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Monthly Archives: September 2015

  • Did You Know Animals Sound Different in Other Languages?

    There’s no doubt that learning to speak a foreign language takes time and devotion. Some would even consider it an art form - new phrases, new sentence structures and accurate pronunciations to get your head around is just the beginning of the learning process. But as your skills develop you will learn new ways of saying words, and surprisingly this concept is the same for the way certain animals sound too. For example, your typical English dog “woof woof” isn't recognised in China, but is translated to a “wang wang”!

    The video shows people from all over the world giving their own ideas on how they think certain animals sound. It’s quite interesting that pretty much everybody agrees on what a cat sounds like, but when it comes to pigs and roosters, things can get a little unusual.
    pig different languages

    There has been some research into the topic as well – in 2008, a study from Karlstad University in Sweden investigated how animal sounds can differ from animal phonetics and move towards symbolism. The study explains that onomatopoeic sounds for smaller animals usually include a lot more vowels from the beginning of the alphabet to symbolise higher tones, such as a bird’s “tweet tweet”. The study also highlights that larger animals include more vowels later on in the alphabet to symbolise their lower tones, such as a dog’s woof woof in English, Voff Voff in Icelandic, and so on.

    dog different languages

    As we know, many English speakers can interpret the way a dog sounds in more ways than just a “woof woof” (some would say “yap yap”, “ruff” or “growl” etc.), but in other countries this is not the case. Perhaps the multiple variations are because of cultural differences rather than linguistic ones? For example, English speaking countries tend to have the highest dog ownership per capita in comparison to non-English speaking countries. As dogs have become such a large part of English culture with various dog breeds (some big, some small), it’s no surprise that we have a few more ways of thinking how our furry friends sound to us.

    We can't teach you how to communicate with other animals like Doctor Dolittle, but we can provide you with educational resources to help you learn a modern foreign language. Click here to find out what's available!

  • Ideas for Improving Literacy in the Classroom

    making reading a passion for children

    Getting children to read a book these days can seem like a difficult task. Reading is seen as a chance to relax and escape from reality, but with so many other distractions available to children such as cartoons or the latest PlayStation game, how do you encourage reading and make it a passion?

    First thing’s first - one of the most important things is having an encouraging learning environment, so that children will want to read and learn about the English language on their own without it being seen as a chore, or something they have to do because the teacher says so.

    So here are some ideas on what teachers and parents can do to help create a reading friendly environment.

    Start With Interests

    child interests

    Finding out what each pupil’s interests are is a sure way of them catching the reading bug from an early age. Do they like dinosaurs, spiders, dancing, football or something completely different from the norm? Once you know what sparks their interest, be sure to have resources available to encourage them learning more about it through books and digital technology.

    Regular Engaging Activities

    lets eat

    At the end of every lesson, set 15 minutes aside for pupils to complete exercises on topics that can be difficult to understand, but make sure the lesson is planned in an engaging way. There are a number of ways you can do this, including having pupils get involved with interactive activity charts that have QR codes attached to them.  The QR codes will link to a quick-fire quiz, helping pupils understand topics in a fun learning environment.

    Another option would be to make a game out of whatever topic you are learning such as the differences between “To, Two and Too”.

    A pupil is to say a sentence (for example, “There are too many onions in my soup!”), and the person sitting next to them has to announce how it’s spelled correctly in that context.

    You can adopt this sentence based game to almost any English topic, even by having students write down where they believe a coma is supposed to sit in a sentence. And as we all know, punctuation can save lives.

    Classroom Reading Walls


    Create a classroom reading wall and encourage pupils to write on a piece of paper the name of the book they have read this month, along with a short sentence about it. And don't forget, teachers should contribute to the wall too! Pupils will see that if a number of names have been placed next to a particular book, they may think about reading it next time. Classroom reading walls are a great way for pupils to broaden their choice of literature and appreciate the different writing styles from authors they might have not heard of before.

    Favourite Author


    Ask pupils who their favourite author is, and as a homework exercise, ask them to write a short story in the same style as them. Pupils will want to re-read their favourite author's books and study the literature just to be sure that what they have written is similar in style.

    To make things a little more interesting, you could also split the class into small groups and encourage the more reluctant readers to partner up with the bookworms in the class.

    Recognise the Different Learning Styles


    Although playing games could be a good way to encourage students to read more, chances are that not everyone will be on-board. It’s important to identify pupils’ learning styles so that you can adapt a lesson for them. Remember, everyone is different in how quickly they learn things.

    Here are just some of the learning styles to try when it comes to reading literature:-

    • The Silent Type: Many schools have brought back silent reading time, with some teachers taking pupils to the library for the lesson. Pupils are usually asked to read a chapter on their own and are then asked questions on it just before the lesson ends.
    • Audio Learners: Some children prefer learning from audio books because they like to hear the text being read aloud.
    • Visual Learners: A lot of children prefer learning new topics through a visual means such as interactive videos, software or educational based games.

    Remember, if you aren’t sure which of the above applies to a particular pupil, don’t be shy to try them all out and see what works best.



    Do you have any tips on encouraging pupils to read on their own? We’d love to hear your thoughts. Let us know in the comment section below!

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