I’m very happy to premiere my Let’s Learn series today, starting with a fantastic new resource for helping parents/carers explore a new language with their young children: Little Linguists’ Library.
Little Linguists’ Library is the creation of children’s author and language tutor Will Collier. His vision is to bring an innovative, exciting and simplified new way of learning languages (specifically French and Spanish in this series) to the home. He is passionate about learning languages and the benefits this brings in terms of confidence-building, cognitive development, empathy and cultural awareness. If you’ve been considering enriching your child’s education and fancy injecting a good dose of fun and excitement into story-time, I urge you to read on to find out about this great project.
For transparency, I have not received any money or free goods for this post, it is simply something I am excited about myself as a home educator and supporter of local and independent businesses trying to make a difference to children’s lives.
So, what makes these books different?
I’m sure you’re aware of the different types of work books, stories and audiotapes already out there to help young children learn a language new to them. The Little Linguists’ Library uses several different techniques however which sets it apart from the crowd, which I’ll talk about below.
No prior knowledge of the language you have chosen to learn is required and you will learn alongside intuitively with your child. I love this, as too often, language learning is quite solitary focused. Sullivan and I produce some of our best and most enjoyable work when we engage and learn together. We are able to bounce ideas back and forth to each other and it is here in our discussions where we can explore themes such as cultural diversity and empathy.
The Little Linguists’ Library books are written specifically for language learners and contain useful and relevant content and vocabulary which run in-line with UK curriculum. As home educators, we don’t have to follow a set curriculum or take part in what and how schools are learning. However, our own personal preference IS to follow UK curriculum guides focused around Sullivan’s strengths, as it’s what works for us. Modern language learning with useful vocabulary is very important to me as things I have looked into in the past have seemed quite irrelevant to my young child and I.
The books have beautifully illustrated characters and are presented in an engaging picture book story format, which children will want to re-visit again and again. On top of making learning bright, colourful and fun at home, with such lovely attention to detail and story elements it makes these books great to give as gifts, too! The values of compassion, cultural awareness and diversity are important to Will and run strong through the Little Linguists’ Library content, again speaking to us through the deliberate use of different animals and their stories waiting to be discovered and enjoyed.
Will has kindly put together some excellent tips for learning at home with your young children:
Little Linguists’ Library blog post
Five top tips for learning a language with your child
Many of us wish we spoke a foreign language and just as many of us want our kids to be able to do so. But often this seems a nice idea which is just too hard to make a reality. So, what can we do to change this? Below are my tips for becoming a language learning family.
Decide why you’re doing it
It’s so much easier to stay motivated and to decide what you need to learn if you have a clear aim, like being able to order food and ask basic questions on holiday. You also know how much time you need to dedicate to learning and can see how you’re progressing. Whatever you do, when deciding your reason, make sure you avoid the ‘F’ word – fluency. Fluency is a vague aim (no one agrees on what true fluency is) and it also misses the point of learning a language – to be able to communicate.
Learn language in context
Many people make pages upon pages of vocabulary and spend hours learning these lists. They then wonder why they can’t string together a sentence when they meet a native speaker of the language they’re learning. Did you learn English like this? You almost certainly learned it by hearing, seeing and repeating words within the wider context of a phrase. This is key to your learning as our brains store information by making links between the different things we have learned. Words on a vocab list learned in isolation have much less chance of sticking than words learned as part of a wider phrase.
Make it multimedia
These days we have a wide range of resources at our fingertips and this goes for learning languages too. YouTube is positively bursting with kid-friendly videos teaching phrases and songs in foreign languages, there are websites offering interactive language-learning games and there are streaming sites with songs in all the major world languages – and it’s all free. Games and songs are a great way to get kids interested in a foreign language and they are fun to do as a family.
Make it hands-on
We all have different ways of learning. Educational theorists say we are either visual, auditory or kinaesthetic (learn best through physical activity) learners. I’d argue that everyone is a bit of all three depending on the topic and the time. So, mix up your learning and get a bit crafty. You could play games using flashcards (cards which link a picture to a piece of vocab or phrase) or, even better, make language learning posters to put up around the house (combining your kids’ visual and kinaesthetic learner sides).
Have a set time each day
Little and often is better than a foreign language binge every few weeks. Even if it’s just five minutes each day, set a time every day to do some learning in the foreign language. A great quick thing to do if you only have a short time is a role-play, covering the basic introductions (hello, what’s your name, how old are you, how are you). To make this even more engaging get the kids to be creative and invent characters they will pretend to be.
Most of the time you are helping your children to learn things you already know. Learning a language together is a great way to make family time more rewarding.
Big thanks to Will, those were some fantastic tips! Not just for languages but for any type of learning. We have found since starting our home education journey that Sullivan responds much better with visual prompts injected into our work, as well as being able to get into his work physically too. This was something often neglected in the classroom setting for Sullivan in particular, as due to his hypermobility, being left handed and very thorough, he often didn’t get time to get anywhere near finished on most practical projects unless someone did it for him – making him completely disengaged and falling behind with certain skill sets.
We can’t get our eager little mitts on anything just yet, as Book One of the Little Linguists’ Library series (currently in French and Spanish) are still in production. Will has created a Kickstarter crowd-funding campaign to help finance the remaining costs to get everything ready, published and out to us excited learners as soon as possible. If you would like to find out more or contribute, please follow this link: Little Linguists’ Library Kickstarter Fund.
Please go and join the Little Linguists’ Library official mailing list or catch up with Will and all the latest news over on any of the social media links below:
Do you learn a language at home with your children? Are they currently learning in school? I’d love to hear your thoughts below.