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)

VivaLing English

Meet Danny, English Coach at VivaLing: “A day as a VivaLing coach is always memorable because my students make it that way”

VivaLing English

  1.  Why do you like teaching English?

When I teach I feel important and I want to share this emotion with my students, making them acknowledge how important we all are as people, as children. Teaching has become an art; the more creative you are, the better you become as an artist. When I teach, I feel like I can express myself in ways I couldn’t if I weren’t a teacher. I like teaching English because it’s a way of living; you learn to teach others how to learn: ”It’s the best job in the world.”

 

  1. What is the difference between a male coach and a female coach in your eyes?

I don’t think there’s a difference at all. I think there’s a reason for letting the common gender noun “teacher” wander around freely. The word “teacher” is universal, it’s a status that any woman or man can get a hold of if he/she is willing to embrace a pedagogical practice.

 

  1. Why do you like teaching online?

Well, mostly because it’s a great chance to explore different cultures, to be able to almost feel your student right there next to you, even though he may be living thousands of miles away from you. To be able to make a difference in students’ lives all over the world, while at the same time improving one’s self in an increasing virtual environment, it’s something that every teacher should aspire to.

 

VivaLing English

  1. What’s a day like for you as a VivaLing coach?

Whenever I’m in the process of creating a new lesson there’s a laughter pre-session going on.  I usually try to make my lessons funny while still keeping them up to that required methodological standard. A day as a VivaLing coach is always memorable because my students make it that way. It’s a day of sharing, learning, laughing and working to maintain a level of prosperity and professionalism together with my fellow coaches.

 

  1. What’s your childhood dream, and why do you choose to become a teacher?

When  I was a child, I always dreamed of becoming a chef, and I was about to do it right after finishing high school, but then something just snapped, something inside of me began pushing me towards the English teaching end and I didn’t know why. There’s a saying that everything happens for a reason, and now I know why.

 

VivaLing English

  1. Could you name some of your hobbies?

I could say that I love driving, I enjoy reading, cooking and, recently, I’ve discovered a new passion of mine, that of farming.

 

  1. If you are going to travel tomorrow, what is the next place you want to go?

I would definitely go to The Bahamas to enjoy a couple of peaceful,  relaxing days of fishing.

 

  1. If not a teacher, what will you do?

I’d try taking some cooking classes and give it a shot, or maybe build on agriculture for a change.

 

Book your session with Danny or any other fantastic VivaLing Coach NOW!

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!

English coach VivaLing

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

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

English coach VivaLing

How long have you been an English teacher for?

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

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

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

 

Why do you like teaching online?

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

English coach VivaLing

 

What food do you prefer?

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

What is favourite movie?

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

Which place do you like best in England and why?

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

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

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

Man vs Robot - VivaLing

Teaching Languages to Children : Man vs. Robot

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

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

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

 

Man vs Robot - VivaLing

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

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

 

Man vs Robot - VivaLing 2

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

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

 

Meet Ping – Mandarin Coach at VivaLing

Mandarin Coach VivaLing

 

My name is Ping Jiao. I come from the Shandong province, an eastern Chinese province on the Yellow Sea. Shandong is known for its Taoist and Confucian heritage. It was also home to the ancient state of Qi, the last kingdom conquered by Qin Shi Huang, who proclaimed himself China’s first emperor in 219 B.C. I live here now.

I majored in Chinese Teaching as a foreign language at university. I have a bachelor degree in Chinese. I have been a Chinese teacher since I graduated, nearly 5 years ago.

Chinese is so beautiful and this is what convinced me to become a language teacher today. I love the tone and melody of Chinese as well as the characters that look like drawings. I am so happy to share it to the world.

Why do you like teaching online?

Online teaching is the future: it is much more convenient that traditional teaching. What I like the most is that I can share so many tools and materials with my students: songs/pictures/videos…there is no limit!

Ping mandarin coach VivaLing

What are your hobbies?

I love language and art. I like painting, singing, playing instruments. I like playing the 古琴Guqin, which is the oldest instrument in China. A Guqin is like a friend: it’s sound is very low, and it creates a very intimate atmosphere. It’s perfect when you have two or three friends sitting together, drinking some tea and singing songs while playing the Guqin. I love that!

I also love Classical music

What is your favourite dish?

I love eating Scrambled eggs with tomatoes (西红柿炒鸡蛋). It’s a typical sweet and sour Chinese dish. I love it! I also enjoy “Cola chicken” (乐鸡翅) which is basically chicken cooked with cola. This is not Chinese cuisine but I like eating Western dishes as well! 🙂

 

chinese cuisine

 

What is your favourite movie?

My favourite movie is “Monkey King — hero is back” (大圣归来), which is an action movie with Jacky Chan.

What is your favourite place on earth?

My hometown is the best place for me, because it is old and it has a fantastic historical heritage. It’s a small city and I like it like that. I don’t like big cities. The landscape here is also really beautiful: we are surrounded by forests and rivers. I love walking and spending my time in the countryside.

 

 

chinese coach VivaLing

The Future of Education: What Will Education Look Like in 2025?

According to the professionals who participated in the new 2025 Education Innovation Survey Report *, in 2025 the key methods of engaging with material and content will evolve to be real-time video collaboration and mobile devices. What are the 5 key trends for the future of education? VivaLing would like to share the main takeaways of this report with you.

 

future-of-education

 

  • The ability to learn anywhere and at any time

Accessibility for all those who want to learn is considered to be the most important factor in the future of education success. Schoolprofessionals from around the globe (25%) ranked accessibility above all other factors; this view was most pronounced in respondents from the UK (31%). In the context of education, accessibility refers to the geographical aspect: that distance is overcome in order to deliver education to where it is needed. Convenient access to education is also factored in: that students and professionals have the ability to learn anywhere and at any time.

  • Real-time video collaboration with real teachers

67% of school professionals consider the focal point of education delivery to be the teachers and lecturers themselves.  However, the use of remote learning technologies in teaching is expected to rise significantly: 53% of professionals believe real-time video collaboration and mobile devices will be the primary way students engage with content by 2025. Despite this shift, many professionals still believe that the teachers and lecturers will continue to play an important mentoring role in 2025.

By allowing an engaging, accessible, and cost-effective approach to education, technology opens up the prospect of higher education, personalized courses, and teacher-training to a much broader population.”

  • Improving the quality of teacher-learning, and personalized and contextual learning should be the main focus

A majority of teaching professionals across the globe are convinced that the main focus, after deregulation and revised compliance standards, should be on improving the quality of teacher learning. Those in North America (18%) and in India (21%) feel that the creation of a more personalized and contextual learning would also be worth focusing on.

 

factors-elearning-the-future-of-education

 

  • More online access to education materials

According to 47% of the people interviewed (the majority being from North America and the UK) online access to content and lectures is what students and parents are demanding more of, from the   institutions.

  • More resource sharing online and self-learning for teachers

In 2025, resource sharing via online channels will better facilitate teachers’ professional development. School professionals see teachers sharing resources within online environments and becoming more independent in identifying their own professional learning needs.

NB: This survey covers mainly North America, United Kingdom, Australia, New Zealand and India. The rest of Asia is not covered.  However the trend towards online education in Asia is much stronger, especially in China.

* 2025 Education Innovation Survey Report by Polycom. More than 1,800 people from a range of professions within the education industry participated in the survey, with more than 80% above the age of 30. The majority of response comes from North America, United Kingdom, Australia, New Zealand and India. The majority of participants were management and c-suite (26%), educators (47%) and those in administrative roles (27%).

http://www.polycom.com.au/forms/education-2025-thankyou.html

 

Chaos inside My Child’s Second Language – Should I Worry ?

Have you ever felt disconcerted by the unpredictable and chaotic progress of your child’s second language acquisition ? Dazzling progress seems to be followed by periods of slower growth, sometimes even laborious, not to mention times of regression. She seemed to master this notion, and all of a sudden she stumbles where she never would have in the past. Why does he now treat this irregular verb as a regular one ? And why does she no longer pick up any of these expressions that were so obvious to her previously ? But there are more twists to the story : soon afterwards, he will surprise you by unexpected expressions that will amaze you again.

Second language acquisition is as chaotic as, for example, the weather. Do you remember the butterfly imagined by Lorenz which modified the weather in Dallas by flapping its wings in Tokyo ? A seemingly trivial and barely perceptible action could have considerable consequences in a totally unpredictable fashion and far from where it originated. Even the simplest of complex systems, the double pendulum (or pendulum with two degrees of freedom) behaves in a way which is extremely hard to anticipate. Not that proper equations do not exist, but the system is so sensitive that any dynamic forecast becomes impossible. Look at the movement of the red ball of the double pendulum variant shown below when the main pendulum is made to swing. Forecasting its trajectory is just impossible.

 

Language learning is itself a complex process. It is remarkably well described by the Dynamic Systems Theory (DST) that was first introduced to linguistics less than twenty years ago. Second language acquisition depends indeed on a large number of cognitive and social variables : quantity of language input and output, feedback, the learner’s intrinsic or extrinsic motivation, the learner’s interactions with individuals, groups, or surrounding society, the learner’s first and second language knowledge, learning history and duration … and the list continues. These variables are not only numerous but also interconnected through rich and complex dynamics.

Learning is highly non-linear : the effects are not proportional to the forces applied. Consider now hiking as a metaphor for a linguistic journey. During the hike milestones will be crossed and left behind one after the other. As for language learning outcomes, they are not a nice orderly series of elements mastered one after the other. They are a dynamic set, the components of which sometimes overlap, scattered over a large “learning” surface area filled with pitfalls hard to avoid and overcome, or mountains hard to climb. Each new learning stage is the result of combined variables and influences applied to the previous stage. Lastly, the learning journey is closely linked to the child’s neurological, physiological and psychological starting point.

Are you now convinced ? The fine path of Second Language Acquisition is by and large unpredictable. In the case of children, however, the end state is statistically more likely to be a good command of the language. Chaos by itself is therefore not to be feared, but tamed. The key point to remember for the educator, as is well known, is to customize the teaching to the largest extent possible to the learner, their history, their present state ; to react with the utmost attention to each development and to guide them towards their ultimate objective. The main take away for the learner and their family is, once the right educator is found, to never get discouraged and conversely to always persevere. This is what you are already doing, isn’t it ? This will lead your child from chaos to actual learning, from struggle to success.

 

For more details :

De Bot, K., Lowie, W. & Verspoor, M. (2007). A dynamic systems theory approach to second language acquisition. Bilingualism : Language and Cognition, 10(1), 2007, 7-21.

 

 

Your Child’s Journey with VivaLing

Start early, learn well, don’t forget : these are the very simple stages of your child’s Journey with VivaLing. Find out more below about the theoretical framework developed by VivaLing and how it is implemented in order to achieve results. You can also read the related posts throughout our VivaLing blog.

 

The VivaLing framework v2.6 English Image

How language teaching methodologies have changed, and why they matter

Parents, have you ever wondered which pedagogical method your kids’ language teachers use ? They have changed drastically over time, catering to different needs – and achieving uneven results.

Many years ago, a Russian teacher was telling his young students about one of his best-appraised former classmates. He was a Frenchman learning Russian, who had perfect grammatical command and boasted an unmatched vocabulary. He only had one very small issue – which incidentally had never impacted his academic progress in any way: he was completely unable of holding any conversation whatsoever in Russian.

Our unfortunate student was just another victim of the most traditional pedagogical system used in second language teaching: the Grammar Translation method. The focus is on formal knowledge of the language and, more specifically, its grammar. The learning is deductive: master of his class, the teacher presents grammar rules and gives his students exercises for practice. Translation is among the most favored activities. This way of teaching does not aim at making the language a communication tool at all. It is rather similar to teaching classical or liturgical languages such as Ancient Greek, Latin, and to some extent Sanskrit. The approach, predominant in 19th century Europe, can only be found today in isolated pockets.


the-lady-teacher (credit scottthornbury.wordpress.com)

he audio-lingual method, born in the middle of the 20th century in the US, is based on behaviorist theories. With a great focus on oral and aural aspects, it undertakes to teach languages through repetition and drill. A variation of it, developed in the UK, is the PPP method : Presentation (of a concept), Practice (by exercises), and Production (by students). Sentences given by the teacher are repeated multiple times and learned by heart so as to develop automaticity. Exercises typically consist in variations of these sentences, for instance by substituting a word.

The audio-lingual approach fell quickly under fire from critics and had been by and large discredited since the 70s. As Harmer (2001) points out, “Audio-lingual methodology seems to banish all forms of language processing that help students sort out new language information in their own minds.”  It has nevertheless survived in numerous parts of the world.

Across the Chinese world, for instance, rote learning and repetition are still widespread at the expense of communication. Shumei Zhan (2009) reminds us that oral communication for English-learning Chinese remains very challenging, “even though they might be able to read Shakespeare’s works in original after years of study at school”. The Chinese also know how to laugh about it. A joke goes that one day, a young girl learning English falls off her bike and is stuck in a pit. An American comes by and asks : “Hello, how are you ?”. The little girl answers mechanically: “I am fine, thank you, and you ?”. The American, slightly puzzled, replies that he is fine too and goes away.

confucius institute at Betong municipality (credit english hanban)

Mandarin class at the Confucius Institute at Betong municipality (credit hanban)

In counter-reaction to the audio-lingual method, the 1970s saw the emergence of Communicative Language Teaching methods, where communication is not only the goal of but also the method of learning. The new educational paradigm uses implicit learning in authentic contexts, and not explicit learning in an artificial environment. Grammar is no longer taught, sentences are no longer repeated over and over again. Learning takes place through communication events such as conversations. Defined in a very flexible manner and without any real theoretical foundation, communicative teaching methods give birth to numerous variations. One such variation, a distant relative, builds on non-linguistic tasks to be carried out in the target language.

 

The first generation of Communicative Language Teaching also received its good share of criticism. Its effectiveness, to start with, has been questioned. Dornyei (2011) reminds us that pure implicit teaching of foreign language, including immersion, has not really lived up to expectations. Cultural barriers have also emerged: in the Confucian world, for example, removing the teacher from their central role to being a simple facilitator is not well taken. Finally, CLT does not meet needs as they are still expressed in many countries: passing exams which themselves focus on grammar and vocabulary.

Language Teaching Methodologies

 

CLT is undergoing significant change. In one of its most interesting developments, Dornyei advocates Principled Communicative Approach (PCA) which we will tackle in a future post. PCA combines implicit and explicit teaching in a structured way in order to achieve communicative competence alongside linguistic accuracy.

 

There is no single methodology that can consistently be rated the best. The correct approach is the one that meets the learner’s objectives, and that can be implemented in the learner’s environment. Anyway, as Canagarajah (1999) points out, what teachers practise in language classrooms rarely resembles any specific method as it is prescribed in manuals.

 

 

For more information :

–          Dörnyei, Z. (2013). Communicative Language Teaching in the twenty-first century: The ‘Principled Communicative Approach’. In J. Arnold & T. Murphey (Eds.), Meaningful action: Earl Stevick’s influence on language teaching (pp. 161-171). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

–          Shumei Zhang (2009). The Role of Input, Interaction and Output in the Development of Oral Fluency. English Language Teaching. December 2009

–          Richard Badger, XiaoBao Yan (2009). To what extent is communicative language teaching a feature of IELTS classes in China. IELTS

–          Jack C. Richards (2006). Communicative Language Teaching today. Cambridge University Press

–          Jeremy Harmer (2001), The Practice of English Language Teaching.Essex: Pearson Education Ltd.