TEDx UTK

Posted on

On February 20, 2016 I will give a TEDx talk at the University of Tennessee in Knoxville. The venue chosen for this year is the McClung Museum of Natural History. There will be two sessions, morning and afternoon. I speak in the morning.

The event is sold out as of yesterday. They will stream it live and they will also upload the talks to YouTube afterwards. I will get back with you and give you the links when it is all said and done.

TEDxUTK

TEDx UTK is an independently organized event in the style of TED talks you may be familiar with from YouTube and their own site.

My talk is “Dracula and Multilingualism.” I will show how multilingualism can open doors and take you places, the connection between Dracula and multilingualism, as well as the connection between me and Dracula.  Continue reading »

The other talks sound really intriguing to me. I look forward to sitting in the audience and taking them all in. This is a complex event, which covers several disciplines.

I am getting nervous about it, so please remember me in your prayers all through this week. I would really appreciate your support in that way. I am passionate about language learning and I don’t want my message to be obscured by a poor delivery. I am doing my part by rehearsing my speech every day. Last week, I rehearsed it on location and got familiar with the technology we would use. Everything went well, but I need to do a good job on the day of the actual event. You know how it is… When they say your name, that’s when you are supposed to show up and do your thing. That’s what matters in the end.


Astonishing

Posted on

The other day, my son was telling a relative something and he used the word “astonishing.” I made a mental note of it, being very proud of his vocabulary, and trying to remember the last book we read where he might have seen the word “astonishing.” I could not. We read so many books.

NaBloPoMo2015

For the first time, I am posting every day for a month.

Other people present noticed he used the word as well, and seemed impressed.

It is astonishing when an eight-year-old uses the word “astonishing” in casual conversation, don’t you think? And I can only attribute that to our reading 1,000 books before kindergarten and about 30 minutes a day since their second week of life. Add to that turning off the TV and limiting screen time to only 30 minutes a day (usually YouTube videos or DVDs) and you have a recipe for building vocabulary.   Continue reading »

We read so many books, I am astonished that we can keep up with them all in terms of not being late at the library. We have a big basket and all the library books go in there. When we are done reading them, they go in the basket. If the kids take the books to other rooms, we usually lose them. I have had to do a frantic search around the house when they become due. But that has only happened three times, I think.

Why is vocabulary so important? It is the top predictor of future success in the lives of children. Some researchers would say it is the only predictor of success for later in life. No amount of money or early intervention programs or expensive preschools or any other factor plays a role as much as the amount of words a child hears in childhood.

As a side note, bilingual or multilingual children have a clear advantage here, because for every word a monolingual child speaks, the bilingual knows two. A trilingual child knows three and so on. Another language doubles the vocabulary and the odds of future success.


World Cup Soccer Series, Introduction

Posted on

As many of you know, in a few days, Brazil will welcome 32 soccer teams from as many countries, for the FIFA World Cup. The world’s most beloved sport, known as soccer in the USA, is called football everywhere else. I will call it soccer because I live in the United States.

I grew up in Romania, where soccer is a big deal. Girls did not play soccer. It was considered a male sport. It has been an adjustment to understand that here, in the USA, girls play soccer alongside the boys. And, generally speaking, soccer is viewed as a softer, less masculine sporting event compared to American football.

World Cup for Kids, Multicultural Kid Blogs

When it came time to consider P.E. options for our homeschool, in addition to all the hiking, biking and swimming we do with our children, we added soccer. I was glad to find a soccer program for our son at Berean Christian School in Knoxville. Their coach, Mike McDonald, is a former professional soccer player from England. He has also played professionally here in the USA. He has been in commercials with David Beckham, Zinedine Zidane and other greats.

Continue reading »

Why am I telling you all this?

My multilingual blogger friends have come up with a project called World Cup for Kids – a series of posts we will put together on the countries playing during the World Cup. If your child is excited about soccer, this would be a great way to introduce him to different cultures, foods, and languages.

You can even purchase a World Cup Activity Pack for children ages PK-4th grade.

I chose Italy. Italian is so close to Romanian. Besides, I have a great admiration for Italian anything, whether it is their language, food, architecture, music, art, cars, or vacation spots.

Every time La Squadra Azzurra plays during the World Cup, I will post about some aspect of Italian culture: a pizza recipe, a duet by two of my favorite singers, Eros Ramazzotti and Luciano Pavarotti, and some other fun things.

Be sure to follow the World Cup for Kids Pinterest Board, too.

Forza, Italia!


7 Ways Modern Technology Helps Me Raise Multilingual Children

Posted on

We live in the United States, but my European background inspired me to raise my children with at least the languages I am fluent in: Romanian, English and French. It’s one of the reasons I homeschool.

I have been speaking to them in Romanian since birth. I introduced them to French about a year ago, when I started speaking to them during our normal routine.

My husband and I made the decision to limit our children’s screen time to 30 minutes per day and, instead, read to them extensively. We read to them mostly in English, but I also read to them in Romanian and French books. Lately, I have been more intentional about reading to them at least one book per day in Romanian and French.

Petra Lingua online language learning for children

What I realize more and more though is that my kids need more immersion into the sounds of French and Romanian. So here are some ways that I have allowed media into my children’s life. I call it “screen time with a purpose.”

 

1. Free books online

The Internet – the ultimate modern technology – has put me in touch with multilingual bloggers who inspire me and share their own findings. I also research the Internet to find book titles and ideas and methods. I even found a free bilingual book on Little Bilingues.

When my kids’ vocabulary picks up, we will read more advanced books in French. I found some free ones on Children’s Books Forever.

 

2. Google searches

A simple Google search for French books helped me find Schoenhofs, the bookstore which boasts the largest selection of foreign language books in North America. It is located in Cambridge, MA, on the campus of Harvard University. For orders over $50, shipping is free. Some of their titles begin cost under $5. So affordable.

 

3. Amazon Prime

Amazon remains a great source of books as well, especially because we have a Prime membership. While Amazon cannot rival Schoenhofs in selection or prices, Amazon carries certain bilingual books which Schoenhofs does not.

 

4. Youtube.com

Youtube helps with French nursery rhymes (comptines) and cartoons like Caillou, Léo et Popi and Trotro. These are wholesome cartoons in French which use simple vocabulary and short sentences. The dialogues help my children hear French spoken in a conversation and retain it.

Very important note: I sit with them and translate expressions and repeat the French terms. Not for everything, but for the most important words and phrases. I do it in Romanian. That way, they practice two minority languages at one time.

The other day, my son was imitating Mousseline, Caillou’s sister, who was saying, “Moi, moi, moi!” while holding her empty bowl up. Then he looked at me and said, “Mousseline is so cute. What does ‘moi’ mean, mama?”

Bonus: they don’t even realize they are having a French lesson while watching.

Even though it helps them learn French, I still limit their cartoon time to 30 minutes a day. That way, if they watch some English cartoons as well, they spend a total of one hour daily in front of a screen. I counterbalance that with three hours spent outside every day.

 

5. Petra Lingua

Last but not least, I have found Petra Lingua to be a fun way to allow modern technology to teach my children French. Try their free sample lesson and you will see how much your children enjoy the experience. I will have a more thorough review of this site in July, so make sure you sign up for updates from Homeschool Ways on social media or via email.

So far though, this site has boosted my children’s confidence with French. My daughter told me the other day, “I understand THIS French, mama” as we were going through the fruit and vegetable lesson for the third time.

Repetition is the mother of learning, and children know it instinctively. They ask to repeat the same lesson several times and they love that I oblige. In the process, they have just memorized 20 French words.

 

6. Skype

We Skype with my family who live in Spain, Sweden and Romania. Even though my children still answer my relatives in English and I have to translate, now and then they will answer in Romanian – miracle of miracles! If we keep this up, I think we will see even more progress.

 

7. Radio France Internationale

Listening to RFI has become a daily routine in our home. Even if it is just Le Journal En Français Facile, which takes 10 minutes, I make it a point to turn it on when the kids are playing nearby. They don’t get any of it at this point, but, over time, they will start hearing more and more familiar words.

I remember learning Swedish while living in Sweden (from TV, radio, conversations at work and at language school) and not understanding anything. After a few weeks, I could catch a phrase here, a word there. In the meantime, I learned the rhythm and the melody of the Swedish language. Four months later, I could carry on a conversation with the natives.

So, based on that experience, I immerse them into the sounds of French. Hopefully, a few months from now, I will be able to report some major victories on another multilingual blog carnival. Until then, I say au revoir!

 

This post is included in a Raising Multilingual Children blog carnival hosted by Rita of Multilingual Parenting.


My Top 10 Strategies for Raising Polyglots

Posted on

Because of my European background,  I want to raise polyglots even though we live in the United States. It helps that I homeschool – it gives me time to speak and read to them in different languages. If they went to school for seven hours a day in the majority language (English), it would put every other target language (Romanian, French, Spanish) at a huge disadvantage.

This post is linked to

I focus on Romanian and French for now. I decided I would add Spanish to the mix only after we get a grip on these two. Their daddy is American, so it’s all English with him.

So here are my Top 10 strategies for raising polyglots:

1. I spoke to them in the target language from birth. When others around us must understand my conversation with my children, I switch to English. Even though I live and homeschool in the US, I use Romanian as the language of instruction as much as I can. I repeat new concepts and vocabulary in both Romanian and English to make sure they get it.

2. I read to them in the target language at least 20 minutes a day. At first, I translated from English into Romanian. As the books got more complex, I switched to reading in English from English books, in French from French books and in Romanian from Romanian books.

3. We sing and listen to music in Romanian and French. While they play or eat, we turn it on in the background. They really like it. I point out some words if they are interested.

4. We Skype regularly in Romanian with my family or friends. Any French-speaking kids out there that we can Skype with?

5. I brush up on my own language skills by reading books, newspapers and blogs in French (or other languages). I listen to the news in French.

6. We listen to Radio France International, especially Le Journal en Français Facile for the children’s sake.

7. My children stumbled upon Fireman Sam in French and Robocar Poli in Korean on youtube. They even found Postman Pat in Dutch. When a character is hanging on a cliff yelling HELP in another language, they get it. Caution: TV viewing harms small children’s brain. My children are three and almost six. We only allow them 30 minutes daily, if at all.

8. We look to make friends with people who speak French or Romanian in our area. It’s tough though. But I keep hoping.

9. When the children get older, we will take them on trips to Québec and France.

10. Once my children can write, we plan to find them pen pals. Hopefully, my community of multicultural bloggers will hook me up in a few years (hint, hint).

I take teaching languages seriously, but I’m relaxed about it. Children don’t need pressure. Through it all, I am thankful that homeschooling allows me the time to accomplish my goal of raising polyglots in the good ol’ USA.


Homeschooling and Multilingualism

Posted on

Before I say anything about the languages that I speak and teach to my children, let me make it clear that if I don’t have love (i.e. the genuine article, a.k.a. agape in Greek), I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal and who wants to do that for a living? Not me. Not in my home. Not in our homeschooling process.

If that gong and cymbal comparison sounds familiar, it’s because it is. I got it from a gentleman who spoke several languages himself and wrote a dozen small books which have been translated into many, many languages. I am referring, of course, to the Apostle Paul.

Comparing a loveless polyglot to a resounding gong is found in 1 Corinthians 13:1, to be precise. In this chapter, Paul talks about other accomplishments which mean very little in the absence of agape, but he starts out with multilingualism – a detail that has always resonated with me. Pun intended.

Having said all that, I must mention that am fluent in Romanian, French, and English. I have a good knowledge of Swedish, Spanish, Italian, and Latin. And I have basic knowledge of German, Norwegian and Portuguese. Here’s how…

I was born in Romania and lived there until I was 19. I took French in school (two hours a week, grades 5-12). I took English in school (two hours a week, grades 6-12). I also took Latin in the eighth grade. Two foreign languages plus Latin were mandatory subjects in Romania back then – not sure what they do now – but they did not have to be for me.

I have always loved languages and found it easy to learn words and grammar rules. Words to me are like toys to a child. I always want new ones.

Homeschooling and multilingualism

I majored in French and English at the University of Bucharest (UB). While there, I took Latin and Ancient French (Ancien Français) classes. It was incredibly helpful to see the evolution of French words from Roman times to the Middle Ages versus today.

Most people do not know that Romanian is a Romance language right along French, Italian, Spanish and Portuguese. We use the Roman alphabet, even though we are surrounded by nations who use the Cyrillic. So yes, I had some home advantage to all this language learning.

I learned Italian by watching Italian movies and TV – if you saw Michele Placido in La Piovra, you would, too – and by listening to Eros Ramazzotti’s music. It occurs to me that I have been a Ramazzotti fan since 1986 – almost three decades. His lyrics are deep poetry.

I learned Spanish on the go, during my lunch breaks in college, preparing for a mission trip to Ecuador in 1995. While there, immersion did the trick.

Swedish and Norwegian come from my three years of living in Sweden – I loved my Scandinavian period, especially the last year, when I lived in Stockholm. You might know this, Swedish vs. Norwegian is like British English vs. American English.

I took German classes here and there, from the TV, from conversation guides, from German friends. Swedish, Norwegian, German and English, of course, fall in the Germanic language family and the similarities help solidify new vocabulary.

Recently, I was watching an interview in Portuguese with English subtitles and I was relying heavily on reading the translation. At one point, I heard the words in Portuguese and the subtitles were delayed. I understood what was said and when the translation popped on the screen, it confirmed it. I tuned my ears and focused more. It was not hard to get it. I was very surprised, but I guess I should not be. Once you have most of the languages in one language family, it’s only a matter of imagination and fine tuning the endings of the words and some grammar rules.

My children are bilingual (Romanian and English) because daddy has always addressed them in English (he is American) and I have always talked to them in Romanian. I am working on adding French and Spanish to their repertoire. I sprinkle Latin here and there throughout the day, when I point out Latin roots of English words and how similar certain words are in many languages (e.g., rapid – English, rapid – Romanian, rápido – Spanish, rapide – French).

If my children went to “regular” school for seven hours a day, I would have very little time to expose them to other languages. That’s one of the big reasons why I chose to homeschool. Time. Time to pursue what we want, after we get basic academic skills out of the way.

For instance, the other day, we had to take a car trip right after breakfast to run an errand. We did our calendar and foreign language activities in the car. We said the days of the week and the months of the year in English, Romanian and French. Then, we counted to 20 in all three languages. I have written briefly about car schooling before.

That’s just another reason why I like homeschooling: learning happens everywhere you go, while you run errands and live your life together as a family, even when you are away from a desk. I linked to

Best4Future Wednesdays
Creative Kids Culture Blog Hop