"We'd like to do for language learning what Jamie Oliver has done for cooking"

Lisa Sadleir poses with her family in Mijas.
Lisa Sadleir poses with her family in Mijas. / SUR
  • Start-up Cooking with Languages has been selected for the Crowdfunder January Jumpstart programme

Cooking for Languages has been selected as one of just 100 start-ups for the Crowdfunder January Jumpstart and aims to teach children languages via the kitchen. The project is the brainchild of Lisa Sadleir, a trilingual woman who has lived in Mijas since 2008, who hopes to "do for language learning what Jamie Oliver has done for cooking: make it fun and make it accessible".

She aims to release an activity cook book in a variety of different languages, with the first edition in English and Spanish. The cookbook contains simple recipes and activities and is designed for "kids to get messy, sticky and write all over". While Lisa states that the target age group is between 5 and 12, she reinforces that the first book "is just to give everyone a taste of the fun that they can have in the kitchen and try a different way of improving their Spanish".

Two 'language assistants' will feature in the book in the form of Arthur Apple and Nerea Naranja, who are voiced by Lisa's son, Joshua, and daughter, Francesca; both bilingual in English and Spanish. Their recordings will be available on the project's website, which features further activities involving the pronunciation and repetition of foreign words. The hope is that "when children hear other children speaking, they relate to them".

If the project runs successfully, Lisa hopes to incorporate a number of other characters: "I'm doing a little campaign during the Crowdfund to get people to vote for who we bring to life next, whether we bring Klaus Kartoffel, the German character, or Olivier l'Oignon, who's the French one."

While the book was originally intended to be used at home, Lisa believes that there is also a market within schools. After attending the Language Show in London last October, she says that she "was inundated" with positive feedback from teachers, who stated that "there is a lack of fun materials for Spanish". However, the ultimate goal is simply for "kids and adults to get together to cook and practise languages".

"We've been working on this for four years and we've just been playing with it and enjoying it," she says. "These are my children's languages so they're closest to my heart. We've had a lot of fun creating the materials as a family - trying out new recipes in our own kitchen, recording the audios and thinking up new ways to make learning Spanish exciting. And we've had some great feedback on what we've produced so far."

The month-long crowdfunding push started on Thursday 12 January and Cooking with Languages hopes to raise £5,000 towards publishing costs. Those who wish to support the project will be rewarded with a copy of the activity cookbook and other materials at reduced rates. Contributions start from as little as £5 and can be made via PayPal.

Funds raised through the January Jumpstart will help Lisa bring down costs. "Publishing on an ad hoc basis is prohibitively expensive," she explains, "and I need funds to bulk-order and make the materials cheaper and therefore more accessible."

Cooking with Languages has a large social media following and can be found on Facebook and Instagram (@CookingWithLanguages) or on their website,