Tag Archives: multilingual

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?

Knight’s school and Chaucer -the Canterbury Tales Experience

We were so excited to be asked to review the Canterbury Tales Experience. It was a brilliant introduction to ‘Olde English’ culture.

We had only vaguely heard of Chaucer prior to our visit to Canterbury, so we took out a few books from the library to help familiarise ourselves with the story (Yes, I am uncultured!). The books which were most helpful were: Illustrated Canterbury Tales (Illustrated Story Collections) , Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales by Marcia Williams (4-Feb-2008) Paperback, and The Canterbury Tales in Modern VerseChaucer in Modern Verse. This meant we were familiar with the stories, and had talked about them with the kids, before we got there.
As we toured, we realised this preparation was not necessary as the stories were told really clearly, with lots of illustration from the set.

The multilingual audio guide told the stories as you reached each set. The guide was in English, Dutch, German, French, Japanese and Italian, as well as a less bawdy kids-English version. At the start, children​ were encouraged to choose a medieval costume to wear as we joined in the pilgrimage to Canterbury and listened to the stories along the way.

The guides begun the story in the Tabard Inn in London, where we joined the pilgrims on their journey to Canterbury. The experience lasted about forty minutes, with a combination of live interaction and audio guides. It was really cleverly done: our favourite of the five stories was the one where the lady showed off her bottom (The Miller’s Tale).
medieval clothing, swords and helmets, and, surprisingly, mead for an authentic medieval experience. We had to take a bottle of locally produced mead home, of course!

After we had visited, we went into the churchyard, which had been transformed into a Medieval Story Garden complete with Knight School, herb garden, storytelling tent and Maypole Dance tuition. We spent an hour there and the kids loved it. Emily liked the Knight School best. As a mum, it was great to see my 16, 9 and 8 year olds all training to be knights together, though they did need reminding a few times not to fight each other. The guide was brilliant at keeping it under control and safe, which with children and swords is no mean feat!

Our amazing guide taught us all about medieval medicine in the herb garden, and we played a brilliant ‘match the herb to the illness’ game. My girls liked it so much they played it three times.

My favourite part of the Story Garden experience was the maypole dancing. It took a lot of practise and co-ordination to get the final effect to work. There was a lot of hilarity as we got tangled up along the way, chatting to other families we had only just met.

My middle daughter loves books, so the story tent was just her thing; full of medieval stories – including one by JK Rowling, which we promised to buy a copy of for her later.

When I checked my watch, I was surprised to see that we had spent over an hour in the Story Garden – my youngest even restarted the Knight School with another family, as she enjoyed it so much.

The Canterbury Tales Experience was suitable for all our family, aged from 8 to 42

If we’ve convinced you to join in the fun, there are a few special events to add to the overall enjoyment.

Monday 1 May, 11am – 3pm
Medieval Story Garden: Mystical Beasts
An assortment of Mystical Beasts will descend on The Canterbury Tales’ Medieval Story Garden for May Day, with themed activities including a Mystical Beasts Hunt, Longbow talks with our costumed character and the opportunity to practice some beast-slaying skills at Knight School!

Saturday 27 May – Sunday 4 June, 11am – 3pm
Medieval Story Garden: Magical Patterns
The Canterbury Tales team will be exploring the magic of patterns this May half term with a variety of activities in the Medieval Story Garden. Have your hair beautifully braided, marvel at the magic patterns in kaleidoscopes, try your hand at maypole dancing and enjoy a demonstration of Astrolabes, ancient instruments for determining time and the position of stars, which Chaucer himself was fascinated with.

Saturday 22 July – Friday 1 September, 11am – 3pm
Medieval Story Garden: Summer
Venture to The Canterbury Tales church yard this summer for a selection of medieval activities, all included in the visitor attraction’s admission price. Split into four zones, the church yard will be transformed into a Medieval Story Garden, offering younger guests the chance to try Maypole Dancing, hone their dragon slaying skills at Knight School, observe Medieval Medicine demonstrations and be enthralled by a tale in the Storytelling tent from a costumed character.

Saturday 2 & Sunday 3 December
Artisan Christmas Gift Fair
FREE ENTRY
A special festive market with a medieval twist. Shoppers will be able to step back in time to the streets of 14th century England and browse gifts from a host of talented Kent artisans and crafters.

Saturday 16 & Sunday 17 December
Magical Medieval Christmas
Enjoy a magical medieval Christmas at the award-winning Canterbury Tales attraction. Serenaded by carol singers, guests will meet Santa’s elves, write a Christmas wish to post in the special mail box and visit Santa’s grotto where there will be a gift for every child.

Disclaimer

We were given free admission to the experience in exchange for a review. These are our own thoughts and opinions.

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?

How do you introduce your culture to your children?

Olga and family
As a multilingual family we love to celebrate other multilingual families. I feel we can all learn from each other in raising a multilingual family. This week meet Olga and her family and hear how she passes on her culture to her children.. So over to Olga.

We are a family of five, living in the UK, West Yorkshire. My name is Olga and I’m originally from Russia. My husband Richard is a British-born Jamaican. I’m a teacher of English and German as well as an interpreter and simply the person who loves life. My husband is a musician so he spends a lot of time travelling. We have three amazing mixed-race kids.

Keano, age 9, was born in Russia and has lived there for his first three years before we moved to England. Teanna, age 4, was born here in the UK and is a very vibrant girl. Ronomi, 6 months old, was also born here and is a very lovely cuddly baby.
All our kids are bilingual. Well, apart from Ronomi who hasn’t started speaking yet. At home we speak two languages on a daily basis – Russian and English and sometimes my husband speaks Jamaican Patois.

“You live a new life for every new language you speak” Czech proverb.

When our first child was born we sort of used “one parent-one language” approach but Russian became the “dominant” language because of my son growing up in a Russian-speaking environment and so, when we moved to England, he struggled with English at first when he started nursery. Then I decided to use both languages to make sure he developed equal language skills in both English and Russian and expanded his English vocabulary so he wouldn’t have any difficulties in school. We would read books in both languages, listen to audiobooks, watch TV in both languages, talk to friends and relatives from both family sides.
When our daughter was born we sort of stuck to the same routine – me speaking Russian and English and my husband – English and Partois. Though Teanna took more time to start babbling she still did all her best to speak two languages at the same time.
Both Keano and Teanna sometimes mix two languages in the same sentences. But I noticed it only happens when they are talking to me as they know that I would still understand them whereas with their dad they would speak only English or a bit of Partois without even slightest effort to switch into Russian.

At the moment me and Keano are trying to learn basic Japanese. He finds it easy to understand grammar and has no problem pronouncing words. I suppose that’s one of the advantages of being bilingual – the ability to easily grasp different languages.
At the moment we as a family are producing the series of videos for Russian-English bilingual kids on Russian history. Keano offered his help to narrate them.

Learning a language is not just about knowing the words and phrases. It’s also learning about the culture of the people who speak it, their history, traditions.

OPOL or bust? What’s the best method for language learning?

I’ve heard it said many times that one parent one language (OPOL) is the best if not only way of family language learning. It is often held up as the Holy Grail of bilingual families.
In our home OPOL was not possible, as my husband was not keen to do this. He’d only lived in England two years by then and felt consolidating his English was most important. I’m native English and had studied German to GCSE, so started to pass on what I knew when our son was small. Maik did help me work on my German, so me and my son were learning together. We found some French books in a local shop when he was a little over a year and we started to read those to him now and again.

Il fait comment le caméléon?

Il fait comment le caméléon?


It was all very ad hoc, and in the very early internet days we did not come across anyone doing the same. I just felt it was important so we shared German books together, recited days of the week in the car, sung along to nursery rhyme CDs, counted on the swings, played with toys which spoke German and watched German DVDs together as well as German satellite TV. My thinking was to give as much language exposure as possible which he could build on in school. Yearly visits to Germany provided a good chance for him to meet German speaking people and practice speaking. Food vocab was considered most important! We celebrated German festivals like Martinstag and Nikolaustag together. It was hard work and I was not sure how much difference it was making.
A few years later my girls were born and I met a few German speaking mums with similar age children. It was so encouraging to be able to speak to someone outside our family in German and talk with them about how they brought German into their family. We shared books, DVDs and CDs which was great. We also found out about a German Lutheran church about an hour away so we were able to join with them for Martinstag and Nikolaustag.Nikolaus Boots
My children are not fluent in German but can understand a lot and communicate in the country. My son can easily pick up native accents (and mimic regional accents too) and speaks better Dutch than his parents. I put this down to hearing and using a few languages from a young age. My six year old was astounded when I told her some families only speak English.

So back to the opening question, OPOL or bust? What’s the best method for language learning?
I think there is no best way of family language learning. Raising multilingual children is a flexible and very personal process, do what works for you and your family, make it part of your lifestyle. It needs to be something which works for you and your family in the long term.
Bilingualism is a massive asset to your children in the long term and as parents we are so fortunate to be able to give it to our children. Just do what works for you all and enjoy the journey together.

What has been your family experience? We’d love to hear from you in the comments below, or you could even write us a guest blog.

Song translating fun.

Savez-vous-planter-les-chouxThe songs we use in our classes are a mix of those familiar English nursery rhymes and songs like Incy Wincy spider and traditional songs in the target language to help the families appreciate that culture. We have a few French songs I’d love to use but we’ve not yet got English translations that can be sung to the same tune to help introduce the song. We’re also starting working on our French CD so it all becomes a bit more urgent!

We were sat round the table having Sunday tea and I asked my family for ideas. This is how it went…

The first song was Mernier tu dors

Meunier, tu dors, (mime sleeping)
Ton moulin, va trop vite. (roll arms)
Meunier, tu dors, (mime sleeping)
Ton moulin, va trop fort
Ton moulin, ton moulin (roll arms faster)
Va trop vite
Ton moulin, ton moulin (roll arms backwards)
Va trop fort.
Ton moulin, ton moulin
Va trop vite
Ton moulin, ton moulin
Va trop fort.

My eight year old started and after five minutes we had this translation which can be sung and keeps the feel of the song.

Miller, wake up
The wind it is blowing
Miller, wake up.
The wind it is strong.

Your windmill, your windmill,
It is too fast.
Your windmill, your windmill,
is too strong.
Your windmill, your windmill,
It is too fast.
Your windmill your windmill,
is too strong.

It you don’t know the song here is a live version we recorded last year.

This second song, I’ve wanted to use for ages. It has a fun tune, is silly and is a great way to learn body parts. It must be fairly old as my mum learned it at school!

Savez-vous planter les choux
À la mode, à la mode
Savez-vous planter les choux
À la mode de chez nous

On les plante avec les pieds
À la mode, à la mode
On les plante avec les pieds
À la mode de chez nous

On les plante avec le genou
À la mode, à la mode
On les plante avec le genou
À la mode de chez nous

On les plante avec le nez
À la mode, à la mode
On les plante avec le nez
À la mode de chez nous

On les plante avec le coude
À la mode, à la mode
On les plante avec le coude
À la mode de chez nous

The google translate of this is hilarious !

“Do you plant cabbage
Fashionable, trendy
Do you plant cabbage
The way we do it at home”

After a few minutes we came up with.

Cabbage planting is such fun
Like we do it, like we do it.
Cabbage planting is such fun,
Like we do it, come along.

We can plant it with our feet,
Like we do it, like we do it.
We can plant it with our feet,
Like we do it, come along.

We can plant it with our knee,
Like we do it, like we do it.
We can plant it with our knee,
Like we do it, come along.

We can plant it with our nose,
Like we do it, like we do it.
We can plant it with our nose
Like we do it, come along.

We can plant it with our elbow,
Like we do it, like we do it.
We can plant it with our elbow
Like we do it, come along.

Next term’s French class we’ll be reading “la petit poule rousse” The little red hen. We’ll finally we using this song.

I need to find a cabbage prop! Any ideas where?

Do you use songs in your language learning? Do you have fun translating them. Let me know in the comments below.

A Polyglot Christmas

As a polyglot family we think it is really important for our children to experience other cultures. To understand and empathise with other cultures is just as important as speaking the language. Winter is a dark time and midwinter festivals are there to bring light and celebration.
This week’s blog is about the midwinter festivals we celebrated as a family, our polyglot Christmas.
As a German and English family we celebrated St Nikolaus Day on 6th December. Here is a video of us finding our boots the next day.

 

We’ve done this since our children were young. It’s just what we do as family at that time of year. My middle daughter often gets embarrassed about being different, but she was really pleased to discover a few of her Polish friends celebrated St Nikolaus day, too.
Our local church held a St Lucia celebration. I was so keen to see it for myself, having heard a few others talk about it. Here is the video of the event.


After this brilliant celebration we shared some typical Swedish food together and we had the chance to talk to some children who are bilingual Swedish and English. They love that they can have lives in both countries. One girl talked with glee about the summer house her family have in Northern Sweden.

 

As a family we also light the lights of Hanukkah, remembering how God provided for his people when their temple was destroyed. Eight nights of remembering God’s goodness and the chance to learn a bit of Hebrew together.
We celebrated Christmas in the UK with my parents with English Christmas carols and mostly English traditions, though they did pick us up a few times for answering them in German. Have you had a polyglot Christmas? Let us know in the comments below.
ChristmasPicture
I hope you and your family have had a lovely Christmas. It just remains for our family to wish you and your family a very happy and blessed new year.

Sarah, Maik and family.

Santa’s favourite language learning resource!

As you may know Santa is THE most multilingual person on the planet as he reads letters from children all over the world. I even saw him signing on Facebook this week.

As a fellow polyglot he also was the first to get his hands on our brand new of Mostly German CD and I’m sure he’d like to put one in your stocking.

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We launched Lingotastic in January 2014. It’s been a very very exciting journey.
This week has been the most exciting so far. We picked up our physical copies of our Mostly German CD.

CD box

We also shot a silly video of the unboxing. I’m sure it will make you giggle too!

We’ve sold a few copies so far and had some brilliant feedback.
I loved recording the CD and it really comes through in the recording.

Singing is a really powerful tool in language learning, research is now showing. In singing you pick up the sounds of a language and quickly join in yourself. By bypassing the analytical part of the brain, you quickly acquire a good accent. This works for grown ups as well as children. When singing, you are no longer limited by grammar tables and vocab lists, free to enjoy the language and learn along the way.

For little ones, it’s an amazing foundation in language learning and the start of a bright future. We’ve seen this time and time again in our classes and now you can enjoy it at home too, with the most popular songs from our German classes. Most of these songs have not been translated into English before. We’ve also included verses in French, Spanish, Mandarin and Esperanto. Contrary to popular belief this does not confuse language learners (big and small) but actually helps language acquisition. Though these songs may be children’s songs, adults will enjoy singing along too.

Santa has his copy and I’m sure he’d like to put one in your stocking.

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Get yours at www.Lingotastic.co.uk/shopLingo_web_CD

 

Download yours at

Immigration, Emigration and the European Day of Languages

Sprachen verbindenHappy European Day of Languages! We’re lucky to have another blog from Maik Barrett. Over to you Maik…

The 26th September is a significant day. Not only is it my brother’s birthday, but ever since 2001’s “European Year of Languages”, this was the day set with the objective to encourage language learning across Europe. Of course multilingualism and cultural diversity is a fact of life for a lot of people already, considering that according to the Evening Standard there are 300 languages spoken in London alone. As has often been observed, you can easily walk down Oxford Street and not catch sight of a single native English speaker. And with so many multinational companies headquartered in and around London, people from across Europe, and sometimes even further afield, come to work in the UK. Add to that the increase in immigration, whether it is those fleeing war, or those coming to find work, and you end up with what is probably the most ethnically and linguistically diverse part of the whole of Europe. Which adds to the irony of the European Day of Languages sharing its hashtag #EDL with the English Defence League!

Of course I myself am I migrant, having come to the UK to work after marrying the lovely Sarah Barrett, whose Yorkshire dialect took a bit of getting used to, even after being multilingual already. Most Eastern Europeans living in the UK are multilingual as well, for example our Bulgarian friends who also speak Russian and English. (Check out our blog on “Language learning is a great way to make friends ‎”)

It works the other way too. Particularly in recent weeks, a lot has been said and written about increases in immigration, but not so much about emigration, i.e. the over 300,000 Brits who chose to leave old Blighty for (presumably) warmer climes in Spain, France and other countries. One would hope they speak the local language!

Not that all this migration is new. Our family went to the National Maritime Museum in Greenwich a few weekends ago, and Britain’s seafaring past is certainly, among other things, a story of migration. In fact the museum currently has a special exhibition, open until 15th November, in collaboration with The Migration Museum Project, which is well worth seeing, and highly interactive. The Migration Museum Project’s aim is to reflect the important role that migrants have played in the making of Britain. It tells the story of migration to and from Britain in an engaging and non-political way. Most people have a migration story somewhere in their family history.

So on this European Day of Languages, let’s celebrate the cultural and linguistic diversity brought by migration. If you live somewhere as diverse as London, I would challenge you to count today how many different languages and nationalities you recognise around you, and let us know in the comments or on Twitter @lingotasticuk #Europeandayoflanguages .