How did you get in...into teaching?

Erm...well when I left university I didn't know what I wanted to do. So, at the time I was working in a tourist shop in the Royal Mile in Edinburgh selling tartan dolls and plastic tubes...

to tourists tourists. And then...that was..well, that was seasonal, when that kind of finished about September, October I then got a job working in Currys the..the electrical shop, and I was the worst sales person in the world.

Why were you ...why were you the worst sales person?

Because I'm....I wasn't pushy enough, so if anybody said 'no' then I just said 'Yeah, that's fine'., because I got on really well with my boss, who was th...the manager of the...the shop, he said, 'Listen, you're obviously not cut out for this but we do need someone to do the merchandising sort of, the window dressing. Do you want to do that?'
So I said 'yes fine', so that's what I did. So, I just had to go in in black clothes and put flags and..erm...strips and things on washing machines and fridge-freezers and...

So then, from there, is that when you decided to try teaching.....

Well, no. Right, what did I want to do? Oh, I fancy going abroad for a while. So, in my summer holidays, the year after university, I did a...a...a TEFL course at the University of Canterbury.

But that was a means a means to travel, not necessarily a career. Y'know, I don't know what I want to do, so I fancy going abroad for a while. So, after I'd done the course I still had my student loans to pay off, so wasn't until the following summer that I actually came to Spain. So what I did in the mean time, I started sending off..erm...CVs to different places in Madrid. I got the offer of a job which had like a sort of two week sort of training course before it as well, so...that's where I started off.

Anne, are you from Edinburgh originally?

No, I'm from Fife, from a place called Cupar, but I was born in St. Andrews 'cos (because) that's where the maternity hospital is.


So, but...I lived...erm...until I went to Edinburgh...erm...lived in Cupar for 18 years.

And what, how did you come to be in Spain? What was....

I think because I'd had family holidays in Spain, and that was kind of, y'know, good memories of 'Oh, y'know, Spain's great. Didn't we have a brilliant time' And, when I was in sixth year at school, erm...because the way that it works in Scotland. Y'know, you apply to university after you've done your highers in fifth year. So, I applied to university after fifth year, got a place in university after fifth year, but I didn't want to leave school. So, they said to me, 'Well, if you're gonna (going to) stay on at school, you're gonna actually have to pick some subjects to do. So, I did things like O grade biology, and then they said, 'Oh well, there's...there was someone who'd come from another school. So, one of the French teachers knew Spanish, so he was teaching this other girl Spanish, so he said, 'Well listen, why don't you do Spanish O grade as well?', so I did Spanish O grade. So, I mean I thought I knew a bit of the language when I came, but I didn't at all.

So, how long have you been here in total?

I've been in Spain for 18 years. (It'll) be 19 in September.

And what's been the most difficult thing about making a life here?



Yeah, it still drives me crazy after all this time. I...I can't, I just...y'know...drives me crazy!

And wha...what's the best thing?

Well, the weather, obviously. And just kind of like the...the lifestyle in general. I think I would find it kind of difficult to go back. I've got kind of very much into a routine now of, y'know, I even like Spanish meal times and things, and...and, y'know, being outside a lot more...erm...y'know even though...what I do really, really miss is having a garden. If I could have a garden, then I would be happy.

Would you consider moving out into the country?

Well yeah, 'cos (because) at the moment I live, y'know, half awa...half an hour away from here. It takes me half an hour to get here in the car, so another 10 or 15 minutes more added on to the journey...

...and you could be in a village around Valencia somewhere.

Exactly, yeah, but it's just not the moment to think about moving house.

What do you do on a day-to-day basis here? Erm...can you sort of tell us about a typical day for you? Because wh...what have you...what's your official title?

Erm...assistant director of studies.

And what does that involve?

Erm...well on a day-to-day basis it's kind of a bit like customer services but for teachers, so basically to answer enquiries, be that face-to-face, emails, telephone calls, lots of things like that.
Erm...and then on a month-to-month basis, something that takes up quite a lot of time, is the...the payroll..erm...contracts for all the...the teaching staff. Erm...and then...throughout the...the terms, timetabling.erm...y'know the big sort of timetabling session at the beginning of...of October, having that in place. Erm...organizing level testing calenders..erm..a lot of admin...a lot of admin!

Do you miss not being in the classroom?


Do you get the chance to step in sometimes?

I have done a few substitutions, but I mean they've been kind of...yeah, few and far between. But that's why I do like doing the, y'know, the TQS observations, because it's nice to be back in the classrooms to actually see wha...what people are doing.

Yeah, of course. Erm...Anne, what advice would you give Spanish speakers who are trying to learn English?

To try and surround themselves with English, y'know whether that be, y'know, erm...just watching television in English, because when I first came to Spain, even though I'd done Spanish O grade which had been what, seven years previous, I hadn't gone near the language since, one of my flatmates had a Spanish girlfriend at the time, the first year I was here, so of course she would sit and watch TV all the time in Spanish and you would pick up on lots of things. And I remember one friend being surprised, I can still remember this conversation, because someone was saying, 'Oh, what does 'hechar de menos' mean?', and I said, 'Oh yeah, I know that!' 'cos it's a scene I think in Erin Brockovich, Julia Roberts on the phone, and, y'know, she was saying, y'know 'Te hecho de menos' I know what that is, y'know, so just picking up things like that.

So, television...erm...maybe a English girlfriend or an English boyfriend would help?

It always helps, yeah...and listen to the radio as well, listen to music, 'cos if you hear a song that you like, then, y'know, you want to find out what they're...they're saying as well. But I mean, back when I first came to Spain, obviously there wasn't the Internet, or anything, so I can still remember, y'know like trying to write down the words of songs and...I've never really got into reading Spanish...

Me neither.

..newspapers is about as far as it goes. but I mean, I think that is the way really get into a language.

Absolutely. Anne, what do you do with your free time when you're not working?

Erm...well, we've got a house up in Alcalá de la Selva up in Teruel, so we go up there quite a lot, and just....

Have you got a garden?

There we don't have a garden, but what we do..well, the...the whole area is kind of a garden really. It's like countryside and cows walking past the window and things. Yeah, but what we do have is a great big sort of balcony that's, y'know, big enough for like chairs and tables and the barbeque, and whatever, so it's nice. Y'know and it's nice to have visitors up there as well and the great thing is it's so quiet that you can just close the shutters and the windows, you go to bed at night and then the next morning, it could be 9 o'clock in the morning, it could be 12 o'clock in the morning, you've got no idea 'cos there's no noise of traffic or anything.

(It) sounds fantastic!


But what do you do to relax. Do you read? Do you have any hobbies?

I used to read an awful lot more, and now that I've got more and more into podcasts I actually read a lot less, erm...because I got a Kindle about a year and a half ago and I thought I would use it a lot, and I haven't. Because, I used to always read before I went to bed at night, but now I always just listen to podcasts.

What podcasts do you listen to? The BBC..?

I listen to...yeah, to the Women's Hour, Radio 4..erm...I listen to Frank Skinner, he has a Saturday morning radio programme...erm...

I like him.

There's a Radio Scotland one as well, funny bits, sort of the best bits of the...of the week.

Anne, what makes you happy?

Erm...relaxing...erm..I like...I like travelling, even if it's just, y'know, going away for the weekend, even if it's not very...very far away, I like sort of, y'know, to get a bit of a change of...of scene. I like being with my friends, and being with my family, er..especially with my nephews.

Are they in Scotland, or are they here?

They're in Scotland, I've got two...two nephews. One who's 19, so he's a bit too cool to hang out with his auntie, but I've got another one who's four....

Give him a few years...Are they in Fife?

Yeah, I've got another one who's 14 who's still, y'know, he phones me, sends me messages, whenever I go back we've always got to have a day where it's just the two of us...

So he's not at the cool age yet?

No, not yet!

Enjoy it while you can!
In an ideal world what would your life be like?

Erm...I would work four days a week.

Why four?

Er...'cos then I would have a three-day weekend. 'Cos sometimes two days is just a bit too short. I'd work four days a week. Erm...I'd live in a a garden..yes, aha...and I'd have a dog. A terrier.

A terrier.

A West Highland Terrier. A white one.

They're the ones with the square face and the fluffy whiskers.

Like the Black and White Whisky bottles.

If you could change something about yourself, what would you change?

Er...that I wouldn't need to sleep so much. I've always been the same since I was very, very young.

I need about 8 hours, if I...I can't get by on 6 or 7. I get very ratty, short-tempered, I feel terrible.

I'm the same.

How many hours do you need?

Erm...ideally, probably about nine, nine and a half.


Yeah, I've always been the same, even when I was very, very young. If not, I do actually get like quite bad headaches. I think I was born with bags under my eyes.

Anne, if you had 6.000 euros to spend on yourself, what would you buy?



Yes, in all honesty.

That's taken me by surprise.

It would be shoes.

At a guess, how many pairs do you think you have at the moment?

I really don't know.

I've put you on the spot now.

Lots! I've got them in four different places in my house, and I should be more organised because I did have, about a month ago, when a friend was coming over, there was a particular pair of shoes I wanted to wear, and in the end I couldn't because I could only find one of them. So the other one is somewhere in the house but I don't know where. can people find out about British Council English courses in Valencia?

Erm...well, we've got the website which is pan-Spain website and hopefully will be getting better, is getting better, there are improvements being made to it, and we'll have a newer version of, but all of the basic information is there.

Can they get to the British Council Valencia through the main website?

Yes, yes. You just have to click on which centre the...they want information on. We've also got a Facebook page now as well, so there's information there.

What should people search for on Facebook?


British Council Valencia?

British Council Valencia without the 'the'. So, British Council...

British Council...Valencia

...not 'the' British Council Valencia.

Can you tell us something about the British Council language club?

Erm...well, this is something that we started new this year and it's for students who are in levels 4 upwards, and it's on a Friday afternoon, and it's been really, really popular right from the very start. Erm...we've got an online booking system now called 'bookeo''. So. our site is Erm...and on that page you can go in and you can your place, they limit it to twelve places every...every Friday, and because of this online booking system it automatically sends the person who makes the booking an email saying 'Would you like to review your booking?', and all of the feedback that we've had about the language club has been really, really positive.

So this is a service no charge, but you have to be a British Council student to....

Exactly, yes. A British Council student. take part. And...and what can they expect, what can students expect when they go along?

Erm...well, because it is done different levels, what the te...Michelle has been the teacher...erm...who's been running it this year, and she's been fantastic, as I say, all of the reviews have been...y'know...

Because she used to do conversation classes.

Exactly, yes, so that's the sort of idea, like a conversation club sort of thing. So, because it's been so popular, what we're gonna (going to)do is we're actually gonna run one throughout the whole academic year. But, the only problem is we might have to limit the number of times that students can come because, obviously, there are only 12 places and 10 weeks per term.

At the moment it's running once a week...

Once a week.... that on a Friday?

...on a Friday afternoon.

And maybe that....people should pay attention to see if next year you expand that....

...there'll be more.

...and there'll be more available.

Oh yes, and a social programme as well, we're going to launch....

Tell us about the social programme, Anne.

Yes, we're going to launch a social programme. So this was something we were..erm...talking about last week at our sort of away day..erm...about how we could use the centre more, so maybe on Friday evenings, early evening, I mean our classes finish at 8 o'clock. So things that we could actually do in the centre, which could be Trivial Pursuit-type, y'know, pub quiz type activities,..erm...and also do spec...specific things, we thought about doing...erm...sort of a kind of speed dating type thing for Valentines, Halloween, whatever. Erm...and also trips to the cinema as well, talk about the films afterwards...erm...and also to promote the centre in general, what we're going to do is have a kind of open days, so kind of a 'try before you buy' sort of thing, so people can come along actually sit in in a lesson, have a look at the...the centre.

It sounds very exciting, it sounds as there's lots of things coming up er...during the summer and after the summer, and people should definitely go to the British Valencia website and see wha...what's happening.

Yep! And to the Facebook page where there's more sort of our cultural and external activities as well.

Ok. Thank you very much.

Thank you.

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