The following interview is part of an interview series in which we feature education professionals from a variety of different fields in order to highlight individual efforts and creative solutions to education in the 21st century. If you want to participate simply write down and send your answers to the five below questions to info {at} learnoutlive.com and include a picture of yourself. (Please note that we reserve the right to not publish all submissions)

Alberto1. Who are you and what do you do in education?

My name is Alberto, and I am the co-founder of ayaespanol.com, a website that provides personalized Spanish language lessons and courses, and free resources to learn Spanish.

I hold a degree in Philosophy and a Masters in teaching Spanish and English as foreign languages. I have taught Spanish abroad in public universities and high schools, and English in private language schools. When I began teaching I did not know if I could enjoy this profession. I do not believe teaching is a vocation. I believe it is vocational, as in something you can train people to do. I think enthusiasm for professional improvement is crucial in becoming a good teacher.

After many years living abroad, my partner and I decided to develop a website to teach Spanish online and we worked very hard on every detail for over a year. We launched the website only a few months ago, right after moving back to Spain. The idea that prompted us to build the website was to be able to do what we love in the place of our choice. So far we are very happy with the decision and how things are going. We are teaching students from China and Europe and enjoying our lives by the seaside.

We strongly believe in autonomous learning and the teacher as a guide. Our students set their learning goals and we motivate and guide them to find the best way to achieve those goals. The teacher has an important role, but the primary role belongs to the student.

2. Describe a typical work day in your life!

We usually work in the mornings, but our timetable has to be flexible in order to be able to cope with the lessons and different tasks that we set up for the day. We try to be very organized, it is the only way to be productive and to find some time for ourselves and for our hobbies.

A typical work day in our lives is spent teaching, preparing lessons, answering emails, creating or editing materials, posting in Facebook, uploading videos to our YouTube channel… An independent teacher has no time for sorrow! : )

In my free time, I enjoy swimming in the sea, playing guitar, reading and watching movies.

3. In what way has technology in general and the net, in particular, changed your work?

Before starting to teach online, technology already had quite an impact in the way I prepared and delivered my lessons. I have been using the net for years to find information, resources, and inspiration to make my lessons more motivating, and when possible I have always made use of the Internet in the classroom.

Nevertheless, teaching online has changed my work in many other ways. Since we provide one to one personalized lessons and courses, nowadays I do not see myself as a language teacher but as a tutor. Teaching to ten, fifteen, thirty or even fifty students has very little in common with tutoring a single student. Personalized teaching is only possible with small groups or one to one lessons.

Teaching online has other advantages like using digital textbooks, video tutorials, and the recording of the lessons to give feedback. In general both technology and the net have made my work more exciting and enjoyable, however, sometimes I spend more time than I would like seated in front of the computer.

4. What challenges do you see for education in the future?

For teachers, help students develop a sense of ownership over the learning process and fostering autonomy in the classroom are two of the biggest challenges today and in the future.

From my personal experience and from what I have learned from other teachers, I can say that the roles within the classroom have not changed much in the last years, or have changed at a very slow pace. In most educational institutions, students are still very passive and are seen by their teachers as not ready to play the prominent role needed to become autonomous learners. Teachers do not put enough emphasis on learner autonomy because they feel threatened regarding their status or do not feel comfortable playing new and more challenging roles.

Hopefully, more teachers will see the need for change in foreign language education and will find new ways to motivate and involve students in their learning process.

5. Where can we find you online?

Website: ayaespanol.com

Blog: ayaespanol.com/normal-blog/

Facebook: facebook.com/pages/ayaespanolcom/1374226442883936

Youtube: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCRe3_JuhUfyjkQ4GTO7XXkQ

Alberto: “The teacher has an important role, but the primary role belongs to the student.”

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