August 11, 2021

Book review: The Lido Guide by Emma Pusill and Janet Wilkinson (with my own recommendations!)

That’s such a useful publication: a well-researched guide to open-air swimming pools in the UK and Channel Islands. It contains a long list of lidos with some practical information about them, like addresses, website, contact details, short description of the pool and a couple of photos. In the introduction, we read that the majority of the open-air pools are community run by groups of volunteers who have often saved the pools from closure. We’re encouraged to visit the lidos on rainy and windy days, too (sounds adventurous!). There is even a short extract on the pronunciation of the word ‘lido’ (is it lee-doh or ly-doh?), as well as a mention of the historic pools of Britain. What personally surprised me was that Wales only has one open-air pool?!

As a swimming enthusiast myself, I also want to include here a short list of the lidos I have visited:

Clevedon Marine Lake

Portishead Open Air Pool

Bristol Lido

The Rock Pool (Westward Ho!)

Chagford Swimming Pool

Bude Sea Pool

Jubilee Pool (Penzance)

But, with this lovely catalogue of different lidos, I feel well-equipped to explore more open waters.

Lastly, I want to mention that the marine lake in Weston-super-Mare is being currently refurbished (June 2021), so I am hoping to go there for a splash in summer 2022!

Do you have any favourite lido(s)? Please let me know in the comments below.

April 28, 2021

Travelling corner: Wild swimming in Poland

I love wild swimming and had many opportunities to try it out last summer in Poland. In Poland, there are swimming pools and lidos which are popular in cities and towns, so if you have a stay-cation, you can still enjoy some cooling down on a hot day (oh yes, it is sometimes 30 degrees in Poland!). But if you’re in nature, there are some wonderful natural reservoirs to have a proper dip.

Lakes

I rarely go lake-swimming in the UK (any tips, do let me know in the comments below), so happily welcomed the opportunity to spend some time by a lake in Poland. We went to Pogoria which is a complex of lakes in the Silesian region. The lakes are surrounded by forests and have many cycling paths. We decided to spend a day on the beach. It was warm, sunny, windless and as expected, the water was super calm 😉 Our girls loved splashing in the lake’s waters and enjoyed the temperature of the water— you could easily spend the whole day there: splashing, swimming and playing. Very comfortable and highly recommended if you’re ever in Poland.

Sea

Oh the sea… More and more I dream about living by the sea, so I am using every opportunity to be able to wet my feet in the salty waters.. The Polish Baltic shore is a long stretch of sandy beaches, forests and lakes. It’s a perfect place to enjoy some time in nature and this is precisely what we did when we were in Poland. We went to a small village, just outside Ustka and explored the surroundings on foot or by bike – mostly by bike.. We even found a wild beach in Orzechowo with the most beautiful colour sea. The sea in Poland is cold, especially when it’s calm, however its temperature raises when there are waves.

River swimming is also popular in Poland. I didn’t try it out this summer, but it’s definitely on my travel to-do list!

Did you enjoy some wild-swimming last summer? Where did you go to? Please let me know in the comments below.

April 14, 2021

Language learning: What works when you organise your language learning

Today, I want to share with you some reflections on language learning. Through speaking with our school’s students and language tutors, I have some language learning tips which may help you organise your language study and achieve your desired outcomes quicker (and better!).

Whether you attend a language course, individual tuition or are a self-learner, you may think about following all / some of the tips mentioned below. Studying regularly is an important factor when learning / improving / maintaining language skills, so how to do it the way it works for you and your lifestyle.

End goal

Why do you study this language? What’s your end goal (be specific)? What exactly do you want to be able to do in this language? Write down your learning goal.

Weekly schedule

Look at your life and see how much time you can daily / weekly devote to your study. Are there any gaps you can fill with some language learning (e.g. commuting, house chores, free evenings). Mark all those gaps / slots and see how much time you want to put aside for language learning every day / week. Make a note of these. 

Interests

That’s really important. When planning your language learning, try to follow your interests even above all the grammar and all the recommended vocab. Why? Because, you’ll then find the whole idea of language study more fun, interesting and worth your (free) time. You can also swap the language of your regular free time habits to the language you currently learn.  

Flexibility

I think to have a more flexible attitude to the idea of self-study is crucial. Why? Because, if something doesn’t work, be prepared to drop or amend this activity, move on and to try out something else. It doesn’t mean to stop learning altogether, you just adjust your learning style so that it suits your life, personality and interests.

I think these are the points I wanted to share with you today. Below you’ll find my learning schedule, just for some inspiration or guidance.

I currently learn French and maintain my language skills in three other languages: Czech, English and Polish.

MY GOALS: To finish a French textbook from my secondary school (A1 level), to read Czech novels (C1 level), to have a better pronunciation in English (C1 level) and to be more familiar with education-related vocabulary (C2 level).

FRENCH: I follow my secondary-school textbook, it’s one chapter per week with some quick revision of the previous chapters. I’d like to listen to a good learning podcast in French, any recommendations?

CZECH: I like reading novels in Czech, watching stand-up comedy shows and I sometimes listen to a podcast on healthy lifestyle and food.

ENGLISH: I watch videos to improve my pronunciation in English. I also enjoy reading books on language, travelling and education.

POLISH:  I listen to a Polish podcast on education and read a magazine on home-schooling.

Now I’d like to know how you organise your language study. Please leave your comment down below. 

March 24, 2021

Travelling corner: Winter wonderland in Stourhead (Wiltshire, England)

In December 2020, we gave ourselves a beautiful treat; a visit to Stourhead. It was our first visit there and we didn’t know what to expect. It turned out to be a magical experience. Especially since, in December, along the path way there were Christmassy decorations with some lights installed for the late-evening visits. The place is a true gem for garden and nature lovers. It seems that every detail was carefully designed with many different types of trees, shrubs, plants and water animals. As we read on the NT website, it’s a world-famous landscape garden and can be described as ‘a living work of art’.

As we visited the garden in winter, we’d love to visit it in spring, summer and autumn, as it’d be lovely to observe the seasonal changes. We’ll keep our blogging journal updated and will share more stories from our visits here.

Have you recently visited a magical place? Please let me know in the comments below.

March 3, 2021

Time for some changes: Starting a new blogging journey

Dear Readers,

After writing our school’s blog for 5 years (and occasionally sharing it with other contributors!), I’ve decided that it’s time to start a new blogging journey. What?!?! Yes, a new blogging platform has been created 🙂  Why? To inspire you even more to travel, read and learn more!

What content will be shared on the blogs:

School’s blog

I’ll continue writing our school’s blog: the posts will be more about languages, language learning, language teaching, language tutors and language research. They’ll be posted monthly or bi-monthly.

Kinga’s blog

I’ll write about travelling (also with kids!), fascinating books, my personal stories / research about languages, adult and kids’ bilingualism. And an occasional off-topic might be shared there, too! It’s a creative and inspirational platform to get motivated, to share one’s experiences and to show the learning journey. Posts will be published fortnightly.

So we’re divorcing, but not entirely, as the school’s blog will still be active and my new blog will continue the school’s blog mission, but with a more diverse and personal touch.

I hope you’ll continue popping by to read our school’s blog. You’re also very welcome to join me on my new blogging journey.

Stay safe and well.

Thank you for being my reader,

Kinga

January 16, 2021

Goodbye 2020. Hello 2021.

I think 2020 feels heavy, don’t you agree? It wasn’t my worst year, but it certainly was a challenging one.

Online teaching, financial challenges, home-schooling, less travelling abroad, less family & friends. And the restrictions. Would I want this global change not to happen? Yes and no. On one hand, I so dislike the limited freedom, but on the other hand, I’m so happy for the mental and spiritual work I did when in lockdown. I’m grateful how connected we now are with my family (oh, there were some good arguments, too!). I also became closer to some of my friends and every meet up is so celebrated and appreciated (like never before). I also became more connected with our amazing BLS teachers. This is my 2020 story, I bet everybody has their own personal experience which maybe also have changed the way they live or see the world.

What will 2021 bring? What do we plan?

For the immediate future, we know we’ll run our language courses online. Our winter term is coming soon 🙂 We’re so happy that we’ve created this space where you can learn and improve your language skills from the comfort of your home. Many of you say that your language course is something to look forward to every week. It is so nice to learn that we bring this positivity into your live. We’ll continue offering individual tuition, too. We also plan to blog more over here 🙂

What to wish you in 2021? To make the most out of it. Regardless of the situation, let’s create another great year! Let’s read more, travel more and learn more (languages at BLS)!!!

Happy New Year 2021!

I hope to see you soon.

Love,

Kinga

PS. Our winter language term starts on 18th January: Enrol now!

December 9, 2020

Book review: 3 READING recommendations for Christmas 2020

I’m so thrilled to share the below book reviews with you today. They’re my ‘comfort’ reads, my inspiration and my intellectual treats 😉 Enjoy! 

Ex Libris by Anne Fadiman

Books wrote our life story, and as they accumulated on our selves (on our windowsills, and underneath our sofa, and on top of our refrigerator), they became chapters in it themselves. Anne Fadiman

It’s an intellectual treat; funny, thought-provoking & written so beautifully yet so effortlessly. For book lovers, book collectors, (common) readers or (university) researchers. It’s a wonderful read, I was bursting out with laughter so often that my children became a bit suspicious about this book (only text, no pics and I have so much fun?!). It’s about books (of course!): about marrying the books together, playing with words, compulsive proofreading (my absolute favourite typo: ‘Prince of Whales’), plagiarism aka ‘burglar[y] of others’ intellect’ (p. 86), having kids who read (a little spoiler: it helps when their parents read :), second-hand books (oh, the moment when we find a real reading gem!). I’d had this book on my bookshelf for a while and, this autumn, I suddenly had the urge to read it – and I’m so glad I finally did. Ex Libris is such an absolute pleasure to read and it’s pocket-sized, so good on the go / when travelling, too!

Afoot and light-hearted. A journal for mindful walking. by Bonnie Smith Whitehouse

You never come back from a walk feeling worse. Simon Armitage

This is my inspiration to walk more. To wander without any goals, to be fully present, to paint / draw / write a poem, to enjoy my own company, to have a forest-bathing moment, to exercise my body, my mind and my soul, to be inspired to create more. This is my walking journal: my space to take notes, to be creative, to comment on the views. There are quotations, little prompts, wisdom words: “(…) boredom, rest and idleness can be profound ways to stimulate the imagination and let our attention expand and unfurl.” (p. 84) I just cannot wait to fill the journal with some funny sketches 😉

Family adventures. Exploring the world with children.

(…) safe has plans, crazy has stories. TK McKamy

This is an album of family travels: it’s a collection of stories about exploring the world with children. The publication is edited by Austin Sailsbury, an American writer who lives with his family in Copenhagen. The travel stories are beautiful, I know how cliché it sounds, but this is precisely how I see them. From sustainable surfing adventures in Europe, exploring the romantic Amalfi Coast, sailing and (jumping) in the Ionian Sea, finding the perfect wild swimming spots in Texas to beginning family and discovering community in Uganda. From finding peacefulness and quietness in the woods and escaping everyday business in the Canadian wilderness, to finding your ‘smultronställe’ (a Swedish word meaning ‘wild strawberry patch’ aka a place of comfort, worth returning to experience personal idyll). From experiencing the magic of stargazing in New Zealand to finding a new home. It’s also about feeling alive and adventurous, about discovering real family bonding and creating life-long travel memories. And the photographs: what a treat! BUT, there is one drawback: it’s so inspirational that you immediately want to pack your bags and explore the world! Even now, or more correctly: especially now 😉

What reading inspirations have you discovered recently? Please let me know in the comments below.

Kinga Macalla

November 25, 2020

Book review: Multilingual is normal. An anthology of voices. Talking about talking.

#multilingualisnormal

What an amazing idea to collect voices about multilingualism. It’s so ordinary, yet so extraordinary. 60 stories about the pleasure, the fun, the enthusiasm of learning, knowing and using foreign languages. The book shows different life scenarios, career possibilities and language journeys. It’s a perfect read for those learning languages, as well as translators, polyglots, multilingual families, teachers and professionals working with languages or with multilingual students and families.

The idea to collect stories about multilingualism was born in the summer of 2020 and belongs to the wonderful Cate Hamilton. Cate Hamilton is so multi-talented: she’s a co-founder of Babel Babies and a leader of the Language Revolution Podcast. She has also started a postgrad degree at Oxford University (!!!). The book was actually created in just one month: from 10th July to 10th August 2020 (amazing, huh?).

And which story is my favourite? All of them! Just read below:

“It was during a parents’ evening, the first one I had been brave enough to conduct in Catalan, that I discovered the filler word I had picked up in the backstreet bars in town meant: ‘I shit on the Eucharist.’

The raised eyebrows from the first two parents didn’t alert me. Neither did the look of alarm on the pair I saw next. It was during the third meeting that I began to get the sense that something was going wrong. ” (Peter Munford, p. 45)

“I think the little monolingual boy who first opened Fun to Learn French would be proud of how far he’s come, and really pleased that he’s teaching children to love language like he does.

But I also think he’d be scowling at me and saying: ‘You’re not stopping at nine languages, are you?’

So I should probably crack on with Basque.” (Darren Lester, p. 75)

“Raising a multilingual family does not mean to choose a language strategy that everyone says will work but to choose one that allows you to go at your own pace. Find a way where you could teach your languages to your children that follows their interests.” (Adrienne, p. 173)

And finally, a little hint, you’ll find a story about my language journey there, too 😉

Enjoy reading!

You can get your e-book here and a paper version here.

Kinga Macalla

November 4, 2020

Travelling corner: I fell in love with Exmoor

Why? Because, it has so much to offer! I re-discovered this beautiful region last winter and want to share with you why I find it so special. Below you’ll find my favourites of Exmoor:

Green

Exmoor is green. Even in winter, lower parts of the forests still remain green. It’s (almost) covered in trees and consequently, the air is very fresh (yes, you can feel the difference immediately). What I found really fascinating is that we weren’t so weather-dependant, even if it’s cloudy/rainy, it doesn’t impact our desire to go for a forest walk. Perfect solution!

Quietness

I love the business of everyday life, but I also like to be away, in nature, somewhere quiet. And I definitely slowed down in Exmoor. This region is not so commercial, so not too many tourists. It feels remote, yet local; a good combination.

Landscape

Beautiful. I found it so diverse, from stony beaches and paved walking paths to wild & muddy forests and windy sea shores. Its diversity makes it so unique and it gives you an appetite to explore further.

There is so much more to discover and I plan to return to Exmoor at different seasons to have a fuller picture of this beautiful region. Do let me know if you recommend any books on Exmoor or authors who explore this region. Let me know in the comments below.

Kinga Macalla

October 21, 2020

Travelling corner: I fell in love with Exmoor

Why? Because, it has so much to offer! I re-discovered this beautiful region recently and want to share with you why I find it so special. Below you’ll find my favourites of Exmoor:

Green

Exmoor is green. Even in winter, lower parts of the forests still remain green. It’s (almost) covered in trees and consequently, the air is very fresh (yes, you can feel the difference immediately). What I found really fascinating is that we weren’t so weather-dependant, even if it’s cloudy/rainy, it doesn’t impact our desire to go for a forest walk. Perfect solution!

Quietness

I love the business of everyday life, but I also like to be away, in nature, somewhere quiet. And I definitely slowed down in Exmoor. This region is not so commercial, so not too many tourists. It feels remote, yet local; a good combination.

Landscape

Beautiful. I found it so diverse, from stony beaches and paved walking paths to wild & muddy forests and windy sea shores. Its diversity makes it so unique and it gives you an appetite to explore further.

There is so much more to discover and I plan to return to Exmoor at different seasons to have a fuller picture of this beautiful region. Do let me know if you recommend any books on Exmoor or authors who explore this region. Let me know in the comments below.

Kinga Macalla