What's this blog all about?

Hi, I'm Nicola - welcome to a blog about family travel around the world, without leaving the UK.
I love travel adventures, but to save cash and keep my family's carbon footprint lower, I dreamt up a unique stay-at-home travel experience. So far I've visited 110 countries... without leaving the UK. Join me exploring the next 86! Or have a look at the "countries" you can discover within the UK by scrolling the labels (below right). Here's to happy travel from our doorsteps. See www.nicolabaird.com for info about the seven books I've written, a link to my other blog on thrifty, creative childcare (homemadekids.wordpress.com) or to contact me.

Tuesday, 20 September 2011

Using locals to speak a new language

This blog is about family travel around the world without leaving the UK. This post is by Nicola Baird 


What's the easiest way to learn a language? I reckon it's necessary to listen very hard to become fluent, and then to try the words and phrases, day after day. I think it is much easier if you can let your subconscious - that bit of your brain that demands habit (mine likes coffee when I wake up) -  kick in. But I don't find learning languages very easy.


"Quel'qu'n"  this may not be spelt right, but I distinctly remember learning the phrase "is anyone in there" after staying for a couple of nights in a Paris apartment with a French family. Because the apartment was crowded there was a serious danger of walking into someone using the bathroom, so the phrase took on ridiculous importance.


In the same way hearing "mira" being repeatedly said by a babysitter dandling my baby daughter helped me learn the Spanish word for look.


Now that my 13 year old has learnt a second language (due to travelling out of the UK all summer, shh not to mention much about this on this blog and besides it was a one-off, and it's Solomon Islands pijin which very few people speak in the UK) I'm trying to encourage her to use the same listen and try techniques to get herself a Spanish GCSE. She actually made the fluent breakthrough after six weeks in the Solomons, and then one rainy day spent making baskets and toys out of coconut leaves (see pic above). And if you ever want to visit that place (the largest uninhabited island in the Pacific), know as Tetepare, see the info here.


Spanish is a fab language, I wish I spoke it. But my efforts over the years mostly in the UK - evening classes, tapes, plus short visits (pre-children & pre-blogging days) to Mexico and also Spain - have probably helped. But my know-how is very weak, so I cannot help my daughter build up her Spanish voccab, essential to get that GCSE which will give her a ticket to uni...


But there's a clever trick you can do too, whatever language you want to speak - use visitors to the UK.


Here in London there are loads of Spanish speakers so I've arranged for Lola to meet up with a Chilean family and help mum cook supper for the two boys one evening after school. 


Hopefully she'll hear phrases like "is anyone in the loo"  or "would you like some more" (all in Spanish!) that will never leave her brain. Actually I'd like to learn like this, but would prefer to go to a tapas bar, so somehow haven't got around to sorting out my language needs. 


If anyone's got any ideas about non-classroom ways of learning a language at home please share them here... Thanks.

1 comment:

kokorako said...

Loads of ideas collected from friends on Facebook - thanks all, very inspiring... shared below.

Diana: Use your kids school languagetext books. Cameron's Spanish has come in handy for my work!

Sarah: Tapes from the BBC - listen while washing up.

Penny: When i was in israel and still grappling with the language, i just had the radio on and tried to absorb. I listened to comedy sketches from the 70s on the radio - the Israeli equivalent of monty python. Eventually I started to get the gags and laugh along too.

Helen: BBC news online comes in different languages eg http://www.bbc.co.uk/mundo/

BBC Mundo - Inicio
www.bbc.co.uk

Priti: Foreign films on dvd. Sometimes you can chose language subtitels