Category Archives: Family

Reading and Restaurants: A Long Story of Learning for @iTDipro

Vicky Loras's Blog

George Loras - my dad! George Loras – my dad!

Here is my post for the Special Issue of Outside Influences for iTDipro. I hope you enjoy this story!

When I remember myself as a little child, I always remember a rather quirky child that disliked pink, princesses and fairy tales, and toys – instead, I love reading, as I could read from a very young age. I was also an absolute klutz when it came to anything graceful, like ballet. I disliked being in big crowds.

I loved another thing along with reading: listening to “real” stories.

I was and I am very fortunate to have someone in my life who taught me that I was not weird, and he taught me so much more. He has nothing to do with ELT. Most of his working life was spent in restaurants, in gruelling schedules, either as waiter, chef, owner, or all three together. He…

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Feat No 28: Life issues through language lessons

When choosing a book to read to our students, while sometimes my own children are in these lessons, I choose one that will teach them or make them aware of more than just the English language. Sometimes, the books are intentionally chosen to teach them about life.

And I am absolutely certain that many teachers around the world try to do the same.

This blog post came up because of an incident. A child, like many others as it was discovered, trusted a stranger… online. Whether physically present or online, a stranger is a stranger. Several children had been tricked by a stranger, online, that he was a child himself, and had managed to arrange meetings with them. Thanks to the invaluable efforts of the police, this online stranger was stopped before causing more harm to young lives.

The “Berestein Bears” from “Random House” have an excellent – EXCELLENT – series about life issues for children of all ages.

We read the one entitled “The Berenstein Bears learn about strangers”. I was so content with the impact of this book on our students and our children. I took it a step further at the end of the book by mentioning that strangers are not only the ones we can see but also the ones we cannot see. The ones that ask for a “Friend request” on Facebook, a “Follow request” on Instagram.

I would like to advise parents and guardians to have their children’s accounts private and explain why they should be private. We should also explain to them that it is more than “ok” NOT to have many online “Friends”, numerous online “Likes” and a record number of online “Followers”, as long as the ones we have are not strangers. The book we are reading now is: “The Berenstein Bears : Safe and Sound” because my daughter wanted to play with her scooter without her safety gear.

Thank you.

Eugenia Loras

Ευγενία Λώρα

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Feat No 27: Honored by a student

Today we had the honor, beyond the great pleasure to welcome one of our students to The Loras Network, not as a student but as an observer.

One of our students chose to visit our school, our business, our family as part of her opportunity to observe several professions. This opportunity is given to all students attending the Swiss public secondary schools at the age of 15. It is an opportunity to go behind the scenes in some professions or sectors of interest and get a better feeling of what is involved.

We had the honor not only to have been chosen by our student, but to do what we love doing; tell her why we love it! All the reasons that we love every single aspect of the Loras Network and its past and present. The maturity with which she was absorbing our chapters was also due to the maturity that we now have, emotional and professional, when telling that story.

We had the honor to show her our professional environment as experienced by us and how it affects our daily life, at work and at home.

We were even lucky to have had this visit on a Wednesday! Why? Well, Wednesday happens to be our special lunch date at our favourite restaurant in the building of our offices. We are proud and grateful that we can now have proper lunch breaks after 20 years of a really long but graceful (and sometimes not so graceful) journey. We were honored to share our lunch break with her. It was as if we were having a lunch break with every single student that has honored us by being our student!

What a great day!

Thank you!
Eugenia Loras
Ευγενία Λώρα
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Feat No 26

I found it very difficult to find a title for this feat. Then again, the word “Feat” covers it.

I happened to read both of the following today and felt strongly that they apply to my life. I would like to take this opportunity and share them with you.

The first:

“In motherhood, one quite literally becomes a vessel—a role that often continues postpartum. The young family takes precedence, and ambition takes a back seat; a mother can become the net around her loved ones, their needs veiling her own. It is the natural exile of domestic life.”

This is an extract from an interview entitled “The Invisible Woman”, A conversation with Björk by Jessica Hopper on January 21, 2015 on Pitchfork (www.pitchfork.com – For the whole interview,  http://pitchfork.com/features/interviews/9582-the-invisible-woman-a-conversation-with-bjork/). I noticed this on Twitter via @MarianSteiner . 

The second:

“Hire women who have paused their career to have children. Just watch how talented and hungry they are” : . This was also found on Twitter via @Davos .

Thank you.

 

Feat No 25: Allow me to be proud…

Please allow me to be proud:

When Maggie who is now almost ten and Nicholas who is five have been growing up with smiles on their faces while successfully progressing in their language learning. All twenty four previous feats have helped us and now in a more experienced and natural mode, we continue on those familiar to us paths. We still stick to each of us using their own language as introduced in Feat No 1 and we maintain and fully use our investments as explained in Feat No 2. Maggie and Nicholas’ relationship has proven to be one of the strongest factors of development (in every way) as noticed in Feat No 3. We are constantly providing them both with more and more Greek language support just like we promised in Feats No 4 and No 15. They are still speaking to each other in English as predicted in Feat No 6 but with the addition of German language interaction with each other when playing games they have learnt here in Switzerland either at school or through everyday experiences (like when they play supermarket with the stands and products of this country’s brands – very special).

Allow me to be proud:

When both Maggie and Nicholas play a vital role in The Loras Network. When I was supposed to have a solo presentation during the 2nd Loras Workshop this year and they inspired me the evening before to do that presentation as a trio! Naturally, without any pressure or rehearsals. “Would you two like to help mama tomorrow with something more than just setting up the room for the workshop? Would you like to tell the people how we use our mobiles and i pads at home and what we enjoy doing on the computer? How we use our calendar for the languages of our DVDs and all those things we do every day?” “Sure!” replied Maggie with a nodding Nicholas next to her. That Saturday, the 22nd of September 2014, they both accompanied us to our facilities and helped us set up the venue with all the passion and joy that we had.

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They responsibly and maturely participated in the presentation and sat back in their seats at the end of their contribution to observe the other speakers.

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With genuine interest and amazing conduct that even left their own mother speechless.

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Allow me to be proud:

When the Young Learners’ events that you witness through our website or our social media pages are thought up by Maggie and Nicholas. Since August 2014 and on we have been using their ideas for our theme-based days of learning and joy. They have become so experienced now that this Wednesday’s BIRDS DAY was set up entirely by them.

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The rumbling noise this time was not from The Loras Academy but from Maggie and Nicholas’ passionate footsteps. Back and forth, back and forth.

When we go on holidays and at some point mama has to do some business, we all sit down together and do the best business!

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How can I not be proud?

Allow me to be happy and proud!

Thank you.

(It is my birthday on Tuesday, 11 November and this is my way to celebrate it!)

“We have a business to run!” – And a family to raise!

I actually took my Organizer with me into the delivery room when I was about to give birth to my first child. I had no idea. I knew that I would have to be away from our business for some days – and it was the first time I was going to do that too.

 

My doctor was in shock at the sight of a woman in labor with an Organizer but we worked very well together. Excellent teamwork!

The next day, I was overwhelmed; by having our first child and by missing our business. So I did open the Organizer that very next day to make sure that everything was running well. A bank installment had to urgently be paid on that day and I immediately spoiled my husband’s first moments of fatherhood by sending him to make the payment. As soon as he informed me that it was done and over with, I could peacefully concentrate on our daughter. You experience this very often when running a business.

Again, my trusty Guardian Angels, had helped throughout my pregnancy. In so many ways. Even by helping recruit new teachers as for the first time I had decided to reduce my working hours.

Many things were happening to me for the first time:

– For the first time I became a mother;

– For the first time I was absent from our business for three consecutive weeks;

– For the first time after nine consecutive years I made the decision to reduce my working hours on weekends. I wanted to spend time with my child. Oh, those Sundays. A full schedule from 10am to 10pm. It took me approximately two years to become accustomed to NOT working on Sundays.

– For the first time I had reached levels of such trust with my colleagues that I felt very comfortable being away from the business. They knew, however, that whatever they needed, I was there for them.

Many things were adjusted so that I could smoothly and happily combine being a parent and a businessperson:

– We had made sure to have our apartment very close to our school. Literally, a three-minute walk that would end up being much longer due to all the people we would greet and talk to on our way. This way I could easily visit my daughter and she could just as easily visit us. Frequently. That is what we wanted.

– When we renovated the school, we took the opportunity to create a playroom both for our very young students and for my own child. So that she could be just next door while I was working.

– I managed to nurse her for seven months which was a great accomplishment for us under the busy circumstances.

– Some of our teachers would also have fun lessons with her. How happy I was to be able to raise my child in such a social and educational environment.

– As I had the incredible support of my whole family, I was also able to continue attending the seminars and workshops whether they were local or not.

– I grasped the great opportunity to learn more about my profession while studying about my child. Bilingualism, Multilingualism, Childhood development.

Many things showed me that I love being a businessperson while being a parent:

– When our second child was born, we moved to Zug. I made the decision to pause my active professional life and devote myself to encouraging our family’s adjustment to our new environment and all the changes that came with it. I continued my professional development from home. It was not long before I accepted the first business proposal to be project manager of a corporate multilingual childcare center. I said ‘Yes!’ so easily. So willingly. And I could do it from home which made it even more positive.

– Not long after that project was complete, I was asked to become Interim Manager at an international Business Center. I would be responsible for Customer Relations and Sales. Well, how could I say ‘No’ to that? Clients are the Saints of a business in my book. For this period, my father came to Zug and we knew that both our children were in the safest of hands.

– Having the momentum of the previous two Swiss business encounters, I swept Vicky off her feet (who in the meantime was working unbelievably hard) to continue where we had stopped off. The Loras Network was born. And here we are now, again with homes very close to our new facilities so as to enjoy the best of both worlds.

I did not start being professionally active again because I got bored at home. A parent who is at home with their children is among the busiest people on Earth. My children’s pediatrician has a sign on her door that writes: “You have not worked full-time until you have become a parent.” Up to a point, the sign is true. But when you have had the chance to experience both professional life and parenthood to the fullest of their capacities and to extremes, in some cases, as I have, then you just have got to love it to be able to handle it.

And I love both.

It is Sunday and I am working so I guess old habits die hard. At least this time I did it from home, seated between my two sleeping children while playing classical music in the background as a lullaby.

Thank you.

This is how I was inspired to write this post tonight:

My children were playing together and created their very first business card tonight, leaving us speechless. I present it to you.

Maggie and Nicholas' first Business Card

Maggie and Nicholas’ first Business Card

Feat No 24: Our favourite activity; Usborne First Reading Books with audio CD and worksheets

For the past two weeks our children Maggie and Nicholas have been enjoying their Winter Sports Break. Besides relaxing, helping out with our new facilities and playing, they cannot stop enjoying the readers we bought for them and our students from Usborne Books at Home.

The series, English Learner’s Edition from Level 1 to 5 along with a CD and free downloadable worksheets have become one of our best investments both at home for our own children but also for our English language school, The Loras Network and our young students.

At home, we use them mainly as our bedtime story. It helps us all unwind and enjoy a creative and educational ending chapter to our long day. Even parents can benefit from the CD as there are evenings when we are too tired to read a bedtime book ourselves. And then there are times when we would love to read a story book to our children before bedtime and then do the brief fun activities that are at the end of the book, like spotting the differences between pictures or sequence activities based on the story.

At our English Language School, this series has become an excellent way to promote book reports with our young learners. And they love their new project. They read the books to us after having borrowed them at home to read and to listen to the CDs as many times as they like. Then we print the worksheets for them and again with the help of their books, they can complete the activities. Even in the cases that they find the spelling of some words difficult and choose to copy the word from the story book, they are enhancing their spelling skills. They are enriching their vocabulary and they are fluently becoming great readers. We even use the plot of some stories to discuss further and encourage kindness, team work, gratitude and other qualities that will help develop healthy personalities.

Thank you to all parents and teachers for investing in more books for their children’s and student’s libraries.

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Feat No 23: Behind the scenes… behind it all!

What a week! What a long, hard-working, stressful yet blissful week. During the two-week Sports Break here in Switzerland, our family is working out… by working.

We have been in the process of looking for new facilities the past 3 months as it would be much more professional and practical to each have permanent separate offices. Many of our lessons are simultaneous and have increased recently.

Literally, last minute, on Friday 31.01 we found the best possible facilities, received the keys and managed to move everything out of the old and into the new during the weekend. That means that as of today we are ready to welcome you to our offices at Uptown, General-Guisan-Strasse 6, Zug in the Premium Business Center.

The main entrance is on the side of their vast parking lot. You can almost always find parking space there. There is also free parking in the “Hertizentrum” next to it, the big department complex. When you enter the building, you press the doorbell of “Premium Business Center” and then take the lift to the 4th floor.

We can be at the entrance a few minutes before our first lesson to welcome you and any other day you wish. We can even come downstairs to the parking lot and escort the children directly to the offices and back.

We are very happy as we will be enjoying our lessons in a fully-equipped, safe, practical and even financially efficient environment and we truly hope you will like our new arrangements when you visit us. Not only can you enjoy our offices whenever you visit but also the spectacular Cafe-Restaurant Skylounge on the top floor.

Yes! Convenient and professional, just the way we like it for our students and their families. For our students and their companies.

And you would have never imagined that my son Nicholas actually planted several bolts in the holes of our new bookcases, or that Maggie screwed many parts of our new desks. You would never have known that Vicky looked after Maggie and Nicholas until after midnight for several days and nights while my husband Thomas and I, moved boxes, transported and assembled furniture. You could not possibly be aware of the fact that we managed to spend fun and emotionally-filled family time throughout this whole procedure. Whenever we could, we all worked together. Gathering and separating the material for recycling, organizing all our books and educational games. Remembering all the times we had made changes in our past professional lives. Rediscovering curricula that have been accompanying us throughout our nineteen-year career and happy to discover how many new items have been added since then. Reminiscing all the people and moments that contributed honestly and invaluably to everything that has led up to this day. Feeling proud about what you can accomplish with your family, your friends, your work and your determination. You would not have believed how many times we clapped our hands with joy, applauded each other for the great work and laughed with exhaustion!

You would have never known that beyond the prestigious Uptown building we have now moved The Loras Network to, are all these simply beautiful things we live.

So I thought I’d let you know.

Thank you very much to everyone!

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Feat No 22: Playing Snap Card Games with your students and children

I have always considered myself very lucky to have had the experience of teaching all ages and levels. And I make sure that both our young learners and I have fun together, while having English or Greek lessons.

We recently endeavored in a new business – The Loras Bookshop. We love books, we have been teaching with and through books, and we have raised our children with and through books. Books are a part of our personal and professional life.

Our resources already included flashcards and card games from various companies that we have very much enjoyed, but through Usborne, the Snap Cards series was the one that stole our teaching hearts.

We sometimes start off the lesson with a game of Snap Cards for a change, or in the middle of a lesson as a short productive break and many times at the end of our lesson to bring our lesson to a smooth end. They include a large variety of vocabulary and can also be used in theme-based lessons and events.

Christmas Event at The Loras Network. One of our activities included the Christmas Snap card game.

Christmas Event at The Loras Network. One of our activities included the Christmas Snap card game.

Through Snap Cards, we do not just learn new vocabulary that might occur on the cards themselves. Many are the times that we learn even more through the interaction of the game. Phrases like: It’s your turn; Let’s shuffle the cards; a pile of cards; and so many more words, phrases, and even manners can be learnt through these games. Reading and spelling are also enhanced as the words of the pictures are written on the cards. As they play, even very young learners might pick up on the spelling of words and recognize them when encountering them without the pictures.

I strongly recommend these card games and know just the place to find them: The Loras Bookshop

Whether this small new business of ours grows or not, we are very happy that we have access to this educational material for our students and my children. It also helps us maintain the momentum of our multilingual journey as a family. I take a pack of Snap Cards home every day in rotation and my children’s anticipation is overwhelming day after day. I play with them at home as frequently as I can because I love sharing everything I share at our school with our students.

This is also a way I have found to make my children love my job and share my happiness, so that they do not resent the fact that I am away from home – so that they are fully aware why I am away and what I offer through my work.

Thank you.

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Feat 20: Nicholas the German Language Fan… without actually knowing German

Multilingual Nicholas, from scratch, is now four years old.

While:

    Understanding and speaking English wonderfully well,

    understanding Greek surprisingly well and speaking it less fluently than English and

    obviously understanding German (both High and Swiss) but not speaking more than a few words,

Nicholas just loves German! And it is not that he does not like the other two languages, but whenever it is German Day on our audiovisual calendar, he cheers and expresses himself with such joy that one would not expect him to be the least fluent of all in this specific language.

He has been attending a Swiss playgroup for almost two years now for three hours a day, four days a week. He feels very comfortable there since Day One. Since the day, that is, that he did not understand or speak a word of German. A big part of this adjustment is due to Nicholas’ fantastic and experienced teacher, Prisca. The whole setup of her playschool and the activities she shares with the children are just beautiful and just right.

Nicholas, just like Maggie, has been exposed to all those media and experiences, methods and consistency, encouragement and efforts that we have been using all these years both at home and at our language schools.

He is at an age that he can productively and smoothly participate in our educational fun events at The Loras Network. He has a constantly growing interest in books and lately audio books. And he just loves German. His reaction towards a language that is new to our family, is such great news to us. Maybe even greater than actually hearing a new German word being pronounced by him. This attitude to his multilingual upbringing is so healthy that I am even more encouraged and consistent in the steps and decisions I make as a parent and teacher than ever before.

Nicholas’ spoken German words may still be very few but there is no doubt in my mind that, just like Maggie (and the comparison is in an encouraging and not mimicking way) he will maintain a progressive language journey. His own language journey.

Last week, I went to pick him up from his playgroup and one of his classmates asked him something in Swiss German. Nicholas seemed to immediately understand and gave a short response with a Swiss accent. Then turned back to me and in a Canadian accent (with a heavy R) went on in English about all he could remember concerning his day.

And even though I have been through all this before, as a mother and a teacher, it is still such a pleasant surprise to me. I am still astonished by the progress. I am still stunned by witnessing these gifts of my life and my profession unravel before me.

It’s like Christmas to me … So often!

Thank you very much.

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A factual account of bilingualism and multilingualism in our personal and professional lives

This post is a summary of my talk on ‘A factual account of bilingualism and multilingualism in our personal and professional lives’ during our 1st International Loras Workshop in Zug, Switzerland.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

We would like to thank all those who were present at our 1st International Workshop on Sunday, 22 September 2013. We would also like to thank all those who were not able to attend but supported us online, offline or any other way possible, sending a wish or a kind word. We greatly appreciated the presence and support of our exceptional speakers, Dr MA Sipra, Mr Alex Rawlings and Ms Claudia Buzzoni. Our friends and family deserve a huge thank you for all their support throughout our personal and professional lives.

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The theme of the year at this workshop was ‘Bilingualism and Multilingualism in Families and Language Learning’.  We decided to start off our series of workshops with this specific theme for a very good reason.

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I have been an English Language teacher for eighteen years and a mother for eight years. Whether at our school in Greece or in Switzerland, the questions that parents/clients ask us have been constantly the same.

* At what age should a child start an additional language?

* How frequently should the child be exposed to the additional language?

* Will the child get confused?

* Should a parent speak to the child in the additional language?

* Should the new language start when they start learning it at school or should they get a headstart?

* Is there something more we must do as parents and / or teachers?

I too had the same questions when I started off my career as a language teacher and even more so when I became a parent. I needed answers for my students and my children, so I specifically started studying bibliography on this topic. As much as I possibly could. And the questions started receiving answers; one by one… consistently.

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These are the conclusions I reached personally and professionally:

* At what age should a child start an additional language?

  It does not really matter as long as there is CONSISTENCY.

* How often should the child be exposed to the additional language?

  As often as possible or feasible, as long as we are CONSISTENT.

* Will the child get confused?

   Not if we are CONSISTENT.

 * Should a parent speak to the child in the additional language?

    If it is his/her (almost) native language and they feel confident in using it, yes, but

CONSISTENTLY.

* Should we start the additional language when it begins at school or earlier?

  It does not really play that big a role as long as it is done CONSISTENTLY.

* Should we do something more as parents and / or teachers?

  Be CONSISTENT with your children and / or students and keep learning more on the topic of languages CONSISTENTLY.

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One of the aspects of our profession that I really love is the fact that you can actually mix business with pleasure. Everything I applied at our school, I did at home and what I experienced at home, I added to the methodology of our school. The basis for our efforts and progress was given mainly by two books.

The first one that I started studying was Growing up with two languages by Una Cunningham-Andersson and Staffan Andersson. Two educators and parents of four children that were raised bilingually. That combination alone was a guarantee for me that the specific book was a good choice to start off with. When I was pregnant to our first child, we were living in Greece and bilingualism was our concern and focus. I studied, selected, adjusted, skipped, repeated and applied whatever I understood was relevant to our family and business situation.

Before we moved to Switzerland, I was pregnant to our second child and a third language was to be introduced into our lives. A language none of us knew. A language that would be added to our first child’s bilingual foundation and a language that would be simultaneously introduced to our second child along with two other languages. The second book that I turned to for this special guidance was ‘Raising Multilingual Children’ again written by an educator and mother, Tracey Tokuhama-Espinosa. This was even more challenging and at the same time, I had to properly revise all I had learnt from the first book. We had to stick to the successful recipe we started off with while transforming our language acquisition to the new circumstances, without pressure on the children just as we had never applied pressure on our students. We have always been trying to make our language lessons and experiences pleasantly productive.

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A summary of our language journey would include our decision to follow the ‘One Person, One Language’ method. This was the best choice based on our family’s personality, our professional schedules and the languages we were confident in.

We were all very devoted to this project; all members of my husband’s and my own family and the consistency we maintained was another winning factor.

We really had to show patience, especially in the case of our second child who was brought up multilingually from scratch. Our patience has paid off. Without pressure, without stress, patience helps children elegantly learn languages.

Progress is the gift you keep on receiving when being consistent and patient. This is one of the things that makes us love being teachers and / or parents.

And my personal favourite: encouragement. What better motivation than the kind proud words of a teacher or a parent.

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While walking around our home to see what other ideas and tips I may had forgotten to include in my talk, I stumbled upon a slip-up. Everyone in the room immediately spotted it! And we have now added the labels of our nicely organized boxes in the languages of Greek and German, too.

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I ended my talk with some recommendations of sites concerning the topic of bilingualism and multilingualism hoping any piece of information would encourage the teachers and / or parents to go ahead and apply. Consistently and confidently. Pleasantly and productively.

Thank you all for your support!

Feat No 19: Fear NOT doing this Feat (About missing children)

 I have a rational fear. I fear children getting lost.

When we go somewhere with our family, we do our best to explain the place, the circumstances, the time frame and the events clearly. As much as we can, but clearly.

We mention to the children which destination we are heading off to, especially on family trips, but even when we are going to the supermarket or department store, cinema or stroll. We explain that a place might be crowded and busy. We state who is going to hold whose hand and that we must always maintain a distance at which we can both see each other. We have written our contact details on their backpacks and they have a business card of ours on them. And we do our best to enjoy our outing in a safe way. Without panic, but always alert.

This is how we have done things so far and fortunately, to this day, we are all together.

When I was two and a half years old, I got lost. In a huge department store in Toronto, Canada. I was with my parents and my sister, Vicky was a baby then in her stroller. I cannot say that I remember anything else from that age except that day!

 I remember every single detail but from the moment I realized that mom and dad were not around until the moment I reunited with my father. Nothing before that and not much after that, until, of course, I got older.

 ” I am in front of several television screens (probably at the display of an electronics shop) absorbed in a cartoon they had on. When the scene changes, I snap out of my magnetic attraction to the screen and realize I am alone. Yes, there are lots of people around me but I am alone because mom and dad are not next to me. Cleverly for that age, I kneel and on all four, look around to see if I can see my parents’ shoes walking around. No. I stand up again. In shock. I cannot even cry. Speechless. Even my body temperature feels weird. I hear a woman’s voice asking me if I am lost. I do not answer. I do not even turn to look at her. She told me something else but I could not hear her. All of a sudden, I found myself in an office and the woman’s voice said that they would help me find my parents. They asked me my name and I just said, Gina. I heard a man’s voice saying something and then my name. In a matter of moments, dad came through the door. Such relief. Such relief. And then my memory goes blank again into the rest of my toddlerdom.”

I am so unbelievably grateful to the lady who did the right thing. I thank her so much that she will never know.

Whenever I see a child with that look on his/her face, I immediately react. Even if I am with my children. Even if the child eventually is not lost and in a few seconds the parent appears from the cash register of the supermarket. I must admit that I dread such moments. I must say that I want to help out every time this happens. I must admit that not many people notice when such a thing happens or just react by saying ” Oh poor, thing! He must have lost his mommy” … And then what?

Whether we have had such an experience or not, we must all react actively, immediately and properly.

That is also one of the reasons that we support, as much as we can, the invaluable work of The Smile of the Child (http://www.hamogelo.gr/1.2/home). Besides, a billion other invaluable actions they have been conducting since their foundation to help children smile (hamogelo in Greek means smile), they have actively participated in finding missing children. We can all help. We can.

Please do not leave a child wαndering alone. Act. Try to help the child get to the authorities or the management of the place you are at. Please do not just look at the situation passively. It is so simple to help. To do the right thing.

During the summer break, we we very lucky to spend a couple of days at an educational amusement park in Germany. While Maggie and Nicholas were playing at one of the activity centers, I noticed a very young boy, about four years old,  quietly crying alone. With that look on his face. Others noticed him too. They had their children with them and could not stop, I guess. I had to spoil Maggie and Nicholas’ fun moment. They know my story about getting lost and they know that we must help. Even if we have to spoil our fun. I would rather spoil a lot of things than spoil a child’s life. We took the reluctant  child to the central offices of the amusement park. He had no contact details on him. He did not know English. Maggie spoke to him in German translating what I was telling her. No. We did not do something heroic. We did the only right thing. That is what I told Maggie and Nicholas. And then we went back to play.

This is dedicated to all the volunteers of The Smile of the Child. I have had the honour of meeting the President of this Non-Governmental Organization, Mr Yannopouls, and Ms Kavallieraki, one of the huge contributors to this unbelievable work. Their team can give answers to your questions concerning all aspects of children, whether you ask as a family, a school or an individual.

Do not worry children. We will all do our best to help you get back to your homes safe and sound.

Thank you.

 http://www.hamogelo.gr/42.2/Who-we-are

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Feat No 18: Our events

One of the best parts of being a teacher has been the events we organize for our young learners – for our children. Ever since I started teaching English, I have always tried to find a way to incorporate these educational and entertaining events in our school year.

When I was a freelance teacher and, among several other projects, taught English as a second language to Greek children at a private preschool, we would organize beautiful celebrations for Christmas and the end of the school year. I was responsible for creating a segment in English. It would usually be a short play full of English songs, jumbo flash cards, words and phrases we had learnt throughout the year. What was special about these mini English celebrations, was the result! The children loved them, the parents were thrilled and I was so fulfilled. At the end of the events, the parents would come up to me and express themselves so enthusiastically that they felt their children had performed better in English than in their native language.

Later on at our Language School in Greece, The Loras English Academy, we continued hosting such events with the aid of technology: our interactive white board, videos, DVDs, CD-ROMs, audio storybooks, printable worksheets and electronic board games.

As I mentioned in my talk, on 22 September 2013, what I also love about our profession is that we have the great benefit of being able to mix business and pleasure. In such a productive and pleasant way. To this day we still have an event for children, at least once a month. Every month, a theme is chosen and played with in written, spoken, game and creative form, providing our students with extra practice in English, maybe additional encyclopedic knowledge on a topic and with a wonderful dose of fun. For one hour, we make the best of every theme.

The pleasure, however, is not only in the entertaining aspect of the events. As a mother, I can invite my own children into this world of knowledge and happiness. What a combination!

Even when on holidays, we try to find such combinations at the places we visit. My personal favourite has been our trips to Ravensburger Spieleland in Germany. An absolutely excellent environment of very fun education. Even when choosing hotels, we make sure their is a playroom or kids club for them.

Finally, we felt very proud when we had an article published about one of our events during the previous school year. It was “Clifford, the Big Red Dog” Day at The Loras Network and we all had a great time.

Thank you.

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Feat No 17: Oops! There is always room for improvement.

That was the title of one of my slides for my talk on Bilingualism and Multilingualism in Language Learning and Families.

While preparing my talk for our 1st Workshop, I felt I should mainly use material from this blog. I tried to create a summary of all the things I have learnt, used, taught, studied, dealt with and felt while raising my children bilingually and multilingually.

 As I had paused the blog for a while in order to prepare for this event, I thought I should remember if I had added something to our daily routine now that Maggie and Nicholas are older. Or notice something in our home that had been changed or added to facilitate us educationally.

 I actually did come across two things:

* I remembered that just as we follow a pattern with our daily audiovisual moments, we started off using the same pattern for bedtime books. Before the children go to sleep, depending on which language day it is, I give them a stack of books in that language, either to flip through, or one of us reads to them; or Maggie even reads to Nicholas.

This helps them in all sorts of ways, whether they actually read or are read the book, or neither. If they are read a book, they gather all the pronunciation and vocabulary, phrases and expressions, illustrations and concepts the book (and its language) have to offer! If they flip through the book, even the direct or indirect encounter with the letters of the book and the pictures, offers a lot. In the case that Maggie reads the book to Nicholas, well then what more can you ask for! It’s the full package. And all that in a very pleasant and calm atmosphere. Relaxing before bedtime in one of the best ways!

* The second thing I realized was a mistake! A slip-up! And I mentioned it during my talk.   We love having things organized in the house! Especially I do. I personally wish I could have every single detail organized and labelled. Of course, a touch of messiness here and there has its special effect, too – or at least, I have persuaded myself so, in order not to get too obsessed with the issue.

 In Maggie’s room, we have several small wooden boxes that hold different items, mainly for crafts or collections. I labelled them, as you probably would expect, but…did so ONLY in English. So I took a photo of this error of mine and brought it up towards the end of my talk. All participants not only realized the mistake immediately but also understood the significance of writing the labels in our family’s other two languages as well.

And that is what I shall do tomorrow. No, no, I am not delaying something that I can do today… I just forgot the labelling machine at the office. It’s on my To-Do list!

Thank you!

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Feat No 16: The magical harp

Every summer, we visit Greece. Even though on holidays, our language project is at its best. The participants of this project are there waiting for us to express their love and spend their time in the language they each use with Maggie and Nicholas.

Before reaching our hometown, we have been visiting the same beach hotel for the past three years. We like it very much there and most of all we love the live harp music in the  evening. Especially Maggie.

For three years now, she has been asking to begin harp lessons. Patiently and persistently. She registered at our local Music school and this August the lessons began! She is enchanted!

We even rented a harp at the right height so that she can practise at home. She loves it so much that already from the first lesson she learnt the chords and their exact positioning. In the second lesson she had created a song of her own.

When Maggie practises, Nicholas sits down in front of her. Enchanted!

We are all enchanted by the magical harp! The harp she fell in love with in GREECE, is being learnt here in GERMAN and she can play songs in ENGLISH!

Thank you.

the magical harp

The Loras Network interviews Claudia Buzzoni (ELT Consultant for Macmillan Education)- Speaker at the 1st International Loras Network Workshop

Loras Network (L.N.): Claudia, thank you so much for giving us this interview. We are so excited that you will have a presentation at our 1st Loras Network Workshop on Bilingualism and Multilingualism!

Claudia Buzzoni (C. B.):  Thank you! I’m really looking forward to speaking at your workshop next month. It’s a topic that’s close to my heart as my oldest daughter is just starting to put together her first sentences in both Swiss German and English.

L.N.: Claudia, we met you as the representative for Macmillan Publications. Can you tell us a few things about yourself and your work?

C. B.: I’ve been with Macmillan Education for the past three and a half years. I work closely with a wide range of private and public school teachers throughout the country, helping them to select and implement different teaching materials. Outside of work, I’m studying linguistics and German and am also a mum to two small girls.

L.N.: You have also taught extensively. What do you enjoy the most about teaching, and what about working in publications?

C. B.: I loved working with students and watching as they absorbed new information and developed their skills. Working with teachers, I still get a huge amount of satisfaction of helping someone find materials that will make their classes easier to teach and a more effective place for learners to learn.

L.N.: Macmillan has a great variety of readers, which in our opinion are an important means of learning in every home and school. How can teachers and parents best exploit your readers?

C. B.: That’s a big question! Giving children access to any kind of reading material has so many knock-on benefits. Modelling is a great way to encourage reading. Offering loads of opportunities to read and exploring different ways to use texts also helps. Sourcing materials that are enjoyable to the children and making sure that activities are suitable for their skills also helps motivate them to read more.

L.N.: We are extremely enthused with your six-series Macmillan English books for our international young learners. This is a series you specifically recommended we use and we thank you. What are the strongest points of your referral?

C. B.: This course makes use of research into how English is learnt as a native language, and how it is taught in English curriculum classrooms. As a result, it combines the best-practice of both learning English as a mother tongue and as a second/foreign language. It’s ideal for international children who come to your classes with varying degrees of English language experience. It also offers early exposure to rich and genuine language – a great basis for studying other subjects in English as well as leading towards native-like fluency in both spoken and written English.

L.N.: What would you advise all the educators out there reading your interview?

C. B.: There is no single ‘right’ way to teach, or to learn, and teachers should also participate in the ‘learning’!

L.N.: Thank you so much, Claudia! We look forward to seeing you in September and attending your presentation.

For more information on Macmillan Education, our 2013 event as well as the interviews of our other distinguished speakers, please feel free to explore the following links:

http://www.macmillaneducation.com/

http://www.lorasnetwork.com/events/events-1/25-1st-international-loras-network-Workshop

https://eugenialoras.wordpress.com/2013/06/20/feat-no-14-our-1st-workshop-on-bilingualism-and-multilingualism-in-language-learning-and-families/

https://eugenialoras.wordpress.com/2013/07/21/the-loras-network-interviews-alex-rawlings-speaker-at-the-1st-international-loras-network-workshop/

https://eugenialoras.wordpress.com/2013/08/01/the-loras-network-interviews-dr-muhammad-aslam-sipra-speaker-at-the-1st-international-loras-network-workshop/

The Loras Network interviews Dr Muhammad Aslam Sipra – Speaker at the 1st International Loras Network Workshop

Loras Network (L.N.): Dr. Sipra, we really appreciate this interview you are giving us. We are delighted that you will present at our 1st Loras Network Workshop on Bilingualism and Multilingualism.

Dr. Sipra: Thank you very much for inviting me to this interview. I feel very honoured to be one of the speakers of the Loras Network Workshop on Bilingualism and Multilingualism.

L.N.: Initially, we would like to ask you what drew you into the field of education.

Dr. Sipra: Frankly speaking, I never thought of joining the field of education or teaching. I joined the teaching profession with the intention that I would quit this job as soon as I get any managerial or administrative position. As the time went by, I worked hard in this profession and gradually started enjoying university teaching. Presently, I can’t think of any other job and teaching is my passion now.

L.N.: One of your main interests is bilingualism. How did you select it as such,and why do you think it is important for language learning?

Dr. Sipra: In my country, we are all not only bilinguals but multilinguals. We have two medium of instruction i.e. Urdu and English. Majority is the product of Grammar Translation Method (GTM). I myself started learning English after primary education I mean I started learning English from Y-6 during school time. We are taught English through GTM in Urdu medium schools. When the same students come to learn English language in language institutions, they expect from their language instructors to explain some difficult concepts in their own language where bilingualism occurs. In fact, the bilingual system in our education and such circumstances faced by the students compelled me to conduct research on this topic.

Now I would like to answer the second part of your question why bilingualism is important in language learning. Bilingualism has a small but very important role in communicating meaning and content especially while teaching integrated skills at beginners’ level. It is used as a teaching technique. It has been endorsed by many teachers during my research on bilingualism that the translation of many words, complex ideas or even the whole passages is a good way to learn a foreign language. Pedagogically speaking, bilingualism in which two languages are at work, are complementary rather than mutually exclusive. Moreover, there is no empirical support for the view that bilingualism detracts from development of a foreign language.

L.N.: What are some of the most fascinating aspects of bilingualism for you?

Dr. Sipra: The interesting and fascinating aspect of bilingualism is that it is a teaching aid and a facility for both teachers and students. Simultaneously, it is surprising that some of our colleagues deny the contribution of bilingualism despite the fact that they benefit from it in their classes. The reason behind this is, some misconceptions about bilingualism. I have observed and experienced that it develops association between the teacher and the students. It is less time-consuming while teaching and learning a foreign language.

L.N.: We would like to know more about the program you teach at King Abdulaziz University in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia. What is the background of your students? What do the courses include?

Dr. Sipra: The English Language Course labelled as Intensive English I & II has been designed to put more emphasis on the basics of English language. The New Interchange Series by Cambridge is used to motivate our students to improve their ability to communicate in English fluently. Additionally, Rosetta Stone Software for English Language Learning is also used in our Language Labs to expedite and consolidate learning process. The students are made to improve their understanding of written texts as well as spoken language. Integration of skills has been made the target to achieve the goals. So, all the skills like Reading, Writing, Listening, Speaking and, of course, Grammar have been made the focal point of teaching & learning. In my Department, the students join the university for undergraduate courses after completing 12 years of schooling. Since the level of our students is so low, we have to work very hard with them as far as English language is concerned. They don’t study English intensively or extensively at school so they have to face a lot of difficulty in a university. Consequently, we have to start from the scratch and after spending 32 weeks with us, our students may interact in English comfortably to some extent.

L.N.: Your talk for our workshop is under the title of: Contribution of Bilingualism in Language Teaching at Beginners’ Level. Could you give us a brief introduction, and why you chose this topic?

Dr. Sipra: Well, I am going to talk about what bilingualism is and some misconceptions about it. Briefly speaking, my main focus will be on the applied side of bilingualism. I would like to share some data collected from the EFL teachers and the learners of English Language and will explain at what occasions, bilingualism assists teaching and learning.

L.N.: You have also written extensively in the subject, be it articles or books. Is there a topic you have not yet explored through your writing, that you would like to write on?

Dr. Sipra: Bilingualism is a very fast field. There are many aspects of bilingualism which need to be researched and explored. However, I would like to continue with the comparative analysis of Monolingualism and Bilingualism in future.

L.N.: And one more question about your writing. You have written many articles for the Canadian Center of Science and Education. How did that collaboration initiate?

Dr. Sipra: Well, I not only contributed but I am also part of the editorial board of one of their renowned journals in English language teaching which has been indexed and archived in world’s famous databases and libraries. I found this group very committed and well organized. They have maintained quality instead of quantity. Their contribution in the field of applied linguistics and research is highly appreciated. When I sent them my first research article for publication, I came to know that they have zero tolerance for plagiarism. So there I decided to contribute and work with them and our collaboration and mutual cooperation still continues.

L.N.: To close this interview, what advice would you like to give language teachers around the world for their careers?

Dr. Sipra: “To be great is to be a teacher”.

Education is truly an important field. It requires lots of hard-work and commitment from us as teachers. Continuous teacher development is the need of the hour. One has to manage such development oneself. A teacher has to be up-to-date in the present scenario and s/he should be able to understand the psychology of the students. To me, teaching is one of the most beautiful professions of the world.

L.N.: Thank you so much for your insights and time, Dr. Sipra!

Please feel free to explore the following links concerning Dr Aslam Sipra, his work, King Abdulaziz University and our 2013 Loras Network Workshop:

http://www.kau.edu.sa/CVEn.aspx?Site_ID=0052921&Lng=EN

http://www.kau.edu.sa/home_ENGLISH.aspx

http://www.ccsenet.org/journal/index.php/elt/article/view/23043

Click to access 263S.pdf

http://www.lorasnetwork.com/events/events-1/25-1st-international-loras-network-workshop

The Loras Network interviews Alex Rawlings – Speaker at the 1st International Loras Network Workshop

Loras Network (L.N.): Alex, we would like to thank you very much for this interview. We are also very happy that you will be presenting at our 1st Loras Network Workshop on Bilingualism and Multilingualism.

L.N. : Alex, we first saw you in a BBC video, being presented as the UK’s most multilingual student, with a total of eleven languages. Can you give us some background as to how and why you learned so many languages?

Alex Rawlings (A.R.): Languages started off as a hobby for me and quickly turned into a passion. I speak Greek from childhood and studied French and German at school, but that never felt like enough! There were so many people out there in the world that I wanted to talk to, and I didn’t want to restrict them to those I had a common language with. I picked up some language courses from my local bookshop and library and decided to have a go. Then I caught the bug – I wanted to learn more and more, picking a new one each summer and trying to find out as much about the country and culture as I could, hoping one day to visit them!

L.N. : What one tip would you give a child- language learner? How about a teenage-language learner and then an adult-language learner, as you have experienced all these stages now?

A.R. : Don’t let your limits be set by other people – set them yourself. Actually, I don’t think anyone really has limits, if you want something and you put your mind to it, you’ll always succeed. I think that advice applies to everyone!

I’m skeptical about there being an “ideal age” to learn languages. The way I’ve learnt languages has constantly changed and developed with the different ages I’m at. I used to hate flashcards and vocabulary lists when I was younger, but now I can appreciate their efficiency and I use them myself. Equally, I used to not have to spend much time on pronunciation, but now I have to concentrate on it a bit more. Not that any of these things become impossible as you get older (or younger!), it’s just that you have to change the way you go about them.

L.N. : What one tip would you give the parents of a child language learner? And then the parents of a teenage language learner? 

A.R. : Encourage them! Like with everything, there’s nothing a child wants more than supportive parents who think they’re great no matter what, even if they don’t always say so! But don’t be pushy with them – nobody can develop a passion for something when their parents are just forcing them to do it. We’re all individuals with our own interests, and for some languages aren’t that exciting. Don’t despair though, it’s very likely that they’ll go back to it in later life when they realise just how valuable languages are!

L.N. :We are sure many people are wondering, as we are as well – which is going to be your next language and why?

A.R. : The problem is there are so many languages I’d like to learn! It really depends on where I am when I finish my degree. If I’m still involved with Eastern Europe I think I have to learn Polish to find out more about the region. Otherwise I like the challenge of Arabic, and Turkish has always seemed interesting. But at the same time, I’d like to get better in the languages I do have!

L.N. : Do you know all languages you have acquired both in written and spoken form? Would you ever learn a language in only one form?

A.R. : Yes of course, and no never!

L. N. : Thank you so much, Alex! We are truly looking forward to meeting you in person.

Please feel free to explore the links to the 1st International Loras Network Workshop and Alex Rawlings’ blog:

http://www.lorasnetwork.com/events/events-1/25-1st-international-loras-network-workshop

Poster Part

http://rawlangs.com/

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Feat No 15: The Loras English Network …with a touch of Greek School!

Our school year is coming to an end and so is the case for Maggie’s Swiss Public School, Nicholas’ Swiss Playgroup and last but not least Maggie’s Greek School.

A full, productive and of course, hard-working year. One that is entitled to a well-deserved summer break.

When we decided to change Greek school after the Christmas break, as described in Feat No 4, we chose a private Greek school. Both, however, in Zurich. Twenty-five minutes away from Zug by train and one tram-ride away from the center of Zurich. And we did it. To be precise, Maggie did it. We were just the escorts. The cheerleaders that kept encouraging Maggie and her progress. For two whole years, every Saturday, Maggie woke up to a school day.

And when the going got tough, literally, the homework got heavy and the cheering was not working anymore, we discussed the issue with Maggie and decided that we should try the second option. The private Greek school. An extra expense for the family budget, but a very good way to maintain and progress our Greek. And it worked! Maggie had fewer hours of lessons, fewer classmates and less homework. She had regained confidence especially in her Greek speech and is now very advanced for a child that does not attend a daily Greek school.

We are very proud of her and also relieved that this school year has come to an end. She can relax and practise during our holidays in Greece with our relatives and friends.

But you do not know the best part yet…

Although The Loras Network is, in fact, The Loras ENGLISH Network, we have decided to go a bit further than that and create a Greek Language Workshop for the families of Greek origin living in Zug:

Dear Parents and Students,

As of the new school year, August 2013 we shall begin a Greek Language group for an hour and a half, once a week. This will be a group for children aged 6 years old and up. The lessons will take place at our facilities and we shall maintain and develop the children’s Greek Language skills in a pleasant and creative way close to their homes.
As we noticed with our own child, Maggie, it has been extremely difficult, exhausting, time-consuming and expensive travelling to another Canton weekly. We have been doing so for the past two years while trying to facilitate her Greek language skills at the Greek schools that exist in Zurich. Through our own personal experience, we came up with the idea of creating this Greek Language group here in Zug. For your children and ours.

And many families in Zug were relieved to receive that letter. So were we. So was Maggie who has already paved the way for Nicholas’ well-being while learning Greek.

At the same time, this will be a test for our professionalism as teachers due to Maggie’s presence in the group. Both Vicky and I are my children’s English-speaking contributors. From now on, every Wednesday for an hour and a half, we will be her Greek language teachers.

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A Special Feat: Professional Development While Being a Parent

For two and a half years, I was not in the classroom; not once did I think of deducting those years from my teaching career. And that, thanks to my two full-time students, in Life Sciences and English Language Learning; my daughter, Maggie and my son, Nicholas.

The amounts of Professional Development that I have been receiving through their development, physical, mental, psychological and linguistic, is invaluable.
This Special Feat is a message to all English Language Teachers who have become parents. Professional Development does not stop when you become a parent. On the contrary and through personal experience, you can make the utmost out of your gift and responsibility of being a parent:
You can be one great teacher for your family and for your students.
  •  We have turned our home into a school and our school into our second home. 
  • I have been extensively studying the specialized topics of Bilingualism and Multilingualism and have been applying all I am learning both to my children and my students.
  • Through this effort, several other colleagues-parents have become motivated and began studying and asking for advice on these issues – issues that are firmly bonded with teaching languages. 
  • Some of us may not be able to frequently visit workshops and conferences. That’s alright! That’s what webinars, online conferences and workshops, educational blogs, social media and books are for.
  • And some of us may be able to bring our own children into the groups we teach. This is my personal favourite. As if I have been living and working for this.  

Congratulations to all teachers and parents on their feats. Thank you.  

This post was originally published on the BELTA (Belgian English Language Teachers Association) blog.

Feel free to explore BELTA Belgium: http://www.beltabelgium.com

(The Loras Network is an institutional member of BELTA Belgium)

maggie and nicholas

Feat No 14: Our 1st Workshop on Bilingualism and Multilingualism in Language Learning and Families

As a parent, I have been in doubt and under pressure when raising my children initially bilingually and later on multilingually. And there have been times that I have had to:
– study hard on the topic,
– invest in resources,
– be loyal to a plan or method,
– commit to a schedule,
– exchange feedback with other parents with similar experiences,
– accommodate ideas to our family life and all that… while trying to make it as pleasant as possible for everyone involved.

As a teacher, I have been encouraging language learning and teaching an additional language to a monolingual speaker or to an already bilingual one for almost eighteen years. And there have been times during that role that I have had to:
– study hard on the topic,
– learn through numerous experiences of teaching all ages and all levels,
– invest in resources,
– build up a methodology according to the feedback from students and/or their parents,
– pass on this information and experience to all colleagues working with us,
– ultimately contribute to bilingualism and/or mutlilingualism and all that… while trying to make it as pleasant as possible for everyone involved.

Whether a parent, a teacher or both, it is amazing how many things we have in common. Just look above. And that is how the idea of our 1st International Loras Network Workshop was born. Bilingually; multilingually; while raising our children and teaching our students.

In an attempt to cover as many aspects of this topic as possible:
Dr Muhammad Aslam Sipra will cover the topic of the contribution of bilingualism in language teaching at beginners’ level. (As a teacher, I cannot wait to learn more on this issue and as a mother, it will help me figure out how teachers handle it).
Ms Claudia Buzzoni will guide us in the world of resources, motivation and alternatives. (As a teacher and a parent, I need to invest in the appropriate direction).
Mr Alex Rawlings is our live example of how a child, a teenager and then an adult can learn languages – yes, in the plural. (As a teacher, I wish he were my student and as a mother, how relieved I feel with his results).
Vicky Loras will touch that international point of view of languages and countries, people and their cultures, our world. (As a teacher and a parent, I love the idea of our students and children learning in depth).
As a mother and a teacher, I, Eugenia Loras, would love to share the story of my personal and professional life, with all its mistakes and joy!
I will be honored to experience all this with you.
Thank you.
Poster Part
http://www.lorasnetwork.com/events/events-1/25-1st-international-loras-network-workshop

Feat No…13?: Not that unlucky after all – We have the Sunshine Award!

Thank you very much Stephen Greene, www.headoftheheard.wordpress.com, for awarding the www.eugenialoras.wordpress.com blog with the Sunshine Award!

The Sunshine Award  is given to those who write positive and inspiring articles and bringing some sunshine into the life of others. The Sunshine blogging award has its own rules and requirements:

– Link back the blog who nominated you.

– Post the award images in your blog.

– Tell seven facts about yourself.

– Nominate 5 to 10 blogs and let them know about it.

I dedicate this award to my children and my family for all their achievements and support! Congratulations to them all!

As a Sunshine Award winner, I am supposed to say seven facts about myself:

1. I am a Thank You person so I would like here to thank you all!

2. I have been preparing and working for my children, Maggie and Nicholas even before they were born. As if I already knew them.

3. Words cannot describe how much I love my work.

4. My favourite colour is purple.

5. My favourite book is “Someday” by Alison McGhee and Peter H. Reynolds, Scholastic.

6. I really love autumn and my birthday!

7. Whenever I send my wishes to someone, I truly hope they come true!

And now I am honored with the privilege of awarding the following blogs with the Sunshine Award:

1. www.swissirja.wordpress.com : Sirja Bessero deserves the Sunshine Award because she is the super mother of three children and an excellent English language teacher in Switzerland

2. www.beltabelgiumblog.blogspot.ch: The Belta Blog Team deserves the Sunshine Award because they provide excellent guidance and support not just to teachers in Belgium but all around the world.

3. www.rosebardeltdiary.wordpress.com: Rose Bard deserves the Sunshine Award because she has been wonderfully raising three children and loves teaching English in Santa Catarina.

4. www.ariascarm.wordpress.com : Carmen Arias deserves the Sunshine Award because she teaches English in Spain, while beautifully raising her family.

5. www.rawlangs.com : Alex Rawlings deserves the Sunshine Award because he is an extraordinarily valuable role model for children, parents and teachers.

6. www.vickyloras.wordpress.com : Vicky Loras deserves the Sunshine Award exactly  because she is my sister. Vicky is a very special English Language teacher in Switzerland, she is the Godmother of our children and the best professional partner I could ever ask for.

Thanking you very much,

Eugenia

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Feat No 12: The language of happiness

We decided to literally take the day off today and have an all-day family pyjama party.

So we woke up and enjoyed some Sunday morning children’s cartoons while having breakfast. And while I enjoy having fun, I apologize for craving to follow some sort of schedule or pattern even on carefree days so, it being German day on our calendar, we watched the cartoons in German. (Those of you who have read our previous blog posts probably predicted that).

Even though Mom and Dad did not even understand half of what was being said, all four of us laughed.

Then Maggie and Nicholas decided to play imagination games (in their sibling code, which is English so far) while we prepared our morning coffees. When their laughter was just about ready to turn into tension over some serious sharing issues, Mom remembered some forgotten games and all three of us played (in English) and laughed.

Then Mom got a bit tired and her laughter was no longer real or realistic, so Dad was called upon to join in the fun. Ball games were up next for the three of them (in Greek, apparently). And again they laughed a lot.

Lunch time was on its way so Maggie and Nicholas switched back to English until our meals were ready. After lunch, some quiet time was appropriate for digestion and as already mentioned, a nice break with a German children’s programme was just right for that.

The children’s energy was back, Mom and Dad’s was not, so we all agreed to do our own thing. This led to Maggie and Nicholas playing numerous games, making up stories, dancing and singing (in English) but always laughing. I chose to do some work with Vicky over the phone and on the computer and Dad chose to do some work of his own as well.

A final burst of really loud laughing, a slight dose of hyperactivity, an extra revival of remaining energy leading to harmeless micro-accidents (including minor head collisions, gentle pushing, unexpected stumbling) brought our evening to an end. However, during this final chapter of the day, English, Greek and German were not used at all. Body language was the dominant language and again loads of laughter.

Last but not least, story time from Mom to Maggie and Nicholas was presented in non-other than English until both children were fast asleep – in all languages.

The truth is that all the above happen automatically as far as the language-switching is concerned.

But the language we all stuck to today, understood perfectly and loved using no matter who we were with was the language of happiness. My favourite of them all!

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