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Spanish Lessons At Instituto Cervantes de Mánchester

Thea Euryphaessa goes back to school and confronts her biggest fear – foreign languages

Written by . Published on September 14th 2011.


Spanish Lessons At Instituto Cervantes de Mánchester

I CONSIDER myself a brave soul – I’ll give mostly anything a go. But when I signed up for a beginners’ Spanish course at Instituto Cervantes de Mánchester earlier this summer, I swear I haven’t felt terror like it since my first French lesson back in secondary school. I didn’t want to learn French, you see – I wanted to learn Italian.

“Italian?” my French teacher barked at me through odious breath. “Who speaks Italian? Don’t be ridiculous.” And with that, he turned his back on me and flounced off down the corridor.

It wasn’t until I got to Spain that I realised just how powerful and effective Cervantes’ course really is at teaching you the nuts and bolts of the language

Thing was, I was right in my insistence of wanting to learn it. Soon as I could afford to go, I commenced a life-long love affair with Italy – so much so, I’ve rarely ventured into any other European countries.

I planned on going again this summer; until, however, I decided enough was enough and that it was time I finally visited Spain (read my El Geco Verde article here). Holiday booked and being the conscientious traveller I am, I enrolled on a Spanish language course. Admittedly, I could’ve bought a teach yourself Spanish course, but not being familiar with the Spanish language whatsoever and having once spent a tremendously satisfying week on a language course in Bologna learning Italian, I decided to face my fears head on and enrol in a proper class.

Perched on the corner of Deansgate and Liverpool Road, Instituto Cervantes is something of a Mancunian institution, never mind Spanish. While enjoying wine and tapas in Dimitri’s, I’ve often watched scores of students spill out onto the street after lessons and wondered what went on behind its walls.

Instituto Cervantes de ManchesterInstituto Cervantes de Manchester

The centre itself is a warm and friendly hive of interesting individuals from varied backgrounds, all united by their interest in Spanish language and culture. The stomp of Flamenco dancers can be heard in the downstairs hall intermingled with laughter coming from the many glass-fronted classrooms surrounding the atrium. The amenities too are excellent, with a library (also open to the general public) on hand to support its students’ every need.

As time was against me, I was granted permission to split my lessons between a twice-a-week class before I left for my holiday, completing the course in a once-a-week class on my return (there are ten three-hour lessons at each level). Fortunately, both classes were taught by the same fantastic teacher – Mercè Enjuanes Vásquez.

Considering the only Spanish words I knew were ‘paella’ and ‘hola’, and that my vocal chords dried up from fear leaving me nigh-on mute during my first lesson, Mercè was an enthusiastic ball of patience and encouragement. I’m sure all the teachers at Cervantes are wonderful, but I’m shamelessly going to profess my bias for Mercè as she had a sense of humour and a warm and encouraging way with beginners. Even when I hit the verbos barrier (verbs – I’ve always loathed them) and almost gave up on myself and the course, Mercè effortlessly eased me through and out the other side.

But it wasn’t until I got to Spain that I realised just how powerful and effective Cervantes’ course really is at teaching you the nuts and bolts of the language. Although I wasn’t able to reply in great detail, I was able to understand what was being said to me and unravel detailed tourist information signs thanks, in large part, to consistently being exposed to a Spanish-speaking teacher.

Despite my initial reservations, the course was one of the most challenging but also one of the most enjoyable and rewarding experiences I’ve had for many a year.  My goal is to become conversant in the language so I intend to carry on when school starts back up on 19 September.

If you fancy enrolling on a beginners’ course or brushing up on your Spanish-speaking skills, I couldn’t recommend a more worthwhile experience. After all, as the old proverb goes, “You live a new life for every new language you speak. If you know only one language, you live only once.”

Follow Thea on Twitter @UrbanDeva

The school is now enrolling for courses commencing Monday 19 September 2011. They’re also hosting an open day with free Spanish language taster sessions on Wednesday 14 September 2011 from noon - 8pm.

Click here for further information on dance, language, and teacher training courses.

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SmittySeptember 22nd 2011.

Mercè is definitely one of the best teachers at the Instituto. She's really good and lovely. However, Jordi, Raul, Iriz and Ines (and the rest) are all fantastic as well!

MargaritaSeptember 24th 2012.

It's been great to find this article. Thanks Thea, you are not wrong at all, and I'm sure you met the right person. I've known Mercè and her family since I was very young and she was an adolescent girl in Barcelona and I can tell she's one of the nicest persons i've met together with all her sisters and brothers. SHE'S SWEET and due to her interest and commitment for everything, together with her high sense of responsability, I can tell you she is a highly reliable person. I do no doubt she's an excellent teacher too.
As a teacher of lanuages myself and a teacher trainer, I encourage anyone to try to get involved in learning new foreign languages, it's a life experience as read in Thea's quotation.
Un petó molt gran, Mercè i felicitats!
Margarita

Tim PrevettFebruary 27th 2013.

Merce is my Spanish teacher too! Completely agree.

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