TEACHER INTERVIEW. Let’s meet Steve Roberts

We have a lot of musicians and artists on the team! Today, we’re interviewing Steve Roberts, who’s not only a singer and musician but also one of our most experienced English teachers.

Steve was born in Northampton (England). He’s been working as an English teacher for 23 years and working for Ziggurat since 2006. Apart from teaching, Steve has also written books and articles about teaching and training methodology and he’s trained as a coach. He also plays music and loves walking in the mountains or on the beach. Now let’s meet him!

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Photo: Àlex Fernandez

Hi Steve! Glad to interview you. First of all, let’s talk a little bit about you.

Q: You’ve been living in Barcelona for a while. When did you decide to move here and why?
A; Well, it’s a long story, but it was in 1994, and basically because I loved the city and had the feeling that I could make a life here.

Q: What is your favourite thing about Barcelona?
A: Now it’s become really cosmopolitan, so there are a lot of fantastic places to eat, for example Indian food, Japanese, etc. But there are lots of other things…

Q: Tell us something about your background…
A: I studied English literature at University College London and Creative Writing at the University of East Anglia, then spent ten years trying to make a living as a writer. Because this is virtually impossible if you don’t already have a job as a journalist or academic, in the end I decided to teach English, which is when I moved to Barcelona.

Q: You’ve been working for Ziggurat for more than 10 years and you teach a lot of English telephone classes. Let’s focus on these.
A: Why would you recommend this type of classes? They’re basically one-to-one classes, so you get personalised attention from your teacher throughout the class. Also, because of the format, you have to concentrate very hard on listening, so it develops your comprehension quickly in this essential skill. Finally, it’s very flexible, and can easily be adapted to your work schedule.

Q: What type of learning activities do you most like to emphasise in your classes?
A: A bit of everything is necessary, but I specially emphasise speaking, since that’s most people’s main priority, and it’s the most powerful way to learn new language in general.

Q: What aspect of the Ziggurat classes or methodology would you like to highlight?
A: I don’t know, there are a lot of positive things… Perhaps the way that we do our best to adapt the classes to the specific needs of the students. And the communicative focus, so that we’re teaching people to communicate effectively from day one.

Q: What do you like most about your job?
A: Again, there are a lot of things, but I particularly like the social side of meeting a wide range of people from many walks of life and helping them to communicate in English.

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Photo: Àlex Fernandez

Apart from teaching, you’re also a singer. You have recently launched a new CD, ‘The Loss and the Gain’

Q: What music do you play and sing?
A: It ranges from folk to acoustic pop and rock.

Q: Do you write the lyrics? If so, what inspires you to write?
A: Yes, I write both the lyrics and the music. I never know what’s inspiring me until I get an idea!

Q: When is your next gig?
A: At the moment I don’t have any lined up because I’m recording a couple of new albums. But I expect I’ll play one again soon. If you know of any good places to play, tell me!

Q: Where can we see you?
A: I play a lot in venues in Sant Boi, where I live. Apart from that I’ve also played often in La Contra, an art space in Poble Sec. That’s the type of venue I like. But when I have a gig lined up I’ll let you know!

Q: And finally, how does your musician side influence you as an English teacher?
A: I use music in my classes, but most teachers do! Also I try to help my students as much as possible with their pronunciation, and having a musician’s ear really helps in this respect.

It was great to know more about you! Thank you very much for the interview, Steve! 🙂

You’re very welcome! All the best!

You can follow Steve on his Facebook page, the page of his band Grog. And you can also listen to him on this Bandcamp links: Steve Roberts and Grog.

Steve was also interviewed by Olga Merino (El Periódico) on April the 3rd. Check it out! STEVE BRUCE ROBERTS_elPeriodico_3apr17

TEACHER INTERVIEW. Let’s meet Scott Riley

Today we are interviewing our English teacher Scott Riley, who is also one of the artists of the team.

nScott was born in New York City, where, as an artist, worked in art-related jobs: teaching, gallery work, scenery painting, etc. He also managed a bar in Brooklyn for a few years before moving abroad, first to Glasgow and Hong Kong and eventually to Barcelona, where he has been living and teaching English for the last 11 years. He spends most of his free time with his wife and two teenage kids; he also enjoys traveling, cooking, reading and playing the bass guitar.

Hi Scott! First of all, let’s talk a little bit about your past.

Q: Where are you from?
A: I was born and raised in New York City. In the 70’s and 80’s New York still had some rough edges, but there was a lot happening in the music and art scenes, and it was an exciting place to be.

Q: What did you study?
A: I studied painting and sculpture at the School of Visual Arts, in Manhattan.

Q: You’ve been living in Barcelona for a while. Why Barcelona?
A: The short answer is that after 6 years in Glasgow I needed some sun! The quality of life in Barcelona is very good. This is due in part to the mild and sunny climate, but also to the mentality of the people, which is less aggressively careerist than in New York. Also it has deep cultural roots, and an increasingly cosmopolitan population, both enriching qualities. The food and the wine are also excellent!

Q: You started working for Ziggurat as an English teacher 3 years ago. What do you like most about your job?
A: Almost all of my students are interesting, well educated, and fun people, who enjoy talking about the crazy world we live in. Being a very social person, I think that’s a great way to spend the day.

Q: But you are also an artist. What do you do?
A: I make photographs that look like paintings.

Q: How and where we can see your work?
A: I rarely show in galleries, but you can follow me on Instagram @scottrileyart, or on the facebook page: Scott Riley Art. I also have books of my art, which I am happy to show anyone on request.

Q: How does your artistic side influence you as an English teacher?
A: I think that creative people generally have a well developed sense of curiosity, and an open mind; two qualities that serve well in other fields. Also, I’m always trying to improve on the last art I did, so I try to bring that idea into everything else.

Q: What type of learning activities do you most like to emphasise in your classes?
A: I like to focus on conversation skills, and teach my students lots of colloquial expressions. Fortunately that is what most of my students enjoy, but if they are looking for something else, I’m flexible.

Q: And finally, what do you like doing in your free time?
A: In the little free time that I have, I like to make art, play music, cook, read books, swim in the sea… Also to sit around a table eating good food and drinking nice wine with my family and friends. Clearly there are not enough days in the week!

It was great to know a little bit more about you!
Thank you very much for the interview, Scott!

TEACHER INTERVIEW. Let’s meet Rebecca Sweet!

Today we are interviewing Rebecca Sweet, one of our most popular English teachers.

Rebecca was born in Atherston (England). She’s been working for Ziggurat for 8 years and before teaching she worked in the hospitality industry. After qualifying as an English teacher she decided to move to Barcelona and has been teaching here ever since. If you can’t find her teaching around the city, you might bump into her walking her dog in Guinardó or snowboarding in the mountains. Now let’s meet her!

meHi Rebecca! Glad to interview you. First of all, let’s talk a little bit about your past.

Q: Where are you from?
A: I was born and raised in Atherstone, which is a small picturesque town situated in Warwickshire, England. Atherstone has a long history dating back to Roman times and is steeped in history.

Q: What did you study?
A: I studied Tourism and American studies at Canterbury Christ Church University in Kent and after I graduated I got a job as a Holiday Representative for Thompson Holidays, which led to a placement on the beautiful Island of Ibiza, where I worked in the hospitality industry for 10 years.

Q:You’ve been living in Barcelona for a while. Why Barcelona?
A: After 10 years of working in Ibiza I needed a career change, I’m a peoples person and I couldn’t bear the idea of returning to England and working a desk job, so in 2007 I decided to do my TEFL course. My teacher training was in Barcelona and I just fell in love with the city, there is so much to do and so much to see, I’m still discovering new places and things to do even after being here for 9 years, it’s a beautiful city.

Q: So a few years later you started working for Ziggurat as an English teacher. What do you like most about your job?
A: Honestly I love students who are motivated to learn English, that motivates me to make their learning experience enjoyable fun and worthwhile. Also there is the benefit of meeting a wide variety of people, every day is different and they do say, “Variety is the spice of life”.

Q: You’re very popular among our students. As an English teacher, what type of learning activities do you most like to emphasise in your classes?
A:I tend to try and adapt my activities to my students needs, I think every aspect of learning English is important and I focus on trying to get my students to achieve their goals so I like to find out what activities they enjoy doing and apply it to their classes.

Q: And finally, what do you like doing in your free time?
A: I don’t get a lot of free time because I’m a dog owner and most of my time is taken up walking him, we usually walk about 3-4 hours a day, fortunately I live near park Guinardó so it’s a pleasure to get a little out of the city so to speak and enjoy the spectacular views of Barcelona.

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When I do get a little time to myself I love to sew, I make my own clothes and I really enjoy the satisfaction of wearing something I have created. In the winter I snowboard when I can there is nothing quite like speeding down a mountain and getting that adrenaline rush. And of course I love having a couple of wines and a good gossip with my friends on a terrace in the evening.

It was great to know a little bit more about you! Thank you very much for the interview, Rebecca!