“Hard work and fun are compatible,” says Daniel, one of our language teachers

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Daniel at his office.

We had the chance to interview Daniel Garijo Toledo, one of the teachers at our Language Service.

Hello, Daniel! Could you first introduce yourself to us?

My name is Daniel. I studied Tourism and then later Translation and Interpretation here in Valencia, although for the past ten years I have lived in five or six different countries. I studied my senior year of high school in the United States, with the goal of improving my English, and then later I studied my last year of Tourism in France in the Erasmus+ programme. I have also worked in the United Kingdom and Germany, and I spent a few months traveling in Thailand.

How did you end up here in the University CEU Cardenal Herrera? What is your job at the Language Service?

I came to UCH to help organize a Spanish summer course for international students, and I was offered a longer stay after. My will to teach came earlier, however, when I was offered a scholarship to teach Spanish in Germany. I liked it, and I have been devoted to teaching ever since.

I do a bit of everything here at the Language Service: I teach both English and Spanish classes, I do translations and prepare exams, and I am also in charge of our interns and organizing their tasks.

How does the Language Service promote the internationalization of our students, both Spanish and international?

The Language Service organizes activities and works together with the International Office to help our international students integrate. More, we offer a chance for internationalization through the activities of The Hub.

As a teacher, what do you see as the advantages of studying foreign languages? Is it something that is essential today?

In this globalized world it is definitely something essential. Studying and knowing foreign languages makes you stand out of the rest, whatever your career is. The benefits don’t end there in the professional world: studying languages helps you grow also culturally and socially.

How have you seen the interest in foreign languages develop during your career or since you were a student yourself?

The situation today is definitely different. Back when I was a student, there were only a few of us studying English. Now it is more popular as more people have better access to studying languages and our schools are improving.

With students at The Hub 101.
With students at The Hub 101.

Can you explain what The Hub 101 is? What is its purpose here at the UCH?

The Hub is a meeting point for students of different nationalities. We get every year more and more international students here at the UCH, and we see The Hub as a portal for integration. The international students can come here to learn about Spanish language and culture, and the Spanish students can learn about foreign languages and cultures.

The Hub has a weekly programme full of activities. We organize talks with teachers that anybody can come to listen to, we do karaoke and watch movies with subtitles, there are different activities every day. At The Hub there are computers for studying and we have books and magazines in foreign languages. We offer a way of guided studying: we arrange language quizzes, and our Word of the Day helps the students learn new vocabulary.

Why do you think this model works?

At The Hub we have a mix of cultures and students. I think getting the students involved is a good idea. As a teacher I often see that at the beginning of a semester students are shy and stay with their own groups, not mixing. The Hub can help the students to get out of their shell, join in, and grow up as a person.

You mentioned that you started working at the UCH in our Spanish summer courses arranged for the international students. Can you tell us more about this course option?

Two years ago our Spanish summer course had about 20 students, but last year we had 80 international students participating. The objective of this course is to teach Spanish to arriving international students. The course is arranged annually and lasts for four weeks, starting at the end of July and ending in August.

During the course the students will have five hours of Spanish every day, but we also arrange fun activities: we have had bike tours, beach events, treasure hunts, cooking events, flamenco dancing… All of course in Spanish! Some of the arriving students know Spanish beforehand, or might even have intermediate level of Spanish, especially the French students. However, some of the students might just know the basics. In the course the students are divided in four groups according to their skill level.

In our summer course we have students arriving from several countries, but they all interact in Spanish. The course gives the students more time to integrate into Spanish culture.

Daniel at the Language Service office.
Daniel at the Language Service office.

What are some of your tips to follow for efficient language studying?

As a teacher I always aim to create a good atmosphere in the classroom that would make it easier for the students to learn.

My tip for students learning foreign languages is to be patient. Look for fun ways to learn, don’t be ashamed, and see the fun part of it! Don’t only focus on learning the grammar from textbooks, but practice speaking and listening, watch movies… It makes the learning easier if you have fun.

Is there something more you would like to highlight about the Language Service?

We have terrific, professional, devoted workers who can transmit that devotion to students: if the teacher is not motivated, neither will the student be. I am happy to work here, my coworkers have shown me that hard work and fun are compatible.

Read our 10 tips on how to improve your Spanish!

See photos from the opening of The Hub 101 in our Flickr gallery.

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