Lingotot: Gravesend

Yesterday we attended a pre-school Spanish lesson by Lingotot Gravesend and it was excelente!

I remember learning languages from secondary school age and finding it really difficult, so to be perfectly honest the first time I discovered Lingotot I did question how pre-schoolers would benefit, but how wrong I was to even doubt it for a minute.  

Jaclyn invited us to attend her class taking place at the Eastgate Centre, Gravesend. Parking was extremely convenient right beside the building with the additional bonus of being free. We had learnt our lesson from previous classes to arrive early enough to make sure all nappies were changed and to unsure Holly and Liam were comfortable before joining a new class.

As you enter the Eastgate Centre you come across a nice café with numerous tables which is great if like us you’re a bit early. The changing facilities are very easy to find on the ground floor and very spacious allowing a buggy to easily gain access if you did have it with you.

When we entered the classroom Holly and Liam were immediately drawn to the colourful playmat in the middle of the room. We were asked to remove our shoes and to dive straight into the fun. They both loved the toys freely available to them, and I thought it was a great ideas having an instant distraction on arrival so that the children didn’t get too worked up waiting for something to happen.

When the last of the class attendees arrived, finalising the numbers around ten adults and even more children, the class was ready to begin after Jaclyn had given the safety announcements of the building.

As I mentioned previously I really didn’t know what to expect and I when I looked around I noticed how young the group really was, surely they won’t be speaking Spanish I naively thought. And with that Jaclyn began the welcome song and sure enough with the encouragement of the parents and Jaclyn the children were singing in Spanish, it was amazing!

The Lingotot songs are mostly based on well-known English nursery rhymes to allow for recognition of the tunes which really aids the children in picking up the songs. Jacyln had a number of plush toys she used to showcase different words with this week’s theme being food. The main words (take what you will from this) that I learnt were ‘pastel’ meaning cake and ‘helado’ meaning ice cream!

As with other typical pre-school classes, Jacyln relied on the colourful parachute to keep the children’s interest and moving it ‘rapido’ and ‘lento’ (fast and slow) was lots of fun for all involved.

Holly and Liam really had no time at all to become bored in this class as it was jam packed full of fun experiences. Next we moved onto dancing around the room, learning all about animals and finishing this section of the class with the hockey cokey.

I think the Lingotot class does something particularly well which I haven’t really experienced in other classes before, they really work to keep the children fully engaged by providing a number of different activities. At this point it would have been really easy for the children to become restless, but out came the toys again for free play and for the older children arts and crafts. I was so impressed with Jacyln’s enthusiasm with the children and her genuine interest that the children were both learning and having fun.

As the tea and coffees were being passed around, I took this opportunity to speak with some of the other parents and grandparents in the room and there was one person I really needed to know more about, and that was Martha.

Martha is five days younger than Holly and seemingly can speak Spanish at the age of just over 2 and a half years! During the session prior to arts and crafts Martha’s pronunciation was impeccable, if you ever needed an advert to show the benefits of starting young, Martha was that! After speaking with her Grandad, I found out that she had been attending since she was 18 months old and whilst she wasn’t always vocal in the class, that all changed as soon as they left the room. Her success in learning was also attributed to the aid of the Lingotot CD they bought of nursery rhymes in Spanish.

Once the ‘pastels’ had been decorated with stickers, pens and pipe cleaners, it was time to tidy up. Jaclyn provided snack bowls of fruit to all the toddlers and offered the babies rice cakes and bread sticks. I think for the first time ever in a toddler class (in my experience) all the children were happily sitting quietly listening to the story of Goldilocks and the Three Bears being read to them Spanish and English!

It was during this unusually quiet time I was able to reflect on the conversation with Martha’s Grandad and I was actually quite regretful that I hadn’t done anything like this with Holly. But, luckily there is still lots of time. Attending this class really opened my eyes to the power of learning whilst they are really young. When I was in secondary school it was almost embarrassing to try a new language, the fear of getting it wrong and the ridicule of trying to pronounce a French word in my case, in front of other teenagers was horrible. But toddlers, they have no fear, and they have no teenagers around!

Is this the way forward? Should we all be starting at this age? In a world where we are working and communicating globally it’s time we learnt languages too. So, if you want to start a new language with your child or you are interested then please do go along to Lingotot’s Gravesend and experience this for yourself. I really don’t think you will be disappointed, and like me, you could even pick up some words yourself!

Holly happy with her ‘pastel’

And of course, as always the final nod of approval comes from Holly and with the request to return, I know Lingotot’s has a big thumbs up from us.