Do you need some Calm?

As a mum and entrepreneur I find that running my own business is incredibly rewarding but also very stressful. During a recent difficult spell we looked into some of the meditation apps on the market. Many have a day or two’s limited access to trial them, but the Calm app really caught our eyes.

In case you are not convinced of the value of slowing down, here are a few quotes from Michael Acton Smith and Alex Tew, the founders of Calm. These are from their Calm book.
Entrepreneurial life can be a chaotic, restless and intense experience. Few of us do anything to train and nurture our minds. Pretty much everyone has an inner voice that does not shut up. Taking time to calm the mind has a huge range of benefits.

In the Calm book, Michael and Alex share their stories of what led them to launching Calm in 2012. “By stepping away and stilling my mind, I was able to fully appreciate the power of calm, we are now on a mission to help the world find more calm and less stress through mindfulness meditation.”
So we downloaded the calm app and bought the book.
The app consists of meditations, bedtime stories and simple deep breathing exercises.

So here are our family’s thoughts on the app:

Sarah:
As soon as the app is opened, it says to take a deep breath then shows you a beautiful, natural scene with the relaxing sounds of nature. I found even to open the app make me feel calmer.

My favourite part of the Calm app was the Emergency Calm, which has proved invaluable to me in restoring a peaceful mind following fraught moments, particularly on difficult mornings after fighting to get the kids to school on time (or not!). Emergency Calm promises to provide immediate relief when feeling overwhelmed or stressed. There is a choice of 2, 5 or 10 minute sessions. It starts with deep breaths, focusing on the body, and some positive affirmations.

The bedtime stories section was a lovely way of finding some calm before sleep. I love to listen to stories: the first time I used it, I was asleep in minutes and did not remember the story. The second time I used it was during a particularly restless night. The story incorporates lots of deep breathing and, at the end of the twenty minutes story, I felt much more relaxed.

There are three different meditations for preparing for sleep. My personal favourite is deep sleep relax. I had encountered this idea before and it worked well for me.

The Breathe section is great when you need to be grounded again; it helps you take slow deep breaths, slow down your thoughts and be more grounded in the now. It has sound to it so can even be running in your pocket, quietly reminding you to simply breathe.
My daughter was having a bit of a meltdown one school morning so I gave her my phone with the Breathe running, whilst I drove her to school. It worked for her. We arrived at school with her in a much calmer place.

Maik:

I think this app does what it says. From the moment the app is opened it creates a sense of calm.

I liked the selection of sleep stories. I listened to them together with Sarah,< who fell asleep within seconds.
I liked the selection of meditations designed to help you relax to sleep and felt they worked for me.

Jasmin and Emily:
The girls enjoyed the sleep stories and meditations specific to their age groups. My youngest really enjoyed the warm heart meditation and managed to follow the instructions well. The blowing candles one was a useful concept when she had her ears pierced recently and we had to clean her ears each evening. The blowing candles idea helped her to focus whilst I cleaned her ears.
Both of my girls enjoyed all of the sleep stories, but the clear favourite was Ella’s lagoon.

Josh:
My teenage son listened to the meditations aimed at 11 to 18 year olds, but found the Emergency calm most helpful.

We found this app helpful for creating a calm space in the day and restoring some order in thoughts.

The accompanying book is illustrated beautifully with gorgeous pictures and fluid text which flows around the pages. You can dip in and out of it, or leaf though it when you are feeling overwhelmed. I found exploring the book an adventure it itself. It has space for interactions, creativity, journalising, and is crammed full of tips for living more mindfully. It makes a beautiful gift for yourself of others.

Disclaimer: We were given a week’s free access in order to review the app.
We have since decided to pay and subscribe for ourselves.

Inspirational mum Meghan Fenn

This month’s inspirational mum in business is Meghan Fenn, the author of Bringing Up Brits, and co-author of Inspiring Global Entrepreneurs. I’m really excited to interview another multilingual mum in business, so here it is.

Q: What’s your career background?

I started out as an ESOL teacher and taught in Prague for two years and then in Tokyo for two and a half years. I taught both children and adults and had an amazing time learning new languages and cultures and meeting lots of different people from all walks of life. I studied English and Art at University and the original plan after graduation was to teach abroad for one year, then go back to the States, get my Masters degree and get a job. Within the first few days of leaving the States and starting a brand new life in a very different country, I met my future (now) husband, a British man from England. That changed my whole life. I ended up marrying said British man in South Carolina, USA, then moving back to England to continue my expat life.

Q: How did your career change after having children?

I did end up getting my Masters, but in England instead, and in Design Studies. After graduation I got a job as a senior Internet designer and worked there until I was made redundant while pregnant with my second child. Of course that also changed everything! I was 5 months pregnant so couldn’t even consider going for interviews, so I decided to start up my own web design company. I thought I’d freelance until after the baby, and then get a job part time as I’d have two babies under the age of two. Again, plans changed because my business really took off and within the first year, I had established a client base, a great reputation and had a constant stream of regular work coming in. I also loved working from home which gave me the flexibility to look after my young children and not have to pay out for full-time expensive childcare. Working from home around my family really suited me.

Q: Where did the idea for your business come from?

There are two parts to my answer because I’ve since started up a new company. So the idea for my first business came directly from what I was doing as an employed designer. I simply started project managing my own web and graphic design work and clients. I advertised in the Yellow Pages and spread the word through client referrals and my website. There wasn’t any social media back then so I had to rely on advertising and getting the word out there through happy clients. I managed to grow organically and keep a steady business going around the demands of a busy young family. Fast forward 10 years, a move from the Midlands to Sussex, and one additional child and I was ready to take my business to the next level. I had been working closely with a marketing and PR professional who I’d met at an awards event and throughout the 6 years of working with her, felt she could help me achieve my business goals. So, I asked her to join my company. She politely declined but suggested we start something new together 50/50. So that was how our company Shake It Up Creative Ltd was born. We do design, marketing, PR, websites, social media and search engine optimisation. We’re essentially a full service design and marketing company.

Q: How did you move from idea to actual business?

Originally, when I was starting out, I asked the nursery proprietor where my baby went, if she would like a website designed in exchange for free child care places. That was my very first job as a freelance web and graphic designer. Paid jobs came very quickly after that. I think once I decided to go for it on my own, I just picked up the phone, registered with HMRC, designed my logo and letterheads and invested my time and energy to make it a success.

Q: What’s your USP?

My USP has always been that I can do the graphic design AND the web Techie work too. That still is part of our USP. We can do it all or as little as you like and we’re flexible. So for example, we can do logo and branding right the way through to website and marketing and PR campaigns. Or, we can simply create a logo or stand-alone graphic design, copywriting or one off PR.

Q: How do you spread the word about what you do?

Through our website, on social media (Twitter, Facebook, Google+) and at regular networking events.

Q: What’s been your most successful marketing/PR strategy?

Networking definitely. But also our #ShakeItHUB free design and marketing help sessions. We offer these to our local business community. They are open to all and people come to us with questions about their website, about a marketing campaign, for help with social media or anything design and marketing related. We give hands-on help with no obligation to ‘buy’ or take anything further. They are very popular and it helps to spread the word about our company and what we can do. It also shows people that we are experts and we know what we’re talking about and that we’re willing to help businesses.

Q: What’s been the biggest obstacle you’ve had to overcome?

In the early days, it was balancing family life with a home-based office. You have to become very disciplined and use time wisely, work smart so when it’s family time, you can concentrate on that and not work. Now, it’s winning pitches in a very saturated market place. Worthing and Brighton have a huge number of marketing companies so there is a large amount of competition for us.

Q: Why is work so important to you?

I’m a creative person, I have a strong work ethic and I like to be productive. So work suits me. I also want to be a good role model for my children. I have a teenage boy, a teenage girl and a seven year old boy. They know I work, they know I run my own company. They like that and understand why I do it and how that benefits our whole family. Financially as well, we need to be a two parent income family in order to maintain the lifestyle that we want to have and give our children the best start in life as possible.

Q: Who inspired you?

Because I came here to live with no family or friends nearby (or even in the same country), I had to find inspiration from within. That is one reason I wrote my book Bringing Up Brits Expat Parents Raising Cross-cultural Kids in Britain. I wanted to share my story and inspire others and show them that they are not alone, that there are other parents out there doing the same thing and it’s hard. So hard! But if we find others who are going through a similar experience, we can find comfort and encouragement. Now, I’m inspired by my children and how amazing they are and how supportive they are of each other and of us (myself and my husband).

Q: How do you balance your business with your family?

I work full time around the children. So that means I work during school hours. I usually also work a few hours in the morning before they get up and some, not all, evenings. It’s tough running your own company because you’re always ‘on’ especially working from a home office. But it means I can be here for the children when they get home from school, I can do the after school clubs and activities and attend day time school functions. My children are at the age now where I can work (from home) when they are around. I have a room that is my office so I don’t have the chaos of working from the kitchen table. If they need me, they come get me. My eldest is very good with my youngest so during the summer holidays, for example, he can fix lunch for everyone and take my youngest out to the playground. I can also usually take days off here and there when I want to.

Q: What are your top three pieces of advice for someone wanting to do something similar?

1. Network in person – this will help you to gain new clients, spread the word about your business and also, very importantly, find people who can help you get set up (such as a trusted accountant or business development expert). Be open to collaboration, service exchanges and coffee meetings to get to know potential clients and business associates.
2. Try to launch with a USP. That will set you apart in a very highly competitive market.
3. Make your own logo, branding and website stand out. People will want to see your expertise and you can show this through your own designs for your own company before you have a significant portfolio to showcase.

If you want to get in touch with Meghan
Meghan is co-director and chief designer, Shake It Up Creative www.ShakeItUpCreative.com
Author of Bringing Up Brits, co-author of Inspiring Global Entrepreneurs
www.bringingupbrits.co.uk
www.expatsinbiz.com

If you want to buy your own copy of her books check out the links below

Language learning is THE best way to make friends.

I originally wrote this blog two years ago as a guest post for FlashSticks. I’ve brought it up to date now. It’s exciting to see how my language learning has progressed in that time…

I’m starting to realise I may be a bit of language nerd. I’ve been thinking recently as to why people learn a language. I think for me the greatest reason is that it gives me the chance to make friends. I’m a really relational person and language learning is great for this. As Nelson Mandela said “If you talk to a man in a language he understands, that goes to his head. If you talk to him in his language it goes to his heart”

As I walk my children in to school I often say good morning in about four languages to the other parents and children. dzień dobry, bună dimineața, jó reggelt, As- Salàmu ’Alaykum, доброе утро, dobrý deň, Guten Morgen, zăo sháng hăo !

At my children’s school, there are parents and children whose main languages are Polish, Hungarian, Mandarin, Russian, German, Romanian, Slovak, Urdu, Arabic, Ukrainian or French.

In September, my daughter returned to school, after the summer holidays. She had three children in her class who’d just arrived in the country and spoke no English. The children taught each other to say “good morning” in their own languages. I was really impressed by this mutual language teaching at age 7 and also the way the new children were welcomed into the class. I decided I could do this too, and learn to say at least good morning or simple greetings in these languages.

I started to chat to the new families and learned how to say good morning. I thought language learning would be a great way to get to know other families in the school. It’s been a fun journey. I’ve spoken the wrong language to people a few times and sometime pronounced so badly they did not know what I was saying! The Urdu and Arabic speaking mums automatically respond to me with “Wa ’Alaykum us Salam,” then realise it’s me speaking and look a bit confused or giggle! In time they’ve got used to it though!

On the whole people have been really pleased to teach me a few words of their language and laughed with me as I stumbled over the new expressions. It empowers them and builds their confidence as they are the experts in this area. Some of the mums are new to the country, learning English, and they like the fact that I take the time to talk with them and try to understand what they are saying. I, myself have struggled with communication in other languages, so I’m patient!

Cup of tea anyone?

I’ve discovered our local Big Issue seller is Romanian and she has taught me:

Hello Buna dimineata

Goodbye La revedere

I’ve been practicing and improving my Polish with the help of the staff at the local Polish Deli. Through spending time with them I’m getting to know them better especially those who only speak a little English. Other customers in the shop are noticing, too, and will speak to me in Polish if they see me on the High Street, which I love.

I’ve a few Thai girl friends so I always greet them with Sawatdee-kah.

We have Greek friends in church so I greet them with Καλημέρα Τι κάνεις: I’ve also discovered a few of my friends speak Afrikaans so I try my Dutch on them, which often works. In my daughter’s new school we have Spanish, Hungarian and Portuguese speakers, so I try to use these languages whenever I can.

I’ve met Russian, Swedish and Tagalog speaking parents at my local mums and toddlers group and am slowly learning words from them.

I’m enjoying building my own language skills and making friends, too. Do you have anyone you can get to know better by learning their language? I’d love to know how it goes!

How do children acquire language?

This week I have the pleasure of introducing you to Shirley Cheung. She is currently researching how children acquire language for her Phd at Lancaster University. My sister took part in one of Shirley’s research sessions and we met shortly afterwards. So without further ado, on with the interview.


Could you tell us a little about your early language learning

My first (native) language is Cantonese. My mother is from Hong Kong and my father was from mainland China, but I was raised in the United States. I started to learn English as a second language in preschool, but I only transitioned to using English as my dominant language when I was around 10 years of age. As I started using more English at school and with my friends over time, I slowly lost my fluency in Cantonese.


Why are you interested in languages?

I am fascinated with languages and how we learn them from a very young age, because language acts as a gateway to communicate our thoughts and intentions with others. The ability to use language at the level that we do is what distinguishes us from primates and animals. Language is so complex, yet it seems like we acquire it with remarkable ease. Languages are also very different from each other (for example, Sign Language vs. French) yet they accomplish the same goal??? to communicate!

Why did you decide to do the research you now do?
My PhD investigates how language background (i.e. monolingualism vs. bilingualism) affects speech perception in young infants. More importantly, whether learning two languages promotes a greater advantage for infants to pick up sounds from languages they have never been exposed to before (that is, non-native languages). My main research question asks whether bilingualism aids in perceptual flexibility in the speech signal at the time where infants’ native-language perceptual systems start to become focused on only the sounds of the language(s) they are exposed to.


How can we help you with your research?

Currently I am seeking Mandarin-English bilingual families to participate in my research. Below is a PDF copy of my recruitment flyer. I’d also like to mention that I anticipate bringing my research down to London for a few months, so if any parents around the area are interested in taking part, please keep in touch. My email address is s.cheung@lancaster.ac.uk

Do you collect foriegn coins?

My husband collected and swapped foreign coins from his youth. When we married I added a few coins to his collection my grandparents had given me.

Our children like to look through the tin and comment on the large amount of money daddy has.  Whilst looking through today we can across this coin. It is substitute coin. 

Written on the coin is KLEINGELDERSATZMARKE *1920*

MAGISTRAT DER STADT DEUTSCH-FYLAU

As we tried to find more about Deutsch-Fylau we saw this …

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/I%C5%82awa

The East Prussian plebiscite of 1920 ostesibly allowed the residents to cast votes either in favour of remaining in Germany or becoming a part of Poland. The vote was largely boycotted by ethnic Poles, amid in mass persecution of Polish activists by the German side, going as far as engaging in regular hunts and murder against them to influence the vote. Ultimately the town voted to remain in Germany by 4,746 to 235 votes. It became part of Regierungsbezirk West Prussia in the Province of East Prussia.

After World War II the region was placed under Polish administration by the Potsdam Agreement under territorial changes demanded by the Soviet Union. Most Germans fled or were expelled and replaced with Poles expelled from the Polish areas annexed by the Soviet Union.

A lot of history from a small coin, nicht wahr?

Learn Panjabi the fun way.

This week we have a real treat for you. Kiran Lyall has sent three of her books for me to review. So how can you learn Panjabi the fun way?

 

I was really excited when I saw the resources Kiran had created to teach Panjabi to children. Up until then I had not come across any resources for this. Although I have nothing to directly compare these books to, as someone who has read many children’s books and language teaching books I can tell these resources are good quality and entertaining.

Have Fun With Panjabi introduces high frequency words in Panjabi. The words are written in roman alphabet so accessible to both native and non-native speakers. Each word is also written with an English phonetic guide to help non-native speakers. If there was a way to hear the words spoken it would be a plus to me as a total novice to Panjabi. I’d also like to see it written in Panjabi script alongside the roman script to start familiarity with the script early. I do realise this may confuse some people though.

My First Panjabi Alphabet is a workbook which is really simple and easy to use. A combination of tracing letter shapes and numbers. There are lots of puzzles to identify letter shapes. The workbook contains lots of cultural references both for English and Panjabi. As a mum of three who has used books to help my children with writing, the format feels very familiar.

In addition to writing teaching books Kiran has written a children’s story book, Ria and Raj and the Gigantic Diwali Surprise. The book is in English and introduces some ideas of celebrating Diwali to children in a fun, even silly way.

 

As a teacher who regularly shares stories out loud with children, I really enjoyed the way the story engages the reader with lots of squeezing and squashing and shouting, thus allowing lots of opportunity for interaction whilst reading the story. A great interactive storyline. The illustrations are bright and fun. My daughter aged 8 read the book with me and giggled aloud at points which shows how much she enjoyed the book.

If you want to get your own copies, check out the links below.

 

 

Girlie headphones review

We’ve been reviewing these headphones for just over a fortnight now. We travelled up North for family wedding so they were great so stop arguments about who chooses the music and save us a parents from the umpteenth rendition of “Let it go” or the sound effects of Crossy Road or Dumb Ways to Die. We stayed at Ibis Shipley so you may recognise the hotel in the background.
Over to Josh our tech reviewer.

These headphones are good quality for the price. This is because:
I think that the design of the EasySMX Kids headphones is very fun and colourful, this makes sense as these headphones are designed for children. The headphones have a pink faux leather headband which feels rugged and cushioned enough, the earcups are the same colour as the headband but plastic with purple and white hearts this suits the headphones as they are designed for girls in both design and size of the headphones. A feature that shows that these headphones are designed for children is that the headphones’ do not go any louder than 85db, which is about the same as a food blender at its maximum settings from a metre away. This is so that children do not listen to music too loud and damage. their hearing. There is not much bass in these headphones which was expected as they are designed for younger children which do not typically listen to bass heavy songs, the mids and highs sounded decent and overall just sounded a little bit muddy. Overall these headphones are of decent quality for the price as they have an alright sound and build quality for the price that they are.


The girls managed to dislodge one of the headphone covers, we were really pleased to find (from a very helpful member of Ibis hotel staff) they are really simple to reattach.
The headphones arrived in a solid cardboard box with a plastic insert. It was well designed with a child friendly theme.

So over to the girls….

Jasmin
These headphones are good for children as they do not go too loud. I like the design. I’m glad I have the girls design. When I use other headphones they are sometimes crackly but these headphones have clear sound. I would like it better if they were Bluetooth because the wire gets in the way.

Emily
They have good sound. I liked taking them on holiday, especially on Valentines day because they have got hearts on them. They are good because I can choose my own music in the car.

Disclaimer
We were given these headphones in return for an honest review.

Thanks to Ibis hotel Shipley for a making us feel so welcome on our stay there.

If you’d like to buy a set for your family simply follow the link below.

Top tips for learning English with YouTube

This week I’d like to introduce you to Quincy. As an ESL teacher he is passionate about language learning for children. He’s written us a guest blog of his top tips for learning English with YouTube.

Learning English with YouTube- Young Learners
YouTube can be an excellent tool in furthering a child’s English language education. When used as a supplemental form of teaching, children left on their own can retain new information from the practice of watching and engaging with what they see on the computer.
Videos that employ the use of rhymes in song or a similar form such as chanting, are beneficial for the growth of children’s vocabulary and reading abilities. As children learn individual sounds, they soon recognize similar rhymes and alliterations in other words. From there, children can easily move on from detection (listening) of rhymes and alliterations to production (speaking). Continual exposure to and production of new sounds will lead to the formation of complete words, requests, sentences, and eventually dialog.
No matter if you’re a parent or teacher, using exercises like this can really help improve a child’s language ability and serve to help round out the teaching methods used.
Here’s how to start:

The Basics- Learning the Alphabet
DJC Kids has a great YouTube channel for the basics of English such as the alphabet, numbers, colors, etc.

Their video ABC Karaoke does a great job presenting the alphabet and encouraging the viewers to sing along with the goal being to encourages children to speak or actively in order to enhance their language acquisition.

Nursery Rhymes and Songs- Vocabulary Development

Busy Beavers is a series of YouTube channels that offer videos with text in a multitude of languages other than English. The videos themselves are in English, however, the option to use a French or Arabic Busy Beaver channel will help the parent or teacher navigate the site and find the appropriate video to show their child.
Nursery Rhymes and Toddler School

This particular playlist covers a wide range of common nursery rhymes. They are presented in sing-song format allowing children to discover for themselves the repetition of similar sounds.

Advanced English Learners- Dialog and Communication
For moderately more advanced learners, this channel provides longer videos (roughly half an hour and longer) and includes captions at the bottom of the screen that fill in as the speaker in the video completes a word. The dialogs are slow, thus allowing viewers to discern individual sounds and correlate them with the spelled words.

English Singsing

This channel also includes shorter videos with less advanced content, as well as specific videos for ESL students.

YouTube as a Resource
Children’s ability to learn a second language, known as the critical period, greatly begins to decline after puberty. Exposing children to a second language as early as possible will make the second language acquisition process much more effective. YouTube is an excellent and free source to assist anyone wishing to learn English as a second language. There are thousands of videos specifically geared towards younger learners; keep in mind the examples used in this article are merely starting points for anyone looking to further the language development of their child.

Quincy is a former teacher and founder of ESL Authority, a site dedicated to bringing first-hand advice and guides to those looking to get involved in ESL teaching. Currently located in China, he will work for strong coffee and IPAs.

twitter.com/ESLAuthority

Labelling your children’s clothes. Love it or hate it? Nametags Giveaway

Are you a labeler or not? Do you spend hours sewing name labels on everything or simply scribble initials on the label?

I used to be a meticulous sewer on of name labels. Despite this, my son’s brand new school jumper with a sewn on label went missing, never to be seen again.

Now some school clothing comes with a space to simply write on the name and I take advantage when I can.

I know in some schools sending children in with unlabelled clothes is regarded as a heinous crime

When I was asked by mynametags.com to review these name labels and I jumped at the chance. There is a great selection of designs available from plain black and white to a seemingly endless combination of patterns, pictures and fonts. My daughters loved the Hello Kitty design and that they could choose their own font, colour and patterns.They were really simple to order and arrived quickly.

They are really simple to use. Simply stick to the items you want to label.
The website says “My Nametags new colour stickers, there is no need to either iron- on or sew on the name tags. You can just apply a sticker to the clothing washing label, and it will stay on in the wash again and again. What was once a chore is now a quick and easy job. Colour Stickers can also be stuck onto shoes, bags, DVDs, iPods and other equipment. They are dishwasher, microwave and steriliser proof.”

I’ve been testing them for four weeks now on water bottles and clothing that has had four washes so far (including an item of clothing I stuck a label on then put straight in the wash which is not what they recommend). My verdict is all the labels have stayed put so far and do not look worn. My daughters actually enjoyed labeling their own clothes, which has a great help! A friend who works in an elderly care home saw out stickers and is going to tell her employer about them as they are so easy to use and would really help in that setting.

Would you like to win your own personalised set of my nametags? simply enter the Rafflecopter giveaway below.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Betty and Cat – Hennie’s Multilingual writing adventures

This week I have a real treat in store for you. An interview with the amazing Hennie, author of the Betty and Cat books.

Could you tell us a little about yourself?
I was born in Holland, immigrated to Montreal, then lived in Toronto, moved back to Holland when I had a mid-life crisis, and now spend my time between Holland and France.

How many languages do you speak?
I speak Dutch, French, and English. I studied German, but for some reason, the words won’t come out of my mouth properly! My current thing is learning Spanish.

Have you always been keen on languages?
I’ve always been keen on communicating, and sometimes it takes another language. At home, languages were always a thing – my dad was keen – he spoke four and started learning Spanish at an advanced age. He also thought Esperanto was the way forward and learned that.
Living in Montreal at a time when the English were in power, we were the only family I knew that had Francophone friends. We were different, they were different, and the people we lived among (the Anglophones) must have thought that we were different. Somehow, that ended up making us more tolerant, and I think more interesting in the long run.

Could you tell us a little about your language learning journey as a child,
Learning English (there were three of us kids; my parents already spoke school-English when we immigrated) was always fun at home. We shared stories, we showed off, we were shown off (I remember my dad having me recite Humpty Dumpty into a tape recorder for the folks back in Holland). It was never considered a chore, hard, un-fun, or extraordinary.
New year’s day we had Dutch friends for lunch and ended the day with French friends. My husband is American. So: we started the day in English, nattered in Dutch over lunch, spoke French all evening, and then went home talking English. There are millions of people all over the word who live like this, and were probably never taught to make a big deal of it. It just happens.

Could you tell us a little about your career background?
I was a copywriter all my working life. My greatest joy was writing a two-part children’s story for the newspapers around the Santa Claus Parade, sponsored by the department store I was working for. I even got a fan letter.
What inspired you to write and publish your books?
A friend here in France, an illustrator who has grandchildren growing up bilingually in Brussels, asked me if we couldn’t collaborate on a bilingual kids’ book. She ended up being too busy to illustrate it – but I caught the bug, and did it. Not for a second, though, did I consider a translated book – the Betty & Cat books just flopped out in two languages.

Anything else you’d wish to add?
There are so many people around the globe working with kids – and adults – teaching second, third and more languages it gives you hope for the future. Tout comprendre c’est tout pardonner. And one way to truly understand is to learn the language.

Find out more about Hennie’s amazing books at bettyandcat.com

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