Full Stomach, Happy Heart

If you’re anything like me, you are delighted if you can find a cute new book that will:
1) stimulate your child’s mind

2) teach a few new words in another language

3) introduce different cultures

I recently discovered the adorable and beautifully illustrated, “A Mango in the Hand” that delivers on all three! This new title from Abrams Books is about a little boy named Francisco, who goes on a mission to pick some mangos and has adventures along the way that are both entertaining and teach valuable life lessons. The book is written in English, but is full of Spanish sayings like “no hay mal que por bien no venga” (every cloud has a silver lining) and all the Spanish expressions are listed in a glossary at the end.

I had fun doggy-paddling my way through the Spanish phrases (neither Emmett nor I actually speak Spanish, but we both like the way it sounds!). The book offers a lot of chances to ask your child “what do you think that saying means?” and have an interesting talk about the challenges of growing up, making mistakes, and sometimes misreading people. I actually got a little teary at the part where the “crabby aunt” turns out to be the hero and teaches her nephew “amor con amor se paga” (love is repaid with love). I’m also a big fan of expression ”barriga llena, corazón contento” (full stomach, happy heart). I can’t believe they don’t have the equivalent in French!

Make sure to have some mangos on hand when you read the book, you’ll be craving one after you’re done!

If you like books that teach, look out for Little Pim books, coming out this summer! Your children will have fun learning words and phrases with their favorite panda in these colorful board books. There will be four books in all, starting with COLORS and FEELINGS, in English with Spanish and French lift the flaps and pull-tabs. Check back on our website or sign up for our newsletter to be the first to know when the books are released!

Little Pim Books – Colors and Feelings in English, Spanish, French.

The Winner of the Hanna Andersson Contest is…

We’re happy that so many of you enjoyed our latest contest with Hanna Andersson! Did you know that Hanna Andersson is a company built from Swedish roots? The original Hanna Andersson was a baby-loving grandmother in Skåne, Sweden near the Baltic Sea who passed on her fondness of quality goods to her granddaughter, the founder of the company so many of you adore.

The love that Julia Pimsleur Levine, the mom behind Little Pim, has for sharing languages with young children was passed down to her by her father, Dr. Paul Pimsleur. Dr. Pimsleur (of the Pimsleur language program for adults) was a French scholar and pioneer in the field of foreign language learning. Now Little Pim’s animated DVDs are sharing French, Spanish, German, Russian, and six other languages with young children around the world (our success stories are amazing), including celebrity moms like Angelina Jolie and Jessica Alba!



No wonder we have so much fun together; two companies based on a global tradition committed to children.

Ready for the winner? The winner of the $100 Hanna Anderrson gift certificate is…Ellen Kucera! Ellen please email adam@LittlePim.com. Thank you for all of your entries!

This contest has put us in the giveaway mood! We’re giving away a Little Pim Gift Set: this set includes three DVDs and a Little Pim Plush Panda ($59.95 value). Simply comment to enter.

Did You Know?

Young children who learn a language before the age of five tend to have superior reading, writing, analytical and social skills, as well as more extensive vocabularies.

You do not need to be bilingual to help your child learn a second language.

The most current scientific research has proven that babies, toddlers and preschoolers are uniquely equipped to learn one or more languages with ease.

To enter to win a Little Pim Gift Set in the language of your choice, just leave a comment below stating what language you’d like your child to learn. A winner will be notified via email.

L’âne a diné: Watching My Son Learn French

Yesterday Emmett read his first sentence in French. It was “l’âne a diné.” Ok so “the donkey ate dinner” may not mean much to you, but it was a huge moment for me. I was proud and excited that he’s reading in a second language and reminded how important is to keep the teaching fun (he picked that sentence to read because it was silly!).

This was part of Emmett’s French homework, which we do together every Sunday night before he has French class after school on Mondays.

If you have followed my blog, you know that it hasn’t always been easy to keep Emmett’s interest in French. I created Little Pim for him when he was a baby and we had a few good years of learning the words in the DVDs, naming animals and numbers, referring to apples as “les pommes” and singing French songs. Then around age four, Emmett, like so many kids of parents who speak a second language to them, started seriously objecting when I spoke French (as in, “don’t speak French!! “ and covering his ears) and it’s been pretty much an uphill battle ever since (he’s now six). So that I could let Emmett continue what struck me as an otherwise healthy separation/differentiation from his mom (rejecting what he saw as “my language”) but not letting his French slide, I brought in a wonderful kids’ French tutor (he loves her! saved!) and the French continued, despite occasional assertions that he’d rather play more soccer, see his friends or do just about anything else (I was unphased…Tiger Mom, move over).

In case you have a child who is not always 100% grateful for the foreign language gift you are giving them, you may share my moment of relief when I heard “l’âne a diné.” It was like suddenly years of reading him French books, playing French DVDs and insisting he continue French, just paid off. He can read in French! He has a good accent! He was actually pretty pleased with himself. This sentence means Emmett is just small steps away from accessing the French language, culture, films, music and so many other delights I wanted him to be able to experience as a dual speaker. So if your children are in one of the phases of “I don’t want to learn French/Spanish/Chinese/German…”, don’t give up! Your donkey will come.

This summer we are going to France as a family. I can’t wait to hear Emmett read the signs at the airport. Then, on to Proust.

Penny is a French speaking polar bear

One of my son Emmett’s favorite stuffed animals is a polar bear puppet we named Penny the Polar Bear. Penny, as she likes to be called, is one of my favorites too because she speaks French. I often put her on and talk to Emmett in French in a high “Penny” voice. He always plays along and answers her. So this morning we had a conversation that went something like this “Bonjour Emmett! Comment ca va?” (hello Emmett! How are you?”). Emmett said “très bien” (very good). Then he whispered to me so Penny couldn’t hear, “How do you say the sun is coming up?” I reminded him he knows how to say sun (“le soleil”) and then I taught him “le soleil se lève.” Emmett repeated this phrase back to Penny perfectly. Penny got so excited about the sun coming up that she did a little happy dance and gave him a kiss on the nose.

Engaging your kids in speaking a foreign language through puppets is a great way to make learning new words fun. Kids have an amazing ability to suspend disbelief and will happily delve into a long exchange with a puppet – try it with whatever words you know in Spanish, French, Chinese, or whatever language you are teaching your child, and see the great reactions… Penny says “Bonne Année!” (Happy New Year). Wishing everyone a healthy happy 2009, from our family to yours.

“Une Pomme” Means Apple

Emmett has certain words he always remembers in French that he loves to say. One of them is “une pomme.” Whenever we find one he points it out and says excitedly “une pomme!” When he is having trouble remembering new words in French I point to an apple and say what is this in French? He always brightens right up. “Une pomme!” he says proudly. Or sometimes it’s more of a “duh mom, une pomme, of course!” This helps keep learning fun for Emmett, and it’s also a key piece of the Pimsleur Method. My father’s method included many instances of recall affirmation – he’d’ teach you a complex phrase and right after ask if you know how to say “How are you?” Or something easy like that. “Of course I do,” you think and answer with ease. That little surge of confidence enhances your ability to remember the more complex phrases being taught.

Find your own “une pomme” with your kids and remember that affirmation and repetition are key to a child’s learning a new language. And keep it fun!

(Click on Little Pim above for our Word of the Day Coloring Pages, another way to make language learning fun and interactive!)

Angelina Jolie Uses Little Pim!

On Thanksgiving morning I woke up to an email from my mother-in-law that said “My friend Elaine just read in a gossip magazine that Angelina Jolie is using Little Pim!” Quoi? I confirmed with my husband that his family didn’t have some quirky Thanksgiving tradition of fooling the kids… and since they don’t… I did a Google search on Angelina, on Brangelina on everything to do with them and their kids, but no mention of Little Pim.

Fast forward to me at the news stand on Broadway, madly leafing through every gossip magazine available – under the scowling gaze of the seller. I found it! There in Us Weekly’s “Heide and Spencer Elope” issue was a picture of Angelina Jolie holding Shiloh with the caption “Angelina Jolie uses Little Pim to teach Shiloh Jolie-Pitt French.” And the Little Pim web address. C’est magnifique.



I have to admit I’m not an avid reader of gossip rags — I didn’t even know who Heide and Spencer were (and still sort of don’t) — but as an entrepreneur, having a celebrity like Angelina Jolie endorse Little Pim was quite a thrill. I have great admiration for her as a mother, a professional and someone dedicated to teaching her kids her mother’s native tongue. For a moment, my mind drifted to visions of vacationing with Brangelina and their brood in the South of France. You know, now that I am their language advisor and all. Would they want to stay at the Negresco in Nice or the Eden in Cap d’Antibes? Would we vous-voi or tu-toi each other?



But mostly I am excited that moms getting manicures and haircuts across America could be reading about Little Pim right now.lp_angelina_thumbnail


Emmett loves to sing Alouette, the popular French nursery song. “Alouette, gentille alouette, alouette, je te plumerai…” (http://kids.niehs.nih.gov/lyrics/alouette.htm ). It’s a great song for teaching parts of the body because you point to different parts of your face, head and body throughout the song. Now Emmett has been singing it to his little brother, Adrian, almost eight months old. Adrian just laughs and laughs! I beam and beam to see my little boy passing on our French traditions.

“I speak French and Korean.”

Emmett is really proud that he speaks French. He will tell anyone who asks, “I speak French and my mom speaks French but my dad doesn’t.” Speaking French is probably the only thing our four year old can do that his dad can’t — and he is milking it for all its Oedipal worth! Emmett also took a Tai Kwon Do martial arts class for a few months last year and they taught him to count in Korean. He still likes to do the push ups, yelling out the push up numbers in Korean. When people ask if he speaks French he says “Yes, and Korean!” Even though that is a bit of a stretch, I love that he is excited and proud about his language skills.

Homemade language flash cards not pretty but they work!

Emmett and I made our own flash cards and have been having a great time with them. First, we draw six boxes on a piece of regular paper with a thick black pen. Then, following Emmett’s instructions, I drew a picture in each of the boxes with the word written under it in French. We laughed a lot over my bad drawings (the orange juice picture looked like a UFO landing). Emmett has never really liked store-bought flash cards and always got bored and restless right away when I tried to bring them out, so this was a great way to turn reviewing vocabulary into a fun game.

To play, I point to a box and he has to say in French what the picture is of. If he is having trouble remembering them, I say a word and he has to point to the one it is. Before we start I read through the words again, pointing to each picture and asking him to repeat after me so it sinks into his memory. If he gets five right he gets a gummy bear! We have about six sheets like this and they are really easy to carry around in my purse and bring out when we’re on a long subway ride, or waiting for food at a restaurant.

After much thought and work (and input from children like Emmett) we’ve finally developed a fun series of Little Pim flash cards in Spanish and French.