Mariana Jiménez Moreno moved to Ireland in 2010 and, shortly afterwards, she started teaching Corkonians how to speak Spanish!
Today, she delivers beginners and more advanced Spanish classes in Bishopstown Community School, Ballincollig Community School, Ashton Comprehensive School, and Carrigaline Community School.
And, in September 2019, she and nine of her night class students headed to Cabra, a small town in Andalucia for four days. “This was an immersion experience to enhance their Spanish language and knowledge of the Spanish culture and way of living,” says Mariana, who hails from Madrid originally.
“Cabra is a small town and most of the people there do not speak English, so it was an opportunity for the night class students to practice their Spanish. The town is one hour’s drive from Cordoba and Granada, and two hours from Seville, so it was a great base.
“The main aim was to learn about the town and to get to know everything about it, the people, the food, the culture.”
The Spanish classes in Cork have proved extremely popular. “A lot of different people come to the classes: from people who are in college to people in their 80s. Some people want a few words of Spanish to use on their holidays, or some want to learn Spanish because a family member has married a person from Spain or Latin American and they want to communicate better with them.
“In some classes, we have a very wide range of ages. I have students who want to train their mind and learn another language. Some people are retired and want to move to Spain (or already have a base in Spain) or want to learn to speak to Spanish-speaking grandchildren. Or, in the September class, people come to learn Spanish because they have booked a holiday in Spain over Christmas.”
As with any night class, the social benefits are enormous. “In some classes, a lot of the same people come back each year. People become friends and get to know about each other’s lives.”
In terms of lifelong learning, Spanish is ideal in helping people to navigate social situations on holidays. “In the beginners’ class, we cover the basics, greetings, introductions, then different foods and directions. At the improvers’ classes, the participants know what they need – maybe going to a hairdresser when living or holidaying in Spain.
“Every class has a cultural element – so, for instance, at Christmas time, we cover what Christmas is like in Spain, compared to what it is like in Ireland.”
And the lucky ones get to visit Spain – lifelong learning at its best!