SPEAK Valencia is a dream come true
Bringing SPEAK to Valencia is a dream come true. SPEAK gives everyone the chance to learn another language and about a new culture. People learn from each other in an energetic and engaging way. It’s a transformational journey that I can’t wait to bring to my adopted home town.
My linguistic journey in Spain
I’ve taught English in Spain since 2012. I’m a self confessed EFL (English as a foreign language) geek who has long since learnt that people make a lot more progress when they feel confident and understood. I’ve taught such inspiring people; from five year olds to seventy five year olds. Despite their diverse backgrounds they have a lot in common: their passion to learn and their fear about doing it. Fear is a huge barrier to learning.
I have experienced that same fear while learning Spain (I’m still learning!!) It was, until very recently, quite painful to learn Spanish. I was almost terrified of being wrong, of making mistakes. What if everyone laughed at me? What if no one had a clue what I was saying? I’ve managed to break through that crippling fear (but I have lost a lot of time and hair in the process!) and it’s truly the most liberating thing ever! Mistakes are an opportunity to learn. My best teachers have been my running team mates, the people who work in the local supermarket. It’s both humbling and inspiring how ordinary people are willing to help you on your learning journey. That help seems to come from such a genuine place.
Learning the language and culture
Being in Spain and learning about this great country’s rich culture and fascinating past definitely helps. But I also know that you don’t have to be in the country context to get that. With a few props and a lot of imagination, you can re create any country, anywhere at any time.
My favourite part of learning Spanish is when I learn an idiom or phrase that really belongs to the people, that people really use, that doesn’t really have a translation in English. It makes me feel like a local. As if the warmth and openness of Valencians hadn’t already (it is really infectious!)
When we aren’t afraid, when we’re open to learning not only words and grammar, but also culture and difference, learning is a true joy! Being a good teacher means you need to learn how to be a good student too – and I finally think I’ve cracked that. Empathising with and learning how to break through the fear factor was such a huge part of that for me.
SPEAK, already a huge success in Portugal and other parts of Spain, gives people the confidence and understanding they crave. What’s more, people have fun in the process! Valencia will be even more wonderful – if that’s possible – once SPEAK lives here too.