Tag Archives | language

Speaking London’s Language Through a Poet’s Eyes

“Did she ask for directions to Nelson Mandela?” We are standing huddled in the doorway of the Southbank Centre, right beside a sizeable bronze statue of the famous South African revolutionary’s head. The fourth member of our poetic little group hasn’t managed to find us yet. Overhead, the springtime skies are inappropriately ominous: grey, clouded and […]

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So You Want to Volunteer in South America?

“I’m going to teach English in Ecuador!” This gleeful announcement was made to my dad in the summer of 2013, just three days after I’d flown back home to London from South East Asia. Still in the travelling mindset, I was already plotting my next volunteer move. Although it may sound like a spontaneous decision, the […]

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The Spanish Challenge: Walking the Camino with Spaniards

The Spanish Challenge: Walking the Camino with Spaniards

NB: Long-term readers may remember that during my travels through South America, I wrote a series of articles about my Spanish learning progress called ‘The Spanish Challenge’. It’s been a while since I added to the series – but the Camino is the perfect place for its resurrection! “Que es una chinche?!” It was almost […]

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The Spanish Challenge: Being a Journalist in Colombia

Coming to Medellin was always supposed to be the final push on my Spanish skill levels. I would live and work in the Colombian city for four months, emerging with not just a introduction to journalism under my belt, but also with an easy fluency in the Spanish language and a legacy of Colombian friends […]

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Coping with La Paz: a City of Cold, Colour and Contradiction

“I don’t believe in the gods, but last night I prayed to them that you would come – and you did! And now I believe in them!” The man’s eyes were bright as he towered above me. I sat uncomfortably in the chair he offered, wishing he’d at least sit down too. The restaurant around […]

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The Spanish Challenge: Don’t Speak English in Bolivia

Hola mis amores! El artículo de hoy es un poco diferente, porque ahora estoy en Bolivia – y mientras yo estoy aquí, he decidido que no voy a hablar nada de inglés. Sólo en español. Buena suerte para mí, no? … Just kidding. To those who don’t understand the above, hopefully the title will have […]

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Two Weeks of Spanish Classes with Nueva Lengua

The beginning of September has brought with it the sudden realisation that I’ve been in South America for seven months. Which means I’ve also been speaking Spanish for the same amount of time – or at least attempting to. When I first arrived in Ecuador, I barely knew a single Spanish phrase. And after an […]

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The Magic and Madness of Medellin: Colombia’s “Most Dangerous City”

Do you know what it’s like to arrive at an airport and watch as someone checks your Colombian passport? To listen as they say, in a slow voice of recognition – “Your name is Pablo… and you’re from a city called Medellin… please come this way for a moment…” That’s what Pablo, our Medellin tour […]

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The Spanish Challenge: Achieve Fluency Before Leaving South America

Six months ago, I relocated to Ecuador, a Spanish speaking country, with little to no Spanish speaking skills of my own. I moved in with a host family, started volunteering as an English teacher at a local high school, and attempted the task of learning Spanish. Half a year later and I’m sad to say […]

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Lessons Learned from 200 Hours of Teaching English Abroad

“¿Tres ensaladas de frutas, por favor?” I leave the tiny serving hatch, where three women wearing hair nets and harried expressions rush back and forth. Plates of food scattered around the kitchen are ferried to the multitude of teenage hands reaching through the bars at a speed my eyes can’t even keep up with. Heading […]

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