Wednesday, 27 March 2013

60 SECONDS INTERVIEW: Macarena Galvez

MACARENA Galvez was born in the city of Arica, northern Chile. On graduating, she taught history and geography in secondary schools before coming to the UK in 2008 to study English. Here she met – and eventually married – Englishman Tim Styles, although Spanish custom means she still uses her own family name. Since moving to the South West, the 33-year-old has organised after-school Spanish clubs as well as hosting lessons for adults. She now hopes to expand her Spanish lessons in the Bridport area, where she now lives.

WHY is Spanish a good language to learn?
Any language is good to learn. To learn a language gives the ability to understand another culture and step inside another vision of life. Spanish has become very popular to learn as a second language because it is the third most spoken language in the world after Mandarin and English. The Spanish language is very easy to learn and comes from Latin roots as well as English. Because of this, many words are the same. I always encourage people to give it a go and learn useful phrases for their holidays in Spain or Latin America.

WHAT do people get out of your lessons and classes?
My students learn practical and useful phrases to perform in different situations. I emphasise learning similar words so it is easier to remember. More experienced learners have the opportunity to interact with a native Spanish speaker. Another important thing is that I share my knowledge of native Latin culture and experience with my students.

HOW helpful is it to learn a second language?
I have a degree in pedagogy (the study of teaching). I know that learning a second language helps to develop intellect and creativity, keeps the mind active, and contributes to your sense of self-worth, for example by enabling you to order a meal at a tapas bar. Another benefit is the enhancement of multicultural understanding and tolerance in society. Any age is good for learning a language.

HOW important is language in understanding history and geography?
In terms of history and geography, language is very important for one reason: language is culture. It is built up through our history by different people, cultures and nations. The interaction between local tongues and immigration brings a new way of communication and expressions which became an identity of a group, country, nation or culture. 

HOW has it been adjusting to British culture?
Easier than a thought. People have been so welcoming, helpful, respectful and polite and I will be always thankful for that.

WHAT do you miss about Chile?
Most of all my family, the sunny weather and food sometimes. There is a typical dish called sweetcorn pie, which I love, and “guatia” an ancient cooking method which includes lamb, sweetcorn, local potatoes, sweet potatoes and broad beans all cooked in a very hot oven with volcanic rocks under the soil. 

WHAT do you like most about living in South West England?
The coastline. The amazing views over the fields and the coast. Also I enjoy the long walks with my husband and our dog around the coastal path. Our favorite place is Seatown.

TELL us about Arica...
Arica, the city of the forever spring, is a small city of 120,000 people in the north of Chile. It is very close to the border of Peru which makes it very multicultural and cosmopolitan. It is in the Atacama dessert and has the oldest mummies in the world: 6,000 BC – even earlier than the Egyptians –  thanks to the arid and salty geography. It is very popular for holiday makers who are looking for a nice trip to the Andes, sunshine all year around or a nice wave to surf in the Pacific ocean.

TELL us one thing a visitor to Arica should see...
El Morro de Arica, which is a cliff and a natural fort in the center of the city. From the top you can see a panoramic view of the city, the Andes mountains, the Pacific ocean and the two amazing fertile valleys which makes Arica a beautiful oasis in the middle of the desert.

YOU moved from one coast to another - how do you feel about the sea?
The sea is very important for me. I feel disorientated if it is not close. It is inspirational. 

HOW did you meet your husband?
We met in Brighton five years ago. I was an international student looking for a bedroom to let and I found him on Gumtree! It took quite a while for us to get together. 

TEACH us a Chilean saying or expression...
Huevón (whevon, the stress is in the final syllable) - it has so many different meanings and contexts. Everything depends in your tone of voice. Huevón is your dearest friend, it could be an idiot or someone stupid, or your super rival. I think is the most common word in Chile, it is part of our identity.

WHAT is your earliest memory?
When my brother was born. I was three years old and I remember being in the clinic with my dad in the sitting area. It seems so clear even now. I think I was so excited for having a little brother that I was blessed with remembering it.

Spanish Lessons in Bridport with Macarena start on May 15th at the Beach and Barnicott (morning and evening lessons). Also one-to-one private tuition, groups and GCSE exam preparation is available. Contact Macarena on 07810 622500 or email

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