Lief is Belgian (and now also British); she grew up in Antwerp. From an early age she has had a passion for words and for the music and rhythm of language. She describes living in a country with three official languages and hundreds of local dialects like: ‘Being submerged in a language bath on a daily basis. I loved listening to people on the tram starting off a sentence in Hebrew, continuing in Jiddish, adding some French for emphasis and finishing off with an Antwerp proverb.’ With a father who taught himself English because he was obsessed with the characters of Charles Dickens, and a mother who loved listening to Jaques Brel, even though she didn’t speak French, Lief was bound to become a citizen of the world. She studied Philosophy at University of Ghent and then Drama at the Muziekconservatorium in Ghent before a Diploma with special honours qualifying as a secondary teacher of Dutch, English and Ethics. She went on to earn a certificate in Spanish in Antwerp, followed by a Post-Graduate Degree in Dutch as a Foreign Language at University of Antwerp.
In 1994 she traded Antwerp for London to marry an Englishman. Initially she taught French in a state school by day, Dutch at adult education centres in the evenings. After a while she began to do more independent work, providing translations and voice overs and teaching Dutch privately to international bankers, lawyers and traders. In 1997 she started to work at an IB World School.
‘I was approached by the International School of London, a place buzzing with languages and cultures, a private school with a real interest in promoting learning through critical thinking. I started working there and felt immediately at home. Throughout the years I was able to teach Dutch within the PYP, MYP and IB programme, but also drama, intensive English and media studies.’ In 2000 she started a drama studio there, offering an after-school club for which she wrote and directed many plays. During this time, Lief also continued to work as a lecturer in Dutch for higher education institutes in London (City Lit, UCL, University of Westminster), and to serve as an examiner for various UK and Dutch boards. She now lives in Cornwall where she concentrates on her writing (Lief is a published author) and continues to teach. She offers private language tuition (Dutch and French), including teaching Dutch A-level or IB Language A remotely.
We are pleased to have Lief as part of our team to serve Dutch language students of all levels.