Huan ying!
Meet the la Academia Team

La Academia is a family-run language service set up in 2003. The highly qualified team can deliver engaging courses in any language from across the world, whether it’s French or Finnish, Polish or Portuguese, Arabic or Japanese. We also offer tuition for children for entrance exams and for a range of subjects at all levels, including Maths and English.

Some of our teachers have longer profiles, and there are links to these in the text below.

Ruben Cnobel

Ruben from la AcademiaRuben is a fully qualified language specialist, who has spent 12 years as a teacher in Argentina and eight years teaching Spanish in the UK. He has also worked in a number of primary schools in the last six years.

He is an experienced examination moderator for OCR – one of the largest examination boards in the UK.


Andrea Nicholls

Andrea from la AcademiaOriginally from Argentina, Andrea is a highly respected Spanish teacher, translator and interpreter and has worked on a large number of high-profile cases for the police and HM Courts in the UK, as well as at the G8 Summit in 2013.

Andrea has worked in the languages sector since 1987 and has taught Spanish in a number of primary schools in the last eight years.


Valentina Rodríguez Sánchez

My name is Valentina and I am a graduate primary teacher who specialised in language teaching and learning. I am Spanish, from the South of Spain.

I have been working as a Spanish language assistant for two years in a primary school in Blackpool. At this town I also taught adults, GCSE and after school clubs.

In my opinion, acquiring a second language is more than just learning a language; it is experiencing another way of looking at the world, discovering its culture and values by means of the ability of communicate with people from different cultures and countries.

Eulália Gumbley
Olá! My name is Eulália and I am from Porto, Portugal. I have a degree in Modern Languages and Literature and a pgcert in Higher Education. I have been teaching privately, in language schools, secondary schools and universities in Manchester since 2002. Currently I teach English and Portuguese to all ages and levels.

I am also an experienced examiner for the Cambridge International Examination.

Tannia Ruedaquijano

Hi! My name is Tannia. I was born in Mexico City and I am a teacher in la Academia.
I like to work at la Academia because we teach one by one, our groups are small and this means that teaching can be personalized, meaningful and enriching for students.
I love to teach Spanish in a fun and professional way because I believe that learning is possible when you can enjoy and put in practice the skills, knowledge and all attitudes you have.

Laura Kovaleva

I am a professional teacher of Russian as a foreign language with vast experience in teaching the language to adults and children of different ages and from various backgrounds. I absolutely love teaching and always make my lessons both effective and enjoyable. It makes me feel happy that I have an opportunity to teach my native language and culture to people from other countries!

Dagmara Kida

My name is Dagmara and I am from Poland. I have a Master’s Degree in language teaching and many years of experience in teaching English and Polish to students of all ages. After working as a full-time English teacher in Poland, I decided to come to UK and focused on teaching Polish.

It is extremely satisfying to see when foreigners start to speak my unique and niche language. I am proud to spread Polish beyond my country’s borders and teach foreigners more about my culture.

I tailor lessons for the individual needs of my students (family/social, travel, work, business). I always try to make my lessons relevant, interesting and enjoyable for the learners. From the very first lesson I make sure that my students understand the basics and see some patterns to realise that Polish is not as hard as everyone thinks:)

Kerry Mayne

Hello!/ Guten Tag! I’m a CELTA-qualified, native English teacher from Manchester. I have lots of teaching experience at language schools and independently in the Manchester area as well as abroad in Germany, Canada and South Africa. I have a degree in German and a great passion for languages, learning and travel.

I currently teach General English and German to all ages and levels, one-to-one and in groups.

See you soon!/ Bis bald!

Giulia Shepherd

I am a bilingual Anglo-Italian teacher of Italian and French, with a BA in Italian/French and an MA in Modern French Literature. Having taught for over 30 years at all levels, in colleges, sixth forms and independent schools in the area, I am also an experienced GCSE and A level examiner for two examining bodies.

Most importantly, I have a passion for languages and spend most of my free time improving my Spanish and Portuguese, by reading, listening and singing. I’d like to think that my enthusiasm for languages is transmitted to my learners. What I most enjoy about teaching MFL is creating strategies for improving speaking, and making grammar more palatable to learners of all levels.

Sahar Abdulellah

My name is Sahar, I am an experienced language tutor (Arabic/English), translator and interpreter. I have a PhD in Education from the University of Manchester and have been teaching both Arabic and English language for almost 10 years now.

I have worked in a number of countries: Canada, Jordan, Egypt and I am now based in the UK, where I teach at Manchester Metropolitan University. Language teaching has always been my passion and so I transfer that love and enthusiasm through my lessons.

Leora Marshall

Leora is originally from Israel and emigrated to the UK many years ago. Leora read law at the University of Manchester.

More recently, Leora has taught in primary schools for many years and is now very experienced in primary education methods, making learning fun with the use of games and one-to-one or group interactions as appropriate.

Leora also teaches Hebrew.

Carolien de Visser

Ik ben Carolien de Visser en ik geef nederlandse les. I am originally from Holland and I have a BA Hons in French and German from Liverpool University. I have taught Dutch for many years to both children and adults.

I believe that learning a new language should be fun and interesting and should not only be about the language itself, but also about the culture and general knowledge of the country. That’s why I will bring lots of ‘drop’!

Claudia Borquez

My name is Claudia and I come from Chile. I am a bilingual speaker who teaches both English and Spanish. I worked as an EFL teacher in Chile, teaching mostly at primary and secondary level. I also have experience in teaching Spanish to adults with different language levels.
To improve my teaching career in Chile I obtained a postgraduate degree, Master of Education in Curriculum, which has prepared me to have analytical thinking about the improvement of education. I am an enthusiastic teacher who likes to contribute to language learning.

Gillian Hall

こんにちは! I’ve been teaching Japanese in the UK now for over 20 years. My Japanese language qualification is the Japanese Language Proficiency Test Level 1 which I passed after a period of several years in Japan many years ago. I hold a PGCE in Japanese Language Teaching from the University of Nottingham.

I also teach English as a second language at all levels.



Carine Taylor

My name is Carine and I am a qualified, experienced and enthusiastic native French tutor. I have been teaching French to adults for over 15 years. I have taught in a variety of settings (schools, homes, manufacturing plants, offices) and I particularly enjoy teaching business French and preparing learners for work assignments.
I believe a good tutor should be inspiring and always focused on their learners’ individual needs, giving them confidence, teaching them French but also giving them the amazing opportunity to discover a new culture.

Maxime Lallement

Maxime - la AcademiaMy name is Maxime and I am from the North of France. I am a French teacher and translator with experience teaching in the Further and Higher Education sectors to students of all abilities.
When I teach, I like to find various ways of engaging students as much as possible so they can improve their self-confidence in the best environment.
I always link lessons topics to relevant aspects of French culture to make language learning a compelling and enriching experience.


Maria García

My name is Maria; I am from Seville in Spain. I started the adventure of teaching languages 4 years ago and since then I have realised that this is what I want to do for the rest of my life.
I have been teaching English and Spanish in schools and academies in Spain and England during this time. I have a degree in English language and literature and two masters degrees; one of them in Bilingual Education.
I see learning languages as something that is fun, and this is what I try to transmit to my students.


Ana Botas

My name is Ana, I am an experienced bilingual professional, highly motived and dedicated Portuguese & Primary teacher from Lisbon, Portugal.
I am demonstrating excellent inter-personal and communication skills. My QTS and international on-going school experience has developed strong planning
skills and adaptability, working with children and adults in a variety of educational settings.
I am also working for Cambridge international assessment as a Portuguese Examiner.

Ingrid Alcalde

Ingrid - la AcademiaMy name is Ingrid and I am from Spain. I am a qualified teacher and Educational Psychologist.
After working as a Teacher Assistant in Minnesota (USA), I decided to come to Manchester to progress in my teaching career. I have been working as a private tutor for the last 5 years, teaching kids from as young as 8 to adults.
For me, teaching Spanish is not just instructing; it is guiding, motivating and transmitting values to people, and make them feel they are owners of their learning process.
Something that I make sure from the very first lesson is that the students feel comfortable and have fun learning.

Roberto Miguel Albino

Roberto Miguel Albino - la AcademiaI’m a Brazilian national in Manchester – I’ve taught both Brazilian Portuguese and European Portuguese for about 10 years now.

There’s nothing I’m more passionate about than having the privilege to do so :-)




Julie Abbott

Julie AbbottJulie is our Marketing Manager, responsible for website maintenance. When there’s time she also does digital and direct marketing.

Julie speaks Japanese and French fluently, with some German and Spanish. She has worked as a qualified interpreter, and as an MFL and EFL teacher. She has also studied beginners Chinese with her oldest son at la Academia, and her youngest son learned Spanish with us at primary school, so she has a good insight into our work.

Sharon Smallwood

Sharon Smallwood - la AcademiaI have been a language teacher for over 20 years, having graduated from Liverpool University in 1995. I then worked for many years at St Helens College teaching French and Spanish classes.
In recent years I have taught learners from primary school children through to adult students, both in one to one and group settings.
I love teaching languages as I believe that language learning is an activity which broadens horizons and enriches the lives of those who engage in it.

Allyson Turpin

Allyson Turpin - la AcademiaI have a BA Honours Degree in French and Spanish, a post graduate teaching qualification (PGCE) and I also have experience of having worked as an examiner of Spanish for AQA.
I have been teaching French and Spanish for 12 years at all levels and to all ages at my local college, and I also tutor on a one to one basis. I am passionate about learning and speaking foreign languages and love passing on my knowledge to others. I particularly enjoy tutoring for GCSE/ IGCSE French and Spanish.

Inés Enriquez

Hello! I come from the wonderful and sunny Alicante in Spain. I have been teaching languages since 2008.
I teach Spanish to primary schools and nurseries, I have small groups and individual lessons too. I have a degree in Teaching (BD Hons) speciliazed in teaching English as a second language and I am also qualified to teach Català.

I hold the Qualified Teacher Status (QTS) to teach in the UK and I love teaching Spanish in the UK and bring Spanish culture and traditions closer to all my students.

Alvaro Cubero

I am a qualified teacher specialized in English as a Foreign Language in Primary schools. I was born in Jaen, Spain and came to Manchester in 2015 in order to grow up as teacher and as English Speaker. I have enjoyed my experience as teacher assistant and teacher of SEN students in UK.
I understand the learning process as a bidirectional exchange of knowledge between teacher and student. My main aim is that every single student should have individualized treatment based on different learning styles, diversity of resources and fun.
In conclusion, teaching is my passion.

Katarina Breffit

I am an MFL teacher with QTS and I teach German, Spanish and French at a secondary school. I have also many years of experience tutoring languages and Maths.

I come from Slovakia but I have always loved travelling and learning new languages. This is also something I love to share with my students.



Liz Beer

A love of languages led me to complete an undergraduate degree in French and Spanish and my desire to impart knowledge and my love of learning to children led to the completion of a Primary PGCE with a particular specialism in Foreign Languages.
I’ve been teaching for 6 years in both KS1 and KS2 and my broad and varied experience has resulted in excellent academic and pastoral progress of all children. I offer both challenging and stimulating learning opportunities for both children and adults having taught TEFL for several years in Spain, Italy, France and the UK.

Judith Brown

Judith Brown - la AcademiaI’ve been an English teacher for nearly twenty years now and have taught in the UK and abroad and have enjoyed working with students of all ages from all over the world. My first experience of working in an English language summer school was when I was just 19 and after that I was hooked!

Since then I’ve gained lots of experience of working with teenagers and young learners as both a teacher and managing and running summer schools. I’m a creative teacher and it’s important to me that lessons are challenging and fun, with activities that help students to practise their English and grow in confidence too. I like to design my own lessons and projects which are relevant to the students in my class.

Amaia Martin

Amaia - la AcademiaAmaia is an experienced Spanish tutor based in London. She comes from a beautiful city in the north of Spain called San Sebastián, and has been in the UK for the last 6 years.

Amaia’s background is in Tourism, having studied her degree at the University of Deusto in Spain. Education has always been an ever-present in her family and life.

She believes that the basis of a successful education is a good fusion of excellence and enjoyment. Students learn better when they are excited and engaged and it is the teacher’s job to make this happen.

Halyna Savchyn

Halyna Savchyn - la AcademiaI am a trilingual speaker who teaches both Russian and Ukrainian. Since obtaining my PGCE teaching certificate in 2003, I have been teaching in English primary and secondary schools and FE colleges. I teach beginner, intermediate and advanced level Russian and Ukrainian to adults and children. In addition, I have also provided Russian language tuition at such corporate customers as Gazprom.

I am extremely passionate about teaching and try to create Individual learning plans for each tutee so that they can meet their objectives in full. My techniques help improve listening, speaking, reading and writing skills and keep students motivated.

So, if you want to learn Russian or Ukrainian, why not contact me?

Will Murfitt

Will Murfitt - TEFL Teacher - la AcademiaWill is an experienced and innovative English teacher from Cambridge who offers bespoke one-to-one tuition to learners of all ages, abilities and backgrounds. Will worked abroad teaching English to young learners and adults in Canada, France and Spain before returning to pursue his passion of teaching in the UK.

He specialises in Cambridge Exam Preparation and English for Specific Purposes; most notably in the sport and fitness world. As a keen sportsman, Will enjoys keeping fit at the gym and playing competitive football in his spare time.

His students describe his teaching style as “professional”, “powerful” and “passionate” with smiles and laughter never far away.

Julie Hughes

Julie Hughes - English Teacher - la AcademiaHello! I am from Manchester and I teach English. I have experience of teaching in the UK, Ireland and Spain, in universities, language schools, colleges and secondary schools. I have earned a DELTA, a Masters in English Language and Literature, a BA (Hons) in TESOL and Spanish, and a Trinity Cert. TESOL.

I love teaching because I meet all kinds of interesting people from all over the world, and I specialise in English for football players and staff, Academic English and IELTS.

Sandra Bonilla

Sandra from la AcademiaMy name is Sandra. I was born in Colombia, South America, I have lived in Spain for six years and now I live in Manchester. I am an expert in Spanish grammar, vocabulary, history, culture and literature.

I have taught children, teenagers and adults for twelve years so I am a skilled teacher and tutor of Spanish at all levels. I enjoy my job as a teacher specially because I learn something new every day.

Frances Barnett

Frances Barnett la AcademiaMy name is Frances and I have been a primary teacher for ten years. I studied Spanish at the University of Oviedo, Northern Spain and have also spent time teaching English in Costa Rica.

I am passionate about languages and have a qualification in teaching Spanish at primary level.


Vivien Hom

Vivien Hom Chinese Teacher la AcademiaHi, my name is Vivien.

I am from China hence Chinese Mandarin is my first language. I have a first degree in Chinese Language and Literature. I came to UK in 2000 to pursue my Master degree which I graduated in 2002 with a MBA degree.

Teaching my young daughters Chinese Mandarin and about China has been a great incentive and motivation for me and made me realise how important it is to introduce the fascination of the Chinese language and culture!

I have great passion in teaching my native language.


Sonia Murillo

Sonia Spanish teacher in ManchesterMy name is Sonia and I’m from La Coruña. I’m a teacher of Spanish who specializes in teaching children.

I’ve been working as a Spanish tutor in the UK for 4 years and also in primary schools, nurseries and children clubs. I love working in England.



Silvi Hilman

Silvi - teacher at la AcademiaMy name is Silvi, I’m from Argentina and I’m a native Spanish speaker and one of the Spanish teachers at la Academia.

Having a Psychology degree has helped me a lot to have a different approach to students (children and adults) to create solid relationships with them.

My secret for a good lesson is to have fun and enjoy learning a new language!!

Nikki East

Nikki East - la AcademiaMy name is Nikki and I teach Spanish and EFL at la Academia. I have a BA Honours degree in Spanish and Business Studies and I have also trained as a primary school teacher. I spent a couple of years in Granada, Spain where I gave private English tuition classes to all ages.

Since I began learning Spanish at secondary school, I loved how fun the lessons were and how exciting it was to begin understanding whole sentences so I endeavor to make learning fun and interesting for my students too.

Recently a student told me how his family were lost for words when he began chatting to their waiter in Spanish while on holiday! My student is only 10 years old and gained so much confidence from that experience. That is what I love about teaching languages – to see learners progress and achieve their goals.

John Hofton

John Hofton - teacher at la AcademiaI have a B.A. Hons degree in French and am also a fully qualified teacher.

I have extensive experience of teaching French at Secondary School level, both as a French teacher and as a former Head of Department. I worked for many years as an AQA  examiner of French  and am currently  an examiner for Cambridge International Examinations  (GCSE and A-level).

In recent years I have been working with younger pupils both in primary schools and nurseries. I enjoy inspiring pupils and students of all ages to open their minds to the joys of learning the French language and culture.

Lynn Oldfield

Lynn - teacher at la AcademiaAfter gaining my teaching qualification at Didsbury college, my degree at Liverpool and a studying for a year in France, I have taught French and German to adults and children for more than twenty five years.

My career has mainly been in secondary schools in Cheadle and Warrington but I am currently teaching in Primary Schools.

I absolutely love teaching languages and I believe that the the key to success is to engage the students by making the lessons fun and exciting.

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