Category Archives: Education

27 German idioms to display the German’s love for fairy tales and sausages via @PatFurstenberg #idioms #language #translation #German #English

Weather it is Michael Ende’s “The Never Ending Story” (“Die Unendliche Geschichte”), Erich Kästner’s “Emil and the Detectives” (“Emil Und Die Detektive”) or Grimm’s “Hansel and Gretel”, German storytelling reveals a rich culture and a millennial tradition. But did you now that this country produces over 1200 different types of sausages? Surely the opulent German cuisine would have also infiltrated the expressive Teutonic language, as we can see from the following German idioms.

Kein Schwein war da

Translation: There weren’t any pigs there

Meaning: Not worth going, a bad place to be (to understand this idiom you need to keep in mind the German’s love for sausages.

Kein Schwein war da - Not worth going

Das ist mir Wurst

Translation: That’s sausage to me

Meaning: That doesn’t matter

Alles hat ein Ende, nur die Wurst hat zwei

Translation: Everything has an end. Only the sausage has two

Meaning: All good things must end (but said with a lot more feeling)

Sie spielt die beleidigte Leberwurst

Translation: She’s playing the insulted sausage

Meaning: She’s all worked up (said with lots of gusto)

Sie spielt die beleidigte Leberwurst - She’s all worked up

Eine Extrawurst haben

Translation: To get an extra sausage

Meaning: To ask for special treatment 

Er muss zu allem seinen Senf dazugeben

Translation: He has to add his mustard to everything

Meaning: Give his two cents worth 

Wir haben zusammen noch keine Schweine gehütet!

Translation: We haven’t kept any pigs together

Meaning: We don’t know each other all that well

Wir haben zusammen noch keine Schweine gehütet - We don’t know each other all that well

Schwein haben

Translation: To have a pig

Meaning: To be lucky. Obviously to Germans having a pig means a lot more that having a cow means to the English speaking world.

Mein Englisch ist unter aller Sau

Translation: My English is under all pig

Meaning: My English is really bad

Wie die Kuh vorm neuen Tor dastehen

Translation: Like a cow standing in front of a new door

Meaning: Confused, much like someone faced with a new situation

Der Elefant und das Lamm - Amazon
Der Elefant und das Lamm – Amazon

Da liegt der Hase im Pfeffer!

Translation: There’s a rabbit in the pepper

Meaning: something that is depressing, a catastrophe.

Da steppt der Bär

Translation: That’s where the bear dances

Meaning: A great party

Jemandem einen Bären aufbinden

Translation: To tie a bear to someone

Meaning: to deceive someone into accepting something false

Der Löwe und der Hund  - Amazon
Der Löwe und der Hund – Amazon

Affentheater

Translation: Monkey theatre

Meaning: An outrageous behavior (Its origin lies back in the 19th century and the ambulant animal fun shows)

Sie hat ein Kater

Translation:She has a tomcat

Meaning: She’s got a hangover

Das ist ein Katzensprung

Translation: That’s a cat jump

Meaning: Something is very close, a stone’s throw away

Der Gepard und der Hund - Amazon
Der Gepard und der Hund – Amazon

Das Leben ist kein Ponyhof

Translation: Life is no pony farm

Meaning: Life is not easy

Vogel friss oder stirb

Translation: Bird eat or die

Meaning: Pretty straight forward. It’s a do or die situation. 

Der Fisch stinkt vom Kopf her

Translation: The fish starts stinking from the head

Meaning: Problems always start at the top (so very true in politics)

Sie hat einen Vogel

Translation: She has a bird

Meaning: She is mentally ill

Wo sich Fuchs und Hase gute Nacht sagen

Translation: Where fox and hare say goodnight to one another

Meaning: in the middle of nowhere, in a remote location (and surely not in a story book)

Da liegt der Hund begraben

Translation: That’s where the dog’s buried

Meaning: That’s the heart of the matter – when you want to show that you know what the situation is about

Katze in Sack kaufen

Translation: To buy a cat in a sack

Meaning: To buy something without inspecting it first

Wer weiß, warum die Gänse barfuß gehen

Translation: Who knows why the geese go barefoot

Meaning: That’s just the way it is

Schlafen wie ein Murmeltier

Translation: Sleep like a marmot

Meaning: Sleep like a log

Tomaten auf den Augen haben

Translation: To have tomatoes in your eyes

Meaning: Not being able to see the obvious

Klar wie Kloßbrühe

Translation: clear as dumpling broth

Meaning: crystal clear

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32 original Afrikaans idioms sure to make you smile once translated into English via @PatFurstenberg, #SouthAfrica #languages #learning #fun #amreading

Afrikaans, a language rich in idioms and emotions, is the world’s youngest national language and one of South Africa’s 11 official languages. Born about 350 years ago through a blend of Dutch, German and French spoken by settlers in what is now South Africa, Afrikaans is part of the West Germanic languages and is currently spoken by approximately 13 million people found mostly in South Africa, Namibia, Botswana and Zimbabwe.

Idioms are reputable for having a meaning not deductible from that of the individual words. Let’s see how some Afrikaans idioms translate into English.

1. Alle grappies op ‘n stokkie

English: All jokes on a stick

Meaning: On a more serious note

2. As die hemel val is ons almal dood

English: If heaven falls, we’re all dead

Meaning: To complain less; let’s not always think about what could go wrong

3. Die aap uit die mou laat

English: To let the monkey out of the sleeve

Meaning: To release the cat out of the bag; to spill the beans

Die aap uit die mou laat - To spill the beans
Die aap uit die mou laat – To spill the beans

4. Die berge het ‘n muis gebaar

English: The mountain gave birth to a mouse

Meaning: When you put in a lot of effort into a project but have very little to show for it

5. Die bobbejaan agter die bult gaan uithaal

English: To fetch a baboon from behind the hill

Meaning: To think or talk about problems that haven’t happened yet, thus possibly making them happen.

6. Dis die klein jakkalsies wat die wingerde verniel

English: It is the small jackals that ruined the vineyard

Meaning: Small mistakes can cause big troubles

Nou in Afrikaans - kinderboeke 4+ - Get them on Amazon
Nou in Afrikaans – kinderboeke 4+ – Get them on Amazon

7. Die doodskleed het geen sakke nie

English: A dead man’s suit does not have pockets

Meaning: When you die, your possessions mean nothing

8. Die geel baadjie aan hê

English: To wear a yellow jacket

Meaning: To be jealous

9. Die poppe gaan dans

English: The dolls will dance

Meaning: There’s going to be trouble

Die poppe gaan dans - There's going to be trouble
Die poppe gaan dans – There’s going to be trouble

10. Dis ‘n feit soos ‘n koei

English:  It’s a fact like a cow

Meaning: It is a fact you can’t argue with

11. Dit weet die aap se stert

English: What the monkey’s tail knows

Meaning: Something everyone knows

12. Hang aan ‘n tak

English: Hanging onto a branch

Meaning: Hold on for a second

Die Leeu en die Hond - Get it on Amazon
Die Leeu en die Hond – Get it on Amazon

13. Hoe kaler die jakkals, hoe groter die stert

English: The more naked the jackal, the bigger its tail is

Meaning: Those who have the least to show for themselves, brag the most

14. Hy het ‘n klap van die windmeul weg

English: He’s been hit by a windmill

Meaning: To not be sound of mind

15. Hy skil sy aartappels nie twee keer nie

English: You don’t peel your potatoes twice

Meaning: Get it right the first time.

Hy skil sy aartappels nie twee keer nie - Get it right the first time
Hy skil sy aartappels nie twee keer nie – Get it right the first time

16. Iemand heuning om die mond smeer

English: To rub honey on someone’s mouth

Meaning: To butter someone up with flattery

17. Iemand ‘n gat in die kop praat

English: To talk a hole in someone’s head

Meaning: To find a way to persuade someone (to do something bad)

18. Jakkals trou met wolf se vrou

English: The jackal is marrying the wolf’s wife

Meaning: Used when the weather is surprising: it rains on a sunny day

Die Jagluiperd en die Hond - Get it on Amazon
Die Jagluiperd en die Hond – Get it on Amazon

19. Jy krap met ‘n kort stokkie aan ‘n groot leeu se bal

English: You scratch a big lion’s bollocks with a shot stick

Meaning: To be arrogant; to push one’s luck

20. Katjie van die baan

English: A kitten from the track

Meaning: Used to describe someone with social skills, with humor. It can also be used when children stay up too late at night.

21. ‘n Aap in die mou hê

English: To have a monkey up your sleeve

Meaning: To have something up your sleeve; to hide a mischievous plan

‘n Aap in die mou hê - to have something up your sleeve
‘n Aap in die mou hê – to have something up your sleeve

22. ‘n Hond uit ‘n bos gesels

English: To talk a dog out of a bush

Meaning: To have a great conversation or to describe someone very chatty

23. ‘n Gat in die dag slaap

English: To sleep a hole in the day

Meaning: To sleep very late

24. ʼn Man van twaalf ambagte en dertien ongelukke

English: A man of twelve trades and thirteen accidents

Meaning: Used to describe a Jack of all trades, but a master of none

Die Olifant en die Skaap - Get it on Amazon
Die Olifant en die Skaap – Get it on Amazon

25. Moenie die hoender ruk nie

English: Don’t shake the chicken

Meaning: Don’t overdo it

26. Nes ‘n aap op ‘n stokkie

English: Like a monkey on a stick

Meaning: To look perplexed

27. Nou nou

English: Now now
Meaning: In a little while, in a bit

Nou nou - In a little while, in a bit
Nou nou – In a little while, in a bit

28. So ‘n bek moet jam kry

English: such a mouth should get jam

Meaning: Used when someone says something you agree with or when someone is witty and deserves a praise.

29. So skaars soos ‘n tweedehandse doodskis

English: As scarce as a second hand coffin

Meaning: Something extremely rare

30. Sy kerk is uit

English: His church is out

Meaning:It’s all over for him; he doesn’t stand another chance.

31. Twee rye spore loop

English: To walk two lines of tracks

Meaning: To be drunk

32. Wors in die hondehok soek

English: To search for a sausage in a dog’s kennel

Meaning: To look for the needle in the haystack, to look for something you cannot find

Did you know that the biggest South African communities outside of South Africa are found in the UK, Australia, New Zealand, Canada, Israel, Chile, Portugal and Greece?


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19 German Compound Words with Surprising Translations: Mammutwörter and the Longest German, English and Welsh Words via @PatFurstenberg #german #english #translation #language

For many of us, myself included, learning German is like climbing the Himalayas Mountains. If the grammar or the articles don’t get to you, the compound words without exact translation into English will – because in some German compound words the stem words don’t keep their meaning. The beauty of it is that once you do learn their meaning you grasp their beauty.

Dreikäsehoch

Literally: Three + cheese + high

Meaning: the loving nickname you would give a small child who is only as tall as three wheels of cheese stacked on top of each other.

Precious! Reminds me of Heidi!

Dreikäsehoch - three cheese high

Eselsbrücke

Literally: donkey bridge

Meaning: a mnemonic device, a memory aide

Eselsbrücke - memory aide

Flak

Flak is an acronym for a pre – World War 2 anti-aircraft gun: Fliegerabwehrkanone

Fliegerabwehr means “defense against air attack” and Kanone means cannon.

Flak - defense against air attack

Fernweh

Literally: Distance + pain

Meaning: It describes the feeling you get when you want to be somewhere else, a yearn for the freedom and adventure of travel. Similar to wanderlust (see below).

Fernweh - desire to go far away

Handschuh

Literally: hand shoe

Meaning: glove

How very logical, right?

Handschuh - glove

Handschuhschneeballwerfer

Literally: Glove + snowball + throwe

Meaning: a wimp.

If you ever tried to through more than one snowball without your gloves on you will not agree with this meaning. I second that.

Kindergarten

 Literally: Children + garden

Friedrich Froebel, a 19th Century German educator, was one of the first to believe that children needed some formal education, through play and exploration, before primary school.

Froebel opened his first kindergarten in 1837, and the curriculum included playing with toys, playing games and singing songs. By the 1880s, kindergartens opened in Austria, Belgium, Canada, Germany, Great Britain, the Netherlands, Hungary, Japan, Switzerland, and the United States.

The word itself came into English in 1852—the same year that Froebel died.

Kindergarten, coined by Froebel in 1837, adopted in English in 1852.

Kopfkino

Literally: head cinema

Meaning: your vivid imagination

Kühlschrank

Literally: cool + cupboard

Meaning: refrigerator

To the point!

Kühlschrank  - fridge

Meerschweinschen

Literally: Sea + little pig

Meaning: guinea pig

Meerschweinschen  - guinea pig

Nacktschnecke

Literally: literally: naked snail

Meaning:: slug

Ohrwurm

Literally: Ear + worm

Meaning: This describe that song stuck in your head, the one you are singing over and over again.

Ohrwurm - a  song stuck in your head

Schwarmerei

Not exactly a compound word, schwarmerei is derived from the German verb schwärmen, which means to swarm.

Schwarmerei refers to excessive and uninhibited enthusiasm and also puppy love.

Schwarmerei  - enthusiams, puppy love

Sturmfrei

Literally: Storm (tempest) + free

Meaning: When you have the house to yourself and everyone else is away

Sturmfrei - the feeling you have when you are, finally, home alone

I wonder who they refer to as the “tempest” here…

Tagedieb

Literally: day + thief

Meaning: a dilly-dallier, a lay about, a loafer

Tagedieb - laying about doing nothing

Torschlusspanik

Literally: Gate + shut + panic

Meaning: The fear we get, as we age, that time is running out and important opportunities are slipping us away.

Tick-tock, says your biological clock.

Torschlusspanik - the feeling we get that the time is running away

Treppenwitz

Literally: Stairs (staircase) + joke

Meaning: The joke you came up with but the moment to share it has already passed.

Treppenwitz  - a joke whose time has passed

Verschlimmbessern

Literally: Make something worse + to improve

Meaning: Making something worse by trying to improve it.

Sound like any home DIY to me…

Verschlimmbessern - something worse by trying to improve it

Wanderlust

Literally: Migratory / travelling + desire / appetite

Meaning: An aching desire to travel and get away.

Desire to turn into a peripatetic, a walking wanderer.

Wanderlust - desire to travel and get away

Weltschmerz

Literally: World + pain/ grief

Meaning: A feeling of melancholy or pessimism, of having lost all faith in the world and humankind.

The word Weltschmerz was born during the Romantic literary movement of the 19th century. It was first used it to describe Lord Byron’s cynical loathing for the world.

Weltschmerz - A feeling of melancholy or pessimism, of having lost all faith in the world and humankind.

Zugzwang

Literally: Pull / tug + force

Meaning: Forced to make a decision when under stress or pressure.

Zugzwang - forced to make a decision under pressure

The longest German composed word stretches at 80 letters:

Donaudampfschifffahrtselektrizitätenhauptbetriebswerkbauunterbeamtengesellschaft

The “Association for Subordinate Officials of the Head Office Management of the Danube Steamboat Electrical Services”.

The longest English word in the Oxford Dictionary has 45 letters:

Pneumonoultramicroscopicsilicovolcanoconiosis

“an artificial long word said to mean a lung disease caused by inhaling very fine ash and sand dust.

The longest word to be found in Britain is a Welsh place name with 58 letters:

Llanfairpwllgwyngyllgogerychwyrndrobwllllantysiliogogogoch

The longest place name of the UK on a sign

You might like to read: 20 Afrikaans words with interesting English literal translations

Lesen Sie weiter:

Geliebte Kinderbücher von Patricia Furstenberg:

Der Gepard und der Hund

Der Elefant und das Lamm

Der Löwe und der Hund

JETZT AUF DEUTSCH - geliebte Kinderbücher
JETZT AUF DEUTSCH – geliebte Kinderbücher
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20 Afrikaans words with interesting English literal translations via @PatFurstenberg

When learning a new language, some of the issues we encounter are translating those crafty closed compound words – combinations of two or more words that function as a single unit and mean something different than the individual words they are built with.A

  1. Aasvoël

Direct translation: bait bird

Actual meaning: vulture

Aasvoël  - bait bird - vulture
Aasvoël – bait bird – vulture

2. Jagluiperd

Direct translation: Hunting lazy horse

Actual meaning: cheetah

Jagluiperd - lazy horse - cheetah
Jagluiperd – lazy horse – cheetah

3. Keelvol

Direct translation: full throat

Actual meaning: sick of it all

Keelvol - full throat - sick of it all
Keelvol – full throat – sick of it all

4. Knormoer

Direct translation: Growl nut

Actual meaning: starter motor

Knormoer - Growl nut - starter motor
Knormoer – Growl nut – starter motor

5. Klapkassie

Direct translation: Little Flap cupboard

Actual meaning: cubby hole

Klapkassie - Little Flap cupboard - cubby hole
Klapkassie – Little Flap cupboard – cubby hole

6. Kameelperd

Direct translation: Camel horse

Actual meaning: Giraffe

Kameelperd - Camel horse - Giraffe
Kameelperd – Camel horse – Giraffe

7. Kattekwaad

Direct translation: Cats mischief

Actual meaning: getting up to no good

Kattekwaad - Cats mischief - getting up to no good
Kattekwaad – Cats mischief – getting up to no good

8. Koggelmannetjie

Direct translation: teasing little man

Actual meaning: a male rock lizard

Koggelmannetjie - teasing little man - a male rock lizard
Koggelmannetjie – teasing little man – a male rock lizard

9. Luiperd

Direct translation: Lazy horse

Actual meaning: Leopard

Luiperd - Lazy horse - Leopard
Luiperd – Lazy horse – Leopard

10. Laatlammetjie

Direct translation: late lamb

Actual meaning: a child born many years after its siblings

Laatlammetjie - late lamb - a child born many years after its siblings
Laatlammetjie – late lamb – a child born many years after its siblings

11. Padkos

Direct translation: road food

Actual meaning: Southern African snacks and provisions for a journey

padkos - road food - Southern African snacks and provisions for a journey
padkos – road food – Southern African snacks and provisions for a journey

12. Perdeby

Direct translation: horse fly

Actual meaning: wasp

perdeby - horse fly - wasp
perdeby – horse fly – wasp

13. Pletterpet

Direct translation: falling hat

Actual meaning: helmet

Pletterpet - falling hat - helmet
Pletterpet – falling hat – helmet

14. Papier vampier

Direct translation: paper vampire

Actual meaning: stapler

Papier vampier - paper vampire - stapler
Papier vampier – paper vampire – stapler

15. Springmielies

Direct translation: Jumping corn

Actual meaning: popcorn

Springmielies - Jumping corn - popcorn
Springmielies – Jumping corn – popcorn

16. Trapsuutjie

Direct translation: step softly

Actual meaning: chameleon

Trapsuutjie - step softly - chameleon
Trapsuutjie – step softly – chameleon

17. Verkykers

Direct translation: far lookers

Actual meaning: binoculars

Verkykers - far lookers - binoculars
Verkykers – far lookers – binoculars

18. Vergrootglas

Direct translation: making big glass

Actual meaning: magnifying glass

Vergrootglas - making big glass - magnifying glass
Vergrootglas – making big glass – magnifying glass

19. Windmeulvliegtuig

Direct translation: wind mill flying plane

Actual meaning: helicopter

Windmeulvliegtuig - wind mill flying plane - helicopter
Windmeulvliegtuig – wind mill flying plane – helicopter

20. Ystervark

Direct translation: iron pig

Actual meaning: porcupine

Ystervark  - iron pig – porcupine
Ystervark – iron pig – porcupine

Nou in Afrikaans, geliefde kinderboeke:

Die Leeu en die Hond

Die Jagluiperd en die Hond

Die Olifant en die Skaap

You might also enjoy reading:

19 German Compound Words with Surprising Translations: Mammutwörter and the Longest German, English and Welsh Words

 

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Nou in Afrikaans, geliefde kinderboeke: Die Leeu en die Hond, Die Jagluiperd en die Hond, Die Olifant en die Skaap deur @PatFurstenberg, in Afrikaans vertaal deur Gert Furstenberg

Drie populêre kinderboeke, nou beskibaar in Afrikaans. Helder en kleurvolle illustrasies en beminlike karakters wat opwindende avonture deel. Vir kinders en ouers om saam te geniet.

I am a big fan of Patricia and her style of writing. She certainly knows how to capture the imagination.

Mandie Griffiths, Book Reviewer

Die Leeu en die Hond

Die Leeu en die Hond deur Patricia Furstenberg
Die Leeu en die Hond deur Patricia Furstenberg

Hierdie gedig was geïnspereer deur die ware verhaal van Bonedigger, die gestremde leeu en Milo die vriendelike worshond wat bewys het dat vriendskap geen grense ken nie.

Die Leeu en die Hons sneak peek - get in on Amazon now
Die Leeu en die Hons sneak peek

“Ek hou van die mooi boodskappe van vriendskap, geloof, optimisme, en vriendelikheid oorgedra deur middel van hierdie verhaal. Die illustrasies is wonderlik en hulle gee duidelikheid aan die konsep en die outeur se woorde. Wat ‘n pragtige storie vir ouers om voor te lees vir kinders en kinders te help om die ware betekenis van vriendskap te verstaan en hoe dit geen grense ken nie!”

Die Olifant en die Skaap

Die Olifant en die Skaap - get in on Amazon now
Die Olifant en die Skaap deur Patricia Furstenberg

Hierdie gedig was geïnspereer deur die ware verhaal van Themba, ‘n ses- maande-ou weesolifant wat aangemeem is deur Albert die skaap. Die twee vriende woon in ‘n natuurreservaat in Suid Afrika.

Die Olifant en die Skaap - sneak peek. Get it on Amazon now.
Die Olifant en die Skaap – sneak peek

We both liked the illustrations. They are colorful and cute. I really liked the message that Furstenberg put into this story. It is one that children need to learn at an early age. I recommend this book for anyone with young children.
5* Readers’ Favorite Review for the English Edition

Die Jagluiperd en die Hond

Die Jagluiperd en die Hond - get it on Amazon now
Die Jagluiperd en die Hond deur Patricia Furstenberg

Hierdie gedig was geïnspereer deur die ware verhaal van Kasi, ‘n wees jagluiperd mannietjie, en Mtani, ‘n Labrador tefie, wat ‘n merkwaardige vriendskap gesmee het en lewenslank vriende gebly het…

Die Jagluiperd en die Hond - sneak peek - get it on Amazon now
Die Jagluiperd en die Hond – sneak peek

“An important and beautiful story for little readers. A book parents should read to their children, not only because it’s pretty and cute, but to also encourage children to learn about the little things that matter from our four legged companions.”
5 Stars Review of the English Edition by Rebecca Evans, Reviewer

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The Mousetrap by Agatha Christie, a Magical Theatre Experience and Why #KeepTheSecret via @PatFurstenberg

There is something magical about attending a theatre production. It is a thrilling experience being immersed in a story evolving right before your very eyes, on the stage. Forget special effects; welcome instead the sound of feet on a wooden board and the masterful use of primary tools: voice, facial expressions, body language.

The actors on a stage have large gestures and welcoming body motions. They reel you in, welcome you into their stage life – their open life. Come, see, live – their hands say. Tune in, listen closely – their voices whisper. Have you taken it all in? Are you sure you caught each detail? Their eyes beckon us.

A theatre experience presents us with raw life, but through a looking glass: every detail shows, every detail counts. Theatre is life in its distilled form, pure and flavorful. Come with us, share this experience we offer so willingly. Forget your troubled life; maybe even find an answer you didn’t know you were looking for, on our stage.

The Mousetrap - Agatha Christie, first edition, published by Samuel French in 1954
The Mousetrap by Agatha Christie, First Edition, published by Samuel French in 1954

The Mousetrap by Agatha Christie

is a chiseled locked-room mystery: a group of strangers gathered in a country house cut off by the snowstorm discover that one of them is a murderer.

Death IS present in the play, coming from a desire for revenge, but not overpowering. The search for justice, the desire to solve the murder is the force that moves the play forward – even if the murderer proves to be sympathetic through life circumstances and mitigating reasons.

What is real and what is not? Find out by yourself, it is theatre and the work of Agatha Christie, after all.

A word of advice: patrons attending the St Martin’s production are asked to tip their cab driver on arrival – a bad tip usually means that the cabby will shout the murderer’s name and speed off.

In theatre there are no second chances, second takes or cuts – and for this I truly admire its actors.

In the South African Pieter Toerien Productions of The Mousetrap:

The Mousetrap by Agatha Christie, South African Theatre Production  @PieterToerien @Monte_Theatre
The Mousetrap by Agatha Christie, South African Theatre Production @PieterToerien @Monte_Theatre

I loved the passionate interpretation of Melissa Haiden as Mollie Ralston, the frank way in which Mark Sykes performed the role of Giles Ralston, the epic rendition of Matthew Lotter as Christopher Wren, the stellar appearance of Michele Maxwell in Mrs. Boyle, the virtuoso performance of Malcolm Terrey as Major Metcalf, the mature interpretation of Shannyn Fourie in Miss Casewell, the colorful performance of West End Star Mark Wynter as Mr Paravicini as well as the meticulous character Aiden Scott instilled in Detective Sergeant Trotter.

The South African production of The Mousetrap is directed by JONATHAN TAFLER who played the role of Mr Paravicini in the St Martin’s production of The Mousetrap on the West End.

Pieter Toerien’s Montecasino Theatre
24 January – 3 March
Performances: Wed – Fri at 20h00, Sat at 16h00 and 20h00, Sun at 15h00
Tickets: R100, R150, R200, R240
Computicket or Theatre Box Office 011 511 1818

Interesting facts about The Mousetrap:

The Mousetrap is the longest-running play in the history of London’s West End. In 2019 the production headed into its 68th year at the St. Martin’s Theatre. Since 6 October 1952 the play has reached well over 27,000 performances.

The Mousetrap was initially performed as a radio play in 1952 and was broadcast by the BBC with the title Three Blind Mice. The radio play had been commissioned in 1947 by Queen Mary, who was a Christie fan. There is no tape of that broadcast known to exist. The forty-five minute play was based on a short story on which Christie had been working. Due to the extremely warm welcome by the audience, Christie elaborated the script. Its first performance was on October 6, 1952, when The Mousetrap became a stage play.

There is still an original cast member in each production: recording of a radio broadcast the play opens with. The voice belongs to English actor Deryck Guyler who, thus, has ‘appeared’ in every UK showing of The Mousetrap to date…

Richard Attenborough and his wife Sheila Sims starred in the original production.

The Mousetrap by Agatha Christie - Richard Attenborough and his wife Sheila Sims starred in the original production

Most of its sound cues – wind, bells, slamming doors – are created live backstage.

The Mousetrap has never been adapted in any other format.

Christie signed over the royalties from the play to her grandson, Mathew Prichard, at its opening in 1952.

Agatha Christie made her last public appearance at The Mousetrap in 1974, age 84.

Each performance ends with one actor from the company addressing the audience: “Now you have seen The Mousetrap you are our partners in crime, and we ask you to preserve the tradition by keeping the secret of whodunit locked in your heart“. Have you watched it? If so, we are “partners in crime”.

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The Six Principles That Move Mind, Brain, Education #MBE #edchat #techchat #education via @PatFurstenberg

What are the limits of the human brain? How do we learn best? How can we aid and support our children in reaching their full potential as students?

Throughout the centuries, great teachers have been guided by their intuition as to what method of teaching works best. Modern brain imaging techniques have brought into plain view why certain methods work as the workings of the brain has never been as thoroughly demonstrated.  Today we have a clear understanding of which methods work. The latest research in the science of Mind, Brain and Education (MBE) are available to help 21st Century teachers and learners achieve success. MBE is a young science started at Harvard University 25 years ago by uniting the fields of neuroscience, psychology, and education.

Here are the 6 principles MBE is based on:

#1: Each brain is unique and uniquely organized.

Our brains are as unique as our faces or our fingerprints. Although the basic structure and patters of learning remain the same, each brain is unique.

Each human being has unique DNA. Our blueprint is further influenced and shaped by our lifetime experiences, as the age old nature versus nurture argument goes. Even if identical twins share very similar genes (each human being has 24 000), the latest genetic studies prove that their phenotype or physical manifestation will differ as a result of life experiences and epigenetic factors (the way in which environmental factors alter behaviour and development.

Humans share general physical and neurodevelopmental stages (yet not in the same way or at the same rate) that establish the parameters for learning. Since each brain is unique and develops in its own way, students will learn and develop at their own pace. This is why a “one size fits all” method of teaching is ineffective.

#2: All brains are not equal because context and ability influence learning

He has a gift for words, she has a mathematician’s brain, some of us resent change while others welcome it – why is it so? We know that the different stages of brain development impact our comprehension and the development of our skills by influencing our brain’s physiology. Not only are our brains different, but our genetic predisposition, our “abilities” differ. There is no predefined frame for success as a learner.

The human brain is wired for studying and experimenting and is constantly changing.  With the right support, motivation and an appropriate learning environment, a modest background (genetic or not) can be maximized beyond expectation; while individuals born with great potential or under the right circumstances may not reach their potential if they do not live up to it.

An interesting example is that of dyslexia and astronomy. Research shows that dyslexia is the result of an atypical cortical organization. However, the dyslexic brain’s visual field is wired differently, allowing for a wider spatial attention. Because dyslexic students favor the peripheral visual field, with the necessary support and training, they’ll have a greater advantage as astronomers (Schneps, “Dyslexia and Astronomy”, 2007).

#3: The brain is changed by experience

Our genetic codes, the circumstances of our birth and our social experiences make us who we are, each with our own set of strengths and weaknesses.

Since learning is “the acquisition of knowledge or skills through study, experience, or being taught” (Oxford Dictionary), it is impossible for the brain not to learn and change through daily experiences. Previous positive experiences will empower learning, while negative ones will hinder the learning process.

The human brain is not detached from the body during the learning process so the stimuli affecting the human body (taste, smell, touch, sight) will impact upon the brain. A repetitive stimulus will, in time, create a permanent change; more stimuli exciting a wider area of the brain will, in time, strengthen that area. The reverse is also true; the lack of stimulation will, eventually, cause an area to atrophy – How the Brain Works. All these changes are unseen, but the effects thereof are clearly visible.

#4: The brain is highly plastic

Your brain will be different than it was before you read this article in response to your thoughts; your brain constantly prunes and strengthens its neural pathways. This is neuroplasticity, derived from neuron (a nerve cell) and plastic (mouldable). The human brain is most malleable at a young age, yet throughout our lives the brain is capable of neurogenesis (creation of new neurons), reorganizing old pathways and creating new neural connections that improve its capabilities. We can learn at any age, as our brain constantly rewires itself and changes its physical structure (functional plasticity) or recuperates a lost skill, if the usual route is damaged or blocked (structural plasticity).

Neuroplasticity goes beyond, confronting the belief that certain brain areas are responsible for a specific function. Antonio Battro, neuroscientist and educationalist, documents the extraordinary life of a child living with only half a brain in “Half a Brain is Enough: The Story of Nico”. The brain works as a system; when parts of brain are missing other parts take over and learn new functions.

The brain’s plasticity is also associated with the growth mind-set concept: by being told that intelligence is not fixed, but changeable; a group of schoolchildren were able to raise their IQ’s.

Neuroplasticity means that anybody can learn or develop a skill at any stage throughout their life, if context (support, environment, motivation, prior knowledge and enough practice) and ability are present.

#5: The brain connects new information to old

We all thrive to make sense of the world around us, no matter our age. Mouthing is part of normal infant development; teenagers need to belong to a group and as grown-ups confronted with a new situation we felt that the world made no sense – until we found a familiar pattern to relate to. This is part of foundational knowledge, using what we already know from different disciplines to make sense of something knew.

The human brain is designed to find and generate patterns.

Our mind learns and makes sense of experiences by finding old patterns to relate to before creating new ones. Patterns can be a thinking principle, a category, or diagrams. It is much like following directions to an unknown location by looking for familiar landmarks. At the same time, very much like connecting the dots to create an image, the human brain will use the understanding of small details to comprehend the big picture (such as a project, a meaningful story or a history lesson).

By connecting the new information with the old information; new neural connections will appear, that will anchor the new concepts to the already existing ones.

This is why teaching in a vacuum fails. Students need to connect new information to old information in order to understand it.  And the new information that relies on old information can not be absorbed if the old information is missing, or not completely understood.

#6: Attention + Memory = Learning

Our brains are not made to download the information presented to them, but to first analyse it visually, auditory and tacitly.

Our experiences are first lived, then learned.

Attention is needed during the learning process; first to make sense of what is being taught and then to connect new ideas to the existing knowledge by noticing similarities between the two. Yet the information presented to us will compete with the overall stimuli our body is exposed to. At the same time; learning is influenced by our emotional state, as emotions convey meaningfulness to the subject at hand.

When a new concept is being taught; we first commit it to the working memory. After revision, it is stored in the long term memory. Overloading the working memory will reduce the amount of information we can move to long term memory. Practice and meaning are crucial to committing the information to long term memory. Therefore, the way information is presented needs to reduce the cognitive load and facilitate learning.

As our brains are unique; each student will better assimilate the information through a different channel. Using a variety of methods while teaching (reading, videos, debates, discussion, projects, slides, etc.) will benefit a larger number of students, as the input information enters through different neural pathways ensuring a greater possibility of maximizing student learning, often through the overlapping of information.

(Written by Patricia Furstenberg for ITSI_SA – April 2018)

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How Mobile Libraries Can Boost Education In South Africa

the key factors to achieve a high literacy level in a country – Patricia Furstenberg

How Mobile Libraries Can Boost Education In South Africa

Some of my most cherished memories involve books. Being read to, excited to hear my father mimicking different characters in the story; later on, thrilled to read on my own. Books, the touch and feel of them. Cradling the book you thoroughly enjoy and that sunken feeling when it’s over.

Most of this world’s amazing people were thirsty readers, drawing inspiration and strength from books. Oscar Wilde, Nelson Mandela, Agatha Christie. What would they have become if it wasn’t for the books they were fortunate to read? Where would you be now without the books that made you?

“Be a lifelong student, read as many books as possible.” Nelson Mandela

For us, books are within easy access; a library down the road or at school, online book retailers or the mall’s bookshop and second hand bookshops. We’re lucky, although we probably take it for granted, to have been brought up in a culture of reading. Because reading is linked to academic achievement, emotional intelligence and self-esteem.

South African learners still have limited access to libraries

And the two main reasons are: lack of infrastructure and the bad management of funds.

My previous article: “Does school attendance guarantee literacy?” concluded that access to reading material from an early age, together with school attendance and government funds for learners are key factors in attaining a high literacy level in a country.

There aren’t enough libraries

Learners in primary schools with a library fulfilling minimum standards (which can be as little as a box of books in one classroom, as decided by the South African Department of Basic Education):

Provinces ranked according to schools supplied with a library, with one being the highest extent and nine the lowest extent:

The 2009 UNICEF report stated that 53 percent of SA learners were in non-fee schools, completely dependent on funds from the government. The funds are allocated per learner, depending on the poverty of the area around the school and are amended annually.

Schools that have acquired the full set of funds, by province:

Schools that have acquired the full set of funds by province

Where do we stand, worldwide? The World’s Most Literate Nations (WMLN) ranks countries on their populace’s literate behaviours and their supporting resources. They use five categories as indicators of the literate health of nations: libraries, newspapers, education inputs and outputs, computer availability. “This multidimensional approach to literacy speaks to the social, economic, and governmental powers of nations around the globe.” On Libraries ranking South Africa scored 51.5, with position one as best and 61 last.

To paraphrase Francis Bacon, if children can’t have access to books, then let the books come to the children.

Clever Solutions

1. Mobile libraries and librarians

This is exactly what SAPESI (South African Primary Education Support Initiative) does. With the support of the SAPESI Japan offices they source and export mobile libraries (MBs) to SA. These facilities are contained in medium-sized busses and will travel around provinces providing poor communities with free access to books and a librarian. Each bus carries 2,500 books in all 11 official languages, catering for children between the ages of six and 11.

Japan, a country with an area three times smaller than South Africa, has 530 MBs. In 2016 South Africa had approximately 50 MBs visiting 885 schools across the country. SAPESI aims to have 100 MBs that will serve 2,500 schools by 2025: at least one in operation in each of the 96 education districts across South Africa. SAPESI hopes that the learners’ families will be encouraged by these efforts and support the children’s reading efforts as “reading is the basis of all learning.”

Since 2008 SAPESI is also supported by Sony companies from Australia, Canada, Hong Kong, Malaysia, New Zealand, Singapore, South Africa, United Kingdom and the United States. The total number of English children’s books donated so far is 170,000. Sony Corporation in Tokyo contributed funds to SAPESI in order to purchase a further 13,200 children’s books in languages indigenous to South Africa.

In addition to supplying books Sony also supports the “VAIO Bakkie”, an IT training project using Sony’s VAIO laptop computer, whereby pupils enjoy learning practical computer skills, even at schools without computer facilities.

2. Improvise and reuse refurbished containers

The South African Mobile Library Association (SAMLA) together with EDSA (Education for Democracy in South Africa) have joined forces to bring the knowledge and love of reading, story-telling and drama to townships and squatter camps of the Western Cape. A children’s library has been set up in three refurbished containers in a central location in Gugulethu Township.

3. Wooden mobile bookshelves

Mobile Library Solutions, “Masixhasane”, is another mobile library initiative doing their bit at eradicating illiteracy in SA schools. They build mobile libraries that fit through a door and are ready to use: wooden mobile bookshelves stocked up with books sponsored by worldwide organisations.

Percentage of learners with library access as presented in the 2014 report for basic education:

Provincial indicator values for library access in South Africa as presented in the 2014 report for basic education.

Mobile libraries, early results

In 2014 research done by the University of Free State on schools in the rural areas proved that primary children from schools serviced by mobile libraries showed a significant improvement in their English reading and speaking capabilities.

The use of Mobile Libraries helps on multiple levels, study proves. Patricia Furstenberg

The children were able to converse comfortably with us in English and also read from their library books with ease and comprehension. By contrast, children from some schools that have not had access to the mobile libraries had very little understanding or use of English.” says Dr. Lynette Jacobs, Head of the School of Education Studies.


Sony Group employees send books to children in South Africa.

There are many other organisations supporting the mobile library initiative with the same vital purpose: to instil a love of reading thus improving literacy and overall academic performance of the children of South Africa.

Written for and published on Huffington Post SA on 4 May 2017

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Does School Attendance Guarantee Literacy?

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Left Or Right Brain? How Discovering Your Child’s Learning Style Can Help You Help Them via @PatFurstenberg

Left Or Right Brain? How Discovering Your Child’s Learning Style Can Help You Help Them

Your child is a left-brain; he’s got a logical mind, he understands numbers and sequence, that’s why he’s so good with mathematics and sciences. My daughter is no good at mathematics, but she’s a right-brain, she’s creative and imaginative.

Is it correct to label our children based on common beliefs? Left-brain and right-brain, there is so much more to it than aptitudes towards the science or the arts.

Karl Lashley was the first neuropsychologist to map the human brain, especially those areas of the brain responsible for specific functions and to research the way people study and learn new facts. Based on his initial findings, further studies have established that the left hemisphere is in charge of language (vocabulary), memorizing and recalling, following instructions. The right hemisphere is in charge with visualization, imagining, comparison, as well as comprehension and interpretation.

The right-side, left-side dominance becomes evident from an early age. The older we become, the more evident it is, except that grown-ups also learn to compensate and, if they are lucky, they will choose a career path that aligns with their dominant hemisphere.

On a school level, the situation is different. There is no choice, thinker or dreamer, they are all crammed in the same classroom, following the same curriculum. And the curriculum seems to favour the left-brain students.

Left-brain academic subjects focus on logical thinking, analysis, and accuracy.

Right-brained subjects focus on aesthetics, emotions, and creativity.

Until the day that the education department will embrace and support this natural, dual way of thinking it lies in our hands as parents to support our children.

Often right-brain students will appear as under-achievers as the educational curriculum might not be challenging enough for the way their brain is wired to think.

Mathematics and science require the learning and use of formulas, of a specific sequence of facts. Languages and Social Sciences require students to memorize vocabulary and grammar rules as well as lists of facts and numerous dates. Furthermore, mathematics or maths literacy are listed among the compulsory subjects required for all degrees offered by the Faculty of Law, Faculty of Natural and Agricultural Sciences, Faculty of Humanities or Faculty of Theology.

Wonderful news for left-brain pupils, but what about the right-brain ones? The dreamers and the thinkers that see the big picture, yet tend to struggle remembering small details? The David Karp (founder of Tumbler), Evan Williams (Blogger creator and former Twitter CEO) or Simon Cowell (Britain’s Got Talent)?

These right-brain dominant students, although just as gifted and as clever as their left-brain fellows, are often seen as under-achievers because they struggle to remember a formula or a historical date. Few right-brain pupils might just be able to expand their natural brain functioning, thus over-compensating the restraints of their brain design — by applying themselves to the extreme.

It is important to understand that a pupil’s cerebral inclination will play a role not only in the type of information he or she is more likely to absorb but also in the way he or she will best absorb that information.

Although left-brain students can absorb the details and the numbers, they might struggle to step back and “get” the big picture. These students may need to know from the beginning what is the end goal, what is expected of them before the study process even begins.

Right-brain pupils benefit from the use of images and colours when studying. Using simple drawings when learning is highly beneficial as it involves their dominant right-brain, the creative hemisphere in the process, thus supporting their left-brain.

Until the day that the education department will embrace and support this natural, dual way of thinking it lies in our hands as parents to understand our children’s hemispheric dominance and distinctive brain wiring and to support them, as all children are gifted and unique, whole individuals.

Curious about your brain dominance? Take the hemispheric dominance test.

This article was first published on the Huffington Post SA on 14 November 2017.

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5 Facts About The Baby’s Brain Parents Must Know via @PatFurstenberg

5 Facts About The Baby’s Brain Parents Must Know

A baby’s arrival is welcomed with excitement and apprehension. We prepare for it by buying tiny clothes, a mountain of nappies, furniture to fill an entire room and the boot of our cars — and this is just the beginning. Between antenatal classes and parenting books, no wonder there isn’t any time left for extra information.

Neuroscientists, with the aid of brain-imaging tools, can study the changes that take place in the human brain when we think, read or learn. Their findings shine a new light on how the human brain actually works and how parents can help enhance their children’s educational experiences and life achievements.

Baby Brain Fact #1: First Three Month Of Life Are Crucial For The Baby’s Brain

Full-term babies

The brain of a newborn baby birthed at full term is only a quarter of the total size of an adult brain. Therefore specialists consider the first three months of life as the fourth trimester of pregnancy. It is during these first three months of the newborn’s life that his brain develops enough for the baby to become mature enough to adapt to his surroundings and to begin to socialise.

When infants are born before full term

Inductions were regarded as highly fashionable between the Eighties and until the end of the 20th century. As soon as a pregnancy reached its 37th week (with 40 weeks being full term), it was considered “close enough” and inductions and C-sections were being scheduled. It was the increased number of babies in the neonatal intensive care unit (ICU) that made obstetricians reconsider the meaning of “term pregnancy“.

Researchers noted that the brains of the infants born at 37 weeks were 5 percent smaller than the average. By the third months of life, the difference between the preterm babies and the full-term babies became smaller, but the preterm babies hadn’t fully caught up — their brain size remaining “2 percent smaller than the average” a neurology study showed.

Newborn baby MRI

Image above: The brain scan on the left is taken from a newborn, and the one on the right is taken 90 days later. Credit: Dominic Holland et al., University of California, San Diego School of Medicine

Baby Brain Fact #2: Talking To A Baby Stimulates Its Brain

Talking to babies and even reading to them helps boost their brain power, researchers say, and the differences begin to show as early as two years of age. Chatting with infants helps them pick up the rhythm and the rules of language, and repetition helps them learn vocabulary.

The same principles apply to using facial expressions to communicate with an infant, as this will help them decipher and understand human emotions. At such a young age the prefrontal cortex (implicated in behaviour and personality expression) is not fully developed, so the fear of “spoiling” an infant by giving them too much attention is unjustified.

Baby Brain Fact #3: The Brain Develops During Our Entire Life

The first birthday is an important milestone for the toddler’s brain as well, as it would have reached 60 percent of its adult size. The circumference of the human head will reach 90 percent of its adult size by the age of six, yet the brain will only be fully matured at the age of 25.

Neuroscientists have discovered that the human brain continues to develop — forming new neural pathways and pruning old, weak ones throughout our lives. Also, due to the brain’s plasticity, if an area of the human brain is lost the remaining brain area will, in time, develop to compensate for the missing sector.

Our genetic package provides the basic blueprint for brain development, but the stimulation an infant and child experiences provide the foundation for future learning.

Baby Brain Fact #4: Lantern vs Flashlight Awareness

Although a baby’s brain has many more neural connections compared to the adult brain, to protect them in a harsh world their brain has less inhibitory neurotransmitters.

As a result, they perceive the main picture, but focus less on details, just like a lantern that illuminates the entire room in a diffuse way. By comparison, the adult brain will focus on details, very much like a flashlight that focuses its light on specific details.

Baby Brain Fact #5: DVDs Out, Experiences In

From birth, babies respond to some stimuli and ignore others. DVDs, flashcards — these leave baby unresponsive. What babies love is human interaction, and later on, first-hand experiences.

Keep in mind that babies get bored quickly, as they have a short attention span, so parents need to vary the games. Also, too much stimulation will soon tire the baby.

Interesting to notice is that babies don’t hear as well as we do, which explains why crying is not bothering them!

Also, babies can’t distinguish voices from background noise as well as adults do — so if you want your infant to pay attention to you, it is advised to switch off the TV.

And music? Yes, babies do love music, but this should be approached as an activity, limited by time and cued to baby’s attention span.

* The information in this article is NOT intended to replace a one-on-one relationship with a qualified healthcare professional and is not intended as medical advice.

This article was initially published on Huffington Post SA on 9 May 2018

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