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Review: One Third Stories

Language learning with One Third Stories

Languages open up a whole world of new opportunities and new experiences, and Anthony and I both determined that Marianna will buck the Welsh trend of rather dismal modern foreign language take up. Welsh is all well and good, of course, but unless you really want to live and work in Wales forever, or just love watching live coverage of Young Farmers' Conference, its use is somewhat limited.

The problem is, how do we introduce languages to young children in a way which makes them both accessible and fun? This is what One Third Stories have set out to accomplish and their approach is really something to get excited about!

Instead of throwing you in at the deep end, or just skirting the edges with a word followed by its translation, One Third Stories substitute English words for their counterparts, relying on the context of the surrounding sentence to clarify their meaning. Here is an example of how it works in practice:

One Third Stories sample page

This short story follows a little girl who has lost her voice - the first couple of pages are English only, then Spanish words begin to appear as you move through the tale. This is such a fab idea, and feels a very natural way of learning new vocabulary. Enabling children to pick up those key words of the story very quickly is essential, as it inspires them to keep going by proving that they can do it. It's so much better than endlessly reciting the same thing over and over again, the way so many forays into language learning begin.

the little girl who lost her voice

Above is a page with finalised art; we were sent a prototype story book before the kickstarter campaign. (You can read more about their journey at the One Third Stories website.) The story was unfinished as they were running a competition for children to write their own ending.

Marianna is obviously too young to come up with an ending for the story herself, so just for laughs I got my big kid (Anthony) to tell us what happens next:


The focus at the moment is on French and Spanish - if you sign up to the One Third Stories website newsletter you get a free introductory audiobook, to try out the method for yourself - but expansion into other languages isn't too far away. I'm going to be following their progress closely!

You can also follow One Third Stories on social media at:
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What do you think? Do you speak any other languages?









Comments

  1. I like the idea of this book. I would love for Blake to learn a new language one day.

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    1. It's great fun, and the full launch is coming up soon. x

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  2. Im from wales but never really picked up the language which is ok as i now live in England. These books are really great, we will be home educating our little ones and at the moment we are learning Spanish so that we can teach them, and they watch their favorite dvds in spanish too. Thank you for sharing.

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    1. Ooh, good on you! I've thought about it but I worry it would be too much adult time for an only child. x

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  3. That looks like a lovely story! In my daughter's school, they already have weekly French lessons. I'm also from the Philippines and so I try to teach her a few tagalog words little by little. x

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    1. That's really cool! I did some work experience in a primary for a bit and they were having weekly French and Welsh three times a week - it was so cute how it merged together at times! x

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  4. Thanks for the kind words Joanna, Mike/Marie & Dean :) We're hoping the kids will enjoy the stories so much that they don't realise they are learning a foreign language :)

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  5. This is really interest. In fact I'm worried about when I have kids coz I was born in Russia but moved when I was 1 so although I can speak it I'm unsure about how to pass this skill down... This book does seem like a good way to keep the learning fun and engaging so hopefully more books like this come out and in other languages too!

    Alina from The Fairytale Pretty Picture and category manager at The Olive Fox

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    1. It can be so hard to pass languages down, especially when you're not using them everyday. I hope I can give Marianna a good grounding in a language, and then she can go further with it if she wants to. x

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  6. I would have loved my children to learn a language from an early age but not sure how this would work if you didn't already have knowledge of the language

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    1. This comment has been removed by the author.

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    2. I think this method would be really good even if you knew absolutely nothing of the language - you'd pick up the vocabulary as you went along. My Spanish extended to 'hola' and 'gracias', but I picked up the new words without any problem. x

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  7. Alina, I'm learning Russian right now! Such an interesting language :) Thanks for the encouraging words!

    Kara, great to hear from you! What we're building is something exactly for people who don't have any knowledge of the language. The idea is we use the children's native language and illustrations to provide the context for foreign words that they can understand, and build in more and more to the extent that they are reading pages in the foreign language. It will be tougher with different alphabets but we've tried French and Spanish out with kids with no prior knowledge and they've really taken to it :) Feel free to email me directly at alex@onethirdstories.com and I'll explain it in more detail!

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  8. This is a great idea. My two youngest are picking up some spanish from Dora the Explorer! They love it.

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  9. What an amazing idea! I will be looking into this further. It is best to introduce new languages when they are young.

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    1. Definitely - it's such a good skill to have too. x

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  10. What a fantastic idea, it is best for kids to learn languages from a young age because that is when they are the most impressionable.

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    1. Exactly - it only gets more difficult as you get older!

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  11. That books looks and sounds like a great learning tool for little ones. My sons father is Polish but he hasn't taught him anything yet, I wish he would as it's so much easy to learn at a young age.

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    1. That would be so cool! They definitely find it easier when they're younger. x

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  12. I do like learning languages though never seem to find the time to learn a new one x

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    1. I know - there are not enough hours in the day! x

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  13. This sounds like such a cool concept - I'm pinning this to check out further in the future!

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    1. It's really fab - such a fun way to pick up vocabulary, and we had a good laugh thinking up what happened next! x

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