Written By You

Living On a Boat – Written By You

Have you ever seen barges on the river, and wondered what it would be like to live on one? Is it really cramped and damp, and do you have to move around and go to a different school every week? We spoke to 11 year old Annabelle to find out what it’s really like to live on a boat.

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Food and Recipes

Get Your Bake On!

 Have you been inspired by the Great British Bake Off?
We are BIG fans of 17 year old Martha, and love that she has shown Britain that kids can bake just as well (if not better!) than adults. After leaving the show, Martha said “I wanted to show that young people can do it and you don’t need hundreds of years of experience”.
A lot of you probably have already done a bit of baking with parents or grandparents, but moving on to baking independently can be a bit daunting. 
To help you get your bake on, we’ve some tips on getting started, and simple recipe ideas that will make you feel like you’ve baked a showstopper. So, move aside, mums and dads, this is all about baking for kids! 

 

 

On Your Marks, Get Set… BAKE! 

 

 

Get Organised

Image Credit

 

Before you start to bake, get all your ingredients out and put them on the worktop. This prevents you getting halfway through the recipe and then noticing that you’ve run out of something really vital, like eggs! 

 

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Science, Nature and Tech

What is Biotechnology?

Perhaps you have heard of the term biotechnology and wondered what it is. You may think you know already – after all, the parts that make up the word are very familiar: bio + technology. You have seen the first part of the word in biology, antibiotics, all sorts of words. It comes from Greek bios, which means ‘life’.

As for technology, it is not just about computers and smartphones. Technology is the practical use of knowledge to create useful things and solve problems. You might like to think of it as tech-knowledge-y. So, taking it one step further, biotechnology is about using biology in technology.

We talked to Alessandra Iscaro, a biotechnology researcher at the University of Florence, Italy, and she explained to us what it is all about.

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Written By You

When I Met Mary Robinson – Written By You

Me and my mum went to hear this lady talk, her name is Mary Robinson, Mary was the President of Ireland, but she was not just any kind of President of Ireland,she was the first woman President of Ireland. She got a Presidential Medal of Freedom from President Obama in 2009. And was the first President of Ireland to visit  the Queen.

 

Growing up 

Mary grew up in a small town in Ireland, her mum and dad where doctors and  her gran died when she was about 10 years old… When Mary was 17 she went to a finishing school in Paris while deciding if she wanted to become a nun…   In that finishing school  she was the only non-French speaking student there.

 

little light 

Mary Robinson famously put a light in her kitchen window to guide the people that have left Ireland to live a country abroad back home.

 

my question

If you had a chance of asking Mary Robinson a question in front of 600 people, would you do it? I would, and I did. Here’s what I said and what Mary replied:

 

 

 

 

Afterwards Mary signed a copy of her book for me

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Language & Literature

What’s in a name….?

 

 

Do you ever wonder why people can’t pronounce your name correctly? Or struggle to say a friend’s name right sometimes? Here Avani tells us about her experiences, and how we can make the effort to pronounce things as best we can!

 

Do people always get your name wrong?

My name is Avani and let me start by saying: I get it.

Sometimes I spend ages teaching someone how to say my name properly (Uvni would probably be the best way to write how it’s pronounced) and other times I really can’t be bothered. I wish I had an easier name, or that people would just work harder to get it right!

 

Why do we find some names really difficult to pronounce and others really easy? 

 

Here in England, people have names which come from all over the world. These names might be from places where a different language is spoken, and the different languages may also use different letters or characters to those we use for English.

My family, for example, come from a part of India called Gujarat. The Gujarati language uses a syllabary (a set of sounds) rather than an alphabet, but the syllables don’t always match up with English letter. The ‘v’ in ‘Avani’ (વ in Gujarati script) should actually be pronounced somewhere in between the English ‘v’ and ‘w’ sounds, but there isn’t an English letter that sounds exactly the same and this makes my name harder for people to remember! Also the ‘a’ and ‘u’ sounds in Gujarati are written using variations of the same symbol (અ (u) and આ (a)), which is why my name is spelt with an ‘A’, but pronounced using a ‘U’. Here’s what ‘Avani’ looks like written in Gujarati: અવનો – cool, right?

 

Languages which do use the same letters as those in English, may not pronounce all of them in the same way. This means that names that look similar on paper may be pronounced differently depending on where in the world someone lives. In Spanish, for example, the ‘j’ and ‘x’ letters are more like (but not identical to!) the English ‘h’, and in German, the letter ‘j’ sounds more like the English ‘y’ – can you imagine all the different ways people around the world must pronounce ‘Jesus’? You can listen to a few here!

 

Screenshot 2013-10-20 at 18.09.42

 

 

It’s not only names from other countries that are hard to pronounce though! Have you ever thought about which common English names might be tricky for someone learning the language to get their head around? What about the name ‘Thomas’? We say it with a hard ‘T’ (like the one in ‘tree’, rather than the one in ‘three’) even though it is spelt with a ‘Th’, and we say the name ‘Charlotte’ with a ‘Sh’ sound (like in shop) even though it is spelt with a ‘Ch’ (like in chop). It must be hard to keep up with which names follow the usual pronunciation rules (like Theo or Charles) and which ones don’t!

 

 

What can I do if I think I’m pronouncing someone’s name wrong?

 

It is always worth checking with someone if you think you’re saying their name wrong – even if you’ve known them for ages and are embarrassed about asking, chances are they’ll be really glad to have an opportunity to correct you! However, it’s also important to remember that even if you know that the way someone says their name is different to the traditional way of saying it, you should always say their name like they have asked you to. Many people living in England, for example, prefer to go by a nickname or a more ‘Anglicised’ (English-sounding) version of their name to make things a little easier – so if you know a ‘Jesminder’ who prefers ‘Jess’, or a ‘Paulo’ who prefers ‘Paul’, you should respect their decision!

 Screenshot 2013-10-20 at 18.08.40

 

If you’ve just met someone new and have forgotten how to pronounce their name (or even if you’ve met them a few 

times) – don’t despair, they probably won’t mind if you ask them again! If you are too embarrassed, though, there is a huge variety of pronunciation websites out there which will be able to help you. Click here for a good one!

 

 

Do you have a hard-to-pronounce name? Or have you ever been in an embarrassing situation over getting someone’s name wrong? Do you live in another country – which English names do you really struggle with? I’d love to hear your stories!

 

 

As well as trying to get people to say her name right, Avani Shah is currently working on a book for 8-12 year olds. She also blogs about her childhood and teenage experiences (Away with the Mice) and writes about words, etymology, and spelling for a website called Spellzone.

 

Title Photograph: Daisy 2008

Nom & Malc 2008

RiPO 2012

 

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