Meet Maria Torres Giron, the CEO and Founder of Olé Spanish!
Olé Spanish was created over 20+ years ago. Maria now has over 20 years of teaching under her belt. The Olé Spanish method was perfected and inspired with the idea of teaching with the wider world in mind, and not just the classroom. This is what sets Olé Spanish apart from many other language schools. Read on to learn more about the CEO behind this method and how she came to create Olé Spanish
What is your history with teaching?
“I come from a long line of teachers. Both my parents were teachers in the tiny village that I grew up in. The education system was a lot different back then. The class rooms were small rooms located around the village, fit with only a blackboard and chalk. My parents had a way of teaching that definitely influenced and inspired me. They had a focus on incorporating teaching with living. Instead of learning things in the context of a classroom, we learnt in the context of the wide world. My parents had a very tactile way of learning. It was all about going out and having fun, we changed environments often, switching between sitting in the room and going out to the countryside. This was an ‘informal’ way of teaching, with great results. Many of my fellow students went on to become valued doctors. This way of learning encouraged a happy and open approach to learning. Cultivating an opinion that learning can and should be fun. In my opinion learning is taught correctly if it is fun and memorable.’
How many years have you been teaching?
"I have been teaching for 20 years now. I have a degree in teaching language, literature and sport. I came to England in 1993 and went into graphic design for a banking firm. It was once my son was born in 2001, that I was able to go back to my roots and really focus on teaching again. From 2001 I founded the Olé Spanish method to ensure that games, music, food and overall culture was at the heart of my teaching. Since then I have perfected the method and it remains successful."
Can you tell us a bit about your understanding of the history of Spain and why it is such a favoured language to learn?
"The thing about Spain and England is that they are so interconnected. Not only has it been an adored tourist destination for English people for years, but it's a place where people dream to live when they retire.
There has also always been such diversity in Spain, you can see it through the architecture. You can see how the architecture is inspired by the Middle East. Moorish architecture, as the Spanish call it, is architecture that is heavily inspired by Islamic culture, we pride ourselves on that diversity.
Similarly, the interconnectedness of the USA and Spain is obvious. The US name many of their states after Spanish words such as Florida, meaning flowery, Montana after Montaña meaning mountains and Arizona meaning sand in Spanish. These are just a few examples of how prevalent the Spanish language is everywhere.
Because of how prevalent Spanish is, learning it gives people an opportunity to tell a joke and share stories with many more people."
What are your favourite things to do in your spare time?
"I love to chill with my family and friends in my time off. I sing all the time, ask anyone haha. I sing Spanish songs a lot of the time, but I do like the one- off English pop songs. Singing is an amazing way to regulate emotions and calm stress levels so I like to sometimes incorporate singing in my lessons as well, for kids to relax after a long day at school.
I also love to be in nature, I think that is thanks to my parents letting me spend so much time outdoors."
What are your top Spanish learning tips?
"I think it’s important that the lessons you attend are fun and have a tactile way of learning. A lot of people use apps nowadays, and this is a great addition to learning, but it can’t be the only way to learn a language. It is true what they say, you have to be in it to learn it. So speaking with others is the quickest way to learn.
I also recommend watching your favourite shows and movies in Spanish. Netflix and Amazon Prime allow you to watch it in Spanish with English subtitles. If you love the film already it helps a lot and is very entertaining. Try it with Harry Potter, it’s a lot of fun."
And lastly, what are your favourite things about Olé?
"I love to prepare the lessons, the satisfaction of planning lessons and seeing them come to fruition never gets old. I actually tutor clients myself, despite being the CEO, because I love being at the forefront of the business and really getting to know the students. Working with clients of all ages helps me get firsthand inspiration for all my lesson plans.
I also love when GCSE and A Level students succeed and consistently get good grades, it validates that our teaching methods work not just practically out and about in the world but also within a formal education system.
Summer Camps with the kids are always fun, a holiday sharing my homeland with many people is such a lovely feeling."
Written by Amber Francesca Carvalho