All about Christmas in Spain by one of our Spanish teachers

For us (Spanish people), La Navidad (Christmas) is one of the most important celebrations along the year. Navidad is the perfect time for being out or in with our family and friend
s. Navidad in Spain starts on December and its keep going until the 6
th of January.

On Nochebuena (Christmas Eve) we prepare a big dinner around a big table (sometimes it is not big enough for all of us, and we have to bring chairs from another rooms). In our table you can find ibericos, such us jamon Serrano (Serrano ham), manchego cheese, salchichon, etc. and drinks as rioja wines or champagne. One traditional dinner is pavo trufado de Navidad, which is turkey stuffed with truffles (the mushrooms, not the chocolate ones!), but the star product is the seafood: all kind of different seafood. After dinner, some people go to la Misa del Gallo (the mass of the Rooster). It is called this because a rooster is supposed to have crowed the night that Jesus was born.

During all day and especially after dinner, people walk through the streets carrying instruments, such us zambombas, guitarras y panderetas (tambourine, torches, guitars and drumbs) and they sing villancicos (Christmas songs). One Spanish saying is ‘Esta noche es Noche-Buena, Y no Es noche de dormir’ which means ‘Tonight is the good night and it is not meant for sleXmas tree Spanisheping!’

On December 28th is Dia de los Santos Inocentes (Day of the Innocent Saints), people try to trick each other into believing silly stories and jokes, even newspapers and television participate in this funny day, very similar to April Fools Day.

New Year’s Eve is called Nochevieja or ‘The Old Night’ in Spain and one special tradition is that you eat 12 grapes with the 12 strokes of the clock at Midnight! Each grape represents a month of the coming year, so if you eat the twelve grapes (uvas), you are said to be lucky in the new year. Las uvas de la suerte started to be eaten in 1909 due to a massive harvest in Alicante (Valencia).

The favourite day is la Fiesta de los Tres Reyes Magos (The Three Wise Men or Epiphany) celebrated on 6th of January, and it celebrates when the Wise men brought gifts to the baby Jesus. Children have some presents on Christmas Days, but most are opened at 6th of January. Children write letters to the King during the month, asking for toys and presents. During the Epiphany Eve (January 5th), they leave shoes, three glasses of milk for each King and three of water for the camels! If the children have been bad, the Kings might leave pieces of carbon (coal made out of sugar in the presents)!


Christmas in different languages in Spain

A few different languages are spoken in different regions in Spain. In Spanish Happy/Merry Christmas is ‘Feliz Navidad’; in Catalan it’s ‘Bon Nadal’; in Galician ‘Bo Nadal’; and in Basque (or Euskara in basque) ‘Eguberri on’.

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The Language Guys win at Educate North

Educate awards 7

The Language Guys have recently won a prestigious award for their innovative language classes at Third Educate North Awards, delivered in association with the Telegraph media group.

The awards were hosted by founder Rob McLoughlin and brought together leading vice-chancellors, principals from the FE, as well as some of the most talented staff in the North’s higher and further education institutions.


Educate Awards

Emma Woollard Managing Director of The Language Guys pitched against other talented finalists from leading Universities across the UK and won the University Entrepreneurs Challenge Award and Grant, for her innovative business idea of foreign language tuition in bars and restaurants, a fantastic achievement for both the business and the University of Chester!

Due to Emma’s success, she has been invited to come back next year and be part of the process in talking further about her business and its progression.



Emma said, “I’m honoured to have been selected to receive the award, The Language Guys is a recent start up and I’m amazed at how fast things are moving. We now offer classes in Chester where we are based and also in Liverpool, we have plans to start in Manchester next year. As someone who has both studied and taught languages, I saw an opportunity to take languages out of the classroom and combine learning with cultural and social elements. We offer courses such as French and Wine, Spanish and Tapas and English classes, and people are really enjoying the social element to their learning.”


Educate awards 4
With Phil Hodari, sponsor of the University Entrepreneurs Challenge Award to The Language Guys



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To attain higher overall standards in British schools lies in the ability to master language learning


In 2013 the government announced ambitious plans to raise the bar of overall education standards in Britain – particularly for disadvantaged children. With the aim being to achieve a better start at secondary school for pupils, the government loosened the criteria for the assessment of pupil performance – commissioning schools with the ability to remove the levels system and implement their own systems of measuring pupils’ progress.

This should have been a gift to those schools seeking to improve their language programme, who would now no longer need to focus attention on attainment of grade percentages, but could instead focus on delivering holistic language tuition. However, as we previously discussed, British schools are facing a dwindling language skill set amongst its newly qualified teachers. This is hindering British schools’ ability to profit from the new ambitious learning precedent put forward by the government.

It's all about methodology

And while this is frustrating for the teachers, it is also detrimental to the overall education of the pupils. The pupils essentially miss out on the opportunity to learn a new skill on the same footing as their classroom counterparts, because some pupils, who may experience difficulties in English, have the opportunity to learn a new skill from an equal perspective of other pupils in the class. This presents an essential opportunity for pupils to develop their learning confidence – not only in languages – but in all subject areas. That is to say, an improvement of pupils’ overall learning confidence will impact their performance in other subject areas and thus help them to develop an overall increased educational experience.

This sentiment is echoed in a report by the Guardian and British Academy who published in their article a claim that stated that learning at least one additional language could be helpful in combatting depression. By providing an additional window on the world, people are able to connect with more ideas and people. And being able to connect to different people, histories and cultures is an essential tool for students to learn about wide range of topics in various subject areas. The lesson therefore is that in order to improve the overall standards of education set forth by the government; students must have the ability to open their mind through the world of languages. And while making languages a compulsory subject in primary schools is a big step in the right direction, schools must now ensure that language provision is being adequately provided for.

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It’s all about methodology

To get Britain’s next generation fluently conversing in a second language we must adapt our methodology of language learning. In 2014 the government outlined a new initiative to achieve just that. Now it is down to Britain’s teachers to deliver this ambition.


What’s the big plan?

A reshaping of the modern foreign languages GCSE has resulted in a new set of expectations for students. It is hoped that the new course design will equip students with the ‘ability and ambition to communicate with native speakers in speech and writing’. By developing confidence in the student’s communication it is expected that the student will be able to express ideas spontaneously and fluently in their second language.

It's all about methodology

There isn’t much time.

The government’s ambitions have left teachers with little time to facilitate this transition. Within two years students will be sitting the new language exams. In these new assessments the student will be expected to take part in a spontaneous ten minute conversation.

While this new style of assessment will hopefully result in a higher level of fluency amongst students, it also means that the student will not have due time to prepare a pre-rehearsed monologue. The differences between the necessary skills involved to enable a student to hold a fluent and reciprocal conversation as oppose to memorising a speech are stark. These are skills that will need to be developed in the classroom in good time before the assessments. Specifically, in order to achieve this, the learning attitudes and methodology must be developed.


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