How did you get in...into teaching?
Erm...well when I left university I didn't know what I wanted to do. So,
at the time I was working in a tourist shop in the Royal Mile in
Edinburgh selling tartan dolls and plastic tubes...
...to tourists. And then...that was..well, that was seasonal, when that
kind of finished about September, October I then got a job working in
Currys the..the electrical shop, and I was the worst sales person in the
Why were you ...why were you the worst sales person?
Because I'm....I wasn't pushy enough, so if anybody said 'no' then I
just said 'Yeah, that's fine'.
Erm...so, because I got on really well with my boss, who was th...the
manager of the...the shop, he said, 'Listen, you're obviously not cut
out for this but we do need someone to do the merchandising and..er..
sort of, the window dressing. Do you want to do that?'
So I said 'yes fine', so that's what I did. So, I just had to go in in
black clothes and put flags and..erm...strips and things on washing
machines and fridge-freezers and...
So then, from there, is that when you decided to try teaching.....
Well, no. Right, what did I want to do? Oh, I fancy going abroad for a
while. So, in my summer holidays, the year after university, I did
a...a...a TEFL course at the University of Canterbury.
But that was a means a means to travel, not necessarily a career.
Er..no. Y'know, I don't know what I want to do, so I fancy going abroad
for a while. So, after I'd done the course I still had my student loans
to pay off, so it...it wasn't until the following summer that I actually
came to Spain. So what I did in th...in the mean time, I started sending
off..erm...CVs to different places in Madrid. I got the offer of a job
which had like a sort of two week sort of training course before it as
well, so...that's where I started off.
Anne, are you from Edinburgh originally?
No, I'm from Fife, from a place called Cupar, but I was born in St.
Andrews 'cos (because) that's where the maternity hospital is.
So, but...I lived...erm...until I went to Edinburgh...erm...lived in
Cupar for 18 years.
And what, how did you come to be in Spain? What was....
I think because I'd had family holidays in Spain, and that was kind of,
y'know, good memories of 'Oh, y'know, Spain's great. Didn't we have a
brilliant time' And, when I was in sixth year at school, erm...because
the way that it works in Scotland. Y'know, you apply to university after
you've done your highers in fifth year. So, I applied to university
after fifth year, got a place in university after fifth year, but I
didn't want to leave school. So, they said to me, 'Well, if you're gonna
(going to) stay on at school, you're gonna actually have to pick some
subjects to do. So, I did things like O grade biology, and then they
said, 'Oh well, there's...there was someone who'd come from another
school. So, one of the French teachers knew Spanish, so he was teaching
this other girl Spanish, so he said, 'Well listen, why don't you do
Spanish O grade as well?', so I did Spanish O grade. So, I mean I
thought I knew a bit of the language when I came, but I didn't at all.
So, how long have you been here in total?
I've been in Spain for 18 years. (It'll) be 19 in September.
And what's been the most difficult thing about making a life here?
Yeah, it still drives me crazy after all this time. I...I can't, I just...y'know...drives
And wha...what's the best thing?
Well, the weather, obviously. And just kind of like the...the lifestyle
in general. I think I would find it kind of difficult to go back. I've
got kind of very much into a routine now of, y'know, I even like Spanish
meal times and things, and...and, y'know, being outside a lot more...erm...y'know
even though...what I do really, really miss is having a garden. If I
could have a garden, then I would be happy.
Would you consider moving out into the country?
Well yeah, 'cos (because) at the moment I live, y'know, half awa...half
an hour away from here. It takes me half an hour to get here in the car,
so another 10 or 15 minutes more added on to the journey...
...and you could be in a village around Valencia somewhere.
Exactly, yeah, but it's just not the moment to think about moving house.
What do you do on a day-to-day basis here? Erm...can you sort of tell
us about a typical day for you? Because wh...what have you...what's your
Erm...assistant director of studies.
And what does that involve?
Erm...well on a day-to-day basis it's kind of a bit like customer
services but for teachers, so basically to answer enquiries, be that
face-to-face, emails, telephone calls, lots of things like that.
Erm...and then on a month-to-month basis, something that takes up quite
a lot of time, is the...the payroll..erm...contracts for all the...the
teaching staff. Erm...and then...throughout the...the terms,
timetabling.erm...y'know the big sort of timetabling session at the
beginning of...of October, having that in place. Erm...organizing level
testing calenders..erm..a lot of admin...a lot of admin!
Do you miss not being in the classroom?
Do you get the chance to step in sometimes?
I have done a few substitutions, but I mean they've been kind of...yeah,
few and far between. But that's why I do like doing the, y'know, the TQS
observations, because it's nice to be back in the classrooms to actually
see wha...what people are doing.
Yeah, of course. Erm...Anne, what advice would you give Spanish
speakers who are trying to learn English?
To try and surround themselves with English, y'know whether that be,
y'know, erm...just watching television in English, because when I first
came to Spain, even though I'd done Spanish O grade which had been what,
seven years previous, I hadn't gone near the language since, one of my
flatmates had a Spanish girlfriend at the time, the first year I was
here, so of course she would sit and watch TV all the time in Spanish
and you would pick up on lots of things. And I remember one friend being
surprised, I can still remember this conversation, because someone was
saying, 'Oh, what does 'hechar de menos' mean?', and I said, 'Oh yeah, I
know that!' 'cos it's a scene I think in Erin Brockovich, Julia Roberts
on the phone, and, y'know, she was saying, y'know 'Te hecho de menos' I
know what that is, y'know, so just picking up things like that.
So, television...erm...maybe a Spanish..er..an English girlfriend or
an English boyfriend would help?
It always helps, yeah...and listen to the radio as well, listen to
music, 'cos if you hear a song that you like, then, y'know, you want to
find out what they're...they're saying as well. But I mean, back when I
first came to Spain, obviously there wasn't the Internet, or anything,
so I can still remember, y'know like trying to write down the words of
songs and...I've never really got into reading in..in Spanish...
..newspapers is about as far as it goes. but I mean, I think that is the
way to...to...to really get into a language.
Absolutely. Anne, what do you do with your free time when you're not
Erm...well, we've got a house up in Alcalá de la Selva up in Teruel, so
we go up there quite a lot, and just....
Have you got a garden?
There we don't have a garden, but what we do..well, the...the whole area
is kind of a garden really. It's like countryside and cows walking past
the window and things. Yeah, but what we do have is a great big sort of
balcony that's, y'know, big enough for like chairs and tables and the
barbeque, and whatever, so it's nice. Y'know and it's nice to have
visitors up there as well and the great thing is it's so quiet that you
can just close the shutters and the windows, you go to bed at night and
then the next morning, it could be 9 o'clock in the morning, it could be
12 o'clock in the morning, you've got no idea 'cos there's no noise of
traffic or anything.
(It) sounds fantastic!
But what do you do to relax. Do you read? Do you...do you have any
I used to read an awful lot more, and now that I've got more and more
into podcasts I actually read a lot less, erm...because I got a Kindle
about a year and a half ago and I thought I would use it a lot, and I
haven't. Because, I used to always read before I went to bed at night,
but now I always just listen to podcasts.
What podcasts do you listen to? The BBC..?
I listen to...yeah, to the Women's Hour, Radio 4..erm...I listen to
Frank Skinner, he has a Saturday morning radio programme...erm...
I like him.
There's a Radio Scotland one as well, funny bits, sort of the best bits
of the...of the week.
Anne, what makes you happy?
Erm...relaxing...erm..I like...I like travelling, even if it's just,
y'know, going away for the weekend, even if it's not very...very far
away, I like sort of, y'know, to get a bit of a change of...of scene. I
like being with my friends, and being with my family, er..especially
with my nephews.
Are they in Scotland, or are they here?
They're in Scotland, I've got two...two nephews. One who's 19, so he's a
bit too cool to hang out with his auntie, but I've got another one who's
Give him a few years...Are they in Fife?
Yeah, I've got another one who's 14 who's still, y'know, he phones me,
sends me messages, whenever I go back we've always got to have a day
where it's just the two of us...
So he's not at the cool age yet?
No, not yet!
Enjoy it while you can!
In an ideal world what would your life be like?
Erm...I would work four days a week.
Er...'cos then I would have a three-day weekend. 'Cos sometimes two days
is just a bit too short. Er...so I'd work four days a week. Erm...I'd
live in a house...er..with a garden..yes, aha...and I'd have a dog. A
A West Highland Terrier. A white one.
They're the ones with the square face and the fluffy whiskers.
Like the Black and White Whisky bottles.
If you could change something about yourself, what would you change?
Er...that I wouldn't need to sleep so much. I've always been the same
since I was very, very young.
I need about 8 hours, if I...I can't get by on 6 or 7. I get very
ratty, short-tempered, I feel terrible.
I'm the same.
How many...how many hours do you need?
Erm...ideally, probably about nine, nine and a half.
Yeah, I've always been the same, even when I was very, very young. If
not, I do actually get like quite bad headaches. I think I was born with
bags under my eyes.
Anne, if you had 6.000 euros to spend on yourself, what would you buy?
Yes, in all honesty.
That's taken me by surprise.
It would be shoes.
At a guess, how many pairs do you think you have at the moment?
I really don't know.
I've put you on the spot now.
Lots! I've got them in four different places in my house, and I should
be more organised because I did have, about a month ago, when a friend
was coming over, there was a particular pair of shoes I wanted to wear,
and in the end I couldn't because I could only find one of them. So the
other one is somewhere in the house but I don't know where.
Erm...how can people find out about British Council English courses
Erm...well, we've got the website which is pan-Spain website and
hopefully will be getting better, is getting better, there are
improvements being made to it, and we'll have a newer version of the...er...website,
but all of the basic information is there.
Can they get to the British Council Valencia through the main website?
Yes, yes. You just have to click on which centre the...they want
information on. We've also got a Facebook page now as well, so there's
What should people search for on Facebook?
British Council Valencia?
British Council Valencia without the 'the'. So, British Council...
...not 'the' British Council Valencia.
Can you tell us something about the British Council language club?
Erm...well, this is something that we started new this year and it's for
students who are in levels 4 upwards, and it's on a Friday afternoon,
and it's been really, really popular right from the very start. Erm...we've
got an online booking system now called 'bookeo''. So. our site is
bookeo.com/Valencia. Erm...and on that page you can go in and you can
erm..book your place, they limit it to twelve places every...every
Friday, and because of this online booking system it automatically sends
the person who makes the booking an email saying 'Would you like to
review your booking?', and all of the feedback that we've had about the
language club has been really, really positive.
So this is a service that...erm...is no charge, but you have to be a
British Council student to....
Exactly, yes. A British Council student.
...to take part. And...and what can they expect, what can students
expect when they go along?
Erm...well, because it is done by...by different levels, what the
te...Michelle has been the teacher...erm...who's been running it this
year, and she's been fantastic, as I say, all of the reviews have been...y'know...
Because she used to do conversation classes.
Exactly, yes, so that's the sort of idea, like a conversation club sort
of thing. So, because it's been so popular, what we're gonna (going
to)do is we're actually gonna run one throughout the whole academic year.
But, the only problem is we might have to limit the number of times that
students can come because, obviously, there are only 12 places and 10
weeks per term.
At the moment it's running once a week...
Once a week....
....is that on a Friday?
...on a Friday afternoon.
And maybe that....people should pay attention to see if next year you
...there'll be more.
...and there'll be more available.
Oh yes, and a social programme as well, we're going to launch....
Tell us about the social programme, Anne.
Yes, we're going to launch a social programme. So this was something we
were..erm...talking about last week at our sort of away day..erm...about
how we could use the centre more, so maybe on Friday evenings, early
evening, I mean our classes finish at 8 o'clock. So things that we could
actually do in the centre, which could be Trivial Pursuit-type, y'know,
pub quiz type activities,..erm...and also do spec...specific things, we
thought about doing...erm...sort of a kind of speed dating type thing
for Valentines, Halloween, whatever. Erm...and also trips to the cinema
as well,..erm...to talk about the films afterwards...erm...and also to
promote the centre in general, what we're going to do is have a kind of
open days, so kind of a 'try before you buy' sort of thing, so people
can come along actually sit in in a...in a lesson, have a look at the...the
It sounds very exciting, it sounds as there's lots of things coming
up er...during the summer and after the summer, and people should
definitely go to the..to the British Council...er.. Valencia website and
see wha...what's happening.
Yep! And to the Facebook page where there's more sort of our cultural
and external activities as well.
Ok. Thank you very much.