Good morning and buenos días! Today we have a special guest blog for you, written by Silke Holguin-Butters. Silke is a multilingual, entrepreneurial mum who lives here in Valencia, not too far from bambolango HQ. Read on to find out more about her background and current project that helps you find child-friendly establishments…
Hello! My name is Silke Holguin-Butters. I would describe myself as someone who is always looking for answers and solutions to the problems that I face. If I don’t feel comfortable with a certain situation, I think about what I can do to change it. I believe that this is what helps me grow: facing my problems, searching for solutions to improve the situation and growing until the next obstacle comes along. Life is made of challenges, but when we tackle them, we experience the most wonderful things and meet the most wonderful people.
I was born in Munich, Germany and moved to London in 2008, where I started a career as an online marketer. This was a great opportunity for me and a wonderful new career. In fact, I’m still really grateful that I started my career in this field as it allows me to work from anywhere in the world – as long as I have internet connection!
I also met my husband Omar in London. Omar is Mexican, but lived in London for nearly 20 years. However, for a number of different reasons, we decided to move to Valencia. So, in 2014 we came to Spain, and we have never regretted our decision so far!
In 2015, our son Nico was born. It has been a rocky ride combining the running of our businesses (Omar also runs his own online logistics company) with raising a child but it now works well. Having said that, we do miss having our family close by to help out from time to time.
The best of both worlds: being a mum and running a business!
I studied European Business Administration in Hamburg, Germany. Afterwards, I moved to London where I started working as an online marketer, specialising in paid search marketing (Google AdWords, Bing ads, Facebook ads, etc.). I worked for companies and agencies in London until 2012, when I became a freelancer. Working on my own terms has really improved my life. I can work any time of the day and schedule my week the way I need to. Having a son taught me to be even more efficient but also appreciate the work I am doing. As much as I love spending time with my son, focusing on my work, analysing data, being creative, etc. feels really rewarding to me. At the moment I only work part time. In the afternoon, I look after my son. Which gives me the best of both worlds: being a mum and running a business!
I am currently also setting up a new website, www.valencia-kids.es. It’s a directory that contains places in and around Valencia where you can take your kids. For example, it lists Cafes/Restaurants with play areas, indoor and outdoor playgrounds, swimming pools, ludotecas, zoos, museums and theatres for kids and more. At the moment the website is only in English. Next year, I will translate it also into Spanish. The target audience are parents visiting or living in Valencia and looking for places their kids will enjoy. Some of the places offer also supervised play so that the parents can have a well-deserved rest!
Tell us about the languages your family speaks…
I started learning English at school in Germany when I was about 11 years old. It gave me a good base for when I moved to London. However, I noticed that my business English was pretty good whilst my level of “social English” was a lot lower. I felt fairly comfortable at work but when I met up with colleagues for after work drinks, I struggled. That was until I established my social circle, and my English improved overall.
At school in Germany I also learned French for about 4 years. I did refresh it with some courses in London but as I don’t speak it any more, I forget it very quickly.
I didn’t speak any Spanish when we moved to Valencia. Although my husband is Mexican, we never got into the habit of speaking Spanish together. At the moment, I listen to a Spanish CD whilst driving, which helps a bit. Next year, I should have more time to start a Spanish course and to start practising Spanish with my husband!
With my son, I speak German. We read German books and sing German songs. My husband talks with my son in Spanish. And my husband and I talk English with each other.
What has been the biggest challenge or obstacle you’ve faced in raising bilingual children?
My son is 2.5 years old and speaks German and Spanish. A bit more German than Spanish at the moment. But he started school this month and his Spanish is now picking up quickly. I have the feeling that my son gets frustrated because he talks most of the time in German and I have only very few friends in Valencia who speak and understand German. So, I guess once his Spanish picks up and he can finally communicate with his friends in Spanish, a lot of frustration will go and some things will become a bit easier!
What advantages do you think will arise from encouraging your children to acquire another language?
I think there are many advantages. Learning different languages means understanding different cultures. Which I think broadens your mind. You understand that cultures are different and that they are neither good nor bad, just different. Also, I think being able to switch from one language to the other is very good for your brain. It means you constantly train your “brain muscle”. Furthermore, it will enable my son to travel, work and/or study easily in different countries. It offers a lot more options.
What tips or advice have you got for other families who want to introduce a second language to their children?
I would say make it fun. As long as children enjoy what they are learning, they will want to continue and make progress. Read books, learn songs together meet up with people who speak the language, etc. Try to immerse yourselves in the language in a playful way.
Thanks to Silke, our multilingual mum!
We really enjoyed partnering with Silke for this article! We love her positive outlook and problem-solving approach to the everyday obstacles she encounters! Good luck with the website and with learning Spanish! Ánimo!!