Category Archives: Teaching

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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The Loras Workshops

The Loras Workshops.

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 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 No 21: Christmas Events with our students and colleagues throughout the years

Since my first year of teaching English as an additional language, Christmas educational events have always been an important part of our school year and curriculum.

Whether in large groups

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or privately,

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when I was teaching single-handedly

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with my sisters, Vicky and Christine

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or with a beautifully powerful team of educators,

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for toddlers

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or teenagers,

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in Greece

LOGO LORAS ACADEMY

and in Switzerland,

Providers of English Studies, Services and Events

before my children were born,

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while carrying them

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and later on in collaboration with them,

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as well as for them,

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with simple Christmas trees

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or theme-based ones

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using paper-based activities and crafts

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or technology

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nineteen personal and professional years have passed by, nineteen teachable Christmas Events have been created… and we are still having fun while we are far from done!

Thank you!

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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