The Hello languages series by bsmall publishing is available in three languages – English, French and Spanish – and is bold, colourful and fun. It is intended to be used independently by children rather than as a classroom resource, and comprises four books;

  • Beginner’s guide
  • Picture dictionary
  • Workbook
  • Colouring book

I was sent the Hello French! materials to have a peek before they were released.

The Beginner’s Guide is organised under 6 topics and takes one aspect for each double page; for example, in Viens chez moi there are pages on Ma famille, À la maison, La cuisine et le salon, and Ma chambre et la salle de bains. It gives vocabulary and some useful phrases as well as a very short explanation or comment in English at the start of each topic as well as for certain themes such as the weather and time. The vocabulary is supplied as labels on a vibrant illustration, in French, English and with a guide to pronunciation, and there is also a word list at the back of the book for reference. (Given that this is a resource for children to access on their own, without phonics input or a spoken example, perhaps supported by a parent who is also unaware of how to say the words/phrases, I can see the value of including these ‘how to pronounce’ notes.)

The Workbook goes alongside the Beginner’s Guide, giving children an opportunity to apply what they learn in a series of Challenges – as the front page says ‘Practice makes perfect!’ On completion, children can check their answers at the back of the book and are invited to assess how they’ve got on by colouring or circling one of three faces – Bien, Pas mal or pas super.

The Colouring Book takes some of the topics and themes from the Beginner’s Guide and offers the opportunity to colour the illustration used in the latter as the child wishes, reinforcing vocabulary which is labelled as in the Beginner’s Guide.

The French-English Picture Dictionary is organised by topic with nine vocabulary items per page, and an alphabetical word list of the 350+ vocabulary items in French-English and English-French at the end.

This is a resource that I could happily recommend to a parent who wants to encourage their child’s language learning at home. It’s suitable for younger learners with some adult support in part (the workbook is labelled 6+ due to the required level of literacy) and could be used in the language being learned at school – for my pupils, this is Spanish – or in a new language – in my case, French.

You can find out more on the bsmall website.  On the language learning pages, you can also explore other language resources including books, dual language texts, play scripts, sticker books, activity books, card games and download a catalogue.

Lisa Stevens is a primary languages educator and consultant who teaches at two Birmingham primary schools. Her website is lisibo.com and she has consulted on a various projects including the BBC Schools Radio series ¡Mi Madrid! for KS2 Spanish learners.

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