Spanish language lessons are still creeping up on French and German as the most wanted amongst UK language learners. A fact that hasn’t gone unnoticed by Miryam, who teaches Catalan and Spanish to many of our amazing students.
She recently found time to join us for the latest edition of In The Staffroom, getting you up close and personal with the team members that make the school a special place.
Miryam is always a bundle of energy. (Our Spanish language students who have shared a classroom with her can testify to this.)
She happily shared some wonderful stories with us, about teaching languages to refugees and pilots, navigating the pandemic away from home, and her ongoing passion for the Spanish language.
We hope you enjoy our chat with Miryam as much as we did.
Q. Tell us about your childhood memories of growing up in Spain?
A. Spain is a paradise island. I was so lucky to be born and raised there.
It’s known as “La Mancha”, Don Quixote’s land, where the legendary Cervantes character had all his adventures. He even fought against windmill-shaped giants in his attempt to win the heart of his beloved Dulcinea.
I spent my childhood surrounded by olive fields and helping my family in their grapevines.
I can still clearly recall spending the warm days and nights with my friends outside, riding our bikes and swimming. The weather was always in our favour.
It was idyllic. But, as I grew up, there was a part of me that needed to discover new places. I felt the urge to get out of my comfort zone. I wanted the challenge of different cultures, languages and lifestyles.
Besides wanting to make my mark on life, there was also a seismic economic crisis. 47% of the younger generation was unemployed, (but let’s not kill the magic!).
Q. We know you love going back to Spain as often as you can. How’s the past year been, not being able visit home due to travel restrictions?
A. It’s always been great to go back and spend some time with my family. But this last year has been different inevitably.
Covid-19 brought confusion, drastic changes to daily routines, reclusion and losses in many aspects of life. Living in a foreign country, you find yourself not only stuck at home, but also isolated from your family and your roots.
It’s been a year and five months since I was last in Spain and saw my family. The situation is improving now thankfully. My plans to go to my cousin’s wedding in October will come true, ¡crucemos los dedos (fingers crossed).
Q. How different do you find English and Spanish culture?
A. I love EVERYTHING about the Spanish culture. Our cuisine, (when I say ‘our’ I mean my Grandma´s). The weather. The amazing landscapes.
And the people… Spaniards are open-minded and always happy to chat, to ask how your day is going. Conversation happens naturally, even with people you don’t know.
I still remember the first time I tried having a conversation with somebody on the bus here in the UK. He was clearly horrified and thinking to himself, “Why is this girl with a strange foreign accent asking how my day is going, what does she want from me?”.
So, tip #1 in the UK, just communicate with “Sorry” or “Are you alright?” without expecting an answer.
Q. Back to the Spanish language. You’re teaching it now. What other ways has it impacted your life?
A. I was awarded an Erasmus Scholarship at University back in Spain. It gave me the opportunity to finish my degree in Modern Languages Philology at the University of Vaasa in Finland.
When I was there, I learnt about innovations happening in education. The experience encouraged me to finish my studies with a Postgraduate degree in Applied Linguistics and Teaching Spanish as a Foreign Language in Spain.
I have extensive experience in English and Spanish language teaching, and a genuine passion for helping other people enrich their lives with languages.
A career highlight so far was being involved in a volunteer programme teaching literacy to refugees for Fundación CEPAIM. It’s a Spanish organisation that supports migrants and asylum seekers. I feel very fortunate I could provide students with the skills they needed to make a profound change in their lives.
My last job in Spain was English and Spanish language teaching for the Superior Aviation School, teaching pilots until the end of September 2019.
After moving to the UK, I started working at La Academia. I teach the Spanish language in primary schools and nurseries, as well as to mixed-ability groups and individuals.
Q. You’re such a whirlwind. Do you manage to get any time to yourself that doesn’t revolve around the Spanish language?
A. This probably sounds a bit nerdy. But I’m completing a postgraduate degree in Forensic Linguistics just for the love of it. It really amazes me how communication can change everything. More precisely, in criminal investigations, the expertise of a linguist can make all the difference.
Apart from that, I’m a normal 26-year-old. I love hanging out with my friends, travelling, playing the trumpet, taking care of my little kitten, trying English craft IPAs and training in the gym.
Has our chat with Miryam about the Spanish language and Spain sparked your interest in returning to the classroom?
If so, there’s yet another of our 6-week Spanish language for beginners courses starting on Thursday 17th June at 7.00-9.00pm.
Back by popular demand, it’s just £85.00 to join remotely on Zoom. Or £120.00 for in-classroom learning at La Academia.
There are just a few places left. Get in touch to secure yours now so you can experience the joy of the Spanish language for yourself.