“Gibst mir dein Händchen”. I suspect this is the first phrase I learnt in another language, taught to me by my grandfather, an officer in the RAF who spent parts of his career in Germany. In fact, we always used the German ‘Oma’ and ‘Opa’ to refer to our grandparents, although this was not motivated by a desire to encourage a love of languages in us grandkids, but more because the English ‘Grandma’ and ‘Grandpa’ made them feel too old. The German version was abstract enough to keep their youthful aspirations alive.
Regular family trips to France also helped inspire a love of languages. My brother and I would be sent to the local boulangerie each morning to get the warm, fresh croissants and a baguette. And my parents would encourage us to practise our (very limited) French at every opportunity, most likely because it got them off the hook of having to speak it themselves. My enjoyment of learning languages continued through school, where I was fortunate to have the opportunity to study French, Italian and German, and on to university where I read French and Italian at the University of Birmingham. I managed to pick up enough Spanish to help me travel around South and Central America, although I seemed to have forgotten it as quickly as I acquired it. I come to the Creative Multilingualism programme from Oxford University Press where I worked in the dictionaries department.