow. It’s a fun story as Betty eventually shows cat how much fun snow can be (If you dress for the weather) hilarity ensues as they find ways to stay warm whilst they explore the beautiful snowy landscape outside the front door.

Hennie describes the books as follows: Betty & Cat is a series of children’s books that reflect the way today’s children play with language. You won’t find a translation, just two animals communicating: Cat in English and Betty in Dutch or French depending on the book.
I found it a bit strange to start with, never having come across a book like it before. As a multilingual family, we do often have conversations in two languages at the same time. For our family, this is very normal but I’ve never seen it on paper. Nathalia’s CD does this a lot.
My daughters had a look with me, and commented on the beautiful pictures. As a mum of children who have always loved to read (sometimes the same book over and over!) the illustration of the book is very very important.
This books helps bilingual children to see how normal and acceptable it is to switching between the two languages. This is often needed as bilingual children get older and want to fit in with their peers.
These books offer adults the opportunity to participate in the bilingual experience of the children. If relatives only speak one language they are still able to share a story with the child.

The books are also good for children who are struggling with learning English and who may not see the point of learning another language. The fun of the stories brings learning in by stealth, part of the everyday family life, in my opinion the best way to learn together as a family.

The books are a really interesting concept and a fun way to bring language learning into everyday. Have a look for yourself on http://www.bettyandcat.com/

The books are available in Spanish/English and Spanish French, as well as Dutch/French and the usual English with French, Dutch, or Spanish.

To find out more check out http://www.bettyandcat.com/

Language Show Live fun

Language Show Live

language-show

This weekend we had a lot of fun as a family at Language Show Live. We found some brilliant resources and met some lovely people along the way. Check out our (rather crazy) video of our visit.

Here are links to get in touch with the people featured.

Confucius institute

European Schoolbooks

Apple Languages

Superstickers

Hekayatona- Arabic resources for children

Rockalingua

uTalk

FlashSticks

One Third Stories

Tutor Ming

Bonjour Grammaire

Did you visit Language Show Live 2016?

What was your favourite part?

It’s Lingotastic’s birthday

It’s our birthday!

This week we celebrate Lingotastic’s third birthday!

I can hardly believe my dream of encouraging and supporting family language learning would come so far!

Here are the photos of our first ever class in the newspaper

laterneumzug

 

  • Thanks to our weekly Lingotastic classes:
  • A number of children have started school already able to communicate simply in four languages.
  • Parents have grown in confidence in their own language skills and ability to pass on these skills to their own children.
  • Bilingual families have found others to share their journey together.
  • Families have found books, songs, toys and simple activities which they can use day by day in their family language learning journey.
  • Families have experienced the joy of singing together (whatever the language)
  • Children have had their eyes opened to other languages, cultures and traditions which leads to a greater acceptance and understanding of others. (So needed at this current time)
  • Children are able to sing in many languages with almost a native accent!
  • My own family have also been learning the songs and sharing the stories from the classes and are really progressing in their language learning.

Lingotastic provide weekly language classes, school lunchtime clubs and private classes in German, French and Spanish. We simply make, play, sing and have fun with languages together and it’s amazing to see the results.

Classes run in Bucks, and Herts.

To help with your language learning at home we’ve produced as CD of songs in German, English, French, Spanish, Mandarin and Esperanto. Available on www.Lingotastic.co.uk/shop

To celebrate our birthday, we have three copies to giveaway. Do you want to win your own copy? Enter in the rafflecopter below. You can get up to 12 chances to win. Good luck!

It’s our birthday!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Is that the mummy of Kleiner weißer Fisch?

kleiner-weisser-fisch

This weeks book is Kleiner weißer Fisch by Guido von Genechten published by ArsEdition

I’d love to tell you about my favourite German picture book. I first came across it in our local library who had it on loan from bright books. It is a beautiful, colourful board book written for native German speakers over two years.

The story follows the adventures of a little white fish who has lost his mummy. The text invites you get involved in the story “Is this the mummy of the little white fish?” No spoilers but it has a happy ending!

It has lots of repetition so it is quickly understood. I’ve used this book in a library setting and none native German speakers quickly joined in with ja and nein.

Through the story you will learn the names of the sea creatures in German, colours and yes and no. You will hear how questions are asked in German. My daughters learned their colours in German with the help of this book and bath fizzers (but that is another story)

I’ve used it with children up to eight years who have no previous knowledge of German. As you can see I use lots of props so the children can match the animal to the one in the story. I made my own little white fish. It is a really fun interactive story when can be enjoyed again and again.

This book was originally written in Dutch and I’ve also found a translation in French if these are your target languages.

I hope this blog has inspired you to share stories with your little one, however young or old they are.

You can buy your own copy here.

If you’d like to hear me reading the story in German. Have a look here.

If you missed the last picture book review have a look here.

Do you have any picture books you would recommend and why?

Learning OR playing, why choose?

games

At Lingotastic we love languages and always on the lookout for resources that will help with language learning. My daughter was over the moon to be asked to review a game.

We were sent two of the products from the Pic’n Mix range, Little Fashionista and Smart Watch.

 

Packaging

They are in good solid packaging so much less likely to get damaged than in a cardboard box. The cute carry handle lends itself to a take out toy for the times a quiet toy is needed, like parent’s evening for the older children  or quiet church service. The toy  is made of durable plastic  pieces which stick together with velcro. A multilingual instruction booklet is included, the translations are likely not done by a native speaker, but on the whole is understandable.

Play of game

Little fashionista is a simple doll dressing game which can either be played by matching the pieces on the game card or dressing the boy or girl as you wish.

Smart Watch is a clock face with numbers, countable pictures and scenes from daily routine to match to times.

Educational use

As we played together with the Little Fashionista game we talked about what we saw and named the clothing in English, we talked about the weather that the clothes were suited for and moved on to naming the items of clothing in German and French. We talked about the colours of clothes in English, German and French.

 

As we played the Smart Watch game we started by assembling the clock face and identifying the numbers. I put the counting pieces on the clock face in random places and my  daughter swapped them for the correct numbers , we  then moved them to the correct places on the clock. We played in English and German. We talked about daily routine and put the pictures on the clock to best match her routine. We used the clock handles to tell the time in English and German.

The game has many opportunities for learning together through play, whatever the language. So learning OR playing, why choose?

 

I asked my daughter what she thought and  she said “I think they are really good and I liked to play with them.”

My thoughts as a mum and teacher are “I like their simplicity and versatility. I may have to borrow the games for my one to one classes.”

Would you like to get them for your little one?

Here are the links

Let us know how you use them to learn together.

We were sent this games by Pic’n Mix to review. The opinions in this article are our own.

 

Phizz-Whizzing home school help with Education City

Why Phizz-Whizzing? Well today is Roald Dahl Day (100 years since he was born) and I think he would have used this word to describe the Education City games.

We unexpectedly started our home school journey at the end of May. As a teacher I had lots of ideas, unfortunately with continuing to work time is limited. I was told about Education City by the home school consultant at our local council, so got in touch with them. They set me up with a free trial and it has been an absolute godsend.
It is set up by the age of the child, covering the areas of the curriculum they cover in the school year. The child can explore Maths, English, Science, French, German and Spanish, all at their own level. The work is marked as they do it and they can print certificates of the work they have done.

Jasmin’s review
Education city is game you can use to learn lots of things you would learn at school.
It is good because can use it yourself or working with an adult.
I think the certificates are good because I like the pictures on them.
I would make it better by making it more funky and cool like BBC bitesize.

Emily’s review
I liked to play the games and learn. My favourite game is the one with puppets in different languages.

As a busy mum trying to keep up to my daughter’s education and work I have found Education City a massive help. I could set her working independently on a subject, she enjoyed doing it on the whole and could print a certificate to show what she had done for our records. It was great to know she could make a lot of her own choices about what she wanted to do and it was at a level geared to her age. I like that it covers many subject areas so I found it a great home school resource. They are offering a free trial at the moment it’s brilliant time to check it out. Let us know what you think.

The hundred mile an hour dog -Master of disguise

 Jasmin and the hundred mile an hour dog

Jasmin and the hundred mile an hour dog

Hello, I’m Jasmin and I have been asked to write a review of The hundred mile an hour dog -Master of disguise by Jeremy Strong. I have already read The Problems with a Python so I was pleased to be asked to review this book.

My most favorite character is the dog named Streaker because he is fast and funny.

A brief outline of the story is that the dog was naughty and the dad tried to send it to boot camp so the boy disguised the dog and the dog gets dog-napped by accident.

I would recommend this book to boys and girls aged 6-10 who like books about mystery.
I like the whole book but my favorite bit was when they dyed Streaker’s fur white to disguise him.

There is an exciting competition running on the Jeremy Strong website. Print out a picture of Streaker the dog and create your own amazing disguise.

If this review of The hundred mile an hour dog -Master of disguise has made you want to read other books by the same author check these out.

Holidays – The perfect time for a Dinosaur Dance!

When-I-was-Your-Age-NathaliaSummer is a great time to learn languages together as a family. I’ll be reviewing a few great resources over the next few weeks.  The first is a  brilliant new CD by Nathalia. When I was your age. Cuando era Pequeña.
We were really lucky to win this CD on a giveaway on Instagram. If you’re not following us on Instagram then click here

 

There are 10  brilliant songs on this album.

 

  • Dinosaur Dance
  • Señor Opuesto
  • It’s My Birthday
  • Pesadillas
  • Qué llueva
  • When I Grow Up  
  • La Iguana Pepa
  • Oh Math
  • ¿Qué me dices tu?
  • Otra Vez

 

As a family, Spanish is our least used language,  so when I started to play the CD in the car I did not know how my kids would get on with it. I need not have worried though!To start with I was listening with my teenager (who will not tolerate rubbish music) and he enjoyed it- high praise indeed!

To start with my girls only wanted to listen to the English songs. After a few listens, the bilingual “When I Grow Up” is a firm favourite. My 8 year old even said mid song, the Spanish word for world is mundo !

 

Want to have a listen for yourself? Listen to a sample of the album and purchase it here.

The album has a real mix of styles across many genres of music, from swing in dinosaur dance to Latin fiesta feel  in Señor Opuesto  to Gypsy Kings style in Que Llueva.

My personal favourite is Otra vez, a rousing African style song encouraging listeners to get up and try again.

We really enjoy Pesadillas with it’s very catchy summer vibes, the girls were singing along, in Spanish, very quickly.

There is so much variety I can’t do it justice in a review, you need to listen to a samples here.

The songs flow seamlessly from Spanish to English and back again. It would be a great addition to your CD collection if you are a bilingual Spanish English family. It helps children realise it is normal to speak two languages.

This CD has many styles and does not get boring, no matter how many times you have heard it. Because of this CD my girls (and me) are singing along in Spanish so improving our Spanish pronunciation and vocabulary whilst having fun singing .

 

If you are a GCSE Spanish teacher this CD would be a great resource to use in the classroom. The when I grow up song has a lot of vocabulary on jobs and great repetition of future tense. “Cuando será grande”

 

The CD is available to download  here. as well as physical copy from Nathalia’s website.
Keep the learning going this summer with great resources like this and get your kids up, moving to the dinosaur dance (plus many more) and singing in different languages!

Can you learn languages in the bath?

duckCan you improve your family language skills in the bath?

Family language learning is rarely structured, just making the most of the different opportunities which arise, but can you improve language skills in the bath?

My daughters, really got to grips with their German colours after Oma sent some bath fizzers which colour the bath water. We would ask them what colour bath they would like and they had to answer in German. If they got it correct there was an immediate reward of a fun coloured bath. It worked really quickly for them!
We were sent something similar to try by the lovely ladies at funkydz

Bubbles are a brilliant way to engage and motivate children and get them speaking in another language in German they are called die Seifenblasen, we do it for a minute and then stop. The bubbles start again if they say “Nochmal” (again). They very quickly learned that word.

We LOVE to sing (well mummy anyway!) In the bath, garden and the high street (and sometimes to my childrens’ embarrassment in the supermarket) Singing in the bath is such a fun, silly way to bring languages in to the bathroom.
As you may have guessed German is our second language at home. A good German song to sing in the bath is “funf kleine Fische”- Five little fishes.Don’t forget to snap, snap, snap snap!

This would be brilliant to use with fishes and sharks in the bath (bath toys may work better than real ones!)

 

We’ve a few ducks in our bath (plastic ones of course) which we use to sing “Alle meine Entchen” -All my little duckings

German may be our second language, but that does not stop us having language learning fun in other languages too.
We’ve a few French songs we enjoy which involve boats and splashing. They are brilliant to sing in the bath.

We get out our boats for “Bateau sur l’eau” – boat on the water.

“Tapent tapent petit mains” – clap clap little hands

After the line about the fish swimming we add “et plouf dans l’eau” and splash in the water.

 

So, what are you waiting for? Run that bath, pour in the bubbles and get playing with languages together!

 

We were sent free samples of bath products by Funkydz to try at home. It sparked memories of our language learning adventures so I thought I’d share our stories as well as a link to buy your own.
http://www.funkydz.co.uk/

 

Do you know any good splashy songs in other languages ? Let me know in the comments below.

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