Hocus & Lotus
The Narrative Format ApproachCreated by Professor Traute Taeschner in collaboration with other European universities, the Narrative Format main concepts are:
The Narrative Format: the theoretical basis of the DinoCrocs language teaching programme is based on these three principles:
The Principle of Narrative Format: learning a foreign language in a manner analogous to the processes of maternal language acquisition through repetitive experiences shared by the baby with the adult. The use of theatrical stories, with the support of gestures and mimicry, allows the meaning of words and phrases to be learnt through active work.
The Principle of Good Communication: in order to learn to speak an emotional bond between the conversational partners is essential. Establishing a relationship of affection and complicity is key to motivate the desire to communicate.
The Principle of Bilingualism: pretending not to understand the everyday or hosting country language and keeping the conversation in the foreign language.
The little DinoCrocs Hocus and LotusWith a dinosaur tail and tooth and alligator navel, the dinocrocs Hocus and Lotus are the main characters of the Narrative Format approach.
The DinoCrocs speak and teach to the children English, German, Italian, French and Spanish.
Traute TaeschnerProfessor of the Department of Dynamic and Clinical Psychology at the University Sapienza of Rome (Italy), School of Medicine and Psychology.
35 years of research on language acquisition and bilingualism. Author of the “Hocus&Lotus” Narrative Format approach to teach and learn a foreign language. Writer of the books: “The magic teacher”, “The sun is feminine”, “Insegnare la lingua straniera” y “A developmental psycholinguistic approach to second language teaching”. Traute speaks fluently German, Italian, Portuguese, English and Spanish.
PhD in Psychology at the University Sapienza of Rome (Italy). Coordinator of the European project BILFAM (Let’s become a BILingual FAMily!) and SOFT, Sabine has written several studies regarding the use of the “Hocus&Lotus” Narrative Format.
She speaks Italian, French and English.
The Magic Class: 6 steps to live a magical world!Each class takes place in the creative world of fantasy, where only the new language is spoken and children, surrounded by the love and affection of the Magic Teacher, have fun and learn, each one according to his/her age and individual skills.
1. Let’s begin!: We enter the magical world of DinoCrocs!
2. DinoTheatre!: as if we were actors, we act the Hocus&Lotus story all together.
3. DinoMusical!: and now we are singers! We repeat the story but now with music!
4. DinoBook: we love reading and seeing the illustrations of the book, learning colors and shapes.
5. DinoCartoon!: highest expectation: the cartoon! We watch the funniest situations repeating the previously used language again.
6. See you soon!: we hold hands and close our eyes to get back to the real world.
The Magic Teacher:
The role of the Magic Teacher is key in the Hocus&Lotus educational programme.
Only the teacher who has completed our training can teach the Magic Class.
Our Magic Teachers really get into the imaginary world of DinoCrocs, and transmit the fantasy of their adventures to the children in a very empathic and lovely way.
With detailed analysis of their gestures, posture, frequency of smiling and other factors, we define the "magic" performance of each teacher.
Educational top quality materials:
To ensure the success of the programme, the use of the Hocus&Lotus materials is a must. They are an educational tool and are to be used both in the class and at home.
Each item of the kit has been created and tested to perform a specific function within the programme and succeed in the language learning process. Language repetition comes with different formats: songs in the CD, cartoons with the DVD, written stories with the books and e-Books and online activities, carried out with the educational tool of the t-shirt.
Its use allows contact with the foreign language every day while encouraging the link between school and family.
The parent"s role:
Recent research studies confirm the importance of parents’ involvement not only for better school results but also to help social integration of the children. With our programme, this daily DinoCrocs routing of 5-10 minutes also provides the necessary daily contact with the foreign language. Parents can share the language learning:
1. Listening the CD with the songs.
2. Watching the cartoon together.
3. Reading the book (also available online when not fluent in the foreign language).
4. Playing any of the activities available online with the kid.
Bilingualism and multilingualism:
Misconceptions and both linguistic and cognitive advantages/benefits:In many parts of world it is quite normal for children to be exposed to two or even more languages right from birth, but in Europe this is relatively unusual. Growing up with more than one language is often regarded as ‘special’ and ‘effortful’ and still surrounded by many false beliefs, misconceptions, a direct result from lack of information. A prime example is that the home language of children from minority and migrant communities is often regarded as an obstacle to successful linguistic and social integration. As a result, bilingualism in these communities is often abandoned and children are in danger of growing up with a negative perception of their home language and cultural identity.
Nevertheless, recent research on language and cognition in bilingual speakers sends a completely different message. Many studies show that children who grow up with two languages often develop high levels of fluency and literacy in both, and even tend to have an earlier grasp of some key components of literacy. Also, children who know more than one language have a spontaneous understanding of language structure and this makes it easier for them to learn additional ones. As a result, having one language can actually facilitate the development of the other.
Because bilingual children have to constantly switch between languages by choosing one or the other, depending to their interlocutors or even different situations, they develop a powerful mechanism for keeping the two languages separate. This is what lies at the root of other reported beneficial effects of bilingualism in non-linguistic domains involving mental flexibility and multitasking: bilingual children tend to do better than monolingual children at tasks where they have to selectively pay attention and ignore irrelevant information, or even switch between alternative solutions to a problem.
Therefore, as multilingualism is becoming more common in our society, research on language and the brain provides very powerful arguments for encouraging bilingualism in young children and for maintaining minority languages, whether indigenous or introduced by international mobility.
Research projectsMost of the partners of this project have been previously involved in different European projects for more than 20 years. These are the last ones:
SchOol and Family Together for the Integration of Immigrant Children:The project SOFT is a European project that aims to facilitate the social and school integration of immigrant children through language learning activities.
Immigrant and native children attending the same school will learn languages together and teachers will collaborate with immigrant and native families.
40 schools, 80 teachers and 800 children from 5 different countries (United Kingdom, Germany, Italy, Spain and Switzerland) will participate in the project for three years, from December 2012 to November 2015.
Language learning will be based on the Narrative Format approach, an educational programme resulting from previous European projects, which forms the theoretical underpinning of the method known as “Hocus & Lotus”. This method has proved to be effective for foreign language learning in pre-primary and primary schools as well as within the family environment.
The goals of the project are:
· To improve the language abilities of all children involved (in the language of the host country, in the languages of immigrant children or learning all togeher a new one).
· To facilitate social integration through different collaborative activities shared by families and teachers.
· To strengthen the relationships between school and families for the benefit of children and future school success.
Data will be collected through different stages of the project to test the effects of activities on both language learning and integration.
Different skills, expertise and competences are provided by the 7 partners of the project:
• Università Sapienza di Roma (Italy).
• Università Roma 3 (Italy).
• Dinocroc International Training Institute srl (Italy).
• University of Edinburgh-Bilingualism Matters (United Kingdom).
• Haute Ecole Pédagogique BEJUNE (Switzerland).
• Kommunale Integrationszentren (Germany).
• Institución Pau Casals (Spain).
BILFAM, Let’s become a BILingual FAMily!
2010 to 2012 - 125 families in 5 European countries embarked on the adventure of learning a new language withthe dinocrocs Hocus and Lotus, based on the learning and teaching model "The DinoCrocs Narrative Format" created by Professor Traute Taeschner of the University Sapienza of Rome (Italy).
This research project, funded by the Lifelong Learning Programme of the European Commission, started on 1 December 2010 and finished in November 2012.
All participating families were provided with a tutor, a guide, the materials and activities to use together, as well as online tutoring through the project website: www.bilfam.eu
The research investigated how families responded to this new experience and how much children and parents learnt. The results were presented in a final event in each of the participating countries and disseminated in other European states.
Università Sapienza di Roma (Italy).
Dinocroc International Training Institute srl (Italy).
University of Edinburgh-Bilingualism Matters (United Kingdom).
Institución Pau Casals (Spain).
Mater-Centre Budatko with cooperation of Havava and Comenius University in Bratislava (Slovakia)
Bilingualism 0-6 years oldThe project aims to teach English with DinoCrocs to children from 3 months to 6 years old in several kindergartens and public nursery schools in Rome (Italy), to grow up bilingually.
The research is based on recent advances in neuroscience according to which if you learn a foreign language before age 3, it will be stored in the same brain structure than your mother tongue language. Parents collaborate at home by making children listen to the CD and watching cartoons together.
The project duration is 5 years (still ongoing), after which the skills acquired by the children involved in this research will be compared with those of the same age who have learned English with other methods and those who have gone to bilingual Nursery or schools .
DINOTOUR: The dinocrocs travel to the BalkansThe DinoCrocs travel to the Balkans was a European Research project proposed by Educational Programmes Consult, Ltd in Bulgaria and coordinated by Karolina Palchovska. It was carried out from 2007 to 2010.
In collaboration with Sapienza University of Rome (Italy), Fondazione Euro Ed in Romania and Hungary"s participation, the project trained teachers of the schools involved to disseminate and adapt the DinoCrocs teaching model for these countries, and collect and analyze subsequent data.
For more information outside of Slovakia, please contact Giulia Francese Solanes, DITI srl www.hocus-lotus.edu info(at)hocus-lotus.edu,
for Slovakia only, contact Zlatica Jursová Zacharová info(at)hocus-lotus.sk.