Tag: Dublin

Techniques to improve communication in the Home Language

Techniques to improve communication in the home language

Techniques to improve communication in the Home LanguageBuilding on the success of our courses on bilingualism for parents, we have developed a new practical class for parents who want to practice some of the tips and techniques to promote the active use of their languages. The first class will take place on 17th April at 7:30 in the Outhouse, 105 Capel Street, Dublin 1.
Parents will learn about strategies to encourage children to use home languages more regularly by using games, stories and other tools. We will show you games that promote adult-child interaction that suits toddlers, preschoolers and primary school children.
The course is aimed at parents of bilingual/plurilingual children, but it would also suit early childhood educators and teachers who have an interest in supporting parents in developing their children’s language skills in the home language.

Places on this course are limited. 
Book yours HERE
The course is FREE for Mother Tongues Members – To find out more visit https://mothertongues.ie/membership/
If you are a member and you want to book a place, please email Francesca at francesca@mothertongues.ie

The Unuhi Short Story Writing Competition 2019

unuhiCalling all school children around the world! Write a short story and become a published author on Unuhi.

Unuhi is a new bilingual books app for children. Launched in late 2018, the app offers short stories and flashcards for children aged 2 -10 years.
Twenty languages are supported and the app displays any two of these on screen at the same time in a child-friendly bilingual eBook format. Native audio narration is currently available in English, Spanish, French and German.

Closes June 7th, 2019

Find out more at https://unuhi.com/2019-story-competition/

Download competition rules here.

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Got a question? We are here to help!

Raising bilingual children can be both a happy and a frustrating experience. Parents who move to a new country and want to transmit their mother tongue to their children often face challenges and may be puzzled by the many different strategies that are recommended by friends and family.
We know that parents are very happy when they see that their children develop both English and the heritage language in a harmonious way. Very often parents ask about the magic formula to create the “perfect” bilingual environment for a child to develop two (or more) languages. You will find many tips out there, and many good ideas and suggestions that you can try at home.
However, as many of you know, every family has a unique language history and patterns in the use of the different languages spoken in the home and outside. This is why many parents want to talk to an expert, to describe their own experience, their strategies and the challenges they are facing. Sometimes parents want to ask questions about their child’s linguistic development, about the procedures to be referred to speech and language therapy, or they simply want to be reassured that they are doing the right thing.

Claudia Kunkel, Mother Tongues, Mother Tongues Dublin, mother tongues, multilingualism, rising bilingual children Dublin, bilingualism, DublinMother Tongues offers a free one to one chat to all members. We can meet you in person or via Skype, or we can talk on the phone, and we discuss your situation, your questions about your child’s linguistic development and the strategies that would best suit your family. Together we discuss suitable options to encourage your child to speak your language.

If you would like to avail of this service or to find out more about our private consultations please contact Claudia Kunkel.

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Language Adventures awarded the Dublin Bus Community Spirit Award

Dublin Bus Community Spirit Awards 2018Mother Tongues’ new project Language Adventures was awarded the Dublin Bus Community Spirit Award this November.
Mother Tongues was one of the many great organisations that work tirelessly with the local community, and we are proud to receive this award for a new collaborative project with Dublin City Libraries.
Language Adventures is a community storytelling project taking place in Dolphin’s Barn Library, Dublin 12. Each month volunteer Language Ambassadors will read or tell stories in their mother tongue and they will engage audiences in fun craft activities, that will then be displayed in the library for a month. The first three Language Adventure sessions will be in Italian, Polish and Mandarin Chinese.
The sessions are free and open to people of all ages.
Language Adventures_0484
The project is led by Claudia Kunkel (Mother Tongues) and Beata Molendowska (Dolphin’s Barn Library).
For a full list of Language Adventures dates, visit our EVENTS page.

Language Explorers. Book launch at the Chester Beatty Library, 18th Sept 2018.

Launch of Language Explorers Activity Book

The Language Explorers Activity Book was launched on 18th September at the Chester Beatty Library in Dublin.
The event opened with an address by  Bláthnaid ní Ghréacháin, CEO of Gaeloideachas, on the importance of multilingualism and the relevance of the Language Explorers Activity Book in classrooms.
The launch included a fantastic “Language Explorers” themed workshop organised by Dr La Morgia in collaboration with Jenny Siung, Head of Education at the Chester Beatty Library, who worked together on the book.

“It was an honour to be able to collaborate with Jenny Siung and Justyna Chmielewska at the Chester Beatty Library, because they immediately understood the potential of this multilingual resource and their collection is the perfect starting point for a multilingual treasure hunt” said La Morgia. “I really enjoyed seeing the children walking around the collection and spotting the objects that were portrayed in the book and I hope that many more children will be able to look at this collection and at the world around them with a different attitude after they have completed the activities in the book.”

Dr Francesca La Morgia awarded the European Language Label for the Language Explorers initiative
Dr Francesca La Morgia awarded the European Language Label for the Language Explorers initiative

Since the book launch, the Language Explorers project for primary schools has been awarded the European Language Label, an award that rewards innovative initiatives in the realm of language teaching and learning.

The Language Explorers activity book, published by Mother Tongues, includes activities for primary school children that encourage them to explore the linguistic landscape around them and to play with language. The activity book takes children on a journey of discovery through games, quizzes and word searches. Young Language Explorers will start observing the languages they see every day on road signs, shop fronts and even on their food labels!

The book is available in English and in Irish, thanks to the support of Gaeloideachas.

Mother Tongues, European Day of Languages

European Day of Languages 2018

Mother Tongues’ very first celebration of the European Day of Languages has been a fantastic multilingual marathon… or langua-thon, with 9 days of events which involved more than 500 people of all ages.

We started on Culture Night – 21st September – with a multilingual reading of The Hare and the Tortoise, one of the best known Aesop’s fables, at the Gutter Bookshop. We told the story in Swedish, German, Irish, Greek, Italian, French, Maltese and Russian. Children loved listening to the sounds of new languages and our storytellers had a great time!

On 22nd September two Native Scientist workshops took place in Trinity College Dublin. In these workshops, 5 Italian speaking scientists and 5 Spanish speaking scientists spoke to more than 50 children about their research and engaged them in fun experiments and games. Children learned about the brain, about cells and DNA, about the oldest rocks in the world, and much more, but more importantly, they learned about science through the medium of their mother tongue.

The highlight of the week was the European Language Label Awards! Language Explorers received the European Language Label from Minister Richard Bruton, and this recognition has given us great energy to start the programme in new schools from next week!

The LexIcon Library in Dun Laoghaire was the home of many of the activities that took place around the European Day of Languages. On Monday 24th September two classes visited the library for Language Explorers workshops. Children learned about Irish Sign Language, about the many languages spoken in Africa and they played games based on similarities between languages. On Tuesday 25th and Thursday 24th Claudia Kunkel ran two multilingual storytelling sessions in collaboration with Erika Piazzoli, Aga Pedrak and Juliette Saumande (pictured here). The library also hosted a talk on raising bilingual children, which was attended by mums, dads, and grandparents who shared a common goal: supporting their family’s multilingualism with a positive attitude and great determination!

Francesca also visited Clones Library for two Language Explorers school workshops, and she shared her knowledge of Irish Sign Language and Italian in exchange for some Gaelige and Lithuanian. Everyone had lovely stories to share, and we discovered that the Italian and the Irish words for LAMP are similar in Italian, Spanish, Russian and Irish!

The week ended with our bimonthly Language Adventures reading project, which saw Italian speaking families sharing stories and reading books in Italian at Dolphin’s Barn library in Dublin 8.


This week has given us great energy to continue with our activities and to keep spreading the message that multilingualism is a great asset for our society! We hope you enjoyed our events too, and we look forward to seeing you soon!

To keep informed, do not forget to subscribe to our newsletter and follow us on Social Media!

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“Sou mar” book launch

[text in Portuguese below – texto em português abaixo]

We leave home, manage to fit our lives in thirty-two kilos…Get the flight, on an unknown soil we land, we open the luggage of our life and ask: ‘What is missing? ’or ‘What is extra weight?’ and the journey starts.

Maybe life is something like this everywhere: getting and giving; leaving and arriving; dreaming and forgetting; losing and winning, and we can see things clearly, when we pack them.

Few clothes, two shoes, a big dream. How about a book? A name in it. Mine.

It happened here, in Dublin, where I was received as a newborn, learning English as a 4-year-old girl, where I met Brazil most, where I met more Brazilians than before, where I met myself.

It took me to cross the ocean, to fly above the Atlantic, it took me leaving half of me and my belongings, took me time, it took me so long and today it is so close and I am filled. Filled with words.

One of the important Brazilians I met was Wladimir Vaz, who is Co-Founder and Editor of a Publisher “Urutau”, who invited Brazilians and Portuguese speakers to be part of an Anthology named “Sou mar [an anthology brazil-ireland]”, last year. This gave me hope about living as a Poet and I had the honour to be part of it together with the poet Rafael Mendes, who is also launching his book on Sunday. Our dream of becoming writers is now as palpable as a page of a book, and Ireland has a lot to do with it.

“Sou mar” is a personal journal that I started last Summer, when I got a week of holiday and went to one of the loveliest places I have been to: Malin Head, Donegal. It was in a moment I needed to find my own north, it was the first week after I decided to quit smoking and many things started to come across in my life: moments of depression, crisis in relationships, changes of jobs, a death of a friend and few days later the death of my grandfather and the day I found the love of my life. The book is written as a prose poetry in Portuguese with some pieces in English.

Ireland is a magical place and our magic begins on next Sunday, 1st of July and you are all welcome to be part of this moment with us, from 2 pm at Wigwam. Check the event for more information: https://www.facebook.com/events/263126740925046/ We will be selling the books for 15 euro on Sunday and then on the website: http://www.editoraurutau.com.br/.

Marluce Lima


1 de julho – Lançamento do livro – Marluce Lima e Rafael Mendes

Saímos de casa, encaixamos nossas vidas em trinta e dois quilos … Pegamos o vôo, em um terreno desconhecido nós pousamos, abrimos a bagagem de nossas vidas e perguntamos: “O que está faltando? ou “Qual é o peso extra?” e a jornada começa.

Talvez a vida seja algo assim em toda parte: dar e receber; sair e chegar; sonhar e esquecer; perder e ganhar; e podemos ver as coisas claramente, quando as empacotamos.

Poucas roupas, dois sapatos, um grande sonho. Que tal um livro? Um nome nele. O meu.

Aconteceu aqui, em Dublin, onde fui recebida como recém-nascida, aprendendo inglês como uma menina de 4 anos, foi onde conheci mais o Brasil, onde conheci mais brasileiros do que antes, onde me encontrei. Precisei atravessar o oceano, voar sobre o Atlântico, deixar metade de mim e meus pertences, me levou tempo. Demorei tanto e hoje está tão perto e sou completa. Completa pelas palavras.

Um dos brasileiros mais importantes que conheci foi Wladimir Vaz, co-fundador e editor da EditoraUrutau“, quem fez o convite à brasileiros e falantes da língua portuguesa para fazer parte de uma antologia chamada “trinta e dois quilos [uma antologia brasil-irlanda]”, a primeira oportunidade que me deu esperança de viver como poeta e a honra de fazer parte deste livro com a companhia do poeta Rafael Mendes, lançando seu livro também neste domingo. Nosso sonho de sermos escritores hoje se torna palpável como páginas de um livro e a Irlanda tem muito a ver com isso.

“Sou mar” é um diário pessoal que comecei no verão passado, quando tirei uma semana de férias e fui a um dos lugares mais lindos que já visitei: Malin Head, Donegal. Foi em um momento que eu precisei encontrar o meu próprio norte, foi a primeira semana depois que eu decidi parar de fumar e muitas coisas começaram a aparecer na minha vida: momentos de depressão, crise em relacionamentos interpessoais, mudanças de empregos, uma morte de um amigo e alguns dias depois a morte do meu avô e o dia em que encontrei o amor da minha vida. O livro é escrito em prosa poética em português com algumas poesias em inglês.

A Irlanda é um lugar mágico e a nossa magia começa no próximo domingo, 1º de julho, e todos são bem-vindos para fazer parte deste momento conosco, a partir das 14h no Wigwam. Veja no evento mais informações: (https://www.facebook.com/events/263126740925046/)

Os livros estarão sendo vendidos neste domingo a 15 euros e posteriormente, no site: http://www.editoraurutau.com.br/.

Chinese summer camp, Mother Tongues, Mother Tongues Dublin, mother tongues, multilingualism, rising bilingual children Dublin, bilingualism, Dublin

Third Edition of the Mandarin Chinese Summer Camp

More and more language classes are emerging around Ireland. Some of them seek to promote the learning of a new language, and some support the learning and maintenance of heritage languages, which are the languages the child speaks in the home environment. Many families have the opportunity to travel to their home country and immerse the children in the language. This experience often results in a boost in heritage language skills and gives the child to really experience the language by interacting with peers and with the extended family.
For those who would like to experience a similar immersion experience, Summer immersion camps are the best opportunity to be exposed to the language in a fun way, without travelling too far from home. The Summer immersion camp organised by the Dublin School of Mandarin Chinese is now in its third edition and it promises to be a fun and rewarding learning experience.
“Many research studies have shown that there are significant benefits to learning a second language at an early age such as oral proficiency, intrinsic motivation, effortless engagement, positive attitudes, higher phonological and grammatical abilities. The most effective language acquisition and highest proficiency methods of teaching and learning any languages are through immersion in that target language as well as to embrace the cultural dimension” says Evan Furlong, founder of the Dublin School of Mandarin Chinese.
“Irish students have many advantages of thriving in the 21st century: speaking the world’s business language today, English as lingua franca the ease of learning a second language as being bilingual from an early age (Gaeilge and English) and the only English-speaking country in the EU after Brexit. It would be a shame if we do not seek the opportunity of learning the target language of future economic powerhouse, Mandarin Chinese.”
Dublin School of Mandarin Chinese is running its 7th Summer Mandarin Chinese Immersion Camp that offers many fun activities such as Chinese arts, crafts, cooking, songs and fun with Chinese characters. Please click HERE to read the programme details.
For more information about our school, visit www.dsmc.biz or contact Evan Furlong at 0879911614.

Mother Tongues, Mother Tongues Dublin, mother tongues, multilingualism, rising bilingual children Dublin, bilingualism, Dublin

Why is my child refusing to speak my language?

Why is my child refusing to speak my language?

There are several reasons why a child refuses to use their parents’ language. I used to teach a girl in a Polish Saturday school who was very uncertain about her reading skills in Polish. Every time I asked her to read a text, she would say “Please no” or she would whisper.
Once we had a Polish reading competition at school and all students had to read the text in front of their classmates. The girl refused and she had tears in her eyes. During the break, I asked her to read the text only to me. She agreed. The girl read fluently and made only a few small mistakes. Taking into account her age (9) and the fact that she was brought up bilingually in Ireland (from birth), she had very well-developed reading skills in Polish.
Why don’t you want to read it aloud? You’re doing very well”
I said to her. She admitted that someone once laughed at her when she read in Polish aloud and made a minor mistake.  She remembered the embarrassment and since that day she had no confidence in her own abilities.
After the school holidays, she agreed to read a text in front of the class and she won the 3rd place in the same competition. Since then, she has read more and more confidently in the classroom.
This story is an example of a situation when a child knows the language, but s/he is not convinced of his or her skills and thinks ‘I’m just not good enough at it’.
Sometimes, such a lack of confidence may result from experiences that the child may not be able to remember or explain if asked. In my experience, I have seen parents correcting their children’s errors very often when they talk, and this can have a negative impact on the child’s confidence in speaking the language. That is why it is better to use the correct word or phrase to naturally show the child the correct form, rather than pointing out their mistakes.

Mother Tongues, Mother Tongues Dublin, mother tongues, multilingualism, rising bilingual children Dublin, bilingualism, Dublin

Sometimes the reason for a child lacking confidence or refusing to speak the parents’ language is really related to poor language skills.
In my classes, I have come across children who are extremely fluent in English, but comparatively, have poor language skills in Polish. Children usually choose the language they know better, the language in which they can communicate their thoughts clearly and express their emotions precisely and easily. 
That is why it is crucial for parents to not only provide many opportunities for the child to use the minority language but also to offer a rich language environment.

This means exposing the child to the heritage language in a variety of situations and places, reading books, playing games, and meeting people with whom the child can communicate in the heritage language. In my opinion, all kinds of extra-curricular activities carried out in the language, Saturday schools or contact with family and friends (even via Skype), are very helpful at every age.


Another problem is a ‘rebellion’ which appears in many bilingual children and teenagers. The child may start to display a negative attitude towards the heritage language and may not want to use it even with their parents. Very often the child then tries to “force” other members of the family to use the majority language at home. Such a ‘rebellion’ does not necessarily have a linguistic motivation, it can be a form of rebellion connected to searching for one’s cultural identity. At this time, it is important that parents and families present their positive attitude towards both languages to show that they are equally important (that the heritage language is not in any way less valuable). Parents can also try talking with the child about bilingualism, asking about the way s/he feels, discussing challenges the child may face and discussing the benefits of speaking two languages.


Parents should also be aware of the possibility of speech development impairments. If you notice that your child does not speak at all (in any language) or does not want to speak in specific situations, or you just have any doubts about his/her language development, it is always worth consulting a speech and language therapist who works with multilingual children.


Aga Pedrak


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