In the blog this week we’d like to share another guest piece with you, written this time by Emma Kelly. Emma is an English as a Foreign Language teacher, who has recently re-purposed her skills to start a new project alongside Usborne Publishing as an Independent Organiser. Emma also offers her views and advice on bringing up children in a multilingual household based on her own experience of raising a bilingual child…
My name is Emma Kelly and I have a passion for languages and books
I have always been fascinated by languages and knew at an early age I wanted to study languages at university and eventually study abroad. So that’s what I did. I did a degree in French, Spanish and Communication studies in Nottingham UK. And as part of my third year I was sent to Aix en Provence and Valencia as part of an Erasmus programme. After returning from my year abroad I carried on to compete my degree and immediately moved to Valencia. I haven’t been back to the UK since – that was over 17 years ago now!
I love being immersed in the Spanish culture and having been here for so long now definitely feel more Spanish than British.
My career, part I
My teaching career started in a prestigious private school where I got my first taste of TEFL. I continued my career as an EFL teacher teaching all ages from toddlers to adults. Many of these students were with me for over ten years and are now successful businessmen and women. I have also worked with government bodies and many multinational companies as a Business English Instructor. I then took a break from my career to dedicate my time to being a full-time mom.
My own experience
I now have a three-year old son who is completely bilingual. I have only ever spoken to him in my mother tongue and his dad in his native language – Spanish. We have done it this way so he can separate the two languages perfectly well. Exposing him to this gift from birth has been the best thing we could have done. It is fascinating to hear him switch between the two languages in the same conversation.
My advice to other families raising bilingually would be to use the OPOL approach and stick to one language per person. I firmly believe that this helps children enormously whilst being brought up in a bilingual household. I also think it’s very important to understand that each child goes at their own pace – they will, like everything else, get there eventually! I have always spoken to my son in English, but it wasn’t until this summer when he was three and a half that he finally started answering me back in English. One day he just switched from answering in Spanish to answering in English and we have never looked back. He will occasionally speak Spanglish (the other day he said, “Mommy can we make gingerbread men and cover them with purpurina and icing sugar!”. But 99% of the time he now knows who to speak English to, and who to speak Spanish to, and can do it without thinking. It’s a natural process like everything else. Just give them time.
My career, part II
I have recently re-purposed my skills and love of books to become an Independent Usborne Organiser. This has opened up a whole new world of magical books but what excites me the most is that I can help make these books become accessible to those people who would otherwise have difficulty in choosing a book in English for their child. I offer advice, recommendations and suggest books suitable for English learners. With 17 years of teaching experience I feel that I am qualified to offer sound advice and help parents choose the most adequate books for their children.
My long-term aim is to be able to use schools as a platform. I’d like to offer pupils support and leisure material to help them with their English learning. With my many years of experience I hope to organise storytelling sessions, activities and book fairs amongst other fun and exciting activities. Schools can also take advantage of this offer and achieve free books to fill up their libraries.
If you’d like more information about my project, please go to my new Facebook page, where I will be sharing great books and invaluable advice on choosing for all my followers. Feel free to ask if you have any questions:
Thank you so much for your guest blog Emma and we wish you the best of luck! Remember that a book makes a wonderful present and helps invest in each child’s future! If you’d like to see bambolango’s range of books please click here: www.bambolango.com/en/shop