I was born and raised in Canada. Both my parents were Spanish, so when they retired, they logically moved back to the south of Spain. My father’s side of the family can be traced back to the Berber ethnic groups from the North of Africa. These three aspects of my origins have developed the fascination I feel for culture, language, challenges, adventure and lifelong learning.
Having been brought up bilingual allowed me to secure a position as an English language teacher in a government-owned language school. An Official School of Languages (Escuela Official de Idiomas -EOI-) is a publicly funded institution dedicated to the specialized teaching of modern languages. They can be found all over Spain and vary in size and number of languages that can be studied there. Most schools offer 2 to 5 languages, but as many as 22 languages can be availed. These include many European languages, Arabic, Chinese, Korean, Spanish autonomous region languages and Spanish for foreigners.
The significance of these language schools lies in their diversity. Their curriculum is based on the Common European Framework. Their student population ranges from teenagers, to university students, an array of professions, retirees and unemployed. Some years ago, their train the trainer side was reinforced, therefore, allowing them to offer specialized training courses to teachers, police force and so on. The faculty is also as diverse as the student population and can be either Spanish or European. Thus, the scope of their instruction is eclectic, varied and up to date. There is a Federation of EOI teachers which encompasses the all the EOI teacher associations throughout Spain. They meet regularly and provide specialized professional development to a collective that often finds specialized training difficult.
This search for professional development not only as a source of personal knowledge, but also as a firm conviction in the more I know, the better I can help my students, has encouraged me to use the opportunities that being a Spanish civil servant has granted me over the years to travel to different countries and cultures, namely North America, Europe and the Gulf Region.
I am currently at the end of the 3-year leave which has taken place at a technological college in Dubai. I was employed as the Foundations Program Chair and teach English to Emirati students who have recently graduated from High School or professionals who would like to further their education. The United Arab Emirates became independent in 1971 and since then has strived to “build a knowledge-based economy comprised of skilled and professional citizens who can help realize the nation’s forward vision.” The Ministry of Education is closely involved in the running of its educational institutions, providing support and supervision in order to enhance the training and literacy of all Emiratis. Consequently, policies and procedures are being developed to encourage adult education groups, training both inside and outside the classroom, and innovation. At the Higher Colleges of Technology, this forward vision is taking form in the development of a hybrid model which combines academic training as well as industry participation, with the ultimate objective of producing career-ready graduates for jobs that actually exist.
One example of this, is the upcoming Expo 2020 Dubai which is already seeing a large number of Emiratis taking the initiative to show their country and culture to the world.
Carmen Medina Garriguez, PhD
Tenured English Teacher at EOI
Consejeria de Educacion de la Junta de Andalucia