Is it just as difficult for a Spaniard to learn English as it is for a German? Do they have to deal with the same doubts as an Italian? Are the questions on a language course the same in Portugal as they are in Spain? When learning a new language, everyone faces their own series of difficulties, and there is no doubt that where a student comes from has a big influence.
English in Action, which arrives on January 22, is the new collection from EL PAÍS for English-language learners, and is aimed at students whose mother tongue is Castilian Spanish. It arrives with a sponsor who will bring two things to the table: humor and a wide-reaching knowledge of Spanish-speakers; the TV presenter Michael Robinson will accompany students through the course.
A conversation in a pub, checking in to a hotel, a radio show or giving directions are just some of the situations shown in these videos
Every installment of the course includes a book and a DVD, and with four different units: The Essentials, Tips & Tools, Everyday English and English at work. The first unit supplies the fundamentals of the language, to help lay the foundations from week to week. Tips & Tools shows the keys and little tricks to help you speak the most natural kind of English possible, and is designed to help students find out how people really speak on the street. Everyday English shows examples of how to cope with daily situations, like going to the hairdressers, contesting a traffic fine or preparing a recipe in the kitchen, for example. And finally, English at Work is a section designed for the job world, in which English has become one of the fundamental requirements for the majority of positions. How do you give a presentation in English? And a job interview? These are just a few of the doubts that will be cleared up in this section.
Watch Michael Robinson interviewed on Facebook Live
Originally from Leicester in the United Kingdom, Michael Robinson is a former soccer player-turned-broadcaster, and has lived in Spain for the last 30 years.
After his sporting career came to a close, he turned to the media, becoming a regular fixture on Spanish screens as a commentator and a presenter – all delivered in his second language, Spanish, and with his distinctive British accent.
The journalist and presenter came to the EL PAÍS newsroom to take part in a Facebook Live broadcast, where English Edition editor Simon Hunter asked him about the challenges he has faced carving out a media career while working in a second language, as well as the tips and tricks he can recommend for English students.
Click here to see the interview (mostly in Spanish, with some English), which took place on Wednesday January 18, at 1pm CET.
The focus of this course is on the practical, and as such, every one of the lessons includes a sketch, filmed as if it were a short episode from a TV show, and in which students will be able to see the application of a hypothetical case in each learning unit. Thanks to these videos, the theoretical concepts can be seen put into practice in the real world. A conversation in a pub, checking in to a hotel, a radio show or giving directions to some tourists are just some of the situations shown in these videos.
The books are there to sharpen the knowledge acquired from each DVD. They are manuals in which the audiovisual content is revised via different exercises and summaries of the material in each lesson. The books include the section Your Turn, which allows the student to become one of the characters in the sketches thanks to a script.
The collection breaks the mold of the traditional methods of English teaching that have historically been used in Spain, leaving behind a system that has always been afflicted by excessive focus on grammar and repetition, and instead explores language in the real world. The aim is to try to get as close as possible to conversations and situations that could take place in the real world. “With English in Action you learn English for everyday life in a simple, entertaining and customized way,” explains Michael Robinson. And with his characteristic irony, he adds: “There’s no need for you to thank me – after so many years it’s the least I can do for Spain.”
For more information on the English in Action course click here.