July 2008 – ¡Vámonos!

Month: July 2008

Having spent a good while flicking between Youtube and Zamzar over the last couple of days, I’ve had a chance to look over some of my ‘favourited’ videos once more, and came across this one.

I remember They Might Be Giants from their song Birdhouse in your soul – classic lyrics including ‘blue canary in the outlet by the lightswitch who watches over you’ and ‘not to put too fine a point on it, say I’m the only bee in your bonnet’ – and It’s Istanbul not Constantinople – but here they are singing a song about the Alphabet of Nations. They cheat for X but otherwise a country for each letter.

I was thinking of using it as a challenge for European Day of Languages – some ideas:

  • learning the song would be the simplest
  • play the song each day for a week then have a quiz on countries
  • name the languages spoken in the countries
  • name the capital cities
  • challenge pupils to label the countries on a map
  • pupils rewrite the song with countries of their choice
  • write a collaborative Alphabet of Languages – then learn a word in each language

Doesn’t have to be for EDL – it would be a good exercise for global awareness and ICU at any point.

There is an Animaniacs video naming countries too, but I prefer this one as it’s shorter, less dated (in terms of look and also countries that no longer exist) and also funkier. ;o)


| Leave a comment

I came across Omniglot the other day and bookmarked it in my del.icio.us account for further investigation.
Omniglot is ‘a guide to the languages, alphabets, syllabaries and other writing systems of the world’.

You can find out information about a myraid of languages including ones I’ve never heard of!

It’s fascinating to look at all the different writing systems both real – some Mayanscript

and some imaginary – some Klingon!

There are tips on language learning, as well as a multilingual bookstore and articles on languages.

In fact, there’s so much on there that it’s hard to do it justice in a blogpost so I’d encourage you to look for yourself. However, here are three of my favourite parts.

1. Language related art
This is a piece of art by Venantius Pinto based on the Torcharian script and there are links to other examples of artwork such as Mike O’Connell‘s artwork featuring a number of different scripts and Peggy Shearn who is inspired by language and writing systems (see also below)

2. Useful foreign phrases

Ever wanted to know how to say ‘Please speak more slowly’ in Estonian?

Palun rääkige aeglasemalt

Or ‘Where’s the toilet?’ if you’re caught short in Greece?
??? ????? ?? ?????????
There is a quite long list of possible phrases in a wide range of languages – some with accompanying soundfiles to aid pronunciation. And there are also phrases that are possibly not as useful, but nonetheless amusing such as ‘My hovercraft is full of eels’ – here in Mandarin Chinese ?????????? and Polish Mój poduszkowiec jest pe?en w?gorzy and ‘Stop the world, I want to get off!’ in perhaps Czech Zastavte sv?t, chci vystoupit! or Armenian ??????? ?????? ????????, ??? ?????? ????:

You can also access in a variety of languages, again some with soundfiles-
for example –

??? ????? ?? ???? ?????;
(Miá pápia ma piá pápia)
A duck but which duck). (GREEK)

Esel essen Nesseln nicht, Nesseln essen Esel nicht.
Donkeys don’t eat nettles, and nettles don’t eat donkeys. (GERMAN)

Mae Llewellyn y llyfrgellydd o Lanelli wedi llyfu llawer o lyfaint.
Llewellyn, the librarian from Llanelli, licked many toads. (WELSH)

3.Proverbs and quotations about languages.

Omniglot has collected together proverbs and quotations in various tongues on the subject of languages. The majority are quite profound –

Language is the blood of the soul into which thoughts run and out of which they grow.
– Oliver Wendell Holmes

Una lengua natural es el archivo adonde han ido a parar las experiencias, saberes y creencias de una comunidad.
A natural language is the archive where the experiences, knowledge and beliefs of a community are stored.
– Fernando Lázaro Carreter (SPANISH)

Cenedl heb iaith, cenedl heb galon.
A nation without a language is a nation without a heart. (WELSH)

but there are others that are less ‘serious’ –

Chan fhiach cuirm gun a còmhradh.
A feast is no use without good talk. (GAELIC-SCOTLAND)

It’s no coincidence that in no known language does the phrase “As pretty as an airport” appear.
– Douglas Adams

(Ti?n bù pà, dì bù pà, zh? pà Gu?ngd?ng rén shu? P?t?nghuà)
I fear neither heaven nor earth, I only fear Cantonese speakers trying to speak Mandarin. (MANDARIN)

(Tìn m? gìng, deih m? gìng, jí gìng b?kfòng yàhn góng Gwóngdùngwá m?jeng)
I fear neither heaven nor earth, I only fear Mandarin speakers speaking Cantonese badly. (CANTONESE)

My particular favourites include

Any time you think some other language is strange, remember that yours is just as strange, you’re just used to it.

Kolik jazyk? znáš, tolikrát jsi ?lov?kem.
You live a new life f

or every new language you speak.
If you know only one language, you live only once. (Czech)

and this French saying that I hope will soon be seen as untrue –

Un homme qui parle trois langues est trilingue.
Un homme qui parle deux langues est bilingue.
Un homme qui ne parle qu’une langue est anglais.
A man who speaks three language is trilingual.
A man who speaks two languages is bilingual.
A man who speaks only one language is English.

– Claude Gagnière

Looking at all the above ‘favourites’ I can see the OMNIGLOT site as an excellent resource for expanding the vision of languages in an interesting and fun way.

Why not use it as a resource for European Day of Languages on 26th September?

You could use the artwork to inspire your pupils to create their own having looked at the section on various scripts and writing systems.

Or challenge pupils to learn tongue twister in another language – the sound files are great for that!

Or each class could attempt to learn a phrase in as many languages as possible – and other classes could guess the phrase – I think we’ll be doing this at WCPS!

Whatever you do, it’s well worth a look!

First there was the Spanish football team winning Euro 08.

Then there was Rafa Nadal winning Wimbledon.

And now, Carlos Sastre has made it a hat trick of Spanish wins, riding into Paris as winner of this year’s Tour de France.After my post on Saturday re my dilemna, I did feel rather sorry for Cadel Evans who lost out to a Spaniard in the time trial last year too (Alberto Contador who was unable to defend his title as his team Astana were not invited in the wake of Vinokourov-gate last year) but he was simply too tired I think to pull it out of the bag.

However, I must admit that I was secretly really pleased to see Sastre triumph as he rode out of his skin in the time trial. Not simply because he’s Spanish and from one of my favourite towns (Avila), but because he was SO humble about it all. At every opportunity he praised his team who supported him so well throughout – and they deserved it too.

Without the Schleck brothers, Stuart O’Grady, Fabian Cancellara, Jens Voigt (who lost his saddle somewhere on the Champs d’Elysees!) Kurt Asle-Aversen, Nicky Sorensen and Volodymir Gustov, Sastre would have been as isolated and tired as Cadel Evans.

He dedicated his win to his brother-in-law, José María Jiménez, who was also a professional cyclist who died in 2004. As Sastre said ‘su derrota era querer ganar esta carrera’ so it made his win all the sweeter for him and his wife, Piedi, Jiménez’s sister.

So here’s to Carlos Sastre – ¡muy bien hecho!

With the Beijing Olympics a couple of weeks away, here’s a news story from China about one policeman’s efforts to make visitors feel welcome.

In an effort to help tourists, he has learned how to greet people in English, Spanish, German, Dutch, Swedish, Polish, Japanese, Russian, Finnish, Italian and Portuguese. Phew! And he did it by chatting to tourists from those countries – just the advice we give to learners – have go!

Not sure about his taste in movies though ;o)


| Leave a comment

I’ve been trying to summer-clean my e-mails this evening, deleting ones that are no longer needed, bookmarking sites referenced and archiving ones from fora that contain resources. Whilst doing so, I came across an e-mail reminding me that I’d requested an invite to Twitterfone, and sending me the necessary code to get an account.

I must admit that I like shiny new things and like to be up to date with the latest ‘thing’, and sometimes forget what I’ve requested so I had to look up Twitterfone.

Glad I did!

Whilst I am becoming a bit of techno-chick (according to colleagues!), I still have a blindspot with one regard – I cannot get my head around predictive texting! I am a fast texter but predictive textig gets me all of a flutter. As I love texting and my only access to Twitter whilst at school is via my mobile, I sometimes become frustrated by my inability to text fast enough and wonder why I can’t just dictate my message.

Now I can! Twitterfone works thus …

Having registered with my invitation code, I’ve just tried it out – and it works!! I called the number, left my message and voilà – my tweet arrived a minute or so later, complete with a link to hear my dulcet tones dictating the message – just in case it’s gobbledegook!!
As the info section points out, it isn’t perfect, as it won’t recognise @ replies or d messages which is a bit of a pain, but I guess they might sort it in time.

Want an invite? Click here!

Off to Twitterfone my blog post ;o)

PS Sadly, doesn’t seem to spell in Spanish :o(

Qui gagnera?

| Leave a comment

Although I no longer regularly teach French, I still love the annual French phenomenon that is the Tour de France. I used to make a big fuss over it with an interactive map and daily updated chart – I think that was when my NQT year really seemed to reap rewards as the kids at the tough comp where I taught fought to be my ‘updaters’.

Anyhow, I’ve been Tweeting all week with @sharongs and @etalbert amongst others about Le Tour, and my house has been a hive of Tour activity as my boys have been avidly watching ITV4 each night, and Mr S has been getting overexcited as his cycling fantasy teams have been doing rather well (his Vélo games team was in 87th place yesterday!)

So the big question is…. who will win?

I don’t share the opinion of some fellow Twits who are missing Armstrong and Ullrich – I love the more open race this year. From the start, I’ve been rooting for Mark Cavendish for the sprints and Cadel Evans for GC. With Cavendish abandoning to concentrate on the Olympics – and to give other sprinters a bit of a chance too ;o) – all my supportive vibes have been channelled the Aussie’s way.

However, Carlos Sastre is in yellow going into the penultimate stage – what shall I do? He’s Spanish after all! Should I be loyal to my Spanish preferences and yell for Sastre, or to my original choice and scream for Evans to make up the deficit of just over a minute and a half? The likely outcome is a win for Evans as Sastre is not a great time trialler, but anything can happen in Le Tour!

But I really can’t see this animation coming true – sorry, Bernhard Eisel – but, just to be on the safe side, watch out for cows, Carlos and Cadel!!

CBS socks!

| Leave a comment

Whilst blogging last night, I was reminded of a video on Youtube that I had seen 6 months ago (and commented upon, so I know it was six months ago!!) but forgotten about. A masterpiece of sock puppetry, and an advertisement for a great product! See for yourself!

Coffee Break Spanish, presented by Mark and Kara, is an excellent resource for anyone who wants to learn Spanish. Now nearing it’s 100th episode, you can subscribe on iTunes and find out more about CBS at www.coffeebreakspanish.com/.

And should you wish to learn other languages, check out www.radiolingua.com where more of the prodigious output of Mr Mark Pentleton are showcased – including Coffee Break French, One Minute languages including Luxembourgish and Norwegian and MyDailyPhrase eg Italian. No froggycoffee here, eh Mark ;o)

I have made no secret of my love of puppets as evidenced by various blog posts over the last nine months and several dodgy pictures floating around the blogosphere. So a post on Linguahelp captured my attention.

I hadn’t discovered the Linguahelp blog before, probably because my school doesn’t subscribe to Linguascope. However, my Google alerts today included a link to the most recent post entitled Gimmick sites to help in the MFL classroom and it made lots of sense to me. I’m always up for finding innovative and captivating ways of engaging language learners so the idea of using the Iceland Socks site seemed appealing – and I tried it out!

I followed the advice offered on Linguahelp –

The idea is simple – you build up a mini ‘film’ using sock puppets, subtitles and a series of animated locations, which you can then email to friends – but the usefulness to language learning is immediately apparent. The puppets speak a ‘Pingu-esque’ nonsense chatter, which is made into intelligible dialogue by the user. Students could use the site to build up practice dialogues in a very up-to-date, hi-tech fashion – instead of potentially awkward and embarrassing role-play in class, they can create YouTube style cartoons full of the language they are learning. To top this, the resulting ‘films’ can then be emailed to the teacher for checking later! Not perhaps the original intention of the site designers, but a fun adaptation to liven up the lesson.

and you can see the results of my first attempt by clicking on the title, Lucía and Miguel go to Iceland.

In fact, it was so much fun, I made another! Mimi and Roberto go to Iceland.

And I’ll probably make more!

Feel free to leave me links to your videos in the comments box – would love to see what others dream up!

Photo by zen
Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike License

Posts have been a bit sparse recently as the frantic end of term rush took over! Sports days, Year 6 leaving plays, Performance Management meetings and generally tying up loose ends got in the way of blogging. However, the holidays are here, and I’m hoping to make up for my failings over the next few weeks.

I noticed a couple of articles last week about schools in the news – Halesowen school wins award for languages and Loving languages on which I wanted to comment.

The first report is congratulating Earls High School in Halesowen (not too far from here!) on winning a European Award for Languages for their project , Project Croissant where older pupils from the High School mentor younger (primary) children through a weekly afterschool club.

I think this is a brilliant way of making links between local schools and of raising the profile of languages. I also think it’s great that the older pupils are given responsibility for activities etc and, through the project, are gaining life skills. And the activities are very appealing too! Now onder they won an award!

The second article also highlights links between phases, this time in Portishead in Somerset. Pupils at Gordano School visited St Joseph’s Primary School and taught them songs in french, Spanish and German as part of a project called Raise the Roof with Languages. Again, an activity that shows how older pupils can ‘teach’ younger pupils, making links and promoting languages. And the older pupils volunteered to help!

This kind of project is a brilliant model for encouraging language learning – not just for primary but for secondary. It’s really important to make and maintain links between phases, particularly as the Primary Languages Framework increasingly impacts on Key Stage 3 and 4.

So well done Earls High and Gordano Schools!

Los de Abajo

| Leave a comment

I went out on Friday to a concert – happens so rarely that it’s newsworthy! As part of the Lichfield Festival, there was a Mexican band playing the Lichfield Garrick, so I jumped at the chance to go when invited by a friend – thanks Sharon ;o)

The blurb advertising the award winning Los de Abajo looked interesting (see below)- and the evening proved to be just that!

I’m not sure that the Lichfield Garrick was the ideal venue for such a high energy performance, and I think the band were a bit fazed by the lack of dancing in the audience (well, it’s Lichfield for heavens sake!!) but they gave it their all!

Memorable moments included reference by the vocalist to ‘the horny section’ (he meant the brass section!); the energetic dancing and gyrating of the saxophonist, Daniel Portugal, described by The Independent as ‘tall and punkish with a saturnine beard, … a wild dancing talisman’ and member of the aforementioned ‘horny section’; various members of the band donning wrestling masks and having a fight; and the encore when the entire band left the stage and went walkabout around the theatre, culminating in deafening the front few rows (including me!) with two saxophones, two trombones, two trumpets, two guitars and a wide variety of drumming!

Their music, lyrically, is not really suitable for use in the Primary classroom – it’s very revolutionary and is peppered with colourful language, but it has a good beat and was very different to the pop perception of Latino music. (Check it out by clicking on the CD cover here and then choosing a song!)

If you want to find out more, here are a few sites about them, and one of their songs

Song lyrics | War 4 Peace lyrics

¡Vámonos! ©2024. All Rights Reserved.
Powered by WordPress. Theme by Phoenix Web Solutions