The director of the Instituto Cervantes, Luis García Montero, travels to the United Kingdom where on Wednesday he will inaugurate the Cervantes Chair at the University of Edinburgh, an initiative dedicated to the stimulation of the teaching and promotion of the Spanish language, and the dissemination of Hispanic culture in Scotland. Dependent on the Instituto Cervantes in Manchester, this event heralds the official establishment of the first extension of the institution in the Scottish capital. Alexis Grohmann, hispanist and Professor of Contemporary Spanish Literature, will occupy the Cervantes chair.
For the development of its activity, the Cervantes Chair will have the support of the Spanish Department at the University of Edinburgh, with its century of history. The figure of the Cervantes Professor, a professor from the university itself, will support the work of the Cervantes Institute. The activity of the extension will also be developed via the assignment of the necessary spaces for the realization of teacher training courses and cultural programmes.
The inauguration ceremony will be attended by the Principal of the University of Edinburgh, Peter Mathieson; the Academic Director of the Instituto Cervantes, Carmen Pastor; The Consul General of Spain in Edinburgh, Ignacio Cartagena, and the Cervantes Professor, Alexis Grohmann; as well as by Luis García Montero himself.
This initiative was developed with the support of the Scottish authorities, as highlighted in the meeting held by García Montero (on a previous visit to the Scottish capital,) with the Deputy President of the Scottish Parliament, Liam McArthur; and in a subsequent visit, with the Minister for Constitution, Foreign Affairs and Culture of the Scottish Government, Angus Robertson, at the Instituto Cervantes Headquarters in Madrid.
The University of Edinburgh, founded in 1583, is one of the largest and most prestigious universities in the United Kingdom. The teaching of Spanish in Scotland has experienced a sustained increase in recent years, a fact highlighted by the British Council’s Language Trends report, which showed the consolidation of the Spanish language as the foreign language most demanded by secondary school students throughout the United Kingdom.
García Montero’s Agenda in Edinburgh
García Montero’s programme in the Scottish city will begin on Tuesday, 23rd May, with a Poetry Recital at the Scottish Poetry Library, in which the poet and translator Anna Crowe and Professor Alexis Grohmann, as well as Consul General of Spain in Edinburgh, Ignacio Cartagena will participate alongside Luis García Montero.
The following day, the Director of the Instituto Cervantes will meet, at the Consulate of Spain, with the lecturer of Hispanic Linguistics and coordinator of the online teaching programs of the Department of European Languages and Cultures of the University of Edinburgh, Carlos Soler.
On the same day, the 24th May, the inauguration of the Cervantes Chair will be held at the University of Edinburgh (at 6:30 p.m. local time in Scotland.) The Principal of the University of Edinburgh, Peter Mathieson, will address attendees, as well as the director of the Cervantes, Luis García Montero, the consul general of Spain, Ignacio Cartagena Nuñez and the Cervantes Professor Alexis Grohmann.
Professor of Contemporary Spanish Literature at the School of Literatures, Languages and Cultures, Grohmann is also director of the Arturo Pérez-Reverte Chair at the University of Murcia and foreign correspondent of the Royal Spanish Academy. Author of more than a hundred publications, his works include numerous books on the authors Javier Marías and Arturo Pérez-Reverte.
Spanish in Scotland
With a population of five million, Scotland is one of the four devolved regions constituting the United Kingdom, alongside England, Wales, and Northern Ireland. Its capital, Edinburgh, stands out for its great cultural offer and international projection with numerous festivals such as the Edinburgh International Theatre Festival and the Edinburgh International Festival of the Arts.
In recent years, the teaching of Spanish has grown steadily in the country despite the gradual decline in the teaching of foreign languages in the region. Likewise, the British Council report Language Trends confirm that Spanish is one of the most strategically important languages for the United Kingdom.
Spanish is currently taught in almost half of UK primary schools, with two thirds of secondary schools offering Spanish as a third language. This being said, there is a great need and demand for training programmes for Spanish teachers , in order to keep up with current trends.
Upcoming programme of academic and cultural activities
In the academic field, the Cervantes Chair proposes a teacher-training programme focussed on the DADIC (Diploma of Teaching Accreditation) that will include the observation of classes at the University of Edinburgh for participating teachers, a course on the Heritage Languages, as well as Spanish courses for teachers using the AVE platform.
In regards to cultural activities, the chair will participate in the Edinburgh Book Fair, the Edinburgh Spanish Film Festival, the International Symposium of Spanish Poetry at the University of Saint Andrews, and the celebration of a round table on the figure of Javier Marías in the United Kingdom.