A Touch Of Spain In The Heart Of Devonport

Posted by on Nov 04, 2011 | 1 Comment

Table_35 2011-11-04

Christina Herrero

The Speculator was enthralled to discover the University of Salamanca has opened a language and cultural centre in Devonport’s very own Victoria Rd.

The connection is an obvious one for those who know the Spanish Consulate is also located in Devonport, but the Centre’s presence nevertheless enhances the cultural experience that Devonport has to offer.

Consequently El Speculator – previously a resident of Spain and once reasonably fluent in the lingo – decided to pay a visit to these new ninos on the block.

And so it was that I traipsed up the stairs through a doorway I had never noticed before into an office I never really realised existed in Victoria Rd, and found myself in a beautiful, classic, high ceilinged  space that the university has converted into a small school.

There I was met by the school’s Director, Christina Herrero, who showed me around the premises and introduced me to some of the teachers.

Christina has herself taken a somewhat circuitous route to New Zealand, having made her way down here via India, Korea and China as part of an OE. Christina is tasked to establish the university’s first overseas venture in an English-speaking country.

The courses – in both English and Spanish – started last month, and include beginner’s and intermediate Spanish language lessons and courses in Spanish culture, the arts and literature. The teachers are all native Spanish speakers, but come from a variety of countries, including Argentina and Uruguay.

The charming Ms Herrero smiled bravely as El Spec attempted to dredge up long forgotten verb conjugations in order to attempt to converse in Espanol; in the end a compromise seemed the best solution, with both languages being enthusiastically tortured during the course of the chat, but with Spanish clearly coming off the worst.

Spanish is – for a native English speaker – a relatively easy language to learn, with the consonant sounds largely the same and the English vowel sounds quite simply shifted to “ar” “air” “ee” “or” “oo”. Grammar is for the most part similar, and of course, many of our own English vocabulary has its roots in Latin. For example, just about any English word that contains or ends in “-tion” is the same in Spanish.

Not only  does learning Spanish then open up a huge amount of the world to conversation, it also provides a useful grounding in other Romance languages, such as Italian, Portuguese and French.

And, as The Speculator learnt once again last week, there is no better way to strike up a conversation with someone from another country than to make an honest but amusing attempt to communicate with them in their language.

So take a look at the courses on offer; not only does Spain have an enormously rich heritage in the arts, there are few things more satisfying than finding yourself communicating in another language. Vamos aprender!

1 comment

  1. Ian Free says:

    I have enrolled in the class which is studying Spanish-language literature in the 20th century. It is a great wy to spend five Saturday mornings!

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