Tag Archives: Spanish

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

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.

Black Friday deal on a brilliant language learning resource

As you may know Santa is THE most multilingual person on the planet as he reads letters from children all over the world.
As a fellow polyglot he also was the first to get his hands on our brand new Mostly German CD and I’m sure he’d like to put one in your stocking.

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Three years this month we held our first ever class. We’ve been celebrating by running a giveaway of our CD.

We’ve sold a few copies so far and had some brilliant feedback.

This has been our school run sound track for the past two weeks. It’s packed with catchy tunes in “mostly” German but there’s a bit of French, Spanish and even some Chinese too. We’re getting quite good! – Kate Eccles

I loved recording the CD and it really comes through in the recording.

Singing is a really powerful tool in language learning, research is now showing. In singing you pick up the sounds of a language and quickly join in yourself. By bypassing the analytical part of the brain, you quickly acquire a good accent. This works for grown ups as well as children. When singing, you are no longer limited by grammar tables and vocab lists, free to enjoy the language and learn along the way.

For little ones, it’s an amazing foundation in language learning and the start of a bright future. We’ve seen this time and time again in our classes and now you can enjoy it at home too, with the most popular songs from our German classes. Most of these songs have not been translated into English before. We’ve also included verses in French, Spanish, Mandarin and Esperanto. Contrary to popular belief this does not confuse language learners (big and small) but actually helps language acquisition. Though these songs may be children’s songs, adults will enjoy singing along too.

Santa has his copy and I’m sure he’d like to put one in your stocking. If you want to help Santa along we have a great deal for you! 50% off when you order your copy for the first 20 customers so, get in quick as this offer closes at midnight on Monday 28th November.

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Get yours at www.Lingotastic.co.uk/shopLingo_web_CD

Language learning with bilingual animals? Whatever next!

Regular readers of our blog will know we love books so when Hennie asked us to review this book I was excited to find out more. Language learning with bilingual animals? Whatever next!

Il neige chez Betty and Cat In the snow by Hennie Jacobs and Christine Duvernois

Betty and Cat

Betty and Cat

It is a really interesting concept I’d not come across before. Hennie contacted me about her books and I was very interested to find out more.

In this story, Betty the dog and cat have lots of fun/ don’t want to play in the snow. It’s a fun story as Betty eventually shows cat how much fun snow can be (If you dress for the weather) hilarity ensues as they find ways to stay warm whilst they explore the beautiful snowy landscape outside the front door.

Hennie describes the books as follows: Betty & Cat is a series of children’s books that reflect the way today’s children play with language. You won’t find a translation, just two animals communicating: Cat in English and Betty in Dutch or French depending on the book.
I found it a bit strange to start with, never having come across a book like it before. As a multilingual family, we do often have conversations in two languages at the same time. For our family, this is very normal but I’ve never seen it on paper. Nathalia’s CD does this a lot.
My daughters had a look with me, and commented on the beautiful pictures. As a mum of children who have always loved to read (sometimes the same book over and over!) the illustration of the book is very very important.
This books helps bilingual children to see how normal and acceptable it is to switching between the two languages. This is often needed as bilingual children get older and want to fit in with their peers.
These books offer adults the opportunity to participate in the bilingual experience of the children. If relatives only speak one language they are still able to share a story with the child.

The books are also good for children who are struggling with learning English and who may not see the point of learning another language. The fun of the stories brings learning in by stealth, part of the everyday family life, in my opinion the best way to learn together as a family.

The books are a really interesting concept and a fun way to bring language learning into everyday. Have a look for yourself on http://www.bettyandcat.com/

The books are available in Spanish/English and Spanish French, as well as Dutch/French and the usual English with French, Dutch, or Spanish.

To find out more check out http://www.bettyandcat.com/

It’s Lingotastic’s birthday

It’s our birthday!

This week we celebrate Lingotastic’s third birthday!

I can hardly believe my dream of encouraging and supporting family language learning would come so far!

Here are the photos of our first ever class in the newspaper

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  • Thanks to our weekly Lingotastic classes:
  • A number of children have started school already able to communicate simply in four languages.
  • Parents have grown in confidence in their own language skills and ability to pass on these skills to their own children.
  • Bilingual families have found others to share their journey together.
  • Families have found books, songs, toys and simple activities which they can use day by day in their family language learning journey.
  • Families have experienced the joy of singing together (whatever the language)
  • Children have had their eyes opened to other languages, cultures and traditions which leads to a greater acceptance and understanding of others. (So needed at this current time)
  • Children are able to sing in many languages with almost a native accent!
  • My own family have also been learning the songs and sharing the stories from the classes and are really progressing in their language learning.

Lingotastic provide weekly language classes, school lunchtime clubs and private classes in German, French and Spanish. We simply make, play, sing and have fun with languages together and it’s amazing to see the results.

Classes run in Bucks, and Herts.

To help with your language learning at home we’ve produced as CD of songs in German, English, French, Spanish, Mandarin and Esperanto. Available on www.Lingotastic.co.uk/shop

To celebrate our birthday, we have three copies to giveaway. Do you want to win your own copy? Enter in the rafflecopter below. You can get up to 12 chances to win. Good luck!

It’s our birthday!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Interview with James from Soundimals and a hamster!

James HamsterAt our Lingotastic family language classes anything that involves animals and making animal noises is a hit, so when I came across the fun Soundimals illustrations by James Chapman I had to find out more…
We last interviewed James in January 2015, you can read that here


Since we last spoke I know you’ve finished your PHD. How are you finding life after University?

Life after university is good! I always imagined I’d double my productivity as I used to work all day at university then come home and work all evening on illustration, but now my days are all illustration I’m pretty worn out by about 6, ha. It’s good to have some relaxation time though, I never really had the whole work/life balance sorted out before but now it’s all quite nice.

Emily: We’ve just got a pet hamster. Have you done any pictures of hamsters?

Congratulations on the hamster! Hamsters are a lot of fun, my brother had one when we were young, had to keep it well away from the cat! I think I have drawn maybe one hamster? I’ll have a look and see if I can find it somewhere, it was wearing a tiara I think!

Jasmin: Have you got any pets in your house?

As for my pets, there are some fish that I live with! Three of them and they blub away while I’m working. I’d love a dog and some cats, but I don’t think I’m allowed them in my building just at the moment. One day though, one day I’ll have a hundred cats.

Have you had any interesting commissions lately?

Over the summer I’ve had a few wedding commissions to draw up, which is always really nice. I actually was commissioned to make a comic book that was used in a proposal between two friends of mine! It told the story of them both and the last page said “Will you marry me” and it was very very adorable. Wedding stuff is always very fun.
Aside from that I’m working with a Manchester charity for an art show in a few months. Exciting and daunting in equal measure, it’s still in the works but hopefully it’ll be a fun fun event.

What are your hopes for the future of Soundimals?

With Soundimals, I’d love to keep spreading the word mostly! It’s a fun book but with a strong message of diversity and being open to other cultures and I’d like to share that with as many people as possible. It’s had a really good response already online and the books are selling really well, so I suppose maybe the next step is to find a publisher/distributor and try and get them in shops all oooover the place.
In the mean time, I’ve been working on a few new books, including a big one about proverbs from all around the world. I’ve posted a fair few around instagram and my site, they’re mostly wise phrases and expressions that are commonplace in their native country but sound so different to other cultures. “A bad workman blames his tools” sounds quite normal to me, but in Polish the phrase is “a bad ballerina blames the hem of their skirt” – a much more exciting version! I’m just trying to get that book together now, so hopefully they’ll be some news on that in the new year. Keep up with what I’m up to on tumblr

The book Soundimals and How to Sneeze in Japanese can be found in my shop along with a new new new book called When Frogs Grow Hair. It’s all about the different phrases people say when they think something is impossible – like when pigs fly in English. In Spanish, they say “when frogs grow hair” and in German it’s on “St. Never’s Day” which sounds especially sassy, like a line from Mean Girls. Anyway, that’s the new one! I’m looking forward to sharing it with everyone.

PS I found it! It was a sketch someone requested in the front of their book!

Thanks James, it’s been a pleasure talking to you. The hamster is soooooo cute!

Flash Academy – Have you joined?

If you follow me on Twitter you will know I’ve been asked to beta test the new sparkly Flash sticks app Flash Academy.

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If you’ll already know I’m a read my blogs or follow us on pinterest or Instagram you will know I am a big fan of FlashSticks sticky post it notes. They are colour coded to help you remember the gender of words. Blue for masculine, pink for feminine and yellow for verbs and adjectives. For a visual learner like me they are a godsend. Simply stick them around your home or take photos when you are out and about like me! You can use the new Flash Academy app to scan any note for an instant pronunciation video from a native speakers. This is an unlimited free feature for all users. We interviewed Veejay about how the idea for Flash Sticks came about last year, read about it here.

Our Lingotastic classes are in basic French, German and Spanish and occasionally Mandarin. It is a ongoing task to keep my skills going in all these languages. As a busy mum,  as well as a teacher my time is limited so I need to be able to learn in pockets of time and apps like this fit the bill for me.

 

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The app includes hundreds of short 5-minute interactive language lessons and a series of fast-paced (for me nail biting) word games to consolidate learning. Learners continually ‘graduate’ to new levels as their fluency in the language develops.

 

I like that the first words learned are food (breakfast) so useful words to learn. There are almost three hundred language lessons available for each language, with six lessons initially provided free of charge (five in basics, one in Food & Drink)

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The graphics are brightly coloured with appealing pictures. They remind me a lot of WII games! The words are spoken as they are seen by a native speaker, which is a big plus to me! I recently realised that, in my GCSE courses I learned ,to read and write much better than pronounce. This really helps to rectify this, as I can see it written, and hear it at the same time. The app also has occasional grammar and culture tips which are really useful to learn alongside the language.

I was interested how it worked for children, so I got my eight year old, who has only just started French to test it as well. She liked it and managed to understand the more complicated parts at the end.

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The only downside I found was, as an intermediate language learner I would like to assess where I am at and start from there. Flash Academy does not have that functionality.

 

The cherry on top of the app is the amazing sci fi object scanner. Simply switch on the object scanner and take a picture of the object and by some kind of magic the app tells you what it is in English and your chosen language of over 40 languages !

Anyway, what are you waiting for? Boost your family language skills AND have fun along the way!

 

The app is free to download on

App and Google Play stores, with subscription plans starting at £2.99 per month.

FlashAcademy is perfect for all ages and all language levels.

For more information visit www.flashacademyapp.com

Flash Sticks sticky notes are 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).

Disclaimer: These are my own thoughts and opinions. FlashSticks gave me a three month subscription in order to review this app which is just as well since I’ve found it to be addictive… What can I scan next?

 

 

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