Little Linguists at Heathrow

Whenever we travel the kids take a great interest in the local language. Even with our recent road trip to Scotland, they spent ages asking about what language they speak there, and this led to many chats (and impressions) on the difference between languages and accents. So far we have only gone as far as Germany, Spain and Italy, and thankfully in these countries I have managed to be able to teach them the odd conversational terms.

Languages are amazing, and I so wish I could grasp them better than I currently do (one day). But kids are little sponges and much more able to pick up a new language than we. On this subject I recently heard of a new initiative taking place at Heathrow airport this Easter weekend known as “Little linguists”, and with my kids fascination with languages, I thought it would be great to share.

Little Linguists – What’s it all about?

Basically they have teamed up with founder of Bilingualism Matters and Professor of Developmental Linguistics at Edinburgh University, Antonella Sorace, to help inspire children to learn new languages. And if you are one of the lucky 200,000 families expected to travel through the airport this weekend, then you and the kids will certainly be in for a treat, because Heathrow has created packs of Mr Adventure themed flashcards with various phrases in French, German and Mandarin, to help kids get to grips with a new language this Easter. The cards are available for families to download online or pick up for free at information desks across all terminals airside over the Easter holidays, and in my mind are brill.

As well as the cards, they also have experts around the airport to help kids practice their new linguistic skills! It all makes me wish we were going away this weekend, because its just a fab idea.

Whist we aren’t, we still managed to get our hands on a set of the cards and the kids have loved learning these foreign languages. It’s a fun Easter activity, and I think these cards and the “Mr Adventure” character are just a fantastic idea!

 French, German and Mandarin were identified by economic experts as the languages Britain’s children should learn for optimum success in ten years’ time, and so we decided to take the bull by the horns and jump in first with Mandarin!

Learning Mandarin:

Other than “ni hao” I learnt from a roomy from Hong Kong 10 years ago, I am completely clueless with mandarin. However it is the number one language spoken in the world and when asked what language they’d like to start with of course the kids chose mandarin!

We found the cards really easy to use, they only have 5 basic phrases on them but it’s a great start to being a little linguist and the kids did brilliantly at decoding the phrases. The bright colours were child friendly and certainly make language learning fun for kids. On one side is the word with translation, and on the other the word on it’s own to test them. There is also a card with ideas on how to teach them the new language so that it really sticks. We know we are going to have fun on car journey’s and future trips.

As well as the Little Linguists initiative, the airport has a number of family-friendly offers during the Easter holidays, including ‘kids eat free’ at restaurants, soft play areas and appearances by Mr Adventure himself. To learn more about Heathrow’s range of family friendly initiatives visit: http://www.heathrow.com/family.

If you are travelling this weekend then stay safe and have fun – get your kids excited with these language cards and who knows how fluent they will be in a few years. If not, why not download them like us and begin a new little linguist hobby – courtesy of Heathrow.

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