French vivaLing

Do you speak French?

This week is the “Semaine de la Langue Française et de la Francophonie” (Week of French language and cultures). A great occasion to give you more information about this international language spoken on the 5 continents.

French vivaling

A language spoken on all five continents

French is one of the very few languages spoken all over the world, ranked the sixth most widely spoken language after Mandarin Chinese (over a billion speakers), English, Hindi, Spanish and Arabic. There are currently over 220 million French speakers worldwide, including 72 million so-called partial French speakers. Europe accounts for 39.87% of the French-speaking population, sub-Saharan Africa and the Indian Ocean for 36.03%, North Africa and the Middle East for 15.28%, America and the Caribbean for 7.66% and Asia/Oceania for 1.16% (OIF, La langue française dans le monde, 2010).

As a result of population growth, the OIF estimates that the number of French speakers will rise to over 700 million by 2050, 80% of whom will be in Africa. This would take the proportion of French speakers in the world population from 3% to 8%.

French is unusual in that it often exists alongside other languages in multilingual contexts. In Europe (excluding France), the largest populations of French speakers are essentially to be found in Belgium (45% of the population), Switzerland (20% of the population) and Luxembourg. French is Europe’s second most widely spoken mother tongue with over 77 million speakers, after Germany (around 100 million) but ahead of English (around 61 million). Demographers forecast that France’s birth rate will make French the most widely spoken mother tongue in Europe, ousting German, by 2025. French is an official language of 29 countries, second only to English in this category.

French vivaLing

A language taught throughout the world

French shares with English the distinction of being taught as a foreign language in the education systems of most countries around the world. French is thus the second most widely learned foreign language in the world, with almost 120 million students and 500,000 teachers.

An estimated 2 million school pupils in some 50 foreign countries are enrolled in bilingual sections with French as one of the languages of instruction.

French is also taught at establishments run by France’s cultural network abroad (Instituts Français and Alliance Française schools), which provide courses for close on a million language students, and in the 481 establishments of the French school network abroad, which provide an education based on the French national curriculum for 310,000 pupils, half of whom are foreign nationals, in 133 countries.

French vivaling

An international language of reference

French is one of the working languages of the United Nations alongside English, Spanish, Russian, Arabic and Chinese.

French is one of the three procedural languages of the European Union, along with English and German, and the sole language used for the deliberations of the Court of Justice of the European Union.

French is the sole official language of the Universal Postal Union (UPU).

It is one of the working languages of many other international institutions: the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD), the United Nations Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC), the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), the International Labour Organization (ILO), the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), the World Health Organization (WHO), the World Trade Organization (WTO), the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO), the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), the Council of Europe, the African Union (AU), the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) and the International Federation of Association Football (FIFA).

It is also one of the preferred working languages of the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA).

French plays a special role in international sporting life as an official language of the International Olympic Committee (IOC) and hence of the Olympic Games. The inauguration in 1989 of the Francophone Games has underscored the existence of a real international French-speaking sports community.

France and the French-speaking countries play an active part in the world economy, accounting for some 20% of world trade in goods.

A study entitled “The global economic importance of the French language” conducted by the Foundation for International Development Study and Research (FERDI) in 2012 shed useful light on the positive correlation between a country’s membership of the French-speaking community and its trading position. Sharing a common language would appear to boost trade flows by some 33% on average, mainly by bringing down export costs, making it easier for businesses to penetrate a new export market and helping to sustain existing flows.

Membership of the French-speaking community, which accounts for 15% of the world’s wealth and one tenth of its agricultural land, is thus a source of great potential, particularly in periods of economic crisis, and particularly so for our partners in the Global South who stand to benefit the most.

French also has a role to play in global communication, thanks to international media channels TV5Monde (55 million weekly viewers), France 24 (45.4 million weekly viewers) and RFI (40.1 million listeners).

French also accounts for 5% of Internet pages, ranking between sixth and eighth of the languages most widely used on the Internet.

Over 100 million young people are learning French/learning in French at schools and universities around the world. Primary and secondary education in French is delivered in primary, secondary and high schools approved by the French Ministry of Education, collectively known as the French international schools. There are 481 such schools in over 133 countries with a total of 310,000 pupils, over half of whom do not hold French nationality.

What are you waiting for? Let your child join our French classes with our amazing French coaches! :)

To Learn More: http://www.diplomatie.gouv.fr/en/french-foreign-policy/francophony/events/article/french-language-and-francophonie-week-18-20-03-17

 

 

teaching online

5 myths about Online Language Teaching

So you’ve been thinking about teaching online. You have likely taken an online course yourself, so you believe you have a pretty good idea about what the job entails. Hmmm…. You may need to think again. Your conventional notions may deceive you.

online teaching

1-Teaching online is a career supplement (not a career).

The scene is shifting. As we’ve shared before, 53% of education professionals believe real-time video collaboration and mobile devices will be the primary way students engage with content by 2025. As more and more content moves online, so does the demand for quality educational professionals to oversee, manage, and deliver that content.

With a global company, teaching online can be teaching without borders. A teacher in one location may be able to teach learners in different time zones throughout their day, making a good living from their home office if they choose to do so. However, teaching online also offers the flexibility to organize one’s work schedule around other personal or professional commitments as life demands.

online teaching

2-Teaching online is a lonely job without colleagues.

It’s true that many opportunities for online learning operate like a marketplace. This is business. You are the service provider. They do the marketing for you. They drag you in and lure you with the promise of more customers. You compete with other providers, more often than not on price, which far too often ends up being dreadfully low.  Once you are in, you are on your own. The platform’s involvement is to get a commission on your lessons. You have no colleagues. You have no support. You are entirely free if this is what you are seeking – free and alone.

With a team of like-minded professionals, it doesn’t have to be so isolating. What if online schools operated like, well, schools? Teachers should be able team up to share best practices, discuss a student’s progress or learning needs, come together regularly to brainstorm ideas and resources, or just chat. At VivaLing, teachers are our greatest asset. As such, we offer them a collaborative environment where they can thrive through helping each other reach a common purpose – to impact the lives and learning of young children.

teaching online

3- Teaching online is impersonal and monotonous.

As one VivaLing Coach puts it, “Distance increases proximity.” Are you baffled by the paradox?  While teaching online, you are meeting your students in their world (both physically and generationally). They open up through the little window that is their screen, diving into the magical internet tunnel, dedicating unparalleled attention to the interaction, and building an incredibly strong bond with their coach. How do we know it? They tell us. Their eyes tell us. Their smiles tell us. The eagerness to join their daily or weekly session tells us.

Seeing each learner in their world also reveals just how different they are: their interests, their personalities, their preferences for learning. By customizing the lesson based on the child’s interests, pace, and level, you increase the learning effectiveness and student engagement. And with online tools for adaptive learning and spaced repetition, a truly personalized learning experience is just a click away. Each learning experience is entirely different and unique, far from impersonal and monotonous.

Of course, this only applies to online schools that recognize the importance of differentiation and building a strong rapport with learners. Unfortunately, most online schools rotate teachers and learners around as if they were interchangeable. Perhaps they even mandate you to teach a rigid curriculum or provide you with a script of exactly what to say. Such an environment can quickly lose any hope for creativity or connection with learners, which are often the very elements which attract us to teaching in the first place.

teaching online VivaLing

4- Teaching online doesn’t allow for career advancement.

Connected to the first myth above, as more and more educational content moves online, so does the need for teachers who don’t just know how to utilize technology, but who can enhance it through smart implementation combined with an exploitation of uniquely human qualities. Great teachers are and will be those who have become experts at motivating, personalizing, and interacting with their learners. The best online academies will develop them, recognize them, and promote them to reward their professional growth.

But it does not stop there. As the integration of automation into the learning process is being perfected, there is a need for teachers to utilize their many talents in new and creative ways. Traditional materials and methods must be adapted and optimized for the online environment, new standards for teaching and learning must be set, and new innovations must constantly evolve to meet the needs of the next generation’s workforce.

As experts in content, cognition, and delivery, teachers are the best-suited to lead these efforts when they are appointed as full-fledged members of their academies’ Learning teams. At VivaLing, for instance, all of our Master Coaches, teacher supervisors, teacher trainers, teacher recruiters, Language Consultants, and many more were initially hired by the academy as Coaches – myself included.

teaching online VivaLing

5-Teaching online is just like teaching offline.

It takes work…a lot of work, especially in the beginning, to adapt your years of classroom-tested activities, back-pocket games, and wealth of resources to a completely new environment. You aren’t just moving to a new classroom. You are moving to a new universe with different rules, new tools, entirely different class dynamics, and a new generation of learners who are likely more adept at online learning than you are.

It doesn’t come naturally, and you must be trained in many new skills and tools. However, online teacher training courses like VivaLing’s VOLT-YL course  can prepare you for the exciting adventure into online teaching through the perfect blend of knowledge, training, collaboration, rehearsal, and teaching practice.

How many of the myths above did you think were true? The correct answer is that none of them have to be. Keep in mind, however, that not all online schools were created equal. Choose wisely and you can build yourself a successful career path.

 

by Abbie Adeyeri

Happy new year

For Victor and Aude, the World Tour is a family project

Victor, Paris entrepreneur and founder of (soccer center company) Urban Football, and his wife Aude, manager at BNP Paribas, decided to take a year out  to  travel the world with their 4 children: Candice 8, Georges 6, Maxime 4 and Emile, 1. They packed a few bathing suits, travel guides, toys and … VivaLing!  Staying in Singapore for a few months, they  share the story of this fantastic family adventure with us.

Victor Augais VivaLing

  • What was the trigger and what is the purpose of your World Tour?The arrival of our last son, Emile, and the Victor’s decision to start a new entrepreneurial adventure, gave us the occasion to take this year-long trip.We wish above all to live a different year, together as a family, and to discover cities that we believe are nice, staying for a few months in each of them. This is the opportunity to do homeschooling for our two eldest children (year 1 and 3), to take time to have a break and think about our priorities in life. This journey is also an opportunity to discover different cultures, and to educate our children in this cultural diversity. We hope that our children will make progress in English, and will want to speak several languages ​​in the future. For Victor, the trip is an opportunity to find  innovative ideas for the launch his a new business when we return to France.

Victor Augais VivaLing

  •  What is your itinerary?We are alternating short stays in different countries, with longer stays of several months in large cities. Our program includes traveling the West Coast in a camper van, San Francisco, Mexico, Singapore, Bali, and finally New York.
  • Why did you decide to go as a family on this adventure?Because neither of us could imagine travelling the world alone :). The adventure with the whole family is the real goal of our journey

Victor Augais VivaLing

  •  What events and / or encounters have affected you most so far?We’ve liked everything: seeing the beautiful West Coast landscapes by campervan, the fireside evenings in the national parks, the energy of San Francisco and its provincial appearance, the calm of the Yucatan beaches and the perfect organization of Singapore in a green environment. Everywhere we’ve been, we’ve  been warmly welcomed by families settled there.
  • How is your children’s schooling going on during this year?Victor gives classes to our 2 eldest kids in the morning, via remote education courses while I take the 2 little ones out –  otherwise there would be no possibility of concentrating at home.
  • What is the importance of languages ​​in your journey?We try to educate children in speaking English and different cultures.  They also take lessons, especially with Vivaling. In San Francisco, we enrolled them in a public “afterschool” to meet young Americans, and we will do the same in New York in the spring.

Victor Augais VivaLing

  •  Why did you choose VivaLing for your children?The service proposed by Vivaling seems to me to be excellent, and very suitable for a year of roaming.  With online courses, there’s the possibility of keeping the same teacher and the children can also take advantage of our  trips to review the language.
  • What do you like most about VivaLing?Children are able to review the language taught in the sessions, and parents are able to check the children’s progress.

Victor Augais VivaLing

  • What qualities do you think children and young people today will need to succeed in their professional lives tomorrow?They’ll need to be curious and adaptable, to take nothing for granted, to have the discernment to make their own choices and the courage to put them into practice. And to speak English!
  • “And after the tour of the world?”Back in Paris, for a new entrepreneurial adventure for Victor.

Victor Augais VivaLing

You can follow Victor and Aude’ s adventures on their blog ( in French) : https://ensemble-autrement.com/

mandarin teacher

Meet Jing, Mandarin coach at VivaLing: “I’ve never felt the sense of fulfillment, that teaching gives me, from any other job”.

Who are you?

My name is Jing, which means calm and peaceful. I am from Baoding in Northern China,, Hebei province.

Now I am living in Haarlem, in the Netherlands.

I graduated from the Hebei University with  a degree in Economics and then went on to get a degree in Teaching Chinese as a Second Language in the East China Normal University,  Shanghai (2011). I also have the Certificate for teaching Chinese to Foreigners from the Confucius Institute.

How long have you been a Chinese teacher for?

I became a Chinese teacher in 2011.

Why have you decided to be a teacher?

Since I was very young, I knew I wanted to be a teacher. Unlike other kids, I loved to stand up in front of people and was always super-excited to get the chance to “act” like a teacher. I really loved to go to the front of the classroom and explain the things I’d learned. I think I just burned to be a teacher.  I’m always able to put myself in my students’ shoes and I love to think about how I would like my next class to be. I’ve never felt  the sense of fulfillment, that teaching gives me, from any other job.

mandarin teacher

I especially love to work with children, I feel naturally able to speak and enjoy the “kid’s language”. I am never shy to act silly or crazy with my students. I feel awesome when I realize that  I can help to make kids love Chinese, that because of me, learning is fun!

Why do you like teaching online?

I am obsessed with incorporating technology into my teaching, I love to explore all kinds of tools to help engage and involve my students, and make my classes more fun and efficient. On top of this, teaching online gives me so many possibilities; I can teach students from around the world and  take my job with me anywhere.

chinese teacher

What are your hobbies?

I love travelling and singing. I also love all kinds of interactive games that can be played in groups,, like the board games or outdoor activities.

What food/dish do you prefer? ( best to choose a typical dish from your country)

I love Chinese food. Even though I live in Europe now, I want to eat Chinese food all the time. I love the Donkey burgers from my hometown Baoding.  They’re made of dough stuffed with donkey meat- delicious!

What is your favourite Chinese movie or book?

My favourite Chinese book is 围城 “Fortress Besieged” by Zhongshu Qian

What is your favourite place on earth?

My favourite place is home

DSC03014

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

Currently, Mandarin Chinese is spoken by over 1 billion people around the world.  That’s about one-fifth of the global population.  Each year more and more non-native students from all around the world, choose to study Mandarin, and are doing so  with enthusiasm and success. With a good teacher and good pedagogy, I am sure that you can do it too!

the effects of bilingualism

A new study explains why bilingual children perform better

Children who experience two languages from birth typically become native speakers of both, while adults often struggle with second language learning and rarely attain native-like fluency. With roughly two thirds of the world’s population estimated to understand or speak at least two languages, bilingualism has become the norm rather than the exception in many parts of the world.

Although some might be concerned that bilingualism puts children at risk for language delay or academic failure, research does not support this. To the contrary, studies consistently show that, besides the obvious practical and economic gains, bilingualism leads to a number of cognitive advantages. Emerging research supports the view that the capacity to learn language can be equally applied to two languages as to one.

A recent study conducted by the University of Washington (Institute for Learning and Brain Sciences) compares the major milestones in bilingual and monolingual language acquisition, outlines the reasons behind the frequently observed variability in bilingual language learning, and describes the cognitive benefits of bilingualism. Here are the main outcomes.

the effects of bilingualism

1- Language learning in the first year of life

Until about 6 months of age, infants are capable of hearing the differences between the consonants and vowels that make up words universally across all languages. By 12 months of age, discrimination of sounds from the infant’s native language significantly improves, while discrimination of non-native sounds declines (Kuhl et al., 2006). Infants’ initial universal ability becomes more language specific, like that of an adult, by 12 months of age.

Research shows that the infant brain is more than capable of learning two languages simultaneously. Young children learn language rapidly; however, the quality and quantity of language they hear plays a key role in the learning process. One study shows that infants exposed to a new language at 9 months of age in play sessions by a live tutor learn in just 6 hours to discriminate foreign language sounds at levels equivalent to infants exposed to that language from birth. However, no learning occurs if the same material on the same schedule is presented via video or audiotapes (Kuhl, Tsao, & Liu, 2003). Thus, early language learning is critically dependent on social interactions, and on the quality of speech that children hear.

Taken together, in monolingual and bilingual children alike, language growth reflects the quality and quantity of speech that infants hear. Young infants learn best through frequent, high-quality, social interactions with native speakers.

the benefits of bilingualism

2- Vocabulary and grammatical development

Young children exposed to two languages from birth typically begin producing their first syllables and their first words at the same age as children exposed to a single language. Furthermore, the bilingual course of vocabulary and grammatical growth looks very much like the trajectory followed by monolingual children; the kinds of words children learn, and the relationship between vocabulary and grammatical growth in each language replicate the monolingual pattern.

Nevertheless, the effect of bilingual experience on language production and comprehension is often reported as a lag in vocabulary and grammatical acquisition. Although some studies have shown that bilingual children are within monolingual norms for the age at which they achieve basic vocabulary and grammatical milestones of language development, several studies report that bilinguals control a smaller vocabulary in each language than monolinguals, and lag behind on grammatical measures when skills are measured on a single language (Hoff et al., 2012). Given the extensive research showing that children’s language skills reflect the quantity of language that they hear, these findings are not surprising. Bilinguals split their time between two languages, and thus, on average, hear less of each language. Importantly, however, studies consistently show that bilingual children do not lag behind monolingual peers when both languages are considered. For example, bilingual vocabulary sizes, when combined across both languages, are equal to or greater than those of monolingual children. Similar findings are reported on measures of grammatical knowledge.

3-Learning to read

Reading is a complex process acquired through explicit training, typically after a child has learned to speak in full sentences. Studies with monolingual children demonstrate the critical role of oral language in reading and academic success. Thousands of U.S. children find themselves in situations where they must acquire the fundamentals of reading in a language that they do not speak, or where their linguistic knowledge is extremely poor. Not surprisingly, studies often report that bilingual immigrant children perform worse than monolingual English children in reading acquisition. However, research demonstrates that exposure to two languages increases phonological awareness, which is the ability to recognize and manipulate the sound units of language and is one of the best predictors of reading ability.

the benefits of bilingualism

4-Cognitive benefits of bilingualism

Contrary to the once held concern that bilingualism causes confusion, research shows that simultaneous exposure to two languages is related to several cognitive benefits. Part of the concern about confusion arises due to “code mixing” or “code switching.”

Bilingual children occasionally combine words or phrases of both languages when interacting with their peers, parents of teachers. It is important to understand that code switching is natural for bilingual adults and children and reflects the fact that bilinguals often know certain words better in one language than in the other. Code switching in bilingual adults and children is rule governed, not haphazard, and bilingual children follow the same principles as bilingual adults (Paradis, Nicoladis, & Genesee, 2000).

Rather than causing confusion, it is now understood that the constant need to manage attention between two languages fosters children’s thinking about language per se, and leads to increased metacognitive and metalinguistic skills (Bialystok, 2007). Bilingual infants as young as 7 and 12 months have been shown to be more flexible learners of language patterns compared to monolingual infants (Kovacs & Mehler, 2009). Bilingual toddlers exhibit a prolonged period of flexibility in their interpretation of potential words (Graf Estes & Hay, 2015), and bilingual 2- and 3-year-olds are more flexible learners of additional labels for previously known actions or objects, whereas monolingual children often find it difficult to learn labels for actions or objects that already have a name (Yoshida, 2008).

A growing body of evidence also suggests that bilinguals exhibit enhancements in executive functioning, which have been observed in children, young adults and middleaged and older adults (Bialystok, Craik, & Luk, 2012). The primary processes of the executive functioning systems are switching attention, flexible thinking (cognitive flexibility), and updating information in working memory. Bilingualism requires the constant managing of attention to the target language. Research suggests that experience with two languages enhances the relevant brain networks, making them more robust for executive functioning throughout the lifespan. Interestingly, the accumulating effect of dual language experience translates into protective effects against cognitive decline with aging and the onset of Alzheimer’s disease (Craik, Bialystok, & Freedman, 2010). Recent brain studies indicate that differences between monolinguals and bilinguals in executive functioning are present at an early age (Ferjan Ramírez et al., 2016), and persist throughout the school years (Arredondo et al., 2016) and into adulthood (Abutalebi et al., 2011; Stocco & Prat, 2014).

 

the benefits of bilingualism

Conclusion

A growing body of research indicates that the experience of bilingualism alters not only the scope of language acquisition and use, but also a broader scope of cognitive processing from a very young age onward. Bilingual children perform equally well or better than monolinguals when both languages are considered. Studies suggest that optimal learning is achieved when children start learning two languages at an early age (i.e. between birth and 3 years of age) through high-quality interactions with live human beings, and both languages are supported throughout the toddler, preschool, and school years. Supportive environments for bilingual learning encourage parents and caregivers to use the language in which they are most fluent and comfortable, value both languages equally, and view bilingualism as an asset that brings about important cognitive, social, and economic benefits.

 

Source: http://ilabs.uw.edu/Bilingual_Language_Learning_in_Children.pdf

 

comptines enfants chinoise

Six songs to improve your children’s Mandarin learning

Dear parents, did you sing “if you are happy and you know it” or “Jingle bells” with your children, when they first started learning English? Well, what if they’re learning Mandarin and feel like singing? Here are six songs for different age groups. Let’s sing together!

 

For 3-6 years old

Sounds from animals 动物的叫声

 

Easy catchy melody, easy vocabulary, super simple but useful sentences.

 

This song not only teaches your kids about animals, but also the sounds they make in Chinese! (Yes, the animals’ sounds are different in Chinese than in English) It will also help them learn some basic verbs such as walk (走), swim (游) and roll (滚), too.

 

Two tigers 两只老虎

 

Every country has its own version of this song. Every child knows the melody!

It’s interesting for kids to learn and sing a version of the same song in another language, plus the lyrics are really funny: one tiger has no ears, another tiger has no tail…

It’s nonsense, but kids don’t care! Trust us, once they’ve learned this song, they’ll never forget it.

 

For 6-9 years old

 

Where is my friend? 朋友在哪里

 

Beautiful and easy melody, contains numbers, and some basic everyday vocabulary and simple question structure.

 

White little bunny 小白兔白又白

 

Every Chinese child knows this song. It’s extremely catchy and popular in China.

It’s a song children sing with their grandparents, parents, kindergarten classmates and anybody you can think of.

It contains easy vocabulary like white bunny, ears, carrot, vegetables, etc.

Having learned this song, your kid will share a “universal language and topic” with Chinese kids. The adults will be impressed too!

 

For 9 years old and above

 

Counting ducks 数鸭子

 

You may know how to count 12345 in Chinese, but how about when the number are not in order? “Counting ducks” gives you a good blend of easy and advanced expressions for numbers in Chinese.

 

The yellow bird 黄鹂鸟

 

Is this a song, or a funny joke? No one can tell. But we know it has an absolutely beautiful melody with funny words that contain some advanced vocabulary and expressions.

Once your kids understand the meaning of the lyrics, they will laugh and love this song for sure.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Jing4

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.

Meng1

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.

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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

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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

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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.

 

 

 

 

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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.