Poor Ninja, she’s just not a people person.
Our recent trip to Gran Canaria did us no favours in her affections. I blame English Dad for bumbling the initial attempt at putting her in the cat carrier (in his defence, she did plant all four paws around the edge of the little door and arch her back whilst attempting to bite him too… he had no choice but to let her go). After that we spent a good half an hour chasing her around the house until I finally squashed her, snarling and hissing, two handed against the lounge carpet, yelling ‘bring the cat box! Quick!’. In the end we had to upend the box and plop her into it, unceremoniously and from a bit of a height (it was the only way without losing several digits… As it was I suffered several scratches and a bite to the hand).
All this trauma, added to a week in the cattery (’she’s been an angel’, the cattery manager mumbled, unconvincingly, without looking me in the eye and simultaneously relieving me of 80 quid) means that she now eyes us warily from the corner of the room and manages to duck any attempt at being stroked or touched in any way unless she can actually see a sachet of cat food being opened, in which case she’ll suffer a small ear scritch, just as a small ‘food tax’.
We’ve decided she needs a friend. ‘It might bring out her mothering instincts’, someone on twitter said hopefully, while we all rolled around laughing. ‘She might kill it’ said someone else, while we nodded thoughtfully… ‘maybe we could buy it some tiny body armour?’ suggested the dude.
Anyhoo, we’ve decided on a Bengal, as we think they’ve got strong personalities, which you’d probably need, being the Ninja’s household minion… and we’ve chosen this little silver spotted girl (obviously she’s too tiny to leave her mum yet).
I want to call her Moët (properly pronounced, with the ‘t’), but I imagine she’ll end up being called Slash or Barry something if the brethren get their way. Wish her luck.
The value of speaking another language is being increasingly recognised by parents. Bilingual children are no longer simply the result of intercultural families where two languages are used at home. It is refreshing to see the opportunities now available offering Spanish classes for toddlers, French conversation practice for infants and German language courses for teens. If you are thinking of helping your kids learn a second language here are some words of encouragement and pointers on finding language schools that can help really bring a language to life.
The gift of languages
Speaking another language is a gift, and one that keeps on giving throughout your life. Academics concur that there is a distinct cognitive edge gained through the acquisition of a new language, so those German lessons do not hamper your child’s English development but actually enhance it. In today’s world the enhanced cross-cultural understanding and gaining of different cultural perspectives that are part and parcel of language learning all help your child to develop into a global citizen. Of course, another part of this development is the opening up of career and travel opportunities in later life.
Choosing a language
There are three considerations in choosing a language to learn: the family, the community and opportunity. In bilingual families, or those with family members using another language elsewhere in the world, language choice can be straightforward. Or it may be that in your community there is another language widely used, so it would be useful for your kids to speak it. Finally, choosing a language for its use or importance globally is an opportunistic factor that may come into play in language choice.
Learning a language
The latest thinking on language learning is that immersing your children in a language – preferably from a young age – is the best approach. If your children start to learn German in London, don’t forget to also get German friends to help and to book a holiday in Berlin or Hamburg. You can use books, travel, friends, films, magazines, songs, games and internet resources to provide language practice for reading, writing and speaking. Try to combine language learning with learning about the cultures and countries where the language is used. Above all, dive in to the language experience and splash about in it with your kids!
Choose a language school
Language schools come in all shapes and sizes and adopt different approaches, so finding one that ticks the boxes for your children is important. The first thing to check is the school’s credentials and accreditation. For instance, if you visit www.uiclondon.com you will see on the homepage that it is accredited and regularly inspected by the British Council and the ISI (Independent Schools Inspectorate). The next consideration is thinking about the class size, approach, study duration, class times and costs that suit your child and your purse. Above all, it’s important to visit the school to make sure it feels right for you and your child.
Learning a language is a journey and it is one that can get tough. Here are two quotes to keep your kids on the right track along the way:
‘The limits of my language are the limits of my world’. (Ludwig Wittgenstein)
‘To have another language is to possess a second soul’. (Charlemagne)
Buena suerte, viel glück, bonne chance, buona fortuna – which is to say, good luck!