Lingotastic – language classes for parents and children

Today I would like to introduce you to Sarah of Lingotastic, tell you about her family’s amazing multilingual journey and how this inspired her to start her own business helping other multilingual families get started on their own journey.


Hello Sarah, tell us a little bit about yourself.

I’m Sarah, native English and I’m married to Maik, native German. We have three children aged 15, 8 and 7. We are a polyglot family living in Buckinghamshire UK.

Can you share with us how you got started on your multilingual journey?

When my son was born fifteen years ago, we did not have a language learning strategy. I’d not read anything about passing on language to children. I had studied German, French and Spanish to *GCSE so started to pass on what I knew when our son was small. My husband Maik did help me work on my German, so my son and I were learning together. We also found some French books in a local shop when he was a little over a year old and we started to read those to our son now and again.

*(in the UK) a qualification in a specific subject typically taken by school students aged 14–16.

Did you have a plan for how you would teach your firstborn child multiple languages? And what specific activities did you use to teach different languages?

It was all very ad hoc, and in the very early internet days we did not come across anyone doing the same. I just felt it was important [to learn multiple languages] so we shared German books together, recited days of the week in the car, sung along to nursery rhyme CDs, counted on the swings, played with toys which spoke German and watched German DVDs together as well as German satellite TV.

What motivated you to expose your son to multiple languages?

My thinking was to give as much language exposure as possible which our son could build on in school. Yearly visits to Germany provided a good chance for him to meet German speaking people and practice speaking. Food vocabulary was considered most important! We celebrated German festivals like Martinstag and Nikolaustag together. It was hard work and I was not sure how much difference it was making.

How did you adapt as your family grew?

A few years later my girls were born and I met a few German speaking mums with similar age children. It was so encouraging to be able to speak to someone outside our family in German and talk with them about how they brought German into their family. We shared books, DVDs and CDs, which was great. We also found out about a German Lutheran church about an hour away so we were able to join with them for Martinstag (celebration of St Martin on 11th November) and Nikolaustag (celebration of St Nicholas on 6th December).


How multilingual are your children today?

My children speak English and can understand a lot and communicate in German, but they also speak some French and Spanish. My son can easily pick up native accents (and mimic regional accents too) and speaks better Dutch and Polish than his parents. I put this down to hearing and using multiple languages from a young age. My six-year-old daughter was astounded when I told her some families only speak English.


Tell us about the genesis of Lingotastic. What services do you offer?

My youngest child started school in September 2013 and as I thought about paid work, I wanted to combine my love of languages with my experience working with mums and toddlers that I’d gained through unpaid work. I launched my Lingotastic classes in January 2014. Our classes provide a framework to work in and encourage mummies along the journey, which is what I felt was missing when our children were younger. We make crafts, play, sing and have fun with languages together. The family classes are in six week blocks of French, German and Spanish to help children pick up the sounds of other languages and learn a few songs. The classes also model my methods for language teaching with little ones. I believe if we have fun together in another language the learning just happens.

My own three children are benefiting too. As we practice songs at home, my children learn the songs also, as well as most of the vocabulary words we are teaching that week. Most of the mummies that come along have said they’ve been looking for something like this for a while and I know that, for many families, Lingotastic makes a tremendous difference, bringing language learning into their everyday lives.

As a language learning and teaching enthusiast, I’d love to connect with any like-minded teachers and learners.

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Comments, thoughts, questions?