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Simon Reid Portrait

Interview with Rikki’s Week Of Weather illustrator, Simon Reid.

By | News

Here at Unuhi HQ we love good illustrations and know how important they are to bringing children’s books to life. They need to be engaging and help tell the story, especially to a younger audience who are learning a new language.

As we grow our library we will be looking for different styles and approaches from illustrators to bring our future stories to life. Could you be the next artist to illustrate a story for us? Perhaps the next winner from our international story writing competition could be illustrated by you.

Our first story “Rikki’s Week Of Weather” was illustrated by Simon Reid, an Oxfordshire based illustrator. We love Simon’s vision for Rikki and caught up with him to find out more about how he got started, his work and inspiration.

1. Hi Simon, when did you discover your passion for illustration? Who were your inspirations and which illustrators do you admire?

Like most illustrators, I can’t remember a time when I wasn’t drawing. Reading The Beano cover to cover was a weekly ritual for me, and later I moved onto other comics, like Hergé’s Tintin, which is still a major inspiration. Eventually I started creating my own characters and stories, and my parents kept buying me exciting new art materials, encouraging my early efforts (and my stationery addiction). For a while I drew a regular comic about the unlikely adventures of our pet cats, called The Cat Gang. It was drawn in fine-liner and coloured pencils on A4, assembled into a booklet with a sellotaped spine, and then circulated around family members. Seeing people enjoy something I’d created out of nothing has stuck with me, and I’ve never really stopped doing that kind of thing!

A couple of my favourite cartoonists working today are Scott Campbell and Jim Woodring.

2. What kind of illustrations do you do and for what purpose?

My style is quite cartoony and whimsical, and luckily seems to lend itself to lots of different purposes. This year my work has been seen in textbooks, museums, video games, comics anthologies, exhibitions and at academic conferences. I like having this interesting mix of work and I hope it continues.

 

Rikki Illustration

 

3. Do you prefer one medium over another?

Almost all of my work is completed digitally, using a graphics tablet and my computer – but I like to begin with lots of pencil drawings, just taking my time to develop the idea until I’ve settled on shapes and compositions that seem to work. Lately I’ve been trying to get used to drawing with an Apple Pencil on an iPad.

4. What were your thoughts for how you might illustrate Rikki’s Week of Weather?

Due to the target audience of the app, I had to resist adding too much visual information – it was all about communicating the particular vocabulary. It was also important not to clutter up the areas at the top and bottom of the screen, so that the text in the two chosen languages is always as readable as possible. Even within those limitations, I enjoyed coming up with the incidental details like the crab on the beach, the duck-shaped cloud, or Rikki’s spare arm left on the desk. The snowy day was my favourite page to illustrate!

I’m quite pleased with the friendly style with chunky, clean linework that we settled on, and I think Rikki has potential for more stories. I’d like to find out more about his home life, and how often he needs recharging.

5. What are your personal hobbies and interests?

Books, cats, music (I play bass guitar in a band) and video games.

6. What advice can you give to all the budding illustrators out there?

Draw a lot! But try to draw lots of different things, rather than settling onto a few things you can reliably doodle – that way you’ll keep developing and it’ll get easier to translate everything you see (or dream up) into your own unmistakable style. But it’s never that easy, so don’t get discouraged if it’s not quite working, as the next breakthrough might be one sketchbook page away. Don’t worry too much about having the best tools – just find something that feels comfortable, and get cracking. Don’t compare yourself to other artists’ successes or styles. Encourage and support other creative people that you like, and collaborate with them when you can.

We will certainly be working with Simon again soon on another adventure for Rikki, he’s proved really popular with our readers worldwide. For more information on Simon please visit his website at www.simonhreid.co.uk.

Unuhi: Bilingual Books for Children is available to download free on both iOS App Store and Google Play for Android. Rikki is our free book for everyone to try and it’s available in any combination of 20 languages, as are all our stories and flashcards. You choose!

Reading A Bilingual Book

What is a bilingual book and how do you read one with your children?

By | News

Bilingual books are a wonderful aid to learning a second language and are particularly effective for toddlers and young children. They are sometimes referred to as ‘Dual Language Books’ or ‘Side-by-Side Books’ and have 2 different languages on the same page with the second language being a translation of the first, allowing the reader to compare vocabulary, language style, grammar and alphabetical characters with ease.

Bilingual books have been around since the 80’s and are widely recognised as a valuable resource for parents and educators to use with children, as they provide a child-friendly bridge to reading and speaking in another language.

The beauty of bilingual books is that they combine language learning with the age-old love of storytelling. What parent doesn’t love reading to their child and what child doesn’t enjoy story time!? It’s a win-win in every sense.

There are many different ways to read a bilingual book and you will find the right method for you and your child. There is no right or wrong and bilingual books are there to bring the joy of storytelling to a language learning environment in a fun and interactive way.

One of the most popular methods is to read the story aloud in the child’s main language first, so that they can get to know it. Treat it like any other story book and look at the pictures, talk about the story and interact with the characters. Understanding the story in the stronger language can help in the process of learning the weaker language.

Go back and read the story again, this time in the second or weaker language and then again in the first language. Don’t worry if your pronunciation isn’t quite correct in the weaker language, just have fun trying it out. The idea is to stimulate curiosity and interest in the second language. When you think you and your child are ready, you can try reading the story in the second language only. Ask them to read it with you if they are keen to try.

Above all encourage your child to have a go. Unlike adults, young children are usually not that self-conscious and this is excellent for building up confidence in a foreign language. Remember, having fun is the most important part of learning a language. Bilingual books provide a good base for this on many levels. Comparing the words, the different sounds and showing the new letters in a language’s alphabet are just a few ways to make languages fun and exciting.

A bilingual book will work in any language combination and here at Unuhi we feature 20 languages which makes for a total of almost 200 different combinations. We are bringing bilingual books to as many kids as we can across the globe.

As well as reading the stories here are a few other things you can try with Unuhi:

  1. For advanced learners, trying removing the weaker language and ask your child to have a go at translating into it. Then reveal Unuhi’s translation and see how they compare.2. Remove both languages and go wordless! Wordless picture books are a fun way to promote creativity and imagination. You can enjoy our illustrations, talk about what you see and even create your own story.
  2. Play games to identify the nouns, adjectives, pronouns and verbs in the stories.
  3. Randomly select a language and have fun letting another person guess which one it is.
  4. When you’re reading our flashcards, try to guess which other languages use the same word for the object you’re looking at. You might be surprised at the similarities!

If you have a unique way of reading your bilingual books, or a game you play with the app, we would love to hear from you so please do get in touch with us

Android (tablet and phone)
https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.oxfordappdevelopment.unuhi

iPad / iPhone
https://itunes.apple.com/gb/app/unuhi-bilingual-books/id1394567278?mt=8

Living In Italy

The Bilingual Journey of our Co Founder

By | News

The advantages of speaking another language are well documented with new research adding to the list of bilingual benefits all the time. From improved problem solving and learning capabilities, to being more resilient against the onset of dementia to name but a few. There are also the economic, social, and cultural benefits to consider. On a personal level, I’ve always loved being able to switch back and forth between English and Italian to the amazement of my monolingual friends, even though in recent years “il mio italiano è un po ‘arrugginito”, but I still get by.

However being monolingual in the U.K is not uncommon. 10 years ago a survey carried out by the European Commission found the UK & Ireland were the two countries in Europe with the lowest rates of bilingualism – defined as being able to hold a conversation in more than one language. In fact it’s still predominantly English speaking countries that get a failing grade in this respect. That’s no doubt much to do with the fact that, even with Mandarin at the top of the world’s most spoken languages list with 1.2 billion, English is still by far the world’s lingua franca: the language of science and technology, business relations, diplomacy, popular culture and travel. Therefore one could argue that the high levels of bilingualism in non-English speaking countries is still driven by the specific need to learn English.
I must admit, I’ve not always been particularly interested in languages. I was first introduced to a second language when I started secondary school, but it didn’t excite me. I struggled, and spent most of the time “editing” the illustrations in the language books and laughing at the guy with the horrendous French accent. He would have us all in stitches.. but looking back now, at least he had a go.

No, I became interested in languages a couple of years later. I was about 15 and it was my first family holiday abroad in Spain. We were all sat in a restaurant to eat when I decided to ask the waiter where the toilet was in Spanish. I’d found a guide book on the aeroplane with a short list of Spanish words and just put some together to form the question. It did backfire a bit though, as the waiter replied to me in full speed Spanish. I hadn’t a clue what he’d said but not wanting to disappoint my proud (and surprised) parents, got up from the table, said “gracias” and casually walked towards a door in one corner of the restaurant hoping it was the loo…it wasn’t. But at least I had a go.

But that experience didn’t put me off, it rather ignited an interest for languages and travel.

I like to think I became ‘properly’ bilingual whist living in Rome during the mid 90’s. From arriving and only knowing only a few handy phrases to speaking quite fluently took about 6 months, after that I was really just adding to my vocabulary. Being immersed in the country and trying to work out there, I had little choice but to learn the native tongue. But this time I had an advantage… I actually wanted to learn the language. I loved the country, culture and way of life. I wanted to read, speak and listen to all things Italian. Oh and the food wasn’t bad either.
Being bilingual certainly helped me make friends, progress and make more of my time whilst living in Italy. I was even known to my friends out there as “Marco”, and was often told I spoke Italian with a roman accent, which I was very proud of. Being bilingual also helped me when I finally returned to the UK in finding work in the hospitality industry.

Thankfully now as language learning becomes ever more popular and the fact that being bilingual brings recognised benefits, many people are now exposed to a second language at a younger age. That’s good news, as we know children generally have a much easier time picking up foreign languages than adults.

Here at Unuhi we want to play a part in a child’s discovery of new languages. We want to make the learning process between a bilingual parent and child as fun as possible, providing fun short stories in the two languages of your choice. Download the app (iOS and Android) and start reading to your children in any 2 of 20 languages of your choice for free.

We’d love to hear what motivated you to learn a second language. Was there a defining moment?

Unuhi App In Use

Kaci Schack reviews the Unuhi Bilingual Book App

By | News

Since our Bilingual Book App launched last week, it’s been action packed at Unuhi headquarters as users around the world have started to read our 4 launch books in the 2 languages of their choice. Hot off the press this morning was this wonderful review by Kaci Schack, mom of a preschooler who goes to a German language immersion school in Texas. Her website Language Preschools is a fantastic resource for American families.

Read full review

A few of the review highlights:

When we say “dual language,” we don’t just mean English to another language. Unuhi offers bilingual pairings for 20 languages: English, Arabic, Danish, Dutch, Filipino, Finnish, French, German, Hindi, Italian, Japanese, Mandarin (Simplified), Norwegian, Polish, Portuguese, Romanian, Russian, Spanish, Swedish, and Thai. I’m no mathematician, but this is the rough equivalent of 200 different language combinations.

1. It’s highly accessible.

As long as you have an iPad, you can use the Unuhi App. An Android version is on its way too. Purchase, download, and start using instantly with your children.

2. It’s great for minimalist families raising bilingual kids.

When our family downsized from a 2,300 square foot house to a 1,575 square foot house, we had to adopt some minimalist lifestyle habits. We value our print books, but there are only so many we can fit on the bookshelves. Unuhi is one way to enjoy bilingual children’s books while keeping our “stuff” to a minimum.

3. It’s made for the type of screen time that’s typically parent-approved.

An understandable concern of many parents is “How much screen time is too much?” Of course, we don’t want our kids’ faces plastered to an iPad or similar screen all day. Digital bilingual books are quality material, though, and something that parents and children can enjoy together. The clean way that the illustrations are laid out on Unuhi make it easy to forget you’re even using an iPad.

Read full review
Unuhi Bilingual App Launch

3-2-1 Lift Off!…

By | News

Unuhi is now available on the App Store to download!

Almost a year in the making, we are proud and excited to release the first version of our bilingual book app for children. We have 4 wonderful books available to download, each of which is translated into 20 languages and showcased within a clean, simple and easy-to-use interface. We hope that you will find the Unuhi app a joy to use.

The name Unuhi means “to translate” in Hawaiian and our app is the first of its kind to make bilingual books available in a variety of languages. It means that as a parent or teacher, you can now introduce your child to more languages than ever before. Whilst bilingual books have always been popular in Spanish and English, for example, those languages that are less widely spoken haven’t had the same opportunity to be a part of this wonderful method of story-telling and language learning.

Are you a Romanian living in Spain with a child who you would love to introduce to your native tongue? Choose Romanian & Spanish as your 2 languages – it’s as simple as that. Perhaps you are English and your partner is Chinese? Why not select English & Mandarin and help your child to become bilingual with a fun short story.

Or perhaps you are a teacher and your classroom has children from a variety of different cultures & nationalities. Introduce them to the wonders of the world’s different languages and use Unuhi as part of your class activities.

We offer the following 20 languages.

English, Arabic, Danish, Dutch, Filipino, Finnish, French, German, Hindi, Italian, Japanese, Mandarin (Simplified), Norwegian, Polish, Portuguese, Romanian, Russian, Spanish, Swedish, Thai.

What’s the plan for Unuhi after launch?

First, we would love your feedback (good or bad) so that we can improve the platform. What did you like, what could be improved and what would you like to see in the future? We decided to concentrate on just 4 books to begin with and showcase them in 20 different languages rather than feature more books in fewer languages. We want Unuhi to be available to everyone and not just in those countries that speak the major global languages like English and Spanish.

We will of course be expanding our library of books as soon as possible and plan to introduce sound, animation and interactivity in the near future. If you are an author or illustrator and would like to join our team, we would be delighted to hear from you. Simply visit the help centre to say hello and introduce yourself.

Here at Unuhi, we are working hard behind the scenes to ensure our platform is the go-to place to read bilingual books to your children. We hope you give Unuhi a try, download the app and let us know how you get on.

Reading bilingual books to your children

How to read a bilingual book to your children

By | News

There are many different ways to read a bilingual book and you will find the right method for you and your child. There is no right or wrong and bilingual books are there to bring the joy of storytelling to a language learning environment in a fun and interactive way.

One of the most popular methods is to read the story aloud in the child’s main language first, so that they can get to know it. Treat it like any other story book and look at the pictures, talk about the story and interact with the characters. Understanding the story in the stronger language can help the learning process of the weaker language.

Go back and read the story again, this time in the second or weaker language and then again in the first language. Don’t worry if your pronunciation isn’t quite correct in the weaker language, just have fun trying it out. The idea is to stimulate curiosity and interest in the second language. When you think you and your child are ready, you can try reading the story in the second language only. Ask them to read it with you if they are keen to try.

Above all encourage your child to have a go. Unlike adults, young children are usually not that self-conscious and this is excellent for building up confidence in a foreign language. Remember, having fun is the most important part of learning a language. Bilingual books provide a good base for this on many levels. Comparing the words, the different sounds and showing the new letters in a language’s alphabet are just a few ways to make languages fun and exciting.

If you have a unique way of reading your bilingual books, we would love to hear from you. Simply go to the help centre and send us a message.

Hello in multiple languages

A great learning aid for bilingual families

By | News

Did you know?

  1. More than half of the world’s population speaks more than one language.
  2. Infancy and early childhood are critical periods for language development.
  3. Current research has confirmed that bilingual children learn faster and learning a second language supports other types of learning.
  4. Reading stories in the classroom and especially at home is emotionally and educationally important for children.
  5. Bilingual books are ideal for teaching and learning foreign languages.

The Problem.

  1. With an increasing number of families living abroad, there is a growing need for more bilingual literature for children to support the transition from one language to another.
  2. Parents living abroad naturally want to teach and read to a child in their mother tongue.
  3. Traditional printed bilingual books produced by larger publishers can be expensive and hard to find in the 2 languages you may want as they are still aimed primarily at teaching English. Not much use if you are one of the 1 million Romanians living in Spain or Italy for example.
  4. Primary school teachers are always looking for new ways to introduce children to a new language, and integrate and add cohesion between the different nationalities in the classroom.
  5. Until now, no platform has been able to offer quality bilingual books in an extensive range of languages.

The Solution.

The Unuhi iPad App!!!

  1. A dedicated bilingual app where you can read and enjoy high quality stories for children aged 2-10 in any 2 language combinations.
  2. Suitable for use both at school and at home with a parent.
  3. Aiming to provide a wider choice of ethnically diverse content.
  4. Offering affordable, easy to access content that can be downloaded and enjoyed anywhere.
  5. We offer our first book for free, so you can try Unuhi at no cost.
  6. You will need to be online to complete the purchase process but no internet connection is required to read the books after that.
  7. In a world where more and more people are crossing national and linguistic borders, we want to be the trusted app for children’s bilingual books and at our core will always be the creative art of storytelling.

A call to all authors and illustrators of children’s books.

As we continue to expand, we are looking for children’s authors and illustrators from around the world who have a desire to connect with a young, growing global audience and share their stories in all the languages that we support. Please do get in touch, we’d love to hear from you.

What is a bilingual book?

What is a bilingual book?

By | News

Bilingual books are a wonderful aid to learning a second language and are particularly effective for toddlers and young children. They are sometimes referred to as ‘Dual Language Books’ or ‘Side-by-Side Books’ and have 2 different languages on the same page with the second language being a translation (comparison) of the first.

Whilst there are no rules around the typographic layout of a bilingual book, they are often seen with one language at the top and one language at the bottom, allowing the reader to compare vocabulary, language style, grammar and alphabetical characters with ease.

Bilingual books have been around since the 80’s and are widely recognised as a valuable resource for parents and educators to use with children as they provide a child-friendly bridge to reading and speaking in another language.

The beauty of bilingual books is that they combine language learning with the age-old love of storytelling. What parent doesn’t love reading to their child and what child doesn’t enjoy story time!? It’s a win-win in every sense.

A bilingual book will work in any language combination and here at Unuhi we feature 20 languages which is the equivalent of almost 200 different combinations. We are bringing bilingual books to as many kids as we can across the globe and plan to add new languages as soon as possible.

Our books are available in any combination of the following languages: English, Arabic, Danish, Dutch, Finnish, French, German, Hindi, Italian, Japanese, Mandarin (Simplified), Norwegian, Polish, Portuguese, Romanian, Russian, Spanish, Swedish, Thai, Filipino.

What are the benefits of bilingual books?

During infancy & early childhood, children have enormous potential to learn multiple languages without too much effort. When 2 languages are spoken within the same family, parents have the opportunity to pass on their mother-tongue to their children. Some might say that there is no greater gift in life than the ability to speak a second language and bilingual books are a really helpful tool to encourage this process.

At home, reading with parents is both emotionally and educationally important for children. Story time brings back fond memories for us all. It is also one of a child’s first experiences of connecting the written and spoken word together. Bilingual books play an important part for a child being exposed to a second (or third or fourth!) language and it encourages daily use of a second language at home.

Bilingual books allow children to work simultaneously in two languages to decode unfamiliar text, negotiate meaning and explore the differences between languages. If children can read in both languages, then they should be encouraged to do so, even if one language is stronger than the other. Understanding the story in the stronger language can help them learn the weaker language.

At school, teachers can read a bilingual book out loud in the school language while parents read the same book out loud at home in their language. Did you know that parents who read to their children in a home language can actually help strengthen their children’s academic skills? That’s true even if the school language is different from the home language. When teachers select bilingual books that focus on different cultures, they are helping children feel comfortable with cultural diversity. It is a gentle way for teachers to cultivate multicultural awareness and appreciation in their students.

We know that the benefits of speaking more than one language are many. But it is important that children themselves buy into this knowledge. Bilingual books provide an opportunity to have fun with language.

The goal is to help children embrace all of their languages so that as they grow they will be able to use these languages with confidence and pleasure in the many multilingual and multicultural situations in which they will find themselves. Reading and enjoying bilingual books is one great way to help our children achieve this goal.

With the new iPad app from Unuhi, you will be able to enjoy reading stories in the 2 languages of your choice, making us the go-to app for fun bilingual stories for children aged 2-10.

If you are raising bilingual children, Unuhi could be for you. Try the app for FREE on tablet, mobile, iOS and Android and start reading books to your kids in the 2 languages of your choice.

Download Unuhi On The App Store
Download Android App
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