My first language was Polish. My Polish parents met in a convalescent home in Brighton, having been invalided out of the Polish Navy during the Second World War. Being bilingual in my early years probably predisposed me to enjoying learning other languages. After graduating in French and Spanish at Southampton University I went on to study German and Italian at evening classes. I love being able to communicate with people in their own language when I travel.
Travel is indeed one of my passions. I have been to forty countries so far, often visiting different cities on repeat visits. My ambition is to visit at least one country per alphabet letter – only J, K, O, Q, V, X, Y and Z to go – but I’m going to have trouble getting to Xanadu.
I have lived in France since 2015 and being on the mainland of Europe makes travel to many European countries much more accessible. Renovating a 200 year old farmhouse with a lot of land entailed my learning a whole new vocabulary, the first word in my new lexicon being ‘une tronçonneuse’ (chainsaw). This is understandably not a word I ever needed to teach any of my students in over 20 years of teaching!
I worked in banking after graduating and only began my teaching career after the birth of my second child when I started to teach evening classes at a Further Education College. It was an education in itself to be on the other side of the desk for a change! I discovered that I much preferred life in the classroom to commuting to the City and felt I’d belatedly found my true vocation. When my younger child started school I swapped to teaching daytime classes and eventually joined the staff at my son’s school but only – to our mutual relief – after he had left!
In between working at the FE College and then at my son’s school I took a year out to qualify as a Fitness Instructor. Being passionate about exercise I was keen to learn more about the science behind it and gained City and Guilds Diplomas in Anatomy & Physiology, Exercise to Music, Circuit Training and Personal Training. My least favourite element was Exercise to Music – not because I dislike music but because I have so-called ‘directional dyslexia’. This led to some embarrassing moments of confusion when I verbally instructed attendees to ‘grapevine right’ whilst giving vigorous hand-signals to the left. I returned to language teaching soon after…
Finally, having very much enjoyed the creative process behind writing my ‘Luc et Sophie’ books for Brilliant Publications, I am turning my hand to writing adult fiction. I write whenever I get a spare moment from working on my house or in my garden and usually get a lot done on the long car journeys from France to visit family in England. I hasten to add that it’s my husband doing the driving and I’m a very quiet passenger! Watch this space for the next big psychological thriller!
More about Barbara
Barbara Scanes has 12 years of experience teaching French to 4–13 year olds, and prior to this was a secondary French teacher.
She gained a huge insight into what children enjoy when learning a foreign language and has put this knowledge and expertise into play in writing ʻLuc et Sophieʼ.