Do you have questions about how language-learning and the Babel Babies course can work for you and your little ones? Rest assured, we’ve probably got the answers! Browse our FAQs to discover more.
Babel Babies is a multilingual approach to looking at languages. In the weekly videos we sing songs in French, German, Italian, Spanish, Portuguese, Russian, Arabic, Japanese, Welsh and Norwegian, and English too! As we move through the 40 weeks, we will pick up songs from around the world and you’ll gradually build up your repertoire of songs in these languages, with supporting materials in the downloads to help you explore the lyrics and languages. We are encouraging you to look for connections between languages, especially how English relates to many other languages. This is not a course for each language individually. Each week, one of the languages takes the lead for the introductions, story, and the bits in between songs. Therefore, you will get to know a bit more French, Italian, German, Portuguese, Arabic and Spanish as the weeks progress, building up your knowledge over the course.
The aim is for this to be a springboard for you to discover new languages, find connections with languages you know, and give you plenty to talk about! Maybe you will fall in love with one of them, and go off to study it in more depth... merveilleux!
If you are teaching or parenting children from birth to age ten, these sessions are for you. I’ve deliberately made it possible to differentiate for the children in your life or classroom. If you have young babies, they will love hearing you singing, and enjoy the multisensory interactions. The videos are an invitation for you to play with and talk to your children. The grown-ups are very much part of the activities, and can facilitate and extend the learning as appropriate. The materials will therefore grow with you, in any direction that feels right for your little audience. The different age groups will respond differently, of course. Older children might start singing along really quickly, or enjoy the more linguistically challenging downloadable activities. The aim of the course is to be a foundation for building metacognitive skills for all ages to sing, learn and love languages together. Adults without children are welcome to join in too – you are never too old to dip your toe into learning languages!
The video sessions are prerecorded, so you can log in and watch them whenever it suits you. Your library will build up each week, and you can keep watching old episodes over again for as long as you have a subscription. I spent four days recording the sessions in an exciting video marathon, and have plunged all of my knowledge about languages into them. This means that, by the end of the 40 weeks, you will know almost everything I know about singing languages together.
We will be organising some live Zoom sessions for small groups from January 2021 too, as we love teaching in real time and chatting to you all after class! In the meantime, do log in and join the community space to make connections with like-minded language learners and parents/teachers around the world.
YES! A whole-hearted yes. My three children have been involved in designing and testing the materials with me, and they are (currently) aged 10, 8 and 5 years. They all love exploring languages, and have been singing the songs since they were babies. If you are an early-years or primary teacher, you are very welcome to get in touch and we can discuss how best to integrate the sessions into your setting. It could be as simple as singing the Hello Song in the morning, and other snippets throughout the day. Or you could watch the whole session (they are no longer than 36 minutes for the longest session, 22 minutes on average). If you’d like to purchase a bundle of the passport journals and stickers from the Par La Poste package, please drop me a line.
The first video is the longest at 36 minutes, as I introduce you to Croc Monsieur and the activities. The average video length is about 22 minutes, depending on how much new material there is each time. We heard that parents and teachers wanted bitesize, accessible content and took this on board. You can watch the videos as many times as you like for as long as you are subscribed.
In a word: no! Language learning begins even before birth, and babies recognise their ‘mother tongue(s)’ when they are born. They are able to hear any sound in any language for most of their first year, and start to tune into the language they hear most after about ten months. If you expose babies to new languages and sounds in their first year, they will have a permanent neural map of the languages they were exposed to, even if they have a significant gap before picking up the foreign languages again (e.g. at school, or even in adulthood). It is never too early to foster a positive attitude to exploring new languages.
No – you don’t need any previous experience to enjoy Babel Babies sessions. I introduce you gradually to the lyrics over the five-week terms and you’ll be amazed how quickly you pick up the songs, even if you don’t speak any other languages at the beginning. One mother now sings her baby an Italian and a Portuguese song every night at bedtime, but didn’t speak a word of either language before she started singing languages with Babel Babies.
Every term we learn a range of new songs and old favourites, building up your knowledge and confidence over the five weeks so that by the end of the term you will be singing along to around eight songs in eight languages. You’ll be amazed how much you and your children learn over the five weeks as I introduce you gradually to your favourite songs in many languages.
I believe that teaching children about other languages and cultures really broadens their horizons and gives them an understanding of the world around them. They have the capacity to learn several languages simultaneously (the majority of children in the world speak two or three languages!) so why not make the most of their incredible abilities? Also teaching them how to learn any language (the metacognitive skills) is a valuable skill that they can then transfer to primary school, where they might encounter any language in Key Stage 2 (in England anyway...)
There are huge benefits to both parents and children when they learn languages together. Research published in 2014 showed that adults' brains remained flexible for longer when they had learned a second language (you are never too old!) and that the process of learning languages slowed down the onset of dementia symptoms by an amazing 4 – 5 years! Children who are brought up with exposure to more than one language can not only speak more than one language but they develop metalinguistic awareness (knowledge about how languages work) that makes them better at learning languages. Bilinguals have more diverse perspectives, better communication skills, more empathy and negotiation skills, and intercultural sensitivity. They are highly desirable employees and often paid better wages. The ability to speak different languages to different people/in different contexts means you can see that other perspectives are possible, which fosters empathy. Imagine a world where there was more tolerance, empathy and acceptance of diverse perspectives. Sounds good to me! What do you think?
I spoke to many parents and teachers whilst researching how to make Babel Babies online work, and this revealed that there are three distinct audience groups with separate needs.
I really want Babel Babies online to be a supportive place for all of our language explorers, so have set up the Babel Babies online community where you will find friendly, like-minded parents and teachers who will chat, answer questions and share the language journey with you. There is great power in community, and this global society is unrestricted by geography or time zones so there will always be someone to talk to.