August is a magic month for me, because of all the experiences I’ve had in past Augusts really… and it has a lot to do with languages.
I was born in the Costa del Sol, which is both a paradise and a nightmare, depending who you talk to. Here, the rich and the poor gather in a land of opportunities and posers.
From the posh yachts at Puerto Banus to the humble house of my grandparents everything was possible. I remember August as a holiday month, going to the beach with my friends and being idle until I was 14.
After study, work
Anyone could work legally at the age of 14 in Spain back in those days, and so did I. It was a brand new world for me, and a great opportunity to learn a lot about this funny life.
But what I really wanted was to meet girls and hang around with them, which is not very original for a teenager, is it?
Even though I was exhausted after nine hours working in construction or any similar tasks, I never skipped a single night to go out and get mixed with the tourists. That’s how I learnt English, hanging around in Spain during the nights!
Two worlds collide
I never considered myself rich or poor. My father had a good job and he always provided for all of us and we didn’t lack anything at all. I knew we had a bit more money than some of my friends’ families, and less than some of other friends’ families, but it was not a big deal at all.
But during working days I visited many luxury houses and talked to many rich people who hired us for hanging pictures on the walls or to refurbish a bathroom.
During my night adventures I met people from many different places who spend their Summer time here, where I lived. They all told me how lucky I was for living here, and they drove those posh cars and lived in those great houses… mansions for me really… and I figured out they had a lot more money than my wealthiest friends.
I understood people go away on holiday, which I didn’t know as I’d never done anything else than going away with my family to Cadiz a weekend a couple of times.
I became very close friend to some of those people, and I had a couple of romances too, and I really learnt a lot without travelling. It was always hard, after studying the entire year, I had to work during the Summer and I didn’t get much sleep.
The hard way to the top
Some of those people I met some twenty years ago ended up very well, others ended up horribly bad and each of us has managed to live our lives the best we can.
But there’s something I cannot forget, how hard it was for me. How much I worked while my friends and my new tourist friends were on the beach sunbathing. I will never forget how hard it was to pay university fees, to finish my studies and to get used to not having a proper holiday. I will never forget my back aches at 14 because of carrying heavy stuff all day long at 40º C. I will never forget crying feeling like a prisoner while others didn’t have any duties at all.
Invent what you don’t have
But if I were to live my life again, I’d want it the same way. Because I can say that I lived a great great life during my teens, and afterwards.
I learnt how to create everything from scratch as we didn’t have much. Me and my friends were the best bunch of guys you could ever imagine, listening to music on the beach at night and not caring much about not having the money to pay for drinks in a beach bar.
We bought some beer in the supermarket instead and drank it on the beach. We were not visitors, we were inhabitants from that place and so we still are!
In the end, people left the bar and joined us. We were far more real than any of those situations! Much more authentic.
I learnt how to be independent, and despite my teachers, I learnt the most by myself, especially when it comes to languages. I travelled the world and I’ve done plenty of things, just to return back home and start a little school next door to my grandparents’ house.
And life’s fun. The entire country is doing so badly most of the luxury houses are empty now. People don’t have money anymore, they don’t have a job, they don’t have all those things they used to, and I find myself highly successful in that environment.
The hard way I had to learn things in life helped me to develop my skills as a teacher. I don’t consider myself a standard teacher, even though I studied the same other colleagues did. I am most of the kind of experiencing and living what you are learning to make it grow inside yourself. That’s how I learnt English, and I know it works.
I decided to create Lingua – Franca instead of applying for an existing public school and get a position with a constant salary instead of waiting fingers crossed to see if students came up so I could pay my bills, and I did it all like that to do the things just the way I wanted.
I can feel happy when we normally have around 100 students coming to my school on monthly basis. Me and the teachers who work with me are terribly happy to be working on this risky project, and we succeed as long as our students learn.
My life has given me the experience to develop my 21Spanish! course and to learn how to survive despite any situation.
I learnt a foreign language and made it my own by living it my way, and I can teach anyone either English or Spanish if they’re willing to hear.
Thank you for reading and for being at the other side of this vast ocean we call internet.