04-07-2018 by Florecita
Hannah Johnston-Burns is a 28-year-old student at Spanish language school El Carmen. In June 2016 she moved to Valencia with her husband from Scotland to teach English in Spain. Hannah’s classes are given in English but now thanks to El Carmen she can explain herself to her students in Spanish as well.
Where do you live in Valencia?
‘My apartment is in the middle of the city centre. So, whenever there is a festivity I’m right in the middle of it! For example, the Las Fallas festival. This is a annual festival from the 15th untill the 19th of March. San José was the patron saint of carpenters. In the middle ages the carpenters placed their candles on wooden planks. In the beginning of spring they burned these planks to celebrated the end of the dark and cold winterperiod. Nowadays there's a lot of fireworks added. It’s just crazy to hear so many firecrackers and ‘bombs’ going off in the city!’
How did you experience your first week in Valencia?
‘I was used to being in the British school in Edinburgh, so this was definitely a new environment. I had to get used to the mealtimes. The hours are so different than what I’m used to. And of course, the language barrier. Although since 2016 until now I noticed an improvement in the English of the Spaniards. First there was little knowledge about English, but I think the upcoming tourism is the reason for the improved English.’
From which countries are your schoolmates?
‘First there are a lot of Italians but this changed over the years. Now students come from all over the world. It makes it easy to get to know each other because there is not a big group of for example Scottish people.’
Can you describe a typical school day?
‘You can choose to take 4-hour classes in the morning (with breaks in between them). Usually you go to class with the same people. Every day you learn something different. Normally we start with 20 – 30 minutes speaking. This will be followed up with reading and grammar. The class can always give input on what they want to learn today of when somebody has special requests about a subject.’
What do you do outside of the school?
‘We like to eat and drink! We just love the food here. Besides that, there are a lot of activities like wine tasting. The school offered trips to Albufeira as well during the San Juan festivities.’
What did this language course offer you?
‘I came here with only 10 weeks of experience in Spanish. Learning the language gave me Spanish friends and just makes living life easier here.’
What is the best advise you can give to future students from El Carmen?
‘You really need to want to learn Spanish and embrace the culture! Oh and don’t get angry if the Spaniards make you wait for something.’
Would you follow a language course abroad again?
‘Maybe, we do love Thailand! But studying here at el Carmen was such a good experience, that it makes it hard to think about doing it anywhere else.’
Would you advise a language course to your friends?
‘Definitely! A 100%. When you learn a language at a later age it gives you a different perspective on other cultures.’
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