“I started to take lessons with Antonio as a complete beginner three months ago, and can’t thank him enough for helping me to build a solid foundation and confidence in Spanish as I set off to start my new job in Miami. Antonio is an excellent tutor – friendly, knowledgeable, patient, positive and encouraging. He takes an individual approach and ensured our time together was relevant to my requirements. I thoroughly enjoyed every lesson and would highly recommend Antonio to anyone interested in advancing their Spanish skills.”
“Antonio has been my Spanish teacher for the last 18 months and thanks to him, I have greatly improved my vocabulary, my conversation and my confidence in speaking Spanish. He takes time to encourage and motivate you in order to improve. I enjoy every lesson and I always look forward to the next one. Antonio is one of the most inspirational teacher I know and I would highly recommend him. Excellent teacher.”
Laurence Distefano, Operation Manger London
Sofia Vergara is another Hispanic actress, TV presenter and model who has successfully crossed over into the English-speaking market. Her full name, according to the usual Spanish naming convention, is Sofía Margarita Vergara Vergara and she was born in Colombia on July 10 1972.
Her television career began on Spanish-language network Univisión back in the 1990s where she became very well known for presenting two popular shows. She made her move into English-speaking movies in the 2003 film Chasing Papi and subsequently went on to roles in many other films, among them The Smurfs, Happy Feet Two and Hot Pursuit. However, it is her television acting for which she is best known, playing Gloria Delgado-Pritchett in the hugely successful series Modern Family. The role has won her multiple award nominations and seen her named top-earning actress on US television two years running, in 2012 and 2013.
Vergara moved to Miami in 1994 to escape unrest in her native Colombia, where one of her brothers was murdered. She was naturalised in 2014 after achieving a score of 100% on her citizenship test. Her story is testament to the fact that anyone can adjust to a new country and language, but even if you don’t plan to move to a Spanish-speaking country, acquiring the language is very useful both for business and pleasure. If you are thinking of taking it up, our Spanish lessons in London are the ideal starting point.
When it comes to artists who have successfully crossed over into the English-language market there can be fewer who are more successful or better known than Colombian singer-songwriter Shakira, full name Shakira Isabel Mebarak Ripol, who was born in Barranquilla on 2 February 1977.
After showing early promise in school performances, Shakira began her career as a recording artist in the early 1990s but commercial success did not come immediately. She released several albums before rising to prominence after signing with a major label in 1996. It was her third and fourth studio albums, Pies Descalzos (Bare Feet) and Dónde están los ladrones? (Where Are the Thieves), in 1996 and 1998 respectively which finally brought her widespread fame in Latin America as well as two Latin Grammy awards.
She entered the English-language market in 2002 and scored the best-selling single of that year with Whenever, Wherever from the album Laundry Service. In 2005, Hips Don’t Lie became the best-selling song of the 21st century, and she also holds the record for the biggest-selling official World Cup song ever with 2010’s Waka Waka (This Time for Africa).
Aside from her hugely successful recording career, Shakira is also known for her philanthropic work. In 1997 she founded the Pies Descalzos Foundation, named after her third album, which runs special schools for poor children in Colombia. She is also a founder and prominent member of the America Latina en Acción Solidaria (Latin America in Solidarity Action) (ALAS) Foundation, which is dedicated to Early Childhood Development programs for children in Latin America and is a UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador. Shakira speaks fluent English, good Portuguese and several other languages as well as her native Spanish. If you would like to learn Spanish, find out about our Private Spanish Lessons in London.
This week we are going to start a series of blogs looking at bilingual artists who come from Spanish- speaking countries but have also achieved phenomenal success in the English-speaking world. We start with actress, director and producer Salma Hayek who was born Salma Hayek Jiménez in Veracruz, Mexico on 2 September 1966 and educated in Louisiana, USA from the age of twelve.
We’ve mentioned in previous blogs the popularity of TV telenovas in Latin America, and that is where Salma’s career began in the series Teresa. She progressed to starring in Spanish-speaking films, notably El Callejón de los Milagros (Miracle Alley), for which she was nominated for the prestigious Ariel Award, the Mexican equivalent of the Oscars.
In 1991 she moved to Hollywood and gained fame starring in films such as Desperado (1995) and Once Upon a Time in Mexico (2003) alongside Antonio Banderas. The role which really won her critical acclaim, however, was the 2002 film Frida, which she co-produced, and in which she played Mexican artist Frida Kahlo, whom we have also profiled in a previous blog. The role won her Best Actress nominations at the Academy Awards, BAFTAs, Screen Actors Guild Awards and Golden Globes.
Hayek’s stellar career is all the more impressive when you consider that she had limited fluency in English when she moved to America, and also suffers from dyslexia. It goes to show that with determination and perseverance, it is possible to achieve almost anything. If you have the drive to master another language, and are looking for a Spanish teacher in London, then get in touch and find out how we can help you.
Prospective students often ask us which is the most effective way to learn Spanish. There are, of course, many different ways of learning a language, and many different types of student with their own learning styles. For a great many people, their word ‘lesson’ is synonymous with being in a classroom with a group of other students; they feel comfortable in this traditional setting and they may decide to enrol on a Spanish course at their local night school. While we certainly don’t want to be disparaging about this type of course, they are bound to a great degree by the curriculum which is set for them by their local authority and they are obliged to cater for a wide range of students with different abilities and learning objectives. Classes will go at a pre-determined pace and quicker learners can sometimes feel held back by the slower ones.
This is why we always recommend Private Spanish Lessons over group ones. With a dedicated tutor of your own, you benefit from expert one-to-one tuition that simply can’t be matched for its effectiveness. Lessons are geared around your own abilities and learning objectives, so you need never feel that you are waiting for others to catch up or, conversely, that you are struggling to keep up with your classmates – instead you learn entirely at your own pace. Any questions you have can be answered right away and you get to maximise the time you spend in Spanish conversation, instead of waiting to let others take their turn. Your tutor can then help you to hone your pronunciation and grammar much quicker, so you become a confident Spanish speaker in the shortest possible time.
If you’ve ever tried studying a foreign language, whether it be Spanish or any other, the thought has probably occurred to you at one time or another how much easier it would be if you could pick it up as easily as you picked up your native language. So why don’t we?
When we learn our mother tongue, we do so at a crucial stage of cognitive development that simply cannot be replicated when it comes to learning a second language later on in life. As children we are driven to acquire language because it is essential if we are to interact with others and enjoy a full role in society. We are not even conscious of the complex rules of grammar that we are absorbing; these simply become second nature to us. However, unless we grow up bilingually, we don’t learn a second language in the same unconscious way – we have to study and memorise grammar. The rules we don’t even think about in our own language cause a sort of ‘resistance’ in our minds which make the new language seem, well, foreign!
That said, learning a second language is not as hard as it might sound. Though we will never again be at the same stage of cognitive development at which we learned our native language, we can use some of the same methods. We learn our first language primarily through natural and continual conversation with our parents. This is something we can replicate to some extent and lots of people find Intensive Spanish Lessons are a great way to break down those mental barriers and get fast results.
Few would dispute that a second language looks great on your CV, and Spanish is certainly one of the most useful when you consider the number of speakers it has worldwide, but can learning Spanish actually
improve your mental well-being? Many believe it can, and here are just some of the reasons.
Getting to grips with Spanish, or indeed any foreign language, certainly brings a great sense of achievement which will help to boost your confidence, but it’s also been proven by physiological studies to bring a wealth of other mental benefits besides. The mental stimulation of learning a foreign language helps to improve cognitive processes, which has been shown to improve concentration, the ability to multi-task and problem-solve as well as sharpening your reading, negotiation and decision-making skills.
Strange as it may sound, learning a second language also helps to improve your first language because it makes you think more carefully about grammar, conjugations and sentence structures. This can help you to become a better communicator and writer, so by enrolling on our Spanish lessons in London, you could gain the added bonus of improving your English into the bargain.
There have also been various studies which consistently link bilingualism to improved memory. Memorising the rules and vocabulary of a second language exercises the brain, encouraging it to function more effectively, just as physical exercise helps keep the body fit. These studies also show that adults who speak only one language suffer the first signs of dementia on average four years earlier than those who can speak two or more languages –compelling evidence that learning Spanish is good for you!
There are many reasons to learn a foreign language – for some it is a matter of business necessity if their occupation requires them to do business internationally; for others it is purely a question of taking pleasure in learning, but most people embark on a language course because they already have an interest in the country in which the language is spoken, and its culture. Those attending our Spanish lessons in London cite all these reasons, as well as many others.
Learning Spanish helps you to understand the cultural heritage of Spanish-speaking countries, whether that is Spain itself or one of the Latin American countries. A good understanding of Spanish will open up opportunities to explore its vast literary contribution over the centuries from greats like Cervantes, Marquez and Neruda, all of whom we have featured in our blog in the past. It also allows you to enjoy more fully some of our wonderful cinema from the likes of screenwriter and director Pedro Almodóvar, whose work we often use as a teaching resource, or to understand the lyrics of the music, both classical and popular, which you may already love for its melody and vitality.
And there is no better way to understand current affairs and prevailing attitudes in the Spanish-speaking world than being able to read newspapers and magazines, online versions of which are freely available for the keen learner, or by watching Spanish-language television without having to rely on subtitled or dubbed versions which often fail to fully capture the nuances of the original dialogue.
If you want to discover the joy of learning Spanish and the wealth of culture it can open up for you, get in touch.
Since the financial crisis of 2008, many international companies have been searching for emerging
markets in which they can grow and recoup some of the losses they have been forced to sustain in their traditional markets in more developed countries. This is particularly true of insurance companies who, due to low interest rates and increased competition at home, have been seeking to branch out in order to spread and mitigate their risks.
Latin America has proved to be an extremely attractive market for such companies due to its high population, expanding economy and growing middle class. Substantial foreign investment in the region has made it more stable and business friendly for insurers who are cautious by their very nature. Industry figures place Latin American gross written premiums higher than Europe, the Middle East and Central Asia put together. Unsurprisingly, around half of this revenue comes from the region’s largest economy, Brazil, but the Spanish-speaking countries are also proving lucrative for insurers, with Chile, Argentina, Mexico, Colombia, Venezuela and Peru also showing strong growth in the insurance market.
However, this rapid growth has led to a shortage of qualified workers, with actuaries particularly sought after. This presents opportunities for expats who may wish to relocate, whilst at home, those working in insurance in the UK are increasingly likely to have business dealings with their Latin American counterparts. Clearly, the ability to speak Spanish is a distinct advantage in either case. Our intensive Spanish lessons are the ideal way to learn the language quickly and with your specific learning objectives in mind. Our native tutors can coach you on the vocabulary which will be important in your specific field as well as providing all the fundamentals for a good command of the language in general. Get it touch for more information or to book your lessons.