La opinión de Matthew Ray ¿Sirve para algo hablar en inglés con mi hijo si no soy nativo?

The benefits of speaking with your children
I would encourage all parents to raise their children bilingual, or even trilingual, if they have the opportunity and the resources. Research has shown that multilingualism has positive cognitive, educational, professional and social benefits for children and adults. (See the following article below for more information.)

10 Amazing benefits of being bilingual

If done properly, speaking with your children in English can accomplish three very important objectives.

  1. It makes speaking English “normal”: Children often have trouble seeing the value of learning English. If their parents don’t speak or study English, then they question whether it really is important to learn it. However, when their parents speak with them in English, the importance is confirmed, and children will see speaking English as something “normal;” it creates a coherency that will help children to be more enthusiastic about English.
  2. It makes children less likely to reject English: children are less likely to reject English or view it as “work” or “study” if their parents speak it with them daily; English becomes part of the day-to-day routine, instead of something that is being forced on them.
  3. It accelerates learning by increasing input: non-native English input from parents can expose children to A LOT of English in a “natural” way very early on, which gives children an advantage when they start studying English formally in school and/or academies.

Finally, learning English “naturally” in this way can be fun for the whole family, and can also help the parents to improve their English. 😉

Some parents might be concerned that their English is not perfect (with respect to accent and grammatical accuracy); but grammatical errors are normal, even when children are exposed to “perfect” native English. I have barely uttered a grammatically-incorrect sentence to my son in the 18 years that I have been speaking English to him, but he still makes grammatical mistakes when writing and speaking; this will be corrected and improved over time.

Remember, also, that there are more non-native English speakers in the world than there are native speakers, so most of the world is speaking “non-native” English anyway; your children don’t have to be perfect, they just need to gain fluency, confidence and a desire to speak English. Once your child is in a native environment, he or she will be able to continue to improve the “imperfections” in their English.

Conclusions and a caveat
The benefits that children gain by receiving English input from their non-native parents far outweigh any possible drawbacks (such as developing a “non-native accent” or imperfect grammar); so, I highly recommend it. However, there is one very important caveat. If your children don’t feel comfortable speaking English with you, or just don’t enjoy it, please do not insist; it could backfire if you do. There is time to learn English later; but if you create a negative experience with English for your children when they are young, it could keep them from enthusiastically embracing English later in life. Have fun and don’t force it!

Matthew Ray

English Daily Vitamin (January ‘17)


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THEME THRUSDAY. Idioms with “Cold”



Student’s Review. ‘TED’s App’ by Marta Franco


Como ya sabéis, cada mes publicamos en nuestro blog un pack de actividades self-study relacionado con un vídeo TED. Hoy Marta Franco, una de nuestras alumnas de inglés, os explica qué es la APP de TED y qué beneficios os puede aportar. Thank you very much Marta!

Do you want to a take a journey through ideas, inventions, new ways to think and create, and also learn English at the same time? The official TED App for your phone or tablet allows you to listen to TED Talks from the world’s remarkable minds. With subtitles in over 90 languages, if English isn’t your first language, this may be the best way to improve your English skills.

What’s it about?
The application has plenty of Ted Talks content and offers different ways to access it. The most interesting option is to download talks to watch when you’re offline. You can then watch them every day on your train or bus journey, without consuming mobile data. Among other useful features, there is an option to bookmark talks to watch later on and to build a custom playlist.

Why is the app good for English learners?
The app offers the entire TED Talks video library with subtitle options and the menu itself can be browsed in the user’s preferred language. You also have the transcript of every talk in the language you prefer. Furthermore, most of the talks are given in English so you can feed your knowledge of the language and explore new and innovative topics. What’s more, if you need to give presentations in public you can learn good oral skills from great speakers as they organize ideas logically, focus, incorporate humour, connect with the audience and so on!

Marta Franco

Build a Tower, Build a Team (Tom Wujec)

Hoy queremos compartir con vosotros una de nuestras lecciones para mejorar vuestras habilidades de listening. Después de visionar el vídeo TED ‘Build a Tower, Build a Team’ podéis descargar nuestro pack de actividades y contestar a las preguntas.
Descargar actividades

Tom Wujec presents some surprisingly deep research into the “marshmallow problem” — a simple team-building exercise that involves dry spaghetti, one yard of tape and a marshmallow. Who can build the tallest tower with these ingredients? And why does a surprising group always beat the average?

TEACHER INTERVIEW. Let’s meet Jenny Smedley!

Today we are interviewing Jenny Smedley, our Teacher Coordinator.

Jenny was born in Blackpool (England). She’s been Ziggurat’s Teacher Coordinator for nearly 4 years, teaching English for 15 years and living in Barcelona since 2002, when she decided to move there with her partner. If you can’t find her in the office or teaching, you might bump into her hiking in the mountains or playing in the park with her lovely family. Now let’s meet her!


Blackpool (England)

Q: How does a girl from Blackpool end up settling in Barcelona?
A: As a child I was fascinated by other countries and languages and after graduating in French and German, I headed straight to France to teach. I came back for a while to work in the South of England (and I am glad I did as I met my husband that way!) but after a couple of years, we both were ready for a change and Barcelona was the obvious option. The location seemed perfect – so close to the mountains and France and within driving distance of family in Italy.

Q: Did you find it difficult to adapt to Spain?
A: I suffered a lot at the beginning to be honest. The working days seemed so long! My first summer in Barcelona was also one of the hottest summers in history and I thought I would literally melt. However, after a couple of years I soon felt at home.

Q: I know in your family there’s a real mix of languages: your husband is Italian, you are English and your child is growing up in a Spanish and Catalan city. Do you find it difficult to handle?
A: Now my daughter is 2, I do sometimes feel a bit sorry for her when she has to listen to me in English, her babbo in Italian, her nursery teacher in Catalan and her childminder in Spanish. Who knows what she will speak when she is older!

Q: Apart from these 4 languages, you also speak French and German. You must really have a talent for languages! What is the key to learning so many languages?
A: I think what is important is to have a passion for languages. In my case, for English first and foremost and I love teaching it. As for foreign languages, I love being able to feel that I communicate with people in their language. My pronunciation is not always great but I am not afraid to speak and that is the key. Just go for it.

Q: Now, that we are talking about languages, tell me about your job. Nowadays, you are the Teacher Coordinator in Ziggurat, aren’t you? What does this title mean? What do you do?
A: My overall aim is to develop the most efficient and effective team of teachers in Spain. To differentiate ourselves in the market, we have to strive to be the best. I try to ensure that our clients are getting the profile of teacher best suited to their company training needs. At the same time, I try to make sure that our teachers have the necessary pedagogical support, tools and information they need to teach their classes well.


Jenny in a meeting with the teachers

Q: What do you like the most about your job?
A: I enjoy passing on the positive feedback we receive from clients to our hard-working teachers. It is also great to hear success stories about students who have done their first presentation in English, survived their first meeting at the German headquarters.

Q: And what is the thing it annoys you the most?
A: Language teachers are not very highly regarded in certain sectors in Spain. Ziggurat teachers are highly qualified and dedicated individuals with very busy schedules. We are always striving to increase the prestige of our language teachers and the teaching profession as a whole.

Q: You are also an English teacher, what type of learning activities do you most like to emphasise in your classes?
A: Communicative activities above all but always with correction and always with review of these corrections. Everything needs to be recycled on a regular basis so students see real progress in terms of building vocabulary and eliminating fossilized errors. I am also a big fan of encouraging my students to work on their extensive listening skills. It is a great feeling for both parties when you have a student who starts watching a series with subtitles in Spanish, then in English and after some time with no subtitles at all!

Q: And finally, what do you like doing in your free time?
IMG_0785A: Much of my free time now centres around activities for 2-year-olds so I am often in the park but I am a big fan of cinema and a bit of a foodie too. I love trying out new restaurants in the city.

Q: You also love nature, don’t you?
A: Yes, I do. We always go to the sea or the mountains most weekends for the day. It is nice to get away from the hustle and bustle of the city at the weekend.

IMG_4700Q: As far as I know, you travel quite often. What is the place you have visited that you liked the most? Why?
A: That is a hard question to answer as they are difficult to compare. Our road trip in Namibia was one to remember though. I will never forget seeing the elephants in the wild for the first time when the African sun was setting. It was so beautiful that I cried.

Q: Is there any place you are dying to visit?
A: Oh, yes, I’m dying to visit Disney World. It was somewhere I really wanted to go as a child and now I have one and one on the way, I have an excuse to go!

Q: Oh! Really? So there’s a little girl inside you… would you say so?
A: Yes, there is and I am not ashamed to say so. You are only as old as you feel! 🙂

I’m glad that you still have this little girl side! Thank you very much for the interview, Jenny!

Student’s Review.’A trip to New York’ by Eliseu Vilaclara

First of all, we want to thank Eliseu for this great contribution to our blog!

new_york_at_nightAfter a first attempt to go to New York with my youngest son, my wife, who had always said that she never would go there, changed her mind and decided to come with us. My younger daughter, obviously, decided the same, whereas my elder daughter couldn’t come with us, and didn’t want to anyway.

So, the summer of 2014, four members of my family took a plane to John Fitzgerald Kennedy Airport after a stopover in Geneva.

The first feeling at the US airport was we were on the trip of a lifetime. My wife was astonished. I suddenly kissed her and an airport worker looked at me and said “love is in the air”. I was happy, not only for his reaction but because I was able to understand the first words I heard in English!

This joy disappeared the first time we went to have breakfast at a Starbucks near our hotel. I didn’t understand anything. It can’t be so difficult to ask for a coffee with milk, but there were a lot of possibilities about the kind of milk, the temperature, the kind of coffee, the size of the cup… and I got lost.

My son was our tourist guide. After a glance at the map, he was able to lead us to Little Italy, the Rockefeller Centre, the Empire State, Central Park, or wherever we wanted to go!

It’s difficult to sum up what we visited, but the three best things we did, in my opinion, were: attending a Gospel Mass in Harlem, feeling the old pain in the World Trade Centre Memorial and crossing the Brooklyn Bridge at sunset, heading to Manhattan when the city lights were gradually coming on.

One of the things which surprised me the most was the lack of investment the authorities make in public services, like the underground. Certainly it’s charming, maybe because it reminds of you a lot of films, but it’s not only “under ground”, it’s also “under-maintained”!

All of us miss that city. When in any series we see the Flatiron Building or the Statue of Liberty, we think about that summer and we are filled with a sudden longing for NY.

And now, from time to time, my wife says “how about going to New York in winter…” and I can’t help thinking “you never wanted to go…”.

Eliseu Vilaclara

Keep Your Goals To Yourself (Derek Sivers)

Hoy queremos compartir con vosotros una de nuestras lecciones para mejorar vuestras habilidades de listening. Después de visionar el vídeo TED ‘Keep Your Goals To Yourself’ podéis descargar nuestro pack de actividades y contestar a las preguntas. Descargar actividades

After hitting on a brilliant new life plan, our first instinct is to tell someone, but Derek Sivers says it’s better to keep goals secret. He presents research stretching as far back as the 1920s to show why people who talk about their ambitions may be less likely to achieve them.

English Daily Vitamin (March ‘16)


Daily Vitamin

Hoy acabamos las Daily Vitamin del mes de marzo con Theme Thursday ¿habéis leído y escuchado ya la lección sobre la palabra RUBBISH? Aquí la tienes. Además, si te has perdido alguna lección este mes, aquí tienes el listado de nuestras publicaciones. Haz clic en el título para acceder a la lección que quieras leer.






¡Pronto publicaremos el pack de actividades de marzo! Mientras tanto, también puedes revisar las todas las lecciones desde que empezó el año académico:

English Daily Vitamin (Feb ’16)

Daily Vitamin

¿Te perdiste las Daily Vitamins del mes de febrero? Aquí tienes un resumen de nuestras publicaciones. Haz clic en el título para acceder a la lección que quieras leer.






¡Y aquí tienes el pack de actividades de febrero!