Tag Archives: Spanish

Language learning is a Superpower

We have been going to the Language show since 2013. Our whole family have been coming with us for the last  three years. Taking our kids to language show proved a real eyeopener this year. Jasmin is now 10 and Emily 8. They have finally realised Language learning is a Superpower.

Here are their thoughts on the day.

 

Jasmin

I liked language show because I did not know that I know Mandarin so I was surprised.

I also liked the Chinese singing and dancing because they had amazing costumes.

I liked the language taster session for Icelandic which was quite hard to understand.

I liked the food stalls as they provided food from many different countries.

 

Emily

I enjoyed the Chinese dancers with their magnificent costumes.

I liked the Spanish for babies stall because they had the most delicious sweets.

I tried a Mandarin learning game for secondary school age and I found it pretty easy.

I went to an Icelandic taster class to learn Icelandic. I learned the word velkomin which means welcome.

I asked my dad to buy me some Assimemor cards “Corps et Vetiments” en Francais.

I choose this as I already know my colours and numbers in French.

 

The girls were happy and confident to try other languages this time they said” Arigatō” to the Japanese stall holder and “Gracias” to the Spanish man who gave them some sweets, “xie xie” to the Mandarin lady who gave them a book mark and “danke” to the lady on the Goethe Institute stand who gave them a sweet. As a parent I was overjoyed to witness this. They have often battled us about using languages other than English as home. They saw a stand about some online language learning games, Language Magician and were keen to try them out. The game was a mix of vocabulary and grammar in German. They enjoyed a lot and are keenly waiting for the full version to be released next year. Emily played with the u talk app and decided she wanted to learn Arabic! That’s my girl!

The girls were keen to visit the Speak like a native stand. A lady taught some simple Spanish to them whilst we chatted to the others on the stand. They simply played connect four together in Spanish and my girls picked up some Spanish.

As we passed a translation stand, the girls were chatting about the languages they could translate to and from. They them started to think about careers that languages would open for then. I think at 8 and ten to be thinking about that is so encouraging.

As we passed the Army Careers stand Emily aged 8 asked us “Why do the army need languages?”

We approached them to ask the question, they explained that the army serve all over the world and so need lots of languages, what they are really looking for are people, who are able to learn languages rather than able to speak them now.  As a mum I was so proud as this was exactly what we have done with our own kids they are bilingual German and English but as regularly exposed to different languages and encouraged to have a go speaking them.

My youngest Em enjoyed learning Mandarin in a taster class and joined in with the adults. After the class she looked down the list to see which language she could learn next!! I love her attitude to languages.

 

The highlight of the day for the girls was the bcc mandarin stand. The ladies on the stand started to demonstrate the mandarin learning game they have developed for secondary school age. My ten year old quickly picked it up and was correctly identifying mandarin characters. The ladies who had developed the programme were blown away by how quickly and easily they were learning Mandarin. My Jasmin came away speaking to us of how she was going to study GCSE Mandarin at school. We now need to investigate how we can make this possible for her. We came away with the amazing character cards developed by  teaching characters in a pictoral format , as well as a simple description to aid memorisation. We’ll be writing a full review on this soon.

 

As parents of children learning languages at home it is sometime surprising to see how this is progressing for them. Often it is only in a different setting they use the skills they have and show you how much they actually know. I was most excited to see their current attitude to languages as we have had a few years of them only wanting to use English and not be seen as different.

 

I would love to hear about your family’s language learning journey either let  us know in the comments bellow or get in touch and we can feature your story on the blog.

 

Language show silliness

This weekend we went along to language show and  had a lot of fun and silliness.

It is a highpoint in our calendar, a chance to see what is happening in the world of languages and to meet some friends we’ve been chatting to and working with online.

We met some really inspiring people this year with amazing stories behind their products. We also bumped into a few well known language bloggers and podcasters. We took some silly selfies (because that is a fun thing to do right?)

As we arrived,we were stopped by the lovely Madelena from The Alma collective.
We’d been chatting about collaboration for few weeks but had no idea we’d both be at the Language Show. She is a native German and Greek speaker so we had a lot of fun switching languages in our conversation together. Her passion with The Alma Collective is to inspire and empower parents to raise multilingual children. We look forward to working together in the future.

The first stall we visited was Glynys and her baby Spanish CD’s. Like us she is all about starting languages as early as possible and learning with the help of songs and music. She felt there was a gap in the market here so introduced her product. We’ll be reviewing it very soon.

 

 

 

On a French book stand, Librarie la page.
We came across some awesome trilingual chilidren’s picture books, produced by Vincent from
Jarvin Crew The books are in French, English and Spanish. They were produced as all three languages are spoken in his household. It means that many family members are able to read the same story to the children.

I

I was so excited to discover BCC Mandarin. They produce some beautiful cards to learn to read Mandarin Characters by playing. They are beautifully illustrated and suggest a simple story to memorise the shape of the character. I have studied basic Mandarin a little but was far to nervous to try anything other than pin yin. These cards make reading characters accessible. They are such a brilliant idea.

The British council had some brilliant resources for bringing Polish and Mandarin into the classroom. A great way to learn together and integrate cultures.

 

 

 

 

We had a look at the Lingotot stand. I figure anyone who is passionate about teaching children languages is a friend of mine. The weirdest thing happened. When giving the lady on the stand my business card, she commented “That is my name!” How odd is that. We’d both kept our maiden names when we married our, non British husbands. We’ll be sharing Sarah’s language learning story in a the next few months.

At the ALL stand we met the lovely Victoria who had invited us to contribute to the magazine last Month. She told us a little of what ALL does to support Primary Languages. Find out more for yourself here.

We met some inspiring teacher’s whose classroom experience has led them to create something for all teachers to benefit….. Bili setting up free online language exchange and ALL-IN Octopus with their grammar teaching software. https://school.all-in.org.uk/

We were really happy to meet Gareth from How to Get Fluent and Kris from Actual Fluency, fellow language obsessives and bloggers.

We ended the very busy day learning some Esperanto with the inspirational Tim Morley. It was such fun!

 

So, as you can see we had a brilliant time and met some awesome people. Many will be features on our blog in the near future. The next day our girls came along. It was a real eyeopener for us keep an eye out for that blog!

Hey Diddle Diddle- the fiddly business of song translation.

Twenty days ago, we were asked if we would translate 36 English Nursery Rhymes and Songs into German. We said, “Yes of course!”.

We started to translate songs when we first met 21 years ago, as it was a fun thing to do. For our last album “Mostly German”, we translated some traditional German nursery rhymes into singable English versions
As we looked more into the English nursery rhymes, we realised that many were hundreds of years old and did not have a good German translation. As we wrestled with them to match meaning, rhyme and rhythm we realised why! Songs like “Hey Diddle Diddle” and “Mary Mary Quite Contrary” make no sense at all in English, so where do you start with translating them into German? Many of the songs could be political commentary I have heard, but this does not make translation any easier.

Here’s an example from “Three Blind Mice”:
“They all ran after the farmer’s wife
Who cut off their tails with a carving knife
Did you ever see such a thing in your life,
As three blind mice”
It has four consecutive rhymes to be translated and still rhyme, as well as the words being sung at the speed of a tongue twister. Absolute nightmare!

We started off by plugging the text into google translate to start ideas flowing. Some of these first translations are hilarious.
Once I caught a fish alive became
Eins zwei drei vier fünf
Einmal habe ich einen lebendigen Fisch gefangen

It is German alright, but there is no way those words will fit with the rhythm. The other major difficulty with this song is that nothing much rhymes with “fünf”, except Strümpf’ (socks) or Schlümpf’ (smurfs). So, we had to change to structure of the song to still convey the original meaning. Here’s what we did:

Eins, zwei, drei und vier
Ich hab’ ein kleines Fischlein hier
Fünf, sechs, sieben, acht
Jetzt hat er sich fort gemacht

We found some German translations for a few of the songs but that just served to give a few ideas..
Maik and I had a lot of back and forth, and middle-of-the-night bright ideas in order to pull this project together. So now we have 36 nursery rhymes with singable German translations, a really intense project but well worth it for the finished product.

And we eventually did find a way of rendering the “three blind mice” into German. It’s one heck of a tongue-twister even for a native speaker, but it rhymes while still conveying the meaning of the original English. Here it is:

Drei blinde Mäuse, drei blinde Mäuse.
Sieh, wie sie laufen, sieh, wie sie laufen.
Sie liefen hinter der Bauersfrau
Die wollte ihnen die Schwänze abhaun,
Mit ‘nem Messer, ja das glaube ich kaum,
Drei blinde Mäuse.

We translated and recorded some songs in 2015 for our Lingotastic “Mostly German” album. We took some traditional German Kinderlieder and translated them so they were singable in both German and English to help learn German. We also included verses in French, Spanish, Mandarin and Esperanto. In singing along language learning happens without even thinking about it. Get hold of your own copy here.

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 become a polyglot?

This week we are really blessed to have an exclusive interview with a man who speaks at least twelve languages, Dimitrios Polychronopoulos. I hope it inspires your own language learning journey.


Could you tell us about your language learning journey?

When I was growing up, I dreamed of travelling the world and learning languages to speak to the people I would meet in the different countries I would visit. My first languages were English and Greek. I’m a Greek citizen and I grew up in the United States.

While I’m grateful for the lessons in the evening at the Greek Orthodox Church, where I learned to read and write in Greek, my ability with Greek wasn’t very strong when I was growing up. This is a common problem in many parts of the United States where children often lack peers with whom to speak their heritage language on a daily basis.

One solution to this was offered by Eithe Gallagher who presented at the Polyglot Conference in Thessaloniki in October 2016, and makes a case of promoting home languages in the classroom and I hope that soon we will see this kind of activity spreading to schools worldwide.

As a teenager, I was offered a choice of French, German or Spanish. For the university I wanted to attend, a foreign language in high school was required. Some people told me to protest that rule and say it shouldn’t be necessary in my case because of Greek. Because I was interested in language and culture anyway, I went ahead and enrolled in French courses without really thinking why I should choose this language and not one of the the other two.

The year after I started French, my parents took me to French Polynesia. People spoke fast when I tried to ask questions in my broken French. Despite my mom insisting I switch to English when speaking with the locals, I persisted with French to see how we could manage to communicate.

When two exchange students from France showed up at my high school the next year, they became my best friends and we learned a lot from each other. My French improved so much that I was able to be the first person from my high school to pass the Advanced Placement exam for university French credit. They invited me to France and I eventually earned a scholarship to study in Angers, France.

As I was finishing high school, also I started with my fourth language: Italian. Russian came next when I was 20 and I spent three months on a people-to-people exchange in the Soviet Union.

My sixth language was Spanish, which I added the next year after I was in the Soviet Union. It was amazing to read about the collapse of the Soviet Union in Spanish while visiting Costa Rica.

After university, I started to study Mandarin Chinese and began work in Taiwan as an English instructor.

So in my early 20’s I was up to seven languages to various degrees of competency. From my experience, Russian and Chinese are the most difficult languages I’ve ever studied. I can still converse in both languages and use LingQ and ReadLang as two methods of continuing to practice and improve on them. My Russian is rather basic though and I’m always making mistakes. Russian is difficult in terms of grammar and learning the rich vocabulary, but the alphabet was rather easy to pick up because I already knew the Greek alphabet.

My Chinese is modest, shall we say. It is difficult to learn the idiomatic expressions and the writing system. The first week of study, I also focused only on the tones. Unlike most learners of Chinese, I began simultaneously with the reading and writing. While learning daily conversation, I was also studying the Chinese radicals. After I finished my lesson book and cassettes from Audio Forum, which brought me to a basic conversational level after four months, I began to use children’s school books and learned the Mandarin Phonetic Alphabet to help read texts alongside the complex characters that five-year olds and then six-year olds and then seven-year olds would read at school.

From Taiwan, I moved to the Philippines where I completed a Master of International Studies. The time I spent living in Taiwan and the Philippines, over a span of five years, allowed me to easily enjoy visits to other parts of East Asia and I had the opportunity to explore a lot of the region.

In Manila, I had the chance to practice several of my languages while living at the university. I also began to study Tagalog and then Bahasa Indonesia. Fortunately there was a student from Greece there. My Greek was out of practice, but she helped me get it up to scratch. I also enrolled in advanced Spanish conversation and tried Portuguese for the first time but withdrew because the pace was too slow and boring. There were individuals who knew French and people from Mainland China and Taiwan, so I had lots of opportunities to use these languages, too.

After completing my studies in the Philippines, I moved to Greece and enjoyed my work there as a tour director. When I was on tour, I would also lead groups to Turkey as a part of their two-week journey to the region, so I began to study Turkish as well. In Turkish, I never reached the point of understanding the TV news or reading a newspaper, but I could communicate at the rudimentary level of taking taxis, handling issues with the tour driver and with the hospitality staff.

As for Greek, to reach a level of Greek more like people who grew up in Greece, I enrolled in courses at the Greek American Union in Athens and was placed in advanced classes with foreigners who had been living in Greece for a long time. It was also wonderful to live close to my family in Athens and I really enjoyed the time there.

A few years later, I moved to the Peloponnese and also began to take on tour assignments to Italy. The amounts of work in Italy allowed my Italian to improve a lot. Later I also began assignments to Spain and Costa Rica, which helped boost my Spanish.

One of the activities I enjoyed in the Peloponnese was kite surfing. One of my instructors was Brazilian and invited me to kite in Praia do Laranjal in southern Brazil. So I spent a couple of our winters in Brazil, which are their summers. I had ‘Teach Yourself Portuguese’ audio lessons and although I arrived and spoke Spanish to most people, I was able to switch to what they call Portuñol and eventually to Portuguese with a few Spanish word in it.

The year before I started hanging out in Brazil, I had been in Montevideo at La Herradura Language School. Ever since the day I began to study Spanish in 1991, every time I was in a Spanish environment, my Italian would disappear. Likewise, whenever I was in an Italian environment, my Spanish would disappear. Finally in 2008 I became capable of shifting between Italian and Spanish without much interference between languages. Then I moved to Spain and my Spanish continued to improve and I have fortunately been able to maintain my Italian.

In 2012 I started to study German in Hamburg with colon.de , and then later started to study Dutch on my own and then Norwegian up to A2 level in Oslo with language power and then continued Norwegian on my own after that.

Now I live in Norway where I completed an MBA recently and last year I worked on a tour a few times from Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia and on to Finland. I’ve dabbled with all four of these languages as well, using material such as Teach Yourself, LingQ and Routledge.

In May of 2016 at the Polyglot Gathering in Berlin I introduced my new language website yozzi.com, which aims to become the lang-8 (lang-8.com) for advanced language learners where people submit texts and receive corrections. The point is for people to practice writing entire articles in their target languages, not just sentences and paragraphs which is what lang-8 offers.

In June 2016, I became the congress coordinator for the Society of Intercultural Education Training and Research Europa (SIETAR Europa) sietareu.org for the congress in Dublin in late May 2017. Currently I’m dabbling with Irish.

Now that I’ve fulfilled my dream of travelling the world and learning languages, I’d like to use my languages in new ways, such as encouraging people to improve their writing skills as Yozzi aims to do, and in building intercultural understanding and awareness and to encourage language-learning.


Do you think learning languages is important and why?

Learning languages is a great way to build empathy. When a person has experienced the humility of trying to speak a different language and not being understood, of having a thick accent, bad grammar and limited vocabulary, it can make people who are otherwise in comfortable positions think about the struggle immigrants go through when they move to a new country in hope of improving their lives. Language learning also helps with educational opportunities as one can study in universities in different languages and also with career opportunities.

Do you have any new Language Learning challenges on the horizon?

My biggest focus is to reach an advanced level of Dutch and Norwegian. When there is a sense of urgency, I will likely bring one of the languages I’ve dabbled in up to a higher level. Motivation is the key when it comes to language learning. When motivation isn’t there, it’s hard to push beyond the A1 material. Another thing I have experienced is that if I reach an A2 level in a language but then don’t use it for a long time, the language drifts into a fog and that’s what has happened with Tagalog and Turkish. My main focus is with my twelve strongest languages and if circumstances arise to bring another language up to an intermediate level, then I will likely do so with an intense three-month language challenge, which I find very effective, such as with Brian Kwong’s Add One Challenge.

If you’d like to stay in contact with Dimitris check out these links
to Yozzi on:

twitter @LanguageYozzi
Facebook. https://www.facebook.com/yozzilanguage/

If you’d like to share your language learning journey on our blog we’d love to hear from you.

Meet Darren: Not bad at really simple foreign phrases.

I’m delighted to introduce you my inspirational linguist friend, Darren, who is not bad at really simple foreign phrases 😉 I hope you enjoy the interview as much as I did.

Could you tell us a little about your language learning journey?
My language learning journey began at about 7 years old when my teacher at the time came back from holiday and decided to teach the class some Italian phrases. I found I was able to remember them after just reading them a couple of times and I thought it was very exotic. The big trigger was from the most unlikely of places, though: the Heinz Invaders Fan Club. Heinz released a range of spaceship-shaped pasta dishes in the early 1980s and started a fan club, which my parents let me join. I waited a few weeks for the promised goodies, only to be told that the club wouldn’t run due to lack of interest. However, Heinz did send me an Invaders pack, which contained, among other things, an Invaders secret language decoder. And that was it. I was hooked on the idea that I could read a language that no one else could, and I started looking for more secret codes everywhere I could. Unfortunately, this was in the days before the Internet, so I was limited to what I could find when the library van came around.
Real languages didn’t enter my life until I started secondary school. I started learning German at 11, then added French at 13. I found German easy but struggled with French so I never really enjoyed it. I passed both my GCSE exams and then didn’t think about languages until around 2005, when a friend asked me to help her study Latin terms for her nursing exam. I was able to break each term down so that she could link it to something in her life and remember it all easily and I again felt the rush of having this “secret knowledge” again. Luckily for me, there were a lot of Polish girls at work who couldn’t speak English, so I started helping them in exchange for them helping me learn Polish. In no time I was using basic phrases and even managed to get myself a Polish girlfriend (now my wife) though she personally didn’t have any desire to teach me Polish. I decided to take lessons and enrolled at Bristol University for a year. After the first term, I was able to help the more confused students and found that this basic form of teaching really agreed with me. After finishing Polish (the course was sadly discontinued at the end of that year), I trained to be an EFL teacher. Once I’d completed my courses, I started teaching at Bristol Language School. I only taught for a single term as we had two very small children at home and I didn’t want to miss anything, but it made me realise what I eventually wanted to do. After that, I started learning foreign phrases as many languages as I could get hold of: Spanish, Italian, Romanian, Russian, Hungarian, Greek…
2016 was the best year for me so far. I copy edited the 2nd edition of “Endangered Alphabets” by Tim Brookes, completed the Esperanto course on Duolingo, and discovered the Utalk Challenge – completing all 12 of my chosen languages. Let’s see what the rest of 2017 brings…

 

How does your family join your language learning journey?
My wife Aneta is fluent in four languages; English, Russian, German, and Polish, so we sometimes mess around, changing languages mid-sentence or testing each other on random words. Our oldest son, Robert, is autistic and has always been amazing with languages – he could read and write the English alphabet before he started nursery, could write basic Russian words, and could say “Hello”, count, and say handfuls of words in Spanish, Polish, Swahili and more. Sadly, he lost interest at around 4 and now will only speak in English. Alex, our youngest, speaks English and some Polish. He also loves to practise languages with me.


I see you teach languages. Could you tell us a little more about that?

I give free exchange lessons: English for any other language, and I also run Esperanto and Italian study groups once a week. It enables me to keep myself surrounded in languages.


Where can we find out more about your classes / teaching?

I prefer face-to-face lessons as it allows me to form a bond with my students/language partners that you don’t really get through Skype or other platforms, so I tend to only see people in Bath/Bristol. I can be contacted through email or Facebook for anyone that is interested in language exchange sessions, or those who need help with learning another language.

I’m sure our readers are really social, where can we connect with you on twitter, FB, Insta etc?

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/lingo78

Instagram: omnilinguist

Twitter: https://twitter.com/Rosomakx

Nasza-Klasa: Darren Cameron

Language learning is THE best way to make friends.

I originally wrote this blog two years ago as a guest post for FlashSticks. I’ve brought it up to date now. It’s exciting to see how my language learning has progressed in that time…

I’m starting to realise I may be a bit of language nerd. I’ve been thinking recently as to why people learn a language. I think for me the greatest reason is that it gives me the chance to make friends. I’m a really relational person and language learning is great for this. As Nelson Mandela said “If you talk to a man in a language he understands, that goes to his head. If you talk to him in his language it goes to his heart”

As I walk my children in to school I often say good morning in about four languages to the other parents and children. dzień dobry, bună dimineața, jó reggelt, As- Salàmu ’Alaykum, доброе утро, dobrý deň, Guten Morgen, zăo sháng hăo !

At my children’s school, there are parents and children whose main languages are Polish, Hungarian, Mandarin, Russian, German, Romanian, Slovak, Urdu, Arabic, Ukrainian or French.

In September, my daughter returned to school, after the summer holidays. She had three children in her class who’d just arrived in the country and spoke no English. The children taught each other to say “good morning” in their own languages. I was really impressed by this mutual language teaching at age 7 and also the way the new children were welcomed into the class. I decided I could do this too, and learn to say at least good morning or simple greetings in these languages.

I started to chat to the new families and learned how to say good morning. I thought language learning would be a great way to get to know other families in the school. It’s been a fun journey. I’ve spoken the wrong language to people a few times and sometime pronounced so badly they did not know what I was saying! The Urdu and Arabic speaking mums automatically respond to me with “Wa ’Alaykum us Salam,” then realise it’s me speaking and look a bit confused or giggle! In time they’ve got used to it though!

On the whole people have been really pleased to teach me a few words of their language and laughed with me as I stumbled over the new expressions. It empowers them and builds their confidence as they are the experts in this area. Some of the mums are new to the country, learning English, and they like the fact that I take the time to talk with them and try to understand what they are saying. I, myself have struggled with communication in other languages, so I’m patient!

Cup of tea anyone?

I’ve discovered our local Big Issue seller is Romanian and she has taught me:

Hello Buna dimineata

Goodbye La revedere

I’ve been practicing and improving my Polish with the help of the staff at the local Polish Deli. Through spending time with them I’m getting to know them better especially those who only speak a little English. Other customers in the shop are noticing, too, and will speak to me in Polish if they see me on the High Street, which I love.

I’ve a few Thai girl friends so I always greet them with Sawatdee-kah.

We have Greek friends in church so I greet them with Καλημέρα Τι κάνεις: I’ve also discovered a few of my friends speak Afrikaans so I try my Dutch on them, which often works. In my daughter’s new school we have Spanish, Hungarian and Portuguese speakers, so I try to use these languages whenever I can.

I’ve met Russian, Swedish and Tagalog speaking parents at my local mums and toddlers group and am slowly learning words from them.

I’m enjoying building my own language skills and making friends, too. Do you have anyone you can get to know better by learning their language? I’d love to know how it goes!

Betty and Cat – Hennie’s Multilingual writing adventures

This week I have a real treat in store for you. An interview with the amazing Hennie, author of the Betty and Cat books.

Could you tell us a little about yourself?
I was born in Holland, immigrated to Montreal, then lived in Toronto, moved back to Holland when I had a mid-life crisis, and now spend my time between Holland and France.

How many languages do you speak?
I speak Dutch, French, and English. I studied German, but for some reason, the words won’t come out of my mouth properly! My current thing is learning Spanish.

Have you always been keen on languages?
I’ve always been keen on communicating, and sometimes it takes another language. At home, languages were always a thing – my dad was keen – he spoke four and started learning Spanish at an advanced age. He also thought Esperanto was the way forward and learned that.
Living in Montreal at a time when the English were in power, we were the only family I knew that had Francophone friends. We were different, they were different, and the people we lived among (the Anglophones) must have thought that we were different. Somehow, that ended up making us more tolerant, and I think more interesting in the long run.

Could you tell us a little about your language learning journey as a child,
Learning English (there were three of us kids; my parents already spoke school-English when we immigrated) was always fun at home. We shared stories, we showed off, we were shown off (I remember my dad having me recite Humpty Dumpty into a tape recorder for the folks back in Holland). It was never considered a chore, hard, un-fun, or extraordinary.
New year’s day we had Dutch friends for lunch and ended the day with French friends. My husband is American. So: we started the day in English, nattered in Dutch over lunch, spoke French all evening, and then went home talking English. There are millions of people all over the word who live like this, and were probably never taught to make a big deal of it. It just happens.

Could you tell us a little about your career background?
I was a copywriter all my working life. My greatest joy was writing a two-part children’s story for the newspapers around the Santa Claus Parade, sponsored by the department store I was working for. I even got a fan letter.
What inspired you to write and publish your books?
A friend here in France, an illustrator who has grandchildren growing up bilingually in Brussels, asked me if we couldn’t collaborate on a bilingual kids’ book. She ended up being too busy to illustrate it – but I caught the bug, and did it. Not for a second, though, did I consider a translated book – the Betty & Cat books just flopped out in two languages.

Anything else you’d wish to add?
There are so many people around the globe working with kids – and adults – teaching second, third and more languages it gives you hope for the future. Tout comprendre c’est tout pardonner. And one way to truly understand is to learn the language.

Find out more about Hennie’s amazing books at bettyandcat.com

Speak Polish! How Kids Make Absolutely Awesome Motivation

I’m learning Polish at the moment with uTalk (blog comjng very soon). This week we are lucky to have a guest blog from Nathan at how to speak Polish. I hope it inspires you to learn Polish too.

Nathan from HowToSpeakPolish.com at Wawel Castle in Kraków, Poland“I don’t know where it is!”

Aged 23, that’s exactly what I would have told you if you’d have asked me about Poland. I hadn’t even met a Pole until 2013. Little did I know that I’d end up marrying the first one that I spoke to!

My name is Nathan and given my background, it’s quite surprising that I’m an ambassador of the Polish language. I was born in 1991 and raised in Swindon, England to a family of Jamaican and Barbadian heritage. Although I am from an English-speaking family, I encountered French at a young age. At school I had Spanish classes too, but after years of lessons in both I could never hold a conversation. Despite my lack of proficiency, exposure to foreign languages as a child taught me how much fun they were and I continued to dabble in them in adulthood.

My Polish language learning journey

Nathan from HowToSpeakPolish.com making friends with a Polish accordion playerI started learning Polish in 2013 after being invited to a wedding in Western Poland. I’d heard false rumours that Polish people were racist towards black people, so I decided to learn some phrases beforehand in order to say hello and get myself out of a sticky situation should it arise.

Nothing would stick! After failing to learn anything from my local library’s audio courses, I actually quit learning Polish – twice! For me, it was third time lucky when I started using my current method to learn the meanings of whole sentences. I bought a cheap phrasebook and went from there.

Following the wedding, I continued learning and started speaking to natives on Skype. After 14 months of struggling, I had finally achieved my goal to speak Polish with natives with ease!

Of course, I never would have achieved my goal without guidance. My language learning heroes are Khatzumoto, Luca Lampariello and Olly Richards. I have been influenced by many others, but these three are a cut above the rest. They inspire me not only with their language proficiency, but also with their willingness to help others to follow in their path. On my website, HowToSpeakPolish.com, I help other Polish learners in the same way that these titans have helped me.

Although I can speak Polish, I continue to study so that I can teach my children to speak Polish from birth. I plan to exclusively speak Polish to my kids. If I don’t, I’ll be robbing them of a suitable environment to learn. I want to give them every opportunity to get to know their mother’s family, friends and history.

My top tips

If I could give you one language learning tip knowing what I know now, it’s “Focus on learning the language that you need”. There are so many languages that you’ll never speak them all. There’s so much vocabulary that you’ll never learn it all. Concentrate on acquiring the words specific to you and your interests.

As for pronunciation, here are my top tips:

If you know someone who wants to speak Polish, tell them about HowToSpeakPolish.com. We can conquer Polish together!

Has this inspired you? Let us know in the comments below.

Cooking with Languages- Lisa Sadler

I’d like to introduce my friend Lisa and her brillliant language learning resource, Cooking with Languages. She shares my passion for encouraging family language learning.I’ll let her introduce herself.

My name is Lisa Sadleir. I am the founder of Cooking with Languages and my aim is to do for languages what Jamie Oliver has done for cooking. I’m trilingual myself and passionate about giving children the gift of languages. Conscious that children often see learning as a chore, I’ve decided it was time to make languages fun.

I’m extremely lucky. I have grown up with languages. Speaking languages has enhanced my life and provided me with so many wonderful opportunities. I am British born, educated in France and I’ve been a resident of Spain for almost 25 years. I am a mother to two amazing bilingual children, Joshua and Francesca (the voices of Arthur and Nerea).

I have given my children the gift of languages and we now want to share this gift with as many children as possible.Using food and cooking as tools to learning language makes it more natural. Children are having fun and are not necessarily realising that they are learning!

At Cooking with languages, our mission is to get children motivated about learning languages. We aim to excite and inspire.


5 Reasons Why Our Activity Cookbook Makes Language Learning Fun:
All the content Is In both English and Spanish (facilitates comprehension).
We provide simple and scrummy recipes (simple steps to follow). Ii
Children love Arthur Apple and Nerea Naranja, our fun, language assistants.
There are plenty of games and activities to practise new language and words.
We are making audio available so you can listen and repeat.

Have you ever thought about using food and cooking to enhance your child’s language learning experience? We have and this is why our family project is now Crowdfunding ….Our materials are designed to motivate and excite children to learn new words and phrases in different languages, with the added bonus of making simple and scrummy recipes at the same time.

Get your discounted materials: http://www.crowdfunder.co.uk/cooking-with-languages

In addition to using food and cooking for learning languages, you can use them to help with:

– Improving motor skills in younger children: start with soft foods that they can add/mix/grate/cut with plastic scissors or child-friendly knives …
– Mathematical skills: from number recognition, basic sums, to learning weights and measures,
– Reading and comprehension: encourage your child to read the recipe to you, ask them questions that spark their imagination eg. How do they think the food will look? Taste? smell?
– Telling the time and measuring time
– Boosting vocabulary: ingredients, using descriptive words to describe how food looks, smells and sounds while it’s cooking,

This is a brilliant idea to bring language learning into everyday life. Go help the crowdfunder here and bag yourself a brilliant resource in the process.

Here is the link to view our LIVE CROWDFUNDER Campaign:

http://bit.ly/makingsuperheroes

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