Click to Look Inside: MAXIMIZE YOUR CHILD'S BILINGUAL ABILITY

Recommended Resources: Lovely Bilingual Products for Families and Schools from Lil’ollo (Enter the big giveaway below!)

November 30, 2016

NOTE: In this post you’ll find my personal impressions of Lil’ollo resources, an engaging interview with the founder of the company, and a big giveaway with 3 great prizes! (Enter by Sunday, December 11!)

Lil'ollo

When Alexandra Nicoletti, the creative force behind the new UK-based company Lil’ollo, contacted me not long ago, I quickly discovered that she and her team are creating some of the loveliest products available for bilingual children and their families. And not only are the Lil’ollo products well-designed and well-made, but Alex is producing items that are uniquely special, too.

Would you like a beautiful map of the world that can actually be personalized with the names of family members and their locations, to show your children their multicultural heritage?

Lil’ollo will make one for you! (You could even win one in the giveaway below!)

Lil'ollo personalized map

Lil'ollo personalized map

Just through communicating with Alex via email, and eyeing her work in photos and video, I was already impressed and pleased to share Lil’ollo with others. And then, when she also sent us a box of samples so my children and I could see the products first-hand, it became crystal clear that Lil’ollo is creating resources that are both highly appealing for families with bilingual children and as high in quality as any of the best products for children you’ll find in the marketplace.

Ultimately, of course, my recommendations at this blog are not at all swayed by receiving product samples or any other sorts of incentives. I share only my honest opinion, in every case, and my honest opinion is that Alex is doing the world a real service by creating lovely resources that can help promote the bilingual and bicultural development of children everywhere.

For families on a bilingual or multilingual journey—and for schools nurturing multiple languages in their students—these are resources that provide colorful, playful support. I wholeheartedly recommend Lil’ollo and look forward to following Alex’s appealing and meaningful work.

Interview with Lil’ollo Founder Alex Nicoletti

Alex and her children

Responding to my questions, via email, Alex shares her personal story, Lil’ollo’s origins and work, and helpful advice for other entrepreneurs. (Be sure to watch the nice videos, too!)

Alex Nicoletti comes from a family with roots spanning the globe. She originally trained as a product designer and completed a degree that incorporated design and learning languages. After becoming interested in designing ways of doing things rather than objects, her career until recently has been spent designing systems to help people and solve problems. These include helping more people reuse and recycle, start social businesses, become more involved in urban planning, and get back into employment. After meeting her Italian husband Gianluca and having two young children, she decided to return to products and languages and recently launched Lil’ollo, with a view to helping more families embrace language learning together.

Could you tell us a little about yourself and your family?

My name is Alex and I live in the UK with my husband Gianluca and our children Marco (2) and Ornella (4 months). Marco and Ornella have an interesting family story…

Gianluca was born in Italy and so were his parents. He speaks fluent Italian, English, Spanish and also some French and German. My dad was born in India and so was his Welsh and Telegu speaking father. His mother, my Granny, was born in China. Her family originate from Scotland and her father spoke fluent Mandarin. My mum was born near London and so was her dad, and my maternal grandmother was born in the USA.

What is Lil’ollo and what moved you to create these products for multilingual families?

When we were expecting Marco, we looked for fun, beautiful bilingual products in both English and Italian. It’s important to us that our children can engage with both languages in an enjoyable way and we wanted resources we could share. I have a background in product design and after struggling to find what we were looking for, I decided to make those products for Marco myself. Following feedback and interest from other families, I created Lil’ollo. Since then I’ve been working with language therapists, teachers, filmmakers, artists and designers to develop this exciting business.

Lil'ollo playmat

Could you tell us more about the Lil’ollo products?

Lil’ollo products and games are for everyone four months and over, whether you are speaking several languages fluently or would just like to introduce the idea of another language. Our range of posters, flash cards, games and wall art is currently available in:

Spanish – English
French – English
Italian – English
Dutch – English
German – English
Welsh – English
Polish – English

We will be adding more languages and combinations soon.

Lil'ollo cards

The Lil’ollo product range incorporates simple, open products featuring a family of specially designed characters. We’re also creating a helpful guide, full of games to play with your products alongside other helpful resources that can be found in our learning section.

Our characters, products, and games have been built on some simple science behind how we learn languages. This suggests early learning is at its most enjoyable and effective when it doesn’t “feel” like learning, and is open for everyone to interpret in their own way. Our resident speech and language therapist Ayelet talks us through this in this video.

We develop and design all our products at home with our children and our growing group of tester families, who provide us with such incredible feedback and encouragement. We will be expanding our product range soon and would love to hear from anyone who has any ideas for new languages, combinations, or products that you feel would add to the fun and experience of learning languages. We will share these via our social media channels before they’re released so please follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram to find out more.

What are your plans or hopes for Lil’ollo?

We would really like to help more families around the world enjoy language learning together. The benefits of learning and speaking two or more languages are huge and we’re seeing such incredible discoveries in this field. I am especially interested in the research that points to bilingualism being able to preserve brain health in later life and even slow the onset of dementia.

Some more immediate and welcome advantages of language learning at an early age have been documented such as children exhibiting stronger signs of empathy. This is in addition to an increased understanding of others’ perspectives as well as a familiarity with the plethora of different cultures and languages of the people around us. More people globally engaging with two or more languages can only be a good thing!

Lil'ollo word play

What advice would you give to others interested in becoming entrepreneurs in this field?

I’m lucky to be surrounded by some bright and brilliant people who I continue to learn from. Here are some really important lessons they have shared with me. Please also see Una’s excellent insights from her journey starting Love your Lingo, as these were incredibly helpful to me as well.

Understand branding
Your company, brand, logo, and visual identity are all different but interrelated entities. The mistake a lot of new companies make is not spending time really thinking about the brand they are creating. Registering your company, and coming up with a logo and some great products is not enough. An absolute must read is Winning in Your Own Way, The Nine and a Half Golden Rules of Branding by Robert Bean. Also Designing Brand Identity by Alina Wheeler is another great book. Your brand is the heart of your company and without a strong one it won’t fare so well.

Get insight into your customers
Even though Lil’ollo was born from a need we had identified at home, I didn’t assume everyone would need or want the same. Please have a look at Matt Shore’s work on customer insight, specifically the “seven deadly sins of innovation.” Your research and approach to the very foundations of your brand and products are essential. I particularly like sin number 5: “overcomplicating stuff.” Sometimes the best ideas are the most simple.

Work in partnership
Don’t see other entrepreneurs, specifically in the field of bilingualism and language learning, as rivals—see them as friends. After all, different brands’ products can often be complementary in the lives of your shared customers. There is plenty of room for successful businesses, so think about how you can work in partnership and help each other. This could be joint promoting over social media, collaborating on new products, or providing valuable feedback to help grow and develop your businesses. No company will thrive from looking inwards.

Be the face of your brand and company
This is the part I really don’t like! I am outgoing in person but at heart err on the more introverted side. Therefore most of my career to date as been spent working in the background, avoiding cameras, especially video cameras at all costs. Unfortunately, hiding in the background, under my desk, won’t help Lil’ollo.

The brand has grown around our family, myself in particular, so I need to be at the forefront. If you have a genuine story, your customers want to know about it and to engage with you and that story. Without that personal touch you could just become another large company with a fabricated brand story; one which hides behind a faceless logo… I know who I would rather engage with!

Welcome constructive criticism and feedback
Engaging with criticism isn’t about welcoming mean-spirited nitpicking or trolling. I would suggest ignoring that kind of feedback. However, opening yourself up to constructive and positive criticism will help your company grow. You don’t need to follow every piece of advice but be prepared to adapt and change your products and ideas if someone offers some useful insights.

Lil'ollo shapes poster

Is there anything else we should know about you or Lil’ollo?

We really want to connect with you all and we would love to hear from you! Would you like to see another language or combination added soon? Would you like to test our products before they’re released? Do you have any incredible language experiences or stories to tell? We’re active on social media and you can reach us at Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, or you can email us at hello@lilollo.com!

Lil'ollo Giveaway!

Alex is kindly offering prizes for 3 lucky winners…

First Prize: A Personalized Map of the World

Personalized map of the world

What would you like to share about a map of the world with the children in your life? Perhaps where family members were born, or where friends are from, where you have traveled or where you would like to go? Add messages and locations to special arrows and let us know how many, where they should point, and what you would like them to say. Personalize this beautiful map of the world with one or more names (for example, this map is Arianna’s world) and up to 10 arrows and locations.

NOTE: If you’d like to order one of these special maps as a Christmas present, don’t delay! To ship this product outside of the UK, please order before December 10 to allow us time to make it and ship it to you.

Second Prize: A Set of Number and Shape Flash Cards and Animal Pairs Cards

Number and Shape cards, Animal cards

This prize will be in your choice of language combination: either English and Spanish, English and French, English and Italian, English and German, English and Welsh, English and Dutch, or English and Polish. These beautiful, colorful cards are made from specially coated card stock and can be used to play lots of different games. Have a look at our games guide for ideas.

Third Prize: A Large Animal Numbers Coloring Poster

Coloring poster

Coloring is always great fun, and brilliant for fine motor development, concentration, color recognition, and hand-eye coordination. Even better when there are languages involved, too! There are lots of different animals hiding in this large A2 Numbers Coloring Poster. It is made from specially backed paper, perfect for pens, crayons, paint, or pencils. This prize will be in your choice of language combination: either English and Spanish, English and French, English and Italian, English and German, English and Welsh, English and Dutch, or English and Polish.

To enter the giveaway, just follow these three simple steps…

1. Share this post with others via social media. Help spread the word on Lil’ollo and the appealing resources made by Alex and her team. Use the sharing buttons below or simply copy and paste this link…

http://bilingualmonkeys.com/lovely-bilingual-products-from-lilollo

2. Leave a comment below with the following information. (And please proofread your comment, before submission, to check that the information is complete.)

1. Your first name and where you live (Example: Adam in Japan)

2. Your children and their ages (Example: Girl, 12 and Boy, 9)

3. Your two (or more) languages (Example: Japanese, English, and Spanish)

4. What are your first impressions of Lil’ollo? (Example: I really like the cute illustrations and the thoughtful design. The products are beautiful and the world map that can be personalized for your own family is a truly inspired idea! How cool is that?!

3. All entries must be submitted by the morning of Sunday, December 11 (Japan time). On that day, the comments will be printed out and cut apart to serve as entry slips for the drawing. The slips will be placed in a big, blue bucket and the winners chosen randomly in this way: I will pick the third prize winner; then Lulu will pick the second prize winner; and finally Roy will pick the first prize winner. After that, I’ll contact these people by email and update this post with the results.

Thank you for entering the giveaway, and for sharing this information about Lil’ollo with others! Alex and I look forward to seeing your comments!

Lil'ollo thank you cards

1 Elodie November 30, 2016 at 6:00 pm

Thanks for the giveaway!
1. Elodie in Germany
2. Boy, 3 and baby girl or boy on its way for end of March 2017
3. minority languages: French and English, majority language: German
4. Thanks for this cute discovery! I had not heard yet about Lil’ollo and I went straight onto the website. The world map is amazing! And I really like all the ideas you can use the flash cards, especially the drawing games! I look forward to the Rabbit Wall Art for Baby Number 2! :-) Thanks again!

Reply

2 Liz November 30, 2016 at 11:08 pm

1. Liz in Germany
2. girl 13, boy 12, girl 8
3. German, English, and Spanish
4. The map is really amazing! But also the other products have a really appealing design. The animal pairs are a great idea.

Reply

3 Noemi December 1, 2016 at 6:39 am

1. Noemi in Spain
2. Boy, 1
3. Spanish and English
4. I really like the design, not only for children! Great combination of colors. The idea of the world map is amazing and it would be a great gift, but the flash cards and the coloring poster look like so much fun! And very useful for us parents of bilingual children. Thanks!

Reply

4 Pia P. December 1, 2016 at 7:35 am

1. Pia in Italy
2. Girl, 6 years old
3. Italian and English
4. I love the bilingual cards. Now that my daughter is learning to read they would be so useful.

Reply

5 Kerry Reidy December 1, 2016 at 7:50 am

1. Kerry in Iceland
2. girl 4, girl 3
3. Icelandic, English
4. Clever, clever Alex :)

Reply

6 Giulia December 1, 2016 at 8:49 am

Hi Adam, this is a great idea!
1. Giulia in the UK
2. Boy, 3 months
3. Majority language: English; Minority languages: Italian (I’m Italian) and Afrikaans (my husband is from South Africa)
4. Haven’t heard of Lil’ollo before – definitely a useful resource! Love the colourful cards, they would be very useful also for the grandparents (who don’t speak English) so they can learn the language while playing with the baby. :-)

Reply

7 Kaci S. December 1, 2016 at 11:55 am

1. Kaci in the United States
2. Boy, 2
3. English and German
4. I’ve been following Lil’ollo on Instagram for several weeks, and I’ve been blown away by their eye-catching, vibrant designs. These cute and effective products will be a game changer for bilingual education, and I can’t wait to see what new games, flash cards, posters and more will be launched next!

Reply

8 Sarah December 1, 2016 at 6:37 pm

1. Sarah in UK
2. 2 children, 2 & 5
3. English and German
4. I love the world map. Also very interested in the easy tack cards, great idea and lovely designs in general!

Reply

9 Melissa December 1, 2016 at 8:46 pm

1) Melissa in Canada
2) 4 children, ages 12, 9, 6 and 5
3) English and French
4) I love how bright and engaging your products look!

Reply

10 Amy December 2, 2016 at 5:30 am

1. Amy in France
2. One little girl aged 4 and one baby girl aged 8 months
3. French (ML), Spanish (ml1) and English (ml2)
4. It is so comforting to find products designed for bilingual kids and families, bearing in mind our “peculiarities”. The colourful products in our languages are beautiful and a good incentive for the kids to get down to learning their languages; but I must say the world map that can be personalized for your own family really struck a chord. At last a way to explain our rich family history in a very visual way for our little ones.

Reply

11 Isabel December 3, 2016 at 3:08 am

1. Isabel from Spain
2. Boy 5 and girl almost 4
3. Spanish and English
4. I haven’t heard about Lil’ollo before, will check their website asap. Everything is beautiful but I love the world map! I’d like to give it as a present to sooooo many friends!!

Reply

12 Tamar Sadan December 4, 2016 at 5:44 pm

1. Tamar from Israel
2. Boy, 11, and twins (boy and girl), 8.5
3. English and Hebrew
4. I love the clean and colorful design of all her products! True eye candy! :-) I could look at the map all day, it’s wonderful!

Reply

13 Ivonne December 4, 2016 at 7:31 pm

1. Ivonne in Italy
2. Two girls, 7 and 6
3. English, Spanish and French!
4. Your idea is just wonderful! I struggle most of the time in producing flashcards and other things with different languages. Your drawings look appealing for children of different ages, they are so bright and clear. The animals communicate something like “Hey, would you like to be my friend and play with me?”. I definitely love your products, and I want to thank you for your idea! Best wishes for your project!

Reply

14 Beiti Tomlinson December 4, 2016 at 7:32 pm

1. Beiti in the UK

2. Girl 9, Boy 4, and Girl 2

3. Mandarin, English, and Dutch

4. It would be great to see Mandarin Chinese being added to the bilingual products, as this world No. 1 spoken language deserves a place!

Reply

15 Patricia December 4, 2016 at 11:02 pm

1. Patricia from Argentina
2. Girl 21, Boy 19, Girl 16
3. Spanish, English
4. The products are beautiful. I would love to use them in my classroom as well as with my grandchildren and nieces to help them understand their roots! Thank you!

Reply

16 Caitlin Torres December 5, 2016 at 12:33 am

1. Caitlin, USA
2. Boy, 6 months (today, in fact!)
3. Spanish and English
4. I’m obsessed with the map idea but all three of the prizes are super cute! It’s always hard to find bilingual resources for raising a bilingual child, and I am particularly picky because I am also a teacher. Definitely bookmarking this company!

Reply

17 Kate December 5, 2016 at 2:20 am

1. Kate in the US
2. Girl 2
3. English, Spanish
4. The colorful displays are so helpful to attract little ones! As a teacher, I am always on the lookout for educational resources that are in both our family languages. Thank you for creating what we need!

Reply

18 Laura Eidt December 5, 2016 at 2:34 am

1. Laura, USA
2. Boy 9, boy 6, girl 2
3. German, English, Spanish
4. Very fun products, but they need someone to check their German – nouns are capitalized in German – the animal flashcards are all incorrect. :)

Reply

19 Laura M December 5, 2016 at 4:00 am

1. Laura in Puerto Rico!

2. Boy 6, Girl 4.5

3. English and Spanish

4. Super cute, useful and practical! I especially love the customized map – what a creative way to show how the whole world is connected.

Reply

20 Isabelle December 5, 2016 at 6:42 am

1. Isabelle in New Zealand
2. Boy, 3
3. Majority language: English; Minority languages: French and Spanish
4. I am very interested in different resources to practise minority languages in a fun way. I didn’t know the lilollo website and I like the way the four skills are included in the activities. It does look very attractive to little ones.

Reply

21 Alina C December 5, 2016 at 7:15 am

1. Alina in USA
2. 2 girls, 4 and 2.5
3. Romanian, English, and German
4. Just like all the other parents it is refreshing to see products for bilingual children. I’d love to be able to customize some for less common languages like Romanian because there is little availability of products abroad.

Reply

22 emilia December 5, 2016 at 7:33 pm

1. Emilia in Italy
2. 2 girls (14 and 5 yo) and two boys (12 and 2 yo)
3. Spanish, Italian and English
4. I love the drawings of the flashcards I see in the pictures!!! They are simply lovely!!! I also like a lot the posters, I’ll certainly have a look at the website!

Reply

23 Cristian December 5, 2016 at 8:27 pm

1. Cristian in Germany

2. Boy, 7

3. Italian, German, English

4. Nice idea! I really like the cute illustrations and the thoughtful design.

Reply

24 Chiara December 5, 2016 at 10:20 pm

Chiara in Italy
Boy, 3
Italian and English
Awesome illustrations!

Reply

25 Nicola Wagner-Rundell December 5, 2016 at 11:02 pm

1. Nicola in the US
2. Boy, 14 months
3. German and English
4. Cute design and great that you can personalize it! Can’t wait until you make things trilingual and add Mandarin!

Reply

26 Helen Banos Smith December 6, 2016 at 10:10 pm

1. Helen in the UK
2. 4 and 2 year old boys
3. Spanish and English
4. It is always so encouraging to see new companies coming up with more (much needed!) innovative resources to help us on our bilingual journey. I particularly like the focus on games and playing – it is always so much easier to learn a language when you are having fun doing it!

Reply

27 Sussy Bolanos December 7, 2016 at 12:31 am

1. Sussy in Oklahoma City, USA
2. 3 daughters: 8yrs old, 18yrs old and 20yrs old
3. L1: Spanish, L2: English and French
4. Anything bilingual for our children is great education! Thank you for providing amazing resources to bilingual parents.

Reply

28 Tina lloyd December 7, 2016 at 7:17 pm

1. Tina, UK
2. Girl 6, Girl 3
3. English and German
4. Interesting concept, cute graphics.

Reply

29 Gabriela December 7, 2016 at 10:27 pm

1. Gabriela in Argentina
2. Son age 2 1/2
3. Spanish and English
4. I love maps, moreover if they can be custom made.

Reply

30 Roberta December 7, 2016 at 11:54 pm

Name: Roberta from Italy
Children: an 8 year old girl and a 3 year old boy
Languages: Italian and English
Lil’ollo: Smart ideas, perfect for bilingual families like ours. Useful material also for my class (I teach English). Hard to find anything like it in Italy!!!

Reply

31 Melissa Rice December 8, 2016 at 3:52 am

1. Mellissa in California, USA
2. 3 children: Carolina 8yrs, Gunnar 3yrs, Annaleese 1yr
3. English, Portuguese, Italian, Spanish
4. Wonderful program, would love to see continental Portuguese.

Reply

32 Marta Martín December 8, 2016 at 6:02 am

1. Marta in Spain
2. Boy 4, Girl 1
3. Spanish and English
4. The Lil’ollo products are exactly what I need! The illustrations are beautiful and the ideas really original! And about the giveaway? It’s just the perfect one!!!

Reply

33 Anna December 8, 2016 at 7:24 am

1. Anna in USA
2. Boys 2 and 1
3. English and Russian
4. I love the map; it’s a great idea representing places. I also like how you can play multiple games with your products. I would love to see Russian added to the combination of the languages in your products.

Reply

34 June Polo December 9, 2016 at 4:06 am

1. Junia, US
2. Girls, 3 & 5
3. Portuguese, Spanish, and English
4. I love how cute they are, the more bilingual products the better. 😉

Reply

Comments, please! (Your email address won't be displayed.)

Previous post:

Next post: