Charlie and Isabella
From spotting VICI Language Academy sweatshirts on neighbours to their children chatting with the locals in France.
Alice Fogg takes up the story of Charlie and Isabella….
“We had just moved into our new home and our neighbours opposite had the VICI sweatshirts on and turned out they had been involved since it was just a club. Richard, my husband, and I had talked about introducing our children to languages so we were intrigued. They told us they’d had a great experience so I went down to the Academy to meet Nathalie. “I chatted to her and she was a whirlwind of passion so we went for it with Charlie, he was about three-and-half then and we did the trial for him and signed Isabella up a year later when she wasn’t quite three – all this from moving house, that was how it kicked off!
“Our common goal as parents was because neither of us speaks another language; when we would go abroad would desperately spend quite a lot of time at least trying to get the basics. We hated the fact we’d end up speaking English. Our singular goals: Richard came from the business aspect and he could see there is a great need and those with another language could go a lot further while my goal for them recognised people who could speak two languages, their brains work differently and can absorb more information. Fundamentally we knew it didn’t really matter, once they had learned one they could learn others and the world would be their oyster.
“Richard expected me to come back from VICI having signed them up for Mandarin! I had no such expectation and came back and said: ‘They’re doing French! It doesn’t matter what language they learn!’. “We went to France last year and surprised ourselves how much we could all do, but the children especially. Charlie took up the challenge and when we went up to the shop to order the bread for the next day he took over and was speaking French and the villagers were very impressed. We didn’t understand what he was saying, but they clearly did. They were chuffed he was trying. “While every child says they don’t want to do something from time to time, they are enjoying themselves and are having fun. You’ll hear Isabella singing French songs and I’m not sure they are proper French words, but it sounds good.
“Charlie has a great thirst to learn but he had started to disengage as he said he understood everything in the infant class. The team at VICI said he should move up and he loves it. He is six now and went up a year early and feels really mature and is getting on really well. It was so the right decision. “Isabella is gregarious, but when with her brother she follows him, so once he had moved up she was able to establish herself in her own right in the group. “We are off again to France this August and Isabella will be older and it will be interesting to see how they rise to the challenge this time.