Belper language school founder enters Dragons’ Den

Lingotot North Derby teacher Melissa Hanratty was cheering on her collegue's Dragons' Den appearance this week.
Lingotot North Derby teacher Melissa Hanratty was cheering on her collegue's Dragons' Den appearance this week.

The boss of a Belper language school for children was glued to the television this week as the company’s founder chased the cash on Dragons’ Den.

Melissa Hanratty, who runs the Belper and Derby North franchise of Lingotot, cheered on colleague Angela Sterling as she entered the den on Sunday.

Angela, accompanied by a handful of her young students, was looking for £50,000 in return for a ten per cent stake as she looks to fuel ambitious international growth plans.

While the dragons said ‘non’ to the opportunity, they had many words of encouragement for Angela and her nationwide network of tutors.

Melissa said: “Even though we didn’t secure the investment we asked for, the show definitely highlighted just how important it is to start teaching languages at a young age and what young children are capable of when given the right support.”

Lingotot opened its first international extension in Dubai last month, where the course will be run in international schools.

But at the time of filming, the dragons were not tempted enough by the potential returns.

Long-time dragon Peter Jones said: “Angela’s done really well to build her business up to this level. She just needs to focus and keep going at a manageable scale.”

Up and down the country Lingotot teaches 10,000 children each week to speak a range of modern foreign languages including French, Spanish, German, Arabic and Mandarin.

Melissa has been running French classes in Belper for four months, and says demand is growing rapidly - something she puts down to the unique Lingotot approach.

She said: “It was lovely to see some of our children singing the Lingotot welcome song that we sing at all of our classes and I have no doubt that their singing will have gone a long way to calm the nerves.

“Singing forms a key part of our classes as we know that young children learn a huge amount through song and interactive actions, but to sing in four different languages and in front of those dragons and TV cameras is quite an achievement.”

Melissa is running a free taster session on Tuesday, April 4, at St John’s Church in Allestree. For details, email