Tag Archives: parenting

Can you pass on a language without being a native speaker?

Today we have an interview with Rachel, who is teaching her daughter french, but she’s not a native speaker of french.
I’d been chatting to Rachel before. We met via the Speak to the Future LinkedIn group. I was really excited when I found out she’s teaching her own child French at home, although her mother tongue is English, like we’re doing at home.

Learning about le poisson d'Avril

Learning about le poisson d’Avril

We met Rachel in her hometown of Carlisle in the Easter holidays.

– The first question was from Emily: Why do you live in the north?

I’m from this area and my parents live here. There’s lots to do with little ones in Carlisle.

– What do you do for work?

I’m a freelance translator of French and German and private tutor of French. I also occasionally do some voluntary work in French classes in a local infant school.

– What made you want to introduce a foreign language to M?

I can see that it’s a massive advantage for her to be introduced to languages at a young age. Little ones are like sponges – they learn so quickly. She’s at an age where she’s not shy about using another language. I have the language skills so can pass them on to her. I know she won’t become bilingual through me – I’m not a native speaker and we don’t live in France – but I want her to have a good grounding in another language, to enjoy it and be confident in it. I was surprised from how early on she could distinguish between French and English and how much she has picked up.

– Do you do lessons with your little one?

No, we simply do it as part of our everyday life. She likes to watch “Pierre le lapin” (Peter Rabbit) and other English-language cartoons she knows on the tablet in French, as well as original French-language cartoons. We’ve also got some CDs of French songs – she in particular likes trying to sing along to songs on one called “Maxi Enfance”. We enjoy sharing French books and puzzles. I’ve got a French mummy friend we exchange books with, which is a great advantage.
I joke with friends that I teach her “French by torture” – we play a tickling game where I’ll stop tickling only when she says “arrête”. She often shouts “encore”!
We visit France together. Last time we were there, M bought herself a book. I explained the procedure/what to say, all in French, and she quite happily went to the counter and said all the right things at the right time, and was delighted to have “tricked” the lady into thinking she was French!
She’s just started French lessons at her preschool, so we’ll see if she lets on that she knows lots or is quiet and acts like she doesn’t know any!

"We love to share these magazines together"

“We love to share these magazines together”

Alongside learning the actual language, I also think it’s important to teach M about some of the traditions and culture of France. For example, we recently read an article together on Easter in France, from which M not only learned a couple of new Easter-related words but was also interested to find out about the “cloches volantes” that bring sweets to children in France. We also had fun making “poissons d’avril” as I taught her about this French 1st of April tradition. I was also able to use this activity to reinforce colour words with her.

– Finally, what would you say to other parents wishing to pass on their language skills to their little one?

Go for it! There’s no better time to learn than when they’re young – the younger the better! Especially if you’re a native speaker, but even if you aren’t but have the right background and skills in the foreign language. It’s fun for both of you and wonderful to see their progress.

Ever seen a confused octopus eating spaghetti?

No? Well you’ve never played randomise game then! As a family we love to play together so we jumped at the opportunity to try out this game.
With the Easter holidays coming up we thought it was a great opportunity to try it out. We were travelling up to the Lake District to visit family and the small box fitted very easily in our luggage.

randomise rain

We had a very rainy afternoon where my brother and his wife were over, as well as my parents. Nine in total and a great opportunity to try out the game.

Playing cards

The rules are simple. Choose three cards, decide whether you are playing the easy or hard game and off you go!

It was soon obvious that different people preferred different ways of playing. I preferred to act it out. The younger ones preferred to draw and a couple of adults preferred to describe.
My hubby drew the cards of an ugly Hippo giving birth and had to put his we developed acting skills to full use.
My favourite was when I had to act out the giant Chicken ballet dancing. I don’t have any acting skills whatsoever so this was really quite daft!

We started playing in teams of boy verses girls except the girls kept changing sides. We gave up on scoring early on as We were in fits of giggles at many points as it was so so silly, and not able to keep a score anyway.

Can you guess what these pictures are describing?

giant lady

priest randomise

Pigeon

Let us know your guesses in the comments below.

My mum was really impressed we had an hour of fun together without screens.
Jasmin age 8 said “it was really good and funny”
Emily age 8 thought “it was good”.
Maik aged 41 Was “amazed at Emily’s creativity. She asked to borrow a phone to act out a lazy rabbit taking a selfie”

So next time anyone asks Ever seen a confused octopus eating spaghetti? you will be able to answer yes!

We were sent this game to review by Randomise.

Has this review inspired you to have a go with your friends and family?
Buy your own here.

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.

Language Learning tips from a seven year old

EmilyEmily’s guide to programmes for your little ones.

Hello, my name is Emily. I am seven years old. This is my first blog. My family like learning languages. My dad is from Germany and my mum is from England and she runs classes.

There are some fun programmes which I watch to help me learn some different languages and they are French and Spanish and Mandarin.

My favourite one is the Spanish one which is called Dora and I can learn a little bit of Spanish and know more when I get older. She explores and she helps her friends if they get stuck and says to us to say these words in Spanish.

The Mandarin one is called nǐ hǎo Kai- Lan. She has friends and she speaks Mandarin and when she’s helping her friends she asks me to talk a little bit in Mandarin.

The French one is called Madeline and she lives in school in Paris and she is the youngest one out of all the eleven girls. She uses some French words and has a French accent and you get to see parts of Paris.

Hi there, Emily’s mum here. As Emily said we love languages and use every opportunity to bring language learning into our lives. These programmes are a lot of fun and bring in a few words of the target language in among lively stories and songs.

Children enjoy watching programmes so it is a great opportunity to bring language learning into your everyday family life.  We’ve found Peppa Pig in German and Mandarin on You Tube and the above programmes can be streamed on Amazon Prime Video.

Try Amazon Prime free for a month!

Do you have programmes your little ones like? Let us 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.

Shine light in the darkness -Martinstag

Today we met with lots of other German families to celebrate St Martin’s day. (Martinstag) This is commonly celebrated by all in Germany whether they go to church or not.

Sankt Martin

We heard the story of St Martin.

Sendung mit der Maus

He choose to share what he had with a beggar. In that sharing of his cloak he gave the man warmth and comfort. He stopped what he was doing to make a difference for that one man and so is still remembered today for his kindness.

German children remember this by making lanterns and walking in the dark singing songs.

During the service the children were asked about people having difficulties who needed God’s light to shine on them. The children wanted to remember those without homes, Oma and Opa, those who were sick, soldiers and those in Paris.

Kerzen

After the service we went out with about other families to shine our lights into the darkness.

We sung

“Ich gehe mit meiner Laterne,und meine Laterne mit mir,
Da oben leuchten die Sterne und unter da leuchten wir.
Mein Licht ist aus ich gehe nach Haus
rabimmel, rabammel rabumm – bumbum!”

“Laterne, laterne, Sonne Mond und Sterne!
Brenne auf mein Licht, brenne auf mein Licht aber nur meine liebe Laterne nicht!
Laterne, Laterne, Sonne, Mond und Sterne”

“This little light of mine,
I’m going to let it shine.
This little light of mine,
I’m going to let it shine.
Let it shine, let shine, let it shine”

There were lots of home made lanterns from the very basic to intricate 3D foxes. We had some Oma sent with electric candles. We have used real candles before but they set on fire and had to be stamped out!!

We do this each year as a chance to meet with other German speaking families. It is a great visual reminder of how even a little light makes a difference in the darkness.

Do you celebrate Martinstag with your family?
How do you pass on your culture to your children?

Let us know in the comments below.

New FlashSticks app- review by my 8 year old.

FSFrenchappMy eight year old has been poorly and off school for a few days. She’s starting to feel a bit better so I thought we’d get her learning a bit at home to keep her brain working. The perfect chance to play the FlashSticks app with her. Here’s what she thought.

What did you you like about the app?
I like test speech button so I can practice saying the words.
I like the object scan. We took lots of photos and the computer told us what they are in Spanish.
7up

Noahs ark

What do you not like about the app?
The time goes too quick. I knew some answers but did not press the button in time. It’s annoying. (the word flash game)
I don’t like that you loose points when you get it wrong.

20150916_204431000_iOS

More from mum…
I had to help her a lot to start with. Fifty words is a lot to focus on in one go and she got fed up of pressing the play video app each time so I read them with her to help her pronunciation.
When she started on the word flash app she found it tricky, but with help got into it. I helped her go back and look at the words she did not know and come back to the word flash.

The word drop game was far too advanced for her.
When working together we noticed the ne…pas and talked about saying I can and I cannot.
We also noticed Est – ce – que and I explained that was how people ask questions in French.

20150923_092301000_iOS

20150923_092316000_iOS

She is a complete beginner in French so I think that was why it was tricky for her.
More advanced children may be able to use the app more independently.
The app was a good learning experience for us to use together and good to use alongside other methods when learning a new language.

Anyway, what are you waiting for?
Download the app for FREE and try it for yourself. Check out FlashSticks.com.
Let me know in the comments how you get on.

Disclaimer:
FlashSticks gave us a three months free access to this app in order to review the app. This are our own views and opinions.

Ukrainian, Russian and English with Mykhalo and Anna

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Hnatyev Family

This week I have to pleasure of interviewing two friends of mine, Anna and Mykaylo about their language learning journey and speaking three languages at home.

Hi Mykhaylo and Anna. Could you tell me a little about your language learning journey?
Mykhaylo: I was born and brought up in Ukraine to Russian speaking parents. At home we spoke Russian and I went to a Russian school in the Ukraine. We were taught French and English in School but as I lived in a Soviet Country the furthest I expected to travel to was Poland so it was purely academic subject with little use outside of school.
Anna: I was born in Moldova to Russian speaking parents. I studied Romanian in school as an additional language I learned some English at school. I went to university in Romania and really found it difficult to understand what was happening. As I read for my assignments I would have a dictionary in my hand to look up what each word meant. I also studied German at university.

Do you think children can be introduced to languages from a young age?
Our Children spoke Ukrainian and Russian at home. Our elder son studied Helen Doren English at Nursery school. We were shocked when we heard nursery rhymes in the UK and we recognised them like Humpty Dumpty and Jack and Jill.
As multilingual parents how do you keep three languages working at home, especially with your children attending an English school
Mykaylo: We are mostly focusing on Russian speaking at home Russian speaking television programmes online about travelling to other countries and reading books in Ukrainian to keep the language. He is concerned when going to the Ukraine he can’t speak to his friends. He may continue to learn Russian but to write Russian has lots of rules. He will need to do additional exercises to learn Russian properly or it will be a terrible mess. Many younger Ukrainians and speak Russian well but when I comes to writing it is a different thing.
Anna: Our youngest boy gets frustrated that people do not say his name correctly. He is starting nursery soon and we will send a list of Russian words he uses to help the teachers.

What are the cultural differences in the UK to the Ukraine?
In urban environment there is very little traditional singing. Babies are sung lullibies. We used to watch a short cartoon and hear a goodnight song on the state television. We have familiar famous short poems which are passed down generation to generation.
The school system in UK seems much more relaxed than it is in the Ukraine. It is a much more intense programme in the Ukraine with little time to play in school.

So you’re working in the UK now what do you do?
I am working in business development and client relationships management role in the UK representing a Ukrainian software development company ELEKS.com

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The Truth About Raising Bilingual Children

This week we have a guest post from Muriel Demarcus from www.frenchyummymummy.com about her experience and opinions on raising bilingual children. First published 10th May 2011. Over to you Muriel…

credit Knightsbridge-villiage.com

credit Knightsbridge-villiage.com

When friends see my daughters, they are amazed that they can speak English without any hint of a French accent, and reply to me in French as if it was completely natural to switch from one language to the other. I am obviously very proud of my children, but I can’t help thinking that:

It was, and still is hard work to make them speak French. My younger one especially has explained to me countless times that French is boring and, by the way, she can’t be bothered to learn to speak it. They go to British schools and are more British than French by now;

It is me whom my friends should be amazed at, as on top of a full time job and taxiing them to their various after-school activities, I try to teach the girls some French at least twice a week, and once a day when I am ready to put up a good, old-fashioned fight against them, which can happen after two weeks of taking vitamin supplements and usually doesn’t last very long anyway.

In short, it is not as glamorous as it looks. To make matters even worse, the selective nurseries will test your little darlings at age three and, if they are coming from a bilingual family, their English vocabulary will be narrower than “proper English kids” and usually this will be held against them. I also know some kids who started speaking very late because they were coming from bilingual or even trilingual families (parents who speak different languages and communicate in English). Everybody was worried that something was wrong with them, whereas they were just confused.

The truth is, there is no such thing as perfectly bilingual. I would say that English is my daughters’ primary language, and French will remain my primary language.
On top if this, French is awfully complicated. My daughters have a tendency to use the colloquial form if “you” (“tu”) with everybody, even with doctors or policemen. Most of the times it makes them laugh, but some were really offended. French can be really stuck-up, you see. (I would know, I am French.)

So, all in all, is it worth it? Of course it is, especially in the longer run. But not as much as I thought. You see, I have seen kids really messed up with this whole “bilingual” fashion, and they ended up having to undergo years of speech therapy and seemed very, very unhappy. My advice : Happiness prevails. Life is too short. If it’s too big a deal, stick to English.

Muriel – A French Yummy Mummy In London

Children are NOT confused by early second language learning

French market Today I went along to the French market in Chorleywood. The weather was good so a lot of other people went along too. We held hourly French taster classes and had a lot of people coming to join in. I was able to chat to a few families about their language learning journeys. A few were encouraged to start language learning at a young age which was a great result in my mind, whether their language learning includes Lingotastic or not.

We had a lot of fun making fish, singing and finding out what noise a Chamelion makes. A lot of parents were amazed at how quickly their little ones picked up some French.

Il fait comment le caméléon?

Il fait comment le caméléon?

I came across a few parents who were concerned that exposing their little ones to second language at a young age would confuse them. Here is my answer to this…
The best time to learn a second language is the same time as you learn the first. Bilingual families start two languages from birth. Even pre-verbal babies are able to recognise different languages, a recent Canadian study found.
In our family experience, when my son was still in my tummy, my hubby spoke to him only in German,
this meant when he was born, he only recognised his dad’s voice when he spoke in German.

A baby’s babbles sound the same, independent of the language spoken around them. From six months, the babble starts to become like the language sounds they hear regularly. So if babies are exposed to more than one language, the baby soon picks up both languages.

As far as language learning goes, the motto is, the younger the better. Birth to three years is the optimum time for introducing a second language. It is much easier for younger children to acquire languages. Bilingual families usually start at birth or before. In fact, if a child is learning two languages at a time, they will learn both at the same rate, without one language inhibiting the other.
Younger is also better with regards to children acquiring a native sounding accent; they are much more able to pick up an authentic accent if they hear a second language from a young age.

I’ve seen even the NHS, and so health visitors are promoting the value of early second language learning so I’m flabbergasted that these myths live on! The research about the best time to start second language learning is clear. Don’t let this myth make your child miss out!
What do you think?

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