english – ¡Vámonos! The musings of Lisibo
 

Tag: english

“As lovers of all things British AND foreign, especially languages, the team at bsmall publishing are leading a crusade to keep foreign language learning alive in the minds of our kids and parents at home.”

Thus starts the press release from bsmall publishing, announcing their new series of books entitled Hello Languages.’

I’ve blogged about bsmall products in the past including the I can read series and their dual language books for older KS2 pupils, and I also helped them with some advice a couple of years ago, so I was really pleased to be contacted for my comments on this latest publication.

bsmall have approached the creation of these materials with the following in mind:

“Kids like cool facts and fun things to do. That’s why language learning books for kids should … take the essence of the language… [and] be bright, bold, fun and colourful..filled with practical examples of language in everyday life and [encouraging] kids to just have a go without fear of making mistakes.”

The Hello languages series is available in three languages – English, French and Spanish – and is bold, colourful and fun. It’s intended to be used independently by children rather than as a classroom resource, and comprises four books;

  • Beginner’s guide
  • Picture dictionary
  • Workbook
  • Colouring book

I was sent the Hello French! materials to have a peek before they were released.

The Beginner’s Guide is organised under 6 topics and takes one aspect for each double page; for example, in Viens chez moi there are pages on Ma famille, À la maison, La cuisine et le salon,  and Ma chambre et la salle de bains. It gives vocabulary and some useful phrases as well as a very short explanation or comment in English at the start of each topic as well as for certain themes such as the weather and time. The vocabulary is supplied as labels on a vibrant illustration, in French, English and with a guide to pronunciation.* There is also a word list at the back of the book for reference.

*I’m not a great fan of this as I think it can lead to confusion – how many of you have seen children laboriously copy out the phonetic version of words from a dictionary, and also over pronounciation – grassy arse? However, given that this is a resource for children to access on their own, without phonics input or a spoken example, perhaps supported by a parent who is also unaware of how to say the words/phrases, I can see the value of including the ‘how to pronounce’ notes.

The Workbook goes alongside the Beginner’s Guide, giving children an opportunity to apply what they learn in a series of Challenges – as the front page says ‘Practice makes perfect!’ On completion, children can check their answers at the back of the book and are invited to assess how they’ve got on by colouring or circling one of three faces – Bien, Pas mal or pas super.

The Colouring Book takes some of the topics and themes from the Beginner’s Guide and offers the opportunity to colour the illustration used in the latter as the child wishes, reinforcing vocabulary which is labelled as in the Beginner’s Guide.

The French-English Picture Dictionary is organised by topic with nine vocabulary items per page, and an alphabetical word list of the 350+ vocabulary items in French-English and English-French at the end.

This is a resource that I could happily recommend to a parent who wants to encourage their child’s language learning at home. It’s suitable for younger learners with some adult support in part (the workbook is labelled 6+ due to the required level of literacy) and could be used in the language being learned at school – for my pupils, this is Spanish – or in a new language – in my case, French.

You can find out more on the bsmall website – www.bsmall.co.uk  and, on their language learning pages, you see their other language resources including books, dual language texts, play scripts, sticker books, activity books  and card games and download a catalogue.

 

*This is a book review as part of Multicultural Children’s Book Day 2018 #MCBD2018*

The Marvellous Mexican Misunderstanding is a delightful book about a little boy called Adri who  overhears his Mum and Aunt Chiquita talking about the Day of the Dead and gets completely the wrong end of the stick. He asks his sister Tani lots of questions about the Aztecs, the Day of the Dead but she mischievously decides to use his ignorance of the festival as a way of teasing him, and confirms his fears.  Over the seven days leading up to Day of the Dead, every visitor and every event seems to confirm his fear that he is going to die; the Dad brings him a skeleton costume for Halloween, the neighbour brings ‘pan de muerto’, his Mum makes his favourite food. On the eve of Day of the Dead, Adri writes letters to his family and prepares himself. Will the misunderstanding be unravelled or will Adri’s fear come true? You’ll have to read and find out!

The illustrations by Nefeli Malie are wonderful – bright and childlike, and coupled with the lovely prose by Evi Triantafyllides, they tell the story of Adri in a clear and appealing way, at the same time exposing readers to aspects of the Day of the Dead (Día de los Muertos) festival. And the book is not just a story. There’s a dictionary of Spanish and English terms related to the story as well as questions posed as ‘Mexican mysteries’ about the text that highlight facts about Mexico.  The book itself forms part of the first ‘parcel’ offered by Worldwide Buddies.

Worldwide Buddies is a series of fictional, educational stories with characters from different countries around the globe that allow children to imagine a more beautifully complex world. Stories are designed to promote cultural awareness and introduce little ones to the diverse realities and wonders of the world, early on.

“A Marvelous Mexican Misunderstanding” is the first story of the series and will become available for purchase through their website in a couple of weeks: www.worldwidebuddies.com

Alongside the story, readers can also purchase a story box with additional games, toys and activities that accompany the book. You can find out more on their website or via Facebook or Instagram.

As Worldwide Buddies will start accepting orders for the books ($18) and story box ($35) soon. As they are based in the USA, I asked Evi if the book and story box will be available in the UK, and she confirmed that yes, delivery will be possible to the UK too.

As a teacher of Spanish to young children, I love this book as it is amusing and gently makes fun of Adri’s misunderstanding to reveal the wonder of the Day of the Dead festival, explaining how it is a happy festival and a time to remember those who have passed away. I’ll certainly be sharing it with my learners next year in the run up to November 1st. It also leads into a pertinent discussion about our fears often that fit well with the  SMSC (Social, Moral, Spiritual and Cultural) agenda here. I look forward to reading more Worldwide Buddies books!

Details about #MCBD2018:
Multicultural Children’s Book Day 2017 (1/27/18) is in its 5th year and was founded by Valarie Budayr from Jump Into A Book and Mia Wenjen from PragmaticMom. Our mission is to raise awareness of the ongoing need to include kids’ books that celebrate diversity in home and school bookshelves while also working diligently to get more of these types of books into the hands of young readers, parents and educators.
MCBD 2018 is honored to have some amazing Sponsors on board. View our 2018 MCBD Medallion Sponsors here: http://multiculturalchildrensbookday.com/2106-sponsors/mcbd2018-medallion-level-sponsors/
View our 2018 MCBD Author Sponsors here: http://multiculturalchildrensbookday.com/2106-sponsors/2018-author-sponsors/
We’d like to also give a shout-out to MCBD’s impressive CoHost Team who not only hosts the book review link-up on celebration day, but who also works tirelessly to spread the word of this event. View our CoHosts: http://multiculturalchildrensbookday.com/about/co-hosts/
TWITTER PARTY Sponsored by Scholastic Book Clubs: MCBD’s super-popular (and crazy-fun) annual Twitter Party will be held 1/27/18 at 9:00pm EST.
You can join the conversation and win one of 12-5 book bundles and one Grand Prize Book Bundle (12 books) that will be given away at the party! http://multiculturalchildrensbookday.com/twitter-party-great-conversations-fun-prizes-chance-readyourworld-1-27-18/
Free Multicultural Books for Teachers: http://bit.ly/1kGZrta
Free Empathy Classroom Kit for Homeschoolers, Organizations, Librarians and Educators: http://multiculturalchildrensbookday.com/teacher-classroom-empathy-kit/

Pacca Alpaca

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pacca iconpacca logo

Introducing Pacca Alpaca, a language learning app for little people!

http://youtu.be/QEds9SfUgIU

I’ve been working with Anamil Tech on the Spanish dimension of this app and am pleased to say that it is now available in the iTunes and GooglePlay stores where it has already received a review!

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It was lovely to work with Nicole again after the success of The Lingo Show which she created and produced (I did the Spanish on that too!) as I knew that the concept would be fun and interactive.

Pacca is a funny quirky and very inquisitive alpaca who travels on a magical carousel from his home in the Andes to explore, learning languages on the way as well as exploring his new environment. In this first instalment, he pops off to Australia!

Here’s what the ‘blurb’ says:

Pacca Alpaca – Australia!

Pacca Alpaca – Australia is a multilingual app aimed at children aged two to six and designed to encourage them to learn new languages and understand the world around them as they embark on an Australian adventure with Pacca the alpaca.

Pacca’s adventure unfolds in his home in the Andes Mountains, as he spots a new destination from afar and flies off in his magical carousel to investigate. When he lands with a bump in Australia, a local host greets him and takes him on a tour of the country. Along the way, the two play games, meet other animals and learn about shapes, colours and numbers. While they play, children can earn rewards as they complete challenges and learn new words in their chosen language – French, Spanish, Mandarin, Arabic or English.

The app is the first in a series of adventure apps following Pacca and his friends on their travels across the globe, so watch this space for the next installment!

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Things I like about it:

  • Pacca is a lovely character; very friendly and fun
  • you can complete the activities in several languages using the same app
  • there are no advertisements/pop ups/in app purchases
  • the language is clearly spoken by a child (the Spanish voice actor was a delight; a really sweet little girl from Canarias and it was a shame I didn’t actually get to meet her!) which I think is important in an app aimed at little ones
  • it’s fun to play the games and you are rewarded with souvenirs for the carousel
  • all the vocabulary you’ve learned is stored in your suitcase and can be reviewed when you wish
  • you can start again and recollect all the souvenirs when you’ve finished – and in another language if you want
  • there’s a Grown Ups page that explains the educational background and a TopTips document giving ideas of how to use the app too
  • you discover a new country/culture as you learn e.g. aboriginal style artwork is used for the colours, famous landmarks are shown
  • there’s the promise of more adventures to different places!

It’s not a free app – it costs £2.49 – so having it on a class set of iPads would need some negotiation but I’ll definitely add it to my list of apps that I recommend to parents/grandparents who want ideas for engaging children in learning outside of the classroom as well as putting it on my iPad for individual/paired play.

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Linguamedia is an app that allows you to watch foreign TV stations online. Originally launched earlier this year with French channels,  Linguascope announced today that their Linguamedia app has been updated so you can now watch German, Spanish, Italian and English channels as well as French ones. They’ve also improved video playback, and updated it for the iPhone5 screen.

The app costs 69p and offers 16 French, 6 German, 12 Italian, 12 Spanish and 5 English channels (NB the channels are in that language not necessarily from that country so there is an Austrian and a Swiss channel for German) It is possible to access TV online e.g. by searching “RTVE” you can watch the stream of RTVE1, RTVE2, Telesport and Canal 24H, but for convenience, this app is great. You need a wifi connection to view the stations, and as Linguascope warn

I’ve mentioned Linguatrivia Spanish and Newshound previously but there are many other apps from Linguascope available. Worth a look!

Just found this lovely story app via my Google Reader. Called Calliope, Queen of the Zebras, it’s a very simple story that you can read or have read to you. And it is written in English, Spanish and French – you change language by clicking on the cowboy hat, beret and sombrero so you can read each page in a different language if you want. The book also has hidden animations and sounds, and a fun page on which you can dress Calliope. And it’s a lovely story too –

“I can sing or swing,

I can be or do anything.”

There are another two story apps from StoryBook ExpressDott Meets Watt and If I only had wings, both of which are in English Spanish and Vietnamese, and come with a parent’s guide of questions to get your child talking.

I’ll be looking out for more in the series too…

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