Not everyone LOVES Speekee, I as was rightly reminded today by a homeschooling mom who had seen our plug that “98% of homeschool moms LOVE (not just like) Speekee”, but I am sure its many language learning components are a major factor in its enduring appeal.
So many components would surely not have been put into place without the news which came our way – during our first product brainstorms in 2007 – that the UK government was planning to make language learning mandatory in primary schools by 2010. We found ourselves with a lot of boxes to tick if we were going to be able to make Speekee a perfect fit for the primary sector, what with all the strict stipulations laid down by government language advisors for ‘good practice’. (It was well worth the effort we put in though; those advisors really knew their subject!)
Yet how times have changed.
It seems the government’s plan is in doubt, at best, in tatters at worst. Many – I don’t know how many – of the MFL coordinators across the UK have now lost their jobs due to recent cuts. So at a stroke coordination of language learning in primary schools has taken a big hit. And where does that leave the children? Without any language learning options at all? Well, not quite. If language learning at primary level is dying it is not quite dead yet…
As Suzi explained to me last night, some schools really took to languages when the opportunity came along. Those trailblazers are still blazing their trails, and they are fortunate to count on the likes of Suzi – enthusiastic, pioneering linguists who are working with schools, teachers and trainee teachers to keep alive language learning for those that probably need it most.
And we all know – don’t we?! – that young children are BRILLIANT language learners. Let them have the opportunity to show it!
From Wikipedia: “The Carnival of Cádiz is most famous for the satirical groups of performers called chirigotas… The chirigotas are well-known witty and satiric groups that train for the whole year to sing about politics, topics in the news, and everyday circumstances, while all of the members wear identical costumes”
Young Joe didn’t train for a whole year (!) but his performance is not half bad! Joe’s the boy first in on the left. He and his classmates are dressed as “peregrinos”, travellers on the Camino de Santiago.
Well done my son! The locals love this foreign boy getting stuck into a great Cádiz tradition (-;
It was finally time to watch the video that my 3yo daughter has been waiting on. She has waited and waited for the week when we would finally be able to watch the “El Zoo” episode. She loves animals, all kinds, and this was probably her favorite episode.
During drill time, we printed out the zoo animal worksheet on the Speekee website. I would say the animal names in Spanish in random order, asking my 10 year old what the English names were. Then I would say the names in English and let her say them in Spanish. We appreciated that most of the animal names were very similar in both languages, such as “elephant” and “un elefante”.
This is a little experiment. Before looking up the dictionary definition for Linguist I am going to express some thoughts of my own… let’s see if they coincide.
Yesterday I was talking with some friends about my daughter’s obvious skill in languages. Maggie is bilingual, and so is my son. But although Joe’s Spanish is as perfect as can be – and with a much commented on local accent to boot – his interest in languages is far outstripped by that of his sister.
Indeed, Maggie is always playing with words. She watches UK TV and mimics the accents she hears (long gone are the days when you only hear the ‘Queen’s English’ on UK television; these days you are more likely to get a thick accent than not). She is often to be found writing on a blackboard in her bedroom. And I cannot imagine Joe doing private Arabic lessons, as Maggie does.
SHE JUST LIKES LANGUAGE. AND SHE’S A NATURAL.
In the conversation with my (Spanish) friends I explained that I do not consider myself a linguist in the mould of my daughter. No, I would describe Jim’s linguistic skill as moderate in comparison. My feeling is that a true linguist goes to a dictionary to check a new word he hears; wants to know the root of it etc.
While my Spanish is of a very high standard, I put that mostly down to time spent with it rather than to linguistic genius!
And the definition of Linguist? Let’s have a look at what Dictionary.com says…
1. a specialist in linguistics
2. a person who is skilled in several languages; polyglot
Interesting. That pretty much confirms what I suspected!
This panel of language experts are businesswomen (wot, no men?) at the cutting edge of their profession. Here are some samples of the language they are using as they discuss language learning for children:
Connect the dots; Globalisation; Changing educational landscape; Communicate with many different people; Empowering experience; Lifelong learning; Piece of the puzzle; Multitasking; Global and local; Total human being
All of this can be summed up by a single word: INTEGRATION
Speekee is ‘on the case’, so look out for some changes in the near future as we seek to make Speekee TV an even more interactive experience than it already is. You can be sure that we will!
Another week finds us reviewing and drilling facts from the La Casa episode. Numbers up to 20; we threw in numbers up to 30, using a catchy song that we found. Speaking of songs, they are one of the things we enjoy about Speekee. The songs make learning easier and more fun.