Language Show Live is the biggest event in the calendar for language learners, language teachers and everyone who loves languages. There are demonstrations, seminars and exhibitors covering every aspect of language learning.
We will be on Stand A20 with games for children to play. And enter our “Spot the Language” competition to win a prize.
Pop by and say hello to the Speak Like A Team. This is a great opportunity to chat about how we can supplement your work in school. We’re also always pleased to meet those who are interested in working with us.
Mums and dads are welcome to stop by and let their children play on the stand. We’ll advise on ways to get your kids on the road to language learning. You can also recommend a school where you’d like us to open a language club.
Fascinating article in the New Yorker on being a hyperpolyglot, someone who speaks dozens of languages.
We often talk about becoming bi or multilingual and the benefits of speaking two or more languages. In this case, the article focuses on one particular person who has a command of twenty-two living languages and six classical or endangered ones.
I can run 100 metres. And so can Usain Bolt. He does it somewhat differently. Almost like a superhuman. It makes sense to view this hyperpolyglot, Luis Miguel Rojas-Berscia, in the same way.
The most exciting thing is that it shows what humans are capable of. Our aim – and the aim we have for our children – should be to complete the 100 metres as well as we can. In other words, becoming comfortable in two or three languages. Saying we shouldn’t put on our trainers and go for a run because we’ll never be as fast as Usain Bolt is silly.
There’s a lot more in the article than this and it makes for a really interesting read. For now, try an app, try a few words on holiday, enrol your children in a language club. We can all do it, just maybe not as well as the world champion.
While your five year old is watching Paw Patrol or complaining about being bored in the summer holidays, it’s hard to imagine that one day they’ll be looking for a rewarding career in a job market that will be hard to define.
A Press Association report just released shows a dramatic decline in applications for language degrees at UK universities. It doesn’t come as a surprise to us at Speak Like A Native that approximately 25,000 people studied European languages in 2007 and only 17,000 enrolled in 2017.
Mark Herbert, director of schools at the British Council explains the effects of this.
“We need to nurture a new generation of fluent speakers, particularly in important languages such as Spanish, Mandarin, Arabic, French and German, which our analysis shows will be crucial for the UK’s success post-Brexit.
“Having language skills and an understanding of other cultures gives graduates an advantage in the labour market, particularly when they are competing against people from other parts of the world who often speak excellent English – and have several other languages too.”
Unfortunately, we do not see any great signs of political will or investment to change this. This means that languages are becoming less and less important and in 20 years’ that five year old will discover that many opportunities are closed to them.
As Stuart Rubenstein, Managing Director of Speak Like A Native says.
“Developing language skills takes time so start your children now and let them enjoy the benefits later.”
Parents are very honest with us about their own language learning experiences and what they think their children should (or shouldn’t) be doing. We visit primary schools, chat to PTAs, attend summer and winter fairs and listen to opinions wherever we go.
We always meet those who have had a very positive language learning experience themselves. This can be related to their school days or based on living, working or travelling abroad. Quite simply, they see the benefits and want their children to have the same.
Then there are those who regret not having the opportunity when they were younger to learn without fear or stress. Many of these people tell us the language they wish could they speak and how much they want their children to have the chance to build the foundations as early as possible. If being embarrassed whenever you’re away because you have to rely on everybody you meet to speak English then you might be one of these parents.
Then there are those who are fearful that because they were labelled bad at languages (usually at school) their own children will suffer in the same way. Of course, they hope this isn’t the case. Often we’re told by honest adults how they try to use the language skills they have on holiday but just freeze.
And finally, there are the parents who see no benefits in language learning and can’t picture the benefits for their children.
Have we missed a “category”?
Which one best describes you?
If you want your child’s primary school to have a Speak Like A Native language club… just get in touch.
It really does take a lot of time and effort. Even those who start young, find they have to take refresher courses and practise abroad or their hard-won skills slip away.
There’s always someone out there making the effort on your behalf, who will understand English when they pick you up on holiday in their taxi or sign for your football club. Let them put in the effort.
We’ll probably all speak the same language one day. Or, at least, have a chip implanted in our brains enabling live translating.
A little time spent on Google searching for real reasons not to learn a second (or third) language is quite a fruitless task. Remove the word “not” and you’ll have a busy few weeks reading lists, academic peer reviewed papers and anecdotal blogs… it’s all there.
But what’s the point in learning languages? Technology is almost there so we can have simultaneous conversations in two different languages…
Yes, it’s true that translation tools have made incredible progress recently and will continue to impress and amaze with what they can do. But it’s what they can’t do that lies at the heart of language learning.
You need your own voice to get across not just meaning but how you feel about something. Try saying “thank you” in different ways.
Genuinely giving thanks
Never forget that a translated meaning is only part way there to intended meaning.
And then there are the words that just don’t make it from one language to another.
This article in the Guardian has some fun examples of words that don’t translate into English. Worth a read.
Language is not perfect. It’s invented by humans and we’re not perfect. Understanding each other is best done by learning about each other and learning each other’s languages.
Well, the World Cup is now over. France, the winners. England, an honourable fourth.
As the final whistle blew and the media took their places to interview the emotional and exhausted players, sitting in front of our TVs in the UK, most of us would expect the French (or Croatian, Swedish, Argentinian etc), players to immediately respond in English. Not always fluent or idiomatic but definitely understandable. How incredible is this?
How many of the England players would you expect to be able to conduct themselves as eloquently in a post-match interview in Spanish, French or German?
There may be many reasons for this. But the most important point is that languages are not just for linguists. They’re for footballers too. And everybody else! It’s about communication needs and the simple fact that we all have the potential to be multilingual.
Let’s add a further point that the France team includes those who play in all the major European leagues. It’s likely that some of them can speak French, English, Spanish (or Italian or German), as well as an extra mother tongue that they grew up with.
It might well be that as languages open up opportunities to travel and live abroad then this develops the mind, builds confidence and leads to greater levels of creativity and self-belief.
If you want England to win a future World Cup then get your children learning languages now*.
These are some key quotes we have taken from the report.
In primary schools, the national picture is one
of stasis, with little development since last year.
The lack of consistency between primary schools, in a context where secondary schools take pupils from many different feeders, is one of the barriers to smooth transition and hinders coherent progression in learning.
Just over a third (34%) of state secondary schools report that leaving the European Union is having a negative impact on language learning, either through student motivation and/or parental attitudes towards the subject.
There has been a decline in numbers taking French and/or German, but Spanish has increased rapidly over the past few years to become England’s second modern language. On current trends, it looks set to overtake French at A level by 2020 and at GCSE in the early 2020s.
Around 80% of (primary) schools allocate on average between 30 minutes and up to one hour per week for language learning, although comments indicate that this is often irregular or eroded by other priorities.
We believe that working closely with schools is the only way to increase the time KS1 and KS2 children are exposed to a new language.