Chartered client, Penny Fisher, recounts her adventures in Spain, resulting from the chance spotting of a gem of an opportunity in her local newspaper.

Sometime back, I saw a fascinating article in the local newspaper. Free accommodation, including all meals AND wine was offered in exchange for participating in a programme to help improve Spanish delegates’ English.

It sounded so much fun, I decided to apply and, happily, was accepted for a week in December 2014. All expenses are paid, except flights to and from Madrid and a night in Madrid on arrival.

This establishment has four different venues, not far from Madrid. The one I went to was Gredos, a 4-star hotel near the town of Barco de Avila, with a beautiful view of the Gredos mountain range, where we were wined and dined to excess!

Aug 2014 - PG 175Left: Penny and a friend at Gredos Hotel, with the Gredos mountain range in the background

As long as English is your first language, no other qualifications are necessary, nor is age a barrier and absolutely no Spanish required. The purpose is to help the Spaniards speak and understand English better. It is as simple as that and there are lists of topics available should you run dry! And heaven help anyone if ‘little’ Carmen, the Programme Director, heard a Spanish word being spoken.  This was taboo, as was skipping a meal!

The days proceeded with a sumptuous breakfast at 9.00 am, Spanish, English, Continental, whatever you fancied.  Then a visit to the notice-board to see your programme which could be:

One-on-ones: a 55-minute discussion with a Spaniard either in the lounge or walking in the magnificent countryside.  You might have two or three of these, or perhaps a telephone conversation or conference call.

Aug 2014 - PG 180Right: The view from Gredos

You also might see ‘FT’ by your name, indicating Free Time, or ‘R’ for rehearsal for some skit that evening, which were usually absolutely hilarious.  On one occasion, we were put in groups for a competition to see how best we could act out a title of a movie utilising props along the walk to the village or in the village itself. We also had to prepare the Spaniards for a presentation each one had to give, the topics of which ranged from a ‘true’ paella to a ‘dream day’.

Lunch took place at 2.00pm and, as for all meals, it was compulsory to sit next to a Spaniard. After lunch, of course, a siesta or walk or whatever you fancied, a visit to the spa or pool.

And then a repeat of the morning’s proceedings, dinner at 9.00 pm followed by a show.

We were called the ‘Anglos’ and came from all over the world and, I have to say, some of the accents so extraordinary, I could not understand them. Heaven help the Spaniards!

Our MC, a true Englishman and, I think, a comedian by profession and actor, put a really amusing slant on everything.  I can honestly say I don’t think I have laughed so much in such a short period of time.

It was a fabulous experience and a great way to meet people from all over the world, not to mention the lovely Spaniards, so eager to learn English and from all the difference provinces in Spain!


Above: Barco de Avila, a nearby town. Above, right: at a Christmas party with ‘anglos’ and Spanish delegates

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