CloudCuckooWorld.com has been developed by sisters Sara and Louise Mason who are both trained teachers, with the help of award-winning web design agency Glow New Media.
The website uses characters illustrated by artist Sophie Green to engage with primary school age children. It is designed to allow youngsters to learn on their own terms, in an independent and fun way.
Commenting on the launch of the website, CloudCuckooWorld founder Louise Mason, said: “Being trained teachers, we’ve seen first hand how much children can benefit from learning languages at an early age. The curriculum can leave teachers with little room for manoeuvre in the classroom, and there isn’t much time dedicated to language study for most young children.
“For a long time teachers and parents have been looking for a way to improve language study, so we’ve developed the website to suit this by making it easily accessible, fun and something children can get into on their own.”
The site uses a mixture of stories and virtual places with different ratios of English and French to suit all language ability levels.
Lots of studies have been conducted in recent years into languages, many of which indicate that there is real value in learning second and third languages from a young age, including enhanced attention and increased ability to learn.
The resource compliments the school curriculum and is closely linked to the QCDA scheme of work for Key Stage 2 languages.
Louise Mason added: “We wanted to make links between a recognised scheme of work and combine this with a story based theme which teachers and pupils could have fun learning with.”
Teachers were initially invited to review and feed back on it before it went live, and has been such a success so far that owners Louise and Sara are already working on a Welsh language version to be launched later this year.
Phil Blything from Glow New Media who designed the website, said: “To work in practice, the website had to allow young children to use it comfortably by themselves. The real challenge was in making it a site that children want to go to – a key part of the design and characterisation concepts.
“We’re lucky to have been able to work with Sophie Green – an experienced children’s illustrator. The characters which she created fit perfectly with the stories and places and are successfully engaging children from as young as four.”
The site is expected to become increasingly popular as the likes of free schools and academies continue to adapt and hone the curriculum to suit the needs of children in their communities. Alder Hey Children’s Hospital has already started to use the site in their education department and the sisters are eager to promote the site with other charities and hospitals as well as amongst parents and schools.
The subscription for CloudCuckooWorld is just £10 per year for parents, and £50 per year for teachers to use across multiple computers.