Little Linguists Library – Learn a Language with your Child (Bilingual Week 10)

Little Linguists Library – Learn a Language with your Child

Interview with Will Collier

Learn a language with your child

Do you have children learning languages at school? Or do you have little ones who you would like to give a head start at a second language but you don't speak one yourself? 

This week I'm interviewing Will Collier, founder of Little Linguists' Library. Will is creating a series of books which help parents learn or support their child to learn another language, even if they can't speak a second one themselves. 

This is a huge stumbling block for many parents and it seems Will has found the answer! 

● So Will, tell us about the Little Linguists' Library?

Little Linguists’ Library are the picture books that allow you and your child to learn a foreign language together. The aim is to create a more rewarding story-time for both of you.

Do you remember learning a foreign language at school? You probably turned up bright-eyed, enthusiastic and a little daunted, for your very first modern languages lesson. "What is this strange subject they've saved for secondary school?" you asked yourself. "What are these odd words the teacher is spouting at the front of the class?", "Am I going to be any good at this?" After a few weeks of vocabulary lists and grammar tables, you possibly decided it was some highly complicated science that you’d never get the hang of and that you were just not a natural linguist.

Learn a language with your child.jpg
Now, do you remember learning English?

Probably not and you certainly didn't learn it in the way described above. You learned it from your earliest childhood, long before self-consciousness began to get in the way. You learned it by hearing it, giving it a go yourself, playing with the language, making mistakes and having fun with it. And you almost certainly learned it through stories with your loved ones. This is the approach to language learning taken by Little Linguists' Library.  

So, like traditional picture books in your native language, the books teach language in a natural way, through a story, in context and by repetition of key vocabulary. Unlike traditional picture books written for native speakers, Little Linguists’ Library titles use vocabulary specifically targeted at non-native speakers. And, unlike a dual-language book, you are immersed in the foreign language from page one. In order to make the learning experience as fun and easy as possible pronunciation guides and an audio file of a native reading the story are provided.

 ‬● What did you set out to achieve?

I want to help create language-learning families. I am passionate about learning languages and the benefits this brings children in terms of confidence-building, cognitive development, empathy and cultural awareness. But I’m also aware that many parents, though they’d love their kids to learn a language as young as possible, are a bit daunted themselves by foreign languages (perhaps due to the sort of negative memories of school mentioned above). So, I want to help parents foster a culture of and respect for language learning at home. This will then mean their kids will thrive as language learners (and hopefully Mum and Dad will get over their own shyness to speak a foreign language on holiday too).

I also believe that in today’s political climate, it has never been more important to teach our children the value of other people and their cultures. And what better place to start than by learning a foreign language together?
Learn a language with your child
  • Where did the idea come from?

I’m a languages tutor, as well as a children’s author, and I’ve been frustrated by the lack of really engaging language learning resources for very young children. Games and songs are great, but they don’t teach you everyday language in a way you can usefully use when speaking the language. I tried picture books written for French and Spanish children, but the language was often beyond non-native learners. Then it hit me – I can do it myself. I can make the books that I’m looking for. Also, my wife was pregnant at the time and I was thinking about what kind of books I’d like to share with my daughter (who has now arrived in the world). This was exactly what I wanted to read to her.

  • Which languages do you offer?‬

For now, the first book is in French and Spanish (as, along with Latin, these are my specialist languages). However, if successful, I’d love to add Italian and German (and more!).

  • How do you get your ideas for stories?

It’s a great question and one that it’s hard to answer. I often only realise where the idea for a story came from after the event. I think my ideas tend to come from a mixing of the books and shows I’ve loved myself with my own interests and experiences. Sorry I can’t be any more insightful than that.

  • Where can we find your books now?

Book One of Little Linguists’ Library is written (in both French and Spanish) and is being illustrated as we speak.

I am currently running a Kickstarter crowdfunding campaign to help with the costs of getting the books produced. This means people can, in effect, pre-order the books and thereby help with the financing of it.

I wrote my previous children’s books for older readers (two historical comedies and a mystery) under the pen name of Barford Fitzgerald. These can be found on Amazon.

Learn a language with your child
  • How can we support you?

Well, of course, there is the Kickstarter itself, which you can find here. There’s various levels of rewards available, depending on the amount you pledge. It’s all-or-nothing funding on Kickstarter, so if I don’t make my funding target I won’t even get the money that has already been pledged (and anyone who has pledged will be refunded).

In addition, you can find me online at my own website (where you can join my mailing list) and on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. I share tips on language learning with your kids and behind-the-scenes stuff about my writing, so follow me and / or ‘like’ my Facebook page if you’d like to hear more.

Thank you Will for such a lovely Interview!

Next week look out for more from Will, where he will be sharing his top tips for teaching your child a language! 

**This post is part of our Bilingual Children Series**

Learn a language with your child