Lelu was founded at Stanford University, and our mission is to make bilingualism a vibrant part of every child's life.
"I'm a Lelu parent, too!"
Five years ago, when Lelu Founder and CEO, Ana Leyva, became a mom, she realized she’d have to get really creative and work really hard if she wanted her kids to grow up as thriving bilinguals in the US. “My husband and I knew that bilingualism was a must for our kids. We were living in LA and shocked that even there we couldn’t find the resources to support our bilingualism. The books and tools lacked depth and range of language, and so we started creating our own tools to support our bilingual home - we wrote our own books, created our own at-home aides and other families started asking us for support and guidance. That was really the beginning of Lelu. I realized this problem extended far beyond our home as American parents are increasingly seeing the enormous benefits of bilingualism.” This pivotal realization led Ana to pursue master’s degrees at Stanford Graduate School of Education and Stanford Graduate school of Business. Ana is a huge fan of multidisciplinary learning, and has had a transformative educational trajectory-- this #mompreneur is also the first in her family to go to college (Princeton University) and to get Master's degrees! "I'm so grateful to have the opportunity to do work that means so much to me, to devote my career to making bilingualism a core part of American family life. It's a dream come true!"
Spanish + STEAM
STEAM stands for Science, Tech, Engineering, Arts, and Math. Multidisciplinary learning is not only incredibly effective, it's more fun for kids. Learning language through fun science, tech, engineering, arts, and math projects increases engagement and retention-- the entire family will love it!
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!
Langdon, H. W. (n.d.). Raising children bilingually. (2015) Retrieved April 4, 2017, from http://www.termedia.pl/Journal/-74/pdf-25008-10?filename=for%20parents.pdf Tomasello, Michael. Constructing a Language: A Usage-Based Theory of Language Acquisition. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2003.Pinter, Annamaria. “Children Learning Second Languages,” Palgrave Macmillan, London, 2011. Lee, Jin Sook and Wright, Wayne E. The Rediscovery of Heritage and Community Language Education in the United States, Review of Research in Education. 38:137-165, 2014. Shin, S. J..Developing in Two Languages : Korean Children in America. Chapter 7: Developing and Maintaining Heritage Languages, 2005. He, Agnes Weiyun. Chinese as a Heritage Language, The Oxford Handbook of Chinese Linguistics, 2015. Guardado, Martin. Speaking Spanish Like a Boy Scout: Language Socialization, Resistance, and Reproduction in a Heritage Language Scout Troop. Canadian Modern Language Review-revue Canadienne Des Langues Vivantes - CAN MOD LANG REV. 66. 10.1353/cml.0.0085, 2009. Bialystok, Ellen. “Reshaping the mind: the benefits of bilingualism.” Canadian journal of experimental psychology = Revue canadienne de psychologie experimentale vol. 65,4 (2011): 229-35. doi:10.1037/a0025406