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
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”
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.
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.
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.
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?
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.
If you follow us on twitter @LingotasticUK you may already know our whole family is taking part in the Eurotalk 10 day Esperanto challenge. We’re playing with the u talk app and practicing some simple phrases together. I’ve also got Tim Morley (@ClubEnrolment) regularly tweeting me in Esperanto which is a challenge. (Yes, google translate does some Esperanto but also brings up gibberish at times). The twitter auto translate has so far called it Haitian, Serbian, Croatian, Lithuanian…
If you’ve not used the uTalk app before, the contents page looks like this.
You can then choose whether to practice vocabulary or play a game.
The games are simple multi choice to start with going up to speaking, recall and memory games.
The u talk app is really useful for vocabulary words and short phrases but no mention of grammar rules etc to help structure conversation. When small children learn a language as a they are not taught grammar rules they simply play and imitate others. I was reading Gaston Dorren’s “Lingo” book. He talks about schools in the Isle of Man teaching children Manx. This celtic language has really complicated grammar rules so even adults learn it by imitating.
The u talk app is really easy to pick up and play for a few minutes and my kids know any language learning game guarantees them some screen time. They took part in the schools challenge a few months ago so easily can click into it. They love to play and are picking up some Esperanto whilst they’re at it.
The girls have quickly picked up the Esperanto numbers and understand the number logic. We now use some Esperanto around the dinner (tea) table. We will only respond to their request for water of they ask “Akvo, mi petas” Makes a change from asking for a cup of coffee in Mandarin! We love playing with languages (even if it is Northern vs Southern English)
Tim Morely sent me a link to his TED talk about the value teaching Esperanto as a second language at primary level so maybe even something I could teach at Lingotastic if I can find some children’s songs in Esperanto? I’m sure that will raise a few eyebrows among the parents! I’ll let you know.
Have you ever tried to learn Esperanto? How did you get on? Let us know in the comments box below.
I think (based on research by Manchester University) for very young children it is more important that they have fun with languages and start to recognise how different languages sound. This is how we learn to speak initially, and how children brought up bilingually learn. This sets them up for a lifetime of language learning. At Lingotastic we simply play, share stories, make and sing and pick up language along the way.
Having said that, teaching takes place in six week blocks so families have time to learn the songs and a few vocabulary words. September term starts in Spanish. In November we blast of France to learn some French. In January we blast off to Germany to learn a bit of German. I offer space for the bilingual parents to share ideas too, to encourage families in their language learning journey.
Come join us on this exciting language learning adventure.
As a bilingual German and English family we think language learning is very important. My husband has studied, English, French, Latin, Spanish and Polish. I’ve studied French, German and Spanish. We’ve passed on some of these languages to our children by simply playing with languages. As you might have guessed we LOVE languages. You may have read about our Mandarin learning journey at the start of this year.
Well, now we’re learning Portuguese! My girls are taking part in the Euro talk Junior Language Challenge. The Junior Language Challenge involves children up to age 10 playing simple games in order to learn Portuguese. They do this with minimal adult involvement (which I like!). I’m often cooking in the room next door as they play, so I’ve picked up bit of Portuguese. I found it very interesting to hear Portuguese and how different it is to Spanish, but I’ve understood quite a lot because of the other Latin based languages I know.
I did not start to learn a second language until I was twelve so I’m sure they’ll surpass me in their language abilities as they get older! They other languages they are picking up mostly from home, so it’s great they can do this learning independent of us.
My girls are much better at Portuguese than me and I’ve been amazed on the occasions I’ve watched them playing the junior language challenge. They really like the silly game where you learn body parts to make your own Frankenstein monster and the telling the time game, as the man’s arm grows! They’re having a lot of fun playing and moving up the scoreboard.
They’ve been learning more than just Portuguese.
I heard my six-year-old reading very quickly in English last week. I did not know she could do this.
They’ve been learning National flags alongside the Portuguese names for those countries.
I asked my girls what they would like to say about the junior language challenge. My seven year old said “It’s a lot of fun” and the youngest said “I’m going to win! ”
If we get through to the next round we’ll be learning another language and in the third round yet another language. I’ll let you know how we get on.
It’s not too late to join the Junior Language Challenge.
Why sign up to the JLC?
It makes languages fun
It introduces children to new languages
It raises money for charity
There are some great prizes
It’s not too late to join the Junior Language Challenge, simply contact Eurotalk
As a family we’ve found it difficult to find good language learning resources, so over on our resources page. we’ve compiled lots that we’d recommend. These resources were created as individuals realised there was a need and that they were able and willing to meet that need. There are inspiring stories behind all of the resources and this time we hear the story of Kristin Hellberg, Founder of Bilingual By Music.
Hi Kirsten. Could you tell me little about yourself and your family?
I was born in Sweden but moved to London at age 19 to study Musical Theatre. I started working as a performer and appeared in various West End shows as well as doing voiceovers and TV. I went on to do a BSc in Psychology followed by a MSc in Business Psychology.
Both me and my husband are Swedish, so its very natural for us to have Swedish as the Family language at home. It’s also important to us that we can talk to our 3 kids in Swedish, since that is our ‘emotional’ language.
We live in London and the children go to English speaking schools, they are very much exposed to English every day. We try our best to “promote” Swedish and Sweden to them as much as possible. Its not always easy though. We often find that they speak English with each other when they play together on their own for example.
How does your product help family language learning?
I think music can be a fantastic tool in language learning. Music has rhythms, structures and rules just like languages. Language learning involving music can be a fun way of repeating words and understanding concepts. Its also a great way of remembering new words. The songs on our Swedish-English album are songs that are sung in both the UK and Sweden, so families already recognise the tunes. I think its lovely to point out the similarities between the countries and cultures. We are currently working on a Swedish-English Christmas album which should be ready in time for Christmas 2015. On a sunny day this week we went to record “Let it snow”!
Is there anything else you’d like to tell those reading our blog?
I think its absolutely fascinating and I really enjoy reading about bilingualism and how it all works. There is so much interesting research that is being done as well and Twitter and Facebook is a great way of finding references and ideas.
Try to expose yourself and the children to the minority language as much as you can. Read books, listen to music and songs, watch films, use playful apps. Also try to embrace the culture, which for Swedes would include Midsummer, Lucia playing traditional games such as ‘Bro Bro Breja’ and enjoy the Swedish food traditions such as Semlor, våfflor, leverpastej etc.
If you fancy learning some Swedish or Danish, Kristin at Bilingual By Music has produced some gorgeous bilingual CDs with familiar songs. You’ll be singing along in no time… I’ve a few Swedish speaking mummies who rave over these CDs. They’re also available on ITunes, Spotify and Amazon.
Over the last five weeks I’ve learned enough Mandarin to teach a beginners class to 1- 8 year olds with their parents and teachers. Just in time for Chinese New Year. It may sound a crazy idea but I had a few theories to test out!
I attended the Language Show Live in October 2013 I want to a seminar which really inspired me. It was called Discovering Language – multilingual language awareness They are working with Manchester Metropolitan University and advocate teachers enjoy learning and learn with their pupils. They say it is possible to teach a language and be just ahead of your learners.
At my Lingotastic classes I advocate to the families I work with that the best way to learn a second language is the way you learn your first. Hearing, responding and using that language. In a playful environment rather than a classroom setting.
With this in mind … I decided to learn Mandarin in time to teach a class for Chinese New year, just 5 weeks away. No pressure then!
Toni Wang from “ A Little Mandarin “, back in October, had sent me a CD of some funky traditional Chinese Children’s song. However, I’d been too busy to do more than have quick listen – until now. The countdown had begun …
Tuesday – day 1 (14th January)
I listened to “Little Mandarin” music CD, whilst driving to and from the German class I was teaching. In 40 minutes I’d learned “Happy Birthday” in Mandarin 生日快乐 (shēng rì kuài lè) and the other songs had started to sound familiar.
I also saw a Chinese mum on playground today and said my one word of Mandarin 你好 nǐ hǎo. She replied so it can’t have been too bad!
I chatted a little and found out she spoke Mandarin, so asked the Mandarin for good bye. Used it twice then forgot it!
I found out my local library has a free link to a resource called “transparent languages”. I must check that out!
Wednesday – day 2
I listened to more of the Little Mandarin CD in the car. I met up with another mum with two little ones who speaks Mandarin to talk about the class I’m planning. I scheduled the meeting between her toddlers’ nap time and my school pick up. She loves the Little Mandarin CD and heard many of the songs in China. She teaches me how to say “sing nyen kuài lè ” I recognise the words kuài lè from the CD. It means happy. She teaches me about rising and falling tones. She tells me how to say goodbye again: 再见 zài jiàn
I printed out words to songs from http://www.alittlemandarin.com/lyrics
I listen to the CD between classes. My hubby is listening to a “Learn Mandarin in the car” CD so shared what he’d learned.
My seven year old daughter listened to Happy Birthday 生日快乐 (shēng rì kuài lè) on the CD; she was singing along in Mandarin by the end of the song! I had a look at the free Transparent Languages course through my local library. I like it but it’s a shame it is only available on desktop.
I found a blog about counting to hundred by Transparent Language
I can count to three now!
I have offered to lead a few songs for Chinese New Year in my Children’s school. That’ll help me focus, if the looming library class didn’t already!
Hubby showed me the audio course he had found by Hank N. Raymond, Henry N. Raymond for Penton Overseas, Inc.in Deezer. I can now listen whilst walking.
Monday (19th January)
I listened to A Little Mandarin CD whilst traveling to my classes. We watched Peppa Pig and Little Einsteins in Mandarin.
Singing along to A Little Mandarin whilst travelling to work. I can sing two songs now: Two tigers 两只老虎 (liǎng zhī láo hǔ) as well as Happy Birthday which I learmed earlier! Picked out part of a song understanding the words for “we are.” Listened to a few chapters of “Learn in Your Car – Chinese Level 1” whilst walking to get children from school.
Listened to the first chapter of “Learn in Your Car – Chinese Level 1”
Lots of traffic on way to work meant plenty of time for “Learn in Your Car -Chinese Level 1”: three Chapters today! Slowly picking up phrases. I met Chinese lady and enthusiastically used my now expanding vocabulary. 你好 nǐ hǎo, nǐ hǎo ma and 再见 zài jiàn (3 phrases now)
Week 3 -26th January
Continuing with A Litle Mandarin CD in car. I can sing and understand another song now Find A Friend 找朋友 (zhǎo péng yǒu). That’s three songs now. This is sung really quickly so I’m really pleased with myself. So much so I’m singing it most of the time. This explains why my chidren can sing it too.
I find out about an app by Eurotalk
which means I can learn Mandarin by playing on my phone when I have a few spare minutes. It sounds perfect to fit into my busy schedule.
Week 4 (2nd February)
Continuing with A Little Mandarin CD in the car. Starting to learn the Good New Year song 新年好 (xīn nián hǎo ). Playing the Eurotalk app for 10 minutes a day. I like the way it links a picture word and says the word, too. A few phrases are starting to stick in my brain! I like that I can play the app when I have a few minutes to spare.
Week 5 (9th February)
Listening to the A Little Mandarin CD in the car. Playing the Eurotalk app for 15 minutes a day. I like the fact that it’s just playing games and as you can see the mandarin script as well as hear it. It’s sticking!
I’m finding I understand more of the songs I’m singing. I’m singing a lot around the house too and the rest of the family are picking them up (grudgingly in the case of my husband!) We decided to record our family singing the 新年好 xīn nián hǎo song to help market the Chinese New Year special we’re doing next week.
Our You Tube video has been seen by a few native Chinese speakers who think we sound native –result!!
Both me and my Children picked up the songs in the same order so I’ll teach the simplest song first Happy Birthday 生日快乐 (shēng rì kuài lè).” then two tigers 两只老虎 (liǎng zhī láo hǔ). I’ve been lent two big and I mean BIG tigers especially for the class!!
I’m spending about 15 minutes a day playing the uTalk app and gradually learning more.
14th February Saturday
Chinese New Year Blast Off Class at The Library. It was AWESOME! We had 25 children singing in Mandarin with even their parents joining in at some points! Really exciting to see. The write up is an earlier blog post. (http://lingotastic.co.uk/?p=307)
We took the family out to Rickmansworth Aquadrome. Whilst we were there we recorded the two tigers 两只老虎 (liǎng zhī láo hǔ) song to send out for Chinese new year
My daughter has asked if we can stop recording us singing Mandarin songs now please!
25th February I taught the Mandarin Class to 30 children from Reception and Nursery of a local school. The children were amazing! All could say hello , good bye and thank you. I had rave reviews from the teachers, who plan to continue using the few words they have learned in class. “Both the staff and children immensely enjoyed having Sarah to visit and we would love to learn more Mandarin in the future, with her”
Not bad for five weeks of playing and singing Mandarin!!
Which language do you think I should attempt next?
Enter our completion below to win an access code for full access to the UTalk app. (Basic access is free) I’d love to know how you get on.
5 surprising places for language learning with your little one
This entry was first posted on July 11, 2014 on the Flash Sticks Blog
We’re fortunate enough to have a great guest post on the FlashSticks blog today, from Sarah Barrett, of Lingotastic. You might remember Sarah from her post a couple of weeks ago, where she told us all about her language teaching journey.
Sarah’s parent and toddler group, Lingotastic, uses puppets, music and stories to help young children and their families to take their first steps into a second language, in a friendly and welcoming environment.
Today, Sarah tells us about a couple of here favourite stealth language learning ideas for families. Perfect timing just before the weekend.
1. In the playground
On the swings: Count in the target language whilst pushing your little one. And once they’ve mastered numbers, you can always progress to trying out days of the week, as well as months of the year.
Round the roundabout: Ask your little one if they want to go faster or slower in the target language. My children learned the word nochmal – again – on a roundabout.
2. In the car
Counting: Sometimes simplicity is the most effective way for your children to learn a new language. Count to ten around in a circle in whichever language you choose. My children love this one and it’s a great way to ensure they’ve got their numbers down.
Dictionary games: This one’s great and has never-ending possibilities. Simply select a letter and give a description, then ask your child to guess the word. So, for example, you might say, “the word starts with an “F” and is a cake with fruit in it.”
Listening to music: CDs with songs in the target language are a brilliant tool. Music is a very powerful tool for language learning. What’s great from my experience is that children find themselves singing a song fluently in another language, then they become curious about what the words mean, which is where the real learning comes in.
3. At home
Instructions: Give simple instructions in the chosen language, making it as much as a casual part of your routine as possible. You might say, “Schuhe an! (Put your shoes on!).” At first, you may need to do a little translation, but you’ll find that your child very quickly begins to understand the words in the target language.
Counting: There’s no end to the counting game. And counting when going up and down stairs is a great bit of fun.
Arts and crafts: Craft is good for language learning too. When you are making things together, be sure to point out the vocabulary for colours and whatever other materials you are using or things you’re making together.
Pairs: Matching games are great too. We have a few with pictures and words in the target language.
Reading: It goes without saying that bilingual books are brilliant. Your local Library can rent them from Bright Books, if they don’t have some already.
Online: YouTube has lots of brilliant videos of nursery rhymes and even Peppa Pig in a variety of target languages.
Toys: My children had some brilliant bilingual toys, which sing nursery rhymes and teach simple vocabulary.
FlashSticks: Oh and obviously, as the guys guys at FlashSticks were so kind as to let me throw some words together for their blog, I should mention that FlashSticks are brilliant for reading age children. Stick them around the home and label things. Oh and don’t forget to take pictures while you’re out and about, so you can tweet them at FlashSticks on #FlashSticksFriday.
4. In the Garden
Gardening is a great stealth learning activity. And one we can’t get enough of at home. Simply point and name plants and objects, as you play together.
5. Out and about
Visiting the farm or zoo, naming animals in the target language is a great way to pick up some really useful vocabulary. Supermarkets and shops are also good for naming objects too. In fact, it works anywhere!
The aim of this blog was just to kick off a discussion on stealth language learning tactics that your little ones will love. I’ve put forward some of my favourites, but I LOVE hearing new ideas, so if you’ve got some great ideas that I’ve missed, I’d love to hear about them in the comments below.
As a language learning and teaching enthusiast, I’d love to connect with any like minded teachers and learners. It would be great to meet those with little ones or who work with little ones, so if you’d like to get in touch, let me know in the comments below or you can connect with me on Facebook, Twitter or via email.