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Bangkok Faces: Thitima Srivatanakul, Co-Founder of Polyglot Learning Club

Your Name: Thitima Srivatanakul

Job Title: Co-Founder of Polyglot Learning Club

What is your nationality and background?

I am Thai. I was born in Thailand. I spent my childhood in many countries where I got exposed to different educational systems and culture. This opportunity has put me in situations where I acquired my second language naturally and met people of other cultures. I received my Ph.D. degree in Computer Science from the University of York in England. I am also a mother of two children and my children have been raised in a multilingual family.

What is your profession? 

I am an entrepreneur, consultant and researcher. I am a co-founder of Polyglot Learning Club, a unique language school that offers full immersion multi-language programs. I also work as a lecturer, teaching college students at various universities, for example, Mahidol University, Sukhothai Thammathirat Open University and New York University, USA.

What are the key skills and responsibilities of this role?

One thing that has always fascinates me is the language learning ability of children. Unlike adults, children don’t have the same inhibitions when it comes to practicing their language skills. They are not afraid of speaking and making mistakes. My role as a co-founder and as a lead developer of the curriculum, is to ensure that Polyglot Learning Club continuously provides the best language learning approach for young kids. Over five years of experience and study on bilingualism, I contributed to our learning programs the core learning concepts of the second language acquisition. Children best acquire the language naturally via meaningful interaction and communication. That is why the design of all the learning materials and methods are the key success to effective second language acquisition here at our school.

How did you get involved in your profession? 

It all started with passion and what I want best for my children. I started to study about second language acquisition and apply the approach with my children. Since then I have become more and more interested in this way to language learning especially for young children.

 How does your role enhance the wellbeing or experience of children?

I would like to provide more choices for parents when it comes to language learning for young children. I truly believe that young children will naturally acquire the language better when they are exposed to a new language in a low anxiety environment. They should not get pressure from the learning process. Learning should be fun and enjoyable for them.

What challenges do your face in this role?

Although our approach resembles natural ways to language learning, similar to how we acquire our first language, still many has some doubts about it. Many parents have set a specific timeframe as to when their children should be able to ‘speak’ the language. This is a challenge for me.

We teach the children to understand words, rather than simply to memorize them. Children acquire languages in stages, and different children reach the various stages at different time. The order in which these stages are reached, however, is virtually always the same. My role here is to communicate and provide constant feedback to them.

What do you hope to achieve within your industry?

Learning a foreign language offers various opportunities to the children. It opens the door to other cultures and helps children appreciate people from all around the world. What I hope is for children to have access to high quality learning resources and be able to learn another language effortlessly. That is what we are trying to achieve.

Who or what inspires you? 

My children has made my life fuller and richer than otherwise it would have been. Seeing their special talents reminded me of my own passions and showed me what I could possibly overcome. My daughter’s multilingualism has inspired me to delve into a study of the second language acquisition and has turned my interest into one of my professions.

Only a Bangkok local would know…

It’s good to know that ‘not spicy’ (mai ped) and ‘no chili’ (mai prik) are not equivalent.

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