Q: Can you tell us a little about your journey to multilingualism and how that has shaped your view of the world?
I have been passionate about languages since I was a kid. I got a degree in Modern Languages at university and now I am part of a bilingual-bicultural family. I am Venezuelan and I have lived in France since 2009 with my French husband and our bilingual-bicutural little girl. At home the three of us speak Spanish and French everyday. For me, each language is a different way to see the world, and an opportunity to understand people and cultures.
Q: What motivated you to create LinguaToys.com?
As I said, I am passionate about foreign languages and cultures. My husband and I are also language teachers, so I was interested at the same time in getting quality resources for our classes, and for bilingual families just like ours. So, I decided to open LinguaToys four years ago to offer children books, educational games, and multimedia resources to learn (or reinforce) languages at home or at school in a fun way!
Q: What types of products have your customers enjoyed the most?
Most of my customers love books! I think all of them understand the importance of reading to kids… and the younger, the better! One of my best sellers is Cui-cui-cuidado!: a Spanish colorful story for babies. The book with CD Chante et découvre l’arabe (sing and learn Arabic) is a best seller, too.
Q: What is your strategy at home with raising your daughter to be bilingual?
At home, we do OPOL (one, parent, one language). I speak Spanish to my daughter no matter the place or people around us. We read stories and sing a lot! Every single moment is an opportunity to let her discover the world in her languages and to improve her vocabulary in both Spanish and French. We try to do it “naturally” and fun: we speak to her as if she is only learning one language.
Q: What has been the most surprising or rewarding part of the process?
Everyday comes with a surprise. I truly admire my bilingual girl! But I think that the most rewarding part of all of this is that she calls me “mamá” and not maman.
Q: What is your best tip in raising bilingual children?
I would say, first of all, be patient! It’s not always easy, and it demands a ton of work! But multilingualism is the most amazing gift we can give to our kids.
Second of all, I think it’s important to keep it fun! No stress, no pressure. We have to allow children to love and need their languages. So, play, sing, and read a lot in the languages you want them to learn!
Durgyka Portes is a Venezuelan expat in France, language lover, Spanish teacher and translator, mom of a bilingual family, and owner of LinguaToys.com : making language learning a playful experience!