learn french with VivaLing

Meet Laetitia, French Coach at VivaLing: ” I find it fantastic to talk to people on the other side of the planet and feel like they’re in the same room as me.”

My name is Laëtitia and  I grew up in Normandy.  I’ve lived in Paris and Belgrade (Serbia) and now live in Camarès, a tiny village in the South of France.

French coach VivaLing

I have been teaching French for 8 years, to adults and children in variety of situations: abroad and in France, FLE,  tutoring French as a mother tongue and one-to-one courses at college, university …

I have studied philosophy, obtained a master in Serbo-Croatian and a PhD in anthropology. I am currently preparing my teaching diploma (CAPES) in philosophy.

I have done dozens of jobs including: phone sales, shoe sales, bakery, babysitter in luxury hotels, helpdesk at Europ-assistance… But for the past ten years I have mostly done school tutoring and language teaching.

 

Why do you like teaching French?

I like to be able to give keys to my students to make things clear. I find that helping someone to understand something new is, in itself, a reward.

Why do you like teaching online?

I find it fantastic to talk to people on the other side of the planet and feel like they’re in the same room as me.

learn french VivaLing

How many languages ​​do you speak ?

I speak French, English, Serbian and I can understand a little German

 

What is your favorite place or monument in France?

I find the tower of Saint-Jacques in Paris, fascinating.  It’s very simple and very tortuous at the same time..

 

What is your favorite French tradition or festival?

I love the epiphany, I cooked my first cake of kings last year, puff pastry included J

French coach VivaLing

What are your passions ?

The history of the United States, Beyonce, the Balkans, Ashkenazi culture, British romantic comedies, cooking, social cinema, historical documentaries and archival images, swimming, yoga, Game of Thrones,

 

What is your favorite food ?

Chocolate fondant with custard

 

Your favorite book or movie?

The Little Prince (I collect them in all languages)!

french coach VivaLing

What is the place on earth where you would like to live or discover?

I have already discovered many places that I wanted to see, I am going to Vietnam in April, then Cuba will be next on my list 🙂

 

What are your tips for learning French?

Listen to a lot of songs and try to understand the lyrics! That’s how I learned English … 😉

Celebrate Chinese New Year with Jing, Mandarin Coach at VivaLing

What is your best Chinese New Year memory?

Most of the time, I celebrate Chinese new year with my family: we sit and watch the new year gala and cook dumplings together. But in 2013, I started working in Thailand, where I experienced hot tropical weather, a different culture and had no family around. I was a bit sad and missed the Spring Festival’s atmosphere from my hometown.

The good thing is that my local Chinese friends suddenly put up a gathering of more than 20 people from all over the world, and we started making dumplings together. So I did not feel lonely any more! We had so much fun and ate all different shapes of dumpling made by all  people from different countries. This experience was quite unique to me and I will remember it during my whole life.

Nouvel an chinois VivaLing

How do you usually celebrate CNY at your place?

I was born in Northern China, in the Hebei province. Northern Chinese love food made with wheat flour, like dumplings, noodles, steaming buns etc. And Northern Chinese take this Spring Festival celebration really seriously. It can last for a month.

In my family, on the 24th of December of the lunar calendar, my family is getting ready for New year. We sweep the whole house, including the roof, and every corner in every room. We really want to make sure that our house is spotless before Chinese new year’s eve .

When I was young, my family used to buy live Chicken and fish to be cooked for the new year feast. On the 25th, we usually buy Tofu and we fry it. On the 26th, we buy a lot of meat and stew then put salt on the meat to keep it longer. On the 27th of the Lunar calendar, it’s time to kill the Chicken. I always used to hide away from this event. The only memory I have is the chicken feathers floating around the yard.  Four days before the new year’s eve, the cooking show was ready to start. Now we don’t buy live Chicken anymore, but I always remember this scary yet exciting feeling from my childhood.

On the 28th, it is time to put on the red ornaments to scare the “nian” – which means the scary monster – away. We then hang a couple of lanterns on the door step and we prepare the firecrackers. On the 29th, the whole family usually gather at  the grand parents’ place, starting to prepare the biggest feast in a year. The 30th is the D-day with a big dinner, the gala, everyone is wearing red clothes, and close and far relatives get together. On this special day, small kids also can stay late at night and eat unlimited quantity of candies! I always try to stay up until the new year countdown, then we wish each other happy near year, we light up the firecrackers and fireworkds, then go to sleep. On the next morning, we wake up early to go and visit our relatives and neighbors to with a prosperous new year. Children can can get a lot of red envelopes —with money inside! Nothing is more exciting than this. 🙂

Nouvel an chinois vivaling

 

Nouvel an chinois VivaLing

What are your favourite dishes for New Year?

There is a lot of food you can eat during Chinese new year, but two dishes are my favourites. We call them “Niangao” and “xioamihuangzi”.  Niangao is made of sticky rice with Chinese date, and “xiaomihuangzi” is made of millet flour. They are not fancy food, on the contrary, they are quite cheap to make. But for me they are really related to Chinese New year and to my my grandmother who cooks very well. 

Nouvel an chinois VivaLing

Which expression with your teach your students for CNY?

I will teach them 吉祥如意 and  年年 有余 (Ji xiang ru yi, nian nian you yu)

These two sentences both contain a similar animal sound.

“Ji Xiang” means auspicious, but “Ji itself” means Chicken. As this year is the year of the Chicken,  it means a lot. “You yu” means “to save more”, and “yu” also means fish. It means that, by the end of a year, you will get money and wealth.

Celebrate Chinese New Year with Meng, Mandarin Coach at VivaLing

What is your best Chinese New year memory? 

The best moment I’ve ever had is playing with fire crackers in the yard with my friends when I was young (maybe 7 or 8 years old?) The crackers are so beautiful and I loved to share and exchange special crackers with my friends.

 chinese new year vivaling

 How do you usually celebrate Chinese New Year at your place?

My home town is Changde city in the Hunan province. For Chinese people, eating together is the most important partof CNY festival. But before we start eating, my family will put some dishes on the table, recall the members of the family who passed away, and tell them it is time to eat good food. Nobody can touch the food before we carry out this small ceremony. My family will also cook a golden fish, but it is not for eating. This fish means that every year we will have some food and money left for the next year. It is also called “年年有余” (Nian nian you yu).

 What is your favourite Chinese New Year dish? 

My favourite dish is 八宝饭 (ba bao fan). It means Eight Precious Pudding.

learn chinese with VivaLing

Which expression will you teach your students for Chinese New year? 

I will teach them to say 恭喜 发财, 红包 拿来 (gong xi fa cai, hong bao na lai)! why means “trick or treat”! 🙂

Chinese New Year

Celebrate Chinese New Year with Sukun, Mandarin Coach at VivaLing

mandarin coach VivaLing

What is your best CNY memory? 

I remember when I was a child, it always used to snow during CNY. It was white everywhere. My old house has a yard. We used to hang red lanterns under the roof. It was so beautiful, especially when the lanterns were covered with a thick layer of snow. The red lanterns and white snow just matched with each other so well! I will always keep this scene in my mind!

How do you usually celebrate CNY at your place?

I live in the Hebei province. In my hometown, our family always meet on the New Year’s Eve and we usually have a big meal! During the meal, 饺子 (dumplings) are essential! Our whole family will make dumplings together. As an old tradition, we’ll put coins, dates, or other sweet desserts inside some of  the dumplings – it’s said whoever gets the special dumplings will have good luck in the next year. Besides, the whole family will be staying up until midnight. When the clock points to twelve o’clock, we go out and set fireworks to celebrate New Year. The next day, we will all wear new clothes and shoes and visit our relatives and neighbors for new year greetings.

What are your favorite CNY Eve dishes?

We have 门丁 (sweet buns) which are meat buns with red dots on the middle, as well as huge 馒头 (steamed buns) with a character 福 (good luck). My favorite dish is pork joint because it’s good for skin

mandarin coach VivaLing

What is the sentence in Chinese you will teach your VivaLing students for Chinese New Year?

I want to teach my Vivaling students 过年好 (guo nian hao) for the CNY greetings.

 

 

 

 

English coach VivaLing

Meet Felicity, English Coach at VivaLing – “Learning should be tied with fun and interest and this is my mission!”

My name is Felicity. I come from England. I live in Canterbury. I studied Philosophy at Greenwich University.

English coach VivaLing

How long have you been an English teacher for?

I have been an ESL (English as a Second Language) teacher since graduating at 21. And I have never done anything else.

Nearly everyone in my family is a teacher. From head teachers to special needs teachers. I think is in in our blood! J

I really love that I can change someone’s opinion about a language. I never enjoyed learning second language, but I believe it is all in the way it is taught. Learning should be tied with fun and interest and this is my mission – for every session!

 

Why do you like teaching online?

Online teaching is so amazing. It allows 100% interaction with your learner. No need to waste time getting everyone’s attention etc. The minute the session starts, you are in!  It is also amazing being able to make your own material according to the Learner’s preferences. Again, it is making things fun and interesting, and when I see them enjoying themselves it is the best feeling. So rewarding and it makes me want to do it more and more! I never wake up dreading that I have to work!

English coach VivaLing

 

What food do you prefer?

I am quite keen on a good fish and chips (anyone who knows me will know that I will never say no do some Lindt chocolate either!)

What is favourite movie?

Mmmm, I do like the classic Calamity Jane, but I also find most dramas appealing! Of course I have also had to become a Star Wars and Harry Potter fan!

Which place do you like best in England and why?

Favourite place on Earth is wherever my family are. They are amazing. So loving and supportive. I wouldn’t be anywhere without them. Even though we may sometimes be geographically far apart, we are as tight as can be!

What would you say to a friend to convince him/her to learn English?

I would say that English is fun! Corny I know, but give it a chance. Learn the way you enjoy learning – music, movies, celebrity gossip. Even though my second language leaves a lot to be desired, when I speak to someone in Spanish – give directions etc – the feeling I get from this is amazing. They are so happy that someone understands them and I am delighted to be understood!

Why Bilingualism Is Good for Your Brain

Today, more than half of the world’s population is bilingual or multilingual. There are obvious advantages to being bilingual, such as the ability to communicate with people from all over the world- for business or simply pleasure. But above and beyond the social benefit, scientific research has revealed the beneficial impact bilingualism has on the brain. VivaLing offers you an inventory of the latest scientific discoveries.

 

1- Bilingual children are more attentive and concentrated

 

Bilingual children are able to focus on a specific goal and inhibit disruptive elements. This was demonstrated in an experiment conducted by Diane Poulin-Dubois (Concordia University in Montreal) in 2010. The difference between bilingual children and monolingual children is that the frontal lobe, the part of the brain which is used for complex cognitive processes such as planning or deductive reasoning, is more active in bilingual brains.

 

2- Bilingualism helps develop adaptability

 

In 1999, Ellen Bialystok (York University in Toronto) demonstrated that bilingualism promotes  adaptability in early childhood. In her experiment, the researcher formed two groups of children: monolinguals and bilinguals, aged up to  5 years old. Each child had to classify cards with red or blue, circles or squares, firstly by shape and subsequently by color. The outcome was that the bilingual children performed better than the monolingual children. The latter, disturbed by the change of instructions (moving the classification from form to color), were less able to adapt.

 

3- Bilingualism can delay the onset of mental illness

In 2010, researchers from the York University in Toronto studied 211 patients with dementia.  They specifically analyzed the history of the disease (the age from which it occurred, the different stages of aggravation, etc.) and the level of the patients’ education (including the mastery of two or more languages). Data analysis showed that in multilingual patients the disease occurred 4.3 years later than in monolingual patients. Another study published in the Neurology  journal in 2013 confirmed these results. On average bilingualism delays the onset of diseases like Parkinson or Alzheimer, for 4-5 years. Intense cerebral activity maintains “cerebral play” thus delaying neurological degeneration.

 

4- Bilingual children are more creative

In a 2010 study in Israel, bilingual and monolingual children, aged between 4 and 5,  were asked to draw either a house or a fantasy flower. Examination of the drawings showed that the bilingual children were more imaginative, more creative, and had a better mastery of abstract concepts.

5- Bilingualism improves planning and problem-solving skills

In 2015, Spanish researchers highlighted the fact that people with two languages ​​perform complex, cognitive tasks, executive control functions such as planning and reasoning, more quickly and efficiently. In general, neuropsychologists agree that bilingualism increases the performance of the cognitive system’s executive functions, all processes involving attention, selection, inhibition, change, etc. Bilingualism creates new connections within the brain. With a more advanced development capacity, bilingual children have the ability to understand and move more easily from one subject to another. Hence the importance of developing bilingualism from an early age in order to acquire facilities in other fields later on.

Man vs Robot - VivaLing

Teaching Languages to Children : Man vs. Robot

At the recent EdTechXAsia 2016 event, an eminent speaker confirmed what all have been witnessing: contrary to initial fears, technology has not replaced teachers. But, he warned, “teachers proficient with technology will very soon replace those who are not.” The speaker knew what he was talking about : he was none other than  Dr. Janil Puthucheary, Minister of State at the Ministry of Education of Singapore, the country that topped all global PISA rankings in 2016.

The digital leap and the rise of the (good) teacher are two of three current mega trends that we previously explored while reflecting on the future of language learning.  These two phenomena are intertwined. With the coexistence of Man and Robot, there will be dramatic adjustments and power shifts. There will be winners and losers. At this stage you may be wondering what to do to remain off the endangered species list.

We very much agree with Dr Puthucheary’’s view that teachers’ inherent value is increased by their ability to leverage technology. As a facilitator in an enhanced learning environment, the tech-enabled teacher offers more and better learning choices to her students. But this is only the beginning of the story. The rest of the story is that many teaching tasks are now performed better by machines than they are by humans. “Better” can be understood as more consistently, more accurately, more effortlessly, more teaching-effectively or more cost-effectively. Is there any need left for humans when it comes to enunciating a grammar rule, teaching vocabulary, drilling, correcting pronunciation, consolidating knowledge? There isn’t. As a matter of fact, when a teaching task can be fully and unambiguously described as “specialized, routine, predictable” (as Martin Ford, the author of The Rise of the Robots, put it in 2015), chances are machines have already taken over.
The saving grace for teachers is that several of the language learning drivers (as introduced in VivaLing’s ViLLA © ) remain much better activated nowadays by Man than they are by Robot. Let us go over these language learning drivers, from the least to the most favourable of Man over Robot.

 

Man vs Robot - VivaLing

  1. Consolidation. In addition to the natural occurrence during sleeping phases, knowledge consolidation happens when memory is retrieved at the right time and in the right manner.  Robots are already more effective at implementing well-known spaced repetition algorithms. They are also improving at memory retrieval techniques which diversify the ways a given piece of knowledge is tested, activated or reinforced.
  2. Language quantity. Computers are already tireless when it comes to offering unlimited language input to learners. Their ability to bring about learner output i.e. language production, however, is more difficult to control. As to providing feedback, today it can only happen in very structured environments such as Multiple Choice Questions or True / False questions, but not in natural language.
  3. Attention. Is the learner’s attention wandering randomly? A teacher can help them focus on the right elements. Machines can too, when highlighting specific elements to focus on. But the risk remains that the learner’s attention will just drift away, in the absence of a “big brother” watching and with the computer environment sometimes even adding to the distraction.
  4. Motivation. Machines have already made significant progress to satisfy extrinsic motivation by providing badges and rewards. But humans still have a significant edge by the timely and adapted encouragement they can provide with the right choice of words and body language. They can also outperform machines in personalization (content and pace), which greatly enhances learner motivation. However truly adaptive learning is high on robot makers’ roadmap and catching up fast.
  5. Social interaction. This is where the ultimate human advantage lies. Social interaction is an absolute requirement for younger children, and strongly recommended for true communicative language learning at all ages. As long as robots cannot fool children, human teachers will remain more effective at teaching. A few weeks ago, a famous US language app at the leading edge of technological disruption launched its chat bots. But after trying them out, we were surprised to note that these bots chat only in writing and in a rigidly structured context, make unexpected grammar mistakes and even used … suspiciously flirtatious vocabulary. They are still very far from matching authentic human interaction.

When adding a historical perspective to all the language-learning drivers, it becomes apparent that Robots are increasingly encroaching on what used to be Man’s exclusive teaching territory. For some drivers, such as consolidation or language quantity, the Robot has already made huge inroads and will soon undeniably and irreversibly overtake Man. Regarding other drivers, such as social interaction, Robots are further or even much further off. But let us keep in mind that Google’s AlphaGo beat the world’s best Go player in the world decades before it was anticipated. Artificial intelligence is making steady progress and it will most likely take no more than a generation or two for a bot to fool a child language learner.

 

Man vs Robot - VivaLing 2

It is even more important today for teachers to master the technology that is available, and to elevate their teaching skills to specific domains and levels still protected from the rise of the Robot. If a teacher is simply requested to deliver a pre-scripted lesson without being able to deviate from it, let there be no mistake: the teacher will be replaced by a Robot before they know it. But if they nurture the pedagogical expertise and social skills to truly offer a superior language learning experience to the learner, they will thrive.

Teachers are not naturally equipped with these skills, and are not sufficiently prepared to embrace their human advantages in traditional teacher training programs. This is why programs such as VivaLing’s VOLT-YL  for teaching languages to children online are progressively preparing them adjust to the fast-changing teaching paradigms.

 

Hannah English coach at VivaLing

Meet Hannah, English Coach at VivaLing

My name is Hannah, I’m from Scotland but I live in Italy.

I studied at the University of St Andrews and I have a BSc in Biology.

I have been teaching for almost 4 years.

Hannah photo 2

Why have you decided to become a teacher?

I really wanted to have the chance to live in Japan and someone suggested becoming a teacher. I took a course and found out I love teaching 🙂

Why do you like to teach online?

The fact that it is so natural. I like chatting to my students in their home, in their lives with things they like. I like introducing things in a way that I would introduce my friends or family to something new. I like learning from my students and letting them get involved naturally with support from technology 🙂

What are your hobbies?

I love cooking! I really enjoy making bread and anything else made of dough! 🙂 I also really enjoy video games and music.

 

What food do you prefer?

Scotland is not well known for cooking but we have fantastic ingredients! I love anything with Scottish seafood.

What is your favourite movie?

My favourite movies are The Lord of the Rings films.

Hannah English coach at VivaLing

What is your favourite book?

I really enjoy reading The Hitch-hikers Guide to the Galaxy.

What is your favourite place on earth?

My favourite place on earth is a forest in Wales near my grandfather’s home.

Hannah English coach at VivaLing

 

What would you say to a friend to convince him/her to learn English?

I would say “English is a global language and is a key to so many things in life: travelling, working, friendship. What do you have to lose? :)”

Christmas memories

Christmas Memories from around the World

Christmas all over the world is celebrated on Christmas Day, the 25th of December. Some countries however have different Christmas traditions and Christmas celebrations take place over a longer period of time. Discover how the VivaLing coaches live Christmas around the world.

 

Christmas in South Africa with Coach Angela

 

Christmas memories VivaLing

 

What is your best Christmas memory?

My great big family (about 40 of us) getting together to make a special dish and then playing games with presents. Each person had to bring a fun gift wrapped in newspaper. We could exchange our gift if we wanted to. With 40 people the game lasted quite a while and there was a lot of laughter.

 

What do you like best about Christmas?

Preparing and eating dessert. My sisters and I try to outdo each other each year, whether we are buying or making the dessert. Last year, I contributed rich chocolate mousse cake in the shape of Christmas crackers. It was delicious and really sought after. My sisters and I are close and love cooking, so the competition is healthy and  fun.

 

Christmas memories VivaLing

 

What do you usually eat on this occasion?

It’s high summer in South Africa yet we still insist on food that has been influenced by British traditions so we often eat roast meats, roast vegetables and rich desserts such as trifle and Christmas pudding. However, we also add a South African flair to it by having a braai (babarque) grilling meat and eating salads with them.

 

Christmas in Scotland with Coach Hannah

 

What is your best Christmas memory?

Normally in Scotland, we get lots of rain. Sometimes it snows but a lot of the time it lands on rain and melts away. My best Christmas memory was when we had about 15cm snow! 🙂

 

Christmas memories VivaLing

 

What do you like best about Christmas?

I love the build up to Christmas. There’s lots to do but I love the excitement, especially for children 🙂

What do you usually eat for this occasion?

In Scotland, we normally eat turkey with potatoes and vegetables, followed by Christmas pudding. Christmas pudding is very rich and full of dried fruit. We normally eat it with cream or brandy butter 🙂

 

Christmas memories VivaLing

Christmas in France with Coach Laetitia

 

What is your best Christmas memory?

I’m the oldest of four children. We used to get very excited about the presents.  We woke up really early in the morning to open them all. One year, we went a step too far and woke our parents up at 4 in the morning!  After that episode, our parents told us to wait until 7 am to wake them up. But we still woke up really early and the 4 of us would just sit on the couch in the living room watching the presents with only the Christmas tree fairy lights turned on..  This endless wait in the semi-darkness, with  my brother and sisters, is my best Christmas memory.

 

christmas-decorations-1150006_640

 

What do you like best about Christmas?

I lived abroad for a few years and still live far away from my family, so to be with my family for Christmas is what I like the most.

 

What do you usually eat on this occasion?

We normally eat some of the following meals: foie gras with onion jam and gingerbread, smoked salmon, homemade tarama, snails, a turkey or a platter of seafood (my family lives close to the sea and my brother-in-law is a fisherman!) And of course a “bûche de Noël”. However, this year, for a change, we will have the “13 desserts provençaux”.

 

Christmas memories VivaLing

Christmas in China with Jing

 

As a Chinese, Christmas for me was just a great holiday for shopping: all the big malls have great discounts during that period. Until I moved to Europe, I didn’t know the real meaning of it, I hadn’t felt the festive vibe.

In Europe, Christmas is really a family festival just like the spring festival in China, regardless of religion, this holiday is for everyone.

Now that I live in the Netherlands, I play “secret Santa” with my family and friends.  We exchange gifts, and most importantly, we get together and have a big Christmas dinner.

Christmas memories

Another thing I really love about Christmas is decorating the Christmas tree. I never expect that it could be so much fun to make your own Christmas tree. I feel like I am a little girl again. I usually go to the Christmas market to buy a lot of beautiful ornaments for my tree, then I set it up and turn the lights on. I feel as proud as when I make my own “Chinese new year dinner”.

Meet Orane, Learning English with VivaLing in Brussels

VivaLing temoignage

Orane is an 8 year-old, French-Belgian radiant and mischievous girl. She has been learning English with VivaLing for nearly a year. Alexandra, her mother, tells us more about her learning experience and shares her feedback as a mom.

  • Who are you?

My name is Alexandra, I am French and I have lived in Belgium for more than 10 years. My husband, Frederic, is Belgian. We live in Brussels in a very multicultural environment. Orane, our daughter, is 8 and attends a Belgian school. We wanted Orane to learn English as soon as possible.

– Why did you want your daughter to learn English?

I work in English 80% of my time and therefore measure daily the importance of mastering this language. In addition, we travel a lot and, wherever we go, English is the language of universal communication. Learning English is compulsory in our modern world! But as my husband and I are french speakers, it was out of the question to teach her English. We wanted a professional and native English teacher.

– Why did you choose VivaLing?

Because it is sooo convenient! Orane can have her lessons without leaving the house – and therefore does not have to put on a big coat, a scarf, a hat…. which takes more than 10 mn before going out! While she is having her lesson, I can always listen while doing my own activities – and therefore understand what she is talking about and what she is learning.

In addition the method is very playful and perfect for my daughter. A real pleasure!

– How are your sessions with VivaLing?

We usually have one session a week. The atmosphere is always relaxed and fun, and it is always a great moment of pleasure. Orane’s coach, Felicity, does miracles and we care a lot about her! She’s a part of the family now. Thanks to VivaLing, Orane knows the name of all animals in English. Some better than in French!

 

vivaling-orane-2

Join VivaLing for interactive, fun and interesting English, Mandarin, Spanish and French lessons for your kids!