Kick-starting a love of language learning

22:13, Jun 19 2014
Bhutanese refugees
FUN AND EASY: Carolyn Sygrove, left, and Lisa Caron show Tessa Bagnall their new book that uses technology to help young children learn another language

Speaking French with a perfect accent could come naturally for some Kiwi children if three Nelson women get the funds they need to launch their interactive book.

Graphic designers Carolyn Sygrove and Lisa Caron have teamed up with the creator of New Zealand's internationally acclaimed Rainbow Reading programme, Meryl-lynn Pluck, to get their idea off the ground.

The trio have developed an educational tool that helps young children to learn French naturally and easily.

The book combines the use of a magic audio wand, which children place on the pages of specially printed books to hear a native speaker pronounce words, sentences and songs in French in a fun interactive way.

Because the "magic" pen features a native French speaker, they say their books - called LingoMagic - would be an ideal resource for children whose parents are not bilingual but recognise the value of their children learning multiple languages.

The books are aimed for children aged 2 to 6, an age range which Sygrove and Caron say is the "magic window" for children to use their ability pick up perfect pronunciation of a language.


They lose this ability as they get older. Caron is the president of Alliance Francaise Nelson.

The women plan initially to get French books made.

But they see the technology as exciting as it can be adapted for books in other languages.

They say Te Reo is an obvious example of a language that would be fantastic to use for LingoMagic.

Sygrove said the books would be an awesome educational tool for New Zealanders who often miss out on growing up knowing another language.

She said research showed learning a foreign language at a young age improved brain development and instilled a facility to learn many languages later in life.

The trio want to raise $28,000 by July 15 to get their book off the ground and have launched a project via crowd-sourcing platform Kickstarter.

If the campaign is successful, the funds raised will help to support the production of a minimum of 500 "magic audio wands" and printing of 500 sets of books (12 per set).

Pluck said the idea to create LingoMagic was inspired when the trio were working on an early reading resource last year.

To support the kickstarter campaign and pre-purchase a book, visit

The Nelson Mail