Stephen in Seville (in Spanish)

Learning Spanish can be fun and very enjoyable if you try to mix with local people. It will enhance your holiday to any Spanish speaking part of the world. Stephen is one of my students (Braulio Ramos). He has been studying Spanish for a little less than a year. He visited Seville with his wife and met Joaquin (first video). Joaquin showed them Seville and took them to places the tourists never see, including a flamenco show for local people. Stephen and his wife enjoyed it so much, they returned to Seville and Stephen interviewed Joaquin in Spanish.   Video of Stephen’s first visit to Spain, after just a few lessons.   Second visit, interviewing Joaquin in...

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Private tuition supplements learning Spanish at school

Adverts on television, in newspapers and magazines promote the idea that we can all learn to speak a language in a couple of weeks, whilst driving the car and that it can be an easy process. It’s a seductive sell to busy people who maybe didn’t have the chance to learn Spanish at school but want to be fluent in Spanish whilst on holiday, but let’s be honest here, the reality is rather different. Language teaching in the UK, generally speaking, has been and continues to be relatively poor compared with many of our European counterparts. Obviously there are pockets of good teaching in the country, but without a culture of speaking other languages being widespread, general expectations of speaking another language are focused on the ordering of food and drink when on holiday. Maybe because of wider travel experiences there is a broader desire, especially amongst a new generation, to learn languages and unfortunately for this generation they are being sold short by the education system. Going beyond the niceties of saying “dos cervezas por favor”, requires some attention to detail and understanding of grammar, structure, proper pronunciation, precise use of accents and understanding of context to engage with native speakers meaningfully. Teaching courses with external examinations, like at school, that demand a certain level demonstrating particular standards have been reached require the teaching to be up to the mark. Private tuition, ideally by native speaking linguists who understand the teaching process, that supplements the group teaching at school can really turn around the performance of bright students wanting to go beyond the average. The joy of communicating with a different culture and the understanding that, though other peoples do things different, this is not necessarily wrong, and in some cases the new culture may lead to new and very joyful experiences and open the mind on an individual offering him or her a better and wider objective view of matters, seeing both sides of the coin as it were. There are people who take languages seriously, who appreciate the value of a new language, not just for holidays and would benefit from private Spanish tuition. Lydia is such a person, she has studied Spanish for a number of years, she is a very good language student and lately I have had, and at present continue to have, the pleasure of tutoring her in Spanish. She works hard...

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A relaxing holiday in Argentina

 Estancia Los Potreros in Argentina provides a relaxing holiday Contributed by Maria Fifield one of my tuition students   I had never been to Argentina before, or even South America and had no idea what to expect.  We flew from London to Buenos Aires and stopped off to admire the colourful tango dancers and see the main tourist attractions such as Eva Peron’s grave.  We then had a short hop from Buenos Aires to Cordoba, which is set in the wonderful Sierras Chicas, the oldest mountain range in South America. Once we arrived at the Estancia it was a 20 minute drive to be greeted with homemade lemonade and big smiles. The accommodation is comfortable, and rustic with log burning stoves in each room to guard against the chill of the winter evenings.  We stayed in the honeymoon cottage which is a separate self contained building a little away from the main accommodation.  The lunches and dinners are sumptuous affairs.  On our first day some of the other guests had just returned from a morning horse ride in time to freshen up before lunch, we watched as they brought the horses in which were then hosed down by the Gauchos with water.  All the bread is baked on the premises, and often there was a selection of different herbs in them, from the herb garden behind the kitchen. After lunch for those who are not ready for a siesta there is a choice of activities, riding, swimming, bird watching and relaxing on a hammock in the sun.  Dinner is another delight and sometimes there will be a wine tasting before hand where Malbec can be sampled.  On another evening we had a live musician who played the guitar and sang, which was lovely. One of the highlights for us was the Gaucho games.  The Gauchos are the South American version of the North American cowboy, very highly skilled with horses and cattle.  When Argentina hosted the Olympic games they had the Gaucho as a symbol of their national pride.  There are games which are traditional to the Gaucho, rather than Polo which everyone associates with Argentina, which consist of galloping along at top speed and trying to thread small object through a tiny hoop on the way!  The horse riding guests all had a chance to play the games and it resulted in much hilarity. The Estancia does have...

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