Erm, well, actually in the British Council about 3 ½ years ago and I’ve
been in Spain now for four years.
Okay. And what was your childhood like? Where did you grow up?
That’s a difficult question. Because we moved around quite a lot because
of my dad’s job, I would say all around the north of England, but I was
born in Whitehaven, which is near the Lake District, kind of Carlisle.
That’s a beautiful area.
Mmmm..yeah, it’s really nice. I don’t know much about it because we
moved almost within six months of me being born, and I’ve never
So where did you really grow up?
So my childhood was in Leeds, okay, which is obviously in the north…north
of England and I lived in Leeds until I was ..erm..10, …erm…and then at
the age of 10 we moved to…to Liverpool. And so I stayed in Liverpool
until I was 18, and then I left and I went to university in Newcastle.
Okay, so what was it like growing up in Liverpool, because your
… were in Liverpool. Was it a fun place to be?
Yeah, I think when we moved to Liverpool it was a very bad time for the
city because it was post-Thatcher, there was a lot of unemployment the
city was quite depressed so I remember quite distinctly my mother saying,
“I don’t want to move to Liverpool it’s a dump!”
And it was your dad’s job that…that took you there.
And it was my dad’s job so, but anyway I have to say that the city is
now unrecognisable and even if it was having hard times in the very
early days when we were there, it was always a fun place to…to be
because it has a big culture of music, the people even in times of
trouble have a..a very very naughty and quite funny sense of humour.
Well, Liverpudlians are famous for…
… their sense of humour.
In..in any crisis the first thing they do is to make a joke and that’s
the way they are because it’s got such a big influence I think from
Ireland, so the…the combination of music…er… craic in the sense of
having a good time is very, very strong…
So did…so did you grow up in the centre of the city?
or in the suburbs?
… No, no, no I grew up in a suburb of Liverpool which people from
Liverpool would say is posh…erm…
Exactly! Erm…so, that means yeah that it has trees, that it’s near the
seaside because its famous actually for the Antony Gormley statues, The
Iron Men, erm…but it’s very well connected to the city so you can be in
the centre of Liverpool in 15 minutes by train. So I mean most people
would be commuting to work and so, certainly jobs that I had it was very
easy to get into Liverpool.
And what did you study at Newcastle?
At Newcastle I studied English literature, because that was always,
always my passion and always what I wanted to do I wanted to be a writer.
And when you left university did you go straight into teaching?
Yeah, I did actually because in my second year at University I erm…got a
job as an au pair in Venice, and when I was in Venice I had absolutely
no idea what I wanted to do. I just assumed that I would be a teacher
because I was studying literature; because I come from a family of
teachers but I didn’t really….I had never considered the idea of TEFL.
And when I was in Venice somebody mentioned it to me and also because I
was enjoying so much being abroad I jumped at the chance to do that
because it seemed like, okay I don’t want to teach literature to
disaffected…er..teenagers who don’t like Shakespeare, but living abroad
and teaching language because, as I say, I’ve always liked writing and
language itself seemed like a compromise.
Did you… Did you have ambitions to be a writer? Because that’s a…that’s
a theme that..er..runs through many teachers in the past that they write
creatively in their spare time… Was that something you considered when
you were at university, writing full time, professionally?
No, I think I probably realised I suppose it was a kind of a naive thing
that I thought I could do it. To be honest, I still think I could if I
had the time, but I…I don’t…I don’t have very much time. My mother
always encouraged us from being very, very young to write diaries. So, I
wrote diaries from being about five years old, so I was…
Have you still got them?
So you could publish them?
So I… So I have a collection of diaries that dates back to being five. I
don’t write them anymore, but it was a very… I think it…it fostered a…a
feeling of…of enjoying writing, which is something I’m interested in now
with my students in doing something on diaries and learner diaries,
because I think the more you read and the more you write, it doesn’t
matter what you write, the better you become.
And the less of a block you have about writing.
Okay, so did you…did you speak Italian when you went to Venice?
No, not a word. It was very funny because the…the family were friends of
a friend, the Italian family, and I said, “Okay, does…does the little
girl, who was seven, does she have enough English for us to communicate?”
And they said, “Oh yes, don’t worry, don’t worry she’s going to be…yes!”,
And when I arrived she could just about say “hello”, “goodbye”. That was
about it. So it was a real…er…It was quite difficult.
And how long were you there?
Erm…three or four months. Because I actually left university a little
bit earlier that…that term to go to do this… to do this…to do this job,
and I mean it was an incredible experience. It was actually quite
difficult having finished it to go back to Newcastle. Venice to
Venice to Newcastle.
Not really kind of very glamorous.
No, the other way round is fine, but Venice to Newcastle.
Yeah, it was quite a big come down.
What actually brought you to Spain? How did you arrive here?
Meeting my husband.
Did that happen in Liverpool?
No, no, no, no, because I… I was very, very busy I went to Malaga on
holiday, I was en route to a yoga holiday and I met my husband as a
holiday romance in Malaga prior to the yoga holiday.
and is… Is Pablo from Malaga?
No, no, no, no he’s from Granada, but he was working in Malaga and so…erm…
he actually moved to Liverpool, to be honest. And he lived for, with me,
for four years in Liverpool. But being Mediterranean after those four
Didn’t like the rain!
For someone from Andalusia it’s not exactly… I would say that he looks
on those years with a lot… now he looks back and I think probably he
would say that he really, really enjoyed those years, but I think that
the climate factor…
Got him down…depressed him a bit.
…got him down. Plus, you know, other things happened, and I think I was
ready for a change. I’d been back in Liverpool for 10 years, and I
thought, well why not?
So what’s been the most difficult thing, in these last four years,
adjusting to life here?
Erm…I think find…well, at times finding work, financially sometimes it’s
difficult because I think both of us had jobs in the UK and…and a
regular salary that was coming in, whereas here it’s…it’s sometimes it’s
fluctuated. Erm…the language, for me, I mean one issue is that…our.. the
language of our relationship has always been in English, and…er.. it’s
quite difficult to change that, but if you want to progress, then you
need to…to force that issue to speak more Spanish.
And even if you do change it, my experience is, although my partner
understands me, we do speak a kind of a Spanglish, so when I speak to
somebody else they don’t understand me…
… because I’m making mistakes and…
So I feel… I have the feeling that after four years I should be fluent
in Spanish and I certainly can communicate in Spanish quite well, but
very inaccurately, I feel.
I think that’s… that’s pretty much where I am! Anna, what’s the best
thing about being a teacher.
Being a teacher…erm..
What do you enjoy most?
I don’t know, I…I think I’m a people person. I like working with people
and I think it’s rewarding as well, you know because you can see
students who are less confident becoming more confident, and if you feel
that you’ve been a part of that… If you’ve got exam classes that you get
them through the exam…erm…as a teacher tra…trainer, I mean, that is
incredibly rewarding because again, you know, you see people very, very,
as I was, uncertain and nervous about teaching and you see them how they
Erm…what advice do you have for Spanish speakers who are trying to
I think…erm…don’t be afraid. I think sometimes Spanish speakers say,
“Oh, my English is really bad”. And then I think about the average
English person trying to speak a language. Pablo used to have, very
often, in the pub people say “Oh, I speak Spanish.” and they could just
say like “I want to a beer”, and that’s it, in appalling pronunciation.
I can say that in about seven, eight languages!
And then, I think when these people feeling so bad about their English
and I think yeah but actually, y’know, you can communicate, you’ve got a
very low…erm…low self-esteem about your English. So I think that
actually realising and creating an environment, I think that you just
have to have a go. I mean I know that for myself too, initially the
first year that I was here I was very scared to speak Spanish because I
thought people wouldn’t understand me but then you realise actually that
if you don’t try you’re not going to progress.
It’s very much a confidence thing.
Yeah, and I think, you know, if…e..even if it’s going to exchanges in
some of the pubs locally, and actually seeing it as a fun experience. If
they don’t understand you, it’s not the end of the world. You can laugh
about it, and normally by the misunderstanding you find the
Yes, if you’re making the effort and people recognise that…
Yeah, I know that from Spanish as well. That sometimes I don’t know the
word I have to go round the houses to say what I want to say, but I get
there in the end. And I think that’s the same for… for our students.
That they have two overcome that fear of maybe looking a bit stupid, or
feeling that there are going to look stupid, and just have a go.
You can’t improve if you don’t make mistakes.
You can also… Yeah, exactly! Exactly!
What do you do with your free time, when you have free time, and when
you’re not teaching? Do you have any hobbies?
Erm…yeah, I really like cycling. Go cyc.. where we live there’s
countryside is just behind with lots of fields, that’s really relaxing.
Erm, I read a lot, well I read a lot when I have time to read. If I… If
I’m not so busy at work, I…I can get through a book very, very quickly.
What do you read, fiction?
Fiction, novels. Erm…I’m not snobby about what I read. If people give me
something, I read it. It doesn’t matter if it’s a book club book or if
it’s…it’s something heavier, I’ll read it. So I..I like reading a lot.
Erm..I don’t know what else. I used to do yoga in the UK but I don’t do
that here, I’d like to do that again. Erm…I think it would be good for
me. Erm…and other things…cinema. I go to the cinema. Less than we did in
the UK because of the working hours, but I enjoy movies as well.
Can you talk a bit about…a little bit about what you would like to do
in the future? Do you see your future here, or do you think you’d move
I don’t know, to be honest I’m always open I… I…I never, I wouldn’t…I
wouldn’t say I see myself here forever. I think maybe because of the…
the movement that I’ve had in my life, moving doesn’t really scare me.
Erm…but equally, we invested quite a lot of money in moving to Spain,
and to move back to England would actually quite expensive, and I kind
of think you have to move forward.
Maybe doesn’t… I mean it doesn’t scare me, but I notice as the years
are passing I’m less inclined and I’ve got less…erm…I don’t feel like I
want to chan….keep changing, keep…keep packing up. Keep…I feel really
I think it’s much more complicated because if you’re…if you have your…just
your bag, just a couple of suitcases, you can move very easily. But here,
whether we wanted to or not, we’ve bought furniture we’ve got cats… I
think psychologically you’re right, it’s more complicated.
And I haven’t got, I haven’t got children. I’m not thinking about the
children’s school or anything, so it would be fairly simple for us to
move countries, or even cities, and I just don’t… I just don’t feel like
it any more.
No, I know what you mean. I think the…there is a…although, equally I
think if an opportunity presented itself that I thought was…
…for either myself or my husband’s, yeah… Yeah I would move if…if I
thought… If I thought it would be a good thing. I’m quite restless. I
think after I feel… I feel after four years, what’s next? And I don’t
know whether that’s… I think that’s partly a culture from the UK,
because I think there’s much more movement of jobs in the UK, yeah.
Okay, let’s move into the Quickfire Hotseat which is something I’m
experimenting with you for the first time. So, a series of very quick
questions fired one after the other and just tell me what you think. So,
what makes you happy?
What makes you sad?
Er…working too much.
What one thing, if you were to tell someone about yourself, would
they find difficult to believe?
That I was arrested.
Really? What for?
Er…for going through a traffic light…
In Spain or in…in the UK?......In Liverpool?
… In Liverpool, yes. And then the…
A red light?
Yes, not into oncoming traffic, it was like a, you know, a staggered
traffic lights and…
Did they take you to the….to the police station?
Yes, they did, basically because they said it was a Friday, and they
said, “Have you had a drink?” I hadn’t, but I was quite honest and a bit
stupid in these situations. So I said, “This much” and they properly
thought, “Yeah, this match is that much”. And so, I was so stressed, I
think, that when they tried to breathalyse me I couldn’t give the… the
sample. So then they didn’t need to arrest me but they arrested me, they
said, “Okay, once twice okay third time you do this you…you’re being
Did they then breathalyse you again at the station?
They did, but…
And you were okay?
Not until they had like, completely listed the contents of my bag taken
my fingerprints taken my photo, I was… It was the most…
But they didn’t charge you?
No, no, no, no, because as soon as they tested me they were like oh its
Which famous person dead or alive would you like to have dinner with?
Oh dear, I don’t know about that. That’s an interesting question.
Or have a drink with.
Have a drink with? Oh, somebody like really, you know… Rock ‘n’ roll
person that would behave quite badly. I mean my husband likes Keith
Richards, I think it would be quite entertaining because, you know, he’s
a guy who likes to party. He’d be a loose cannon.
He’d have some stories, wouldn’t he?
Oh yeah, he’d make you laugh. Yeah.
In an ideal world, what would your life be like?
Erm…I think, I don’t think I would ever be the sort of person who would
like to stop working, because I think that I enjoy my job, but I would
like to have a better work-life balance. So more, I think, working part-time,
and having sufficient money to not have to work more hours would be
So I’m yeah, have the freedom to accept or decline work because you’d
have that financial stability.
yes, yes. Definitely, definitely.
If you could change something about your character would you change?
That I didn’t worry so much. I’m a….I’ve always been a worrier.
Marie said that, she… she said she was a terrible worrier. It
I’m a terrible, terrible worrier. I…I..I think it’s….the… If you’re
worrier it’s…it’s…it’s horrible.
Do you worry about everything? Or… or things connec…. work related?
Yeah, yeah, yeah constantly worry… constantly… constantly. I think also…
I think maybe I’m… I… I’m too responsible. I don’t know, I…I seem to….I…I…I
think this year, since I….because I was doing the senior teacher thing
last year, I’ve realise I’m spending more time preparing my lessons, and
I’m thinking, “Why am I spending so much time doing this?” It’s like a
bid to be perfectionist about things, perhaps, or…
That’s not necessarily a bad thing.
No, but I think it can eat your time. You don’t need to. You don’t need
to. You realise that if you’ve got 20 minutes to plan a lesson, probably
the quality of that lesson may even be better than the lesson that you
I’ve had that happen.
… Two hours preparing.
I’ve had that happen.
I think sometimes you produce… When you over prepare and you do things,
and you worry about what you’re doing… Then the lesson is not…..whereas
if you prepare something very quickly.
What’s your biggest guilty pleasure?
Erm…buying..er…priority boarding on Ryanair.
Yes, I don’t like Ryanair, but in terms of getting to the UK it’s… It’s
the quickest and the cheapest way to go. But I cannot stand the
nightmare of the queue for Ryanair. It’s horrible! I would pay that
priority boarding and be at that front of the queue, stroll onto the
plane, put my bag without that stress. But I resent it at the same time.
I think why am I paying this extra money to Ryanair. But every time I
don’t do it, I think I just should have done priority boarding.
Do you go back often?
Erm…no, not… not that often. I mean I’d say definitely twice a year.
Because you have family in Liverpool.
Yeah, and my dad now he’s 80, so I… I think that I should spend time
with him because you don’t know how long, you know, 80 is a good age now.
So yeah twice, three times a year. Something like that.
And finally, if you had €6000 to spend on yourself what would you buy?
Oooh €6000. I think I’d probably buy a car, because… there’s lots of
things I’d do if I had money but… I think a car, having a small car..erm..
would be great, because we have a car but it’s not my car it’s my
husband’s car. And it worked in reverse in the UK as well when we were
there. He didn’t like to drive my car because it was my car, and he was
worried about having an accident. It’s even stronger for me because he
has a really big car and I’ve always had small cars and I love driving.
In the UK I was always in my car and here I don’t drive very much.
Do you drive to work?
No, no, no, I don’t, I don’t. He will drop me off, or… and I’ll get the
Metro back. But I tend, if I drive, it tends to be locally on quieter
roads. Th…the thought of driving in the city scares me here in Spain.
Be… because of the… the… the Valencian drivers?
I think they’re quite mad drivers.
They… they are.
I mean, I drove in Italy and I think again that’s something I was told
that I had to drive to a company near Milan, and I have to say it was a
really white knuckle experience, a really scary experience. But because
I was young, I did it without even thinking. It was like okay. And here
I… I think they’re actually on a par with Italian drivers. I see really
bad driving and…
… and I also see a lot of young people on scooters, and that scares me
because I think okay if I am hesitating as an English style driver,
imagine if I hit one of those young people or something like that…that…that
and I don’t want to even think about that.
And funnily enough I really notice the difference just going down to
visit my parents in Moraira because there are a lot of German and
English residents there, they… they…it’s a pleasure to drive on the
Yeah, because people are considerate…
… they’re considerate, they…they think before they get to a
roundabout which way they’re gonna exit it.
Yeah, yeah and they indicate…
They indicate, they let you out…
No, no, no, no…
So, but I… I… I recognise that I have to…I…I need to…kind of… I think my
quality of life would be better if I drove, definitely. Because I think
it would save time, and I probably feel more independent as well and
things like that…I think it’s… Plus it was something…when I was… I
learned to drive before my brothers, it was the one thing that I did
before them, because my mum really pushed me to learn to drive because
she never did, and it seems a real pity to…
Not to take advantage of it.
Not to use that when I’ve been driving all my life, so… That’s the thing.
Anna, thank you very much.
Thank you very much Craig.