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Reflections on bilingualism with Viking Top Business Mum and Mumpreneur, Cheryl Sanchez
A bonus to participating in the 2014 Language Show is my opportunity to meet founder and owner of The Bilingual Bookshop, Cheryl Sanchez. The Viking top 100 business mum and national Mumpreneur Award finalist currently resides in Oxford with her Spanish husband and children of 3½ years and 11 months. At a café in Olympia, I ask her about how her business venture began.
Cheryl met her husband during her years in higher education in the UK. They continued to work respectively in their own fields: Cheryl as a primary school teacher and her husband as a research scientist. On returning to the UK, Cheryl continued teaching at the Europa School.
When Cheryl had her own children, she proceeded to enroll them in a bilingual immersion programme as a matter of course. That part, she discovered, was relatively easy compared to the whole process of finding books abroad, stuffing them into a suitcase and hauling them back to Oxford.
An entrepreneur in the making, however, Cheryl saw the challenge as an opportunity. No sooner had she set up a community blog with an online forum for bilingual families than was she helping families acquire foreign language books. By responding to a real demand, Cheryl was laying the grounds for the creation of an innovative online bookstore.
We take a step back to discuss how supplies for the developing bilingual are still difficult to obtain, and agree that the old misconception about bilingual aptitude is the likely culprit. The myth about how bilinguals cannot process one language without the other intruding dies hard but Cheryl points out the mounting evidence of the many cognitive advantages of bilinguals, such as the ability to adapt to new situations and learn faster than their monolingual counterparts. In an article on 14 October, 2014, BBC's Educational reporter, Judith Burns reported on a study by Anglia Ruskin University's Dr. Roberto Fillippi of bilingual children who were found to be better able to screen out noise in the classroom than their monolingual peers.
Moreover, the government now backs the view that foreign-language learning is not only important but also necessary. Since September of 2014 this year, every seven-year old is required to learn a foreign-language at school, demonstrating the growing recognition of the cognitive, social, and affective advantages of bilingualism.
The Bilingual Bookshop sources everything from games, atlases and picture dictionaries to fiction. The online bookshop also prioritise native authors from reputable publishers.
Avenue des Ecoles readers are entitled to a special discount before the end of the year by using the discount code AVENUEDESECOLES on checkout to purchase books at www.bilingualbookshop.com.
1 December 2014