An interview with Diana Sampedro
Where are you from?
I’m Spanish, from Gijón
As you know, a lot of adults in Spain feel uncomfortable speaking English despite knowing grammar and being able to read in English. How did you learn English and become fluent?
I started learning English at school, when I was 12. At College (I have a Bachelor in Economics) I have tried to meet English speakers in Spain to practise languages. I went to the Escuela de Idiomas and when I finished College I went to the US for a year where I was studied Economics at Amherst University of Massachusetts, and taught Spanish to freshmen. After that I lived in England for one year and six months a couple of times. However, in Spain I have learnt a lot of English because I have looked for people interested in speaking the language, I read a lot in English, I watch TV and films in English and I speak it with my daughter.
Nowadays I work as an English teacher.
Why do you think it is important for children to start learning languages at a young age?
They get used to the phonetics, the different sounds, words, expressions, and they integrate the language in a natural, effortless way. It is never too late to learn a language, but the sooner, the easier.
You have raised your daughter to be bilingual. How old is she now and when did you start exposing her to English? What did you do?
She is 6 now. I started exposing her to English since she was a baby, from early on. I usually speak to her in English, singing her lullabies, in different contexts, at home, bath time, at the park, meal times or playing around the house. There are so many situations and so much vocabulary every day to use with a baby, toddler, or kid. Sometimes I didn’t have the right word, so I had to explain things in a different way and check the word later. I started writing a blog about bilingual education, and then I quit and kept on registering all the vocabulary, expressions I was learning day by day.
What are some of the challenges you faced teaching your daughter English?
Sometimes you think: Am I doing the right thing? Is my pronunciation good enough? Is this confusing my child? With time and experience you overcome all these issues.
What can parents do to help their children become more confident in English?
The best way to teach a child is by showing them how you do it. Use English with them as much as you can, playing, at meal times, bath times, read them books, sing them nursery rhymes. If children are exposed to English they become familiar with it, they use it, they like it. It feels natural and safe.
Is there anything else you’d like to share with us?
In my opinion, being able to speak more than one language, offers you the chance to see reality from a different perspective, and I guess that can have a positive impact in the way you interact with the world. It gives you an open approach, curiosity, a connection with your feelings in a wider way.
Also, from my experience, at the end of the day the main and most beautiful thing related to your children and you is to connect with them, to feel close and loved, through words, (languages), and actions.
If you would like to know more about Diana and how she works with her daughter in English visit her FACEBOOK page.