Posted on

Learning Tools Multilingual Products reviewed on 702!

Products to facilitate second language acquisition

Learning Tools had a boost on Saturday morning when our Multilingual Products – Viva Vocab and Conversation Station were reviewed on Radio 702  Weekend Breakfast with Phemelo Motene.

 

Many thanks to Talent Whisperer, and all around inspiring Nikki Bush for doing such a great job for us.

Learning Tools has developed two products to be used to introduce and enhance the acquisition of a second language.  The can be used, for example, to introduce a rural child to English, or introduce an urban child to Zulu.  They are also designed to enhance vocabulary development and to stimulate Critical Thinking and conversation in the second language.

These products currently support English, Afrikaans, Zulu and Xhosa, but are able to support any South African language needed.

Historically a second language has been taught with a focus on grammar and sentences first and then onto vocabulary.  Recently, however, many teachers have realised that learning vocabulary first leads to an easier transition into the second language.  Learning grammar and how to construct sentences is easier once the child has a reasonable base of vocabulary to draw on.

The development of the African Voice products is based on this concept of building a solid foundation of vocabulary in the second language before tackling other aspects of the language.

Conversation Station –

This game is all about stimulating conversation, and building vocabulary.  Each card has a truly South African photo on the one side, and critical thinking questions in all four of the target languages on the reverse.  It also has a list of vocabulary words along the bottom.  The questions are asked initially in Mother Tongue, and the vocabulary is introduced in the Second Language.

Viva Vocab –

Is a specialised vocabulary building game.  It is a flash card game – with a picture of an object on the one side, and the vocabulary word on the reverse.  The vocabulary is repeated in the target languages.  Viva Vocab has over 250 of the CAPS vocabulary words.  These words are categorised, and each category is colour coded.  The phonetic transcription of the word is included with each language.  This assists the learner to begin pronouncing the word in the right way.

We would LOVE you to try these – please contact me is you would like more info? sarah@learningtools.co.za

Posted on

Multilingualism – what does it mean, and how can we achieve it?

Products to facilitate second language acquisition

I attended a most fascinating talk on Multilingualism last night – thank you Bellavista SHARE for the evening.  It was given by the Esteemed Professor Heila Jordaan, who is very worth listening to if you ever get a chance.  I will share a few of the salient points.

Living in South Africa, Multilingualism is part of our fabric (Multilingualism is defined as the ability to communicate in more than one language).  It is part of who we are to a greater or lesser degree. Many of us have a smattering of a few of the 11 South African official languages, but what does it mean to be truly multilingual?  And how can we achieve this?

The goal for multilingualism is more than being able to communicate orally in the second language.  To be truly multilingual we need to be able to read, write, think and learn in a second language

Being multilingual has both educational and cognitive advantages.  Learning another language enriches our brains, and there are other benefits in terms of the executive function of our frontal lobes.  Socially, living in South Africa, being multilingual gives children a huge advantage in terms of identity, and ability to integrate in society.

Given that the majority of the South African education is given in English, most of our children are forced into being Multilingual whether they are motivated to or not.

Second Language acquisition is not a fast process.  It takes time, and there is a process that needs to be followed.  Learners need the time and space to go through the stages of learning the second language.  The factors that affect Second Language Acquisition are:

  • The QUALITY of the language instruction – this is the key cornerstone to learning a language
  • The quantity of time spent on the language
  • The motivation of the pupil
  • The personality of the pupil
  • Language learning aptitude
  • And the level of development of the first language.

It was the last point that really resonated with me.  We often see cases where the mother tongue has been abandoned in favour of the new language.  The idea behind this is to assist the child with acquiring the new language.  But interestingly, research point to the fact that this approach leads to a detriment of both languages.

The relationship between the first language and the second language is critical.  There is a Threshold Theory which I would encourage you to look into if you are interested, but the gist is – the effects of multilingualism are positive when BOTH languages are developed and maintained.

The resounding point is – don’t stop the first language to help the child learn the second language!

My sister-in-law and I have developed African Voice, which is a range of two products that assist with Second Language Acquisition.  These products are used to introduce and enhance the acquisition of a second language.  The can be used, for example, to introduce a rural child to English, or introduce an urban child to Zulu.  They are also designed to enhance vocabulary development and to stimulate Critical Thinking and conversation in the second language.

African Voice products currently support English, Afrikaans, Zulu and Xhosa, but are able to support any South African language needed.

The development of the African Voice products is based on this concept of building a solid foundation of vocabulary in the second language before tackling other aspects of the language.

Conversation Station – This game is all about stimulating conversation, and building vocabulary.  Each card has a truly South African photo on the one side, and critical thinking questions in all four of the target languages on the reverse.  It also has a list of vocabulary words along the bottom.  The questions are asked initially in Mother Tongue, and the vocabulary is introduced in the Second Language.

Viva Vocab –is a specialised vocabulary building game.  It is a flash card game – with a picture of an object on the one side, and the vocabulary word on the reverse.  The vocabulary is repeated in the target languages.  Viva Vocab has over 250 of the CAPS vocabulary words.  These words are categorised, and each category is colour coded.  The phonetic transcription of the word is included with each language.  This assists the learner to begin pronouncing the word in the right way.

Posted on

The Challenge of Adult Literacy

Adult Literacy

Using African Voice products to boost Adult Literacy

I met with Alexandra King this week. She has worked in Human Resources most of her life, and has much involvement in Adult Basic Educational Training. I showed her the Conversation Station and Viva Vocab products, and she just LOVED them.

If you are interested, have a read of her LinkedIn brief write up.

https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/challenge-adult-illiteracy-alexandra-king

Thank you Alex!

Posted on

Learning new languages starts at home

Second Language Acquisition

Have you ever wondered how to start learning another South African language? Either for yourself, or how to start your children on a second language? Here’s a good way to start: We have two games to help jump start your child (and you!) with a second language. Conversation Station and Viva Vocab have been developed by teachers specifically with you in mind. These games are ideal to use in your home to help build vocabulary, pronunciation and early sentence building in English, Afrikaans, Xhosa and Zulu.

For years, the popular methodology for learning a second language has been to focus on grammar and sentences first and then on vocabulary. Recently, however, many teachers have realised that learning vocabulary first, leads to an easier transition into the second language. Learning grammar and how to construct sentences is easier once the learner has a reasonable base of vocabulary to draw on.

The development of Conversation Station and Viva Vocab is based on this concept of building a solid foundation of vocabulary before tackling other aspects of the language. Studies suggest that most learners need between 5-16 ‘meetings’ with a word in order to retain it. By using these games from Learning Tools, learners will be repeatedly exposed to vocabulary building in different situations.

Learning a second language should not only be confined to the classroom. The more exposure and practice a child has, the quicker and deeper the learning of the second language will take place. This is why they are so perfect for home use! Conversation Station and Viva Vocab can be used effectively in the home environment as they are ideal games for parents looking to assist their children with second language acquisition. Siblings can assist one another, and parents can begin acquiring the vocabulary of another language.

Viva Vocab is a specialised vocabulary building game. It is a flash card game – with a picture of an object on the one side, and the vocabulary word on the reverse. The word is listed in English, Afrikaans, Xhosa and Zulu. The game includes over 250 vocabulary words which are categorised, and each category is colour coded. The categories include numbers, Days of the Week, Months of the Year, Emotions, Verbs, Nouns, and Greetings and Expressions to name but a few. The phonetic transcription for correct pronunciation is included too.

Conversation Station contains 40 cards. Each card has a truly South African photo on the one side, and critical thinking questions in all four of the target languages on the reverse. There are also vocabulary words at the bottom of each card, relating to the photograph. The game is designed to foster critical thinking through thought provoking and open-ended questions, stimulating interaction and conversation. Learners draw on their own personal knowledge as they think about and discuss the photograph.

Conversation Station and Viva Vocab are both available at PNA stores in Gauteng, or at Play and School Room in Rosebank and online from www.learningtools.co.za

To hear more about these great products, please email info@learningtools.co.za

Posted on

Critical thinking

Adult Literacy

South Africa is a multi-language country – not many other countries can boast having 11 official languages, but here in South Africa we are proud of all of them. But having this many languages has its difficulties. Our education system starts learners off in their mother tongue, and then switches to English abruptly in Grade 4. For many learners their English skills have not been developed or supported enough to handle this transition.

Two teachers Sarah Ohlson de Fine (Foundation Phase) and Catherine Thompson (Intermeidate Phase) have collaborated to develop two games – Conversation Station and Viva Vocab (which are marketed by African Voice). These games have been designed to help learners develop critical thinking skills and proficiency in four languages: English, Afrikaans, Xhosa and Zulu.

Both these resources can be used throughout the Foundation and Intermediate phase of education. In the Foundation Phase they are used in the learners Mother Tongue, to encourage Critical Thinking, and at the same time to build vocabulary in another language. In the Intermediate Phase, the same resources are used once again when the learner is more established in the Second Language. Here the games are used to encourage the learners to practice using the Second Language.

For years, the popular methodology for learning a second language has been to focus on grammar and sentences first and then on vocabulary. Recently, however, many teachers have realised that learning vocabulary first leads to an easier transition into the second language. Learning grammar and how to construct sentences is easier once the children has a reasonable base of vocabulary to draw on.

The development of Conversation Station and Viva Vocab is based on this concept of building a solid foundation of vocabulary before tackling other aspects of the language.
Viva Vocab is a specialised vocabulary building game. It is a flash card game – with a picture of an object on the one side, and the vocabulary word on the reverse. The vocabulary is repeated in English, Afrikaans, Xhosa and Zulu.

Viva Vocab has over 250 of the CAPS vocabulary words. These words are categorised, and each category is colour coded. The categories include numbers, Days of the Week, Months of the Year, Emotions, Verbs, Nouns, and Greetings and Expressions to name but a few. The phonetic transcription of the word is included with each language. This assists the learner to begin pronouncing the word in the right way.

Conversation Station contains 40 cards. Each card has a truly South African photo on the one side, and critical thinking questions in all four of the target languages on the reverse. There are also vocabulary words at the bottom of each card, relating to photograph. These words are listed in the CAPS top 200 vocabulary list.
Conversation Station combines Critical thinking with Second Language Acquisition.

What is critical thinking?? To think critically about an issue or a problem means to be open-minded and consider alternative ways of looking for solutions.
Critical thinking is about knowing how to think, not what to think. It is made up of a number of different skills that help us to learn to make decisions.
To be a good at thinking, children must believe that thinking is fun and they must want to be good at it. Good thinkers practice thinking just like they practice soccer or playing the piano.
Critical thinking has become a buzzword in education. It encourages children to reason better by helping them to base their conclusions on facts rather than emotions.
Using discussion which involves critical thinking in a classroom is ideal, as children are then exposed to the thought processes of their peers. Thus, they can begin to understand how others think and that there are multiple ways of approaching problems, not just one correct way.

Conversation Station fosters critical thinking through thought provoking and open-ended questions, to which there are no right or wrong answers. The game is designed to stimulate interaction and conversation. Children draw on their own personal knowledge as they think about and discuss the photograph.
The Vocabulary Section at the bottom of Conversation Station is aimed at children in the pre-production phase of their Second Language. In this phase, the children are often silent but are absorbing new vocabulary words. These new vocabulary words are easy to understand because they are illustrated in the photograph. The teacher can point, repeat and discuss the words with the children.

In the Intermediate phase, the same cards can be used when the children are more advanced in their Second Language. The critical thinking questions are now used in the second language to facilitate constructing phrases and sentences in the second language.
Studies suggest that most learners need between 5-16 ‘meetings’ with a word in order to retain it. By using both Conversation Station and Viva Vocab, learners will be repeatedly exposed to vocabulary building in different situations.

The association between the words and their meaning is further enhanced by allowing the children to translate the word from both language directions. First they see the second language word and have to produce the Mother Tongue meaning. Later it helps them to translate from their Mother Tongue into the Second Language.
Viva Vocab offers children the opportunity to practice word translation in multiple directions as the words are listed in all four languages on the card. Viva Vocab also provides a phonetic transcription of the word, to help children to pronounce the word correctly.

Learning a second language should not be confined only to the classroom. The more exposure and practice a child has, the quicker and deeper the learning of the second language will take place. Conversation Station and Viva Vocab can be used effectively in the home environment. These are idea games for parents looking to assist their children with second language acquisition. Siblings can assist one another, and parents can begin acquiring vocabulary of a language they interested in learning.
Conversation Station and Viva Vocab are both available for purchase on-line at www.learningtools.co.za
To hear more about these great products, please email info@learningtools.co.za