Learning a Language
I’m not a natural linguist. For me, my biggest barrier to learning a language has always been my lack of confidence to speak aloud. Floss’s Daddy spent two years living in Japan after he finished university and learnt to speak Japanese. He’d describe himself as a beginner, but having seen him converse in Japan, he’s NOT!
When we travelled to Japan (BF – Before Floss – a time I can barely remember – I’m sure many of you can relate) I really enjoyed learning some of the language and being immersed in the culture. I decided then, that when we had children, I wanted to give them opportunities to learn other languages and about different places in the world.
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As I’ve said, my confidence in learning a language has always held me back. I worry about my pronunciation. Will I be understood? I don’t want to offend someone by saying the wrong thing? Will I sound silly? Do you worry about these things?
One Third Stories
I’d done the odd words in other languages with Floss, particularly greetings and she really enjoyed it. I didn’t really know where to go from there. I asked for advice on Instagram and a fellow Mum mentioned One Third Stories (Discount code BUSYLEARNING). You can trial a free digital box here, just scroll right to the bottom of the page.
One Third Stories are a monthly story box, which includes a story (well not just any old story – I’ll tell you more about these magical books in a moment). It also gives access to a digital audio book, an activity pack and flashcards. The website recommended the story boxes for ages 4-9. So, I believed it would be put away when it arrived until Floss was a little older.
One Third Stories calls it The Clockwork MethodologyTM – I call it GENIUS!
Floss loves parcels! So, when the box (that fits through the letterbox – great plan) arrived, there was no doubt that we would be opening it. She was really excited to find a book and wanted to read it together straight away.
The way the books work is so clever. One Third Stories calls it The Clockwork MethodologyTM – I call it GENIUS! You begin the story in English and then gradually French words are introduced in context. You can choose your language from French, German, Italian and Spanish. Gradually, more words are introduced in French, then phrases and whole sentences in French as the book progresses. Such a clever idea.
There’s a glossary at the back, but even at 2.5 years old Floss picked up the contextual clues with the help of the illustrations to know the meaning of many of the French words in English. Such a clever concept.
We loved the first book and story pack – How the Dinosaur Got His Shoes – so much that we signed up for an ongoing subscription. We’ve now got the whole series and still thoroughly thrilled with them. Let me tell you a little more about what you get in the pack.
The Audio Book
The audio book is the most valuable part of the package for me. Hearing the story told by a native speaker has given me so much confidence in reading the story aloud to Floss. I’ve also been using the new language I’ve learnt in other contexts with her too. Floss loves me reading the story to her, but equally enjoys the story being read from the digital download.
Stefan, who retells the stories (for French), has an amazing voice that you’ll love listening too. We’ve downloaded the audio files onto our Toniebox and this gives Floss access to them whenever she wants. Her favourite place to listen to the stories is in the car.
There’s also a section on the digital download, after the glossary, which gives you questions about what you have read. This bit is a little advanced for Floss, but a great challenge for older or more fluent children. I like that we’ll be able to return time and time again to the pack and get more out of it each time as our vocabulary increases. I say our vocabulary as both Floss and I have learnt so much from using these wonderful books.
Code BUSYLEARNING will give you 15% off each plan.
The Flash Cards
Key vocabulary from each book is then given as flashcards. They show both the English and French words written as well as pictures; these are a great little resource. The sequence design on the books means that French words that you have been introduced to in other books are included in later titles. So, the flash cards are a resource that can mix and match with lots of the books.
We’ve also found that we can go back to older books in the series and use new vocabulary that we have learnt in the latest. For example book 3 in the series – Wilma the Whale introduces the vocabulary of family in French. Book 2 had family members in too, so we are now able to go back and introduce the new vocabulary we’ve learnt in this book – Little Monster. We mainly use the flash cards for little games that we play.
I’ll be doing a series of blog posts in 2022 which will feature each book in turn. The post will contain extra play and arts and crafts activities we have done to accompany the books. The posts will be great if you are a subscriber to One Third Stories, but also useful if you are wanting to introduce some multilingual play into your little one’s day.
The Activity Pack
As I said before, the story box is aimed at children aged 4-9 years old. Floss, at the start of the subscription, was 2.5 years old. The story book and audio download are our most used resources from the pack and I’ve found them really suitable for her age. The activity pack is definitely for children within the age range recommended. UPDATE – we’re really looking forward to using these fabulous books again this year (2022) and Floss is now at an age that she will be able to get full value of the lovely activity booklets that accompany the books.
We often use the activity pack to count objects in French and use some of the vocabulary we have learnt when looking at pictures in the activity book. They’re wonderfully illustrated just like the books. I plan on using these more when Floss is a little older.
She really surprised me the other morning when I said it was time for breakfast and she responded with le petit dejeuner (breakfast)!
Learning a Language
I’ve loved hearing how confident Floss is to use her new vocabulary in different situations. When engaged in small world play she will often use greeting with her characters that are both French and English. She really surprised me the other morning when I said it was time for breakfast and she responded with le petit dejeuner (breakfast)!
Stories are such a powerful way to learn. When I taught in the early years through to year 2 we always based our topic around a rich, quality text. It helped to bring learning alive for children and gave them plenty of creative and play opportunities to develop their skills and demonstrate what they were learning. I feel these story boxes do very much the same thing for learning a language.
As I mentioned earlier, I’ll be putting a blog post together to go alongside each book throughout 2022. There will be ideas and tips that we’ve used as we have enjoyed each book, but could also be used as stand alone activities to develop your own little linguist. Not only that, if you’re like me, it will make your confidence in talking in another language with your child soar!
Is it for you?
If you’re looking for something to help teach your child an additional language using a resource that means you can be a beginner alongside them, then I would highly recommend One Third Stories – Story Boxes. I never expected to love them as much as we do. They have become firm favourites in our story collection.