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:
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.
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: