Home

Login Form



Who's Online

We have 8 guests online

Click here to view my book

Click the picture to view my book

Buy from Amazon.com

Buy from Amazon.co.uk

cjbgibson
happy holidays
2014.04.22 21:03:17

We just went back to France to the town we lived in 3 years ago for 8 months.  The boys were thrilled to be there, ice skating and skiing.  The weather was lovely, the friends as close as ever.  But the highlight for me was arranging for the boys to go back to school there for a day.  The headteacher was ever so gracious in letting them come visit at short notice and I was amazed at how the boys accepted it - looked forward to it!  And how happy they were, and how easy they fit in again.  A day back in a French school was more French than they would have had in 2 months of French lessons. And more than that, solidifying their connection with that other, wonderful world.  All = One very happy mum.  :-)

 



Tags: French | France | cultural ties | language immersion

Hits: 3 | Read more...


 
cjbgibson
The reason behind why children learn so little foreign language vocab in primary
2014.03.26 19:52:43

I'm always frustrated at how little children learn in terms of French or Spanish or German - whatever language is taught - in primary school.  Maybe at best some numbers, colours, animals and food.  Hardly any verbs of any use, hardly anything of any real use in fact.  It's not because the children can't learn it - it is because the teachers don't know any more than that.

 

A new BBC investigation has found that many teachers haven't even studied a language past GCSE, leaving schools woefully unprepared for the language requirements starting in September.  If only parents demanded more, eventually the Government would have to listen and start giving children the basis in languages that children receive in every other subject.

 

So frustrating!  :-(

 



Tags: primary school languages education

Hits: 55 | Read more...


 
cjbgibson
Learning a new language...as an adult
2014.02.27 21:29:29

One of my aims, when I was a teenager (admittedly, a strange teenager) was to learn the basics of one language in each of the main language groups.  So, once I learned a bit of French, instead of improving on it or trying a related language, which would have been easier, I went on to German, then Chinese, then Russian.  My idea was to have a basis so that if any time I needed to learn a new language, for work or social reasons (tall, dark, handsome stranger) then it wouldn't be so difficult if I knew the basics.

Soon after university, I was given a job covering the Balkans, and took a crash course in Serbo-Croat.  That Russian sure came in handy.  i never was brilliant at it, but I wasn't afraid to try.

And that I think makes all the difference.  Learning a language may not be as easy as when you are child - but adults have other advantages that can compensate for this, such as focus, determination, and a wider context in which to absorb vocabulary.  But what many monolingual adults now lack is confidence and a willingness to try.

That is why giving your children the confidence early can pay dividends later on.

If you are interested in how adults can learn languages, check out this TED Talk by Chris Lonsdale, a great advocate of adult language learning.

 

 



Tags: children learning languages | adult learning languages | monolingualism | TED talks | Chris Lonsdale

Hits: 79 | Read more...


 
cjbgibson
Primary school in England to teach foreign languages
2014.02.16 08:43:46

According to this BBC news clip, finally the legislation is coming into force, and children in England are going to have to learn a language from September 2014.  But why from age 7 up only?  And to what standard?

 

While it is a step in the right direction it is terribly frustrating how small a step it is....  From my own experience at school the expectations for language learning are so small that being able to count to 10, name a few animals and a few colours and that's it, job done.  Ridiculous.

 

Hrmph.  Must be in a cynical mood today!

 

 



Tags:

Comments 1 | Hits: 87 | Read more...


 
cjbgibson
Christmas shopping? Really?
2013.12.24 21:18:53

Today I was in Waterstones searching for last minute gifts when I "happened" to stop at the educational books section.  And noticed that there are actually study guides and workbooks for Key Stage 3 (Years 7-10) French.  And "just happened" to pull one out to see what level of work was expected.

I was so pleased to find that it looked like something the boys could easily achieve now.  So maybe all this work isn't for nothing....

Made me feel like singing Christmas carols!

Oh yeah, I was supposed to be shopping, wasn't I?  Oops!

Merry Christmas/Happy Holidays everyone.  :-)

 


 



Tags:

Hits: 145 | Read more...


 
cjbgibson
La maitresse, oh la la!
2013.12.23 21:59:40

The boys' French teacher arranged a little party at her house at the end of term, where they decorated muffins and played games with a few other children.  It was only an hour, but afterwards they were buzzing with excitement and enthusiasm.

And it lasted!  About a week later Scotty asked whether they could have another French lesson at the house of La Maitresse.  I said I would ask.  They immediately said, "When? Can we go during the holidays?  Can we go every week?"

She must be like the good witch, casting a wonderful French spell on them.

Shame she's been on vacation ever since!

;-)

 

 



Tags:

Hits: 106 | Read more...


 
cjbgibson
Creating petits monstres
2013.12.19 21:56:23

The boys have had to sing a French song in choir this month.  It is a beautiful song - Vois sur ton chemin - from a famous French film about boy choristers.  James and Scott love it not just for the music but because they understand (some of) the words, and their accent is good. Which is great, except that the children singing with them don't worry about the accent, and are just singing their lovely hearts out.  James and Scott bless them have tried to correct their friends' pronunciation to no avail.  On the night of the concert,  you could hear Scotty trying to shout out the right sounds above all the rest, and it was near cacophony.

Which is more important, he asked me later, the words, or the music?

In this case, Scotty, the music.  The music.  The music.

I've created some petits monstres.  Uh oh...

 



Tags:

Hits: 121 | Read more...


 
cjbgibson
And the results are in....
2013.04.10 16:03:13

Our French immersion week is over.

What a week!

What a success!

The boys spent something like 40 hours in a French-only environment, with one hour of French semi-private lessons in the evening.  It was perfect.  James as predicted jumped right in and made friends right away, conversing in French maybe not perfectly but without hesitation.  Scott by his own account got away with saying "d'accord" to everybody and everything but seemed happy enough.

Definitely got to do this again.

Oh, and did I mention the skiing was perfect?

The one downside is the 8 pounds I put on with all the croissants and cheese.  Oops!



Tags:

Comments 1 | Hits: 308 | Read more...


 
cjbgibson
Cartable A La Neige
2013.03.23 20:29:39

Boys have missed 4 weeks of French school this term due to snow and other commitments:  almost every other one.  Whoops!  And though they are watching French tv from time to time, and listening to little French stories in the car on the way to school, their French is dropping.  FAST.

Time for emergency action:  a (heavily discounted, yay!) French ski week immersion. For the kids, a French ski club in the morning, French kids club in the evening, French food at mealtimes, and the pièce de résistance:  "Cartable à la neige"- a few hours of French instruction in the afternoon.  Poor kids won't know what hit them.  Maybe, just maybe, we'll be able to retrigger those French-days inspired neurons.

If not, well, Trev and I will have fun!

:-)



Tags:

Hits: 252 | Read more...


 
cjbgibson
Sweeeetttt!
2013.03.09 22:19:27

The boys recently figured out how to watch YouTube videos on their little iPods.  Nervous as I am, I'm keeping a close eye on what their watching until I can figure out parental controls and all that malarkey.

But I'm trying not to be intrusive, so I just keep one ear tuned in from a short distance, pretending not to notice.  First it was ASDF (not so keen on that one) and then (phew!) a collection of old Scooby Doo clips.

And this weekend, lo and behold! my ears picked up something amazing:  Beyblade, IN FRENCH.  Episode, after episode, after episode, the boys' attention was rivetted to the little Japanese manga characters, combatting each other en français.

Needless to say, no screen time limits today.  Sweeettt! said the boys.

Couldn't have said it better myself.

 



Tags:

Hits: 382 | Read more...


 
cjbgibson
Language and your future
2013.02.23 09:21:18

Examples of language influencing behaviour are few and far between, but each fact that is proven is fascinating.  For instance, there is language that does not use "left" and "right" but instead compass-based words for orientation and direction:  so people who use that language learn to know their north, south, east and west instinctively.

According to the BBC news today, recent research has shown that what language you speak influences how well you plan for the future.

Languages like English which make a clear difference between now and the future (I will go to college) unconsciously separate your current self with your future self.  So you are less likely to save, more likely to smoke, etc.

Languages like German and Mandarin that use the present tense with future markers ("It rains tomorrow") tend to merge the future and present selves, making it easier to relate to your future self.

I wonder what bilingual speakers of say Engish and Mandarin are likely to think then?  I wonder what influences which thinking system becomes dominant?

All very philosophical for first thing in the morning on the weekend... I'll just drink some coffee and forget about my future caffeine addicted self...

 



Tags:

Hits: 385 | Read more...


 
cjbgibson
Sprechen-Sie Job?
2013.02.21 21:39:24

The Economist this week (Sprechen Sie Jobs?) devoted a whole article to the fact that the European Union's goal of economic mobility across borders (being able to move from a high-unemployment country to a high-employment country) is still hampered by language more than anything else.  Big companies use English across the board, but small and medium sized companies use their native language, and therefore hire in their native language.  Greeks and Spaniards willing to learn a little of (say) German, will have the benefit of being able to find work there, whilst their counterparts who stay home will stay unemployed.

It reminds me of when I was searching for a first summer job during college/university.  I landed an internship with Mars (confectionary, not green men) in France.  Even though it is an American company, French was the language used in the office, for obvious reasons.  I spoke French (just enough) so I could get by.   Not to mention benefit from all that lovely chocolate!

 



Tags:

Hits: 388 | Read more...


 
cjbgibson
All things British
2013.02.14 17:22:32

I'm very excited to announce that my American nieces are coming over to visit in the summer, and I am relishing the opportunity to impress them with all things British.  You know, like Baltis and chicken korma.  :-)

If you had to make a list of the quintessential British things, what would they be?  Here are a few of my favourites:

- curry, cream tea, hot cross buns, tea cakes, rock cakes, puddings and pies.

- castles, stately homes, waxworks,

- indoor waterparks, October illuminations (neither very useful for summer visitors though)

- treeless hills and mountains, canal tow paths.

Anything else I've missed?  Answers on a postcard please! ;-)



Tags:

Hits: 378 | Read more...


 
cjbgibson
Troublesome idioms
2012.12.18 21:27:58

What's funny is that kids have just as much trouble learning idioms in their own language as we do in another....

They should make more of these posters in a bunch of different languages to help us all out.

 

https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=10151260657749865&set=a.449646034864.232829.333683589864&type=1

 



Tags:

Hits: 432 | Read more...


 
cjbgibson
Loving this mamansnet thread!
2012.12.07 09:13:59

Any mum who has had a smidgeon of French should read this fun Mumsnet thread, le franglais est formidable!

 

http://www.mumsnet.com/Talk/mumsnet_classics/a1624456-Mamansnet

 



Tags:

Hits: 382 | Read more...


 
cjbgibson
Constraint-Induced Learning
2012.12.01 22:45:00

There's a new education theory out there that I've been reading about:  constraint-induced learning (CI).  It basically suggests that your brain learns much quicker when it is NOT able to use its normal pathways for long periods of time.

But language students know this already, as the research points out, because immersion in a foreign language environment is just that.  For long periods of time (all day for a week or more) you can't use your normal pathway (your native tongue) and you have to use the new pathway (the foreign language) or else you will not be able to function.

And anyone who has been through immersion knows how quickly you learn in such a sink-or-swim environment.

The question that poses for me is:  why don't we use that for all learning?  There must be a way that schools can restructure their efforts so that instead of the standard "one hour a week" of this or that subject, you can get immersed in it for a decent period, and get better results.

I'd love to hear if anyone has used this method in a normal school setting!

 

 



Tags:

Hits: 415 | Read more...


 
cjbgibson
Things to be grateful for
2012.11.22 21:50:01

Many thanks to all those hard working spammers out there who post random links on my blogs.  Although I find the clean up annoying, some of them post lovely comments which I nonetheless feel forced to delete, given the non-relevant hyperlinks.  And, they usually post their links on some long-forgotten blog post, which allows me to remember and relive the past years since I've been blogging.  It always makes me smile.

So, for one day, peace and joy, even to the spammers out there.  We are all in this crazy world together....

 



Tags:

Comments 1 | Hits: 326 | Read more...


 
cjbgibson
Legal language
2012.11.18 13:32:42

November 10th's Economist has an article in it about the boom in services specialising in language and culture.  The article focuses on international litigation, which requires truckloads of documentation that in many cases needs to be translated.  Software can help, but it needs experts to make sure the software is working correctly.

"The twin forces of globalisation and technology may put many mediocre lawyers out of business.  But those who master languages and computers may find themselves in demand," concludes the correspondent.

Just another reason to keep it up, fellow language-mad parents!



Tags:

Hits: 317 | Read more...


 
cjbgibson
De la chance - extraordinaire!
2012.11.14 20:58:55

Am having a lucky week!

First, I show up at a big tennis tournament in London - the ATP finals - on the wrong day.  Not lucky, you might say, except for the fact that an exceptionally kind man behind me saw my distress and confusion and handed me, not one, but three tickets for James and Scott and I, so that we could still see it.  Didn't even ask for any money for them.  Amazing.  And it was a great match.

Secondly, the teacher at school who is in charge of Junior French is going on maternity leave - the one struggling to cope with my boys' advanced grasp of the language.  So they have recruited the only French mum at school to take over the French lessons - none other than the very person I was trying to get the school to agree to tutor my boys.

At least for the rest of the academic year, I'll be assured that the boys will actually do something useful in their French classes.  Hooray!

And next year, I'll be sure to check my tickets for the ATP finals a bit more carefully.

Does luck come in threes?  Maybe I should buy a lottery ticket....

 



Tags:

Comments 1 | Hits: 344 | Read more...


 
cjbgibson
The horrors of singing in public
2012.11.06 11:39:30

My two boys are in a choir which has its first festival outing in two weeks' time.... on a Saturday morning, at the same time as French school.  I recently made the decision that the merits of supporting the choir outweighed the normally sacrosanct French classes, and in grand fashion announced to them last night:

"Guess what guys?  The Choir Festival is on Saturday morning!  So you're going to go there and sing with all your friends - and miss French School!"

(Bear in mind the boys have been asking for some weeks now what if anything would allow them to skip French school.)

Only for their answer to be, loudly and in unison:

"Awwwww, can we go to French school instead?"

French trumps singing every time, it seems!

:-)



Tags:

Hits: 344 | Read more...


 
Page 1 of 10
«StartPrev12345678910NextEnd»