As the author of JaJaJa Books I often tour promotionally with the books and learning tools and I always get a great response. I am never, however, prepared for someone to disagree with my learning approach or ready for criticism (something you have to be prepared for in the publishing world!).
The other week an older gentleman picked up my book and began to read it whilst shaking his head and I politely asked him if there was a problem. He told me how he had been a translator of French for years and wasn’t sure how my books could work. I responded by telling him that I see it work before my very own eyes and that he should attend one of my story sessions to see for himself. Disgruntled he continued how it must be “dangerous” mixing the languages and that we need to learn English properly first. I agreed with him on one level as often when I used to teach languages, I would usually have to give a lesson in English grammar before continuing with the Spanish. I did, however disagree with his comment on it being “dangerous”.
Children in the UK need to be introduced as early as possible to foreign languages. Many are not growing up in bilingual settings and many will not have a parent who is competent in a language. Modern foreign languages are becoming compulsory at primary level where perhaps the teacher has no experience in languages either, through no fault of their own. Therefore our books are a great way to gradually introduce some form of MFL without “scaring” off the child. What would be more “dangerous” is to give a child/parent/teacher a fully bilingual story which could be extremely hard to follow and put that child off for good. We need to somehow make languages fun, engaging and we slowly need get children listening to them, getting an ear for them and enjoying them, in the hopes they will continue with them when they are older.
At the end of the conversation with this gentleman and after a lengthy debate, we started to agree on most things and he ended up giving me some excellent contacts and ideas- sometimes it’s good to be challenged because that’s when your passion shines through!