Learn English from FIFA World Cup!

The 2018 FIFA World Cup is the 21st FIFA World Cup. It’s happening right now in Russian from 14 June to 15 July 2018! If you are watching the game and enjoying it, do also explore the following football themed language games recommended by VivaLing Coach Tom B, and have fun learning English!

Basic 4 Function Math Game

Suitable level: Beginner

A wonderful game for young learners as the math involved is simple (+,-,x,/). You don’t have to use advanced language to answer the questions, but can still get to do fun stuff such as selecting their country team and playing other countries in a tournament shoot-out.

PLAY HERE

World Cup Fun Facts

Suitable level: Intermediate

Fun facts for intermediate learners, along with a True/False game at the end. There are also some picture/audio vocabularies at the beginning to reinforce and review soccer terms.

PLAY HERE

World Cup Predictions

Suitable level: Beginner, Intermediate, and Advanced

Coach Tom B’s favorite! Watch the video and select which teams you think will win. Younger learners can compare their results to the man’s results in the video (as if he actually says who the winner is). The intermediate and advanced learners can do this to complete their own world cup “bracket”. Accompanying questions like “Who is your favorite team? Why? Why will this team win/lose?” help to extend the activity.

PLAY HERE

Now, tell us which game is your favorite? We hope you enjoy the FIFA season and also improve your English learning through all these fun activities!

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

 

 

Food in Spain: Tengo hambre!

Tapas, paella, sangría, jamón,… A lot of people around the world know and have even tried these typical dishes at least once in their lifetime. However, there are plenty of different local Spanish dishes which are more typical in Spain and even tastier than these world-known ones. I chose 5 dishes (although there are many more) from all around the “Península Ibérica”.

Pulpo a la gallega (originally called “polbo á feira)

Pulpo a la gallega

This delicious dish from Galicia (northwest Spain), can be challenging for those who don’t like or have never tried seafood before. “Pulpo” means octopus, and when it is fresh and cooked well… it melts in your mouth! It is usually served on a bed of boiled and cut potatoes, and has a drizzle of olive oil and a touch of paprika on top.

Pan con tomate (originally called: “pa amb tomàquet”)

pan-con-tomate-

Originally from Catalonia (northeast Spain), although you can find similar versions of it in other Mediterranean countries. It is made with just 4 ingredients: toasted bread, garlic, olive oil and salt. You can eat it by itself or with cheese, jamón, prouscitto… almost anything!

Bocadillo de calamares

BOCADILLODECALAMARES

If you ever go to Madrid (the capital of Spain) you should try this typical sandwich of fried squid rings. So simple but surprisingly good!

Paella Valenciana

Paella-9

Everybody knows paella, but not a lot of foreigners know that paella is originally from Valencia and is not supposed to have seafood in it (in other areas of Spain they created their own “seafood” version). The original paella valenciana typically uses rice, “judía ferradura” -a type of green beans-, “garrofón” -a special type of big white beans-, chicken, rabbit, tomato, water, salt, olive oil and saffron. If you are ever in Spain, you will need to know that Thursday is Paella day in every Spanish food restaurant!

Gazpacho

gaspacho-3279

From the south of Spain, this typical dish is made for hot weather. A cold soup, easy to make at home. The main ingredients are: tomato, cucumber, green peppers, olive oil, bread, vinegar and garlic. Quite light and refreshing!

Author: Nuria, Spanish Master coach at VivaLing

TOP 9 English Books for Young Language Learners

It’s holiday time! Wondering what you can do to spend quality time with your little ones? Our answer is, reading!

Research has shown that shared reading experiences are highly beneficial for children. These benefits include:

  • Facilitating enriched language exposure
  • Fostering the development of listening skills, spelling, reading comprehension and vocabulary
  • Establishing essential foundational literacy skills
  • Providing a shared social opportunity between parents and children to foster positive attitudes toward reading

Picking up the right books for different ages is equally important. Here are some recommendations from VivaLing English Coach Tom:

Young Learners

Dr Seuss Reading recommendation by VivaLing

Dr. Seuss books

An all time favorite cherished by young and old alike. Ideal for reading aloud or reading alone, they will send the reader on a once in a lifetime adventure!

Scholastic books Reading recommendation by VivaLing

Scholastic books

Scholastic has been delivering literacy resources and children’s books to schools, teachers, and families for more than 90 years. Explore it and discover the joy and power of good books! Don’t forget to check out their Books & Reading website for some really nice articles to ensure successful reading.

Junie B. Jones by Barbara Park Reading recommendation by VivaLing

Junie B. Jones by Barbara Park

Barbara Park is best-known as the creator and author of the New York Times bestselling Junie B. Jones series. The stories of an outrageously funny kindergartener has kept kids and parents laughing—and reading—for over two decades.

Pre-teens

Diary of a Wimpy Kid by Jeff Kinney Reading recommendation by VivaLing

Diary of a Wimpy Kid by Jeff Kinney

Befitting a teen’s diary, the books are filled with handwritten notes and simple drawings of Greg’s daily adventures.

Harry Potter by JK Rowling Reading recommendation by VivaLing

Harry Potter by JK Rowling

Who hasn’t heard about Harry Potter and his magical school Hogwarts? The books have won multiple awards, and sold more than 400 million copies. It’s time to enter a world full of wild imagination!

Magic Tree House books by Mary Pope Osborne Reading recommendation by VivaLing

Magic Tree House books by Mary Pope Osborne

Jack and Annie embark on numerous adventures for Merlin and Morgan le Fay throughout the series. On their missions, they also receive the help of young magicians Kathleen and Teddy.

Teens

 

Percy Jackson by Rick Riordan Reading recommendation by VivaLing

Percy Jackson by Rick Riordan

The fast-paced Percy Jackson series follows the adventures of young demigod (half mortal, half Greek god) Percy and his friends Annabeth and Grover. It’s all about courage, discovery and friendship!

The Maze Runner by James Dashner Reading recommendation by VivaLing

The Maze Runner by James Dashner

Even if you have watched the movies, you won’t want to miss the book series for more twists! You’ll be on the edge of your seat when you read about how Thomas fights against WICKED for freedom.

Twilight trilogy by Stephanie Meyer Reading recommendation by VivaLing

Twilight by Stephanie Meyer

This romantic book is the first in the ‘Twilight’ series and will have your teen glued to the page. They will be emerged into a world of fantasy as they find Bella falling in love with an eternally young and beautiful vampire called Edward. Is there anyway their love can conquer all that stands between them?

Enjoy reading!

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!

10 Good Reasons to Learn Foreign Languages

  • Discover Oneself

There is often a language that plays a special role in a family’s history. This language is that of the local land, forefathers and roots, culture or religion, or even in-laws. You may have come across this little child whose family immigrated one generation ago. For lack of a common language, she cannot communicate with her grand-parents who stayed back in their country. As she grows older, more and more questions come to her mind. By learning her parents’ language, she will also discover the culture and the country of her ancestors, and better understand where she comes from.

  • … and discover the Other

You may be in a large city or a small village, in the desert or the jungle, in an office or on the beach, abroad or in your own country. When the Other sees how you make the effort to address them in their own language, they will turn their head towards you, stare at you and start smiling. Whether your accent is barely detectable or clearly audible, whether your grammar is already perfect or still perfectible, the Other is moved by your respectful behaviour. They relax, open up, ready to share more personal thoughts now that a psychological filter has been removed. Language knowledge is an invaluable gate-opener towards the Other.

Nelson-Mandela-on-Language

Nelson Mandela on Language

 

  • Go on a trip

Be it for holidays, a stopover or a business trip, knowing the local language can change drastically your experience. Not knowing the language, have you ever been hostage to the exclusive grip of a guide monopolizing all exchanges with the outside world? Have you ever seen foreigners fall prey to a complete misperception of the host country because they could not communicate? Conversely, has the local language never made contact with locals, planned or not, much easier? It will sometimes enable you to find your way, have dinner at night, even get your passport back or go through customs.

  • … or go for good

Between 1990 and 2010, about 160 million migrants changed countries. Do you happen to be one of them? Whatever the reason to migrate, it is life-changing. Having a good command of the host language is a pre-requisite to social and economic integration. In some countries being granted a visa –let alone citizenship- is subject to a minimum level in the host country’s language. Parents sometimes struggle and prior knowledge of the language is a decisive advantage; children usually adjust much quicker and soon surpass their parents.

.

Global Migrations 2005-2010 (credit Abel, Sander et al)

Global Migrations 2005-2010 (credit Abel, Sander et al)

 

  • Be successful at one’s career

As globalization increases, there are few jobs and positions left that do not require at least one, maybe two or even three foreign languages. English has become the unchallenged lingua franca of science. In business, one of the job interviews could take place in a foreign language. Language skills will enable the applicant to stand out from multiple candidates with similar résumés, if she manages to put forward her knowledge of Japanese, Spanish or Bahasa at the right moment. As for incumbent employees, some see their career development hampered by their weaknesses in international communication.

  • … and start by succeeding in one’s studies

The role of languages at school increases as that in life. In Singapore for instance, pupils take one of the two most important exams of their lives at the end of Primary School; half of the subjects are languages –English and their mother tongue. Elsewhere in the world, language level might decide which high school students will attend, impact significantly the matriculation results or give a huge edge in a University application file.

ScreenHunter_136 Mar. 30 21.43

The language section of a resume found on LinkedIn, exceptional yet increasingly common

 

 

  • Live better, live longer

Language practice shares cerebral mechanisms with those involved in old-age neurological diseases. Thus it has been noted that Alzheimer’s disease sets off on average five years later for bilinguals than for monolinguals. Do your linguistic gym and live better!

  • … and increase your cognitive capabilities

Knowing several languages is the ability to switch from one to another by focusing on the language used while ‘inhibiting’ the others. Multi-linguals resort to this capability even in non-linguistic fields. They demonstrate a bigger intellectual flexibility, a better ability to deal with ambiguity or apparent contradiction, and can cope with information while ignoring unnecessary or spurious signals.

factorial-task (credit dimensional-overlap.com)

Bilinguals are more successful than monolinguals at classical Strimulus Response tests where the stimulus contains conflicting elements to be processed or ignored (credit dimensional-overlap.com)

 

  • Marvel at other languages

You may be amongst those passionate people for whom discovering any new language triggers jubilant amazement. What sounds has this new language produced? What ingenuity will it come up with to convey such or such concept? Will it be isolating, flectional, agglutinative? How will it address, for instance, the possessive, given that some languages will alter the possessor and others the possessed, or both, or neither, some resorting to an affix, others to a particle, and others still elegantly doing without any grammatical appendix? Isn’t it extraordinary that the French version of this post should have 5368 characters in 1006 words, the English one 4978 characters in 980 words, and the Chinese one only 2174 Chinese characters?

  • …and understand better one’s own language

One’s mother tongue remains for very long the obvious response, the one found without having to look for it, the only possible option that no one even thinks of challenging. But opening up to a second language puts things in perspective. Without a doubt an additional language enables to further one’s native language knowledge. The language structure that such and such language has adopted becomes more palatable when compared to others: the origin of words is unveiled, roles in the sentence take shape and the meaning of words is refined. If shadow and shade have the same translation in French, does it not prove blatantly that ombre has two distinct meanings? Even the infamous agreement of the French past participle when used with the avoir auxiliary can be better understood if one is introduced to the Hindi ergative.

Levels of language structure (credit glogster.com)

Various levels of language structure : Phonology – Morphology – Syntax – Semantics – Pragmatics (credit glogster.com)

 

And what are YOUR reasons?

To Read Chinese One Must Start Early

In any written language, words are subject to a triple association: sound, spelling and of course meaning. For example, the English word horse refers to the working and racing animal, is pronounced /hɔː(ɹ)s/ and spelled h-o-r-s-e. Anyone knowing how to read will be able to pronounce the word relatively correctly even if they have never seen it in writing before, as English is written in the Latin alphabetical script.

As explained by S. Dehaene, the reading process takes place here through the so-called phonological route: graphemes are mechanically converted into phonemes without resorting to deeper semantic representations.

cheval

The situation is quite different when it comes to Chinese. All Chinese languages are written in the unified system of Chinese characters. These Chinese characters are pronounced differently in each of the languages of the Chinese linguistic branch, for instance in Mandarin, the most widespread. Non-Chinese speakers often claim that the mapping of a Chinese character and its pronunciation is completely arbitrary; therefore it is said to be impossible to pronounce a character, even when knowing its meaning, unless its pronunciation has been learnt by rote beforehand.

The reality is slightly more subtle. Indeed, it is often necessary to learn simultaneously a word’s character and its pronunciation. But it must be stressed that 80% to 90% of Chinese characters are actually compound characters. They often consist of at least two subcomponents: a phonetic root (there are about 200 of them) and a semantic root (there are about 1000 of them). The phonetic root, often on the right side of the compound character, may give clues as to the pronunciation of the character. The semantic root, often on the left, tells about the word’s meaning, or at least the lexical category it belongs to. For instance, the Chinese character for a horse is马in simplified Chinese, and is pronounced  (third tone) in Mandarin.

The word for mother is pronounced mā ma (ma is doubled, the first one is pronounced with the first tone); the compound character for each ma has the semantic root of woman on its left and the phonetic root of horse on its right.

ma ma English

In a paper dated 2007, Bao Guo Chen and colleagues proved that the more arbitrary the mapping between meaning and sound or spelling, the higher the effects of the Age of Acquisition (AoA) on Chinese reading (for native speakers). Characters acquired early would be read with ease; characters acquired at a later stage would be more difficult to read if the correspondence between writing and sound or spelling was difficult to predict.

In other words, the more difficult it is to deduct meaning and spelling by reading a character, the more detrimental late acquisition is to quality and speed of reading.

Thus, within Chinese language and for native speakers, the impact of the Age of Acquisition increases with the arbitrariness of the mapping between meaning, pronunciation and spelling. What is the situation for alphabetical languages? By definition, reading an alphabetical language gives a very valuable clue as to what the pronunciation is going to be*.

Taken as a whole, the Chinese language is significantly more arbitrary than alphabetical languages in terms of mapping from character to sound and meaning. One can therefore assume that for Chinese even more so than for other languages, there is benefit in learning the language early so as not to be negatively impacted by the enhanced effects of the Age of Acquisition on reading.

 

 

 

 

 

To learn more about Chinese learning :
Chen, B. G., Zhou, H. X., Dunlap, S. and Perfetti, C. A. (2007).Age of acquisition effects in reading Chinese: Evidence in favour of the arbitrary mapping hypothesis. British Journal of Psychology, 98: 499–516. doi: 10.1348/000712606X165484

Stanislas Dehaene (2007). Les neurones de la lectureEditions Odile Jacob

 

Note : * The situation varies quite significantly from language to language. Italian or Turkish, for instance, are very easy to pronounce when reading a text, while a given spelling in English can be read in multiple ways (refer for instance to  toughthroughthorough, etc…)

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.

Spamish songs

Hola! Let’s Sing Together!

Five Spanish songs to inspire your little ones

What is your first impression of Spanish language? Passionate, mysterious, artistic…it could be a mixture of feelings.

With 329 million native speakers, Spanish ranks as the world’s No. 2 language in terms of the number of first speakers. Spanish is also the the fourth most widely spoken language around the globe, with at least 3 million native speakers in each of 44 countries.

But…maybe all these numbers are nonsense to the young ones. What they want from learning a new language is purely fun! Here we have gathered five Spanish songs from VivaLing coaches, let’s explore them together:

Numbers 1 to 20 ( Contar hasta 20)

Family members ( La familia dedo)

 

Parts of the body ( Cabeza, hombros, rodillas, pies)

 

Days of the week ( aprendiendo los dias de la semana)

 

The weather ( Que Llueva)