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Posts tagged ‘communication’

Language and Music:Inseparable

I’ve told you before about my two passions: Language and Music. Watch this slide show that shows us how music and communication are related. Here is a summary of some of the most important points in this slide show:

  • Music and speech are intertwined starting in the womb. (We knew that!)
  • The melody of our voices is the musical nature of speech and it conveys feelings and meaning. For example, when we are happy we use a high pitch voice and we speak fast. When we are sad our speech is slow and we use deep monotone voice.
  • Taking music lessons helps us understand better the melody of words and interpret the emotions that they convey.
  • Pitch can vary between languages.
  • Our voices start getting shaped in the womb by the voices the baby hear.
  • In tonal languages like mandarin or Vietnamese, pitch determines the meaning of words.
  • Our perception of pitch is critical when we communicate to understand what others feel and mean.
  • When we learn to talk we help our music ability a well.

I loved this slide show because in just a few minutes it helps capture and understand the important relationship between language and music! I love my job!

Did you learn something with this slide show? Share your comments!


How do kids (and we) learn? Part 1

Have you ever wondered why there are certain subjects you or your children, can do better than others? That’s because we all learn in different ways. Learning styles entails how a person best takes in, understands, and remembers information. In most children, one sense is usually more finely tuned and influential for learning than the others. We receive information in different ways, auditorily, visually or tactile, so if you know which way your child learns better, then you could use that to help them in areas that are difficult for them.

There are 7 learning styles. Today we will learn about 3 styles: Linguistic, interpersonal and intrapersonal.

  • Linguistic: This type of learner loves to read, write, and tell stories. They tend to memorize places, dates, names, and trivia very easily. They have a remarkable ability to repeat back everything you have ever told them, word for word. These children learn best by saying, hearing, and seeing words. When they write down a word or a phrase, it is forever locked into their memory. As a parent or teacher we should encourage them to participate in spelling bees and creative writing courses.  


  • Interpersonal: These are the “social butterflies”. They adapt easily to any type of social situation, have many friends and are excellent leaders. They are patient, understanding, and very empathetic, which makes them a favorite among their playmates. They generally make good leaders because of their ability to mediate conflict, and are often referred to as the Peacemaker of the family. As a parent or teacher, we should encourage their love of people, and allow them to be with many different types of people. They will likely have a variety of types of friends and it is important to support and accept all of them. This type of learner will do best in a group situation as they compare, share, relate, and interview other people. If no group is available, don’t be surprised to see them create one in their animals or toys!


  • Intrapersonal: These strong willed people work best alone. They pursue their one interests and have a deep understanding of themselves. They are independent and original, and they tend to stand out from the crowd without even trying. They are the strong, silent type. They do best in self paced instruction, individualized projects, and working alone. Because these children work best alone, they often need to be encouraged to socialize.

Next week we’ll talk about spatial and logical learning styles.

Do you think you or your child has strengths in either one of these styles?

The bilingual myth

Being bilingual has many, many benefits. I know from experience! However, there are still people who believe that being bilingual can have negative effects on our life, our work and even our ability to communicate effectively. 

Here are some of the most common myths about bilingualism.

Bilinguals acquire their two or more languages in childhood. Not necessarily. Many adults become bilingual because they move from one country (or region) to another and have to acquire a second language. If they practice every day, they will be able to be proficient. However, there are many levels of proficiency, which leads us to our next myth…

Bilinguals have equal and perfect knowledge of their languages. Not true necessarily! Bilinguals will learn the languages as much as they need them and as much as they use them. Some bilinguals are dominant in one language, do not know how to read and write in one of their languages. Only a few people have equal proficiency in both (or more) of their languages. 

Real bilinguals have no accent in their different languages. Also not true!  Having an accent or not in a language does not make you more or less bilingual. It depends on when you acquired your languages, and if you learn the rules of the sounds, you can decrease your accent.

Bilinguals are born translators. Not necessarily. Bilinguals may be able to translate simple things from one language to another, but in order to translate you have to know about the audience and specific vocabulary.

Mixing languages is a sign of laziness in bilinguals. Definitely wrong! Mixing languages such as code-switching and borrowing is a very common behavior in bilinguals speaking to other bilinguals. Mixing languages is mostly used when an expression or words are better said in the one or the other language. (We do this all the time!)

Bilinguals are also bicultural. Not necessarily. Many bilinguals know the two languages but don’t know much about the culture of one of the languages.

Bilingualism will delay language acquisition in children. Definitely wrong! Depending on their age, they are acquiring two languages, simultaneously and they might be bicultural as well. There are many things that can influence their proficiency however, that does not mean they are going to have a language delay. We have to keep in mind that bilingual children, because they have to deal with two or more languages, are different in some ways from monolingual children, but definitely not on rate of language acquisition. (More of this in future posts).

The language spoken in the home will have a negative effect on the acquisition of the school language, when the latter is different. Not true. The home language can be used as a base for acquiring aspects of the second language. It also gives children a known language to communicate in (with parents, caretakers, and, even teachers) while acquiring the other.

If parents want their children to grow up bilingual, they should use the one person – one language approach. Not necessarily. There are many ways of making sure a child grows up bilingual. That is one approach, but not the only one. In a future post I will give some ideas of how to raise a bilingual child. Stay tuned! 

Children raised bilingual will always mix their languages. No again. If bilingual children interact in both bilingual and monolingual situations, then they learn to mix languages at certain times only. Children know when they can be bilingual and when they need to be monolingual (in either language).

What are your thoughts about bilingualism? Are you bilingual?

photo: iStock

How can I help my child in his/her development? Part 1

That is one question many parents should ask themselves all the time. Parents have the most influence on their child’s development, but sometimes they don’t know what to do. In order to know how you can help your child, first you need to know what areas are involved in their development. Let’s review 4 major areas.

Motor Development – A motor skill is a learned sequence of movements that combined, produce a smooth, efficient action in order to master a particular task. Motor skills can be divided in two areas: gross motor skills and fine motor skills. Gross motor skills include the use of large muscles such as arms and legs. Gross motor skills make you move in different positions such as lifting the head, rolling over, sitting up, balancing, crawling, walking and jumping. It usually develops from top to bottom. Fine motor skills include the use of smaller muscles to manipulate small objects, transfer objects from hand to hand, and other various hand-eye coordination tasks. Fine motor skills may involve the use of very precise motor movement in order to achieve an especially delicate task to do something. Some examples of fine motor skills are using the pincer grasp (thumb and forefinger), picking up small objects, cutting, coloring, writing, or threading beads.

Cognitive Development – This is the are that develops the ability to learn new knowledge and to process, understand, and apply this knowledge to different ends. Developing this area helps a child improve his/her capacity for mental activities such as reasoning, interpreting, comparing and contrasting, evaluating, judging, inferring, predicting, sequencing, and visualizing. It also helps children master specific content knowledge relating to vocabulary, mathematics, and science.

Social-Emotional Development – This is the development of skills relating to how one interacts with other people and how one behaves oneself. The capacity for empathy, the understanding of social rules, and friendships are some of the skills a child will learn to master as they grow.

Communication Development – This is a process starting early in human life, when a person begins to acquire language by learning it as it is spoken or signed. Children’s language development moves from simple to complex. Infants start communicating by crying but as the child gets older, new meanings and new associations are created and vocabulary increases as more words are learned.

Next time I’ll share specific ideas that parents can do to help their children in each one of these areas!

Did you learn something new today? Let us know!




11 ways to REALLY listen to your child

 A few days ago I read this (I can’t remember where!) “We were given two ears but only one mouth, because listening is twice as hard and important as talking”. Well, it’s true! And then I thought about children and kids have lot to say… a lot! Sometimes adults don’t think that children have anything important to say or that they can’t learn from children. So often times they do all the talking, they lecture, preach or, worst of all, ignore them!

Listening to your children will help them grow up to be adults with increased self-esteem because you will make them feel like what they have to say is important. However, children are not always sure how to communicate their feelings, so they might be saying or acting out completely different from how they actually feel. Active listening can help you, help them figure it out. So here are some tips to REALLY listen to your child when they have something important (or not) to say:

1.    Stop what you are doing– Don’t be distracted doing something else.

2.    Look at your child-Sit at his/her level.

3.    Pay attention to your child’s nonverbal language-Does the child look happy, sad, afraid?

4.    Be silent. It might be hard, but it is important that they have time to express themselves. It will also give you time to understand the situation before reacting.

5.    Use simple acknowledgement responses that show you are listening- For example, “I see”. “Oh”. “Uh-Huh”. Hmmm.”

6.    Use door-openers; phrases that encourage further talking- “Tell me more”, “Go on”, “How do you feel about that?”, “I know what you mean”, “Then what?”

7.    Listen for and name the feelings you think you hear from what your child is telling you-“That made you pretty mad, didn’t it?”, “You seem really happy about that!”

8.    Use problem-solving phrases when needed- “What do you wish you could do?”, “What do you want to happen?”, “What do you think will happen if you do that?”

9. Don’t feel that you must advise or help your child come up with a solution all the time- The value of listening is in the listening itself.

10.    Let them know you are available.

11.  Don’t try to deny, discount, or distract the child from the feelings they are expressing.

Listening helps parents and children avoid the power struggle cycle. Instead of arguing, listen. Show your understanding while maintaining your position. Listening builds stronger relationships,  shows respect and helps the child explore his/her own feelings and thoughts on a deeper level. It builds their sense of empathy.

Are you ready to listen to your child?