working with languages

In the second part of our series of blogs from Luisa Kearney – CEO of Best Online Translator and Associate Member of the ITI – Luisa shares her view that there are endless opportunities when it comes to working with languages.


“In the beginning of my life in Bulgaria, the thought of practicing my language skills was frightening and although I was able to understand and translate Bulgarian into English, I was very shy when it came to speaking the language to native Bulgarians. This is because it was new to me and it felt uncomfortable because I had never in my life spoken to anybody in a language that was their native language but not my own. Gradually, I became more confident at speaking. However, making friends was difficult for me because despite being able to communicate with people, finding people to communicate with in the rural area where I was living at the time was difficult. There were people that I could speak to but not as many as there were in a busier area.


After living in Bulgaria for just a couple of months, through some of the people I had met in the village where I lived at the time, I was offered the chance to do some conversational classes in English at an English language school in one of the nearby towns. I accepted the offer immediately and would do classes of between 3 and 6 hours per week. I had just turned 16 years old at the time and was incredibly pleased that, despite the fact I had no qualifications in teaching English as a second language or any previous experience in teaching English, I was getting paid reasonable money to simply talk and ask questions to different classes of English students of a similar age to me (or younger). I never stopped practicing and perfecting my Bulgarian language and would use my skills on frequent translation projects that I was given by fellow expats in the area and by people who wanted a native English speaker to translate a Bulgarian text in to English for them. I also did some part-time interpreting work too, but at the same time I loved working at the English school as well.


By the end of my first year in Bulgaria and almost a year after I had originally started working as an English language teacher, I trained on the job and took a TEFL course. I started working more hours as an ESL teacher. Due to the fact that British English is my native language, I was given many exciting new opportunities, such as:


  • Getting involved in ‘Baby English’ classes where a colleague and I played with babies of around 8 months old whilst constantly speaking in English to them in the hope that they would begin to grasp English in the same way that they were starting to learn their native language – Bulgarian.
  • I recorded part of a radio advertisement (on Bulgarian radio) for the English school that I worked at, advertising that I was a native English speaker working at the school, something of which is important to foreign language learners.
  • Whilst working at the same school I was given permission by my boss to set up a regular Saturday morning club called ‘Only in English’ where children would come and take part in creative activities , such as drama which was a new topic for Bulgarian schools, whilst only speaking and practicing their English. Before each session I would learn a simple, new and fun activity that I could share with the children, such as face painting, role play, origami, dance and much more. The club was a huge hit and enabled the children to learn and develop a richer vocabulary of English in a more enjoyable way.
  • I also recorded audio materials for an online distance learning English course and edited the written materials for the course too.

Many of these opportunities were a result of me being a native English speaker but the fact that I spoke Bulgarian as well, differentiated me from a lot of the other non-Bulgarian people who lived in the area”
Luisa Kearney is CEO of Best Online Translator