Meet Miranda (England, UK) – The EG Storybook

 

About me

 

volunteering in northern Spain: Miranda FloyMy name is Miranda Floy, and I’d like to share with you the story of the amazing weekend I spent last year volunteering in northern Spain with English Getaway.
I grew up near London and have lived there for over twenty years. I studied drama at university and then worked as an actor, performing in theatres all over the UK and in Europe, devising new work, workshopping new writing and delivering workshops to young people and adults. Later, I did an MA in writing and am currently working on a novel.

In 2016 I decided I’d had enough of London, so I gave up my office job and my flat to write and travel full time. I spent 7 months travelling all around Spain because I think it’s a such a beautiful country.

 

Volunteering in northern Spain

 

In spring 2017 I spent a wonderful weekend as a volunteer on the 3-day immersion programme. Everyone was so friendly, it was great fun and the setting was truly magical.

 

Volunteering in northern Spain

 

Not only were the people lovely to work with and the hotel a blissful place to stay, but I really enjoyed the experience of helping and encouraging others with their language skills. As someone who has been trying to learn Spanish and struggled with my confidence, I have huge sympathy for anyone who is learning a language. These immersion courses provide a safe and nurturing environment and are a really valuable experience for all involved.

 
Volunteering in northern Spain
 

Meet Patricia (Chicago, USA) – The EG Storybook

 

About me

 
Patricia Caffrey, volunteer at English Getaway

My name is Patricia Caffrey and my story is a strange one. I was born in Chicago, Illinois in the United States, but my vagabond parents, looking for the home of their dreams, moved all 7 of us from place to place for many years: we lived in Spain, Austria, England, France, and, of course, the US too. We were enrolled in the local schools in all those places and we learned to cope in many languages at a young age. This nomadic childhood gave me a love of travel and of foreign places that I have not yet recovered from. I believe it made me become a volunteer at English Getaway too. At my age!

I studied theatre and literature at university, and, after teaching English in Paris for many years, I finally went back to theatre, co-founding a bilingual theatre company in Paris. Dear Conjunction still exists and we produce 2 or 3 productions every year, most often in English, but sometimes in French, and then we perform the plays for several weeks in different languages.
Working in theatre changed my life of course, because it is a passion and a life style. If you don’t like hard work and sacrifice, don’t even think about it!

 

Being a volunteer at English Getaway

 

A good friend from university who’s a Spanish professor told me about English Getaway so I volunteered and was accepted! The whole experience was wonderful: the travelling to you by train from southern France, meeting fellow volunteers from all over the world, and then the exchange with the Spanish students.
 
English Getaway comida
 
I met people I will never forget, and even though the programme was a tough one, requiring a lot of concentration and hard work on their parts, we had a lot of fun together, played, got to know each other. We ate, drank, learned and played together, and they were always ready to go, ready to try, ready to give. All this in a beautiful setting. That’s not something you see every day. I think it was a real “cultural exchange”. Thank you!

 
English Getaway participants and volunteers
 

Meet Ellie and Nik (England, UK) – The EG Storybook

 

About us

 

Nik and EllieWe’re Ellie & Nik. We met on a Yoga Trip in Greece in 2016 and since then have been pursuing a life of sustainability, self-sufficiency and eco friendliness. This passion made us try the volunteering experience at English Getaway.

Ellie studied English Literature & Linguistics at the University of Manchester, and Nik achieved a first class honours in Philosophy at Newcastle -upon-Tyne.

Both have been excited by different methods of learning through travel and experience from a young age. Ellie flew to Girona on her gap year to spend 3 months as an au pair teaching a family how to speak English, Nik went to Brazil and volunteered on a rainforest restoration project called Iracambi. Ellie picked up some Spanish as well as some understanding of Catalan, and Nik became comfortable with casual Portuguese.

After finishing our respective degrees in June of 2016, we agreed we wanted to make something of our own eco-community, something with land, natural structures and lots of vegetables. First Ellie went volunteering in Ghana with a women’s charity called WOSAG where she introduced reusable sanitary pads to rural communities as a means of hygiene as well as income. Nik got a job in a local restaurant to save some money and get some experience before our planned journey.

We left for Asturias in March 2017, drawn to the North for the mountains, luscious scenery and the amount of permaculture projects listed on workaway.info. Now we have a base of our own, amongst making compost and bashing brambles. Nik is studying a TEFL course in order to work as a language assistant in local schools. We are both intending to teach privately to support ourselves and help the local community.

 

Our volunteering experience at English Getaway

 

We came to the Getaway directly from Finisterre, as we’d just finished walking El Camino De Santiago. Zach & Paula gave us such a warm welcome and we connected instantly as they told us how they had met on the camino.

 

Cena Asturiana

 

It’s easy to see how their project is inspired by the camino; with a mixture of people from English and Spanish speaking cultures exchanging knowledge and experience in Northern Spain. The magnificent Asturian-style menu also honoured the food traditions of our surroundings, which gave the program a balance of maintaining respect for Spanish culture whilst teaching another language.

The structure of the program was packed with a range of activities to keep motivation high and enjoyment at a maximum. As a volunteer, it was very enjoyable to get to know so many people through the one-to-one discussions and participation in group activities. Both teaching and learning was made easy by the fact that volunteer to student relationships quickly progressed into friendships.

 

intercambio-cultural-the-getaway-asturias

 

We’re still in contact with everyone we met on the Getaway, and even lived with one of the students a few months later, to help with work needed on their land. English Getaway is not just about learning another language, through meeting a range of people knowledge grows and one can’t help learning about places, experiences, stories, other lives and opportunities in the world.

As teachers, we learned so much from the Getaway experience, and were so happy to see the incomparable progress of each student in just seven days. If there was ever a doubt about the immersion method, English Getaway eradicates that. It’s truly inspiring to see projects such as this in rural Asturias working so successfully. Thank you Zach and Paula, we’ll surely see you in the mountains again soon.

 

Meet Robert Esguerra (Australia) – The EG Storybook

 

About me

 

My name is Robert, and I’ve lived in Australia most of my life. About 18 years ago I went to the U.S., intending to stay a year, but ending up staying for good. I’ve also lived in at least seven other countries, for periods ranging from 5 months to two years. These experiences have certainly shaped my curiosity about and love of different cultures. I majored in Psychology and History with a sub-major in English, all the while working for the Australian government but I was bored with my job and didn’t think I could make a decent living with my degree, so I decided to do an MBA. For the next 40 years, I worked as a management consultant and also in senior management positions in different industries from Banking to Mining, travelling to different countries on assignment.

 

In 2014, having had enough of the stress and pressure, I decided to retire from the business world.  I wanted to keep occupied, however, and was looking for a job online, hoping to work with a non-profit organization, when I stumbled across an advertisement to do a certificate in Teaching English as a Second Language (TESL).  And thus began my third career, doing something I love!  After the TESL course, I immediately got a job in Mexico, followed by a one-year stint in Turkey.  I then got a position teaching English online.  I do find that my business and management background comes in handy teaching ESL because many of my students are young adults who work in companies and government institutions.  Having learned several languages, five of them reasonably well, I appreciate what it takes to become fluent in another language.

 

My adventure with English Getaway (EG)

 

Sometime early in 2017, I saw an advertisement posted by EG and was immediately interested.  I’d been to Spain several times before and had even done part of the Camino de Santiago by bicycle.  Apart from that, my ancestors on my father’s side came from Spain.  In short, I love the country, so I applied and to my great delight, was accepted for the August retreat.

My one week with EG in Asturias ranks as one of the memorable experiences of my life, which is high praise, as I’ve had multiple adventures, including five months hitchhiking in Europe and England and three months camping around the U.S. and Canada.  While this was a more sedate experience, it was endless fun for the other participants and me.  At the same time, I had the satisfaction of seeing our students visibly and markedly improve their confidence and speaking abilities.

 

 

Our hosts, Paula and Zach, were just incredible and warm and welcoming.   I felt at home right from the beginning.  We got off to a promising start.  On the first day, we had to “sign an oath”, under threat of expulsion (just joking) that only English could be spoken, even among the Spanish students.  We (more or less!) kept our promise not to speak Spanish, although it was sometimes difficult because I speak passable Spanish!

I don’t want to spoil the surprise by giving too many details.  Let me just say that I was expecting one week of just sitting around chatting and I was stunned by all the activities that were designed to maximize opportunities for the students to develop and practice their English and gain confidence with multiple activities.  Within a couple of days, we were all very comfortable with each other, and we got to know each other’s idiosyncrasies and talents, which were in abundance.

Our hotel, a converted palace, was beautiful and set in the gorgeous and idyllic countryside amidst the hills and mountains of Asturias.  The food was gourmet quality, and it became a challenge to try to limit my food intake.

The weather allowed us at least one outing that week, which meant hiking into the mountainside and nearby village.  One of the students was an environmental scientist and botanist who had extensive knowledge of plants, so some of us who were lucky enough to be walking near her got a detailed education on the flora along the way.

 

 

On the very last day. in the early afternoon when the program officially ended, we were finally allowed a break from English, and there was almost a reluctance to launch into Spanish, so conditioned were we by our “oath”.

Yes, I met some very interesting people, and we keep in touch through Whats App.  Three months after the program, I caught up with one of the students in Barcelona for lunch.  And if I ever find myself in the northern regions this year or next I will certainly look up the other students who came from there as I know they’ll be happy to see me.  I’m forever grateful to Paula and Zach for giving me this opportunity and would consider it a privilege if they welcome me back.

 

¡ INFÓRMATE AQUÍ SOBRE NUESTROS CURSOS DE INMERSIÓN EN INGLÉS !

 

One day of Yoga, Nature and English in Bosque Escondido Arte

 
English Immersion in Bosque Escondido Arte
 

We are happy to announce our newest program, the One-Day English Immersion Getaway in Bosque Escondido Arte, Spain!

 

What is it?

 

A full day program with several activities which ensure an unforgettable day in one of the most beautiful areas of Spain, in Asturias.

 

Escultura de Carmen Castillo en Bosque Escondido ArteThe programs are going to take place in a forest where Carmen Castillo, sculptress works and lives, therefore many of her works are in her “outdoor museum” where participants and volunteers are going to spend the major part of the day.

Asturias is also known for its wonderful natural values and vitality. Its people, villages and the hundreds of rivers, the ocean, the mountains and the fresh air all contribute to a unique and extremely peaceful experience. For the lovers of active recreation, the location is just perfect to practice some sports, such as yoga. And do you know any better place for that than a quiet, healthy and private forest, the Bosque Escondido Arte in the neighbourhood of Parque Natural de Picos de Europa? This is one of the richest in nature areas of Spain, a real jewellery box rarely visited by foreign tourists, saved for the true fans of nature.

 
English Getaway Immersion Program
 

I want to be a volunteer!

 

Volunteers are expected to take an active part in the activities and conversations in English with the Spaniards and contribute to their development with correcting their mistakes. In exchange for the participation we provide the full program for free which includes meals, yoga session, hiking, group activities, coffee and teas and most importantly a life-long, unique experience. If you need, we can even help you with transportation once you arrived to Infiesto.

 
The program of the day:
10:00 AM – 12:00 PM – Yoga session in English
12:00 PM – 2:00 PM – Hiking route
2:00 PM – 3:30 PM – Lunch
3:30 PM – 4:30 PM – Group Activity
4:30 PM – 5:00 PM – Coffee and Tea
 
Upcoming dates are: 7th April, 5th May, 2nd June.
 

Don’t hesitate to apply and become a member of our community!

 

Joan Linton from California – The EG Storybook

About me

 
Joan Linton, English Getaway volunteer - weekend immersion

I’m Joan Linton. I live in California in the USA. Last year I visited Spain to attend my first EG immersion program and do some volunteering.
When I was  younger I taught myself a second language, which has had a huge positive impact on my life. Nearly all my adult life has been spent earning my living using my bilingual skills. Because of this I know, better than many, the importance of, and enrichment from, being bilingual. I can read novels and poetry, and watch plays and films in their original (always better) form. I can appreciate lyrics to music that would otherwise be inaccessible to me. I always had the advantage over monolingual applicants for jobs. I can communicate directly with millions of people more than would be possible with only one language.

 

As everyone knows, English is the “lingua franca” of the modern world. Fluency in it opens doors. People of every nationality increase their options when they add English to their skill sets. So it’s no surprise that lots of Europeans look for opportunities to improve their English speaking and listening skills. Those of us who have unlimited supplies of English conversation can help them, and in the bargain, have a nice time making friends in a lovely place, for the cost of getting to the pick-up point for English Getaway.

 

My volunteering experience at English Getaway

 

 

I did a weekend program with English Getaway in June of 2017 and wish it had been longer. The venue was perfect, with kind and generous hosts, fabulous food, and an idyllic, serene setting. The EG staff were like instant friends, and the other participants, both Spanish and “Anglo” were wonderful. Good weather allowed us a variety of activities, but I believe that even confined to our lodgings we would have enjoyed every minute.

The typical traveler goes to see the sights and try the cuisine and such, but rarely gets to know new friends in any depth. By the end of the EG program, I felt I could visit any of the participants, and would welcome them in my home. It’s an excellent way to get to understand the world outside one’s own culture — seen from a new perspective. As for the Spaniards, I can only say that the improvement in their English is astounding. Being part of this metamorphosis is a true honor. It’s an experience I intend to repeat again and again. In fact, I’m already booked for a weekend in March.

 

A Palace where only English is spoken

 

Inmersión en Inglés en un Palacio

We will begin using a new location for our upcoming 6-Day English Immersion Programs. We opted for the incredible Palacio de Rubianes hotel surrounded by mountains and indigenous forests, where one has the sensation of traveling back in time. It is the result of the careful restoration of a sixteenth century Asturian palace of unique architecture, converted into a modern and charming hotel full of original spaces laid out by the Bilbao designer Fernando Castellón.


Curso intensivo de Inmersión en Inglés en Palacio de Rubianes


Located at the foot of the mythical Sueve mountain range and within a privileged valley where silence is king, this hotel is the perfect place to disconnect from reality and, for a few days, take the plunge into linguistic immersion, where the participants will experience the feeling of being abroad as they will speak and hear only English.

The formula is simple; the Spanish participants will live together with an equal number of native English speakers from different countries, and we will take care of everything else!

75 hours of practice, many of them being “one-to-ones”, but also group activities and professional practice as well as daily social hours. It is a unique experience, not only for the learning involved but also for the unforgettable bonds and friendships that are formed and for the continuous contact with nature, something that differentiates English Getaway.
 

Programas de Inmersio¦ün Lingu¦êi¦üstica en Asturias - 1000x300

 
The hotel is surrounded by walking routes that the participants can traverse during their “one-to-ones” and during the week, guided walks will be organized with a native English-speaking biologist where we can also learn about some of the fauna and flora of the area.

If you want to know more about our English Immersion Programs click here.

 

Modus Gj’n – Starting a business in times of crisis

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A moment during the presentation about our English Immersion Programs in Asturias

Thanks to AFAS and the city council of Gijón, we had the opportunity to present our new project in the “Lanzadera de Modus Gj’n 2014”, along with 9 other entrepreneurs/ start-up companies.  It took place in an auditorium in the “Universidad Laboral” on the 20th of November.

These types of  initiatives are very important because they assist with the dissemination of various projects and serve as a bridge between new ideas and investors or potential partners who can really help to convert such ideas into a tangible reality.

It was the first edition of Modus Gj’n, and we are happy to say that there will most likely be more to come as there is a noticable desire to continue in the future.   And even though the seats were not completely full, all of the speakers put a lot of effort and excitement into our presentations.

You could breathe in the atmosphere, full of energy and especially eagerness, eagerness to fight and not give up, keep believing in our dreams and hope that with hard work and good ideas we can once again awaken the economic engine of this country.

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Debate between some of the presenters and the audience

Entrepreneurship in times of crisis may seem crazy, a desperate measure, and always seems to exist with a backing of voices that constantly remind us of a fear that has been impregnated in our society.  So many people have been paralyzed by panic of losing the artificial paradise that we have been sold for so many years.

A part of that society, especially the young, have chosen to go to other countries where they are able to maintain a certain level of “comfort” and then return with a decent resume in which they can display some important company name, because otherwise, in Spain, you’re nobody. That has always been our education.

But the reality is that the numbers of great ideas and the amount of entrepreneurial movement in our country and around the world is growing every day and this is evidence that something is changing, that we are finally realizing that the most valuable asset we have, in times of crisis, is to believe in yourself.

An example of this is “The South Summit” Spain Start-up, an event that just began two years ago and has become a phenomenon in the business world.

Three days, over 7000 visitors, 4 stages, 3500 entrepreneurs, 170 journalists, more than 20 workshops and 46 talks involving more than 100 speakers, some as well known as Ferrán Adriá, one of the most famous chefs in the world, or Eric Schmidt, the chairman of Google.

Check out this inspirational video, that gave me goosebumps the first time I saw it:
http://spain-startup.com/

 

“Don’t sleep to rest, sleep to dream, because dreams are meant to be fulfilled” Walt Disney.

 


Family Hiking in English

 

DSC_0021 Edited

 

Last Sunday we went for a walk with a family that was eager to practice English. The weather was doubtful, but we took a chance and it was worth it.

This time we chose a trail through the Montegrande Beech forest that leads to the Xiblu waterfall, which came highly recommended and was perfectly prepared for children.

The two English speakers of the family were Chus and Sira, mother and daughter.

Chus is an English teacher in a rural school near Aviles and she is so motivated with her English that she has spoken English to Sira since she was three years old. Now she is five and it is incredible to hear her speak … she uses expressions that probably a native English speaker her age would not know and her pronunciation is simply perfect. Her mother says it’s because of the cartoons, that she has watched in English since she was little.

Someone may think it’s a little strange that mother and daughter communicate in a different language than their mother tongue, that the relationship can not be equal, but the complicity between Chus and Sira was quite palpable … They sang, played charades, they laughed together … it was wonderful to see them interact.

 

DSC_0013 Edited

 

Another example of how English immersion, in this case at home, can give us incredible results and make us feel so comfortable with the language that we can be ourselves, express our own ideas and even come to think in English.

In addition, the fact that Chus really enjoys speaking in English and she is able to transmit this feeling so well to her daughter, makes Sira see how much fun it is and see that she is always accompanied in the learning process. It is like a game for her.

Congratulations Chus! I hope I can do it as well as you with my own son Ethan, who is almost two years old and is supposed to someday be bilingual, but we’ll see … for now with “mamá”, “papá” and his large repertoire of sounds he has enough tools to make himself understood.

Whatever happens, I hope that my son is lucky enough to have teachers with as much dedication as you, which is what all parents would hope for.

Thank you for being so sweet, Sira, and for making us laugh the whole way. See you soon!

 

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How I got over my fear of speaking in English

 

Mirando al Big Ben

Source: www.blogdelondres.es

Welcome to our space, our window to the world, a place from which we can share our experience at English Getaway and more…

And now comes the stage fright… our first post!

Perhaps a good way to break the ice would be to introduce ourselves, explain why we organize English Immersion Programs and why we do so in Asturias, but before we get there, I should first explain how I got over my fear of speaking in English.

From an early age, I became interested in English because of music. I always loved to sing and my favorite songs were in English.

 

I remember listening to songs over and over again and phonetically writing out the lyrics on paper so I could memorize them. This took a lot of time and I was always left with one question… what the heck was I saying? After several years of studying in school and in language academies, where learning English seemed like a torture, my parents decided to use their lottery winnings to send me to England for a summer.

I vividly remember my initial feelings… “Wait a minute… These people don’t speak the same language that I’ve been studying for the last 8 years!” I didn’t understand anything. Speaking made me extremely nervous and nothing coherent came out of my mouth. The effort that the Brittish had to make in order to understand me was superhuman, which resulted in me having very few English-speaking friends and, naturally, me spending more time with Spaniards so we could mutually comfort each other. Fantastic! One full month in England and only 20 hours, maximum, of real practice in English.

 

https://s-media-cache-ec0.pinimg.com/originals/03/20/58/0320583a36ca2c1092f05e6e5693be2f.jpgSource: pinterest: autor desconocido

Years later, in university, I had my second chance; an exchange program with the University of Manchester, so I went ahead and tried again. At first, it was torture trying to follow the classes and take decent notes, but with practice, my listening skills began adapting to this incredibly strange language that was becoming more and more like the language of my songs… and I really started to like it.

From the beginning I knew that I wanted to interact with only English speakers, after all, I was there to speak English. This time, I prohibited myself from speaking to any Spaniard! And I did it… For 2 years I was completely immersed in the language and the culture. I lived in a house with 4 Brits and one French student, who naturally became my teachers, my friends and my family.

 

Ville Sans Soleil - illustrated by moonywolf. The story is about a city underground with no sunshine.Source: http://moonywolf.deviantart.com

Almost without realizing it, my difficulties with the language began diminishing because I enjoyed being with everybody, communicating with them, getting to know them and being able to show them who I was. We spoke for hours about anything and everything … our thoughts, our dreams, the things that we missed… I began to trust myself, to speak with other foreigners that were there for the same reason as me, and I discovered the pleasure of communication without barriers. English was no longer the language of my songs; It was the language of the world.

In Spain, English has opened many unexpected doors for me. One day it opened the door to Diverbo, where I worked for a number of years. I began working as a counselor in English Immersion Programs for teenagers and I ended up directing the famous Pueblo Inglés programs for adults. It was a great experience.

 

It has never ceased to amaze me how, in one week of English immersion, participants are transformed, gaining confidence in the language and, at the same time, in themselves, and how so many unique friendships are formed, especially through “one-to-one” conversations which often evolve in such a way that they reach a level of depth that we hardly reach even when speaking with our best friends.

The unique opportunity to have all the time in the world to speak, and to do it in English, to loose your fear and your “sense of ridiculous” ,as they say in Spanish, because we are all in the same boat, and to count on the help of some exceptional people from all over the world… this is, for me, the magic of these programs and the best way to fall in love with the language.

Because of this, at English Getaway we want to continue creating these encounters, to practice “real” English with native people, to learn the expressions and to understand the accents that make them unique and to do all of this in the incredible natural setting of Asturias, Spain.

We look for unique rural settings and we combine English immersion with nature walks and hiking because we can’t think of a better way to strike up an interesting conversation than strolling through the natural beauty of the Asturian landscape.

 

 

Photo: Mick Stephenson

We’re waiting for you!

 

Paula del Estal

Co-founder of English Getaway