Tag Archives: playing

Games for Language Learning? For Children and Adults!

This week we have a guest blog from Ulrike & Peter Rettig are co-founders of Games for language. Like us they are lifelong language learners, growing up in several European countries before moving to Canada and the United States. Over the them…

 

When you watch young children at play, you know: children love playing games. For them games are a way to explore the world around them and to try out how things work.

 

Indeed, many parents help their young children acquire their first language in a playful way. Who hasn’t imitated the sound of a cow or a dog for a child and matched it with the picture and/or word of the animal?

 

As young children learn to speak, they start to identify objects, learn letters and numbers, spell simple words, sing songs, etc.

 

Parents and caregivers often turn such a learning activity into a game they play with children.

 

Also, many children now play games on toy tablets or their parent’s tablet or phone. Some of the games are language based and improve a child’s native language skills.

DIGITAL GAMES

For digital language learning games, the rules are often simple. The player gains points or advances for making the right match, and loses points or has to replay for getting it wrong. Graphics, sound, and gamification features add fun and excitement.

 

Games for very young children often match a picture or sound with a letter or word. Games for preschoolers teach them to recognize words, how to spell them, and how to sound them out. For school children, games can get more complicated. These often involve sentence building, spelling races, and grammar searches.

CHILDREN LEARNING A SECOND LANGUAGE

It’s clearly not difficult to introduce children to different words for various objects. Whether a “dog” is labeled a “Hund” (German), “chien” (French), “perro” (Spanish) or “cane” (Italian) will not matter to a child. Children remember a new “label” easily and correlate it to its picture or sound, as long as they hear the foreign word often and consistently.

 

Children that grow up bilingually have no problem retaining both languages, as long as they continue to use them.

Research has demonstrated the benefits of learning more that one language as a child. One important benefit is that the foreign sounds children hear in their early years are retained by them, even if they stop using the language.

 

Thus, exposing children to the sounds of a foreign language as they grow up will make it easier for them to relearn that language later on.

SECOND LANGUAGE LEARNING GAMES FOR CHILDREN

More and more language games for children are being developed, both as web apps or as native apps, available from App stores.

 

Typical ingredients of second-language games are:

  • Flashcards
  • Fun graphics and sound
  • Simple rules, involving hit and miss
  • Rewards, in the form of advancement, points, trophies
  • Lots of repetition
  • Interactive play

 

Figuring out how a game works is all part of the learning.

 

Children as young as 2 1/2 or 3 can start with simple games, matching pictures with the audio of foreign words.

 

When children learn to read in their native language (ages 5-8), games can include simple words in their own language, plus audio of the foreign word.

 

Once children can read quite well (ages 9 and up), the games can be more challenging and include longer texts in the foreign language.

 

GAMESFORLANGUAGE

Although our Gamesforlanguage courses and Quick Language Games were originally developed for adult learners, we have found that many school-aged children have started playing them.

 

This French Quick Language Game, for example, shows some of the games included with our free courses. (Click on the link above or the picture to play it!)

 

Through feedback, we have learned what works for young players:

 

  • The courses and games are interactive
  • The travel story appeals to older children (4th grade and up) who travel with their parents
  • The story sequel format with 36 (or 72) Scenes also works well for children
  • Text-based games practice individual foreign words, phrases, and sentences, as well as English reading and spelling
  • Foreign spelling is practiced with simple words
  • Story podcasts advance listening skills

MANY DIFFERENT ACTVITIES FOR LANGUAGE LEARNING

It ‘s clearly a good idea for children to engage in all kinds of different activities to learn and practice languages. Digital games are just one tool.

Other favorites are songs, easy books, audio stories, board and card games, not to forget conversations with family and friends, at home or on FaceTime and Skype.

Our 3-year-old granddaughter, for example, is taking French Skype lessons with a tutor several times a week. She loves to sing “un deux trois” and is very proud when she can surprise us with a new French word from time to time.

 

Bio: Ulrike & Peter Rettig are co-founders of Gamesforlanguage.com. They are lifelong language learners, growing up in several European countries before moving to Canada and the United States. You can follow them on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

 

How do you do languages at home with your children?

Let us know in the comments below.

How do you teach Arabic to your Children?

This week we have a guest blog from Nadine Ismail, from Reinventing Nadine . She lives in the USA and faces the same language challenges as parents the world over.

I am born and raised in Lebanon, a tiny country in the Middle East. Moved to the USA when I got married to my American born husband (He is of Syrian heritage). My native language is Arabic, but I went to French School (so all material were taught in French) and then went to the American University of Beirut, where I did both my BA and MA in Public Sector Administration with emphasis on Human Resources. I always loved languages and while in college, I also studied German for 3 years at the Goethe Institute and finished Elementary level. I worked on projects with the World Bank, UNDP and then moved to the private sector and worked in multinational companies where English was the official business language.

When I moved to the US, I decided to leave the corporate world and focus on what I enjoy doing, being a mother and wife. My blog started as a way to document my journey from a single working young woman in the Middle East to a Mom and a wife in the USA. It started as a food blog, then as my daughter grew, I started teaching her Arabic Language. I discovered how little are the resources out there for mothers like me. I started reaching out to other companies and authors who make products/wrote books and reviewed them and come up with creative ways of using the products. I became involved in my local Arabic school and helping out with the events, the curriculum and started a new Arabic Culture and Heritage class that I teach every Sunday.

I am also a blogger at Arab America ) where I blog about being a bilingual parent, tips about teaching kids/adults Arabic language and heritage. I am involved in a unique Middle Eastern Youth Singing Ensemble that teaches youth to sing classical and folkloric Arabic Songs. I am working on a course to teach adults the language with emphasis on Spoken Levantine dialect. The Arabic language is a beautiful and rich language but it is difficult and challenging. I am currently learning Spanish and Turkish. My daughter who is 7 now, can read and write in Arabic. Here is a video of her reading a book.

My website is now more about celebrating the Arab Heritage and culture through food, arts and the language. I also do traditional Middle Eastern embroidery and share that one my Instagram. In my opinion, the language is the gate to the culture, it opens up all the other doors.

Please find below links to some of my articles and collaborations:

With Arab America:

1.Teaching Kids Arabic
2. Arabic Back to School
3. Alef Baa in Songs
4. An interview with Joudie Kalla, the author of “Palestine on a Plate”
5. 10 Games in Arabic to fight Winter Break Boredom

With Arabic Playground:
My Arabic journey alphabets.
Summer workbook, my journey alphabets.Writing Arabic

Are you learning Arabic or teaching it to your children? Have you come across any other good resources? We’d love to know in the comments below.

Mondly -a review

I’m a great fan of gamified learning. As I’m trying to keep making progress in German, French and Spanish as well as being a busy self employed mum it needs to be fun!
Mondly is a gamified app available I Phone, I Pad , Android and and online on Mondly.com. It costs $47.99 for a year giving access to 800 lessons and 33 languages.
I came across Mondly about two months ago. I was fascinated by idea of the chatbot. Cat Spanish app had a conversation section but not one with so much freedom.
I’ve been testing it out for six weeks and a really enjoying it. My hubby and children have been enjoying it too. My nine year old enjoyed it but found it challenging. The learning is split into themed chapters 8 units to build on and a conversation at the end to use the vocabulary learned. It has a fairly comprehensive range topics so lots of vocubulary you can learn.
The website has an amazing number of languages(34). It includes Finnish, Croatian, Hindi, Greek, Farsi, Bulgarian, Hungarian, Afrikaans, Czech, Romanian, Vietnamese, Indonesian, Hebrew, Japanese, Korean and even Chinese. Of course you can learn the popular languages like German, Spanish, French and Italian. Great for a compulsive Polyglot like me.
What is unique about this app is the chatbot. Here’s what Alexandru Iliescu, co-founder and CEO of ATi Studios said “The best way to learn a new language is to build your confidence with practice. We’ve taken chatbot technology and combined it with a speech recognition platform then added our own object recognition system. The result is that we’ve created something that is fun, useful and unique for language learners. This new feature is truly a revolutionary new way to learn a new language and we’re proud that Mondly is the first to do it.”
So what did we think? I’ve listed the pros and cons below to help you make your own mind up.

 

Pros
The site uses native speakers and the voice recordings are excellent.
lt is a mixture of hearing and speaking to learn in different ways.
As a busy mum I really appreciate the short lessons so I can fit language learning into the small pockets of time I have.
As I have four languages to keep going games which allow me practice French from Spanish, or French from German are a huge advantage to me.
I like that the progress made transfers from the device to the computer so it can be easily used on both devices, not something I’ve come across before.
I love the daily quiz to keep you coming back and a notification that comes up each day to remind you to play.
The chatbot is a lot of fun I found myself giving none standard answers to catch it out which is great for your language practice.
I like the to see daily progress on a chart. I like the way the different chapters are shown as a journey. It makes me feel I’m progressing so encourages me to keep going.
My initial thoughts were that it is good as part of a language learning plan, but not enough on its own.
I was not convinced that there was enough spaced repetition but I seem to be learning so maybe I was wrong about that.

 

Cons
It would be much better if it showed the gender of words. English speakers often forget about these. I did not see the value myself at school. Difficult to learn in addition later. (maybe colour code like flash sticks)
Was doing it on a train in London it was fine at stations but cut out inbetween Does not work without wi fi so not great to use when commuting!

Unlike some other gamified learning you have to pay if you want to have all the features. However it is not expensive when you bear in mind all the languages offered.
In my opinion there is not one way to best learn a language. It is a combination of things you can play, watch, read and sing along too which builds your language learning. I think Mondly fits well into that. Try it for yourself and let me know what you think! https://www.mondlylanguages.com/

 

Disclaimer:
I was given free access to the site in exchange for an honest review.

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.

 

What shall we do with the BOO HOO BABY?

Some of the props we use with the book.

You may have noticed a few book reviews from my gorgeous girls recently. Well I’m not

Some of the props we use with the book.

Some of the props we use with the book.

missing out! At Lingotastic, we love to share stories together, (with puppets of course)

Before I start this series I need to issue a disclaimer. I will probably say of each book it’s my favourite! I love a good picture book and different picture books are good for different audiences and different languages. So what shall we do with the BOO HOO BABY?

This weeks book is

Qu’Est-Ce Qu’On Va Faire Avec Le Bébé Ouin Ouin ? What shall we do with the boo hoo baby?  By Cressida Cowell illustrated by Ingrid Godon. Published by Mantra Lingua.

This copy is in French and Engilsh but Manta Lingua have published it in 20 languages so I’m sure you’ll find one to suit you.

This is a bilingual book but I do not always read the English if they are understanding anyway.

The baby is crying and la vache, le chat, le chien and le canard do what they can to calm him down, with little effect until…. (no spoilers!)

This book has lots of repetition so little ones soon know what comes next.

It has animals and animal noises which is always a winner. Little ones love to join in with that almost as soon as the books starts which really makes it an interactive story. The pictures are lovely which I find so important in a picture book. When reading this with small children I have toys for them to hold, dogs, cats, cows and ducks. I start by letting them choose an animal and then talking about what noises the animals make.

As I read it to parents and little ones, both enjoy it. The parents were waiting with baited breath to see if the animals could calm a crying baby and I reckon to get some tips for themselves.

Many Mantra Lingua books are available in local libraries or buy your own copy.They are available in a huge variety of languages. These are the ones I would use at home or in our Lingotastic classes.

Do you have a favourite bilingual book? We’d love to know about it. Let us know in the comments below.

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.

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.

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.

Chinese New Year- my Lesson Plan

Lion danceFebruary 8th 2016 is the start of the Chinese New Year This year is the year of the Monkey. We’re taking part in Chinatown in Chesham in a few weeks. We’ve got three classes in local schools for early years and KS1.

 

So last year, I wrote a brilliant lesson using the great songs by Toni Wang at a little mandarin. It’s a lot of fun and children pick up some simple Mandarin words.

This is my lesson plan for the session lasting about 20 minutes. I hope it inspires you to use Mandarin in your classroom.
The lyrics for all the songs are available on http://alittlemandarin.com/lyrics/ I printed them out on A4 card, put a related picture on the other side and laminated it.
The story I used  was the really simple one from Twinkl .

Learning objective:
To hear, sing and speak a little Mandarin and hear about the cultural traditions for Chinese New Year.

By the end of  session the children should be able to say hello “nĭ hăo” and good bye “zài jiàn” and have become familiar with the songs. They are likely to be able to sing the Two tigers song by repeating it. They will also have realised learning another language is a lot of fun.

The lesson outline is as follows.

dancing dragonLingotastic Chinese New Year class

Blast off to China (with rockets) One two three blast off  “yi er san diăn huŏ”

Meet the Dragon and say hello to him “nĭ hăo” If the children are feeling brave you I take the dragon to talk to individual children, a great way to repeat this phrase with them. The dragon is taking us on a New Year adventure with lots of friends to meet along the way.

Tell the Dragon’s story (Chinese zodiac story with lots of animal props) As the children hear their animal mentioned they need to wave it. Twinkl  have a brilliant simple version.

After we’ve crossed the river in the story we meet the Jade Emperor. It’s his birthday so we can all sing  Happy Birthday to the Jade Emperor in Mandarin  shēng rì kuài lè

The dragon asks can we sing it again?  please- “qĭng”

 

It’s time to find the two tigers together. Bring out the two tiger props and teach the song.

Sing two tigers with actions (in Mandarin)  liǎng zhī láo hǔ

We need to say  thank you to tigers for playing with us“xié xié”

 

Of we go again. We’ve got a friend to find. Time to find a friend

We can’t find them, they are cleaning the house ready for the new year.

On the songcard, notice the children are wearing red and gold lucky colours for the new year.

Find a friend (musical game) (in Mandarin) Play the song and pause after they sing “nǐ shì wǒ de hǎo péng yǒu” (You are my good friend.) The chidren need to find a friend and shake hands with them. Continue the song stopping at “nǐ shì wǒ de hǎo péng yǒu” and the childen find another friend to shake hands with.

 

So now we’re all ready for the New Year. It’s time to sing.

Happy new year song (in Mandarin)  xīn nián hǎo

The Dragon needs to go now, to look after the water and bring rain.

All say good bye “zài jiàn” to dragon. If you have time the dragon (and you) can go round and say it to each child so repeating it many times.finished_rockets

Blast off back to England with the rockets. Another chance to count together.

 

We use rockets as we always do at Lingotastic. It is our way of travelling to the different countries. It’s a good way to introduce some numbers.

The songs here are familiar tunes or very simple. I learned these songs by singing along to a little mandarin CD mostly in the car. My children learned them too. In the same order I did. I figured if we could learn them by singing other people could too.

 

I’m really happy to chat with you about how you could use this in your classroom. Get in touch Sarah@Lingotastic.co.uk

Spanish

Manuel¡Hola! At Lingotastic we love to sing and play and make in Spanish. We love to share a Spanish story together too. Manuel is our friendly Spanish speaking puppet who encourages children to speak Spanish in a group setting. We sing lots of fun active songs and children and grown ups soon join in and sing along in Spanish. We often have a mix of bilingual families, expert speakers, those who spoke Spanish at school, total beginners and it works really well. Through this fun we help promote family language learning by modelling simple techniques you can continue at home.

Spanish weekly classes start in September

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