William Frost is originally from Shrewsbury, but now he lives in Canterbury. He has moved around a lot as he teaches English as a foreign language; he spent two years teaching in Cologne, Germany. He also taught in London for some time where he came into contact with a lot of Spanish and Spanish speaking students.
He has done some independent journalism and video making mainly on the topic of Latin America and Iberia. Now he is training to become a secondary school teacher at Canterbury Christ Church University specialising in Spanish and French (Modern Foreign Languages). He is really enjoying this new challenge as it requires a lot of different skills.
– How did you become interested in learning Spanish?
Good question! I have always been interested in languages, but for a long time I knew almost no Spanish as I did not learn it at school or university. It soon became clear to me that if I wanted to have a career in languages then knowing at least some Spanish would be essential as it is such a widely spoken language in the world.
It was actually mainly through friends and ex-students that I had taught that got me into learning Spanish. I have found that if you make an effort to learn the language then native speakers will always encourage you, to help you progress.
– What do you like the most about Instituto Cervantes London?
I did used to go there to use the library which is fantastic; there is an brilliant selection of resources such as books, magazines, newspapers and films. The variety of books is great as you can find grammar and text books but also literature, history and art books. It caters to all tastes.
I also attend the conversation clubs. When I lived in London I used to go to the institute in person, but now I access them online. These are great sessions where we discuss a different topic each time, subjects like urbanism, global warming and climate change. The best thing about the sessions is that they are spaces where you can practice your speaking and listening skills in an unpressured environment. There are always native speakers conducting the sessions so if you are struggling with something they will help you out. Speaking is the skill I find most challenging so this benefits me a lot.
I have also attended some online cultural events such as a tribute to Mario Benedetti which as great as there were some live poetry readings in Spanish and English. I have a special interest in Uruguay so that one really caught my eye. The accent in that part of that world is a bit different so it was good to be able to listen to it. Uruguay is an amazing country and I hope to go back there when my Spanish is better!
– What do you like the most about learning the language?
What I like about learning Spanish is that you know that what you are learning is highly useful as so many countries in the world speak it as their mother tongue. This means that you have an insight into other parts of the world, especially Latin America. Also the sheer variety of different resources available means that whatever you are interested in you will be able to find something in Spanish. I have been watching some documentaries about South America on Netflix in Spanish recently which has helped a lot. I am also a fan of Pedro Almodóvar’s films so I enjoy watching them.
– Do you use Spanish in your daily life or do you plan to use it for your work?
I do use Spanish as part of my teacher training and I intend on using it a lot more when I qualify. Spanish is growing steadily in popularity at schools and this is reflected in the rise in pupils choosing to take it at both GCSE and A levels.
I also use it to read Spanish language newspapers online such as El País, which helps me keep up to date with what is going on.
– Why did you become interested in getting a certificate for Spanish language?
I became interested in doing the DELE certificate really because I wanted to know what my level was and what I needed to improve on. In that respect it was really useful. I also think it is really practical to have a clear goal in mind to focus your studies. That extra bit of pressure helps to structure what you are learning. It is also something more concrete to put on your CV or to talk about at interview.
I was lucky enough to visit the Cervantes Institute headquarters in Madrid last year were I saw some interesting exhibitions about Spanish in the world. It was there that I found out about the DELE exams. It is a fantastic place; if you get the chance to visit, I highly recommend it.
– How did you find the exam?
The exam was like all exams, a bit nerve wracking but completely worth it. You get a good sense of satisfaction once you find out you have passed! I had my speaking at the institute in central London and the other parts at the Cañada Blanch School in Kensington. Everything was seamlessly organised and ran smoothly. All of the staff at the Cervantes were very friendly and professional.
The certificate you get is the most elegant document I have ever seen. It was addressed to “Don William” which made it seem very official but I also it found hilarious!
– Do you plan to continue studying Spanish?
I definitely plan to continue studying Spanish, I think it is a wonderful language and I feel like it is the most useful language to be learning right now. Learning in a language is a marathon not a sprint so I am in it for the long haul. It took me ages to remember that piragüismo means canoeing and I recently learned that pencil sharpener is sacapuntas. And I still get a bit confused between ustedes and vosotros, but I’m getting there! You have to keep topping up and refreshing your knowledge as it’s so easy to forget vocabulary! I am also considering taking the DELE B2 or C1 exam next year. ¡Adelante!
The Cervantes Institute has been brilliant in helping me improve my Spanish. But I have also learned about Spanish culture and how the language is used all over the world. At the moment, as travelling is so challenging with the pandemic, all of the online events and resources have been fantastic.