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:
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 Sam and Catherine from bsmall publishing
Could you tell me little about yourself and your family?
My name is Catherine Bruzzone and I started the business in the early 1990s publishing high-quality activity books for the Early Learning Centre. After these first few titles, I started to create bilingual books focussing on first words in English-French and English-Spanish. At the time, I was married to an Italian and my young children were learning both English and Italian. Prior to being a publisher, I was an MFL teacher in secondary schools teaching French and Italian – so languages were in my blood! Sam has taken on the daily management of the business over the last few years and he also studied French and Italian so is keen to carry on this important side of our business.
How does your product help family language learning?
Our activity books are created for non-experts to introduce and practise foreign languages at home. We are a commercial enterprise and so focus on creating French and Spanish material because this is what we sell best – especially in North America. We have dabbled in Italian, German and Chinese and still have a few of these titles on our list. Kids and parents of all ages benefit hugely from having a go at foreign languages and it’s really important to encourage kids when they are not feeling self-conscious about their ability – so our books target kids aged 6 to 9 years (though we have a few first words and older stories), which we feel is a great age to encourage practical activities in foreign languages. They don’t replace a real teacher or local languages group but are a good support. Is there anything else you’d like to tell those reading our blog?
We have created a fantastic poster encouraging kids to ‘have a go’ at learning languages. It’s called Rights of the Language Learner and is available either in a posh A3 laminated version from Little Linguist or we can give you a free PDF that you can print yourself on bsmall publishing Please email us on email@example.com if you’d like to receive it!
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.
There are some brilliant language learning resources out there. As a parent raising bilingual children I know how difficult it can be to find resources suitable for children.
Here are a few and some with special Lingotastic discounts to tempt you further…
At Lingotastic we sing and play in English, German, French and Spanish so I’m so pleased to recommend The Little Linguist’s Alphabet poster created by the lovely Una. The Little Linguist’s Alphabet is a multilingual alphabet with 26 objects that all start with the same letter as their translations in English, French, Spanish, Portuguese, German and Dutch. Now D is always for Dinosaur, and P is always for Princess, no matter which combination of these languages your little linguist speaks.
Una is an English (Irish) speaking mum with a French speaking husband. Her children found if confusing that U is for umbrella with mummy but with papa it is P pour parapluie. She created this alphabet so in English, French, Spanish, Portuguese, German and Dutch. D is always for Dinosaur. With original illustrations, this print makes a stunning addition to any child’s bedroom or playroom. All the words for each language are printed around the edge to help the grown-ups! This beautiful poster is available on www.loveyourlingo.com
Singing is my favourite way of learning a language so here are some CD’s both me and the families coming to Lingotastic classes would recommend.
The lovely Penni from Babi Bach has produced a brilliant bilingual Welsh and English album. Here is our interview
The album is currently available for download through most major sites including Amazonand Spotify. CDs can be ordered directly from Penni (firstname.lastname@example.org) and in some South Wales shops. CDs will also be available shortly through Siop Mabon a Mabli online.
A Little Mandarin produce a fun funky CD of both familiar and traditional Chinese songs to expose little ones to mandarin from a young age, to help them “tune in” to the language. The songs are really funky so it’s fun for grown ups as well as little ones. My family used this CD and within five weeks had picked up four songs. As Mandarin is so different to European languages there is real value to very early exposure to it so, when they encounter it later in life it feels familiar and they can pick it up more easily. The album is also available on Deezer and Spotify.
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 i tunes Spotify and Amazon. Read our interview with Kristin here
Baby Boom Boom produce some baby friendly, sing along CD’s to introduce babies and little ones to other languages early in life, the songs are familiar sung in both English and the target language. The CD features nursery rhymes and songs in English and a second language. Currently you can choose from English and either French, Spanish, Italian, German, Polish, Chinese Mandarin, Scottish Gaelic or Welsh. Exclusive code from Lingotastic. Use the code lingo10 for a 10% discount.
You may have noticed I like Flash Sticks! A really simple tool to increase your vocabulary in French, German, Spanish, Italian, BSL and English. (with more to come)
The guys at FlashSticks have offered Lingotastic customers a special discount.
10% off at Flash Sticks use the coupon code lingotastic10 (in lower case). We interviewed Vejay about the concept read about it here.
Early language learning is all about having fun. Toys that talk and sing in another language really fit the bill there and Rachel’s Toy Shop sell some beautiful ones. Simply mention “Lingotastic” in the comments box when ordering to get to a 10% discount AND your postage refunded!
Mommies Tongue. Stock a brilliant range of bilingual toys as well as multilingual puzzles and games for older children too. Brilliant resources to pick up and practice language whilst simply having fun! We bought a Polish singing Teddy from them a while back and my six year old now knows the alphabet in Polish! We were learning the German alphabet and I was surprised how much she knew. It’s what my teddy bear sings she told me!
Renze at Babeltots has a massive range of beautiful bilingual toys and books.
Reading together is a brilliant way to increase your little one’s language skills. It’s a good way to sneak a hug from a lively toddler too! b small publishing Produce some beautifully illustrated books in French, English and Spanish. They range from simple one word vocab books like “les vêtements” perfect for toddlers and new language learners, to bilingual story books, perfect to snuggle up and read together. They also have some brilliant activity books for older children. Sam at b small publishing has offered Lingotastic customers an amazing 10% discount.
Simply email email@example.com and quote LINGOTASTIC to place your order.
I’ve bought some beautiful foreign language books from Little Linguist They’ve offered Lingotastic customers a special discount. E mail us to get the special code
Chatterbags make some brilliant tote bags to get people chatting, whatever language they speak. Simply tick which languages you speak, use the bag whilst out and about and get chatting. Mention Lingotastic when you place your order. Chatterbags blog
All these businesses started when a parent or individual saw a need for language learning resources and decided they would find a way to meet it. We’ll be sharing their inspirational stories on our blog!