Tuesday, November 19, 2013

BBC Language Website

Oh, BBC. First you give me "Call the Midwife," and now you give us free language lessons; is there nothing you can't do? With the bar across the top saying "This page hasn't been updated for a while," I'm guessing this isn't the Beeb's highest priority but it's still a nice reliable place to study more than 35 languages. They have audio and video tutorials, exercises, grammar, activities and tests. I'm particularly charmed by the learning opportunities offered under the heading HOLIDAY PHRASES FOR FESTIVALS IN SPAIN:

  Hello, gorgeous! 

 Two beers, please. 

 Two glasses of wine, please. 

 I am (an Ibiza, a Benicassim, a Tomatina) virgin. 

 I haven't slept in (3/4/5/6/7) days. 

 Where are there some more toilets? I'm desperate! 

 Can you please direct me to Oasis?

 Fancy a skinny dip in the sea? 

 My mate wants to know if you fancy me.

 I feel sick. I have a headache. 

 I have a hangover. 

 I need condoms/painkiller/anything for diarrhoea. 

Quite useful, but I shared a house with some British people in my twenties; they say this stuff pretty much everywhere.

Mango Languages

Mango Language is a highly-friendly language website. It's the first one I've found that uses the culture and the history of the country as a part of learning the language, which I quite like. And with 60 languages, I'm guessing you and your family will find something to study pretty easily. My only quibble with the website is that after entirely too long spent rooting about on it I can say that the price is $79.00, but it doesn't say whether that's a year, a month, a session or an hour. It might be worth finding out, though, if the program seems like a good fit for your family.

A Class or two...or 775.

Trying to find upper-level work for your teen homeschooler or the happy autodidact in the house? Here are 775 university-level classes available online.

Live Mocha

As the language website Livemocha describes their service:

Livemocha offers several different types of online, instructor-led training service designed to help members of your organization become fluent quickly and effectively. Live lessons taught by expert instructors are structured around our award-winning course curriculum and combined with 24/7 access to our online, self-study language courses. Live courses can also be customized to fit an organization’s needs. 

 Livemocha’s instructor-led courses provide the instruction, support, and practice learners need to start speaking a new language with confidence. Expert teachers: All instructors are highly qualified, native-speaking teachers. Vetted in a rigorous selection process by Livemocha, every teacher has extensive language teaching experience. 

And if learners develop a strong connection with your classroom instructor, they may also arrange for private tutoring to continue to develop their speaking skills. Your own pace: With over 110 progressive lessons, learners can repeat classes as many times as you like or move right through the levels. 

Schedule group lessons when works for your organization, and practice online at anytime. 

 Custom Lessons: Our expert teachers also create specialized flashcards and tailored speaking or writing exercises for organizations in the Livemocha Classroom. Students learn faster and learn what they need for their job, school, or personal goals. 

 24/7 practice with native speakers: Practice at any time with native speakers from Livemocha’s community of 16 million people from around the world. 

 Try a conversation or get one-on-one assessments of your new skills. And remember, as a Gold Key holder in Livemocha, you will be first in line for all reviews of your speaking and writing exercises.

Unlimited access for $52.00 a month. I've seen cheaper programs, but this one seems really good.

Monday, November 11, 2013

Homeschoolers May Legally Partake of Sport!

Ohio has found it in their budget and their hearts to let private schoolers and homeschoolers participate in extracurricular and sports through their local schools. Countless parents who are tired of being goalie smile in relief and gratitude.

Duo Lingo

Duo Lingo teaches French, Portuguese, German, Italian and Spanish. You can play games, read articles, practice with friends, build up points and win prizes. It’s incredibly user-friendly; I had the kid try it out a year ago and within two hours she wanted to use her new Portuguese sentences on her godfather. Yes, it’s fewer languages than some of the other websites but it’s among the easiest to leap into.


For $9.95 a month, your family can receive 10 vocabulary words every day in the language of your choice. I can think of a few people I know who could use the English version of this.

Studio Arabiya

If you or your children want to learn Arabic, I can recommend Studio Arabiya without equivocation. The prices are great, they're good about engaging with the students and I was completely happy with the results. I had some concern that since my family isn't interested in reading the Qur'an that there would be a disconnect, but neither Alice nor I ever felt that way.

100 Useful YouTube Channels for Teachers

You know some of these, but I'll be you don't know all of these. I can't wait for the kid to be done with Chinese so I can let her poke around in here.

Harvard Graduate School of Education Resource

The Harvard Graduate School of Education website is, well, not exactly compelling, but tuck this away because you might need one of these wonky little links some day and if you need it, you need it right away and only that particular page.

Tips and tools for high-schoolers

Let your high-school age homeschooler jump into this link for new things to learn and do. Wait, does that sound dirty?

Virtual (reality) rats

Hat tip for this link to Jennifer Ouellette who, among other things, writes brilliantly about science and also finds the best stuff. Go look at her books and tell me your science-minded pre-teen or teen won't think they sound awesome. I've also had the luxury of reading ME, MYSELF & WHY, her book which comes out next year, and it's TREMENDOUS.

  Got a biology-minded child? Have a tech-minded child? Want to just see something very cool? Scientists have trained rats to use virtual reality. I wonder if I could get better results from the kid emptying the dishwasher if I began the experiment with sugar water.

Friday, November 8, 2013


You need ten science experiments you can do at home with your 6-12 year olds? Scientific American has you covered.

Chris Hemsworth: Physics Teacher?

Thor, it seems, isn't just a blindingly handsomemovie hero from Asgar. He's also a lesson in physics.

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Extra Bits for Students of the Elizabethan Age and Their Geeky Parents

In the past week we've been given a walk-around tour of 17th Century London and now you can go through through the Globe Theater. Or, I should say, Theatre.