From teaching to translating

October has arrived, I’ve got out my winter coat and boots, but there seems to be no let up in the visitor numbers in this end of Cornwall. Luckily the days of mist and drizzle have been punctuated with glorious sunshine, which makes me think there’s no better place to live!

Autumn always feels like a time of new beginnings (must be the teacher in me!). I finally submitted the dissertation for my MA in Translation Studies in September and I’m now putting my energies into setting up as a freelance translator. Fortunately for me the ITI (Institute for Translators and Interpreters) runs a great course entitled – wait for it – “Setting Up as a Freelance Translator”. I have already learnt loads from the tutors, all practising translators, and am trying to narrow down which fields to specialise in.

I translate from Spanish and German into English. I also subtitle. Being a film fan encouraged me to take the subtitling module on the MA and I enjoyed it so much that I made my dissertation all about subtitling my favourite Spanish TV series, Cuéntame Comó Pasó. You know, you could all lobby your favourite streaming/video-on-demand service to acquire this series – then I’d be well placed for work for a few months at least (there are upwards of 300 episodes). In any case, it’s a great series and I recommend it to advanced Spanish learners as a way of improving your Spanish and learning about recent Spanish history. I still enjoy it even after having to watch the same scenes frame by frame about two thousand times whilst preparing the subtitles.

Talking of Spanish learners, my Intermediate/Improvers Spanish course recommences on Mondays 5.30 – 6.30 pm at the Centre of Pendeen and there is plenty of space for anyone who’s interested in this friendly, practical class. I may offer Beginners Spanish too, if I can get enough students, so please get in touch. I am currently not taking on any more classes as I focus on my translation business, but do get in touch and I may be able to point you in the right direction.


Spanish classes in Falmouth 2016 – 2017

Spanish in Falmouth with Cornwall Adult Education

There is still time  …just…  to sign up for Spanish courses in Falmouth starting this September.

Why learn Spanish? The map below shows all the countries in the world where Spanish is the official or co-official language. Spanish can take you places!

map showing coutries with Spanish as an official language

Spanish for Beginners, Thursdays 4 – 6 pm, starting 22 September 2016


Spanish for Improvers, Thursdays 10 – 12 am starting 22 September 2016 Enrol

This is the follow on to the Beginners course. If you have been learning Spanish for a year or so and are comfortable with the basics of introducing yourself and talking about your family, work, home, likes and dislikes, this course may be for you.

Spanish for Intermediates Thursdays 1 – 3 pm starting 22 September 2016 Enrol

In this class we will cover a range of topics and grammar points, including the different past and future tenses. We will look at authentic written texts and discuss a variety of topics in Spanish.

GCSE Spanish, Tuesdays 6 – 9 pm, starting 20 September 2016

If you are keen to gain a qualification in Spanish, and already have two or more years of learning the language you could join our GCSE course. You must be prepared to put in a lot of work at home as there are at least two speaking and two writing assessments to prepare for as well as the final listening and speaking exams. We will follow the AQA exam board’s syllabus. Acceptance on the course is subject to a phone interview and written assessment, to ensure you will be able to complete the GCSE successfully in 8 months.

Sign up now!

Time is running out, so if you would like to sign up for any of these courses, please contact Cornwall Adult Education Service on 0300 1231 117. Alternatively, visit their website to enrol online,

Spanish in Falmouth with Cornwall Adult Education

WANTED: new students!

Do you already  know some of the basics of Spanish but want to get to grips with putting sentences and questions together for yourself? If so our Spanish courses in Falmouth might be for you. Our friendly Spanish groups at Falmouth and Penryn Adult Education are looking for new members for the summer term.

Spanish for Beginners Part 3 (Thursdays 10 – 12)

This class started in September 2015 and we have covered the basics such as introducing yourself, talking about family and friends, checking into a hotel, understanding descriptions of holiday apartments on sites such as Airbnb, ordering drinks and meals in a Spanish restaurant, asking what’s in a Spanish dish and lots more. We have just started tackling the verb endings in the present tense and we will be practising using them this term. So if you know enough to order a beer, ask where the station is and introduce yourself, this group might be for you. We’ll also be reviewing and reusing what we’ve learnt in the course so far, so if you’re worried that you’ve missed something – don’t be!

Spanish for Improvers Part 3 (Thursdays 1 – 3)

This class also started in September and is a mixed level group, over the last year we have looked at the topics of food, film, environmental problems, holiday accommodation and transport and more. We have also been tackling various tenses in Spanish so that we can talk about the past, present and future. Don’t worry if that sounds intimidating though, Term 3 will involve a recap of some of the basics and plenty of opportunities for practising using the grammar in supportive speaking activities.

When, where and how to sign up 

If you’re interested please sign up as soon as possible with Cornwall Adult Education Service, either online or by phoning 0300 1231 117 or by emailing

Both classes start on April 21st 2016  and run for 10 weeks with a break for half term (Thursday 2nd May). Price is £100 or £54 for concessions.

We look forward to welcoming you in our friendly classes!

Memory tricks for German learning

Whilst looking for ways of teaching German grammar, I recently stumbled across Peter Heinrich’s website and videos.

Peter is a proponent of memory techniques to help students learn German, and has published an eBook on the subject.

So, for example, to remember the gender of German words, traditional wisdom states that you just have to learn each word with its definite article: der, die, or das.

Peter’s techniques give learners a way of doing this much more efficiently and easily.

Firstly, learners choose a symbol or an image to represent each gender, so it could be a lion (der Löwe) for masculine words, a woman (die Frau) for feminine words, and water (das Wasser) for neuter words. Then when they come across a new word that they want to learn, they create a mental image of that word, somehow connected to the symbol. The more unusual the mental image created, the more likely they are to remember it. Confused? Let me give you an example…

Recently one of my adult beginner students has been tackling the topic of places in town. I have a set of flashcards with simple images of a hospital, supermarket, park, bakery etc. After asking her to place them into two piles, words she knew and words she didn’t, we then practised the pronunciation of these words, with the definite article. After a few vocab games, I then tested her on the gender of the words – some she had remembered, but most she hadn’t. This is where I explained the memory technique to her and  she chose to stick with der Löwe and das Wasser for masculine and neuter words, but chose die Blume (flower) for feminine words.

So we discussed the images she could mentally create… a hospital (das Krankenhaus) full of water, a lion pushing a trolley in a supermarket (der Supermarkt), a bakery (die Bäckerei) full to bursting with flowers etc.  After discussing the images for each of the words, another test revealed that she had remembered all of them. OK, admittedly it is not a very scientific study, but she went away with a new found confidence that it is possible to learn the genders of German words.

And this week, she had come back with these vocab cards, complete with a sticker that shows the gender (the words shown in the picture are all neuter, so they have a water sticker on them). Give this trick a go with your students!

German vocab cards with images for remembering gender


Autumn, Herbst, Otoño 2015

So, time for an update…

Autumn has brought several new students to the Centre of Pendeen wanting to learn Spanish for their holidays (to Cuba, the Canaries, and mainland Spain). I must confess to a slight touch of envy when I hear of all these plans, but I have been travelling too, albeit from the comfort of my laptop – translating texts about Colombian peace talks and about a Spanish gastronomy conference for my part-time translation course. Translating really helps me keep in touch with the language and learn about other cultures or specialist fields (including, for example, how to eat a sea urchin).

The 4 week Spanish for Beginners course has now finished, but we will be continuing from November 2nd, and new students are very welcome to join us. If you would like to join but are a complete beginner, please feel free to contact me and we can arrange some catch-up sessions. Mondays 6.45 – 7.45 pm.

The Spanish for Improvers class is going strong and we have been working on our verbs as well as practising asking for tourist information and honing listening skills. Sometimes using a foreign language is all about guesswork and negotiation rather than grammatical accuracy, so we have practised listening out for key words and phrases and using the context to guess what the message is. It may just be that you need the message to be repeated or spoken more slowly (más despacio), so that that string of seemingly incomprehensible syllables starts making a bit more sense. If you are interested in joining this class, please get in touch. Mondays 5.30 – 6.30 pm.

While you are at the Centre of Pendeen you can pick up a bargain second hand book (they have several thousand for sale) or even some useful kitchen equipment in their “Kitchenalia” sale. And if Spanish is not for you, you could try Tai Chi or Scrabble…

New Beginners Spanish Course at the Centre of Pendeen

Learn the basics…

Numbers, greetings, introducing yourself, negotiating a conversation and knowing how to pronounce Spanish words.

Understand and speak from the start

We will focus on listening skills and speaking, to build your confidence in using Spanish on your holiday or in future classes.

4 – week course

The course runs for 4 weeks and will hopefully give you the taste for learning more! The course costs £28 which works out at just £7 for each session.

When and where?

Monday evenings 6.45 – 7.45 pm at the Centre of Pendeen starting mid September (provisionally 21st September 2015).

Small class size

The maximum number of students is 6, which means I can respond to the needs of the individuals within the group. So if there is something you would particularly like to learn, or you need extra help or practice with an aspect of the language, just let me know.

About the tutor

I am a PGCE-qualified teacher of MFL (Modern Foreign Languages) with more than 8 years’ experience of teaching languages to adults and children, both in Spain and in the UK.  Please contact me on  or 01736 787905 if you would like to reserve a place on the beginners Spanish course, or if you have any further questions. ¡Hasta pronto!

Spanish in Pendeen

We are looking for more people to join our small, friendly improvers Spanish group in Pendeen.

Held on Wednesday evenings from 5.30 – 6.30 pm at the Centre of Pendeen, this class will suit you if you know some of the basics of Spanish already.

We have recently started looking at how to talk about past events in Spanish.

Please contact me for more information.

The class costs £7 for one hour, and your first session will be free so you can see if the class is right for you.

German for Beginners Part 3 in Penzance – sign up for September

The next part of my Penzance beginners course with Cornwall Adult Education Service will continue in September on Wednesday evenings from 7 – 9 pm.

Please come and join us if you know a little German already and would like to learn more. Classes involve a lot of speaking, listening and interaction, giving you the confidence to use the language in real life situations.

To sign up, please ring Cornwall Adult Education on 0300 1231 117  or email

You can also enrol online.

If you want some German practice before September please take a look at my facebook page German and Spanish St Just.

Learn a language for your trip abroad

I am offering the following 5-week short courses in June/July. Time and place to be agreed with other course participants. If you are interested, please contact me, stating your preferred days and times and location (Pendeen, St Just or Penzance). The first session will be FREE and then you can decide whether to sign up for the following 4 weeks (£28 for 4 x 1 hour sessions). The classes will have a focus on speaking and listening and include games, role plays, listening activities, and structured pair work activities which will build your confidence for using and understanding the language abroad.

Spanish for holidays/travel

You will learn

  • how to order drinks and tapas
  • how to ask for information
  • how to book into a hotel/guesthouse/campsite
  • how to understand prices, opening times etc.
  • how to buy tickets for travel

German for beginners

You will learn

  • how to introduce yourself and ask simple questions
  • how to understand and use numbers 1-100
  • how to negotiate a conversation (ask someone to repeat, slow down etc.)
  • how to order drinks and cakes in a café
  • how to pronounce German words




German for Beginners Part 2 – Penzance

Learn German in Penzance this Spring

I’m pleased to say that Cornwall Adult Education Service are offering another 5-week German course in the Skills for Life Centre at Penlee Park. The course starts on 22nd April 2015 and takes place on Wednesday evenings from 7 to 9 pm.

Topics covered

This course follows on from German for Beginners Part 1 and we will be learning how to ask for places in a town, understand times and prices in German, buy tickets for travel, and talk about your family.

New learners welcome

Learners who did not come to the first part of the course are welcome, though some prior learning in German will help you.

To enroll phone Cornwall Adult Education on  0300 1231 117.