It's been nearly 15 years now since Gigi Swenson and Ellen Guettler first conceived of a program that would combine music, the latest research by leading linguists and time-proven teaching techiques to teach second languages to young children. Both women shared a love of languages, both believed firmly in the benefits of early language exposure, and both wanted to share that gift with children, including their own. From the very start it was obvious that they were on to something; it was effective, fun, the children loved it, and the appreciative parents urged Gigi and Ellen to expand the business. After 7 years of development and practice, they were ready to take their program beyond Bozeman and offer it to the rest of the world. Music Lingua is now training teachers and expanding across the US.
Gigi Swenson, co-owner and President of Music Lingua, is the mother of 2 children and is herself the product of a German-born mother and German-speaking father. From infancy Gigi was exposed to German language, music and traditions (click here to hear an old recording of Gigi's mother singing old German children's songs). This early influence inspired a lifelong interest in foreign languages, travel and cultures. She holds degrees in modern languages including French, German, and Spanish. She has traveled extensively abroad, with time spent studying in France and Mexico, and is a longtime member of the Alliance Française de Bozeman. Watching the ease with which her own children pick up a second language has reinforced in her the importance of starting young. Gigi is excited to share with other families the same songs, stories and languages she grew up with, which sparked her interest in language and other cultures. In addition to growing Music Lingua to the rest of Montana and other states, Gigi continues to teach French and German Music Lingua classes in Bozeman, using hands-on experience from her classes to continuously further develop and refine the Music Lingua method.
Ellen Guettler, co-founder of Music Lingua, is a twin and the youngest of eleven children. She was raised in a very Irish home full of music and storytelling, and has two sons. She holds a Montana K-8 teaching credential with a Spanish endorsement, and has taught elementary bilingual education for 18 years. She is a published author of the Spanish phonics program, Letralandia, which is used in Spanish magnet and immersion schools in the U.S. and abroad. Her passion for the Spanish language, background in Orff-Schulwerk music instruction and travel in Latin American countries are complementary experiences that she brings to Music Lingua. As a product of early foreign language instruction herself, Ellen was greatly influenced by her early exposure and positive experiences acquiring the Spanish language.
Chuck Swenson, co-owner of Music Lingua, has always had a facination with travel and other cultures. He spent his early summers on the Blackfoot Indian reservation and later worked in the backcountry of Glacier National Park. He has traveled extensively througout Europe, North and South America, Africa, Australia, New Zealand, the South Pacific and Asia/India. He holds a Masters' Degree in Computer Science and is an accomplished multi-instrumental musician. An early exposure to the German language lead to further languages studies in high school and college, and he credits this as a major positive influence in his life.