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Thursday, June 12, 2014 (read 1219 times)

25 Years don Quijote Salamanca

by Lauris

I can still recall, through the dense haze of my memory, a young, freshly graduated university student brimming with pride over his new Spanish studies degree. He dreamed of becoming a high school literature teacher, the only path it seemed for a Spanish studies major. That young grad was me.

My spectacular failure to pass the public exam to become a teacher in Andalusia’s public school system would prove to be what I still consider the greatest blessing in disguise of my life. Faced with the prospect of waiting another year to take the next public exam, I decided to answer a job offer I happened to come across for Spanish as a foreign language teachers. In those days (we’re talking mid-80’s here), the field was still in its infancy, and there was hardly any teaching material out there to use in class. The internet was still years away and the only cell phones were those installed in the fancy cars of the very wealthy.

don Quijote Spanish Language School

My first day on the job, in front of my first class of students, I had to sit in a chair because my knees refused to let me stand; I felt like a fish out of water. During my work experience I got to know René and Marianne de Jong, a Dutch brother-sister duo who had an agency that sent Dutch students to Spain to learn Spanish. The agency was don Quijote. Over time, these entrepreneurs founded a school in Salamanca. That was 1989. Two years later they opened don Quijote Granada, where I started working.

The learning process for this young teacher with big ambition and little experience had just begun. Fortunately, our “bosses” were aware of the importance of continuous training, and we would go on to attend a long series of conferences and events related to the field. I have to admit that they helped, a lot, and working in the classroom every day, making lesson plans, keeping up to date on the latest teaching materials and strategies, and experimenting with new methods have all brought us to where we are now.

A few years ago, another entrepreneur (Antonio Anadón) effectively joined the forces of two different paths within the field of Spanish language education and routed them toward a single direction. He was able to maintain the original names of the two organizations, and now we have earned ourselves a place of privilege in the business on an international level.

As a Spanish teacher (as an old teacher I should say, or a viejo profesor, or perhaps even a profesor viejo), proud and gratified to be a part of this organization, with much appreciation for all the colleagues and friends that I’ve had the pleasure to get to know over my thirty years of teaching, I must publicly show my great appreciation and admiration for one person who is fundamental to don Quijote’s educational and organizational structure. This is a person who, from some corner of Salamanca, has guided us on our continued quest for excellence: Caridad Santana, the academic director of don Quijote. With a firm pulse and a subtle touch, as our mourned Gabriel Garcia Marquez would say, she has been able to glean the best strengths from each one of us to build a team of educators that I feel greatly indebted to.

don Quijote’s Salamanca school is celebrating its 25th anniversary this month. It is still the flagship which has helped us grow as teaching professionals and share values that have carried us into a successful future, values that wouldn’t allow us to just rest on our laurels but instead have forced us to remain determined and active on our constant mission to achieve excellence.    

Keywords: salamanca,salamanca spain,spanish teacher,teaching spanish,spanish language school,foreign language teacher


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