Multilingual Resources for Kids

I am on the cusp of a new season in my life. This autumn, as my eldest prepares to transfer to the university and move away from home, I will be returning to a brick and mortar classroom full time. I will be working with English Language Learners as the K-12 specialist. As such, I am on a quest to build a multilingual classroom library.

 My students come from all over the world and are a diverse population of students. They speak a variety of native languages such as; Spanish, Chinese, Russian, Vietnamese, Palauan, Urdu, and many more!

Today, I highlight a few of my recent multilingual resources that I have discovered. I am excited to share these with my students in a few months.

Multilingual Story Books

Dylan’s Birthday Present

Dylan’s Birthday Present by Victor Dias de Oliveira Santos is an adorable story about a young polygot who desires a pet chicken for his birthday. The illustrations are a delight and children will be drawn into the creative and out-of-the-box story.

Dylan and his best friend, Emma, live in the USA. Both children have parents who came to the United States from foreign countries. The parents speak to their children in different languages. Dylan’s parents speak Portuguese, Ukrainian, and English while Emma’s parents speak to her in Zulu and English. As a result, the two kids became polyglots, people who speak more than a single language.

Available on Amazon in print and Kindle.

As children enjoy the story, they will identify with the characters, realize that having friends is a good thing, and become inspired to study (realizing that skills acquired by study can be very beneficial), and perhaps learn a new language.

The Fabulous Lost & Found and the Little Chinese Mouse

The Fabulous Lost & Found … series by Mark Pallis and Peter Baynton is another delightful story and it is available in many different languages. I had the pleasure to review the The Fabulous Lost & Found and the Little Chinese Mouse.

The story features a little mouse who enters the Lost & Found. The little mouse speaks only Chinese though and thus the proprietors – Mr. & Mrs. Frog – endeavor to figure out what the mouse is has lost.

There is a special magic about learning words another language and using them: I truly think it warms the heart. ~ Mark Pallis

The target age is 2-7, but my teen daughter enjoyed the story and remarked, “I actually know all the characters!” The unique ‘story-centered’ language learning method combines humor and emotion to gently introduce kids to 50 simple and fun Chinese words and phrases. 

Available on Amazon in print and Kindle.

Multilingual Music

Una Idea Tengo Yo is the latest album by Latin Grammy winners Andrés and Christina – the music duo of 123 Andrés. The eleven songs feature upbeat Spanish language songs that seek to answer a child’s curious questions about science, technology, engineering, and math.

Available in CD or MP3

123 Andrés combine a broad sampling of rhythms and Latin American music genres with familiar tunes. The Farmer in the Dell, for example, becomes El Agua y el Viento with new lyrics to edu-tain children as they learn how water and wind affect the Earth’s topography.

Other STEM topics include the four seasons, outer space, matter, animal habitats, light & sound, and much more. Lyrics and translations are available online.

Frame from video for Diez Perritos

For more bilingual children’s music, check out my earlier post about  José-Luis Orozco.

You can also find their STEM videos on YouTube or visit their website 123 Andrés to see their other releases, including an adorable book Hello Friend, Hola Amigo!

Language Learning Resources: Linguacious

As we all adjust to this new normal, many of us are finding we have more time. More time to spend with our immediate family, tackle projects we have put off, and even pick up new skills. If you are like me, I have enjoyed the extra time at home so that I can focus on my language learning goals.

I received a copy of the book and cards in exchange for an honest review. Some of the links in this post are affiliate links through which I will earn a small commission. The reviews are done based on my own opinions of the quality of the products, not because of the commission I receive from your purchases.

Linguacious – One Language at a Time

I love finding new language learning materials and I was overjoyed to discover the diversity of languages offered by Linguacious. Their print materials – books, games, and posters – available in 57 languages presently!

Our dream is simple: to ensure that all kids in this world can learn to love languages and have fun learning them. We want to publish our products in as many languages as our lifetimes will allow and help kids to become proud of their linguistic heritage and to appreciate the linguistic heritage of others.

The Linguacious team

Bokmål – Our Heritage Language

Language learning has always been very important in our family. Since the kids were toddlers, we have incorporated languages into our curriculum. Though Mandarin has been the primary focus, we have also desired to learn Norsk Bokmål,  our ancestral language.

Our Scandinavian heritage has also been an important part of our homeschool. As members of Sons of Norway, we strive to incorporate many cultural skills and traditions into our home.

I recently had the opportunity to try out the Bokmål resources currently available from Linguacious. Though presently only one book and flashcard set is available for purchase, their goal is to publish their materials in as many languages as possible.

Little Polygot Books and Flashcards

I enjoyed sitting with the Little Polygot book, At Home / Hjemme, and studying the vocabulary on my own. The Around the Home flashcards included much more vocabulary however and were thereby more challenging for me.

Finding time to study and develop my Norwegian language skills is sometimes difficult. I plan to carry the cards with me when I head out for errands or long drives in the car so they are handy.

The flashcards can also be used to play numerous games to make language learning both fun and challenging. Kids can also play several printable games with the books.

What I love best about the materials published by Linguacious are the audio files. Every word featured in the books and on the cards is accompanied by a QR code that will play an audio recording of a native speaker upon scanning it with your phone. You simply download the free app and scan as you go. Simple!

The audio files are also available on their website and are presented in alphabetical order in English (same order as in book) on the left column, and the equivalent word in the target language is found on the right column.

I was impressed to learn that Concordia language villages has recently started using their Norwegian books and flash cards for their Norwegian immersion programs. 

Where to Buy Linguacious

Linguacious is giving away two copies of their Scandinavian language materials – Swedish, Finnish, or Norwegian. To enter the giveaway, you must have a shipping address in the USA, UK, Germany, Italy, France, Spain, or Canada. Those in the USA can win either a flashcard deck or a book. Those outside of the USA can win only books. 

a Rafflecopter giveaway

To purchase directly, use code LINGUA202015 to get 15% off on their materials, until May 1, 202. The books and cards are also available on Amazon.

Follow them on on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram for game ideas and updates on new products and languages added to their product listings.

Developing Language Skills with New Amigos Board Game

I have always been fascinated by languages. In fact, raising bilingual children is was one of the primary reasons we chose to homeschool. Along the way, we have purposely sought out resources and opportunities to develop fluency in a second language.

Finding materials for Norwegian is not easy (at least where I live) so I was very excited to discover the New Amigos board game. New Amigos makes language learning fun and interactive!

The game has sold over 42,000 copies in Norway where it was developed. In Europe, it is distributed through toy stores, department stores, as well as book stores. Thus far, there are several versions available including: Norsk-English, Norsk-Spanish, and Norsk-Arabic!

Developing Language Skills

You can play either as an individual or on teams, independent of language knowledge or age. By virtue of three difficulty levels, played in parallel, even novices can stand a chance against advanced speakers and learn the basics of the language along the way.

The game works in two directions: native English speakers, for example, but wish to learn Norwegian can play the English-Norwegian version with speakers of Norsk who wish to learn English. The vocabulary is learned by everyone as each player takes his or her turn.

I have compiled a list of my favorite Norwegian Language Resources for families interested in learning Norwegian, Snakker du Norske?

Even players with the same language background and goals can play together. In other words, though both my daughter and I desire to learn Norwegian and are at different levels ourselves, we can successfully play the game together and learn from one another. We do not need to play with someone who speaks the language fluently.

The correct pronunciation of words in foreign languages is no problem, as New Amigos uses a unique phonetic system that doesn’t require any advance knowledge. Unlike the dictionaries, the words are spelled using Latin alphabet letters instead of phonetic symbols.

New Amigos Game Play

The goal of the game is to win cards over three rounds, each new round begins after seven cards have been won. This is accomplished by translating cards in both languages. The winner is the player who, in the final round, translates all of the played cards error-free.

Novices translate simple words, while advanced players translate more difficult words. In addition to vocabulary, there are also sentences and idiomatic expressions. New Amigos also includes geographical information and cards focused on culture, business, and food and drink.

New Amigos is a great game for language learners of all skill levels. Available for purchase online, there are four bilingual versions presently available: Spanish/Norsk, Arabic/Norsk, English/Norsk, and Spanish/English.

Snakker du Norsk? Our Favorite Norwegian Language Resources

When I was very young, I would occasionally hear my great-grandparents speaking in a language I did not understand. It wasn’t until I was older that I understood that they were speaking Norwegian. I would have loved to learn but Norwegian language resources were non-existent in my small community. When I started high school, the only language classes that were available were Spanish and French.

Norwegian Language ResourcesTechnology has changed dramatically since then and resources for language learning abound – language learning apps, flashcard apps, Pimsleur audio books, and even online classes with native speakers. I’ve compiled a list of our favorite Norwegian language resources here. Join me in learning Norwegian.

Norwegian Language Reference Texts

Norwegian language resources
Norwegian Verbs & Essentials of Grammar by Louis Janus is an excellent book and I highly recommend it to all interested in learning Norwegian. While teaching oneself a new language is made easier today with all of the various methods available, most fail to include lessons in grammar which are critical to truly understanding a language and developing fluency. This book is very thorough. It gives you the technical grammar explanation and then follows it up with numerous examples to reinforce the usage in practice. A quick reference guide for verbs in the back of the book gives you all the most commonly used Norwegian verbs in a table, each with infinitive, present, past and future tense. I love this!

Norwegian language resources

The Haugen Norwegian–English Dictionary has been regarded as the foremost resource for both learners and professionals using English and Norwegian. It is the first dictionary in any language to include both forms of Norwegian language, Bokmål and Nynorsk, in one alphabet and the first Norwegian-English dictionary to give the pronunciation of the Norwegian words. I highly recommend this dictionary.

Language Tip :: I regularly share an image on Instagram to introduce key words and phrases in Norwegian, #PictureNorsk. Follow along to learn new vocabulary with me.

My First English/Norwegian Dictionary of Sentences by Arielle Modéré is an excellent choice for young children. This dictionary provides a child-friendly introduction to learning Norwegian. It helps children learn vocabulary in the context of sentences or phrases. It is arranged by themes relating to activities in a typical child’s life and the colorful illustrations make meanings easy to understand.

Norwegian Language Lessons

Norwegian language resources
Beginner’s Norwegian by Laura Žiūkaitè-Hansen is a great audio resource. I enjoy listening to the conversation lessons and trying to repeat after each speaker while I am running.

Complete Norwegian is a decent resource for beginners. The audiofiles on the disk could be improved with pauses in between to process whatever was said.

Language Tip :: As your skills develop, a great exercise is to translate simple children’s stories into your target language. Alternatively, ask a native speaker to translate a favorite story for you and then memorize the text.

Norwegian in 10 Minutes a Day is a great beginner’s guide to learning the language. The accompanying CD has some very nice activities but they are limited to only a few subjects.
Norwegian language resources

Norwegian Literature Books

While researching Norwegian language resources for this post, I discovered The Mystery of Nils. It is the story of a doll called Nils, inspired by the traditional Norwegian mythical creature, who leads a happy life with his new family in Oslo. But due to an accident, Nils finds out that he means a lot more to Erna, the little girl to whom he was gifted, than just being a birthday present. Without knowing it, he has been carrying a painful secret, and during an adventurous trip to Northern Norway, he helps Erna to make one of the most important decisions of her life.

Norwegian language resources
The authors, have carefully selected the most frequently used words in the Norwegian language and made sure that the story is primarily made up of them. Separate texts and exercises focus on conversational topics are designed to help you learn the language. While I haven’t yet had the pleasure to read this book, the glowing reviews on Amazon prompted me to purchase it straightaway and I look forward to its arrival very soon.

Norwegian language resourcesAnother delightful book series, Karsten og Petra by Tor Åge Bringsværd and Anne G. Holt, is written specifically for children. We purchased Hilser På Kongen, about Norway’s national holiday, Syttende Mai, while we were traveling in Norway. The illustrations are lovely and the text is very descriptive.

Language Tip :: Ask a native speaker to record him or herself reading aloud a children’s story so you can listen along with the audio.

The Ultimate Guide to Exploring Your Ancestral Heritage @EvaVarga.net

Norwegian Music

Learning a new language can be challenging but it is also very fun. While we are not yet fluent in Norwegian, we do know many phrases and delight in singing songs that we have learned over the years. Music is a fabulous way to engage youth in language learning. I have shared a few of our favorites here on the blog:

Returning home from heritage camp, my daughter also shared with me a few Norwegian artists that she discovered: Alexander Rybak, Nico and Vinz, Hillbillies, and Innertier. Here’s one favorite (with lyrics), Du Er Ung (“You Are Young”):

You will also find a wealth of language resources for young children on YouTube. I have recently learned that Karsten and Petra have their own videos!! Their first film series was Casper and Emma-Best Friends (2013) with Nora Amundsen and Elias Søvold-Simonsen in the lead roles. The film follows the two everyday with their soft toy Miss Rabbit and Lion Kid. As of 2016, they have produced four movies and a TV series, a fifth film is expected in 2017.

Norwegian language resourcesWith Amazon Music Unlimited, you can listen to a wide range of Norwegian songs from their movies and TV series. Alternatively, you can purchase individual titles for just .99¢  Their films are also available on Amazon in BluRay or DVD.

Norwegian Movies

Movies can be one of the best tools for learning a language. Not only do films in other languages help develop language skills, foreign films enrich a student’s background by developing understanding and creating sympathy for others. There are online resources for foreign films, but finding them is not always easy.

Norwegian Children's Movies

Kidflix Global is working to make foreign films for children more accessible to American audiences. Thus far, we have purchased two Norwegian films, “Magic Silver” and “Wolf Summer” and have been overjoyed with both.

Language Tip :: Watch familiar movies without subtitles and the audio in your target language, if possible.

Netflix and Amazon both have a wealth of foreign films – but not all are suitable for young children. You may wish to preview them in advance.

Language Resources for Kids from Around the World (2)

The Raven: A Mini Unit for Middle School

I have been fascinated with ravens since I was a child. I recall my mother reading aloud Edgar Allan Poe’s The Raven at Halloween. Poe was one of her favorite authors and she delighted in reading this glorious poem in narrative voice.

Ravens Mini Unit @EvaVarga.netNew research has found that ravens remember prior interactions with people and even communicate these interactions with others of their kind. I’ve read stories of ravens leaving trinkets and gifts for those who have shown them kindness. My father has a pair of ravens that visit him regularly and when we visit, they can always be seen perched nearby keeping an eye on things.

Raven Mini Unit

Yesterday, I stumbled upon an Audubon post, How to Tell a Raven From a Crow on Facebook and the wheels in my head immediately started spinning. Would not this make a wonderful Halloween themed mini unit? Yes! I must put something together …

Science

The Audubon link I shared above is the perfect place to begin. While ravens and crows may look similar in some ways, there are several distinctive traits that help set them apart.

You probably know that ravens are larger, the size of a red-tailed hawk. Ravens often travel in pairs, while crows are seen in larger groups. Also, watch the bird’s tail as it flies overhead. The crow’s tail feathers are basically the same length, so when the bird spreads its tail, it opens like a fan. Ravens, however, have longer middle feathers in their tails, so their tail appears wedge-shaped when open.

Go outside and watch them. Bring along your nature journal and record your observations. How many do you see? How do they interact? What are they eating? Do they scratch at the soil with their feet? What sounds do they make?

Consider adding several quick sketches in your journal or taking photographs. When you return indoors, take more time to illustrate the birds you observed. Feel free to use a field guide or photograph to help you.

Literature

Ravens are perhaps the most common bird symbol in the mythologies and religions of ancient cultures. They assume a variety of roles, ranging from messengers of deities and sages to oracles and tricksters. They play a central part in many creation myths and are typically associated with the supernatural realms lying beyond the ordinary experience.

The Raven: Mini Unit for Middle School @EvaVarga.netThe history of ravens as mythical birds can be traced as far as the 1000-year-old Norse mythology. Odin, the chief god in Norse mythology, had a pair ravens called Hugin and Munin perching on his shoulders. Each morning they were sent out into the world to observe what was happening and question everybody. They would come back by sunrise and whisper to Odin what they had learned. Sometimes Odin himself would turn into a raven.

Hugin and Munin
Fly every day
Over all the world;
I worry for Hugin
That he might not return,
But I worry more for Munin.

Huginn ok Muninn
fljúga hverjan dag
Jörmungrund yfir;
óumk ek of Hugin,
at hann aftr né komi-t,
þó sjámk meir of Munin.

I encourage you to research the symbolism of ravens in a culture of your choice. Here are two of my favorites:

The Raven by Edgar Allan Poe

How Raven Stole the Sun (Native American Myth)

Art

Ravens have appeared in the mythology of many ancient people. It is no surprise, therefore, that ravens are also popular subjects in art.

I have often been inspired by children’s books. My kids and I will periodically try to recreate the illustrations we enjoy in picture books. I am not alone.

Ravens Mini Unit @EvaVarga.netOn the website, Native American Art Projects and Lesson Plans, I found two lesson plans centered around children’s books featuring ravens:

A Man Called Raven (Oil Pastel)

How the Raven Stole the Sun (Crayon Batik)

 

Hurra for Deg: The Norwegian Birthday Song

Two things about birthday celebrations that remain consistent in every culture are songs and greetings. These are universal ways of honoring and sharing with others the special moment and the joy of the guest of honor. Did you realize, however, that the song is not the same in every culture?

Hurra for Deg @EvaVarga.netOne of the Norwegian traditions I like best is the singing of Hurra for Deg (Cheers for You),  the Norwegian birthday song. It was written by Margrethe Aabel Munthe (1860 – 1931). Though there are two verses, more often only the first verse is sung.

The kids are at heritage camp this week learning Norwegian and the traditional handcrafts of our heritage. This year, parents have been provided little glimpses of camp life via Facebook. I was delighted that one of the counselors shared a short video of some of the girls singing Hurra for Deg as they worked on their Rosemaling. While I am unable to share the video, it inspired me to share the lyrics with you.

Hurra for deg som fyller ditt år!
Ja, deg vil vi gratulere!
Alle i ring omkring deg vi står,
og se, nå vil vi marsjere,
bukke, nikke, neie, snu oss omkring,
danse for deg med hopp og sprett og spring,
ønske deg av hjertet alle gode ting!
Og si meg så, hva vil du mere?
Gratulere!

Hurray for you for celebrating your birthday!
Yes, we congratulate you!
We all stand around you in a ring,
And look, now we’ll march,
Bow, nod, curtsy, we turn around,
Dance for you and hop and skip and jump!
Wishing you from the heart all good things!
And tell me, what more could you want?
Congratulations!

Hurra for Deg is a lively tune and a lot of fun to sing. Consider adding a few dance movements for a more rousing version:

Everyone stands in a circle around the birthday honoree. Begin singing while you are standing in the ring.

When you come to “march”, then march all around the birthday child with high knee-lift, while looking at him/her.

On “Bow, nod, curtsy, we turn around”, make these movements wholeheartedly and with enthusiasm.

On “Dance for you, hop and skip and jump,” begin to dance in a circle around the birthday child. Try to make eye contact with him / her, as this gives attention.Continue the dance the rest of the song.

After the song is finished, deserves celebrating a real generous applause!

If you are interested, here’s the second verse:

Høyt våre flagg vi svinger. Hurra!
Ja, nå vil vi riktig feste!
Dagen er din, og dagen er bra,
men du er den aller beste!
Se deg om i ringen, hvem du vil ta!
Dans en liten dans med den du helst vil ha!
Vi vil alle sammen svinge oss så glad:
En av oss skal bli den neste!
Til å feste!

We wave our flags up high! Hurray!
Yes now we’ll really celebrate!
The day is yours, the day is great,
But you’re the best!
Look in the ring who you want to choose!
Dance a little dance with who you want to!
We’ll all turn around together so joyfully,
And one of us shall be the next – to celebrate!