Tag Archives: children

It’s Lingotastic’s birthday

It’s our birthday!

This week we celebrate Lingotastic’s third birthday!

I can hardly believe my dream of encouraging and supporting family language learning would come so far!

Here are the photos of our first ever class in the newspaper

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  • Thanks to our weekly Lingotastic classes:
  • A number of children have started school already able to communicate simply in four languages.
  • Parents have grown in confidence in their own language skills and ability to pass on these skills to their own children.
  • Bilingual families have found others to share their journey together.
  • Families have found books, songs, toys and simple activities which they can use day by day in their family language learning journey.
  • Families have experienced the joy of singing together (whatever the language)
  • Children have had their eyes opened to other languages, cultures and traditions which leads to a greater acceptance and understanding of others. (So needed at this current time)
  • Children are able to sing in many languages with almost a native accent!
  • My own family have also been learning the songs and sharing the stories from the classes and are really progressing in their language learning.

Lingotastic provide weekly language classes, school lunchtime clubs and private classes in German, French and Spanish. We simply make, play, sing and have fun with languages together and it’s amazing to see the results.

Classes run in Bucks, and Herts.

To help with your language learning at home we’ve produced as CD of songs in German, English, French, Spanish, Mandarin and Esperanto. Available on www.Lingotastic.co.uk/shop

To celebrate our birthday, we have three copies to giveaway. Do you want to win your own copy? Enter in the rafflecopter below. You can get up to 12 chances to win. Good luck!

It’s our birthday!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Inspirational mum Mandie from Les Puces

IMG_0369 As a mum in business I love to celebrate what other amazing business mummies are doing. This month we meet the amazing Mandie Davis, the founder and creator of Les Puces Ltd, providing language classes to pre-school and primary aged children. So, without further ado, over to Mandie.

Imagine sitting in a café and at the next table is a young mum and her toddler.  The mum takes out a baby book of words and starts reciting verb conjugations to her little one.  “I go, you go, he goes ….”   She looks across at you and whispers “He just doesn’t seem to get it – he can recite verbs but not string a sentence together and he doesn’t seem to understand what I say.”  Your advice would undoubtedly be “Just talk to him!” a table

My daughters were brought up in Germany and France.  The eldest is trilingual and the youngest bilingual.  The only language lessons they had at school were to learn English!  They learned their new tongue by immersion, by simply imbibing the language until it became their own.  Let’s face it, communication isn’t just about words.  You can have a pretty good guess at what someone is saying to you based on the situation, context, the sound of their voice and their facial expressions, and so you slowly start to piece together this wonderful jigsaw of language.

When we teach our children their first language, they make errors as they grow. I remember the sweet mistakes made with words like hospital (hosbibal) and cheeks were always ‘sheeks’! As they grow, one turns to subtle corrections such as changing ‘they goed’ to ‘they went’ and eventually comes the exasperation on hearing ‘should of’ and explaining, one more time, that there is no verb ‘to of’! Group

So I have taken the same tack when forming the teaching modules for Les Puces Early Years French classes. Using 4 methods of learning – by rote; though songs, music and rhyme; through hearing gentle instructions when making something or colouring, where you can guess what to do; and through story telling with beautiful illustrations (and no words). These methods prepare a child for more formal lessons in school and they establish a good accent and ‘ear’ for the language while they are still young enough to be able to really hear the nuances.

I felt that communication was an imperative skill for my girls. It leads to confidence and an interrogative mind. As they grow to be young adults I trust that this also gives them understanding and tolerance of others; something becoming more important in the world we share.

To find out more about Les Puces Early Years French classes in your area please email mandie@lespuces.co.uk or go to out website www.lespuces.co.uk

Mandie Davis is the founder and creator of Les Puces Ltd, a provider of language classes for pre-school and primary aged children. Currently offering classes across Kent and Sussex, Les Puces have plans to expand across the UK and are about to launch in France, teaching English to French children.

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Mandie has created some brilliant resources, for sale through her shop.

Are you an inspirational mum who would like to feature in our blog? We’d love to hear more!

Inspirational mum Fiona from Bitzbags

Fiona Gowing

Fiona Gowing

As a mum in business I love to celebrate the successes of other mums in business. This week we have an interview with the inspirational mum Fiona from Bitzbags.

Could you tell us a little about yourself and your family?
My name is Fiona Gowing, I have been a qualified Occupational Therapist (OT) for 17 years and have worked both in the UK and internationally. However, when I had my children, Ben & Ella, I decided to have a career break. It was while I was a stay at home mum that I decided to set up a childminding business and that’s when I had my light bulb moment: a new children’s product idea.

Why did you decide to launch your business?
Inspired by my children Ben and Ella and while running my childminding business I was looking for a play to pack away solution for fiddly kids toys. I dreaded the noise of a full box of Lego being tipped out onto the floor as it was time consuming to tidy up and the kids often wanted to go from one activity to the next, as fast as possible! The only products that were on the market were plastic storage boxes (which the kids loved to just tip out onto the floor), and mats with lengthy pull cord (which isn’t suitable for a child due to safety reasons). So I had to design something new.

Mess with NO stress (twitter)
Could you tell us a little about your business?
I designed Bitzbags a new 2 in 1 portable storage solution. It’s made up of a square mat, with detachable bag. The drawstring free design on the bag is what makes the Bitzbags design different.
I started the business from home, making my first batch of Bitzbags from my kitchen table to test the market at local fairs. Then, outsourcing the manufacturing enabled me to launch the product nationally in August of last year. We have exhibited at large Childcare Expo events in Edinburgh & London, and we are stocked in local retail shops. We are also available online through www.bitzbags.com and an early years resources website www.imagido.co.uk.

How are you finding it fits in with your family?
Owning your own business is hard work and I have been fortunate to have a very supportive husband and also to have the support from business start-up services such as Entrepreneurial Spark www.entrepreneurial-spark.com, Bright Ideas Scotland and Business Gateway. In regards to family life I am able to run my business around school pick-ups and drop offs and even get my children to be involved in the business! For example, they loved being involved in the photoshoot for our marketing materials and packaging, telling me that they “feel famous”, aww…

Anything else you wish to tell our readers?
I would encourage anyone out there, thinking of starting a business, to give it a go! This is the decade of the female entrepreneur, there has never been a better time for women to start their own businesses’ with a vast array of start up support specifically tailored for female businesswomen. So give it a go, dream big, and make it happen today.

At my Lingotastic classes I use a similar idea of wrapping up ducks in blue fabric ready to pull out as we start the song, or all the stuffed animals we use in story, wrapped in fabric so I can quickly get them out when we read the story.

Fiona kindly sent us a bitzbag to trial. My daughters were really pleased, I found my son’s outgrown Lego so they could play with it. I’d been meaning to do it for a while.
As she has said earlier it is brilliant for Lego and the brilliant storage bag is great if you want to put it away quickly to play later or take out with you.
If we’ve inspired you to buy your own (I’m not on commission) visit www.bitzbags.com

If you would like to see more of the Bitzbags products (including the new outdoor bitzbags visit www.bitzbags.com and follow them on Facebook, twitter, instagram and Linkedin.

Inspirational mum Anna from Kidslingo

This is the first in a series of interviews celebrating inspirational mums in business.rabbitThis week we have an interview with an inspirational mum Anna from Kidslingo.

Hi Anna, could you tell us a little about yourself and your family?
I am a Mum to 2 young, very active children – aged 6 & 9. They are into all sorts of activities including gymnastics, netball, swimming and Brownies & Beavers – so after-school is a busy time!
I initially did a language degree and then went into working in marketing & advertising – first in London and then in the West Midlands.

Why did you decide to launch your business?
After the arrival of my 2nd child I reassessed my career options as I needed something that was much more flexible and that could fit around the demands of a young family – nursery and school drop offs and pick-ups, as well as after school activities.
Also I missed using my language skills and really wanted to work with children. I looked at various options including teacher training & other franchises. I then decided that I could do it better myself and started up on my own teaching a few local classes and have never looked back! We now have over 30 franchisees and are growing by the month. parachute and scarves

Could you tell us a little about your business?
Our whole approach & philosophy is all about fun language learning for kids. We use songs games, actions, dance, story-telling & drama to bring the language to life & inspire our little learners and linguists of tomorrow. We have programmes starting at birth and continuing right through to the end of primary school at age 11. This covers everything from parent & baby classes, preschool classes in hired venues or nurseries and clubs and classes in primary school for KS1 & KS2. We offer a full franchise package to people – from initial training, ongoing help and support, all of the lesson plans, music, resources, marketing pack & loads more!

How are you finding it fits in your family?
Perfectly – I drop off every morning, pick up & take the kids to their activities. Having a smart phone means you are accessible anywhere. After bed time I get the laptop out again & work begins for the evening! I miss out on some downtime in the evening but I gain by the time I can spend with the kids.

Anything else you’d like to tell our readers?

We’d love to chat to you if you think this type of thing could be interesting for you. Anna from Kidslingo.

Do picture books help children learn another language?

This week we are really blessed to guest blog from the lovely Nathalie. We met on twitter and have a shared love for picture books and puppets. So over to Nathalie.Natalie 4

For as far back as I can remember, I have always loved books and been surrounded by them. When my children (now 12 and 15) were born and I decided to bring them up bilingual (English and French) I am convinced books played a major part in their success… thanks to my parents who always bought so many stories for them! I read to Leah and Max in French every day and they learnt naturally, without any lessons, to read French; Max read so much by himself he taught himself to write in French too. However I never actually thought of making it part of my business until I had so many children’s books that I started to wonder what I was going to do with them! Books in English and books for adults I never kept you see; I believe books are only alive if they are being read and shared and it was easy to give them away, but books in French… Well they were too heavy to take back to France and I didn’t know anyone in the UK who would appreciate them! My dream was to open a French library; then my best friend came up with the amazing idea of a mobile library!
Bibliobus

You can check out photos of the bus on my website: http://natta-lingo.gihem.info/
The books I travel around with on my Bibliobook are mostly picture books. Why, might you ask, should anyone want to pay me to go and tell a story to their children in French? If you attend any of Sarah’s classes I am sure you are not asking yourself this question as she is a fan of books (and puppets!) herself. We all accept that stories in their native language are good for our children and they are encouraged to be read to and to read from a very young age. Moreover research shows that sharing stories in a second language (even without being bilingual) helps to develop listening, speaking, reading and writing skills! (more about various research projects here http://natta-lingo.gihem.info/spip.php?article114) More than 2000 booksChildren still love books as real objects; they enjoy sitting on the carpet and listening to a story, even more so if they can act it out with props! This we do on le Bibliobook whilst surrounded by nearly 2000 French books!! It is great fun and we know our children will learn better and be more motivated when they have fun… Not just little ones either!

If you do not have access to authentic books in another language, please check out One Third Stories for virtual stories which start in English and end in another language. That’s another great fun way of learning with stories!
So if you get the chance to, please take your children to storytelling sessions (in any language!) and keep reading to them or with them (in any language you can too!). You and they will never wish you hadn’t done it!
Natalie writes weekly blogs about picture books that are great for language learning.

Confessions of a German grammar geek (yes I like alliteration!)

With my amazing wife

With my amazing wife

This week we have a guest post from Maik with some breaking news about exciting new developments here at Lingotasic. Anyway I’ll let Maik tell you more…

 

Hi there! I’m Sarah’s husband Maik. When Sarah started Lingotastic, little did I know how quickly she would become (and I’m not exaggerating) an international phenomenon. At the time of me writing this blog, I think the numbers are at over 500 Facebook likes and 2,000 Twitter followers from across the world. Not to mention all the re-pins on Pinterest. Within a short time she’s managed to establish links with other language enthusiasts in the U.S., Taiwan, France and Wales to name just a few. All this on top of her regular language classes for tinies in the good old Home Counties.

Now the time has come for me to join my wife on the exciting rollercoaster ride which is Lingotastic. But let me tell you a bit more about myself. My name is actually pronounced Mike, and I’m originally from Germany.

Growing up in Germany, Languages have been a part of my life from quite early on, starting with learning English in school from year 5, French from year 7, and later additions of Latin, Spanish, Polish and some Hebrew. Yes, I do like languages A LOT!

Of course in a lot of cases I had a vested interest. Learning English allowed me to pick up twice as many jokes in my favourite sci-fi comedy, Mel Brooks’ “Spaceballs” and watch dozens of cartoons like Inspector Gadget in the original. Oh, and it also meant I could watch, and understand reasonably well, the original UNCUT version (including all the gory bits normally cut out for German telly) of the Terminator movie when it was on cable from the Netherlands.

Asterix and his "big-boned" friend Obelix

Asterix and his “big-boned” friend Obelix

In the same way, Latin helped when reading my favourite comic book series … Asterix! Which was of course originally written in French. So after our school organised an exchange with a school in Rennes, France, I naturally returned home with my luggage containing a good number of Asterix books in their original lingo.

As for Polish, well this was actually during my University days, when I was studying European Business Studies. And it was basically a cut-price summer holiday! A full month of residential language learning in Czieszyn, Poland, including accommodation and food for a few hundred deutschmarks (this was pre euros).

Lots of Vodka. Got to try it all ...

Lots of Vodka. Got to try it all …

Naturally it involved making a lot of friends who would help try all of the 30-odd different brands of Vodka on the shelves of the local supermarket. It must have helped, or at least not been detrimental to the learning experience. I was actually reasonably fluent at the end of the month, having arrived in Poland with practically no prior knowledge.

It was also during my University days that I met Sarah – and we were married just a couple of months before I submitted my dissertation. Of course you know of her passion for languages, so it was only natural for us to bring up a multilingual family. Although honestly all those years ago I could hardly have imagined us singing the Two Tigers song in Mandarin, La vaca Lola in Spanish or entering an Esperanto language challenge as a family. But you’ve probably seen a lot of the mad stuff we get up to on the blog already, like randomly sticking Flashsticks post-its in all sorts of places.

There’s plenty more stuff in the pipeline for Lingotastic, including a multilingual CD of all the favourites from the classes and more! And I’ll be helping to develop our programme to go into nurseries and schools, doing classes, and lunchtime as well as after school clubs. Making language learning part of everyday life is what Lingotastic is all about, making it literally child’s play across the age groups.

The enquiries are already coming in from schools, as well as parents interested in after school tuition. Exciting times ahead, and I’m glad to be on board for this next phase of the adventure of Lingotastic!

Spanish resources

It’s great to find helpful resources. Here are our favorite Spanish books from class for you to read together at home.

La Oruga muy Hambrienta.

El Hombre de Pan de Jengibre.

Los Tres Certitos

Diez deditos de las manos y diez deditos de los pies.

German resources

It’s great to find great resources for language learning.
These are a few books we love to use in class. Simple text and interactive stories for you to read together at home.

A family is not complete without a Bollerwagen.

Boats, language learning and clear communication

We’re very fortunate to have a guest post from Cassandra Lewis, a fellow language enthusiast, about her language learning journey and how she uses languages in her family and everyday life. Over to you, Cassandra…

Like most people in the UK I started French at school and immediately loved it. I really enjoyed the novelty factor of being able to say things in another language and this never wore off!

  source visitscotland.com

source visitscotland.com


Those were the days of day trips on the ferry over the Chanel with my mum and dad to visit the French hyper markets, the likes of which we had not yet seen in the UK. It was so amazing to me that all the things we were being taught at school were actually things real French people said! To be able to recognise some words when we went on these trips and to try to communicate a little with people gave me such a buzz! This was just the start of my language learning journey.
I then started Spanish at school and found I loved that too! It was fabulous. I ended up doing 3 of my GCSEs in modern languages (French, Spanish and Italian) and two of my A Levels were also modern languages, French and Spanish.
I never really had any idea of what I wanted to do ‘when I grew up’ but I knew I loved languages and so it was a natural progression really that my degree ended up to be French and Spanish – I even tried a spot of Russian while I was at University!
source aspirantsg.com

source aspirantsg.com


Studying languages gave me the opportunity to live and work in Peru, Colombia and France and it’s no exaggeration to say that I’ve had some of the best experiences of my life whilst living abroad in these places.
My work life after University took many turns from Primary School teaching to Banking to now running a Salesforce Consultancy with my husband. Although I don’t really use my languages on a day to day basis, it’s something that’s always with me. It’s like swimming, riding a bike or learning to drive, even if you don’t do it every day, you still know how to do these things. My languages are without doubt a little rusty now but I know it’s all still in there somewhere!
I’m finding now I’m a mum to a toddler I’m able to embrace my love of languages all over again by introducing her to this world. I’ve discovered Lingotastic classes where I live and both she and I really enjoy going along every week. She’s gaining something I never had which is being able to tune her ear and brain into different languages nice and early on in life – the very best time!
My daughter constantly amazes me with how much she’s picking up. She’s saying parts of the body, singing songs and counting in French, Spanish and German and the best part is she’s picking it all up without even trying and she’s having loads of fun doing it!
I’m even thinking about learning Mandarin with her which will be a real challenge for me coming from my romance languages roots! I love the fact that my language leaning journey is still continuing. It’s a great feeling opening yourself up to be able to communicate with others on this planet; a truly enriching experience.
I do smile to myself sometimes in my work life as even though we’re all speaking English, talking the language of Salesforce and translating that into the language of those who will ultimately be using the system is something that my husband and I need to always be aware of. It reminds me that clear communication in any language is a skill and so very important so everyone knows and understands we’re all on the same page. It feels good to be understood, no matter what the language.
If you’re interested in how Salesforce could help your organisation, contact us through www.rephrase.co.uk and we’ll be happy to have a chat! 

Interview with Sam and Catherine from B Small Publishing

As a family we’ve found it difficult to find good language learning resources, so over on our
resources page. we’ve compiled lots that we’d recommend. These resources were created as individuals realised there was a need and that they were able and willing to meet that need. There are inspiring stories behind all of the resources and this time we hear the story Sam and Catherine from bsmall publishing

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Could you tell me little about yourself and your family?
My name is Catherine Bruzzone and I started the business in the early 1990s publishing high-quality activity books for the Early Learning Centre. After these first few titles, I started to create bilingual books focussing on first words in English-French and English-Spanish. At the time, I was married to an Italian and my young children were learning both English and Italian. Prior to being a publisher, I was an MFL teacher in secondary schools teaching French and Italian – so languages were in my blood! Sam has taken on the daily management of the business over the last few years and he also studied French and Italian so is keen to carry on this important side of our business.

How does your product help family language learning?
Our activity books are created for non-experts to introduce and practise foreign languages at home. We are a commercial enterprise and so focus on creating French and Spanish material because this is what we sell best – especially in North America. We have dabbled in Italian, German and Chinese and still have a few of these titles on our list. Kids and parents of all ages benefit hugely from having a go at foreign languages and it’s really important to encourage kids when they are not feeling self-conscious about their ability – so our books target kids aged 6 to 9 years (though we have a few first words and older stories), which we feel is a great age to encourage practical activities in foreign languages. They don’t replace a real teacher or local languages group but are a good support.
The_Rights_of_the_Language_Learner_-_b_small_publishing[1]Is there anything else you’d like to tell those reading our blog?
We have created a fantastic poster encouraging kids to ‘have a go’ at learning languages. It’s called Rights of the Language Learner and is available either in a posh A3 laminated version from Little Linguist or we can give you a free PDF that you can print yourself on bsmall publishing Please email us on books@bsmall.co.uk if you’d like to receive it!

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