Learning a Second language.

Why do we speak? 

We speak to communicate.   We also enjoy speaking. We want to talk! Some more than others! It’s fun to meet friends and have a chat. We enjoy watching or listening to others talking on the TV or radio. We learn just about everything from language. All this appears obvious and yet somehow these really basic facts often appear to be have been forgotten or overlooked when learning or teaching a foreign language. 

Let’s  think about how a toddler learns to speak and why it wants to speak. After all for many months it only needed to cry to get what it wanted!  Those were the days when it’s basic needs could  be counted on one hand! Tired. Wet. Hungry. Too hot. Too cold. Once you need two hands to count then another form  of communication is added and that is usually physical. So the child still cries but also starts to point or grab or mime and wave its arms about! (a bit like we do when on holiday in a foreign country). Parents frantically make guesses  and are hopefully met with a smile and a nod but more often than not with violent shakings of the head or stamps of the feet or both!  Just at the developmental stage when frustration is likely to win, language kicks in and LO ! We have speech communication albeit only the odd word. 

A native language is learnt by listening, watching, copying.   Trial and error.  Although we may not actually ‘teach’ our two year old we will, without realising, correct and expand the phrases they utter. For example. A child may say, “Daddy going.” We would say, “Yes. Daddy is going to work.” Without realising , the child stores this information and builds on it. 

But when a parent speaks to a child the emphasis is on getting the meaning across and not the grammar. 

Imagine the frustration if a parent corrected their two year old every time it got the grammar wrong!  The child would probably give up and go back to pointing and screaming!  Although older children and adults don’t succumb to such tactics (although they probably feel like doing) too much emphasis on using correct grammar, verb tenses etc is a big ‘turn off’ and can stop both adults and children from communicating

A child is like a sponge. It’s brain absorbs information about language continually. Long before if utters its first words it is absorbing not just the words but the rhythm and pattern of speech. This silent period of acquisition is essential but is this quiet period allowed when learning a second language? In my experience the answer is definitely ‘No!’ Unfortunately the older we get the less we resemble a sponge and so the longer this period of silent acquisition needs to be! 

But in many language classes the expectation is to  use the new language from the first lesson. To repeat. To answer questions, often in front of classmates and this leads me onto another very important obstacle to learning. Anxiety

What happens when you ask your toddler to repeat something it has just learnt to say. We’ve all done this. One day little Molly picks up an apple and says ‘apple’ for the first time. You are naturally very excited and can’t wait for her to repeat this to everyone!  When Granny and Grandad arrive you show Molly an apple and ask her to tell them what is is. Does Molly  perform? Probably not!  

What would happen if you put pressure on her like this every day ?  If you asked  her to repeat every new word or phrase to every Tom, Dick or Harry?  It is likely she would become anxious and anxiety is a major killer when it comes to learning

But isn’t this what happens in many language lessons?  There is the pressure to speak. Some kids and adults are ok with this. To others it is a nightmare. They become anxious. This stops them learning. Then they feel they have failed and so it goes on in a downward spiral. Teachers need to understand that silence can be golden !  That students who don’t participate may need this silent period of acquisition and putting pressure on these students will only cause anxiety. 

This doesn’t of course just apply to the teaching of language. It applies to every subject. But since language is the means of communication and we need to acquire language to communicate then it is vital that the emphasis is about getting over the meaning. Then and only then should the actual structure of language be addressed. 

So what do I think is the best way to learn a language? 

I think what I am going to say applies to learning everything

  • First you must want to learn . There must be a reason. An incentive. 
  • Secondly it must be fun.
  • Thirdly it should be a shared family activity.  We can’t expect our children to be interested if we are not ! 
  • Fourthly and I think this is so important. The learning should be multi-sensory. This means that all your senses  are involved.  It has been proved that bette learning takes place when the activity is multi-sensory.  A good example of this is when you are making bread.  Your sense of touch is used to determine when the dough has been kneaded sufficiently. Your sense of smell is activated during the making and baking and your sense of taste through the eating! That is also a reward and an incentive. Your sense of sight is important to ensure the dough has risen sufficiently and that the loaf is the correct shape etc. 
  • Lastly the activity should introduce vocabulary that can be used over and over again during our everyday life. 

Cooking Projects are often featured in my Jumble Fun English programmes because they do fulfill all these requirements. 

​I also use art and craft projects for the same reason. They are very ‘hands on‘ activities for families to enjoy together and the new vocabulary is easy to incorporate into daily activities. 

​​Remember children learn best by ‘doing’! 

Take a look at this video English lesson which uses  a cooking theme: 

Make an English Sandwich

The Jumble Fun English Channel: 

Jumble Fun English Channel

Praying Mantis

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An interview with our breakfast guest.

Q. What kind of animal are you ?

A. I am a Praying Mantis!

Q. Why are you called a PRAYING mantis?

A. Because I hold my front legs up in front of my body which makes me look as if I am praying !

Q. Are you an insect?

A. Yes I am. I have six legs and wings and my body has three parts. A head. A thorax and an abdomen.

Q. Why did you fly into Jumble House this morning ?
A. Well, I was looking for something to eat in that tree across the road but it suddenly got very windy and I came here for shelter.

Q. What do you eat ?

A. I eat insects . Flies and beetles and that kind of thing.

Q. How do you catch them?

A. Well, I lie in wait and keep very still and quiet. When I see something that looks good to eat I leap out and grab it with my front legs. They are covered in spines so my dinner can’t escape!  Then I bite it neck to paralyse it before tucking in!

Q.How old are you?

A. Let me see. I hatched out of my egg in the Spring. I think it was March. Now it’s the end of August so I must be about five months old. That’s pretty old for a Mantis. We only live for a year.  Soon I will lay eggs and then my life cycle will be complete. Next spring all my little children will hatch out of the eggs as nymphs. They will look just like me but smaller and they won’t have any wings. But they will eat and eat and get bigger and bigger and have to shed their skin lots of times before they become an adult.

Q.Where do you live?

A. Anywhere I can find yummy dinners and that usually means in fields and in old buildings and in trees. But I don’t like the cold so you will only find me in warm climates.

Q. I like the way you turn your head. It’s cute!

A. Thank you!  I am the only insect that can turn its head 180 degrees. Kind of cool isn’t it! It makes it much easier to look for my dinner.

Q  Why are you that very bright green colour ?

A. That’s because I usually live in green places like fields and trees.  Because I’m the same colour as my surroundings it’s easy to hide from my prey.  It’s called camouflage.

Q. But you are not very camouflaged here in Jumble House.  I can see you very easily!

A. Yes. I know.  Now the storm is over I will be going soon. But I know you are very kind and won’t hurt me.

Q. No. We won’t hurt you . Thank you for coming to see us.  Can you fly?

A. Yes I can fly very well.

Good bye and thank you for sheltering me.


Happy Bank Holiday Weekend UK! 

Four  steps to enjoying a perfect family Bank Holiday afternoon! 

1. Buy some bananas and milk and make some ice.

2. Watch the video together 

3. Make the drink together. 

4. Put the video on again and enjoy your drink in peace while the kiddies are enjoying Lizzie Witch … again and again! 


Here’s the link: 

Make a cooling banana drink with Lizzie Witch

Polystyrene Models


This Sunday Challenge introduces children to polystyrene and suggests ways to make models.  It is ​a great project for children from six upwards with adult supervision. 

Polystyrene is fun to work with and building sculptures like this one teaches children to appreciation the importance of light and shadow and movement. 

The inspiration for the featured image came from an amazing sculpture by artist Danilo Fiorucci entitled : LO SPAZIO ASSENTE . ( The ascending space). 

To view this sculpture and the Jumbles experimenting with polystyrene watch the video below: 

The Sunday Challenge

The Largest Pan in the World! 

Yes!  It is a real frying pan and it is used just once every year for the FESTA DELLA PADELLA in Passignano sul Trasimeno. 

Festa della Padella. (The feast of the Pan) this year is from the 24th to the 28th of August. 

This, the largest frying pan in the world can fry 2 tons of fish an hour! 

Eighteen burners powered by 6 gas cylinders heat 5.8 tons of oil.  

At this festa you can enjoy a great menu of fish from Lake Trasimeno plus music and a lively street market. There are also concerts on both nights from 22.00.

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This is the scene during the day with hundreds of tables set out along the the perimeter of the lake. 

The feasting however only starts as dusk approaches and continues in candlelight when the scene becomes magical. 

On the menu is a wide variety of fish some of which is cooked in the pan. 


Yesterday Geirgie and Alfie went picking figs.
They enjoyed eating the rugs fresh  from the tree but picked so many that they needed to find a way to keep them. To preserve them.

Maisie suggested cooking them in pear juice and Marsala wine.

Thet decided to do this but wanted to make it a bit different. To experiment.

Georgie really likes walnuts so they added a handful and Alfie likes hot spiced  so they added a sprinkle of Peperoncino which is like chilli pepper.

Then into a very big pan went a small wine glass of Marsala wine, an individual small carton of pear juice, a sprinkle of chilli pepper and a small handful of chopped walnuts.

Then the figs were added and everything was simmered for fifteen minutes and left to cool.

Once the Figs  had cooled down they bottled them and put them in the fridge.

The Jumbles are going to eat the figs with Mascapone or ice cream.


For more recipes visit our channel and the Cook with Maisie playlist,

Cook with Maisie

Colour Wash. Fun with the colour blue.

The Jumbkes use the lake as their inspiration for making a blue picture . 

Click the link below for the Challenge.

This week’s Sunday Challenge

The weekly SUNDAY CHALLENGE from Jumble House. Colour wash. Inspiration comes from a lake scene. Suitable for all ages even pre school as the project can be adapted and extended. Adult supervision is always recommended. 

The ‘challenge’ this week is for children to adapt the process demonstrated and create something different. The idea behind the Sunday programmes is that ideas are given as a stimulus, we hope that children will not just copy but will experiment using the techniques demonstrated. 

The focus of the Challenges can be art and craft, design, design and technology, story writing or games. Whatever the activity the aim is to develop a child’s creative thinking skill. 
Website: http://www.jumblefun.net

Channel: http://tinyurl.com/funjumbles

Twitter: @JumblesThe

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/jumblefun

Email: jumblefun@gmail.com
Resources: paints by GIOTTO

                     paper by FABRIANO (Ruvido/rough grain) purchased at MARINO FA MERCATO. MAGIONE

Music: Royalty Free Music from PREMIUM BEAT.COM

Jumble Clothes and accessories : CLAIRES ACCESSORIES http://www.claires.co.uk

Evaporation with Lizzie Witch

​It was a big washing day today at Jumble House and, because we don’t have a garden, that means clothes hung from every window plus a drier in the bathroom. 

Lizzie Witch saw this as an excellent opportunity to teach us all about evaporation and steam and condensation. 

To watch the programme just click on this link (and please subscribe to our channel):-   Evaporation Programme

Lizzie left us with a challenge  and hear a a couple more: 

1. Water evaporates more quickly when it is warm than when it is cool.  Can you think of a way to,prove that this statement is true? 

2. Take two identical pieces of cloth.  Soak them in water and then squeeze the water out. Place one in a sealed plastic bag and spread the other out on the floor in a sunny place.  What do you think will happen by the same time tomorrow? 

 Check every couple of hours, record what you see and explain the results. 

Flying Machines 

Part one of the Sunday Challenge programmes on flying machines.

Did you know that the first plane with an engine was a biplane ? 

Bi Planes are planes with two wings, one over the other.  They have very good uplift but the ‘drag’ is much greater than with the more  modern planes so they are much slower.  The very first plane with an engine was a BiPlane. 

Freddie Jumble is very interested in planes and so is Judi. Her father was in the airforce and later in the Royal Observer Corps. 

As a child she learnt how to recognise lots of aeroplanes and later Judi learnt how to fly gliders. ( planes without engines) . 

Here she is at the controls. 

Watch the video to see how to make your very own model : Flying Machines. Bi Planes