Natalia, born in the UK but with Spanish heritage, is the mastermind behind Bilingo Books, a publishing company that publishes bilingual books in Spanish and English for kids with a unique mission: inspire children to embrace a second language.
Her roots in Spain run deep, as every summer holiday she escaped to a village in Spain to spend quality time with her Spanish family.
Today she pops by Spain like a local to answer 10 preguntas.
10 Preguntas with Natalia Simons, author of bilingual books in Spanish and English for kids
1. What is your favorite place in Spain and why is it so special to you?
2. What is the biggest culture shock you experience when you are in Spain?
Biggest culture shock is that they have their dinner at 10pm every night, well my family do when they’re in the summer in the village.
The older I get, the worse it is as I struggle to sleep straight away as I’m so full up and sluggish. So I usually have to have my dinner around 8 which I only get teased by my friends.
3. How did you end up writing bilingual books in Spanish and English for kids? Was it what you wanted or had planned to do?
Growing up bilingual, I knew from a young age that I wanted to write books to help kids be proud of their dual heritage, as there weren’t any books like these growing up.
During the pandemic, I was made redundant so I knew it was the perfect time to publish my first book “The Spanglish Girl / La chica espanglish”, which was based on my summer holidays in Spain.
The first book was the catalyst to writing more books and opening my independent publishing company Bilingo Books. It has been an amazing journey as I’ve been able to inspire kids around the globe that speaking a second language is in fact cool!
4. What is your favorite restaurant in Spain? Where is it?
My favourite restaurant in Spain is “el pimpi”, in Malaga.
I love everything about it; the food, the entertainment and the style. It’s a very typical Andalusian restaurant, when you walk in there are photos of famous people hanging up who have visited the restaurant. Fun fact, Antonio Banderas is a partner of the restaurant.
5. What piece of advice would you give to someone who wants to learn Spanish?
Try and practice a little bit each day, start watching netflix in Spanish and if you can, make friends with Spanish people where you live so you can speak the language with them.
6. What do you miss the most when you are not in Spain?
My family, the food, the weather and festivities.
7. How does a perfect day in Spain looks like for you?
In my mum’s village, I wake up, have breakfast and help my grandmother and aunties: I collect bread from the village plaza, water from the village fountain…
Then a three course meal lunch with my family that can last more than 2 hours, as we do enjoy having ‘Sobremesa’, follow, of course, by a siesta.
At 6 I have a merienda, which is usually a chorizo sandwich, and then go and find my friends. We go for a walk around the village and end up at the bar for a few hours to hang out with the locals before heading back home at 10pm for dinner.
The day might not sound like much, but it’s perfect for me.
8. What do you find most challenging, or what do you dislike most about Spain?
Most challenging is when I first get there, my Spanish is a little rusty so it takes me a few days to get back into the swing of things. Also, the last few years have been particularly hot in Spain due to the heatwaves, so that was tough to adjust to!
9. When or where do you feel more “like a local” in Spain?
I feel most like a local in my mums quaint village. During the summer, they have festivities as it’s the one time of year where you get to see all your family and friends in one place.
You would never see a village quite like it in the UK, as it’s so unique.
10. Do you have a project you want to share with Spain Like a Local’s followers?
I am publishing more bilingual books, if you want to find out more on what I get up to, you can follow me on Instagram at BilingoBooks.
Thanks to Natalia for telling us a little about her bilingual books in Spanish and English for kids.
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