Tag Archives: children

Souper Language Learning


Soup is one way we encourage language learning in our home!
My children really like German packet soups. You can eat fire engines (Feuerwehrsuppe), ghosts (Gespenster Suppe), fairy tales (Märchen Suppe), sport (Fuẞball Suppe),and letters (Buchstaben Suppe).
When make these soups we must first read the instructions in German and translate them into English.
A cunning bit of language learning and reading to let them have what they like! They also like to find Gespenster (Ghosts) Hexen (witches) Zauberer (wizards), Princessin (princesses) und Einhörner (unicorns) in the soup.


We like to make German Göterspeise (jelly) too. We were making some Waldmeiser Götterspeise today and my daughter was reading the instructions while I translated them. She read Kartofel (potato) instead of Köchloffel (wooden spoon used for cooking) the instructions then read “stir with a potato until fully dissolved” We giggled a bit over that!

We think language learning can be lots of fun (and even quite yummy!)

Christmas Crafts

Happy new year to you and your family. I hope you’ve had a brilliant Christmas. We had some lovely family time so I’m just back to blogging now.

We’ve made some beautiful Christmas crafts in the last few weeks at Lingotastic. Making with little ones is good for developing motor skills, co- ordination, social skills and spending fun time with their grown ups too.

My family have many Christmas decorations our Children have made over the years and it’s so special to pull out the box each year to see how the children have developed.

Lingotastic is not a craft class but craft is brilliant for language learning. As you make you can point out relevant vocabulary and count too.

We made magic Reindeer food. (alimentos para los renos) and choose coloured glitter to make it magic! We focused on el reno (the Reindeer) and the colours of the glitter in Spanish (azul, verde, plata, oro y rojo).

Reindeer food
(photo by Cecilia, with Swedish Tomte in the background)

We made a papá noel with el sombrero rojo, (the red hat) la barba blancos (the white beard) dos ojos (two eyes) la boca (the mouth) and la nariz (the nose).


We decorated baubles and talked about the colour glitter we choose.


We made el reno with las mantitos (the little hands) y el pie (the foot) He also has dos ojos y la nariz rojo.


We’ve been learning about los tres reyes a great Spanish Christmas tradition and a good way to get little ones counting in Spanish!

tres reys.

We made our own Muñeco de nieve (snowman)and talked about his sombrero negro (black hat)and also his dos ojos (two eyes) la boca (the mouth) and la nariz (the nose).


You may have noticed, we repeated some words a few times, so the little ones picked them up quickly.

It may have looked like we were just making some Christmas decorations, but actually there was some serious learning going on!


This morning lots of children were really excited. Last night they left out their boots in the hope that Sankt Nikolaus would fill them with coins, oranges and perhaps a few presents too! Here’s what Nikolaus left for my children (and us grown up’s too).

Nikolaus Boots

I also got a text from St Nikolaus to say he’d left something on the doorstep outside too! My daughter’s best friend is Polish, so they celebrate Nikolaustag too. They’d left a stocking on the doorstep with a book in for each of the girls. They were thrilled!

Our family is half German (with a sprinking of Polish). We love to celebrate Sankt Nikolaustag and remember how Sankt Nikolaus, though he had lots of money, choose to share what he had with those less well off than himself. VeggieTales have made a brilliant video which we’ve used to teach our own children about Sanct Nikolaus. St Nicholas- A Tale of Joyful Giving! As we give we receive benefits that may not be immediately obvious to us. This is such an important thing for children and us grown ups too.

7 reasons NOT to learn a language with your little one!

I’ve been running parent and baby language learning classes for a while now, and I’ve found that people tend to give one of seven main reasons for not learning a language.
In this post, I’m going to take a look at each of them and tell you what I think of these reasons, from both personal experience and current research.
So, here’s what I hear on ALL THE TIME…

1. Everyone speaks English anyway! 


True, many people speak English, but language learning is so much more than simply learning a language. It helps you appreciate other cultures and see new ways of thinking.
Nelson Mandela said it best, “If you talk to a man in a language he understands, that goes to his head. If you talk to him in his own language, that goes to his heart.”
If you learn a second language, it opens up more job opportunities, travel and more people to be friends with. There are also huge long-term cognitive benefits to learning a second language.

2 & 3. I hated language learning at school & I’m not talented at languages.

I was 11 when I started language learning. Prior to this, I don’t think I was even very aware there were other languages out there. Everyone I knew spoke English.
We started a bit of French at middle school. I remember singing songs and having a French cafe one day. At upper school, my French teacher was terrifying. We had to stand up and recite verbs. How it did not put me off, I’ll never know!
My German teacher was hilarious and I learned a lot of vocabulary through her acting and dancing!
I started Spanish at 17 and had a real interest to learn, so I did!
Often, our experience of language learning at school was not good. We think we’re “no good” at languages and so we give up on them. But, you’ll be happy to hear, many polyglots were not good at languages at school either. They find their own best style of learning, see a purpose for language learning and just go for it.
Maybe it just was not fun and had no purpose for you?
Why not reach your child before they fall victim to the same fate!
If language learning becomes part of your child’s life, and is a fun thing to do, you’ve set a positive example before they even reach school.
Bilingual families naturally speak to their child in both languages, from birth, without considering if the baby has a talent for language learning. It’s accepted that if they speak, sing and play with their little one in both languages, they will pick it up and guess what…they do!

4 & 5. They need to speak good English first and they’re too young.

The best time to learn a second language is the same time as you learn the first. Bilingual families start two languages from birth. Even pre-verbal babies are able to recognise different languages, a recent Canadian study found.
When my son was still in my tummy, my hubby spoke to him only in German, so that when he was born, he just recognised his dad’s voice when he spoke in German.
A baby’s babbles sound the same, independent of the language spoken around them. From six months, the babble starts to become like the language sounds they hear regularly. So if babies are exposed to more than one language, the baby soon picks up both languages.
As far as language learning goes, the motto is, the younger the better.
0 to 3 years is the optimum time for introducing a second language.
It is much easier for younger children to acquire languages. Bilingual families usually start at birth or before. In fact, if a child is learning two languages at a time, they will learn both at the same rate, without one language inhibiting the other.
Younger is also better with regards to children acquiring a native sounding accent; they are much more able to pick up an authentic accent if they hear a second language from a young age.

6 & 7. We don’t have time & it’s too much money and effort.

We all have the same amount of time and we prioritise what we think is important. If we see value in something, we give it time. You find time for what you value.
One mummy shared with me how she points out things they see whilst out and about with the buggy, in French. It takes a little planning, but minimal extra time.
Language learning swaps, like playing Uno? Do it in German? Enjoy making? Point out colours in Spanish, whilst you make. In the bath, sing songs like bateau sûr l’eau and splash together at the end.
Early language learning is all about language exposure and fun. Do they like Peppa Pig? Then watch it in German or French or Spanish! Find a CD of simple nursery rhymes to listen to in the car. Have a look at bilingual books together. Even pre-verbal babies can differentiate between languages, a recent study found.
Many mummies underestimate their own ability. I’ve had many mummies say they know only a few words, yet they were there before me when pointing out parts of the face, then repeating in another language!
Language learning can help build mummies’ self confidence and self esteem too, by reminding them of the language skills they have and are now more able to use with their little one.
You think it costs too much?
Many of our German, French and Spanish books come from charity shops. Local libraries have a stock of foreign language books and can order them in on request. YouTube has lots of simple songs and even Peppa Pig too. There are even free apps. The Lingo Show on the Cbeebies website is another great source.
Language learning does take a little effort. But the rewards, both for you and your little ones are HUGE! And it’s a whole lot of fun along the way too!

Do you teach your little ones a foreign language? I’d love to hear all about your experiences in the comments below.


There are some brilliant language learning resources out there. As a parent raising bilingual children I know how difficult it can be to find resources suitable for children.
Here are a few and some with special Lingotastic discounts to tempt you further…

As we’re heading towards September and little ones first day at school Kiddicones are a brilliant way to celebrate your child’s first day at school. We can offer Lingotastic readers an exclusive discount of 10% quoting code LINGOKID. Free Delivery” to the U.K. only (an additional charge of £4.99 applies for deliveries to the Republic of Ireland).

Reading together is a brilliant way to increase your little one’s language skills. It’s a good way to sneak a hug from a lively toddler too! One Third Stories are amazing books They use the clockwork methodology. The stories begin in English. Gradually, words in the target language are introduced in contexts that make their meaning immediately apparent. Words become phrases, phrases become sentences and sentences become whole pages in another language. This book is available in German, French, Spanish and Italian. A beautiful book and inspiring a love of language from a young age which has massive long term benefits. Buy your own copy at OneThirdStories via this link https://goo.gl/49z9KPcode

Betty and Cat is a unique range of billigual books.

At Lingotastic we sing and play in English, German, French and Spanish so I’m so pleased to recommend The Little Linguist’s Alphabet poster created by the lovely Una. The Little Linguist’s Alphabet is a multilingual alphabet with 26 objects that all start with the same letter as their translations in English, French, Spanish, Portuguese, German and Dutch. Now D is always for Dinosaur, and P is always for Princess, no matter which combination of these languages your little linguist speaks.This beautiful poster is available on www.loveyourlingo.com


The guys at Lil’ollo bring language to life, with creative imagery and engaging characters, through wall art, flash cards, posters, and games. They they are designed to capture the imagination of young learners when their minds are at their most receptive.
Kiddicone are a brilliant way to celebrate your child’s first day at school. We can offer Lingotastic readers an exclusive discount of 10% quoting code LINGOKID. All orders include Free Delivery.

Singing is my favourite way of learning a language so here are some CD’s both me and the families coming to Lingotastic classes would recommend.

Babi Bach CD
The lovely Penni from Babi Bach has produced a brilliant bilingual Welsh and English album. Here is our interview
The album is currently available for download through most major sites including Amazonand Spotify. CDs can be ordered directly from Penni (info@babibach.co.uk) a
a little mandarinA Little Mandarin produce a fun funky CD of both familiar and traditional Chinese songs to expose little ones to mandarin from a young age, to help them “tune in” to the language. The songs are really funky so it’s fun for grown ups as well as little ones. My family used this CD and within five weeks had picked up four songs. As Mandarin is so different to European languages there is real value to very early exposure to it so, when they encounter it later in life it feels familiar and they can pick it up more easily. The album is also available on Deezer and Spotify.

Bilingual by music kids song swedish and english illustrated by asa wikman 2 © asa wikman If you fancy learning some Swedish or Danish, Kristin at Bilingual By Music has produced some gorgeous bilingual CDs with familiar songs. You’ll be singing along in no time… I’ve a few Swedish speaking mummies who rave over these CDs. They’re also available on i tunes Spotify and Amazon. Read our interview with Kristin here

Baby Boom Boom produce some baby friendly, sing along CD’s to introduce babies and little ones to other languages early in life, the songs are familiar sung in both English and the target language. The CD features nursery rhymes and songs in English and a second language. Currently you can choose from English and either French, Spanish, Italian, German, Polish, Chinese Mandarin, Scottish Gaelic or Welsh. Exclusive code from Lingotastic. Use the code lingo10 for a 10% discount.

This summer we found out about a brilliant new Spanish CD by Nathalia. When I was your age.Cuando Era Pequeña“> Cuando era Pequeña.
Cuando Era Pequeña Check out our review of it here.

You may have noticed I like Flash Sticks! A really simple tool to increase your vocabulary in French, German, Spanish, Italian, BSL and English. (with more to come)
The guys at FlashSticks have offered Lingotastic customers a special discount.
10% off at Flash Sticks use the coupon code lingotastic10 (in lower case). We interviewed Vejay about the concept read about it here.

Early language learning is all about having fun. Toys that talk and sing in another language really fit the bill there and Rachel’s Toy Shop sell some beautiful ones. Simply mention “Lingotastic” in the comments box when ordering to get to a 10% discount AND your postage refunded!

Mommies Tongue. Stock a brilliant range of bilingual toys as well as multilingual puzzles and games for older children too. Brilliant resources to pick up and practice language whilst simply having fun! We bought a Polish singing Teddy from them a while back and my six year old now knows the alphabet in Polish! We were learning the German alphabet and I was surprised how much she knew. It’s what my teddy bear sings she told me!

Chatterbags make some brilliant tote bags to get people chatting, whatever language they speak. Simply tick which languages you speak, use the bag whilst out and about and get chatting. Mention Lingotastic when you place your order.
Chatterbags blog



The guys at Lil’ollo bring language to life, with creative imagery and engaging characters, through wall art, flash cards, posters, and games. They they are designed to capture the imagination of young learners when their minds are at their most receptive.

Kiddiecones are a brilliant way to celebrate your child’s first day at school. We can offer Lingotastic readers an exclusive discount of 10% quoting code LINGOKID. All orders include Free Delivery.

Raising Bilingual Children

This blog post first appeared at Flashsticks – Raising Bilingual Children easier than you think.

Caroline Sarll and her husband are teachers, but Mum had lived and worked in Germany for a while and had made the decision she was going to raising bilingual children years before her daughter was born.

The only regular German input her daughter had was from her mum and, though many thought them crazy, their dedication paid off and her daughters now speak a good level of German. Mum made it a priority for them and it worked.

A German adventure

A few weeks ago, during the summer holidays, my family and I were in Germany, visiting some relatives, and I was amazed that my children were speaking and understanding so much German.

And it really got me thinking about the importance of languages.

I’ve read so much recently about the benefits of early language learning and we are currently in the process of making it a much higher priority in our family.

My children can communicate better with Oma, their Grandma for non-German speakers, and, as a result, were far more independent than I could ever possibly have imagined.


I was taken aback by the whole experience. And it just goes to show what happens when you make language learning a priority. I wish I’d done it sooner.
Not only am I really pleased with children’s progress, Oma is really pleased too; it’s really helped to bring them closer together.

My daughter even attempted to talk to other children in the Playground in German too, which was fantastic to watch. My 14 year old, meanwhile, is beginning to correct my German, which is great, especially as for so long he had showed absolutely no interest whatsoever in learning the language. I really think any language input is better than none.

Making the decision to start… somewhere

Many parents I’ve spoken to do not have the confidence to pass on their language skills to their little ones. And that’s why much of what I do in my classes is geared around empowering parents to use the skills they have, working with them to help build them together.

There are many useful tools out there to help with language learning at home and raising bilingual children really isn’t as daunting as you may think.

Have a look at my blog on 5 surprising places for language learning with your little one for some ideas, if you’re struggling to find a starting point.

No matter where you start, however, the important part is to make the decision to start. Once you begin, the momentum builds and I really think you’ll be amazed by what can be achieved.

Are you learning a language with your little ones? I’d love to hear all about your experiences of raising bilingual children in the comments below.

Meet the team

Here is the awesome team behind Lingotastic

Runs ‘Mums and Tots’ and school classes, blogs, reviews, learns as many languages as can be squeezed into everyday life.

Runs adult language classes with Language for Fun.Tutors GCSE and A level students. Has a massive list of languages he would like to learn next.



Multimedia manager and tech reviewer. Always trying to pick up words of other languages.


Chief book reviewer and tester for all the songs and books used in classes.


Book reviewer, tech reviewer and toy tester.

Meet Sarah Barrett

This blog post first appeared at Flash Sticks March 2014

As a mum of three, I’ve brought my children up with an awareness of other languages, using point and name, playing, reading, singing, puzzles and DVDs. My husband is German, so we mostly did so in German and English, with a bit of French and Hebrew.

My youngest child started school in September and, as I thought about paid work, I wanted to combine my love of languages with my experience working with mums and toddlers that I’d gained through unpaid work.

I soon realised there were very few people starting language learning with very little ones (if you do already, please get in touch. I’d love to share ideas!)

I also realised that bilingual parents often give their children this advantage, but even mummies who are themselves language teachers can find it hard to teach their little ones. I provide a framework to work in and encourage mummies along the journey.

Sarah, Heinz and Manuel

Writing the classes originally was not difficult. I’ve gradually introduced more props and activities and tailor each class to the children who come along.

My class seems to provoke strong reactions; either mummies have been looking for something like this for ages or they think children need to speak well in English before exposing them to other languages.

I’ve approached local schools and nurseries with little interest so far. I’m happiest to be working with mums and their little ones, as they can easily carry on at home.

I currently run three classes a week, for children aged 6 months to four years. One in a private members club called Sanctum, one in a play cafe in Chorleywood and one in a hall in Chesham. I’ve interest for a class at a local RAF base, so this looks like the next step. I’ve also had interest for other groups since I started, but was unable to find a venue. Another issue has been mum’s availability, as many of them work.

We run six week blocks of German, French and Spanish. Four weeks into the French block, a 17 month old heard a song on the radio and recognised it was in French. She started saying Ding Dang Dong and saying and miming “Blast off,” which we do each week at the class.


By week three Spanish, another girl was saying Hola at the start of the class and adios at the end, without prompting. The children often carry on with the songs at home too. Our favourite song is “la vaca Lola,” which everyone goes home singing.

Pretty amazing, right?

I’ve also spoken to mummies living too far away to come to my classes, but having offered them some tips and directed them to our YouTube channel, they are more confident to start introducing their little ones to languages.

My own three children are benefiting too. As we practice songs at home, my children learn the songs too, as well as most of the vocabulary words we are teaching that week.

Most of the mummies that come along have said they’ve been looking for something like this for a while and I know that, for many families, Lingotastic makes a tremendous difference, bringing language learning into their everyday lives.

As a language learning and teaching enthusiast, I’d love to connect with any like minded teachers and learners. It would be great to meet those with little ones or who work with little ones, so if you’d like to get in touch, let me know in the comments below or you can connect with me on Facebook, Twitter or via email.

– See more at: Flashsticks

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