New accent on language-learning walkie talkies and podcasts
One of the few features that French and Scottish accents have in common is that English speakers around the world find them attractive. So Radio Lingua seems to be onto a winner with the presenter of its new language-learning series, who speaks fluent English with a hint of both.
"Pierre Benoit is a French national," says language teacher Mark Pentleton. "But he's lived and worked in Scotland for 20 years - he's a teacher in Saltcoats."
Radio Lingua had its origins as a "fun project" while Partners in Excellence, the languages and IT initiative Mark ran in East Ayrshire, was drawing to a close. "We'd done a lot of podcasting with pupils, and I'd seen how valuable it was for sharing learning in a way young people readily access."
At first, Radio Lingua's free podcasts were aimed at adult beginners. Schools are a new target audience but an increasingly important one, Marks says, now that he is full-time Radio Lingua and no longer employed by the local authority. "People in schools were using the materials, but they weren't specifically for them. Now, some are."
School Run Learning is aimed at six to 10 year-olds and takes advantage of the one time that this age-group might be receptive to audio alone. "That's rare nowadays because they're so focused on visual content," Mark says. "But in the car being taken to school, Brownies or football is a good time to listen.
"We've got French on the website and that'll be followed by Spanish, Mandarin and the rest. A lot of content is free but we'll also be selling packs - on greetings, pets, family, pastimes, school - with worksheets, wordsearches and certificates.
"The aim is to teach vocabulary and phrases, and to concentrate on pronunciation - one of the hardest things to get over in primary."
The other product aimed at schools is "Walk, Talk and Learn", a new departure for Radio Lingua since it uses video.