Our purpose is to encourage children to communicate across borders, and to understand the potential of friendships that can be made across the world.
LES PUCES - OUR STORY
My girls are young adults now, but when they were little I really wanted them to have the gift of speaking other languages, despite my husband, Badger and I both being monolingual. Communication has always been important to both of us, and we wanted our girls to be confident when speaking to others, and if they could do that in more than one language then even better!
We were lucky that we lived in both Germany and France so the girls experienced the cultures and picked up the languages in Kindergartens and schools. I helped children in our local French schools to learn English, and along with watching how my own girls absorbed each language I developed an understanding of the ways children develop their language skills.
Les Puces is my way of sharing what I have learned. I’ve created something that I would have loved to have been able to use with my girls.
With Les Puces we sing and dance, we make things, play games, do puzzles and listen to stories; the fact that all of that is in another language is rather irrelevant to little children! So why not?!
MEET OUR TEAM
CEO + Founder
Teacher + Dancer
+ Language Advisor
France de la Cour
We work with 7 talented illustrators to produce our books and materials
My home is my castle,
The other way into town.
At the table
de la Cour
Little Beast series
The Cheeky Crow
LES PUCES METHOD
You may have noticed that we call Les Puces a ‘language acceptance method’. You might wonder what we mean by that. We have witnessed the problem in primary and secondary schools where children are put off embarking on learning a language, or dislike their classes, for the simple reason that they have never had any previous experience of it and are therefore nervous of not doing well, or frankly, find it difficult.
All of this could be alleviated if languages were treated as a general subject from nursery and pre-school ages. This is the time a child is astutely listening to language formation and patterns, they can hear accents far better than we can, and yet we wait and wait until we broach the subject far too late, that other children in the world speak a different language from them.
By making language learning fun we overcome this problem. Children who have learned with Les Puces go on to their secondary education with a catalogue of vocabulary, phrases and songs in their minds. They are ready to embark on the formal language learning journey to help all the pieces of the puzzle fit into place. Instead of struggling with the basics, they will be listening out for words and phrases they already know and they will joyfully experience those lightbulb moments as they start to understand how it all fits together.
Les Puces makes language learning fun by using music, dance, listening to stories, making things and doing worksheets. The four parts of the class utilise the four main ways of learning:
By Rote - learning by repetition
Rhyme and Music - learning through songs
Make It Project - putting the language into practise
Storytelling - learning by hearing a story repeated
There's nothing amazing about this so far though! In fact, it would be difficult to teach without using these accepted methods. Whilst teaching English to French children, Mandie saw that although we all learn in the same way, a child may be stronger in one method and find that part of the class easiest to comprehend. Take for example a class where the children listen to a story ... say "Cinderella", and then sing the song "Somewhere over the rainbow". The child who learns best through singing would pick up the rainbow vocabulary but the story may be completely lost on him/her. We create everything in-house, we expand these learning methods so that we encompass each of them in the same subject or module. Here's an example from our My Family module:
So you can see that now the children are repeating family vocabulary, singing about families, doing family worksheets, hearing the story and of course, doing a practical task of making a 'tree of love' project to play with and continue the learning away from the class. A child that learns best through rhyme and song now has the same vocabulary reinforced through all of the other methods.
Every module introduces a new theme with a book, song, worksheets, game and project, with all the artwork taken from the book and being consistent across the module.
It doesn't stop there. Using our trademarked 'translation in head method' we make sure that the children understand what is being read to them, by providing them with a beautiful physical bilingual book with each module. By reading the book in their source language, the children understand the pattern of the story and know what to expect - regardless of what language it's in. Now they can listen and pick out repetitive words when they hear it read in the target language. Children also build their own bilingual library over time, with books that will be useful to them right up to exams at 16 .... and even beyond!
We are very conscious that the child's ear for languages changes around the age of 8. Mandie witnessed children pronouncing the 'z' on the end of 'le nez' even when a teacher was saying the word correctly. She realised that what the eye sees takes precedence over what is being heard. Especially at a time when young children are so interested in phonics and studying them throughout the day in their first language. Therefore, we use pictures when learning vocabulary by rote, sing the songs, making things or reading the story. The children look at the vocabulary or story pictures without being hindered by the written word. They are listening to excellent French/ English speakers and this way they learn the words as they hear them, correctly!