Beautiful, multilingual products to inspire little linguists to love their languages.
“I’m Mom to bilingual girls who speak English and French, and I have created a special alphabet to help make life easier for multilingual children, so they continue to love and speak their languages,” Úna McCarthy-Fakhry tells me nearly two years ago, just after she launches a crowdfunding campaign to get her creative endeavor off the ground. This January, with the help of 203 Kickstarter backers, the production of The Little Linguist’s Alphabet is a reality. Available as a poster, mini card or ebook, Úna’s multilingual alphabet is illustrated with 26 objects that all start with the same letter as their translations in English, Français, Español, Português, Deutsch, Nederlands and Italiano (coming soon). For example, D is always for Dinosaur and P is always for Princess, no matter which combination of these languages your little linguist speaks.
“The people who backed me came from all over the world, from Costa Rica to Japan, from the USA to New Zealand,” Úna says. “They have kept me going when things got difficult, and have been forever patient and supportive at every stage. I genuinely feel I now have 203 new friendships and want to thank each and every one of them for helping me make this a reality.”
As a result, Úna founded LoveYourLingo to make multilingual products that help little linguists thrive. The entire idea grew out of necessity as her own children began to discover the alphabet. Úna and her family currently live in Melbourne, where they share Australian, Irish, French and Lebanese roots. This OPOL (one parent, one language) family has Papa speaking French exclusively, while Úna’s main language is English. She has observed her daughters’ puzzled expressions while trying to identify which letter is which. “It is ‘p pour parapluie’ with her French Papa, but on the English alphabet on our wall, it is ‘u for umbrella’,” she says. “As we also knew many other little linguists facing a similar challenge, the idea just would not leave me alone.”
The sweet illustrations for, who also created the adorable little linguist Anna. “I have lots of plans for Anna, so if you have a curious little linguist who would like a little friend…watch this space (i.e., LoveYourLingo).”
Úna says she is constantly amazed by her little girls as they show her just how natural it is to speak more than one language. “I have also witnessed challenges they met along the way and feel that a positive language experience, in the delicate early years, can be crucial in determining whether a child continues to speak their languages or not.”
One of my own regrets in life is speaking only one language (English). Even though I graduated high school with years of French and Spanish under my belt, I still carry a dictionary when traveling. As a child, I never learned Polish, my relatives’ native tongue. Keeping the multilingual fire alive in young children is definitely the key to raising little linguists at home. Thanks, Úna!