Find the Perfect British Governess: English Governesses for all your Childcare Needs
A case study account of hiring an English governess from our client Elena
My son Sergey recently turned 8 years old and he is fluent in English and French. An English governess helped us achieve such results. I would like to tell the story of how I came to hire an English governess for my son; a full account of our personal experience and our results after 2 years. I hope it will be useful to those thinking about the education of their children from an early age.
Looking back, I realise that we could have made better decisions in the learning process. The original path we took in learning languages turned out to be more difficult and longer than it could have been.
Truthfully, at first I didn’t even consider the fact that my son would need to be fluent in foreign languages. I simply knew that English has always been an important point in education, because in modern society, communication in English has become the norm. I also thought about helping Sergey achieve good school grades and with all this in mind, I decided that my son should perhaps study English for a year or two, with a view to perhaps adding some French lessons for him at a later date.
First attempts at learning English
As a result, when Sergey was 2 years old and had already begun to talk a little in his native Russian, I began to look for options for teaching English. Every mother in Moscow knows what a rich choice of private kindergartens exists, a wide range of locations where children begin to learn English from scratch. I decided that English lessons in an English private kids’ club would be enough for us to get started. I began taking Sergey to English lessons 3 times a week. I also asked our Russian nanny to study English with my son at home, in addition to lessons, in a playful way. They studied English words from cards and pictures, learning the simplest songs and rhymes. By the age of three, my son had some basic English vocabulary, but he was still unable to speak simple phrases without prompting.
I decided that more intensive study of the language and the language environment would help Sergey to ‘step up’ and start speaking English.
I next chose an English kindergarten for my son, where for half a day the children communicated only in English. The groups were mixed: Russian and foreign children. But my son communicated more often with his Russian classmates, which did not contribute to complete immersion in the language environment. There were many interactive activities in the kindergarten, where children prepared performances for their parents in English, but it seemed they were reciting rather than understanding. After a year, I saw some small progress: my son had increased his vocabulary, and now knew children’s English songs, rhymes. However, I did not notice great results in my son’s colloquial speech despite the fact that the groups in the kindergarten were very small, and the teachers were native speakers.
When we met with our English-speaking friends and their children, my son told me that he did not understand their speech. When the rest of the children played, he was embarrassed that he did not understand most of the conversation. Later, at home, Sergey admitted that he did not like to communicate in English. But I understood that this was only because of the discomfort caused by the lack of knowledge and practice.
At this stage, Sergey had been going to an English kindergarten for two years. His English proficiency was still at a fairly basic level. I decided that our problem was due to his young age (5 years old).
Once on holiday in the UK we met up with our friends, a Russian family with two children of about the same age. And to my surprise, both children were fluent in English. I was amazed at how the children were absolutely free to maintain a dialogue with English-speaking people. But they were only 6 and 8 years old! It turned out that a year and a half ago, an English governess had begun working in the family of my acquaintances. She spent the whole day with the children and spoke exclusively in English. The results that I was seeing was the effect of one and a half years of living with a governess.
My friend advised me to hire a governess through an agency and that she used the services of the Elite Educational Development (EED), whose specialisation is the selection of nannies, governesses, teachers from England and other countries. Seeing these results, I hastened to call the agency, and during a consultation with the manager, I described our goals and plans in learning languages – to have Sergey speak like an English child, as our friends’ children did.
The EED candidate manager suggested taking on a bilingual governess, who spoke English and French. Since children quite easily master the study of two or more languages at once with the right approach, she advised in the first year to put a little more emphasis on English. The consultant assured that with the daily communication of the child in foreign languages, even two, the process would be noticeable within 3 months.
I was soon offered a selection of CVs for candidates to choose from, from which I chose the English governess Stephanie. During the trial days, it became clear that she found a common language with my child and she quickly won the trust of my son.
Getting to know our governess
My son was 6 years old when we hired our governess, Stephanie. We continued to go to an English kindergarten. Sergey’s daily routine was approximately the following: Sergey got up at 8 in the morning, had breakfast, and I took him to kindergarten. After sleeping and having an afternoon snack in the garden, our governess spent time with our son, since the main classes in kindergarten were held in the morning. They were together until 10pm, speaking in English and French and finishing with a bedtime story before Stephanie went home to her apartment nearby.
During the day, Stephanie played a variety of language games with Sergey, read books to him, told him stories that broadened his horizons. She accompanied him during his extra-curricular developmental and sports activities. Our governess accompanied my son to football at the British Football Club, chess, gymnastics. They also visited museums together, walked in parks and went to the cinema. Of course, all films in cinemas were watched only in English. After the session, Sergey and Stephanie discussed whether they liked the film, retelling interesting and funny moments to one other.
After a few weeks, I began to notice that Sergey was beginning to speak English to Stephanie in whole phrases. He did not slowly, ponderously, think about choosing the right words or their sequence in interrogative / affirmative sentences.
It also became apparent that in his speech Sergey was starting to introduce words and expressions that the English use. Not the phrases and words taught in schools and courses, but new phrases, idioms and synonyms. It is by such phrases that one can judge how fluent a person is in the language.
That winter, our family planned to go to the UK for a month and we invited Stephanie to accompany us on the trip. Stephanie became a very close person for us while we were away, and I could freely let her go for a walk with Sergey around the city.
Stephanie suggested to Sergey how best to start or start a friendly conversation with children, encouraged him to start conversation with adults, taught him etiquette and good manners. By the end of our trip, Sergey was confident in a wide variety of situations, even in an unfamiliar country.
Our English governess and school
When Sergey was 7 years old he began to attend school. Stephanie governess began to spend more time with Sergey, starting at 13:00 in the afternoon. She met him from school and they returned home together, had lunch, attended additional activities (football, swimming, chess), and then returned home for homework. In disciplines such as mathematics, the world around us (geography), foreign languages - Stephanie helped with homework and projects. Sergey worked on his Russian language work himself, and even performed some literature aloud for our Stephanie (they had a game, as if he were helping her by teaching Russian language, explaining in English or French the meanings of words, brief retellings of stories). Sergey also tried to explain proverbs and sayings to Stephanie over dinner, which was a very fun activity for the whole family.
English and French: ‘best in class’
At school, Sergey was now studying English and French. Needless to say, in these disciplines he was at the top of his class. The only students able to compete, at a similar level of language proficiency, were several other children who had foreign nannies and tutors at home.
French was also easy for my son. He often told me that English and French are very similar, just the words and pronunciation are slightly different, and the principle of constructing sentences is similar.
It has now been two years since our governess Stephanie started working in our family. To sum up the intermediate results of our successes, I can say with confidence that we would not have been able to achieve such amazing results without our wonderful governess, who became part of our family.
Components of success
I believe that the following components lead to Sergey’s successful foreign language learning:
Native Speaker Interaction: Regular communication with native speakers is crucial for correct pronunciation. Real-life conversations, rather than memorized phrases, are essential.
Practice and Live Communication: It is important to maximize the amount of time spent engaging with native speakers each day. Only through consistent immersion can language barriers dissolve and speech become lively and natural. No amount of lessons or additional classes can substitute for immersive exposure to native speakers.
Hiring a Highly Qualified Governess or Nanny: Seek professionals with a strong pedagogical background, graduates from reputable institutes worldwide, and experience working in VIP-profile families. Our governess Stephanie possessed all the necessary knowledge and skills, tailoring the educational process specifically to my son by considering his developmental stage and information perception. It is not enough to simply find a native speaker, who may make mistakes in their own language and have difficulty imparting the nuances of their language. Candidates should also ideally have experience working in a family, which can be very different to working in a school.
At the time of writing, Sergey is fluent in English and approaching fluency in French. He effortlessly comprehends English and French speech, irrespective of the speaker’s accent (English, American, etc.), engages in conversations with ease, and is now learning to write in these languages. Most importantly, he genuinely enjoys speaking English and French. We are seriously considering introducing Chinese into his language repertoire, as starting early will make it easier for him to master the language fluently. One day I’m sure Sergey will travel, learn, and study abroad, and I am happy to be able to help provide this for him.