08
May

Our Lady of Paris: the cathedral of Notre Dame endures

On Monday April 15, 2019, Paris made news headlines around the world, as millions of people looked on in disbelief. After more than 800 years at the heart of Paris, it seemed that the iconic cathedral of Notre Dame was about to go up in flames. While the damage was extensive, and the rebuilding work will take many years and highly specialised skills, much of the building of Our Lady of Paris was thankfully saved for future generations, thanks to the co-ordinated and careful efforts of Parisian officials.

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02
May

And a very merry May Day to you too – some Mayday and Beltane celebrations and traditions

Whether you call it Mayday, Beltane or Labour Day, celebrate 1 May - the start of summer for many of us.

While some people refer to it as Beltane, 1 May is most often known as May Day in the northern hemisphere. While, in our modern world, summer doesn’t officially start until 21 June, in times gone by, May the first was often regarded as the time when summer really began.

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01
May

Which do you prefer, the singer or the song? Time to celebrate International Dawn Chorus Day

You know it’s spring when the dawn chorus calls. Find out more about which early bird sings which song.

Many of us may know that cats, dogs and other domestic animals make different noises depending on where they live, and the language that is spoken there: so cats in mainly English-speaking countries generally say “meow”, while in Japan, they say “nyaa nyaa”; and while dogs generally “woof” or “bow wow” in English, in Polish they say “hau hau”.

Scientists have also found that many animals have different accents depending on where they live and the main language spoken there, but did you know the same applies to birds?

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25
Apr

From A to E – why the first five letters of the alphabet are so important when it comes to vitamins

Mantra Lingua’s great new bilingual title, Food, Food, Fabulous Food explores the foods we eat – come and discover for yourself.

Food – it’s one of the most important subjects in the world, and something that we can all relate to. And our amazing bodies convert it into energy to allow us to play, work, rest, recuperate and grow. Food is also essential as it’s packed with vitamins and minerals that, in most cases, our bodies cannot manufacture. Vitamins are also sometimes referred to as micronutrients, as they’re only required in small quantities each day – but if we’re lacking, or deficient, in vitamins, we’ll soon feel the effects.

Vitamin A
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27
Mar

Early to bed, early to rise, makes [us all] healthy, wealthy and wise.

This is one of the many nursery rhymes I learned as a child. I wasn’t very old, however, before I realised that for health, there’s a lot more to it than just making sure  you get a good night’s sleep. Diet is also pretty important. And while you need to make sure you get plenty of fresh fruit and vegetables, it’s just as important that you enjoy what you’re eating.
Now, whenever I visit the supermarket, a greengrocer or a market, I’m astonished at the sheer variety of fruit and vegetables out there, no matter what time of year it is. I’ve tried many of them in various forms, including in pies with a cup of tea or glass of lemonade, depending on whether they’re fruits or vegetables, there are still times when I’m not quite sure what I’m looking at.
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28
Feb

Once upon a time, in a not-so-faraway land…

Stories – they’re the way we make sense of our world. And while we all love to sit and listen to a story, adding images can help to really bring it to life.
Kamishibai, literally “paper play”, is a Japanese storytelling technique which dates from at least the 1930s, although its origins may be much older. Written Japanese uses kanji characters, or pictograms, to convey meaning and language; and images have always been especially important to get a message across.
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25
Feb

PENpal Supports Focus on Oral Language Skills

PENpal and the gentle art of ICT
When I was an undergraduate, ICT was in its infancy. Essays were still hand-written, and mobile phones, let alone Smartphones, were a device from the realms of science fiction. Our language lab consisted of headphones and cassettes (anyone else remember those?) and sometimes, slide decks and patchy satellite news channels. By the time I completed my teacher training, ICT was much more accepted, as a concept, but was still taught as a separate module. And by the time I was finishing my Master’s dissertation into how effective ICT was as a language learning tool, for my target language, we had progressed as far as a few CDs and a couple of websites.
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15
Feb

Once Upon a Storytime

Once upon a (Story)time…
As a pre-schooler, my mother always read me a story in the afternoons. Hearing the words “once upon a time” told me I was about to see the world through a different window for a while. I loved Cinderella, Jack and the Beanstalk and The Magic Porridge Pot, but I also enjoyed tales from other lands. Aschenputtel was as real to me as Cinders. I was especially fascinated by the glass slipper. (It didn’t seem safe to me, even as a child, let alone practical.) In some countries the heroines wore much more sensible fur shoes or bootees, and in some versions, like Raisel, shoes really weren’t much of a feature. 
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07
Feb

Chinese New Year: Year of the Pig

Happy Chinese New Year!
According to the Chinese calendar, 2019 marks the Year of the Pig, the last animal in a twelve year cycle. The beginning of February sees celebrations for the Chinese New Year around the globe. The exact date varies as the Chinese year uses the lunar calendar. In 2019, the first day of the New Year falls on 5 February. The Lantern Festival closes the celebrations and takes place on 19 February this year.
For over two weeks, there will be music, colourful processions or get-togethers, and, of course, delicious food to share. While the New Year’s Eve dinner is probably the most important meal, special dishes are eaten throughout the whole of the New Year period – usually in the hope of attracting good luck.
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06
Feb

Framily - when Friends become Family

We are 'framily' - friends who become family
Festivals are a great time for families to get together. It’s Chinese New Year (5 Feb) and there will be feasting in this year of the Pig!
But let me share reflections on Christmas and maybe take ideas forward to Chinese New Year.
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