¨Soy profesora!!!¨ The answer to the inevitable first question of ¨Why do you live in Spain/Seville?¨ Not surprising, but recently the surprise has come when I tell the person in question that my foreign language students are actually toddlers from 1-3 years old. ¨But you can´t teach them so young¨ ¨Do they even speak Spanish yet?¨ ¨I always thought they should learn their own language first¨ are the comments that follow.
Well, from my Psychology background, as well as my experience teaching English as a foreign language for the past 8 years, my beliefs and my answer would always be ¨The younger the better¨. But this past academic year I have been working in a bilingual nursery called Wonderland, so I can catagorically say this is true. Although it still amazes me, after only 6 or 7 months, that I find myself holding a natural conversation in English with a Spanish 2 year old (obviously as natural and fluent as any conversation can be with a 2 year old!).
Sounds impossible right? Well I believe the reason is, that when I say I work in a nursery, I dont mean go in for an hour twice a week and sing some songs and teach the colours. I mean working with, and talking to the kids in English as if they were natives, all morning!!! And their learning doesn´t stop there, as the rest of the staff are either native or bilingual too, so the English continues as long as the kids are in the nursery, which for some kids is 6 or 7 hours!
So now, when people are surprised that I ´teach´ English to toddlers, I just show them a video of one of my most vocal students singing a song, or counting, or answering questions in English, and they believe me when I say ¨The younger the better!!!!!!¨.