Antonio Olivera Interview

Antonio is one of the Spanish trainers at the Taleninstituut Nederland. He comes from a back ground in Psychology, international relations and team management. He has taught with this school for over 11 years.

Antonio explains that many of his clients are there because Spanish is such an important global language, “My clients often just love the musical sound of Spanish, but more than that, they find Spanish a useful, communicative language. It is the mother tongue of 500 million people around the world over the 5 continents. The USA has between 50-60 million native speakers alone, which makes it the second large Spanish-speaking country in the world today (ahead of Spain and Colombia and only behind Mexico, with 125 million). Chances are that around the year 2050 the USA will become the biggest Spanish-speaking country in the world. Paradoxically Spanish is not yet an official language in the States.”

For Antonio, teaching a language is a lot like solving a large problem at work, “I love challenging situations,” he explains, “There is nothing better than a major project that seems too big to complete, a goal that seems too far to reach or a topic that seems impossible to carry out. For a lot of people, tackling language feels a lot like that, so I enjoy doing it with them.”

Spanish is definitely a challenge for new learners, and Antonio has identified the 5 biggest problem areas for learners. “Grammatically-speaking there are 5 subjects that are quite demanding for almost all the students I have taught so far. As far as language skills are concerned, listening comprehension and speaking remain the most arduous tasks. In both cases I adopt a rock & roll bottom line approach: “If you want to rock, all you need is a guitar, a bass and the drums.” In other words: keep it simple.”

“If it is a very complex matter, I usually turn the classic method of teaching (theory, practice & production) upside down and start instead with some examples that embody the issue we are trying to clarify. First we analyse texts, audio, etc., and then later we go backwards until the student gets to understand the theory by him or herself.”

Of course the state of preparation of each client is also an important factor for learning language. “Be mentally ready for your language course,” says Antonio, “Try to avoid perfectionism, keep the big picture in mind at all times, work step by step toward the end goal and have fun along the way. It is also always a good idea to have a clear, well-structured lesson plan and discuss the pros, cons, challenges and needs with the trainer. This is a teamwork process so you need to really work WITH your trainer to decide what you need to learn.”

“Did you know that around 90% of the transmitted information in the human brain is visual?” asks Antonio, “Once you know this, you can understand that visual methods of teaching (presentations, videos, movies, images description or mind maps) work very well. In the last years I have also noticed that adults are increasingly prone to use whatever new technology is available in order to contribute to the learning process, from new devices (mobile phones, ipod, ipad, internet…) to apps that facilitate an easy access to the knowledge (memorizer app, games, online translators…). It’s also therefore important for us as to teachers to be able to use these technologies in our lessons. It keeps me growing too.”

Apart from of course teaching the language, Spanish culture also plays a large role in Antonio’s lessons. “The concepts of Spanish language and culture are indivisible!” he exclaims, “They are the two sides of the same coin. If you learn Spanish (or any other language for that matter), but don´t get to know how the cultural background shapes it, you will never be able to use it effectively and efficiently, and you will probably end up bringing into play clichés that in some cases might even harm a business relationship or ruin a deal.”

Antonio’s Language Learning Tip:

Open a door to a new way of thinking and living, new experiences in life and interaction with different cultures. Through the proper use of language you will understand the psychology behind the decision-making process of your counterparts and this in time will result in growing your options for a satisfactory deal-closing or a new business opportunity.

Here at TalenInstituut Nederland (The Dutch Language Institute) we understand the needs that companies face as well as the fears individual learners feel. This is why we offer flexible, fully customised Business language courses to businesses and individuals. Through a process of interviews and meetings we establish the unique needs and competence of our clients and design each and every course around those. To find out more about our Business Language courses, visit our website and ask us for a quote:

© Taleninstituut Nederland

By: David Chislett
Trainer Business English