This week I was able to catch up with Saray Ibáñez, one of la Academia’s Spanish teachers. I wanted to find out more about her and why she loves teaching Spanish.
Where did you grow up?
I grew up in a small town in Murcia called Llano de Brujas – which mean The Witches Plain. From my window I could see lemon and orange groves, green mountains and many birds.
After finishing school, I studied Spanish Language and Literature and then did my Masters in Teaching at the University of Murcia. This is the third oldest university in Spain and the thirteenth oldest in the world, founded around 1272.
Why did you decide to teach Spanish?
I was always in love with Spanish Literature – not the language. But, at school in my last year before uni, an excellent teacher showed me a different and easy way to understand my language. At that point, I saw clearly two things: What degree to study and that I wanted to be that teacher for someone in the future. That teacher inspired me.
What are your favourite things to eat?
I really like Murcian food. We have a dish called zarangollo, made with egg, courgette, potatoes and onion … it’s delicious. Then there is a dessert called paparajote – a fried sweet dough with cinnamon and sugar and inside a lemon tree leaf. And, I can’t deny how much I love the English breakfast now.
Any funny moments with your students?
Teaching Spanish always has funny moments. The language is very rich, so even a small difference in pronunciation can mean a completely different word. Somehow – this always seems to be a swear word.
What’s your favourite movie and song?
One of my favourite movies is Gattaca. It’s a good critique of society and the educational system. People forget how different we all are and how differently we all learn. But that’s the amazing thing about humanity, how special we all are. My song is Ismael Serrano’s ‘Papa Cuentame Otra Vez’ (Dad, tell me again). It’s about what happened after the ‘revolution’ of May 1968 and it shows the spirit of the struggle.
When you have free time and holidays, what do you like to do?
Being with my friends and my boyfriend. We are both passionate about food, so we like to eat out. We organise games’ nights (Warhammer mainly) for all our friends. I love playing volleyball and find basketball fun too.
My favourite holiday would be in the mountains with my nephew and niece, somewhere like Scotland, with a small traditional place to eat after a long walk every day.
What advice do you have for people who want to learn Spanish?
The first thing is to show curiosity, that you want to be involved. The next is making the time. We all have time for the things we enjoy or want to do. Language learning is the same. Find the time and it will give you a lot back. Thirdly, initiative. If you find ways to practise outside class, you will learn doubly quickly. Fourth – come and join us. la Academia is a really friendly environment where everyone is welcome. I’m always looking forward to meeting new people and helping them learn