Mission: To make bilingualism a vibrant part of American life!
The Truth About How Languages Are Acquired
Many people believe you can teach a language the same way you teach any other number of skills. The reality is that studies show us that language can’t be “taught” and “learned” the way we typically teach and learn-- languages need to be lived and, in living them, they are acquired.
Acquisition of language happens when “we are exposed to samples of the second language which we understand.” (Pinter, list of references below) Studies show that bilinguals who experience the cognitive benefits attributed to bilingualism use the second language in their daily lives: "their lives [include] two languages, and their cognitive systems therefore [evolve] differently than those of monolingual[s].” (Bialystok)
Ordinary experiences can accumulate to have significant impacts on cognitive networks. Thus, Lelu products and programming are designed to create conditions for individuals where life (our ordinary experiences) requires use of Spanish. Lelu Spanish + STEAM activities make natural encounters with the language a daily reality for families. We also provide a community network that encourages use and retention for the best long-term results.
We define bilingualism as life with two languages. Bilingualism is not a skill, but rather a lived experience and we help to make that lived experience happen fluidly.
A Parent’s Role
The research is clear-- parents play an important role in their children's relationship with language acquisition. One important thing parents can do is to create shared-attention opportunities for their children to engage with the target language. That’s where we come in-- we create meaningful topics of conversation and activities to draw your children into wanting to listen intently, engage with, and reply back to what they're hearing. Here are our top tips for parents:
- Make it fun. If you're having fun with it, they will have fun with it! Lucky for you, Lelu makes it easy to have fun with bilingualism!
- Value Bilingualism and Be Intentional. Be mindful that people’s attitudes and intentions are often at odds with their actions. (Guardado) Embrace the target language as the asset it is and stop considering it cumbersome baggage. (Lee and Wright; Shin; He) Studies have repeatedly shown that kids have no problem with confusing languages-- bilingualism is only ever a value add. (Bialystok and Krolls)
- Embrace Bilingualism Daily! Make sure to live the values you’re hoping to imbue in your children by enjoying and embracing bilingualism yourself daily!
Note from Founder:
I've always loved languages. I first acquired Spanish, then English in Elementary, French in High School and then Arabic in college. When I became a mom, my husband and I knew that fostering a culture of language acquisition for our kids was a crucial way they could experience the bigness and diversity of our world and exercise humility and perseverance. We had countless friends who also wanted to give their kids the same skills and benefits of bilingualism but wondered how to do this when they weren't fully confident in their own language skills. How do you effectively fold in a second language into your family life when you live in the US where English is so dominant? In this context, how do we make Spanish sticky and fun for our kids?
I founded Lelu to help more parents make Spanish a vibrant part of their daily lives. Lelu provides the resources, guides, community and support parents need to instill in their children a deep love of language acquisition.
I see this work as a true privilege and I'm so grateful for the opportunity to partner with you.
Me and my language-loving tribe! :-)
A San Francisco Bay Area native, Ana has always been a huge fan of education. Her inspiration for teaching comes from wonderful teachers she's had and her kids' own endless curiosity about the world around them. Ana's first language was Spanish, she learned English in Elementary school, French in High School, and then Arabic in college. She has a true passion for engaging with different languages and with people of different backgrounds. This passion led her to study International Relations and Near Eastern Studies at Princeton University. Lelu is being built on Stanford University's campus, where Ana is pursuing a Masters in Education at the Stanford Graduate School of Education and a Masters in Business Administration at the Stanford Graduate School of Business.