5 Spanish customs that you might not know

Every country has its own “rituals” and unique ways of behaving. If you are ever in Spain, it will be very helpful to remember these top 5 Spanish customs to avoid any embarrassing situations.

la bise en espagne

 

  1.     GREETINGS

When seeing a friend or being introduced to someone for the first time, two kisses are given on each cheek or into the air to the side of each cheek.  Unlike other countries such as Bulgaria, we always start with the right cheek. This ritual is repeated with every person we are saying hello to, and then done again when saying goodbye. Men will normally hug or shake hands when meeting other male friends as opposed to kissing.

la-sobremesa

  1.     LA SOBREMESA (you’ll need to stay a little after lunch):

If you are ever invited to have lunch at a Spaniards house, you can typically expect it to start around 2 to 3 pm. However, the finishing time is not so clear! During family celebrations, appetizers, main courses, and desserts are eaten. After this follows “la sobremesa” (literally meaning “the over-table”). This is the time after lunch for drinking coffee and liquors, divulging in little sweets, talking, joking and laughing for hours. People will start leaving for home any time from 6-8pm. Tired, happy and still quite full!

Que Hora es

 

  1.     LATER SCHEDULES

Another cultural difference is starting and finishing work later than other European countries. Lunch time is later – normally around 2 or 3 pm and dinner is eaten around 10pm or even later. Bedtime is up to the individual, but it is not usual to be asleep before midnight. In fact, this is the time that young adults start going out to party.

  1.     GIFTS

In Spain, when a gift is received, it is opened instantly and the receiver comments out loud how beautiful it is and how much they like it. Not opening a gift right away or not giving it praise would be considered very insulting.

If you are invited to somebody’s house, it is custom to bring a bottle of wine, chocolates, pastries or a small plant in appreciation to the invitation.
apprendre l'espagnol

 

  1.     CONVERSATIONS

While holding a conversation in Spain, it is the norm for many people to talk at the same time. This is not considered bad manners but rather shows interest in the conversation topic. So if you are ever interrupted while talking to a Spaniard, the advice is to try to just counterattack and interrupt someone else!

Why is the VIVALING pedagogy the best for your child?

You may already know all our coaches are VILLA certified. But have you ever wondered what the VILLA pedagogy is and why it is so important that your kids’ coaches are VILLA certified?

villa-scheme vivaling pedagogy

What is the VILLA?

The ViLLA stands for the VivaLing Language Learning Approach. It is a comprehensive framework outlining the foundations for language learning (the drivers), and our corresponding pedagogy, tools, and coach competencies.The framework was developed around the latest research in technology, linguistics, education, and cognitive science.

Every VivaLing session is based on VivaLing’s own learning approach, which is VILLA.

How it works?

The first layer of VILLA is the foundation which is built on the Key language learning drivers as unveiled by cognitive science. The five drivers needed to be activated to maximize our language learning outcome are;  Language Quantity, Motivation, Attention, Social Interaction, Consolidation.  

  • Language Quantity deals with the input, output and feedback between Coach and child. It is important to have the right balance for the best language proficiency.
  • The motivation driver is constantly activated by our Coaches by making the sessions personalised to your child.
  • Motivated, attentive  learners learn better than those who are not, so the activities are designed to keep your child interested and engaged in the session.
  • Social interaction between learners and the target language speaker is also crucial for meaningful and real communication. It enhances the learned language and puts the language in use.
  • Consolidation deals with calculated review. Children learn fast but forget easily, so our Coaches review regularly and at spaced intervals to make sure the learned knowledge transmits to the  long term memory

VivaLing - learn language with fun

 

The second layer of VILLA is the pedagogy and content used by VivaLing coaches, guided by the Principled Communicative Approach. VivaLing believes the key factor of a language for kids should  be communication. Kids can learn more effectively throughout communication.

The third layer is online delivery, Strategies and tools for effective teaching in an online environment. Even seasoned teachers soon find out that what has worked for years in a physical classroom just does not work the same way online. VIvaLing coaches not only have experience in the physical classroom but are also equipped with all the tools and strategies possible to deliver the best quality sessions in an online environment.

The top layer also known the roof of the VILLA is VivaLing team, Key players involved in the teaching and learning process. At VivaLing, we not only have excellent coaches to deliver the best sessions for your kids but also a strong team to support all the aspect in the process of your kids learning. We also involve parents as much as possible. Parents receive a report after every session, and an entire recording of the session to check progress and for the kids to review.

Register your children now and join us for an amazing learning experience!

www.vivaling.com

 

 

Why you should make a language study trip to France

 

Study Trip France - Accent Francais

The benefits of a language stay are many: a life experience, the discovery of another culture, self-discovery and a way of traveling “smart”

If you are not yet convinced, here are some excellent reasons why to try this adventure.

  • Linguistic immersion

An intensive practice of the language: A linguistic stay means real practice in the actual country. Progress is faster because you speak French, think French and even eat French! French classes, accommodation with a French family and the practice of cultural activities are the keys to effective learning.

  • The discovery of France and its culture

Beyond learning the French language, it is the experience of a culture different to yours and an ideal way to open your mind.

  • Getting out of your comfort zone and your family circle

Working life quickly teaches you that sometimes it is necessary to adapt to unfamiliar situations. Immersion in a different country and culture is an excellent learning experience: new encounters and situations different from what you are used to forges character. This experience is often a first for teens and young adults and a new step towards self-reliance.

  • New friends from all over the world

A language study trip allows you to meet students from all over the world who have the same goal: to learn French. When one is away from home, great friendships are made and good times continue to be shared, often through a professional social network,  well after the language stay has finished.

  • A way to enrich your resume

There is no longer any excuse to miss mastering a foreign language. A linguistic stay makes it possible to value the practice of a language and knowledge of the culture. A considerable asset in the labor market.

Smart holidays: Visiting a country, meeting new friends, having fun and learning a foreign language….. are these not the ideal holidays ??

If your children are aged 16 and above, let them enjoy the best study trip to France ever: contact our partner Accent Français and enjoy a $40 discount on your stay in Montpellier!

The Legend of Chinese New Year

chinese-new-year-18

 

An ancient Chinese legend about the origin of chuxi tells us that there was a monster called Xi. Xi would emerge from the sea on the 30th day of the 12th lunar month to dine on the locals. No one would dare sleep that night until, at last, they learned that the monster could be driven away by putting up red paper and setting off firecrackers. Since chu means “to get rid of”, the Spring Festival Eve was known as chuxi, meaning “to get rid of something”.

Have a look at a great video about this legend

The custom of pasting Spring Festival couplets, setting off firecrackers and staying up late at night is thus observed till the present day

The history of the character “福”

The character “福” is often seen pasted upside down during the Spring Festival. Do you know why?

Here goes the legend:

After the emperor of the Ming Dynasty, Zhu Yuanzhang, ascended to the throne, he secretly told all the people who had helped him to paste the character “福”, which means good fortune, on their doors. He would then kill those who hadn‘t put the character up by the second day. Afler discovering the plan, the kind-hearted Empress Ma asked every family in the city to paste the  character before dawn hence eliminating the disaster. Thankfully the people listened to her.

On the second day, when the emperor ordered his soldiers to kill all those who hadn’t pasted the character “福”, he was told every family had pasted the character. This made him very angry. Then the emperor heard about a family had pasted the character upside down because they were illiterate. He became so furious that he immediately ordered the whole family to be executed.

Empress Ma then hurriedly explained to the emperor, “The family must have learned Your Majesty will come today, so they put the character “福” upside down”. The clever Empress Ma knew that when spoke in Chinese, “upside down”, has the same meaning as “good fortune has arrived”.

The emperor fell for her explanation and didn’t kill the family. A disaster was avoided. From then on, people have put the character “福” upside down, meaning “good fortune has arrived”.

What’s on the menu for Chinese New Year?

Chinese New year

 

Chinese people attach much importance to family reunion. No matter how far the family members live from each other, they will normally go back home to eat a family reunion dinner on the Spring Festival Eve. The dinner, usually a big feast, includes dumplings and all kinds of other food.

In northern China, each dish has a special meaning. The steaming hotpot signifies prosperity. Since fish has the same pronunciation as “surplus” in Chinese, it means “surplus year after year”. Chicken has the same pronunciation of luck, which predicts auspiciousness while carrot heads, also known as caitou, express the wish to have a good luck. Deep-fried food, such as that of lobsters and whole fish, signifies the auspiciousness of a family.  Dumplings, originated from the word “intersection”, which means the moment between the old year and the new year. Since a dumpling also resembles a shoe-shaped gold or silver ingot in ancient China, placing plates of dumplings on the table signifies “the New Year will come with wealth”.

Families usually sit around the table on the Spring Festival Eve, eating the reunion dinner while watching the Spring Festival Galat and awaiting the ringing of the New Year bell. The sound of firecrackers will be heard and spectacular firework displays seen.

On the morning of the first day of the first lunar month, people put on their finest clothes and exchange New Year greetings. Elder members of a family give “lucky money” to the children and adults exchange greetings, wishing each other good fortune and a Happy New Year. With the development of communication tools, people send loving text messages to each other. All around there is a bustling and joyous atmosphere. No matter where you are, you’ll surely receive good wishes.

This is the Spring Festival of China. It is lively, jubilant and joyous,

Would you like to come to China now and experience it?

 

Chinese New Year, it’s time to sing!

Chinese New year song

There is an amusing song that Old Beijingers sing about the time before the Spring Festival Eve. It vividly depicts how people busily and happily embrace the New Year:

“Little kids, little kids, don’t be greedy.

After laba, it’s New Year’s time

Drink the  porridge for several days, then on the 23rd day,

On the 23rd, eat glutinous sugar candy.

On the 24th, clean your house;

On the 25th, fry tofu;

On the 26th, stew meat;

On the 27th, kill chicken;

On the 28th, leaven dough

On the 29th, make steamed bread

on the Spring Festival Eve, stay up and play whole night.”

 

小孩小孩你别馋,过了腊八就是年。

腊八粥,喝几天,哩哩啦啦二十三。

二十三,糖瓜儿粘;

二十四,扫房日;

二十五,炸豆腐;

二十六,炖炖肉;

二十七,宰年鸡;

二十八,把面发;

二十九,蒸馒头;

三十儿晚上玩一宿;

https://quizlet.com/_4e2r5g quizlet link for this song with pinyin, characters and translation – 

Click here to listen to  the song: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0guqygv-CEI  

The day before the Spring Festival is known as the Spring Festival Eve, which usually falls on the 30th (although it can sometimes be the 29th) of the 12th lunar month. To usher in the New Year, fun activities such as hanging lanterns, setting off firecrackers and putting up Spring Festival couplets are held. People oflen stay up until midnight on the Spring Festival Eve, otherwise known as Shousui.

Chinese New Year 2018….Ready, Steady, Go!

Chinese-Year-PROMO1389731149

 

What is Spring Festival? Is it the equivalent to Chinese New Year? When is Chinese New Year? Does it occur at the same time of year? How long does Chinese New Year last?  How do people celebrate it?

If you don’t have the answers to all these questions, then read this article to uncover the truth about the most important and popular event in China.

This year, Chinese New Year falls on February 16th, the year of dog. Chinese New Year is also referred to as Spring Festival, due to the prominent arrival of Spring after the New Year.

When is the Chinese New Year? Does Chinese New Year fall on the same day every year?

Chinese New Year, is the most important traditional festival in China. In terms of grandness and importance, it is the equivalent to how Christmas is celebrated in the West.  It falls on the 8th of December in Lunar calendar ( 16 February this year) and lasts for two weeks.The festival comes to a climax on the last day of December in Lunar calendar (commonly known as the Spring Festival Eve or chuxi in Chinese) and on the 1st of January in Lunar month.

How do people celebrate Chinese New year?

The Chinese Spring Festival is more than 3000 years old. Preparations begin from the 8th of December Lunar calendar. The week commencing on the 23rd day of Iayue ( lunar calendar) is the busiest time for the Chinese. Activities include sweeping and cleaning houses and making special purchases for the festival, such as food, Spring Festival couplets, the characters of “福” and clothes from department stores and supermarkets. People living away from their hometowns begin to prepare for their journeys home. As a result, train stations, airports and long-distance bus stations are crowded with people eager to reunite with their families

For Chinese people, no matter where you are, no matter how difficult it is… it is a time to go home.

 

VivaLing at UWCSEA Community Fair 2018 – what a great time we had!

UWCSEA Singapore Community Fair

 

The Singapore VivaLing team joined the UWCSEA Community Market on Saturday 03 February 2018!!

This market was an engaging eco-marketplace that seeked to go beyond the buying-selling point of healthy, eco-friendly, compassionate and/or ethically-sourced products or services by including an immersive element to it.

We had such a great moment exchanging on language learning strategies and playing the “lucky wheel” game with families and kids. While having fun with word puzzles and “Truth or Dare” games, kids have also received attractive awards such as “Inside-Out” DVDs and free lessons with VivaLing.

We were so happy to see the excitement on their faces and hope to have many other opportunities to meet more international parents and kids in Singapore in the comings weeks and months!
Check out many more exciting moments at the UWCSEA Community Fair from: https://www.facebook.com/VivaLing/

Started in 1971, UWCSEA is an international IB school in Singapore, recognized for academic excellence, service and outdoor education for students ages 4 to 18. Over 75 nationalities enrich the daily life on the Dover Campus, as does the boarding community and the scholarship students selected through the UWC national committee structure on the basis of their potential to have a positive impact. UWCSEA is a truly international school.

the VivaLing team at UWCSEA Community Fair

 

interest vivaling

5 scientific ways to help your child learn better

interest vivaling

We empirically know that kids learn differently from adults. They see the world afresh, experience sights and sounds with unabashed simplicity, approach the unknown with candor. Sadly, adults have lost some of that along the way.

But why is that? Science attributes much of a child’s unique worldview to a partially developed prefrontal cortex. Where a fully formed one renders adults with functional fixedness, kids still possess a flexibility and freedom of the senses. We see sticks for sticks, they see ray guns; we look for the sun, they see a glowing ball of fire. They have not lost the sense of wonder and imagination and beauty that characterizes childlikeness.

But the difference goes deeper than that. Where adults are built to perform, kids’ brains are still designed to learn. They absorb what they see and experience at this age faster than any other. So how can we help them absorb the right values and skills? Here are 5 scientifically backed tips that could help.

 

 1-Read with them, not to them

Tell stories, but don’t just stop there. Get them to read too. Call attention to specific words, character moments, motivations. By engaging them with the actual reading of the texts, it stimulates early literacy for your child on a subconscious level.

Then go further. Get them to share how they feel about the story, what they liked about it, what they felt uncomfortable with. Engage. Give them the platform to express themselves and think on their own. Rather than mere listening, such a discursive approach brings in rich contexts and language to allow your child to learn healthy communication skills early. Even at that young age.

motivation languages vivaling

 2- Encourage grit, not IQ

Research has shown that self-discipline predicts success in life better than any string of raw intelligence. That is not surprising. Grit refuses to call it quits after getting beat down. Defeated. Dusted. It looks to what might be and crawls back up. In children, this begins with baby steps. They need to see learning as a journey; the attempt more important than outcome; the lessons more valuable than the end.

Thankfully, studies are beginning to uncover how grit can be taught. And a lot of it has got to with a growth mindset – success is a result of hard work and perseverance. As a family, anchor discussions on effort rather than grades. Praise them for trying, not achieving. Laugh at failing. Emphasize its normality. Over time, they will see what they want to achieve as a function of grit and effort. The first step has been taken.

gamification vivaling

 3- Introduce active thinking, not passive receiving

Learning stems from doing, not hearing. We were wired to pick things up by practicing and questioning and thinking. Start by using simple everyday things to engage your kids. Go for walks, bake together, visit the groceries store. Ask your child about the food prices, the amount of sugar added, why the birds chirp in the day. Such questions take ordinary situations and turn them into hotbeds for engaging your children about what she knows, and what else she has yet to find out. It causes them to consider how concepts and processes link together and encourage them to reflect on the how and why more actively.

Four smiling young boys and girls forming a circle against sky

 4- Peer influence matters

This is undeniable. A child’s social setting has a huge bearing on her behavior and learning attitudes. Studies have shown that constant exposure to rowdy, unstable environments affect children negatively, with harmful longitudinal effects extending further out in life. Likewise, an exposure to healthy neighborhoods, solid schools, and good friends correlates to better grades and stronger social skills.

Why is that? People are strongly influenced by others and their immediate social environment. Expose your kids to good settings early, and they will pick up good habits that will set them for years ahead.

 5- Believe in them

Treat a man as you expect him to be, and he would be that man. This applies to our children too. When we harp on their mistakes, they internalize it and start believing they are prone to making mistakes. When we tell them they are good at something, they absorb that and aim to actualize that in reality. This phenomenon, known as the Pygmalion Effect, paints a simple bottom line for parents. If we want our kids to be good at something, we have to start believing in them and let them know we do. That simple act affects their mindsets, molds their behaviors, and changes their habits. Before you know it, you will see its effect play out in your little ones.

Children learn differently from adults. But if we recognize their uniqueness and are careful with our behavior around them, those little moments we invest in will well up into the bright inquisitive person they’ll one day be.

By Geraldine Lee for VivaLing

Geraldine is an education technology writer, currently serving on the content team at Yodaa (link to: https://www.yodaa.co/), an ed-tech startup based in Singapore. In her free time, she researches on parenting issues, education tips, and technological trends.”

motivation languages vivaling

If Interest Isn’t the Best Teacher, Then What Is?!

motivation languages vivaling

Many great educators believe that motivation, intrinsic and extrinsic, is where interest originates.  The sense of satisfaction a student gains from having  learned something is example of Intrinsic motivation.  The student is subsequently motivated to learn more. An extrinsically motivated student, on the other hand, studies for different reasons, such as receiving a reward or avoiding a penalty.

Every child has different levels of intrinsic and extrinsic motivation for any given task. The ultimate goal of all motivational development is, of course, to engender intrinsic motivation in all students. It is vital for educators and parents to have patience and to work towards this goal, step by step.

Here are some tips, from VivaLing’s educators, on how to motivate young learners.

motivation languages vivaling

Stop comparing and give some thumbs up…

“Look, Donald’s son got A in Maths.”

“Your friend Jillian came  first in writing competition!”,

If this is the sort of thing you tell your kids, please stop now!

We all know that competitiveness can be a driving force when it comes to performing well, but it also has negative effects such as stress, loss of confidence, depression, etc.

Why not give your kids more encouragement? Provide them with positive feedback and help them set realistic expectations.  Give them a thumbs when they reach a milestone!

Studies have shown that encouragement helps to build self-esteem, motivation, and cooperation in children. Note that encouragement is not the same as praise. The effect of encouragement “You shared your book. Thank you!” is quite different from the effect of praise  “You’re such a good boy!” Parents and educators should always aim to give their compliments with details- be constructive. It makes more sense to the kids, and will help to motivate them further.

gamification vivaling

 

Gamifying the learning process

Gamification is a  technique that is rapidly gaining popularity, when it comes to engaging learners  in the e-learning field. It’s not about getting students to  make up their own games, or about playing commercially-made video games. It’s about applying game-related principles – particularly those relating to user experience and engagement – to facilitate learning and influence student behavior.

Compared to traditional learning, which focuses on meeting specific learning outcomes, gamification offers many possible benefits.  Gamification promotes a fun, relaxed learning environment that will ultimately foster intrinsic motivation along the way.

It is worth highlighting that customised gamification can further boost a student’s interest. Remember the picture of Elsa at the beginning of this article? VivaLing coaches build a rapport with young learners by tailoring the teaching materials to the student’s interests and making it fun!

 

interest vivaling

Stories always help

From the Aesop’s Fables to modern, inspirational picture books, good stories can always empower kids with positive energy and sow the seeds of imagination.

Reading a story together is also important. According to OECD’s Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA), telling stories or reading books to children when they are very young is strongly related to how well they read and how much they enjoy reading later on.

Good educators always engage students with story telling and role play.  This motivates students to explore the world of books, helping them to gain more from reading and studying later on.